Trial Flow: How to Structure a Case

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Trial Flow: How to Structure a Case

Post by Enthalpy »

However much Apollo may wish he could have a simple case for once, that is never going to happen in Ace Attorney, where the cases all take some time to unravel. The only people this frustrates more than Apollo are fancase designers. How do you write a trial so that progress is consistently made on that unraveling without being confusing or feeling disjointed and random?

The two authors of the Ace Attorney games have very different views on what a good trial looks like, which leads to differences in the planning process. This tutorial will describe their answers to the question as thoroughly as possible. After introducing some useful terms, we will analyze the two in turn by a style overview, an in-depth demonstration of how one of their cases follows the rules, and a reverse-engineering of the planning process that led to that case.

Common Concepts and Techniques

We begin by considering some concepts common to both styles.


A point in a discussion is continuous if the specific thing being talked about only changes slightly from what is right before and right after, or in other words, there are no topic jumps. You likely have a good intuition already for how to tell what "the specific thing" is and how small "small pieces" are. For instance, in the last paragraph, I promised to talk about common concepts, and now I have gone on to describe one of those common concepts. The discussion is continuous here. Had I instead talked about cupcakes, the discussion would have been discontinuous. It would still have been discontinuous had I talked about a particular model of trial flow or the importance of trial flow, even though both my original topic and this new topic relate to trial flow.

Continuity is a local idea; it only tells you that the specific topic is not changing much near a point. The more visually inclined can think of this like a continuous curve. You know that if some point is on the curve, another "nearby" point is on the curve, but you have no idea what the curve will be doing after you follow it for a while.


Parts of a discussion are in the same block if the broader thing being discussed remains the same from the start of the block to its end. To use examples from Ace Attorney, Frank Sahwit's testimony that he heard a recording and his testimony that he heard the clock fall in the same block because both discuss what Frank Sahwit witnessed and the initial contradiction in what he witnessed. Jean Armstrong testifying that Furio Tigre compelled him to testify falsely about the murder and Furio Tigre testifying that he has no relation to Tres Bien are not in the same block. Phineas Filch's testimony that he didn't see Tenma Taro from the house entry and Jinxie Tenma's testimony that she didn't see Tenma Taro at the crime scene are in the same block, since these testimonies are all talking about the possibility of a third person disguised as Tenma Taro at the crime scene.

Continuity and blocks both group related things, but they do it in different ways. Continuity is a local idea, but blocks are a global idea; it tells you the more general topic is the same over a wider swath of time. Where continuity could be visualized like a continuous curve, to visualize a block, imagine a set of points staying within some cube. They may be continuous, or they may not, but they can't go very far.

As the analogy suggests, that things are continuous does not imply they have a common block. Armstrong's testimony about Furio is the reason why the court calls Furio to testify, so the two testimonies are continuous, but they clearly belong in different blocks. Nor does being in a common block imply continuity. Filch's testimony and Jinxie's are in the same block, but there is a discontinuity between the blocks, when Blackquill changes topics to remind us of Jinxie's testimony.

If a large amount of dialogue fits into a single block, the block organizes the dialogue, keeping related bits together and emphasizing where one block transitions to the next. Continuity has a similar function. If dialogue is continuous, it is much easier for players to remember and organize the various things they have seen. One logical point remembered flows into the next.

Primary and Derivative Progress

Many points get discussed in an Ace Attorney game, but some are more directly relevant to the character's goals than others. The newspaper article about Gourdy in 1-4 is relevant because it suggests the witness was at the lake to find Gourdy, which suggests she was watching the lake and not the boat, which renders her testimony about clearly seeing Edgeworth on the boat less credible.

It is useful to analyze "how" important a fact is to unraveling the mystery, and the chain described above suggests a hierarchy may help. We'll define the most abstract goals of the player as "base goals." There are normally three:
  • undercut the arguments/evidence of the rival characters
  • come to new, correct conclusions about how the crime happened
  • incriminate the real culprit
We define primary progress as whatever is done that most directly accomplishes those goals. For instance, for 1-3, the goals are:
  • undercut the arguments/evidence of the rival characters
    • Introduce doubt into Oldbag's claim that Powers and only Powers had opportunity.
    • Propose an alternate explanation for the Steel Samurai photo.
    • Find a way to break Edgeworth's "exclusive opportunity" argument.
  • come to new, correct conclusions about how the crime happened
    • People were at Studio Two.
    • The man in the Steel Samurai costume was Hammer.
    • Hammer drugged Power to steal his costume.
    • The crime scene was Studio Two.
    • The murder weapon was the fencing outside the Studio Two Trailer.
    • Hammer wanted to kill Vazquez, and her killing was in self-defense.
    • Sal was Vazquez's accomplice.
    • Vazquez and Sal used the van to move the body to Studio One.
    • Vazquez and Sal changed Hammer's costume and faked the murder weapon.
  • incriminate the real culprit
    • Prove Vazquez saw Hammer limping
Derivative progress helps the player accomplish primary progress or other derivative progress. For instance, accusing Oldbag is derivative progress because that directly helps us learn that people were at Studio Two (primary progress). Pointing out that she deleted a picture is also derivative progress because it helps us get other derivative progress: it introduces the possibility that Cody was an eyewitness.

The same progress can be simultaneously primary and derivative. For instance, that the Steel Samurai was Hammer is primary (we come to a new, correct conclusion about the crime), derivative to primary progress (that directly helps us show that Powers was drugged), and derivative to derivative progress (it helps us prove the murder weapon was fake, which helps us prove Vazquez and Sal faked it).

Economy, Connectedness, and Working Backwards

You will not need to trace out all the ways in which all pieces of progress relate to each other, but you will need to work backwards from them. Rather than starting with the evidence and witnesses and figuring out what is "most reasonable to happen next," we observe that we want certain pieces of primary progress in our trial and think of derivative progress that could lead to them, and so figuring out how something can be proven. If necessary, we can even work backwards from our derivative progress!

To give an example: The "working backwards" approach does not start with a receipt for a light stand and asks how that can be used to prove Redd White was in Mia Fey's office on the day of the crime. It asks how we can prove that Redd White was in Mia Fey's office on the day of the crime and invents the receipt for a light stand and a testimony where he says the light stand fell.

When working backwards, economy and connectedness are twin guiding principles. We want to solve as many problems as possible with fewer pieces of evidence, as otherwise, both the Court Record and our players' minds become cluttered. This is economy. Achieving this economy often means connecting separate ideas and using the same thing to achieve multiple unrelated purposes. For instance, the receipt for the glass light stand not only implicates Redd White but serves initially as forged evidence against Maya, when Maya's name is written on it in Mia's blood. These kinds of connections are an important aesthetic feature of Ace Attorney solutions.

Takumi Flow

Takumi Flow is exemplified in the games created by Shu Takumi, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney (PW:AA), Justice for All (JfA), Trials and Tribulations (T&T), Apollo Justice (AJ), and Professor Layton vs Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney (PLvAA). Compared to the others, PW:AA drags with trials being stretched to three days, and PLvAA is compressed with one day trials. Takumi Flow can also be seen in AAI, but conventional trials will be the focus here.

Rules and Recommendations

In Takumi's trials, the prosecution is trying to persuade the court that the defendant is guilty, and the defense reacts to this by examining the prosecution's evidence and testimony and exploring any discrepancies in them. As a result, Takumi's trials divide into blocks based on the event about which the witness is testifying, e.g., seeing the defendant commit the murder, the prosecution's theory of the crime, or a past incident relevant to the murder. The subject of the testimony is determined by what will most advance the prosecution's case, and subsequent testimonies occur because the prosecution wants more incriminating testimony from the witness or the defense found a discrepancy that warrants investigation.

Each day usually has two to three blocks, and each witness has their own block. These blocks stick tightly to the original reason the witness was called to the stand, since "case-changing" information only comes towards the end of the block. If "case-changing" information does occur, the block may change direction for a single testimony, but the block remains whole. For example, most of Jean Armstrong's block in 3-3 is attempts to explain Victor Kudo's testimony, but after we prove that the explanation is that the crime was reenacted, Armstrong's final testimony has him confess to his role in the reenactment and implicate Tigre.

Blocks almost always end with something that leads into a new area to investigate. The few exceptions to this occur in PW:AA, and there, we instead have bought enough time for the trial to continue. Transitions between blocks are where a discontinuity is most likely to occur, but even there, discontinuities are rare.

Takumi's prizing of continuity and how slow progress is in his trials combine to imply that while the prosecution may revise their case theory, their argument remains largely unchanged until the very end. When their theory is seriously challenged, the usual response is to call the defense's results speculative, deny the credibility of an inconvenient witness, or make a minor amendment to their theory. In 1-3, Edgeworth keeps his case against Powers on the third day by calling Phoenix's argument that the crime scene was Studio Two speculative, since his photograph doesn't capture the murder. In 2-3, Franziska doesn't have to explain the flying defendant if she just throws out Moe's testimony. As a result, this scenario should never happen.

While cross-examinations are required for progress, they are mainly used for getting new information. The player "figuring out" the crime (primary progress) happens outside cross-examinations, by choosing options and presenting evidence. "Figuring out" the crime tends to occur in clusters of related aspects of the crime. For instance, we conclude that Jack Hammer drugged Will Powers, the true crime scene was Studio Two, and Jack Hammer was in the Steel Samurai costume at about the same point in the trial.

Case to Rules: The Fire Witch

We'll next examine an actual case, "The Fire Witch" from Professor Layton vs Ace Attorney. Despite the inclusion of magic and mob examinations, the structure is typical for a one-day case in Takumi style.

Part 1

Phoenix Wright, convinced that he is living as a baker in a medieval world where witches are frighteningly real, suddenly finds himself having to defend his friend Espella from the charge of burning two robbers to death with magic. After the prosecution gives an opening statement and brief explanation of the crime, we enter the first and only block of the trial, which is what the four witnesses saw followed by explanations for the initial contradiction, and then a closing cross-examination to explain the deduction the defense makes at the end.
As we go, confirm for yourself that the six testimonies are a block, for the reason given above.

In cross-examination one, the witnesses attest that after the victims grabbed Espella, she said something, and then fire consumes the victims, with no source of flame (other than magic) in sight. We contradict this by pointing out that the victim's lantern has fire, but Barnham says a lantern fire would have grown too slowly to have been what the witnesses saw and calls the testimony decisive evidence that Espella killed the victims with magic. Layton brings us an encyclopedia on witchcraft, and we object that the witnesses did not see the required witch's sceptre. Barnham then produces the sceptre and uses its gems to show the witch using it had the powers of invisibility and fire from nowhere. However, the witnesses still did not see the sceptre. Barnham and the witnesses just say the sceptre was invisible.
In these early testimonies, Takumi is emphasizing just how foreign this court system is. We are cross-examining four witnesses at once in a literal witch trial. We are in a world where "the lantern caused the fire" is deemed implausible, so instead, our legal defense is that the defendant didn't satisfy the rules for using magic. To support our case, we must prove the defendant could not possibly have held an invisible sceptre at the time of the crime. Throughout the case, we will attack the credibility of these witnesses by showing they contradict themselves, had poor hearing/eyesight, fight each other, steal evidence, and edit their testimony to get the verdict they want. The court is still prepared to issue a death sentence on their basis of the testimony of these witnesses. The block structure makes it easier to take this all in.

Testimony two tries to support this invisible sceptre theory. The witnesses claim the hand with the lantern was unnaturally contorted, as if holding an invisible sceptre, but we point out that the lantern on that wrist fell, and that would require dropping the sceptre in her hand. She couldn't have held a sceptre in the hand! In the ensuing arguing with the witnesses, we establish that Kira is missing her glasses.
Note both that we remain in the block (the witnesses still testify about what they saw), and the transition is continuous (accepting magic -> object on the basis of the rules of magic being broken by the defendant not holding a Talea Magica -> here is how the defendant could have held the Talea Magica without the witnesses seeing).

In testimony three, the witnesses place the invisible sceptre in the hand carrying the milk bucket. Once a witness confesses to taking the milk bucket from the scene, and we make her give it to the court, we point out that the bucket's geometry means Espella couldn't have held her staff in that hand either. So if Espella didn't cast the spell with the sceptre in her left hand or her right hand, she didn't hold it at all, meaning she could not have used witchcraft.
We have now forced the prosecution to, ever so slightly, change his theory. The means by which Espella held the staff to commit the crime has changed! Note both that this is a small change, and the player can see that progress is being made.

Barnham instead asserts that she cast the fire spell before dropping the lantern and the sceptre, and the witnesses affirm this in testimony four. This contradicts previous testimony, but the court accepts it anyways. After further pressing, we get one witness saying that the spell came before the lantern was dropped. As the witnesses are inconsistent on whether it was even possible for Espella to have cast the spell, the judge is prepared to drop the charges.
Thus ends part one! Again, check that we have continuity and block structure. Note that we remain in the block, as the event the witnesses testify about remains the same.

Part 2

Before he does so, a fifth witness takes the stand. The five witnesses now agree that Espella had the invisible sceptre on her back until after she dropped the milk bucket, at which time she used her now free hand to grab the sceptre. We do not succeed in disproving this, but we learn that there should have been only four witnesses to the crime, not five. We conclude that one of the witnesses is the real witch. The witch, due to the constraints of the fire spell, was near Espella, but masked her presence using the invisibility spell.
We have yet again forced Barnham to change his theory, but it survives this cross-examination. The prosecution can still argue that Espella had the staff on her back. This is a good part of the case, as if we had conclusively proven Espella's innocence, the trial would have no reason to go on. Also note that Barnham has no reason to accept our conclusions. He can simply dismiss the number of witnesses not adding up as one witness not being seen amidst the darkness and confusion. This is why he doesn't have to change his own theory to account for this new information!

Observe that we still have continuity: investigating how Espella held the staff has caused enough infighting among the witnesses that a fifth witness has come forward, leading to the realization that we now have too many witnesses.

We begin the sixth testimony, where the witnesses try to explain why an extra witness appeared. After pressing, we learn that one of the witnesses heard a woman call his name behind him. As the witnesses have already marked their locations, and Kira is behind that witness, the woman calling his name was Kira. Kira says she did not know his name and thus could not have called it, but we have an alternate idea: she was not calling his name but using the cancel-invisibility spell, which has the same name. She's the witch!
This is an instance where the last testimony in the block remains about what was witnessed, but the direction changes.

Barnham asks why Kira would have needed to cancel the invisibility and appear at the crime scene like a normal witness when she could have remained invisible and fled the crime scene. We speculate that Kira lost her glasses the night of the murder, not a few days ago, as she said previously, and lingered at the crime scene to find them (so there would be no incriminating evidence against her), but failed. We're asked to prove the speculation, and we quickly realize that if the glasses were not found at the scene, they must have been taken. We say the glasses were in the milk bucket Espella carried, and due to the bucket having been swiped from the crime scene before Kira arrived, this would prove Kira was by Espella's side during the fight with the robbers. Finding the glasses in the bucket, we prove Kira is the witch! Our client is not guilty!
Note that all of this is being proved after the cross-examination, not during it. We are also asked to prove our story about missing glasses. Our speculation is not enough.

Rules to Case: The Fire Witch

We would next like to consider how to build the logic of The Fire Witch ourselves, from a rough description of the crime. We will make use of working backwards, economy, connecteness, and the division of progress.

Part One: A Rough Sketch

We must start with a rough sketch of what the case is to be like. Without knowing Takumi's thoughts, we have to guess. The following outline seems plausible:
  • The case should introduce the players to the world of witch trials.
    • Magic has its own rules: the Talea Magica, the gems, and the incantantions.
    • Multiple witnesses testify at once. This gives special mechanics for pressing and witnesses contradicting each other.
    • Mob psychology and emotions render normal tests of bad testimony, e.g., repeated inconsistencies, competence to witness, and biased testimony, ineffective.
  • The trial should be relatively simple, at between five and seven cross-examinations.
  • The crime is that a witch committed a magical murder.
  • The motive for the crime is to frame Espella, who is the case's defendant.
  • The game should feel like we are directly working against the witch trials.
This simple description gives a lot to work with if we work backwards. How do we introduce players to the rules of magic? We start the trial with a block that forces the player to argue from the rules of magic to try and prove that Espella couldn't have committed the crime. At some point, we'll need to transition into accusing somebody, but that is just another part, not necessarily another block. Which rule of magic will we use for our defense? Espella wasn't holding a Talea Magica, so we will either need the witnesses to think they saw her with one or a reason why they didn't they wouldn't have seen it if she did hold one. Either option seems viable, so let's work backwards from somewhere else and see if that gives us a preference.

How are we going to prove the killer's guilt? Given a story about fighting the logic of witch trials, it makes sense to have physical evidence left at the scene. We need a good reason why the investigators didn't find it, though. There are many options available here, and the one Takumi chose is that a third party took it away from the scene. We can't have the evidence be obviously incriminating, and in a world without forensic evidence, that limits how we can make evidence that isn't obviously incriminating actually be incriminating.

At this point, Takumi comes up with the idea of how to prove it: the witness dropped something in a bucket of milk she was carrying. This "something" wasn't noticed earlier because one of the witnesses took the bucket, and it was only recovered mid-trial. Nobody thinks to check if anything fell in the milk bucket until the very end. This has several implications:
  • If the witch dropped something in the milk bucket, she must have had to have been near Espella for the frame-up. We already know magic spells have constraints, so we can explain this with one of those constraints: the specific murder spell used is close-range?
  • The witch must not have been seen, either. We'll have to explain this with invisibility magic.
  • That invisibility magic is in play suggests what block one should be about: was the witness carrying an invisible Talea Magica?
  • We will need to learn in trial both that one of the witnesses stole the milk bucket and that one of the witnesses lost something.
  • We can connect both of these facts to things we already want for the trial: if the missing something is a pair of glasses, that information can come out when we're questioning the witness's credibility, since we want to highlight how bad these witnesses are. We just need the witness to not see something. As for the milk bucket, our investigation into the milk bucket will start when we're considering how the witness held an invisible Talea Magica.
Part Two: Filling in Details

To review, here's what we have so far:

Part 1:
We argue with the witnesses over whether Espella could have held an invisible sceptre, to cast the spell. During this, we learn one witness lost her glasses and another witness took a milk bucket Espella had with her.

Part 2:
We argue the witch, based on the constraints of the spell used, was standing where Espella was. She was not seen because she remained invisible. We already suspect the witch was the witness who lost her glasses, and we prove she is the witch by realizing both that she lost her glasses at the time of the crime and by realizing that they must have fallen into the milk. Finding them in the milk proves she is the witch.

We can choose to focus on either part next - part 1 needs a chain of logic in which we argue about the sceptre, and part 2 needs us to elaborate on how we prove the witch's identity. Specifically, we need to smooth some of these transitions, figure out why we suspect the witness who lost her glasses, and figure out why she had to have lost her glasses then. Again in the spirit of economy and connectedness, we see if we can accomplish any of these tasks at once. We need to smooth the transition from "the witch was invisible" to "the witch lost her glasses at the time of the crime" and show when she lost them. Suppose the witch became visible again to find her missing glasses. If Barnham asked us why the witch would become visible and stay at the crime scene, that'd be the answer. (And, come to think of it, a witch who was invisible the entire time would have a much weaker reason to take the stand now.) All we need now is a reason to suspect her, and this has given us one: she was heard saying the spell to reverse invisibility.

The updated part 2:
During a cross-examination, we learn one of the witnesses heard the cancel-invisibility spell being used. We argue an invisible witch is the criminal, and having already concluded one of these witnesses is the witch, we can narrow it down to one. (Perhaps based on who was around the witness who heard the spell.) Based on the constraints of the spell used, she must have been standing where Espella was. Barnham asks why the witch would have wanted to become visible again anyways, and we conclude that the witch lost her glasses at the time of the crime and attempted to recover them, to prevent there being evidence against her. However, she couldn't find her glasses because they fell into the milk, which another witness took from the scene.

This looks good! We'll need to do some more polishing for the full case, like eliminating other reasons why Kira may have turned invisible and make sure she had to find her glasses. (The game is smart about this and uses the weather to deny the possibility that Kira could have made her glasses look un-incriminating.) We'd also like to work out exactly how many cross-examinations go into this part, but for that, we'll need some help from part 1, so let's handle that next.

Part Three: Finalizing Details

Part 1 focuses on our argument about the possibility of holding an invisible sceptre, during which we want to emphasize the strangeness of these witch trials. (Note that we have implicitly decided that part one and part two remain in the same block - the witnesses testify about what they saw when the murder happened!) It makes sense, narratively, to have a first cross-examination where a "rational" attempt to explain the death is shot down by the court. If the victim had a lantern that broke and the cause of death was fire, that would certainly provide that "rational" explanation, and both economy and connectnedness like the idea: the victim was holding two things in her hands, which make for a much more interesting argument about the invisible sceptre.

Between this cross-examination and the next seems like a good place to introduce the Talea Magica problem, so we'll slot that in next. Something (Professor Layton) tells Phoenix to fight assuming magic is real and gives him the evidence (the encyclopedia of witchcraft) to do so. That means the next cross-examinations are where the actual arguing about the invisible sceptre take place.

How can the witnesses say Espella had an invisible sceptre? They can say she had it in the hand with the lantern, with the lantern on her wrist, but then the lantern falling off means the sceptre falls as well. There's cross-examination two. They can say she had it in the hand with the milk bucket, but what if the geometry of the milk bucket means she couldn't have held them both at once? This is also a great time to get that all-important milk bucket from the witnesses. This reminds us that we need to show one of the witnesses is missing her glasses, and we can pencil that in after cross-examination two. We can just mention the mud on the lantern when talking about it falling, the witness doesn't see the mud, and we use this to point out her glasses. At the same time, this lets us show just how poor the credibility of the witnesses is!

The rules indicate that we shouldn't stop the prosecution completely, so how else can the prosecution recover from this? They can say that the spell was cast after the lantern was dropped, with her lantern hand, or they can say she used her milk hand after the milk bucket was dropped. That opens the question of where the Talea Magica was beforehand. Perhaps on her back? We can shoot down one of these, but we need the other to remain open for the prosecution. Given that we also want to show off some of these new features and to show how bad these witnesses are, it makes sense for the witnesses to contradict each other on whether the spell or the lantern breaking came first, after we press them.

All this leaves is how to transition into the defense coming up with their own ideas. While there are multiple ways to do this, Takumi wants strong proof and to introduce a recurring character. He has a fifth witness join the fray, so that on pressing their next testimony in block two (the staff on back explanation), a witness says there is now one witness too many. This strengthens the player's suspicion that one of the witnesses is actually the witch. We then enter part 2, as previously described.

And there you have it! Our case outline is now as follows:

Part 1:
The witnesses testify about how Espella was the witch burning her enemies to death, all without hard evidence. Despite our best efforts at a "natural explanation" via a lantern fire, the court rejects us, forcing us to argue on the basis of magic. We appeal to the fact that the witnesses didn't see the magic staff, forcing the witnesses to try and support an invisible staff. We knock down options one after another. Was it in the hand with the lantern? No, the witnesses say the spell came after the lantern broke, but the staff had left her hand there. Hand with the milk bucket? No, we recover the milk bucket and find its shape prevents her from having held the bucket and staff in the same hand. Did she cast the spell before dropping the lantern? No, the witnesses are inconsistent. We then get a fifth witness to enter the scene and get the others to try another, even more contrived explanation for the invisible staff.

Part 2:
After pressing the witnesses on their "staff on the back" theory, we learn we have one witness too many. One must be the witch! We have the witnesses testify about seeing each other, and through doing so, we learn one of the witnesses heard the stop-invisibility spell being used. We argue an invisible witch is the criminal, and having already concluded one of these witnesses is the witch, we can narrow it down to one. (Perhaps based on who was around the witness who heard the spell.) Based on the constraints of the spell used, she must have been standing where Espella was. Barnham asks why the witch would have wanted to become visible again anyways, and we conclude that the witch lost her glasses at the time of the crime and attempted to recover them, to prevent there being evidence against her. However, she couldn't find her glasses because they fell into the milk, which another witness took from the scene.

Just compare that to the case outline from earlier. We have successfully used working backwards to get the case. Our method works!

Yamazaki Flow

Yamazaki Flow is exemplified in the games created by Takeshi Yamazaki: Ace Attorney Investigations 2 (AAI2), Dual Destinies (DD), and Spirit of Justice (SoJ). Although he also made the first AAI, that game is closer to Takumi's style. Conventional trials will be the focus here.

Rules and Recommendations

In Yamazaki's trials, the prosecution is trying to persuade the court that the defendant must be guilty, that there is no other possibility, and the defense reacts to this by trying to show an alternate possibility. Accordingly, defense logic is quick to assume a point if it will "change the case," even if its implications are unclear and the supporting logic is shaky. The prosecution won't object, so long as they can still argue that only the defendant had opportunity. Further, these fast-paced cases frequently change key facts. Blocks here are no longer built on what witnesses saw, but on what theory the defense is trying to pursue or what objection to their theory they are trying to circumvent. In either case, the goal is to show a possibility. As such, eyewitnesses are much rarer. Instead, witnesses often testify to a fact they know and explain how that helps the prosecution. See Myriam Scuttlebutt in DD-3.

The most appropriate way to divide blocks will depend on the case. For instance, SoJ-2 has the defense pursue three different theories (that the murder occurred below stage, that the murder did not occur when the sword entered the coffin, and another theory to accuse the real killer). DD-2 has the defense stay steady on suspecting a third person in the room, but the argument they fight changes (that no evidence points to a third person, that Phineas's testimony prevents a third person, that Jinxie's testimony prevents a third person, that L'Belle's testimony does not prove he was a third person, and then that Jinxie's testimony prevents a third person again).

Because the focus is on possible versus impossible, and the facts that govern "possible" frequently update, the theories of both sides change just as often. Prosecution theories are not scrutinized for agreement with the evidence because the point remains that the defense does not have a theory free of major problems. In DD-3, the defense never investigates Myriam's testimony about switching the trial script because even though it is suspicious, it won't help the defense come up with an explanation for how somebody besides Juniper knew her trial script. On the rare occasions that a contradiction is found in the prosecution's case, the prosecution will point out the defense's lack of a theory, they go after some side plot, the defense will fail to come up with a coherent theory, the defense returns to the original contradiction as a final effort to hold the prosecution back, and the prosecution is then able to explain the contradiction away by substantially changing their original theory. See the yokai evidence in DD-2 and the argument over the movements and orientation of Inmee's killer in SoJ-3. In short, this scenario is perfectly acceptable.

The witness testimonies are never systematic in building the prosecution's case. After one or two testimonies, the defense quickly finds something worth latching onto, and that determines how the rest of the trial moves. While the defense may have been wrong in whatever theory they were pursuing, they learn some useful things along the way. This can lead to discontinuous and confusing cases if not handled carefully. For instance, in SoJ-4, the first two testimonies were about how witnesses saw exactly who entered and left the crime scene, but after Athena points out a gap in time in their observation, Nahyuta changes the focus of his prosecution to evidence at the scene. Cross-examining a witness about this evidence starts a block where we accuse the witness. The witness turns out to not have been the murderer, but while we were accusing him, we learned that the victim's time of death was long before we thought.

Because contradictions are not good for theory-building, Yamazaki cases have fewer contradictions and more constant evidence presents, unlike the Takumi cluster. Instead, testimonies and contradictions have the role of getting the player to wherever they need to be for the "next step" of the logic. With rare exceptions, this entails completely changing the topic between successive testimonies. In DD-3, for instance, we transition from how Juniper planned to make her M.O. unincriminating to whether and why Robin wore Juniper's dress to marking Robin as a suspect. In this particular case, and in many other cases, Yamazaki uses a side plot to make the transition work. As a result of this style, those who try to retrace their steps will end up confused. Instead, Yamazaki flow rewards those who remember only the immediate problem the defense has to deal with.

It cannot be overstated that Yamazaki's style must be done with extreme care for clarity of the arguments being made for it to work.

Case to Rules: The Magical Turnabout

We'll examine the second case from Spirit of Justice. The stakes of the case have little bearing on the case logic, but broad details will be mentioned as appropriate.

Part 1

We open in the defense lobby to a nervous Apollo. Trucy was giving the dress rehearsal of her magic show, and after stabbing a (rubber) sword into an (empty) coffin, she found the dead body of one of her assistants, Mr. Reus, inside the coffin. Trucy was originally arrested for involuntary manslaughter, since she apparently failed to use the rubber sword for this trick, but the prosecution amended the charges to murder, and Apollo has no idea why. Apollo suspects this was murder by some third party, but the only suspects have alibis. Even worse, one of those suspects is defaming Trucy on mass media, stirring up crowds against the Agency, and also claiming the rights to everything in the Agency.
The volatility and ease of manipulation of public opinion is a recurring theme during Spirit of Justice. While most prevalent in Khura'in, stateside, it occurs through Roger Retinz and in 6-4, when Nahyuta convinces the gallery that Athena is incompetent.

Apollo enters court. After a brief opening statement, the prosecutor, Nahyuta Sahdmadhi, calls Ema Skye to the stand. Ema tells the court about Trucy's motive: Mr. Reus stole Trucy's book of magic tricks with intent to publicize them, due to a grudge he had against the Gramaryes. Trucy killed him to silence him. Apollo calls this speculative, but Nahyuta says that Bonnie attested to Mr. Reus telling her he planned to reveal Gramarye secrets.
We never cross-examine Bonnie about what she heard because it is not the point. Yamazaki needs to get out this information about Mr. Reus's grudge, and he also needs to start the defense down a proper block. Yamazaki flow calls for us to change topic, and fast!

The cross-examination then begins. We ask Ema about the prosecution's basis for claiming this was a murder, and Nahyuta presents some glow-in-the-dark tape as evidence. The tape was supposed to mark the ladder that Mr. Reus was supposed to climb to get into a coffin, but somebody moved it to mark the ladder leading up to the stage Trucy thrust the sword in. Trucy's fingerprints are on the tape, which Nahyuta claims as incriminating evidence, but Apollo points out that Trucy wore gloves during the show, so the evidence is not incriminating. Nahyuta concedes this, but asks Apollo if he believes Trucy killed Mr. Reus. Apollo says no, Mr. Reus was killed understage and later moved to the coffin.
Note that the basis for concluding Mr. Reus was murdered is completely irrelevant to the original point, Trucy's motive.

Nahyuta's explanation in-game is unclear here. Did the tape have to be moved during the show? While his argument hinges on the fact that the murder required Mr. Reus to be in a coffin he had no business being in, Nahyuta barely emphasizes the point. Even more oddly, the mystery of how the victim ended up in the wrong coffin is never explicitly referred to again, though it is answered.

Nahyuta responds by completely amending his theory. The victim was killed understage and then moved to the coffin. Besides the victim, the only person who went understage was Trucy, so she must be the killer. Athena objects that Trucy lacked the physical strength to move the body up to the coffin, but Nahyuta says she could have done it with a stage lift. To prove this, he calls his next witness.
We've only finished one testimony, and the prosecution has a completely new theory! He doesn't explain in detail, and some of the finer points get brushed over. Did Trucy wipe the blood off the murder weapon? If so, where did it go? If not, why wasn't it seen by the audience? Did Trucy stab Mr. Reus a second time? If so, why was only one wound seen? If not, how did the blood get on the sword that was seen? Who moved the tape? If Trucy, why would she have done it? If not Trucy, who is this other person who was understage? Why should we think the murder happened when Trucy was under the stage rather than on it? Would Trucy really have had enough time to commit a murder during the brief period she was understage, during her coffin escape trick? These questions don't trouble Nahyuta at all.

We've gone from the motive for murder to whether Trucy could have moved a body. We're not even scrutinizing the prosecution's claim that there was no third person understage. Also note that this is an argument that it is impossible for anybody but the defendant to be guilty.

The particular way this theory change is done in game emphasizes Nahyuta's foresight, since he was prepared for this exact set of arguments from the defense.

Bonny, another magician, testifies both that she thinks it's possible for Trucy to have used a stage lift to move the body, and that Bonny was onstage for the entire show, so she has an alibi. From this, Nahyuta concludes that yes, Trucy could have moved the body, and only Trucy could have killed the victim under the stage.
This is a disjointed testimony that is not about what the witness actually witnessed, but directly made to support what the prosecution just said. Further, pressing statements often send us in entirely new directions.

This starts the first block.

Athena breaks out her Mood Matrix. Bonny talks about her mistake that inconvenienced Trucy and seems happy about it. Bonny reveals that she hates Trucy and gloats about how she forced Trucy to move the stage lifts understage. However, Trucy never told Bonny about moving the lifts. From this, we conclude that Bonny was understage and saw Trucy herself. Nahyuta reminds us that we have footage of her being on stage, so Trucy must still be guilty. Apollo resolves the dilemma by concluding there is a "second" Bonny (Betty). He supports his claim by pointing to unknown fingerprints on one of the magic props. Apollo claims we now have a second suspect!
Again, the topics change! We go from Bonny's alibi to Bonny's mistake to Bonny hating Trucy to the existence of a second Bonny, contradicting Bonny's alibi. This is typical for Yamazaki. Also, this only take one cross-examination. For Takumi, this would be a whole block.

This is a side plot, as the existence of Bonny's twin is irrelevant to the solution of the case. It does, however, enable the next transition...

Betty claims she was too busy preparing for the fire trick in the understage area to kill Mr. Reus, but we point out that the fire bucket hadn't even been filled, so she could not possibly have filled it. We assume that she knew Mr. Reus wouldn't perform the fire trick because she already knew he would die.
First, Betty's argument is weak. We can make the exact same claim about Trucy. While this is undoubtedly a flaw in either style, it is less of one in Yamazaki's style due to the defense having a more "active" role. The prosecution is more reactive, and we can forgive a reaction that isn't very strong. Besides, this contradiction allows a topic change to the prank on Trucy.

Second, this is not an eyewitness testimony. Betty only says that she was too busy preparing for the trick to commit murder, but she never specifies what she was doing. Takumi would have likely had the two testify about their movements instead, to clear up the timeline, now that we have two people to divide the movements of "one person" between.

Third, Apollo speculates too much when saying Betty had prior knowledge of the murder. Maybe she is just lazy, had another bucket, or knew that Mr. Reus planned to go off-script.

Nahyuta raises an alternate possibility once Betty mentions the word "camera." Trucy was the victim of a prank that the de Famme sisters worked on: Mr. Reus's death was to be faked so Trucy would think she had really killed him. The dragon setpiece was then to fall, and the show would be cancelled. The sisters provide video of Mr. Reus backstage, right before entering the coffin, proving he was alive when he left the understage area. This places the murder during the apparent accident, but Nahyuta still insists this was a murder and not an accident. He produces a piece of paper, signed by Trucy, showing she wanted the hidden prank camera after the show, which proves she knew about the prank - so it really was a murder.
The de Famme sisters give a rushed explanation of what was to happen in the prank. A complete understanding of their movements is not the point - only how this changes the case, as Nahyuta explains. Yet again, the theory of both sides has completely changed. This makes this a good endpoint for a first block.

How did Mr. Reus enter the on-stage coffin from the backstage? While Yamazaki's style makes points like this easier to overlook, this is a defect in the case.

Apollo points out that Trucy was supposed to have switched the supposedly deadly sword with a rubber one. Nahyuta appeals to the blood in the coffin to say she must have used the deadly sword, but Apollo says the evidence could have been planted by a real killer. The judge thinks this is worth hearing further testimony on and calls a recess.
At this point, Apollo is left without a theory. We'll see how Apollo handles it.

Part 2

Trucy demonstrates a successful sword swapping as her testimony. We establish that her spinning around is the moment of the swapping and point out that the spinning is not in the video footage. After Nahyuta points out just how bad this is for Trucy (Nahyuta has "proven" that Trucy knew Mr. Reus was in the coffin and failed to switch the sword, which highly suggests intent), Bonny takes the stand and provides an alternate version of the footage, from a different camera. This footage includes scenes not present in the previous footage... because they had been edited out.
Several narrative-side things occur throughout this scene, centering on Trucy and Bonny ignoring the heckling from the gallery and harassment from Betty. While also distinctive of Yamazaki and not Takumi, these points are outside the scope of trial flow.

Yet again, the case has been altered quite a bit through a single testimony! This testimony is its own block.

Apollo claims the editing was malicious, but the producer, Roger Retinz, supplies the unedited footage. The court concedes that Trucy did stab the rubber sword into the coffin, but Roger gives the prosecution a new theory: the victim was murdered after the dragon setpiece fell down, backstage.
This gives even more questions. How did blood end up on the coffin? How did Mr. Reus get backstage? How did Trucy move the body back to Reus's coffin without leaving evidence behind? Why kill Reus then? What was her plan to avoid suspicion for the murder, and how did the movements of various swords play in? Also, why did Trucy want Mr. Reus's camera? Again, the goal in a Yamazaki case is not to test the prosecution's theory for coherence but for the defense to come up with their own theory. Such questions are beside the point.

Since the murder actually did happen afterwards and Trucy is innocent, this raises another very good question: how did Trucy not notice that the victim wasn't dead yet? One would think the lack of blood and lack of stab wound and lack of blood on the sword would be a giveaway. Yamazaki is perfectly prepared to overlook this for the sake of a murder with twists and turns.

Roger then testifies that the editing was not malicious but standard for the industry, as he has no motive to give him malice anyways. We point out that at the very least, he was willing to con Trucy by forging her signature on a contract. Retinz says we can't prove he was the forger, but we provide her forged signature on the note proving she knew about the prank and allege that Retinz must have forged that one. As such, Apollo says, Retinz has malice against the defendant. Nahyuta and Retinz argue that all Apollo has proven is greed.
The logic is shaky, to say the least. It's unclear how Retinz can be tied to the second copy of the forged signature or how his greed motivates forging the second signature. Yamazaki is willing to overlook these in the interest of attacking Retinz.

Thus starts the third and final block. It's tempting to say that the continuity between the forged video and whether he had motive for forging the video makes this continue block two, but remember that Yamazaki blocks work in theories, and the theories of both sides have shifted since the start of the last testimony.

Apollo guesses that Retinz and Trucy have some history. Based on Retinz's past comments and some of his behavior, Apollo guesses that Retinz is also a magician. Nahyuta points out that is not enough for malice, so Apollo goes out on a greater limb and says Retinz was the real Mr. Reus, and the victim was an impostor. Apollo is able to prove that the victim is an impostor, as he lacks a distinctive scar the real magician has. Retinz reveals he has the scar and admits to being Mr. Reus.
Take a moment to think about how we got here. Edited Video Footage -> Was there malice? -> He was at least greedy -> Mr. Reus would have malice -> He's the real Mr. Reus. The logic is technically continuous, but in hindsight, the topic changes constantly enough that it's a close call. And we've only had one cross-examination in all that time! Yet again, a single cross-examination has changed things quite a bit! The only way to keep track of this is for the player to have laser-like focus on "What was Retinz's motive?" the whole time.

We accuse Retinz, who reminds us that he has an alibi - he was at the studio during the show. Pressing him gets us nowhere, so Apollo speculates that maybe Retinz could have committed the murder without being on-scene. Nahyuta objects that a suspicious shadow was seen in the video footage. He assumed, as part of Retinz's earlier theory, that the shadow was the killer. Nahyuta wants to know what it was, if not the killer. We find a similar shadow elsewhere in the video, and Trucy identifies it as Mr. Hat being pulled up to the catwalk. From that, we speculate the shadow is the victim flying up via his stunt harness... exactly as the prank script said.
This is inconsistent. We can't tell because the camera is zoomed in, but the audience would have seen it if Mr. Reus has flown up. The audience would also have seen whether there was blood on Trucy's sword after she pulled it out of the coffin. Because we never linger on the issue, though, the contradiction passes by unnoticed. This is a flaw in either style, but much easier to overlook in Yamazaki's, where eyewitnesses rarely show up.

It's also dubious how the victim was connected to his stunt harness from inside the coffin.

Apollo speculates that when the victim flew up, he flew up into a sword in the catwalk. All Retinz would need to do is sneak back into the studio while it was evacuated to tamper with the scene. This explains why Mr. Hat had a slash mark in his cape, but Nahyuta won't accept this as evidence. Instead, we exploit that because Trucy stabbed the coffin from the opposite side as according to the script, which Retinz only found out about forging the blood in the coffin hole, he had to switch the sides of the coffin... finally explaining an impossible fingerprint pattern left by the victim. This coffin mistake proves the killer wasn't there for the original show, but arrived shortly after, despite knowing the script. This leaves Retinz as the culprit!
While Takumi can get this speculative at times, this kind of speculation is much more common in Yamazaki.

Due to Retinz's trick, the hands that left the prints are different too. The game brings this up when the prints are found in investigation, but immediately forgets about it. This is not part of the trial flow.

Rules to Case: The Magical Turnabout

Trying to reverse-engineer this case is more complicated due to the logical problems, but we can use the same technique as before, by adopting a "Yamazaki" mindset and focusing less on connecting ideas and fleshing them out, since we want to have enough ideas to give a new case-changing revelation very frequently.

Part One: A Rough Concept

As before, we begin with an abstract list of things we want out of the case.
  • Trucy is arrested for a (seemingly accidental) death in a magic show.
  • Trucy's magic show is a sign of her advancement as a magician.
  • Trucy has her own "never give up" mantra. This must be prominent.
  • The legacy of Troupe Gramarye is in the foreground.
  • A mob mentality from "the public" complicates the trial.
  • This trial is a sign of Apollo's advancement as an attorney.
An obvious first pair of questions is how and when the victim was killed. We don't want to get too specific yet, but a murder committed remotely sounds promising. As this is a magic show, a strange device wouldn't be out of the ordinary, and Ace Attorney hasn't seen that before. As for when, before or during the suspected accident are both a bit "obvious," so a tendency towards complicated possibility battles makes us lean towards saying the victim was only killed after the suspected accident. So it seems the victim would have wanted to appear dead, for some to-be-determined reason.

Still, a murder committed remotely that looks like it was done by Trucy, in person... Given that possibilities are so important, it would be better to have a murder method that looks like it couldn't have been done remotely. Shooting is out, but stabbing is normally very personal. Does this make sense with the magic theme? Yes, a stabbing accident is entirely possible if Trucy was doing a sword trick. Can this be made part of some device? Yes, if the victim somehow was pulled onto a sword at great speed.

Let's start thinking about prosecution and defense theories. One of the prosecution theories will undoubtedly be that Trucy killed him during the accident. We need both evidence for it and a way to debunk it. This suggests that we need to think about what, exactly, Trucy's trick was. What we have so far sounds like the trick of stabbing somebody in a box. How could this trick have been performed...? If there's a trick with the box, the defense can just argue some mechanism with the box was faulty, so that can't work. It must have been a trick with the sword itself. Maybe Trucy started with a real sword but meant to switch it out. That sounds like it would work!

Some evidence that should work nicely for this theory is video footage. If we have an edited version that makes it look like Trucy didn't perform the swap, when the unedited version shows she did, that problem is solved. We could pick a different piece of evidence if we wanted to, but we can start making some connections now. Given that we want some sort of "mob" against Trucy and for this to be a big show for her, perhaps the show is being televised, and the television studio is doing the editing maliciously? This makes sense so far.

This also suggests a possibility for why the victim would be playing dead. Maybe it was for the cameras? If we add in that he expected to be sent flying (just not into the sword), it suggests some kind of prank on Trucy. A hidden camera show, perhaps? This works too, so we add it in.

Looking over what we have so far, our television producer is definitely a bad guy... so killer he is! Well, what's the television producer's motive? We want the Troup Gramarye legacy involved, so perhaps he bears some grudge against them and wanted to frame Trucy for it? It isn't obvious why he would hate them this much, so we'll make a mental note of this and return to it later.

Part Two: Filling Sideplots

To recap, here is what we have so far:
  • Trucy is arrested for a (seemingly accidental) death in a magic show. She was supposed to swap a real sword for a fake one and then stab a coffin. They found somebody in the coffin who looked dead.
  • The victim was not yet killed but playing along with his death for a hidden camera prank. He was actually murdered, afterwards, being forced onto a sword by some device.
  • Trucy's magic show is a sign of her advancement as a magician. It's even televised!
  • Trucy has her own "never give up" mantra. This must be prominent.
  • The legacy of Troupe Gramarye is in the foreground.
  • A mob mentality from "the public," manufactured by somebody from the television company, complicates the trial.
  • The television company edits the footage to make it look like Trucy failed to swap the swords.
  • This trial is a sign of Apollo's advancement as an attorney.
  • The real killer is the television producer.
We have a pretty good list, but we're missing details, and we also need to start thinking about how we're going to turn these into prosecution and defense theories, as well as how we'll eventually get to the right theory. From the preceding analysis, we know that the time of death will be important, so that will guide our theories. We need one "before the apparent accident" theory, a "during the apparent accident" theory, and an "after the apparent accident" theory. The "during theory" will be a battle about whether the sword swap did happen. Obviously, that's when the forged video will come in. Yamazaki style dictates a case-changing contradiction about here, and the realization that the video was forged sounds like a good candidate. At this point, the specifics are unclear.

Trucy will likely be our witness, and this is a good place for her own "never give up" mantra to shine. Having her ignore the hecklers would work, but it feels like we need something more... To show the video was forged, we'll likely need a copy of the original, somehow... It's unclear how we'll get this, so we'll keep it in the back of our head and see if we can connect this to anything else.

Let's shift to the theory about before the murder. This becomes much harder if the victim was moving around right before, so let's say he appeared out of nowhere. We already said he was stabbed in a box, so perhaps he climbed into the box from beneath, like in some teleportation trick. A before the murder theory would require that he was stabbed under stage and then moved into the coffin. For Yamazaki-style, let's assume there were no other people under the stage who could have committed the murder. If that remains true, the case isn't flashy, so let's invent a witness under the stage that was previously unknown to both sides. We also need her to take the stand for some reason, and how could she do that if she was unknown? Perhaps she was impersonating somebody. This may seem strange, but given the magic setup, it clicks together - this "second witness" was the twin sister of another magician aiding Trucy. The twin was hidden because this opens up more teleportation magic tricks.

We can now use connectedness and economy to combine this with our earlier idea for the "murder occurred during the apparent accident theory" - one twin is deeply touched by Trucy and gives the court the alternate tape with her newfound courage. For this to work, we'll need her to have overcome something... Perhaps the influence of her twin sister? Let's go with that. Come to think of it, if this sister is obviously bad enough, having Retinz be obviously bad doesn't make him as obviously the villain! We'll also need the defense to figure out there was a twin sister. That sounds tough, so let's keep that in mind.

Also for this before the murder section, how will the defense learn the victim was still alive then? Let's go with connectedness, since there is also a hidden camera prank the defense needs to learn about. There is camera footage of the victim still alive, after he was understage!

Very good! Now, what about the prosecution theory during the apparent accident. Nahyuta will need some reason to suspect murder... Let's use connectedness to say that if not for the prank, the victim wouldn't even have been in the coffin. Nahyuta can prove Trucy did know of the prank, so her sword swap looks less like an accident and much more like a deliberate killing. This will be a hard thing for Nahyuta to prove. A few ideas come to mind, one of them being that a note was forged of Trucy saying she knew, somehow.

The forger was, in all likelihood, our killer. This being so, is there anything else we want him to forge? Given Yamazaki's tendency to melodrama and that we still need to establish that this case has Apollo becoming a big lawyer, what if a document was also forged saying that if anything like this crime happened, Trucy would have to pay a massive fine to the television company? This would lead to a crisis for the Anything Agency, who obviously can't pay. This forged contract seems to work, so we add it to our list.

The last thing we need before we really start looking at details is a sketch of the last block, where we accuse Retinz. How can the player deduce that the victim was killed by this trap? If Retinz has a trap, it's likely he gave himself an alibi for it. Working against that alibi might motivate Apollo to look for some kind of remote murder, but that isn't really evidence. What if there was something else that pointed to somebody being whisked up and hit with a sword?

There are multiple options here, but the one Yamazaki took was to have two shadows in the video footage, one corresponding to Mr. Hat undergoing the same fate as the victim and one corresponding to the victim. Once we figure out one of the shadows is Mr. Hat, we can figure out the other easily enough.

To finish up the block, we'll need some kind of flashy final proof against Retinz. Any proof is likely going to come out of figuring out how the crime was committed and all the crime scene tampering he had to do to make this crime work. So how could evidence have been left? Perhaps something went off-script in the magic show that changed Retinz's frame-up, and this caused things to go awry? There are multiple possibilities, but the one that Yamazaki chose was for Trucy to have stabbed the coffin from the opposite side. The blood in the coffin hole is in the wrong side. To edit that, Retinz had to swap the sides of the coffin, but that changes the fingerprints in the coffin. The fingerprints prove the swap, and it only would have been done by a person who knew the script but wasn't there for the show: only Retinz fits the bill.

Okay, we have a lot of ideas floating around now. Let's try to get this into a single case structure.

Part Three: Condensing to a Case

Let's compile everything we got from this second part and add some organization.
  • Trucy is arrested for a (seemingly accidental) death in a magic show. She was supposed to swap a real sword for a fake one and then stab a coffin. They found somebody in the coffin who looked dead.
  • The victim was not yet killed but playing along with his death for a hidden camera prank. He was actually murdered, afterwards, being forced onto a sword by some device.
  • The victim was not seen entering the coffin, likely due to entering it from understage.
  • The coffin was involved in a teleportation trick.
  • The killer forges Trucy's signature onto a contract that results in Trucy having to pay a hefty sum, but is nullified by trial's end, as well as onto other documents.
  • Murdered Before the "Accident" Theory
    • Under this theory, the defense has a hard time finding an alternative because nobody else was supposed to be understage.
    • The defense proves one of Trucy's assistants had a twin sister who was understage.
    • While pressing this theory, the defense somehow learns of the prank against Trucy.
    • Video footage proves the victim was still alive then, so this theory crashes.
  • Murdered During the "Accident" Theory
    • Forged evidence suggests Trucy knew about the prank. This makes her failed sword swap look like murder.
    • Trucy testifies about the sword swap, but the prosecution's key evidence is video footage showing the sword wrap never occurred, courtesy of the television company.
    • Trucy's courage in testifying inspires Trucy's assistant to show the court an alternate version of the editor, despite her bullyish twin sister wanting to stay quiet.
    • From the video, we find some contradiction that proves the original was edited. The unedited version shows the sword swap.
  • Murdered After the "Accident" Theory
    • This coincides with accusing the killer.
    • He claims an alibi, but we claim remote murder and reveal the sword trick.
    • We figure this out by two shadows in the video footage. One is Mr. Hat and the other victim, sharing a fate. We recognize Mr. Hat and infer that the second shadow shared its fate - this is how we identify the victim.
    • We prove our case by pointing out that because the assistant led Trucy to stab the coffin from the wrong side, the bloodied coffin hole was planted on the wrong side. When he learned this after the fact, he had to swap the coffin sides, but tampered with the victim's fingerprints in the process. This action only makes sense for a killer who knew the script but didn't see the show - and only he fits that bill.
  • Trucy's magic show is a sign of her advancement as a magician. It's even televised!
  • Trucy has her own "never give up" mantra. This must be prominent - and it is when Trucy takes the stand.
  • The legacy of Troupe Gramarye is in the foreground.
  • A mob mentality from "the public," manufactured by somebody from the television company, complicates the trial.
  • What's the killer's motive?
  • This trial is a sign of Apollo's advancement as an attorney, since he can defend the agency.
  • The real killer is the television producer.
This is almost an outline already! We just have a few final holes to fill and points to smooth over. First, our current cross-examination structure looks like:
  • * Proving the second twin exists
    * Discovering the prank
    * Did the sword swap occur?
    * The true murder method
We'd like to add a cross-examination or two to this. First, we note that "proving the second twin exists" is a bit of a sudden way to start the case. We know that we want Ema to return, so let's give her a cross-examination right at the start. We'll use that to get in some extra information - the actual logic there isn't important.

We also need another cross-examination with the killer, before the true murder method. It's easy to imagine a cross-examination about a possible motive, which reminds us that we really do need to decide on a motive for this case. We want the legacy of Gramarye in the foreground, so he must have some very strong grudge against them. Maybe he was a magician in his past? But if so, he would need to have a grudge against the Gramaryes from that, and it's hard to wring a cross-examination out of this unless there's some trick. Perhaps we already know some magician hates the Gramaryes, and we need to prove he's that magician? Suddenly, the idea hits - what if the victim is impersonating the magician that the killer used to be? Ema can then testify on the motive that magician has... and how it gave Trucy her own motive for murder! That seems to work.

Alright, how do we prove the existence of the second twin and then learn about the prank? Let's take these one at a time. The defense is heading in the direction of an understage killer, so what if the second twin testifies that she was understage, while the evidence proves one of the twins was above stage? That proves there has to be two of them while also moving the defense further along in their theory. Good!

How do they learn about the prank? The defense wants to turn this into an accusation of the twin, so how does one turn to the other? They do something suspicious that looks like she was going to commit the murder, but actually shows she was going to play along with the prank. (Nahyuta can announce the prank here, as this lets him "piece it together" somehow.) There are many possibilities, but the one Yamazaki chooses is for the twin to have not prepared for the trick the victim was scheduled to do after the coffin scene.

And, after adding those points, in we have a fairly solid outline, for Yamazaki-style!

Limits of Analysis

The example above is specific to a strict Yamazaki flow, and variants of Yamazaki flow will likely have different planning processes. Takumi was much more rigorous in his logic and had things connect together far more neatly. A case can be constructed that has more rigorous logic and connectivity, but still other Yamazaki traits, like his alternate block structure and emphasis on possibility and impossibility arguments. In such a case, the working backwards method should focus much more on the details of the argument throughout and possible objections from the defense than is done here. As the previous section said, there are many logic problems in SoJ-2. This could have been fixed with more careful outlining in the beginning.


Just as any good painter should be able to tell the difference between watercolor and oil paintings, or a mechanic should know the difference between a nut and a screw, trial authors should recognize the difference between these two fundamentally different styles. True, both work with "contradictions," but Takumi's style is a slow exploration of the validity of the prosecution's case, while Yamazaki's style is a battle of possibilities where theories and facts of the case alike change with lighting speed. Those who are designing their own cases must be crystal clear on the difference between the two, so as to learn what style they want for their cases and how to get it.

Credit to The Ash Raichu for pre-reviewing the guide and to Ferdielance and Bad Player for helpful discussion.
Last edited by Enthalpy on Wed Oct 25, 2017 2:11 pm, edited 6 times in total.
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Re: Trial Flow: How to Structure a Case

Post by Gosicrystal »

Very interesting read. So Takumi's style focuses more on tight logic, eyewitnesses, and having the prosecutor's case be solid, while Yamazaki's style focuses more on "NO ONE besides the defendant could've done it", a battle of possibilities, and testimonies supporting theories.

After thinking long and hard, maybe the case I talked to you about is actually a Yamazaki flow with more emphasis in logic and a cluster of crime-solving near the end, because 2 out of 5 testimonies talk about the defense's theories and how they're wrong.

Also, I think it would have been better or easier to analyze The English Turnabout in PLvPW rather than the fire trial.

I'd like to dig deeper into the writing methods of Takumi and Yamazaki. In fact, I think Takumi had an interview with the Official Nintendo Magazine in 2014, but now that their website is down, the interview doesn't seem to be accessible...
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Re: Trial Flow: How to Structure a Case

Post by Enthalpy »

The difficulty with case studies is that different cases have their own advantages! I chose The Fire Trial to be manageable in length without being as short as a tutorial case. That way, it would be clear that this fairly simple method works, even for cases that are not as simple as a tutorial level.

Let me know if you find that interview.
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Re: Trial Flow: How to Structure a Case

Post by Bannedfrom7 »

I noticed that there's an outdated link where it discusses the scenario in which both styles can and can't accept. I believe the link leads to the most recent comic rather than the one you intended it to go towards.
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Re: Trial Flow: How to Structure a Case

Post by Enthalpy »

Thanks for the notice! Link fixed.
[D]isordered speech is not so much injury to the lips that give it forth, as to the disproportion and incoherence of things in themselves, so negligently expressed. ~ Ben Jonson
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Re: Trial Flow: How to Structure a Case

Post by TimeAxis »

There were actually two links that had that problem. You fixed the first one. It seems like they're both supposed to go to the same comic though so it's not a big deal I guess.
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Re: Trial Flow: How to Structure a Case

Post by Enthalpy »

Fixed again - thanks for the report.
[D]isordered speech is not so much injury to the lips that give it forth, as to the disproportion and incoherence of things in themselves, so negligently expressed. ~ Ben Jonson
Current AAO Development Priority: Issue #94: Grayscale Mode
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