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Credits to E.D.Revolution, SuperGanondorf, and Phantom for this guide.
So you have joined AAO because you thought that it was cool to try to make a trial. That's great! We, at AAO, encourage trial-making here. We love to play your trials, and it's a good way to show us your work. But there are many pitfalls when it comes to doing these types of projects on AAO, especially if it’s your first time. ;)
Consider these as guidelines that you, as a newbie trial author, should consider. Remember, this is something you should read first before creating a new trial. It should enlighten you in the back of your mind, and hopefully prepare you to get a well-received case/thread for when you actually go and make a case.
There are four categories, or phases, to this guide:
[*][b]Reviews and QAs[/b][/list]
There is also a [b]Helpful Tips[/b] section, which we [b]highly [/b]recommend you read if you don’t want to read through the 4 phases. It also contains some tips not covered in the other sections.
Expect this post to be long, but it will be worth it when you read the advice from experienced authors. We want [b]you [/b]to succeed after all. :D
Note: This guide has a plethora of recommendations and suggestions. You, as an author, are not obliged to take them. Unless it says something along the lines of "It's an absolute must". On that case, not doing what that says is a guaranteed recipe for failure.
For our friends at CR who are writing PyWright or RenPy or PWLib (dead lol) cases, plenty of stuff here might not apply, and there are plenty of stuff which may apply but have to be translated for your system. For example, the QA system is specific to AAO. Frames, here, refer to 1 frame of dialogue, NOT the number of frames of an animation. On AAO, there's a separate Player and Editor. The Editor is a GUI-based scripting system. PyWright and PWLib uses scripts, which can sort of be equivalent to the Editor. The Player on AAO is equivalent to the app (PyWright, RenPy, PWLib).
Without further ado, here is the first phase, planning:
[spoiler=Case planning][list][*]The first thing you want to do is to do a lot of [b]planning[/b] for your case. You need to plan out what the crime is, who’s killed, how will it be solved, who will solve it, what time era, etc. You cannot start writing a case without a plan. Otherwise, the case will turn out poor.
[*]Your story needs to answer the "five Ws" of fiction: Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How.
[*]If you are a first-time trial author, we highly recommend that you [b]do NOT make a very complex case.[/b] Remember the [b]KISS[/b] principle: [b]K[/b]eep [b]I[/b]t [b]S[/b]imple, [b]S[/b]tupid. This is a business slogan that applies anywhere. In this case, don't complicate things more than necessary. Keep it simple so that it's easier to follow and understand. Show us that you have learned [b]the basics of the editor[/b]. That impresses us more than a great idea, since execution is everything.
[list][*]As a first-time author, we advise you to do a [b]trial-only[/b] case instead of an investigation. Trust us on this: investigations are harder to do.[/list]
[*]Decide what time-era you would like to do (Prequel, PW-Era, AJ-Era, DD-Era, AAI Spinoff Era or Alternate Universe)
[*][b]Consider canon events[/b]. Try to fit the story into a canon timeline. The audience on AAO tends to dislike unexplained canon discontinuities.
[list][*]Corollary to above: If the trial is set in an alternate universe, you need to explain the canon discontinuity.[/list][/spoiler]
[spoiler=Pre-writing and research. AKA, things that don't go on the editor yet.][list][*][b]Play through the Featured Trials in AAO, and also pay attention to the reviews/feedbacks that other users made about those trials[/b] (and other non-featured trials, if you have the time). Learning the correct way of doing things by seeing them yourself in action will help you get your ideas in the right way.
[*][b]Decide which path your case will follow: a Novel orientation, or a Game orientation.[/b][list][*]If you want to drive the player through a [b]fixed[/b] story of emotion, conflicts and solutions, you are going for the Novel orientation (a Visual Novel, which is what Capcom did with Trials & Tribulations and Apollo Justice). This means you have to put a special focus on storytelling and character development (the player won't have a lot of control over the direction the case takes) AAO Example: Hope Springs Hotel. [*]If you want the player to work his way through conflicts by controlling a protagonist character, you are going for the Game orientation (the prime characteristic to a videogame is the decisions the player can make. The first Ace Attorney had a LOT of dialogue decisions to make). This means that you have to focus on the player interaction with the development of the story: the player [b]MUST[/b] feel that he was the responsible of the case's ending. [/list]
[*]It would be a very good idea to not only play the official cases again (or watch LPs), but to also play some cases around AAO and CR (PyWright, RenPy, PWLib games), including featured trials. That way, you will have a feel for what a case should feel like to the player.
[*][b]This is an absolute must:[/b] You will have to do some pre-writing of the case on paper or on a Word document. As explained before, you need to have a plan for your case. There is no alternate solution to prewriting.
[*]You should do some brainstorming of your cases. If you need help, pull up a friend and talk to them about your ideas.
[*]While you are researching, take notes on what works and what doesn't work.
[*]This is important: Try not to rip plots from other cases or any other place. People will notice it once you release your case. You might be accused of [b]plagiarism[/b]. And if it's severe enough, you may get a stern warning from the mods. There is a difference between ripping off plots and making a parody of the plot. Most people try to do the latter, but it ends up being more of the former.
[*]Since most of the crimes will involve murdering the victim in some way, it becomes important to [b]know your anatomy and physiology[/b]. If you need to, take [url=http://oli.cmu.edu/courses/free-open/anatomy-physiology/]a free online course[/url] to get a good idea about anatomy.
[*]You need to know know who your audience is, i.e., for whom you will present your case. In most cases, it's the AAO community. Go around the forums and get a feel to what the community likes and dislikes.
[*]Once you have a general plan for your case, [i]stick with it and don't deviate from it[/i]. This leads to the next point.
[*]You want to [b]avoid improvising as much as possible[/b]. You will have more success if you have planned your trial from the start.
[list][*]The reason we recommend against relying on improvisation is this: You [i]will[/i] create logic and plot holes that you don't realize you were creating. Also, when creating the next part, you will have to incorporate what you improvised into the next part as well.[/list]
[*]Some trial authors recommend “[b]working backwards[/b]”. For trials, I suggest you have your main topics ready to go. You should do this in outline form. The main topics are your titles of your testimonies, and your subtopics are what the witness says in the testimony. The details will be the press conversation. It’s easy to read and easy to implement and transfer if you do the “[b]skeleton method[/b].” Best demonstrated [url=http://dl.dropbox.com/u/10496830/Sample%20Skeleton%20Approach%20to%20Trials.pdf]here[/url]. Make notes about the testimony and the contradictions and any penalties as well. And if you're wondering why there aren't any notes on the testimony and contradictions and such on this example... I'm not going to give away answers to my trial. :P [/list][/spoiler]
[*]Most of the music and sprites are on the Editor. Play around with it to see what is there. You will find that most of the resources that you need to write a case are already in the Editor.
[*]Most of the music on the site has been truncated to save server space and bandwidth. Unfortunately, Meph did a crap job of cutting the music. You are better off finding the full track and looping them appropriately.
[*]If you think you need custom resources, look for them. Best place so far is [url=http://www.court-records.net/]Court-records[/url], but [url=http://aceattorneyspain.com/]Ace Attorney Spain[/url] and [url=http://www.doulifee.com/Storage/aceatt/]Doulifee[/url] are also good. Currently, the Editor does NOT have every piece of evidence, and some sprites are incorrect. [size=1]You can use Bruce Goodman's sprites on the Editor, but you MUST credit Mikker in-trial and in-thread.[/size]
There are rules for asking for resources.
[list][*]Look around the art section to see if there are sprites you would like to use. If you like the art and would like to use it, please read requesting and permission rules stated on the main post of their thread. If they approve, you must give credit when used (unless stated otherwise). If you don't follow this rule, this is considered [b]STEALING[/b], which is a severe offense on AAO.
[*]There are [url=http://aceattorney.sparklin.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=30&t=8104]a[/url] [url=http://aceattorney.sparklin.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=30&t=7314]couple[/url] [url=http://aceattorney.sparklin.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=30&t=5563]of[/url] [url=http://aceattorney.sparklin.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=30&t=6172]threads[/url] that have resources that are free to use (with or without strings attached). They are [url=http://aceattorney.sparklin.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=30&t=8104]SFX[/url], [url=http://aceattorney.sparklin.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=30&t=7314]Additional Canon Character Poses[/url], [url=http://aceattorney.sparklin.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=30&t=5563]Random Characters[/url], and [url=http://aceattorney.sparklin.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=30&t=6172]Evidence and CR Items[/url].
[*]If you need to ask for resources, go to [url=http://aceattorney.sparklin.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=30&t=2018]the request thread[/url]. We must stress this: [b]this is your LAST resort[/b]. [i]It takes plenty of time to do spritework[/i], and not every artist is available to take your request.
[*]You may [b]NOT[/b] hotlink from their their page or links. You must download it yourself and upload them to a website that allows hotlinking such as photobucket or imgur. If the artist notices these links in your trial, you might get a visit from the mods.
[*]If you have questions about using art, you'd best send a PM to Tap.[/list]
[*]On Court Records, Doulifree, and Ace Attorney Spain
[list][*]Anything on the Media section of Court Records, Doulifree, AASpain are free to use.
[*]Anything posted on the Custom Sprites section of the Fanworks section of CR is free to use, but you must give credit.
[*]If you go to the forums, you must follow their rules.
[*]You may [b]NOT[/b] hotlink from their website. You must download it yourself and upload them to a website that allows hotlinking such as photobucket or imgur. If your trial contains hotlinks to these sites, your trial will be removed.[/list]
[list][*]If you're looking for music, make sure you downoad it legally. If used, you must obey Creative Commons and Fair Use doctrines for intellectual property.
[*]If you're looking at flash games, contact the author and/or music director regarding their music and resources.[/list][/list][/spoiler]
If you got your plan down, it’s time to move on to the next phase, WRITING/DEVLOPMENT!
[spoiler=Getting Started on the Editor][list][*]First things first, you need [b]familiarize yourself with the Editor[/b]. Learn it, know it. It'll make it easier for us to enjoy your trial when you know how to use the Editor. [b]This is not optional.[/b]
[*]Look at the [url=http://aceattorney.sparklin.org/forum/viewforum.php?f=50]Tutorial subforum[/url] and the [url=http://aceattorney.sparklin.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=15&t=1298]Tips, Tricks, and Info thread[/url]. Know EVERYTHING RELATED TO THE EDITOR (such as implementing audio, advanced functions like CEs, profiles, etc.)
[*]On that note, don't ask questions in the "Help" forum without looking through the Tutorials subforum, the Tips, Tricks, and Info thread, and the documentation. Save yourself and other forum members' time by looking for what you need before asking questions.
[*]We suggest you get some frames going so you can get a feel for how this trial will look. Worry about the technical details later when you need it (such as profiles, audios, and such, wait-timers, and such)
[*]You should [url=http://aceattorney.sparklin.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=15&t=4554]read this guide by Meph[/url] to get a sense of how a trial should run.[/list][/spoiler]
[spoiler=Main Writing Tips][list][*]For any case set in the Ace Attorney world, you should to [b]focus primarily on the crime[/b]. The reason people play Ace Attorney cases is to solve mysteries and prove it in court. That's the appeal of AA. The backstory can offer details as to wh the crime happened. However, don't give backstory more importance than the crime. Otherwise, people will get bored. In short, case first, backstory second.
[*]When you write about your crime, make sure everything about it makes sense and is plausible. If your victim was shot in the heart at point blank, there is NO WAY he could've lived after the shot. Don't pull an [url=http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/AssPull]Ass Pull[/url] and say a Trauma Center character used "magic hands" to heal them. It's nigh implausible. Don't say the victim had time to maim his attacker after he got slashed in the jugular veins/carotid arteries. Once somebody slashes you there, you'll be hemorrhaging massive amounts of blood and die within 10 seconds.
[*]At the same time, try not to have any part of the crime be overly specific. It usually doesn't add to the case, and it usually makes things more complicated than necessary. For example, if your victim was shot in the left lung, nobody will care if it's the upper or lower lobe of the lung. Another example: if the killer could've killed the victim at 25 feet, don't overspecify and say "the killer could've killed the victim at 25 feet at exactly -16.12 degrees." It's overly specific and the angle measurement does not add to the case. Again, I must emphasize the [b]KISS[/b] principle: [b]K[/b]eep [b]I[/b]t [b]S[/b]imple, [b]S[/b]tupid!
[*]Don't kill your victim more than necessary. It... just makes things confusing. Although it can be used to demonstrate how heinous a crime is, it will complicate your case unnecessarily.
[*]Try to follow the [url=http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TheLawOfConservationOfDetail]Law of Conservation of Detail[/url]. The short version of this law of fiction is this: Details need to be as important to its pertinence to the plot. For example, if your crime primarily involves a gunfight, you need to add more detail to the gunfight than, say, what the person did while waiting for the opponent to show up to the gunfight..
[*]In general, anything that you introduce in the case must be resolved satisfactorily by the end of the case. Plot holes and logic holes, in general, are things that does not get resolved satisfactorily.
[*]Characterization, especially those of canon characters, needs to be solid. Play the games to find out how your character talks given a certain scenario. For example, AJ is really comedic when it comes to many different situations, and PW being quite the sarcastic person. Do be careful. Hobo Phoenix is [b]not[/b] the same as his lawyer counterpart (both AA and DD) or his student form (case 3-1).
[*]No matter who your protagonist is, you must remember the golden rule of writing an AA case: [b]we have to play as him/her[/b]. Make sure that you write your protagonist in a way that'll make him/her memorable and likable. The case will be boring if we have to play as a boring character. On the same token, if your character is a jerk, the audience will feel disgusted playing as that character.
[*]Most writers don't have a problem with the characterization of the protagonist, the co-council, the rival, the judge, the main witnesses, and the killer. Many writers forget to [b]fortify their minor witnesses and the defendants[/b]. Nothing is worse than forgetting why we are defending him in the first place.
[*]If you plan to use stock sprites as your OC, [i]don't just change the name[/i]; [b]change the character[/b]. It will be a challenge, but try not to [b][url=http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TypeCasting]typecast[/url][/b] the character to the sprite. Use your imagination and write your character in a way that does not resemble the canon character too much.
[list][*]Typecasted character: a mob enforcer with anger problems. (Tigre is a gangster who runs "Tender Lender")
[*]Original character: a rap artist. (It is a bit of a stretch, but it is doable. This characterization takes advantage of his overall appearance as well as some of his "angry poses" to make him look like he's cursing while recording.)[/list]
[list][*]Typecasted character: A [url=http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/ShrinkingViolet]Shrinking Violet[/url]. (That's her personality anyway.)
[*]Original character: an aspiring author. (This characterization takes advantage of her sketchbook and her writing poses.)[/list]
[list][*]Typecasted character: A showoff-y magician. (Valant is a magician anyway, so it might as well be called a "Valant Ripoff".)
[*]Original character: A veteran game show host. (The difference between a magician and a game show host is in the writing. Replace flamboyance with the intelligence and wisdom of a 72 year old, Emmy Award-winning TV host.)[/list]
[list][*]As an addendum, please stay away from Richard Wellington. He's been used way too often as either a fashion designer, a gay dancer, a theater dancer or some artsy person.[/list]
[*]For AJ cases, try not to make your OCs use AJ-era sprites, especially if the case takes place immediately following "Turnabout Succession". It really breaks the [url=http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/WillingSuspensionOfDisbelief]Willing Suspension of Disbelief[/url].
[*]Try to write the story in a way that keeps the player engaged. In any trial or story, there is some "downtime" or parts of the story that will slow the pace of the story. The trick to making a case successful is to make sure the story keeps the player wanting to finish the case. But don't resort to [url=http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/Padding]Padding[/url]. Rather, use the downtime to explain backstory or add in evidence. There has to be a point for a downtime.
[*]For a first case, [b]make sure the storyline is logical and everything makes sense[/b]. Don't slap in situations without explaining them. And don't slap in characters without introducing them in a way that makes them relevant to the case. It's better to have a slow introduction and a slow transition that explains everything than to have a sudden transition that makes no sense.
[*]Try to balance the length of the story with the amount of content in them. The usual problem authors have is that they don't realize that their story is way too short and the transitions are way too quick. Sometimes, the opposite is true: [url=http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/Padding]the story is dragging on for too long without doing anything for the story[/url].
[*]There are some topics that are absolutely off-limits for an AA-game (or at the very least, hard to pull off tastefully). Keep this game rated T not M.
[list][*][b]Rape/Sexual Assault[/b]: This is a really touchy subject for anyone. Most writers who attempt this do it poorly. The main reason this is hard to pull off correctly is because there are plenty of unfortunately implications that arise from such topics. One has to consider the trauma the victim goes through. And depending on the culture, the attitude of society at large. It is hard to pull this off tastefully in any medium. But in a light-hearted series like Ace Attorney, this will invoke the Cerberus Syndrome.
[*][b]Familial Abuse (Spousal abuse, child abuse)[/b]: Again, a really touchy subject. It's really hard to pull this off correctly for the same reasons above. You have to deal with the psychological issues for both the abuser and the abused. Showing a battered person (with bruises and cuts!) is going to invoke the Cerberus Syndrome instantly. This type of topic is better suited for [i]Law and Order: Special Victims Unit[/i].
[*][b]Sex[/b]: Please, this is not Fanfiction.net. Lemons are not accepted in the community at large for a fangame. Notice that this is not the same thing as Sexual assault. That's a whole different category altogether. IF you plan to involve sex, don't go for G-Rated Sex (implausible) but leave the act implied. Though easier to integrate into a case than Sexual Assault, try not to go into graphic detail.
[*][b]Human Trafficking[/b]: Carries a hell of a lot of baggage. This includes slavery, sexual assault, prostitution.
[*][b]Drug Abuse[/b]: A very complex issue to talk about. One has to go into addiction, rehabilitation, the suffering of the drug user, possible drug rings, and, very likely, the psychological/emotional problems of the use.[/list][/list][/spoiler]
[spoiler=Implementing Music][list][*]When you are selecting music, custom or not, make sure they sound good and harmonious with eachother. In other words, make sure they sound good [b]together[/b]. Music will set the mood, and if the transitions or the music choices are bad, you will ruin the experience for the audience. [list][*]This is an example of a discordant set of music: AA music for regular court music, Street Fighter Alpha 3 for Cross Examinations, Bon Jovi for Objection!, Soul Calibur IV for Cornered. This will not sound good at all.
[*]This is an example of a harmonious set of music: AA for lobby/court, GT for cross examinations, AA for Objection, Castlevania DS for Cornered. If you choose the right soundtracks from those series, they will sound harmonious, and it'll be a pleasure to listen to.[/list]
[*]Speaking of custom music, don't use it just because it sounds good. Use it so it fits the situation. If the music does not fit the situation or is actually dissonant to the mood of the scene, scrap that music and look for another.
[*]Know when to implement your music. Moderato plays in the majority of CEs until the finales. You do not need to set each frame to play music. The music will keep looping until you set it to stop or change the music.
Here are some key places to implement music:
[list][*]Prologue. It should stop before the lobby scene starts.
[*]Lobby. Obviously, this requires lobby music. Start the music after the time-location frame and end it before you have your time/location frame for the courtroom.
[*]Court introduction. Needs "court" music, obviously.
[*]Introduction to witnesses. Normally, court music will suffice unless you want this character to have a motif. Save custom character music for important witnesses and killers.
[*]Testimonies and Cross Examinations get those kinds of music. On earlier testimonies, use Moderato. On later testimonies (especially critical testimonies), use Allegro. If you are using AAI music, Presto only on the killer/final testimony.
[*]Legitimate Objections get, well, Objection! music.
[*]An objection on later testimonies that lead to critical revelations, use Cornered or Pursuit.
[*]Victory music for the victory in court. Save this music for when you get back to the lobby.[/list][/list][/spoiler]
[spoiler=Very useful Editor Tips][list][*]As stated on the previous subsection, music does not need to be put on every frame. It will play until you tell it to stop or if the situation calls for a change of music.
[*]You do not have to set a background picture every frame, only when you need to change the background picture do you need to actually consider setting one for another frame. In fact, unless the bg is going to have to change, do NOT set a bg for every frame, as this will make your trial load much more slowly than usual.
[*]If you want to save time and you don't plan to have a character appear in multiple scenes, go to the profile tab and select the background per character.
[*]Be careful when using the Detention Center BG. There's a reason there's two per era. "Ahead" means your character is situated [b]in front[/b] of the screen. "Behind" means that your character is situated [b]behind[/b] the screen. This becomes a problem if you have a co-council AND a defendant, so make sure you set it correctly every time.
[*]If your background is the defense bench, prosecutor bench, or witness stand, the desk/stand will appear in front of the character.
[*]Make use of the HIDE CHARACTER function. Beginners tend to miss this quite a lot.
[list][*]As a corollary to above, make use of "previous character" function. If you want to keep the character on screen while the main character is thinking, that's the way to go.[/list]
[*]For the Cross Examination block, this can't be emphasized enough: [b]do NOT redirect any frame to the testimony bar[/b]. I repeat: [b]do NOT redirect any frame to the testimony bar[/b]. You're going to create bugs. For more information on what to do instead, go to [url=http://aceattorney.sparklin.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=50&t=3940]this thread[/url].
[*]Any piece of evidence that does not have an "add evidence" action associated with them will be revealed by default once the Player loads the trial. If you STILL have "unhidden" evidence, make a couple of frames after the "end trial" action. Then "reveal" the rest of the evidence. That way, the player does not see unused evidence.
[*][b]Try to make notes in the editor.[/b] This is so you know what is supposed to happen in certain sets of frames. To do this, make a frame and write down your notes for that section and color the text green (or any other color other than white. Make it stand out). Then set it to hide. And make sure you [b]designate it as a note[/b] so you don't mistake it for a prompt or a CE statement. Remove these notes after you have completed the case.
[list][*]As an addendum, it would be a good habit to make visible codes for your CEs so that you can quickly ctrl+f it. Place these codes before a CE sequence is supposed to start. Personally, I use the following syntax: "[i]character[/i] CE [i]position[/i]" (remove the spaces). For example, if I have two CEs from Kristoph, my codes are "krisCE01" and "krisCE02". The other reason I use this syntax is because I can easily code the CEs for "press-all" CEs.[/list][/list][/spoiler]
When you're done with the developing of the story, it's time to worry about execution of the case.
[b]Everything in this section is an absolute must.[/b] You cannot skip this step if you wish to be taken seriously as an author.
[spoiler=Playtesting and betatesting][list][*]You need to [b]playtest[/b] your case. We cannot stress this enough. You need to play the case yourself to make sure everything runs smoothly and runs the way you want to. You will be surprised how many mistakes you can catch before you post it up or have it beta'd. The less work your betatesters have to do to fix your trial, the happier your betatesters will be when they submit them to you.
[*]The easiest way to playtest is to change “editeur” to “jeu” on the URL. When going back to fix from playtesting, “jeu” to “editeur.” If you want to playtest from a specific frame, save the trial then type the url as
where xxxxx is the ID of your trial, and yyyy is the frame of your trial.
[list][*]Look for: Spelling errors, grammar errors, OOC-ness (though this will be admittedly hard at first), wait-timer errors, redirection errors, profile-errors, etc. Try to fix anything that’s out of the ordinary, i.e., anything you wouldn't see in an AA-game.
You will need to record the whole frame in another document so that you can use the ctrl+f function to quickly find the frame and fix it.
[*]If there’s something you can’t fix that you don’t know how to solve, and if no guide answers it, make a thread at the [b]Questions about the Editor[/b] forum section. There will be more than enough people to be happy to answer you. ;)
[list][*]Also, use the [b]proper terminology[/b] when asking questions. Something like "how do I make the big picture from a few frames back disappear" does not mean anything to us. If we do not know what you're talking about, we cannot help you.[/list][/list][/list]
[list][*]It’s recommended that you ask someone to betatest for you (and someone with experience). They can easily make a list for things you need to fix for sure. They tend to focus on presentation issues, something you might not see. Also, ask them to look for grammar/syntax/punctuation mistakes.
[*]Just to be safe, get another betatester, and specifically ask them to focus on the STORY/Contradictions. Ask them to see if all of that makes sense or not. That way, you can plug up any plot holes before your case even gets reviewed by the masses of AAO.
[*]When you ask for betatesters, you need to be transparent. Meaning, be clear what kind of beta reports you want from your betas. And you should give them a reasonable due date for them to turn in their reports.
[*]If you post a topic to ask for betatesters, you [b]should NOT post the link of the trial to the thread[/b]. Remember, when you post a link, EVERYONE on AAO can see the link. This will ruin your trial debut, which will be discussed on the next subtopic. When it's on a public post, people can play it early. When you do debut the trial, nobody will be surprised. The public will have been spoiled early. That's shooting yourself in the foot.
The best way to ask for betatesters is to open the thread for hiring. Once you have people signed up to betatest, PM each betatester and give them the link. That way, only a few people will know the story and not spoil it for others. This is the [b]only way[/b] to do betatesting.
[*][b]Apply all betatesters' reports to your trial[/b] before you make it public. Don't put their hard work to waste. Of course, that's not to say that you can't reject suggestions. Rather, exercise prudence when you apply the reports to your trial.[/list][/spoiler]
[spoiler=Preparing the Trial Thread][list][*][url=http://aceattorney.sparklin.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=15&t=1195]READ the thread on presenting the showcase.[/url] A thread that starts out as “please play my case” or "I suck at this" and nothing more will often be ignored. We cannot stress this enough. It's called the [url=http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/ISuckAtSummaries]I Suck at Summaries[/url] excuse.
[*][b]Once you make significant progress, make a thread[/b] [url=http://aceattorney.sparklin.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=15&t=1195]following the guidelines on presenting a showcase of course.[/url] It is suggested that you have 50% of your trial completed before you post up a thread.
[*]When you make your thread, it needs to be error-free and nicely formatted. In other words, [b]your thread needs to be presentable[/b]. This is to not keep your viewers guessing; it’s to keep your thread organized with information, and the viewers can come easily knowing exactly what to expect (whatever you, as an author, reveal, that is).
[*]Also, please [b]do NOT abuse smileys[/b]. When we have threads that have too many emotes, it comes off as a smiley cancer, and that’s a HUGE turn-off. People will not take you seriously, nor will they give you respect. And it's a mark of a noob. (Spelling intended)
[list][*]It’s okay to have a few smileys, but use it sparingly.[/list]
[*]Know how to [b]EDIT your OP (Official Post)[/b], instead of simply double-posting/triple-posting/quadruple-posting/X-uple-posting, to show how to update your information.
[list][*]Excessive bumping is looked down upon, especially if you have nothing to show for your bumping.
[*]Forum rules states that there shall be one post per 12 hours if there are no replies.[/list]
[list]Your Thread should have the following:
[list=1][*][b]Title of your Series/Title of your Case[/b] (if you’re only doing one case)
[*][b]INTRODUCTION to YOU[/b] (Hi, my first time as an author here, etc.) and [b]Your Case[/b] (This case will be set in XXX-Era, it’s a trial-only case). You MUST state if this is an alternate universe. Otherwise, you’re going to receive massive criticism due to “breaking canon” when they play the trial.
[*][b]Sypnosis[/b]. Only reveal enough information about the case to get people to play the case and not ruin the story.
[*][b]Link to your trial[/b]. Use the [ url ] [/ url] tags (remove the spaces) to make it easier to find the case. Nothing is worse than when viewers have to search out the case. Save them the work, or people will think that you are [b]lazy[/b].
[*][b]Credits[/b]. General rule of thumb: Credits should go to betatesters and people who have made custom graphics and sprites (if needed).
[*][b]Updates[/b]. (If you have updated your thread in any way. This should be listed in decreasing order from latest to oldest.[/list][/list]
[*]This cannot be stressed enough: [b]put effort into writing a summary/synopsis of your trial/series.[/b] The best way to get people to start to take interest in your case is if you put effort into writing up a summary on the thread. That way, people will know what they can expect when they read it. Don't make the standard [url=http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/ISuckAtSummaries]I Suck at Summaries[/url] excuse. That gives the reader an excuse, excuse the pun, to not play through your trial. You've worked hard to make your trial, so make sure the synopsis of your trial/series reflects it.
[*][b]Advertise your trial correctly[/b]. Don't say it's a serious trial when it's a comedy. Don't say it's an AJ era case when it's a DD era case. If you're not getting the right kind of criticism (i.e. getting criticism aimed for a AJ era case when your case is a DD era case), then maybe you need to look at how you advertised your trial.
[*]Just like playtesting a trial, you must [b]preview the trial thread before posting[/b]. This will help you make sure your thread looks the way you want it to look. This will also help in catching come coding errors.
[*]If you have made the trial for a specific purpose, [b]you must include that information in that thread[/b]. This will save you and other people's time playing and reviewing the case when they know what this is for. Neglecting to mention that will cause plenty of headaches. Remember: those five seconds used to put that information WILL save 5 hours of time for others.
[*]When you have finished writing up your thread, [b]post it[/b]! Don’t worry, it takes awhile to get views/posts. These things take time, after all. By being very organized, you’re showing you’re very serious when it comes to trial making. People will take you MUCH more seriously than if your thread is disorganized.
[*]You can decide where to post where your progress is if you’d like, as long as people know you're working on the case.
[*]Once you think you have everything done, it’s time to... [b]POST THE PARTS TO YOUR THREAD[/b]!!!! Again, do yourself a favor and [b]edit the first post of the thread[/b]. Then make a new post in your thread so that your thread will go on top of the forum. This is how people notice that there is an update.
[*]Once you post the parts to your trial, just wait for views, and comments for people to play. Congratulations, newbie trial author, you've made a notable first time case. :D
[*][b]Brace yourself for criticism[/b]. As a general rule, anything posted to the public is up for criticism. No matter what happens, [b]do NOT lash out[/b]. You need to build up your reputation, [i]not[/i] destroy it.
[*]Most importantly, [b]keep your thread tidy and neat. [/b]Make it easy for us to read. Sure, it'll take some time with the BBCode, but it will make things easier to read and for you to update.[/list][/spoiler]
You've presented your trial (series). Now it's time to worry about reviews, criticisms, and QAs
[size=150][b]Reviews and QAs:[/b][/size]
[spoiler=Preparing for the General Crowd][list][*]As stated before, [b]brace yourself for criticism[/b]. [b]This is an absolute must[/b] because it will happen no matter what.
[*]You will get both favorable and not-so-favorable reviews.
[*]If you get a favorable review, thank the poster for his/her time to review it.
[list][*]If you get many favorable reviews, you might consider asking for a QA.
[*]Be careful, though. Certain AAO trial author's reviews carry more weight than others (and that's NOT counting the QA, who have pretty much final say in your trial.)[/list]
[*]If you get a not-so-favorable review, still thank the poster for his/her time to review it.
[list][*]Note: not-so-favorable reviews are more useful than favorable reviews.
[*]They often point out mistakes you might not have seen, such as logic errors, OOCness, presentation problems, etc.
[*]However, if the number of unfavorable reviews outweighs favorable reviews, you may want to take down your trial and work on it even more.
[*]You can safely ignore any flaming review, since they tend not to have actual workable criticism.[/list]
[*]If you're seeking specific criticism, ask for it in the thread. Players and Authors alike will be happy to oblige.
[*]You should take the time to address any concerns players and authors may have raised in their reviews. This is a good PR move for you. [b]You must be prepared to do this.[/b]
[*]Do yourself a favor and research who your critics may be. A critic who has a few successful trials under their belt (especially featured trials) and has a reputation for making great trials (especially those who are successfully put innovations in their trials) tend to make reviews that carry more weight than others. Also, know which users make detailed bug reports, because you want to seek their opinion in fixing bugs, especially before a QA.
[*][b]Don't make excuses for any mistakes[/b] that you have made. [b]Own up to it.[/b] When another author has pointed out any mistakes in the trial, don't dismiss it with an excuse. Address the issue either by talking about it or actually fixing it. Most newbie trials are small enough that changes can be made. This means that you have less room to make excuses.
The following list is a sample of the most commonly used excuses made. Using any of these excuses will make you look whiny, lazy, and pissy with a poor attitude. In turn, other authors and players won't give you respect for using excuses. A poor attitude will quickly ruin your reputation.
[list][*][b][url=http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/DontLikeDontRead]Don't Like, Don't Play[/url][/b]. This is the most tired excuse that has ever been made. And worse, every time it's invoked, it's used as a crutch to ignore legitimate criticism. Nobody has ever used this excuse correctly. You cannot make this excuse [i][u]after[/i][/u] the first reviews come in. Why? It's never a legitimate argument. The only way this can be used correctly is if you put up a content warning in the main post [b]BEFORE[/b] any review comes in. After that, you lose legitimacy.
Let's put this another way. What's the point of making this excuse after criticisms have come in? If they (the audience) doesn't play the trial, how will they know if they will or will not like it? You can't like or dislike something if you don't play it at all. It's very illogical to put this excuse out there.
If you are to use this excuse (and if by now you don't get the message, [b]never use this excuse[/b]), you need to have a clear synopsis to the trial [i]beforehand[/i] so that people who may not like the type of stuff you are advertising will safely ignore the trial. This is known as [b][i]Won't[/i] Like, Don't Play[/b]. [i]Not[/i] the same thing as "Don't Like, Don't Play."
[*][b]I Can't Change The Stuff[/b]. That's a big lie. Again, as stated above, most trials are small enough that you can go back to the editor and make the necessary changes. The Editor ALLOWS you to make the changes. If you invoke this excuse, you will be branded as lazy. And even worse, a liar. You might have an excuse if your trial is large (I'm talking about having a trial north of 2500 frames). However, even the best authors have been able to make the necessary changes with an even bigger frame count, so this excuse is even more diminished.
[*][b]I Didn't Make it for [i]You[/i][/b]: Fine, you did not aim your trial at a certain audience. It is NOT an excuse to have amateurish mistakes. Your trial should be presentable to others. It doesn't matter who you intended it for; it needs to look good. Opinions may vary on the content, but on objective stuff such as amateur mistakes are not debatle. Authors who resort to this [b]WILL be met with a verbal ass-whipping from other members.[/b] It is a known Berserk Button for this community. So don't even think of making this excuse.[/list]
[*][b]Do NOT ever be defensive on when responding to reviews.[/b] It makes you look whiny and immature. People don't respect that around here. Maturity is the way to go about responding to others.[/list][/spoiler]
[spoiler=Preparing for a QA][list][*]Give yourself a couple of weeks to contemplate on the reviews before asking for a QA. There are several things you should know about the QA:
[list=1][*]QA reviews are harder than reviews from resident trial critics.
[*]They will be nitpicky, because the trial is supposed to resemble a regular AA trial right down to the details.
[*]There are three choke points in a QA:
[list=1][*]Is your trial complete? If not, it automatically fails.
[*]Does your trial have a compelling story? Does it have sound logic? Does the QAer want to keep playing through the case? If the answer to any of these is "no", your case fails the QA.
[*]Is your presentation top notch? Does your music fit? Do you have SFXes? Are your sprites of High Quality (custom only)? Is there problems with your backgrounds?. Unless it's severe enough, you will have to fix it before it's officially approved as a "featured trial".[/list]
[*]You can ask for a QA as many times as you want, but you want to limit yourself to [b]three[/b] QA reviews from different reviewers.
[*]Get to know what each QA reviewer specializes in: [color=#FF0000][i](Will update this section once I get a report about the NEW QA team and their recent QAs).[/i][/color][/list]
[*]Read up on the QAs [url=http://aceattorney.sparklin.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=15&t=6730]here[/url].[/spoiler]
[spoiler=Pre-Planning][list][*]As a 1st-timer, we HIGHLY suggest that you [b]don’t[/b] do investigations, as they are harder to develop in the editor. Focus on doing a trial-only case.
[*]At this point, it is expected that you read the [url=http://aceattorney.sparklin.org/forum/viewforum.php?f=50]Tutorials subforum[/url] and the [url=http://aceattorney.sparklin.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=15&t=1298&start=0]Tips, Tricks and Info[/url] thread in order to find out how the Editor works. Do yourself a favor and refer to those before you ask a question in the "Questions about the Editor" section.
[*]We recommend that your first trial-only case that lasts around [b]1250-2500 frames TOTAL[/b]. Anything less than 1250 frames (including game over sequences) tends to fall on the short side. If you do this correctly, you should be able to fit around 4-8 cross examination blocks in there.
[list][*] Note: This number has been agreed by the community. Notable authors such as Zeel1, Tap, E.D.Revolution, ShadowEdgeworth, and BBblader have made their first trials last over 1250 frames, even as high as [b]3600 frames TOTAL[/b].
[*]On splitting cases: [quote="Tap"]If one part is less than 1000 frames, don't split it.[/quote]. In fact, don't split the trial if it's under 2000 frames.
[*]It is possible to have your trial take up fewer than 1250 frames but feel like there are more than 1250 frames in it. This requires a well-developed story as well as knowing every trick to the Editor.
[*]If the frame count doesn't help you establish length of trial, then make sure that we can play the trial for at least 30 minutes the first time someone plays the case. This means no skipping text.[/list]
[*]We advise against making a character, an idea, or case that requires a [b]LOT of custom content[/b] if it will hinder your progress. Examples where custom content doesn't hinder cases: Leon Prinze. Example where it does hinder: The Final Truth.
[*]Remember the business slogan [b]KISS[/b]: [b]K[/b]eep [b]I[/b]t [b]S[/b]imple, [b]S[/b]tupid! A less complex case will make it easier for readers and players to understand the story and case.
[*][b]We encourage you to recycle sprites.[/b] Don’t be afraid to do so, but do not be set to the limitations of the character’s set of emotions he/she has. A skilled author can make use of a limited set of sprites [i]to convey many emotions in many situations[/i].
[*]If you make an idea, it might sound great the first time you talk about it. Later on, you’ll probably need to refine it. Basically, think about your cases and think it through.
[*]We highly recommend against putting up more than 1 or 2 projects on AAO. Not only are you obligated to complete some work on them... You'll most likely be stretched too thin.
[list][*]Corollary to above: Don't always sign up for collaboration spots the minute someone opens them up. Again, you'll be obligated to complete some work on them. If you're stretched too thin, don't sign up. If you do sign up, tell the author that you have to resign.[/list]
[*]It’s okay if you want to do a simple case (you can do a simple case with a GREAT message/theme), [i]as long as you remember that everything is presentable[/i].
[*]Depending on the era of the case, consider canon events. Make your case(s) accommodate these canon events. If you do an Alternate Universe, [b]you need to justify it by explaining the back story[/b]. People [b]don't like an unexplained Alternate Universe[/b].
[*]On prequel series: [quote="E.D.Revolution"]I would advise that [b]first time[/b] authors [b]avoid [/b]prequel series. They are VERY hard to write for, and there's a high failure rate for those kind of projects. Currently, there is one successful Mia Fey series and one successful Young Edgeworth series. Attempt one only after you have a great handling of the Editor.[/quote]
[*]Do the best you can in retaining characterizations. Viewers tend to hate OOCness in general.
[*][b]Your protagonist needs to be likable[/b], so we're drawn to playing as him/her. Remember the golden rule for writing an AA case: we have to play as him/her. If we can't enjoy playing as him/her, we can't enjoy the case.[/list][/spoiler]
[spoiler=Development and Betatesting][list][*]Have a good plan and a general direction to go for your case. That way, you don’t need to improvise as much as possible.
[*]Every time you introduce a new character or situation, you must have transitions written in a way that makes sense in context. It'll be obvious when a situation or character has been plastered on to a case without explanation.
[*]Don’t [b]RUSH[/b]; take your time! Most newbie authors have failing cases because they RUSH in developing their case and release it as is!!! These things take time!
[*]In order to get through the herculean task of making a game, it is highly recommended that you create your own deadlines for certain checkpoints. For example, "I want to finish the first CE by next week, the second by the Wednesday after" and so on. Do this privately.
[list][*]On a related note, we do not recommend that you post a due date for your trial on your thread. It has always been counterproductive to any author (except in the case for Competition trials, but general Competition Trial rules state that you may [b]not[/b] post up the trial until the entry period has passed). In the end, most authors miss those due dates and put themselves down on it. Also, posting up your due date to finishing up the case will cause other authors/players to make you responsible for getting it done on time. That creates additional pressure on yourself.[/list]
[*]Give yourself a couple of [b]WEEKS [/b]of working on the trial before making a thread. You’ll have something to show for it when you present the thread.
[*]We recommend that you wait until you have completed about 50% of your trial trial before you post up the topic.
[*]Don't stress yourself when making these trials. Your trial will thank you.
[*]Apply all betatest reports before you make the trial public.
[*][url=http://aceattorney.sparklin.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=15&t=1195]Follow guidelines[/url] when posting a thread to your trial (series).
[*]On advertising:[quote="Blackrune"]Make a prologue or teaser about your case at the same time you're creating the thread. That way, you can gauge the audience's reaction and possibly help you keep going with the case.[/quote]
A trailer/teaser/prologue is not the same thing as the actual trial or game. A trailer sets the tone for the audience so the audience knows what to expect. By definition, it's a summary or synopsis in video form.
Do [b]NOT[/b] confuse this with making an "open beta", otherwise known as "putting up your first draft for the public to see and not telling them it's not finished."
[*]On a similar note, posting up an Obvious Beta or a First Draft of your trial on your thread [b]does not count as advertising or betatesting[/b]. Once you put up the trial link on the thread, it's considered published. Once the trial is published (complete or not), it cannot be unpublished. This is similar to the maxim "[i]You can't unring a bell[/i]." Once you put your work out there, people cannot forget the work you have made. It is especially jarring when you don't tell your audience, when released, it's not finished. [b]It's a dishonest practice that should not be practiced at all.[/b] Authors and readers WILL call you out on it.
[quote="drvonkitty"]As I see it, when you release one of these early "beta-test" versions of your trial to the general public, people tend to get a negative outlook on your trial. This is primarily because they're seeing a work-in-progress form of the trial, before any sort of revisions or private testing has been done. It's sort of like reading the first draft of a writer's story - it simply isn't that good. I personally think finishing the trial, sending it to a few people to review and give some feedback, and then releasing is a FAR better strategy.[/quote]
[*]It is recommended that you put up some screenshots as a form of advertisement on your thread. That way, people know you're working and that you have the evidence to show for it. We only need to see the dialogue, NOT the whole desktop.
[*]If you are going to be making a trailer/teaser/demo, there are two main methods of doing so: The proper way and the stealthy way.
[list][*][b]The proper way[/b] to make a trailer is to make another trial for the sole purpose of making trailers. As stated before, a trailer is, by definition, a summary or synopsis in video form. Make that trailer play like a preview of the case. It should [b]not[/b] contain gameplay elements.
[*][b]The stealthy way[/b] is to make use of your actual trial you plan to release. The trick to doing this is to rename the trial as a demo. Then set the cut-off point somewhere with an indicator that it's the end of the trialer. Use the action "End trial" to cut off the trailer before it gets to the gameplay. It is preferred that you use the prologue and the very beginning parts of your trial to make your demo.
However, if you plan to release the trial later under the same URL, you [b]must[/b] tell your audience that this is the very same link to the demo, now fully playable. If you don't do this and some people notice, they will rightfully call you out for being dishonest.[/list][/list][/spoiler]
[spoiler=Preparing for Reviews][list][*]Sometimes, even if you post a successful first case, you might not get noticed at all (Example: Turnabout Deception, Narokh’s featured cases). It’s just the way of things, and there's nothing you can do about it except [b]advertise it in your own thread[/b]. Remember the double posting rule, though.
[*]Notable Authors, like E.D.Revolution, Phantom, Tap, etc. love to hear about new trial series from first-time authors. They will also attempt to help your case get noticed if your trial is very enjoyable to play, by posting in your thread for bugs, comments, praise, feedback, etc.
[*]AAO, in general, tends to be "Minnesota Nice" whereas other places such as CR tend to be "straight as an arrow." If you notice that the reviews from AAO tend to be a bit too... restrained or "nice", that's likely because they're not telling the whole truth or afraid to tell the truth. It's a problem with the microcosm here. They confuse "stating the honest truth" with "asking for a confrontation."
[*]On asking for a Quality Assurance Review:[quote="E.D.Revolution"]QA reviews are [b]not[/b] for simple professional opinions. They are for asking for the trial to be featured. It's best to wait a couple of [b]weeks[/b] before you ask for a QA rather than a [i]few days[/i] since the release of your trial. That way, you have time to develop and mature your trial to V2 or whatever update. QA reviewers are harder on you than your resident trial critics. Just because you've got good (note: good) reviews doesn't necessarily mean you're prepared for a QA. If people all over AAO are talking about your trial, you can almost guarantee that you're prepared for a QA review. In fact, ask some tough critics for a review of your trial before asking for a QA. They often see things most people miss (and it will help you cover up major errors before a QA.)[/quote]
[*]Being a novice does not give you immunity to criticism. You must be prepared to receive critcism (both constructive and destructive).[quote="AP-Master"]Being a novice means that you have no previous experience in making your own case. A lot of the aspects that define a good game are not necessarily determined by experience. After all, there are a lot of masterpieces out there that were the author's first work! If you prepare yourself properly before starting your work, you can certainly have your own masterpiece to present! So please, [b]don't demand people to overlook your mistakes because you are a rookie[/b].[/quote]
[*]Do not make standard excuses to cove up mistakes. IT's been done a million times before, and nobody will believe it.
[*]Taking an experienced authors's advice and [i]spitting it back in their faces[/i] is the best way to get your trial [b]flamed[/b]. Don't do it. Take the advice gracefully, since they're [b]very experienced with the editor[/b]. [i]You will earn major brownie points[/i] with the AAO community by [i]being graceful and magnanimous towards your rivals and everyone else[/i].
[list][*]Addendum by Phantom.[quote="Phantom"]As a trial author, you don't have to take the advice. In fact, you're not obliged to do so. But you [b]should[/b] take the time to say "Thank you" to the person who posted up advice because that person took the time to comment and provide ways to improve your case.[/quote][/list]
[*][b]Finally, don't forget to ask for help when you need it.[/b][/list][/list][/list][/list][/spoiler]
Well, I hope that this thread helps in your creation of your first case here on AAO. These tips were compiled by veteran trial authors, so we know what we're saying. Don't be afraid to ask for help and don't be afraid to make your case.