★ The AAO QA Inspection Team ★
This is the Member of the Month; an interview that I do at the end of each month. It's a fun way of finding out about respected members of the community.
I personally select each month's Member of the Month. People are picked based on their contributions to the community, whether they are: making excellent trials, providing comic relief or just being a brilliant person. The next Member of the Month could be you!
If you have any questions about the Member of the Month system, please PM me.
Bet you didn't expect that! Yes, to celebrate the second anniversary of the Member of the Month series, I'll be interviewing the entire QA inspection team, consisting of myself, Hodou, ShadowEdgeworth and Tap (although I won't be interviewing myself, this time ). When thinking how to celebrate this anniversary, I felt like I should make a big sign that says "2" on it; then I'd hang it on our Disney castle in a way that obstructs a beautiful stained-glass window or something. However, we don't have the budget to make a big sign. It turns out we also don't have a big enough budget to build a Disney castle.
For those that don't know, the team inspect cases (upon request of the author) in the Your Trials forum to check if they are good enough to be put on AAO's featured cases list. They have each been MotMs before, but, for one day only (although it actually took a month; less if Hodou's computer didn't decide to break for a week ), the team have been put together for this special interview. It turns out doing so was a big mistake that has produced an egotistical rampage!
Meph: Hello and welcome to the second anniversary of the Member of the Month interviews. We have a bit of a change-of-format this month, as -- this time -- we have not one guest, but an entire panel! Please welcome AAO's QA inspection team! First, please introduce yourselves.
Hodou: Hey. How's it going. You all know me. I'm that jerk.
Tap: Hullo, fine folk of AAO! I'm Tap, a moderator colloquially known as the "Art God", Fiancee of Wolf and most importantly... an Australian! Of course, that means I detest American English with a particular vehemence...
Hodou: It's an HONOR to work with you. Despite all the nasty RUMORS. Also I like that COLOR. It makes you the CENTER of attention.
Shadow: Hello all of you fine people. Resident QA Inspector No. 3, and full time Spidey-Sonic-Whovian-Trekkie. Also, from merry ol' England.
Hodou: It's hard to think of more American English while I'm watching the Xat.
Meph: That's alright. You know Commonwealth English is really the best.
Hodou: I will accept "different."
Tap: Yes, and the good thing about Commonwealth English, especially in Australia, is American English is, at times, interchangeable, despite the negative connotations it has!
Hodou: Wait. What negative connotations? It's just different regional spellings. It's like asking Spanish people to speak English because SPANISH IS WRONG.
Tap: Probably more prominent in Australia, but using forms of American English, such as 'z' instead of 's', and omitting the 'u' has always been something you'd lose marks for on exams. So it's the subject of much joke here. Friendly joking, though.
Meph: Before we start a language war, I'll move on to the questions.
Meph: First, for those who haven't read your personal MotM interviews, tell us about yourselves and your general interests (besides AA)?
Tap: Well, I'm not too sure it'll be that interesting to read, especially a second time for those who were around when it was my turn in the MotM hotseat! To summarise, I'm 17 and am currently completing my VCE Certificate (our equivalent of British A-Levels). My social life is laughable, and although I'd like to claim I work on my fangame during the amount of spare time I have, I'm terrible at actually working on it... Even if I have previously scripted dialogue to input into the editor! ;p
My general interests can be easily narrowed down to two things: reading and languages. I can't think of anything better than curling up and reading a good book! I'm particularly avid about learning languages, although I had a disillusioned educational experience last year, so I'm not doing any sort of formal language study this year. I'm also interested in politics -- both Global and Australian, which are subjects I'm studying this year.
Shadow: Ok, well first and foremost, I'm also 17, currently studying my A-Levels, whch are IT, Psychology, Music and French. I am also a fangame/fanspoof developer at this humble site of AAO. Le general interests of mine include reading, writing, drawing (though I'm not the best drawer!), role-playing and gaming. I may not be as interesting as Herr Tap, but I make up for it through my RP characters. Well, I like to think so.
Hodou: I like video games. A lot. Some might say to the point of addiction, but I don't say that personally. I'm interested in writing, acting, and singing, too. As well as maybe finding a way to fix this horrible world we live in.
Meph: What caused you all to become big fans of the AA series?
Shadow: Well, I guess my general interest in the Ace Attorney Saga came from my childhood "dream" of becoming a lawyer, after seeing various episodes of Perry Mason and the like... I actually just decided to buy Justice For All with my spare change, so to speak. Best decision I ever made. As for the games themselves, I guess the characters themselves are the major attraction, not just the gameplay. Of course there were a few probs with my first experience having joined in at Game 2, the main one being that I thought Edgey really was dead. All in all, I'd say that the series is still going from strength to strength.
Tap: Hmm... for me, it would be the appeal of the genre and the development of the narrative. The first game I played, Ace Attorney Investigations (in Japanese...), was back in '09 when I was flicking through a dictionary by my side at every single frame. Even then, the language barrier didn't prevent the sheer epic of the moments translating over... When I checked out the GS games after a friend pointed them out for me, I just completely fell in love with the series... The visual attraction, the depiction of the characters, the crazy narratives... All of these elements made it an incredibly enjoyable series to play. I've been hooked ever since. And although AAI (GK) was the first to introduce me to the series, it was really PW:AA which gave me the great interest, as the suspense and tension from Case 2 onwards felt highly believeable for me... I couldn't stop playing once I finished Rise From The Ashes.
Hodou: I like the mysteries and the funny and the Phoenix and the Apollo.
Meph: Are there any books, films or games that have inspired you?
Tap: Personally or in AA fangame development? Silly Meph...
Meph: Both, of course! Silly Tap.
Tap: If I had to ask myself are there any forms of media that have inspired me, then my answer would be, without a doubt, YES! I wouldn't even begin to know where to start with books... I'm such an avid reader, going from Victoriana to fantasy to autobiographies and back again... I suppose in general, the notion to be able to tell a story of your making and have a specific demographic enjoy it is a nice feeling. Whenever I release a part of Justice's Memoirs, I'm always giddy at reading the comments. The story I wanted to tell has become a favourite, which is exactly what an author wants the most...
If I really had to nail it down, I'd have to say poetry inspires me, both in real life and in the development of my series. I'm a sucker for Middle English poetry or anything that recounts the era, and as such, it's been a particular influence on my language (writing and speaking) and in game too. I probably wouldn't have been throwing words around such as "grandiloquence", "prosaic", "pulchritudinous" -- okay, I'm joking about that last one -- had I never a deep interest in poetry.
If I had to be even more specific than that, then Robert Browning's "My Last Duchess" would definitely be my writing inspiration... It is a terribly beautiful poem capturing every element I look for in a piece: excellent choice of language, structure, development and thrill.
Shadow: I'm more influenced by modern literature, games and films, rather than those of old. Like Tap, however, I am a reader, most interested in that sort of activity, whether it be things like Lord of the Rings, all the way to the newest Doctor Who book. I guess, it plays the part of a good genuine interest, which has inspired my writing style, which tends to be quite dramatic at times. I am also into the Epic Rap Battles of History, which have inspired my second main project - the Epic Rap Battles of AAO History, now on it's fourth installment. Ironically, it's the only rap I like.
Hodou: I uh... can't say I'm inspired by a lot. I mean the Ace Attorney series does, and the Mother series, but I don't actually read a lot or watch a whole ton of movies. My mother wrote, so there's some inspiration there, but I don't actually read much of her work. I guess for the most part I'm basically "self-taught." To be honest, most of my inspiration comes not from writing, but from anime, video games, and movies for the unique and interesting worlds they design. Writing like this just kind of came naturally to me.
Meph: What's the most important thing that a good case needs to have?
Hodou: Everything. Good technical and visual design is less important than good writing, or a good mystery. There are very few cases even amongst the featured trials that really shock me with how the crime itself was committed -- there's not much of the fantastically farfetched conclusions we expect from the games themselves, and that disappoints me somewhat. But it's tough to pull something like that off; it's kind of a balancing act where you have to be ridiculous enough to shock the reader but realistic enough to keep them away from disbelief.
Shadow: Characterisation is always a particular favourite of mine, and something I always focus on when reviewing a trial. It is the building block of which and excellent case can fall down, or a terrible case can be made out to be not-so-terrible after all. It is an absolute must that of the trials of AAO to not make characters like Phoenix, Edgeworth, Apollo, heck even the Judge act in anyway unfamiliar otherwise, BAM! That's the player's immersion broken right there. Characterisation is almost as important as the story, in the way that you're trying to get your player interested, and familiarised. It's one of the reasons why cases like Turnabout Bloodlines are so popular - Zeel's representation of Portsman is rightfully lauded as one of the greatest representations of a canon character in any AAO Trial, and as such his case is acclaimed to be amazing!
All in all, make sure you're doing the characters right - play the AA Cases your character is featured in again and again until you get their mannerisms under the tip of your fingers.
Tap: A good case needs to be a great blend of the two elements -- production and story. An excellent demonstration of technical and presentation skills as well as adhering to AA conventions (where recommended, such as time and location stamps!) will only get an author so far. Hodou's on it completely. Story is absolutely essential to maintaining an audience, otherwise no one will play the case in full! We want to be surprised, to be gobsmacked... and so far, AAO trials have really been hitting the mark. Trials such as Rune's "Judgement Series" are giving us great mysteries to explore, while deHughes and BB's "The Alternate Solution" explores ingame politics to really kick it up another level. Stories don't need to be over-the-top, however. As long as they keep the audience's attention stuck firmly to the screen, then there's a winner.
And it goes without saying, but grammar is absolutely essential to maintaining a good case. If your audience is constantly picking up on grammatical errors and spelling mistakes, then you're likely in for many trial sessions being prematurely ended. Your audience wants to have an enjoyable gameplay! They don't want it to be hampered by an unsatisfactory proofreading!
Meph: I completely agree on the point that grammar is the most important thing. It could make or break the case! And the case must strictly obey every AA game convention! This is ten times more important than the story.
Tap: Ha, ha, ha...
A case should always obey most AA conventions, such as time and location stamps, plus proper CE/WT title presentations. It's not particularly pleasant when I'm playing a trial and find a timestamp is like this ("Wright Talent Agency/9;15/Mar 12th) instead of ("March 12, 9:15 [AM/PM]/Wright Anything Agency")... Really, no need to reinvent the wheel, guys [Unas: This remark has been striked for not taking into account female user activity on Ace Attorney Online. À bientôt!]
Meph: I should clarify I'm joking before certain people hunt me down. But yeah, certain presentational things like that are important, because it's off-putting to see them used differently.
Hodou: Grammar is objective. It can be fixed. I'd frankly prefer if people just focus on making a good trial, and if they can't get a handle on grammar then we'll do it for them. Hell, I don't even care if your "conventions" are a little off. It's one of the aspects where Meph and Tap and I differ, I think. Having your timestamps out of place or something isn't going to ruin your trial, and to be honest people just need to get over it. If I'm reviewing a trail and I see grammar or convention mistakes, I'll tell you to correct them, sure, but it's not going to hurt the quality of the trial unless it's EVERYWHERE.
Meph: We've all been asked before "Which is the best featured case on AAO?" but I think it's about time we decided -- right now -- which is the best!
Hodou: Every case that isn't The Bitter Turnabout.
Tap: Aha, I doubt we are going to reach a consensus on this issue! Each of us interpret and enjoy the trials differently. As much as I love "The Relived Turnabouts" series, the constant humour from Portsman -- don't kill me, Zeel! -- often took away focus from the emotional plot. Then you have Narokh's works, which have my seal of approval on them. Turnabout Deception and its sequels are still some of the best cases available to play, with its originality and distancing from convention in some aspects. Still, it's a really hard toss up. Rune demonstrates mastery of the many crime tropes, Van Dine's rules... Ping' and whatshisname are great users of Chekhov's various techniques... ^^
Now, if we're allowed to include non-AAO games, then Scapegoat definitely tops the list. Without a doubt, Scapegoat is the epitome of success and achievement... A perfect execution of wit, humour, drama and emotion...
Meph: Hey. No! We're not including non-AAO games like Scapegoat.
Tap: Well, we should be including those sorts of games! XD
Hodou: No we shouldn't. Stop fanboying.
Shadow: Having been one of the few who haven't had the opportunity to play the Relieved Turmabout series, I've said it before, and I'll say it again. I'm remaining consistant - the best AAO Trial without a doubt in my own opinion, is "Silence of the Turnabout" by Bad Player. It is the most definitive Phoenix-comes-back-to-law case, and despite its age, holds up extremely well to this day!
Meph: I would say The Virtual Turnabout; purely because its music is epic. But even without the music, it stood out to me. There's always something intruging about a locked room mystery, and the fact that the game was in a similation allowed for a lot of interesting elements that would not normally be possible. But then again, it was more than 2000 frames, so that automatically makes it bad.
Tap: You still possess a mindset from the 2008-09 QA featuring standards, Meph... The norm now, as you should have accepted, is a trial should always have at least a minimum of 2000 or so frames if it is a multiple trial part...
Meph: Back in my day, browsers would lag if they had more than that. Plus, no one could be bothered writing that much in a chapter. Things have changed a lot since then. Sometimes I wonder if people like Zeel and Gumpei have nuclear power stations connected to their brains.
Hodou: I see nothing wrong with a short trial if it's good, personally. Though a long trial is easier to do well with.
Tap: Well, it definitely comes back to the release of Turnabout Substitution and Scapegoat, I would think... Those two cases inspired many AAO users to make their own fangames, and the level of quality has continued to jump... We're starting to see cases where the writing has even stooped from AA convention to become even more imaginative and wittier...
Meph: Yep! There's a surprising amount of talent, and I really don't know how some are writing hours of content so quickly... including yourself! What do you do to keep yourself motivated? I know you write a seperate script before you add everything to the Trial Editor, so what's your approach to writing?
Tap: I try and keep in mind that I'm actually writing a conversation between people, so I need to keep in mind it has to be believable, which in turns means making sure it is the right length. Most of the times it ends up being ridiculously over-the-top, so I tend to prune it down when inputting my script into the editor... However, I'm not terribly motivated. I can write a lot quickly, but I don't have that 'motivation' right now, haha...
Meph: What about everyone else?
Hodou: Isn't this question non-applicable to me? I haven't written a trial since Bitter. Though if I had to say something, I usually base my trials around several moments inspired by the available music, so I listen to the music itself to keep myself in the mood.
Shadow: Same as Hodou - the music of the AA games can inspire me to no end - ironically, I haven't been able to work properly on ME:AA for sometime, but that will change very soon.
Meph: What is it about AAO that has kept you active, involved and dedicated on the forums?
Shadow: Special mention has to go to role-playing with the wonderful guys in the Forum Games section of course! Though of us four, it's only me and Hodou who have the most experience with that sort of thing.
It's RPs like Endless Time and Crossover Central that really keep things blazing (for better or for worse in the case of the latter) and if it wasn't for the epic RPers we have here, I'm fairly sure AAO wouldn't be as awesome as it is.
Hodou: Yeah, the RPs have helped I guess, though I have a tendency to view them as work and neglect them sometimes. To be honest, I spend more time on the Xat than the forums now. I just prefer real-time chat, and I generally know exactly who I'm going to run into there. Though, as a mod there, there's also a bit of an obligation.
Tap: Hmm... I'd have to say the active and dedicated community help keep the site alive! Even though there have been active members on other forums I have visited, it's the same old sections that they post in, while with AAO, we have posts everywhere. And every now and then, we'll get a couple of new members asking for help in the Bugs forum. It's great how even though the last English release of an Ace Attorney game was back in 2009, we're still a vibrant community. Plus the fact I'm working on a fangame, and I'd rather not let my project completely disappear... ^^'
Meph: Let's talk video games! What sort of genres appeal to you all and why?
Shadow: Action-Adventures, RPGs (KOTOR especially!), platfomers (E.G. Sonic and Rayman), and Spider-Man. And yes, I consider that it's own genre. It's too many to be restricted.
Tap: Shadow's answer is pretty much my own, except for one or two differences. My favourite genre is definitely the role-playing video game. I've long, long been a fan of the Final Fantasy series, and who can not like Pokémon? I'll admit I haven't finished my copy of White, nor even taken Soulsilver out of its packaging, though... ^^'
Action-Adventures, such as the Zelda series, and platformers (Sonic) come up as my next favourites. But a big shoutout definitely goes to the adventure visual novel genre... Besides the obvious (Ace Attorney), I'm really fond of Cing's Hotel Dusk and Last Window...
Hodou: My favorite games either have a good story and style, or give you a good world to play around in. On that note, some of my favorite games are stylish ones like No More Heroes and Persona 4, or games that give you a lot of room for customization like Elder Scrolls games and Pokemon. It's too bad the two almost never seem to meet -- Skyrim, for example, is horribly dull stylistically, and No More Heroes is basically on rails. :S
Meph: Tap wanted me to ask this next question. If you were stranded on a desert island, what three possessions would you take?
Shadow: My iPod to pass the time with some tunes, my phone with a sonic-screwdrivered up signal, and a portable hovercraft. Why not? It's highly unlikely, so we may as well. ;D
Tap: My portable library, with a collection short of a million works (I wish...), my phone also having been tampered with by the Doctor's sonic-screwdriver, and a knife. A desert island would give me space and plenty of time to pass by reading books I haven't had the chance to do so. I think a phone is obvious, especially considering it has music on it! And everyone needs a knife when stranded on a desert island... I'm not turning vegetarian!
Hodou: The best sword or knife I could find, a completely full lighter or flint, and a giant bucket or something to collect rainwater in. I don't think anyone intends to die out there, right? We all got survival-related items, right? Nobody insisted on bringing silly fictional things like sonic screwdrivers, right? RIGHT? D:
Meph: And that's a wrap! Thanks for taking the time to do this, everyone.
Tap: No problem! Thank you very much for re-interviewing all of us. I hope everyone will enjoy reading this interview! And if anyone wishes to file a lawsuit for defamation, please address the defendant as "Your Royal Eyeness; The One Eyed Flying Purple People Eater, Formerly Known As Mephiles, Also Answers to Neph... Meph!
Shadow: No problemo, commander Mephiles. It has been a most fun interview for sure, though I concede that the amount of Tap in this interview is too damn epic. XD To everyone taking the time to read this, I only have two words - stay frosty!
Hodou: What?! WAIT! MEPH! IF YOU END THE INTERVIEW HERE I HAVE TO GET BACK TO WORKING ON HARUHISM! PLEASE DON'T DO THIS TO MEEEEEEEEE