Feel the pain of original character sprites of Battler, mwahahahahaha!
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.
Following the rather controversial pick for February AND March 2013, which shall be swept under the rug now... I only have the unfortunate events of real life to explain for my apologies in choosing, finalising and posting interviews for those months. However, now that I am back on top of things, I'm pleased to announce that April's Member of the Month is the one and only, DudeWithAMask, otherwise known by his new name on these forums, DWaM. I'm sure he would change it on C-R were it not for the fact Wooster won't do any name-changing, and leaves it to Croik who has completely disappeared. Ah, well...
Tap: Hello, and welcome to the thirty-fourth Member of the Month interview.
DWaM: Heh, thanks for having me. Gotta say I'm actually surprised I'm here -- I've been here for only like... a year, if not less? XP
Tap: Tell us about how you found AAO, and what made you want to join.
DWaM: I knew about AAO for quite a while now. I tried it out when it was in... version 4, I believe (correct me if I'm wrong ) at the time there was a glitch where the mouths wouldn't stop moving? Yeah, it did turn me off a little bit, I'm not going to lie. But still - I always did stick around the site from time to time. I was (and more or less still am) an Ace Attorney fan, but what actually always interested me above all was trying to write something of my own - so I kept it in mind as a possible case maker. Granted, even when the mouth glitch was fixed, what actually scared me was the fact that you had to put your trust in hosting pretty much all of the custom content on a third-party site which may or may not exist a few months later. But... a few years later, I "officially" joined Court Records (the only purpose at the time was giving critique, interestingly enough), which eventually lead me to making a fangame, which eventually lead me to trying to promote it a bit more (shamelessly, might I add!), which eventually ended up going to AAO, which eventually lead me to realize that I actually like the community quite a bit - eventually leading to... well... stuff, I suppose.
Tap: Your debut to the Ace Attorney Online community came in the form of Denouement of the Turnabout, although you are more largely recognised as the author of Turnabout Tomorrow, a case which emphasises placing creative freedom over canon. Tell us about the development process, and what went into it:
DWaM: Well... To be honest, I'm not quite sure where I got the idea to do it. I mean, yeah, I wanted to join a comp, but at the time I really had no idea it would lead to... well... Tomorrow. The basic concept actually came from the crime (which, in my opinion, lead to being the most uninteresting part in the whole thing...) and later led me to the idea of the, uh... "Most memorable part". Interestingly enough, the actual reveal itself was something I could not, for the longest time decided how to do - my actual idea was to simply leave it so open-ended, and then just wait for someone to go "But wait... If that's that, then what if...?", but eventually changed my mind, seeing as how there's a chance I make it far too subtle, and the actual meaning of the case might not be quite realized when it's all done (which was the decision for the better, as it evidently turned out to be). At the time, though, I also requested help - a collaborator. I was afraid that it could A) not be finished (which was an absolute necessity) and B) someone who could keep me in check, to so speak. You see... I'm actually pretty insecure for basically everything I do, and I need some kind of third-party feedback, be it through beta-testers or someone who actually knows the secrets of the script, and is willing to help me out with the finer details.
I have to thank Evolina for this (even if she basically wants to deny any involvement in it) - she actually ended up giving me quite a few ideas - indirectly and directly. She helped me plan out two of the more interesting cross-examinations of the case, actually -- Eisenhower's and the "minefield" testimony, as you'd call it (which, to this day, I don't see how it can be considered THAT hard...). The collaboration "relationship" though was kind of... awkward. I actually ended up being annoying, more often that not... XD But yeah -- big thanks to her. Chances are, without her, the case wouldn't have turned out the way it did. But still - the reception to it, in the end, was not something I expected. I mean, I was *pretty sure* it was good, but to win the comp and be praised by BB as one of his favourite cases? Damn. (By the by, though - I really do think Revolution should've won that comp, while we're on the subject - as it was said, it would've actually fit better with "Breaking the Rules"...)
Also yeah - I'm not going to pretend like I'm some literally genius, giving advice on what to make your case perfect -- just write what you want. Tomorrow started with the idea - the idea was impossible with existing characters, so I created new. Your imagination's the limit - you just need to think of the characters of those you'd like to see if you were, say, watching a TV shows (actually - that was sort of what I was going for, if you take away all the character thoughts...). I also tried to make it as visually appealing as possible - Phoenix Wright without his visuals and music just doesn't work. I don't know why, but "reading" a character from the pages of a book leaves a dramatically lower impact than actually seeing him for me.
Tap: However, your first trial was Downfall to the Turnabout, a PyWright fangame, more notoriously known as "Ellipsis to the Turnabout" by those in the community. What made you decide to go into fangaming?
DWaM: (Called by YOU, as I'd recall~?) I... honestly have no idea. I actually did write some fancases before (which I kept for myself, naturally). They were... pretty bad, yeah - but everyone has to start from somewhere, I suppose. The first idea to do it came from - surprise, surprise - Turnabout Substitution. I still consider it one of the greatest fancases ever made, not necessarily for the visuals (which might just be the best of a fangame to date ) But the actual drive to do Downfall, in the end was actually Justice's Memoirs. It introduced the idea of having a bunch of cases connected through emotion, above all - something it did quite well. So, I tried my last, final hand at it, as I considered it at the time.
...Not to mention, everyone else was doing it, anyway.
So yeah, at first I announced it as a full game, with four cases. Then I realized those were fool's dreams (at least for me! Conflict of Interest and Contempt of Court... well, their creators are most dedicated). So - I decided to make it just one case - Downfall. I had a general idea in mind, and I was so hyped to work on it. I got the first part out, and got right on the second one!
Six months later, I ACTUALLY started working on Part 2.
And I'm not going to lie - it was pretty lazy. I actually had an entierly different confrontation/conclusion in mind. But I suppose with the expectations, plus some extra attention it was getting thanks to fuandon's LP, it ended up being kind of obligation for me to see it through. So, I tweaked the story. The general story was still the same, but... Yeah, even I could see that something was starting to go downhill, leading to its non-surprising cancellation. Still, can't say it wasn't fun. And, I ended up using some of its ideas later on for both Tomorrow and Curtain...
Tap: I think it's time to ask one of the most anticipated questions of this interview. Do you happen to have a favourite fan trial?
DWaM: The most anticipated one, huh? Well, I'll try not to disappoint, then.
It would be incredibly easy for me to say "Turnabout of Courage, gg" and just move on to the next question. Hell, chances are, that what I would've done the first time I joined. Buuut... I've started to view things dramatically different. The truth of the matter is that I can't really rank/compare cases that way anymore. I don't have a "favourite" anymore - it's just that they're all either good and I love 'em, need work but have potential or just terrible. Because I can't just love one case above others because there's always that "something" which sets them apart, and makes them all equal at the same time.
Turnabout of Courage impressed me with the cleverness of the story and the final confrontation. But at the same time, Turnabout Subsitution impressed me with the darker and the fact that it touches more on the subject of "evil" -- the antagonist on their own managed to impress me. Turnabout Pairs undoubtably for the crime. Hotel Springs Hotel for possibly the best dialogue of the bunch and the most interesting premise/ultimate emotional impact it's all leading to (even though I would've appreciated if it wasn't so reminding of Hotel Dusk - it actually did manage to take away at certain times, felt more like crutches than wings). Turnabout Revolution for the mind-blowing set-up and epic showdown. Mysterious Sirens and Turnabouts for the emotional connection and the way it brings out the more interesting roots of AA in general (though, I would've liked to see it out-done by Departed, it really WOULD'VE been infinitely better than Sirens. And then only Memoirs...) All the Brooks and Soldiers for the rather unconventional approach and interesting gameplay mechanics. Turnabout Redeemer for... um. Yeah. Cuz it's Turnabout Redeemer. Hell, I even loved The Undecided Turnabout -- Ping' was right when describing it. It really IS greately underrated...
Etc., etc. The list goes on (apologies to those that didn't make the cut -- either you weren't AMAZING enough to make it, or I just didn't play you. ...Or, you know - I like a lot of stuff and can't remember all the 20+ cases... XD)
Tap: Now let's talk about your personal life. What was your childhood like?
DWaM: My childhood, huh? Well... Can't say there's much to it. I was (hell, I still am) your avarage introverted guy who basically leaves his house in necessity. Not going to lie - I didn't really like my former schoolmates. I didn't really talk much (which resulted in my voice being extremely low - I don't think I can really yell without my throat being blown up XP), from which you can't probably conclude, I wasn't the most social of people. Can't say I really am that much now. I'm mostly that one weirdo that gets all the good grades, and you only talk to him if you want him to help out with your homework or something. But I never had the need to talk to those kind of people, anyway. They got what they wanted, I was happy to be invested in the topic I had some interest in, they left, I went back to daydreaming.
Oh yeah. I daydream a lot.
Still though - as far as my family goes - my mom and dad are pretty great - were then and are now. I have a sister, but, er... She... Urm. You know those blonde cheerleaders in all those cliche teen movies that you like, know you hate and you see she's just so stuck up thinking she's better than everyone else? Well, there you go - that's my sister. But yeah, my childhood? Pretty good.
Tap: That brings me to my next question. What is your average day like?
DWaM: Well - I get up pretty early, eat breakfast, go to school, be in school, do whatever (in most cases, just no pay attention, knowing I'll get it done anyway), go home, have lunch, SLEEP, work on the comp entry (I'd say this can only apply in this case, but it basically HAS become a routine at this point...), do work, watch South Park over and over and over and over, possibly throw How I met your mother for no reason at all, SLEEP.
Rinse and repeat for about 12 months and you've got my basical life, too!
Tap: What are your plans for the future?
DWaM: Absolutely no idea. My original plan consisted of law school, but I've been hearing things that've convinced me to perhaps go with something else. I'm a really good talker, they tell me, but maybe it's not just worth it, considering all the work and studying it takes. Me being lazy? Maybe. Or maybe that's not just how I see myself. Teaching crossed my mind several times -- I'm considering for Math or English to be one of the possible routes, but I still have some actual time to decide, luckily for me...
Tap: As you live in Europe, on a continent featuring the union of what will soon be 28 member states, the European Union, what is your thoughts on a union which is largely thought by the global political arena as falling apart, namely due to the current generation no longer keeping in context what brought Europe together in the first place: "We, who did not perish, leave it up to you to keep the memory of them alive -- forever."
DWaM: Oh, boy, politics. XD Sorry, but I really don't think I can properly comment on something like that. I don't really follow all the world on-goings (I actually don't even watch that much TV in general). Though I think that might not be necessarily just me - Croatia's view on politics in general (at least where I'm from) isn't that... huge. We just go "whatever" at this point, considering that apparently dead people are more fit to vote than we are around here... XD
Tap: Ah, shame...
Tap: Which is your favourite Ace Attorney game?
DWaM: Funny - I was incredibly tempted to say Trials & Tribulations, but as I was explaining what sets it apart from the other games - I realized that it's actually Apollo Justice that I like the most, in these respects. There's something about the way its story was approached and the interesting path it decided to take with the AA characters (well, only one, I suppose...) that really did it for me. The writing was solid, and while I admit, I did dislike its Case 3, I still enjoyed it as a whole. It took a very risky path - and, while I did actually want answers by the end of it, I sort of realized that some things aren't really meant to be explained. It was actually one of the things I took to heart later on as I started to write my own stuff.
AAI was also pretty good, but it lacked that "something" - that emotion behind it, I suppose. Honestly, to me, it just sort of felt like "we're evol organization, we'll take stuff over nao, lol", and I never did manage to quite connect with the characters or their individual motivations, in the end. And again, I can't really explain it - for it did seem to have some signs of structure in the original AA games. I don't necessarily blame the writers, it could've been just me and my general coldness towards the supposed "emotional parts" of certain known franchises (for example, you know that ONE moment in VLR? Yeah. Can't say I felt much, sorry.)
Tap: What other games do you really like?
DWaM: Well - I really like Visual Novels in general, though I'm not sure if everyone would classify it as games, but for the sake of the argument, yes, let's say that it is. I don't know if you could tell, but I really like Umineko (even if EP8 is a bigger disappointment than being told that you have to go to a wedding). Explaining why is... complicated, to say the least, but in the end, I think it's what really ended up shaping me as a writer. Just by reading, I got a massive understanding and respect for the story, characters, and general visual feel it requires. Hell - it's because it's so visual (though, in Umineko's case "visual" might not be the right word - I'd say it was the combination of the sounds and the """""visuals""""""" that did it for me - as a whole) that actually might've damaged me a bit -- I'm not basically unable to write anything that doesn't have SOME kind of visual or sound tied to it. XP Unsurprisingly, I also like 999/VLR. I did go through Last Window, and I remember liking it, but it was actually quite a while ago... I honestly don't remember that much of it...
I also like games were there's some kind of player choice involved (choices that actually matter, mind you). The prime example of this would be Dragon Age: Origins - with not only that, but its atmosphere and the vivid characters backing it up as one on the top of my list. I wish I could say the same for Dragon age 2, which apparently strived for exactly the opposite...
Anyway, if there are two games I have to point out where the storytelling basically took over the majority of the experience, but in a way that EVERYTHING was just so geniusely wrapped around it to the point that you were actually playing the story (a story that actually mattered to me) -- and both of these picks are only here because Gumpei somehow got me to play them, directly or indirectly - Spec Ops: The Line and Bioshock Infinite (which I finished just recently, actually). If you haven't go play them. Please. Just... Yeah, go do that.
Tap: What was the first video game you ever played?
DWaM: Funny enough, it was actually that game "Hugo", if anyone's heard of it? It was the most basic of basic, actually - you just... go down a train track and... ... What was that game about, anyway? I played it when I was literally 2 years old, I honestly can't remember... But yeah - "Hugo"'s there. After that, it was quite a while since I played video games like... ever again. ... I got re-introduced when I got my hands on a Playstation. The bad news is, the first game I played was "Batman and Robin". The good news is, I was too dumb to actually know it was bad.
Tap: Last question, now. Do you have any other interests?
DWaM: Well - aside from games, fancases and mystery fiction... Not much, actually. Does... watching South Park over and over and over and over count...? XD
Tap: Before we conclude this interview, do you have anything else you'd like to say?
DWaM: Well... Firstly, thanks for having me here and, er... Thanks, I guess? XD I mean, sure, I'm not exactly the the most popular guy around, and it's not like I talk much - but when you get down to it, one has to admit that this community has managed to achieve so much, and the general acceptance and tolarance everyone has towards... Well... Basically everything around here. When something is wrong, you try to fix it, and when it's right... you take it too far to the point where it's just wrong again, but still! To be honest, I actually find it kind of scary - the thought that we'll all eventually stop having all the time for this place and it gets abandoned (unless we'll all be using the net when we're 60, I guess that's a possiblity) or when we inevitably all get sued by Capcom for outdoing them all.
Until that time comes, I guess I'll just be happy and stick with what I have.