MLI: A first look

Hi all!

It’s been a while, hasn’t it? Don’t worry, though – the period since we talked last was definitely filled with productive work. Whenever a new team comes together, there’s always a period of time during which everyone gets to know each other and various foundations are laid, such as schedules, artistic direction, and so forth. This period of time is fundamentally important, as without it no coherent, unified work can be produced for the project – but, sadly, it also is a time during which not a lot is produced for the outside public to have a look at.

I’m happy to report, however, that we’re more or less through that point in time, and the phenomenally talented team we’ve assembled are now really starting to get into the groove and producing some great work. So, hopefully, from here on out, we should have updates at least more than once every month and a half or so. Since I’ve seen and heard from people who are really itching to see how the project’s going and to see proof that it’s alive and well, I figured I’d take this opportunity to give fans a very preliminary first look at the game and what we’ve been up to behind the curtain.

Find it all after the break!

Two things before we begin, though. First, I’d like to say upfront that what you’re about to see is not the full extent of everyone’s work; it’s just a sampling. One of the fun parts of a game like this is the enjoyment of discovering things for oneself, so I intend to do my best to keep you all happy and satisfied while at the same time ensuring that, once the case is finally released, it’s not just all old news to you all. And second, I’d like to remind everyone that the audio and visual content seen in the engine demos that you’ve likely seen to date was temporary, and was just taken from screencaps from the show and from Desktop Ponies. For this game, we’re creating an entirely original set of art and music. That’s going to make the game take longer, but trust me, compared to the paltry amount of stuff we had to work with from those temporary sources, this will make the game orders of magnitude better and more flexible.

That said, without further ado, let’s get to the content!

First up is dialog character art. HallowGazer and TehJadeh have been doing some wonderful, expressive work here as a tag team – HallowGazer does the concept art and sketches, and then TehJadeh vectorizes what he’s produced. They’re creating all of the art that is displayed when the player is conversing with another character. Here’s some of the Twilight art that they’ve put together thus far:

Annoyed Twilight
Happy Talking Twilight
Surprised Twilight

Next up, field character art! WarpOut has done some outstanding work here in creating some very fluid animation for characters as they stand idle and as they trot about the world of Equestria. Here’s some of his Twilight art thus far:

Twilight Trot Left
Twilight Idle Right-Down
Twilight Trot Up

Third up is background and prop art! PonyArtist has been creating some wonderfully detailed backgrounds to house all of the characters, and to be investigated for clues. Here’s one example of a background that she’s put together, this one housing the bridge between Town Hall and the Carousel Boutique:

Bridge

(Click for full – the above is a very reduced thumbnail!)

Last, but certainly not least, is cutscene art! Rautakoura has done some very fine work here capturing important moments in the game and bringing them to life in a detailed fashion. Here’s one example of a cutscene image that he’s worked on, this one occurring when Apple Bloom describes to Twilight what she heard the night of the crime:

Cutscene

(Click for full again.)

And just to give you all a sense of how these all come together to form the game itself, here are a few screenshots of them in action to whet your appetite a little. (Click each for full.)

Screenshot 1
Screenshot 2
Screenshot 3

That’s all for now! We’ll have more for you very soon, so stay tuned!

39 thoughts on “MLI: A first look

  1. Wow, those are very good. If only I had a time machine right now, I would go to the future just for this game.

  2. jhdbvsodivhsbvsjvhbsov

    I want this, now! Awesome! Great work, especially the character animations are just woah!
    So…

    SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY!!

  3. This is just great! Honestly, those snippets are commercial quality! This could be the best free game of all times! It’s worth waiting.

  4. Marvelous work I must say. I especialy like Twilight`s map movement sprites! everything else is fantastic. Keep up the good work.

  5. Looks great! I was a bit afraid the art wouldn’t be as great as the pics from the show but it seems I had no reason to. Keep the great work up, do you have any idea how long it will be for the first case to release? I mean will it be some months or years, just to have some rough estimates. (And then the answer was “Soon”. :D )

    • We do have an internal schedule, but for now I’d like to keep it internal for a little while longer until I’m confident that it’s realistic and attainable. So for right now “soon” will have to do. Or if you want something a *little* more concrete, “by the end of 2012″ is probably reasonable at this stage.

      • Sounds reasonable, thanks! I understand you want to keep it under the wraps for now and don’t want to make any promises. We’ll wait. :)

  6. I am really craving for this game. The concept of this game is thrilling and the images are awsome. But one thing confuses me … the perspective of the bridge is somewhat odd. It seems that the upper half is just a copy of the lower half, therefore screwing the Z-perspective and troubling the immersive effect. Despite this .. marvellous work. I’d really like to see more.

    • You zeroed right in on the element thus far in the backgrounds that has caused us the most trouble. We did quite a number of different perspectives for that bridge, and strangely, none of them looked right whatsoever. I think this comes to a certain extent from the orthographic perspective-free projection that the backgrounds have, which, despite its upsides that made us choose it, can make certain things look odd. Hopefully it still looks OK.

  7. I was pretty darn impressed even with pixel graphics but this certainly allows for more details with point and click style of gameplay. My opinion is take your time if it can look like this, certainly make it happen.

  8. The first and last portrait anim really capture the AAI animation style very well, very snappy. The second portrait anim could use some work — in short, nothing seems to be emphasized, so the result is bland. Looks like it’s a straight pingpong loop — it might look better if you omit a frame from one side of the loop, so you get eg 123421 rather than 1234321. This gives some variation in rhythm.

  9. The progress on this team has made is rather outstanding and I’m continuously impressed with the work done. I wonder if there will be a charge for this? If not I’d hope you’d at least put up a “pay what you want” or a system like The Humble Indie Bundle [donations/personal]. The effort done here is much deserving it would be nice to see the community give back for the time that has been sunk into this.

    • Silly filly. My Little Investigations has, is, and ALWAYS will be free of charge. Equestrian Dreamers is making this game simply out of love, passion, and creativity towards MLP:FiM.

      I like to personally thank you all for being so patient with us so far. I assure you that more juicy surprises is bound to come in these coming months. ;)

  10. It’s so exciting that you guys have gotten so far! I can’t WAIT to play this game.

    One thing I wanted to ask though, since you claim that you have built the design to be modular, HOW modular is it?

    Could a user create a scenario that doesn’t involve ponies at all?

    Could this be used, feasibly, as a general investigations engine?

    • Theoretically, yes. All of the characters and backgrounds are images stored in a file. The thing that makes this a pony game is that those images all happen to be of things within the universe of MLP:FiM.

  11. Wow U guys look like your doin a fantastic job & I since I’m a huge fan of the Phoenix Wright Series I’d say y’alls work is almost on par with their games if not better

  12. Pingback: The Screw Box #7 « The Daily Oat

  13. This… looks… so… EPIC! I sooo can’t wait for a good pony game to be released! (They keep stopping halfway through)

  14. now that the dialog box characters has been updated
    does this mean apple bloom wont have that cutie mark crusaders outfit on when you talk to her? :P
    course im just talking about the youtube videos when she had it on.
    i wish you a ton of luck in this.

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