The case creator: A first look

We’ve said a lot in this space about what’s in store for players in case 2, but one thing that we’ve only touched on in passing each time it’s come up has been the My Little Investigations case creator, which is also in development in tandem with the second case. It’s still nowhere near ready for public consumption yet, but it’s nonetheless coming along quite well, so I thought I’d take a little while to show people what to expect from it.

Anyone who’s either worked on translating the first case, or who has just looked at the case XML file, will know that the format of the case file in its current form is a huge mess. That’s more or less by design – it was never intended to be human-readable – but it still throws up a huge hurdle for people wanting either to edit existing cases for translations, etc., or perhaps even to make their own cases. So, both to facilitate that – and to make my own job easier, too – we’re working on developing a much more user-friendly case creator, which will be able both to read and edit MLI case files and to create new case files from scratch.

NOTE: The user interface displayed in these pictures is still very much in development, so don’t take anything from this other than a very high-level impression of the design direction.

(Click pictures to see the full-size image.)

MLI Case Creator - 1

As said above, this UI is still very early, but the general idea behind the case creator is that people should be able to use it without having any understand of programming or anything like that – to the fullest extent possible, we want the case creator to be intuitive to use. In this case, which is the location editor, everything present in this location is displayed in layers that can be enabled or disabled, and anything in an enabled layer can be dragged to where the creator wants it to be. Selecting an element will also bring up a pane that will let you edit any properties of that element, such as determining its position more granularly, defining what should happen when the player clicks it, conditions that determine the presence of a character or object (not yet implemented), and so forth.

MLI Case Creator - 2

Editing character encounters is necessarily less visual in nature, since there’s nothing to be laid out on screen, but I’m still doing my best to make it as easy to understand as possible. Conversations are organized in a hierarchical format, with new layers of the tree created anytime something branches, like a condition, a loop, a multiple-choice question, and so forth. If you click on a conversation action, you can see what it looks like in the top-right window, and you’ll be able to click to play any given line of dialog to see if the text synchronization or emotional choices look good, or whether you’ve selected the right voice line.

MLI Case Creator - 4

To edit an action, just double-click it to bring up a dialog window that facilitates that functionality:

MLI Case Creator - 3

Or, to insert an action, you can just double-click on one of the separators, which will display a message on mouse-over saying that you can do that.

5

Editing cutscenes is somewhat a combination of the two, in that you can see the current state of the cutscene visually, including character and camera positions, while also being able to edit the cutscene phases on the right in the same way you can edit conversation actions.

There’s still a lot that has yet to be implemented – for example, you can’t yet edit characters, evidence, or zoomed-in views – but all of that is in the pipeline. This will be the tool that we’ll be internally using to implement case 2, so the tool will get plenty of internal usage that will vet its usability. Once it’s released, we’ll also be releasing a pack containing all of the audio and visual assets used to date in MLI in both case 1 and case 2 (that will include all the mane 6, plus Spike, plus all the other characters seen in those cases), which will give people a good base to build upon if they want to develop their own cases.

That’s all we’ve got so far. Sorry we’ve been a bit lax in terms of posting to this space. I know I say that often, but, well, that’s because it continues to be true. Thanks for your patience as we continue to develop. ‘Til next time!

Meet the characters: Masquerade

Hello, everypony! Today, we’ve got another interview with a case 2 character for you. Last time, we gave you Royal Ribbon, a waitress at the Grand Gastronomie du Griffon. Today, we’ve got Masquerade, her co-worker.

Are you all set, interviewer?

Yup!

Then let’s get to it!

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MLI now supports localization!

(Note: The following requires that players install MLI v1.1 using an installer; the in-process updater won’t work properly. You can get the v1.1 installer here.)

We’ve been in contact with some Russian bronies from Tolma4 Team who were interested in localizing My Little Investigations to Russian, and I’m pleased to announce that that effort has come to fruition – MLI v1.1 has now been released, which supports localization, and which also includes the Russian localization that created the need for these changes. You can grab the new version here! (As above, you’ll need to download the installer; the updater will fail to apply the changes.)

This means that the game is also open for anyone else who might want to localize it into their native language! If you’d like to help out with that process, I’ve put together a how-to here, which I’d encourage anyone interested to check out. If you have any questions, feel free to email me at the address at that page – I’m happy to offer whatever assistance I can!

Thanks to AlexFCS, Alex_Shy, kaze_no_saga, KornyPony, ltybcs, Mad Mix, makc_ar, nogard, Own3df1x, pashok6798, pifon, Skuzl, and Tails Doll for making this possible! It’s super awesome to see our labor of love become accessible to even more bronies than before!

Lastly, this version does also include with it a few other improvements that I put in place since it already required a new installer:

– The updater has been improved to update using a script instead of updating in the executable, which has the benefit of now being able to update everything, including the updater itself and SDL. (This may mean that there may be new bugs to be sorted out, of course – please let me know if you find any!)

– The OS X version now houses everything it needs inside the .app file itself, instead of installing content to /Library/Application Support/, and the DMG file is now just a simple drag-and-drop install instead of a .pkg file installer. (Thanks go to MaddTheSane here for helping me better understand best practices in OS X – I was coming from a Windows background, and my initial implementation of the OS X installation experience put that fact on display.)

(Oh, and yes, we’re still working on case 2, so don’t worry! This is just another thing that we’ve been working on in parallel. We’ll have another interview post with a case 2 character fairly soon.)

Meet the characters: Royal Ribbon

Hey, everyone! No, we’re not dead – we’re still very much alive and coming along. I’m really sorry that we haven’t been posting much on the front page – I take full responsibility for that; work on the game has still been chugging along, but after coming home from my job, working on case 2… creating more work for myself is never high on my list of things that I actively want to do, so I never really want to do another post right now, but then today becomes tomorrow, and a week goes by, and… well, yeah. I’m sorry, everyone – I know it sucks to not hear anything about something you care about. So! Let’s try to break that silence. And get back to our characters.

You ready, interviewer?

Ready!

All right, well, today, we’ve got the bubbly Royal Ribbon. Take it away!

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Meet the Voice Actors 2 + Philo Reed’s Theme

Hello, everypony! We’ve got some more stuff for you that you might like. At times when they weren’t busy with Case 2-related matters, our team has been working on putting together a sequel to our Meet the Voice Actors video from case 1. As before, we’ve put our new characters in a situation that lets each of them in turn have a spot where their voice actor gets to whet your appetite for case 2. And as a special bonus, we’ve also released the second piece of background music from case 2, that being Philo Reed’s theme, which is featured in the Meet the Voice Actors 2 video.

Enjoy!

Meet the characters: Philo Reed

Hello again, everypony! Our previous post introduced everyone to case 2 in general, but today, we’d like to go a bit more in-depth by beginning to get people acquainted a bit more with the characters that you’ll be encountering in case 2 who weren’t seen in case 1. We’ll start with Philo Reed, detective at large, and work our way through the roster from there, one character at a time. In case 2, Philo will be making Twilight’s life troublesome, but for right now, we’re just talking to him, pony-to-pony. But before that, everypony say hello to the lovely interviewer whom we’ve enlisted to help us with this!

Hello, everypony! Pleased to make your acquaintance.

Well, Philo’s all ready for you. Take it away, interviewer.

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Case 2: Twilight’s case notes

Hello, everypony! It’s been a while. A, uh, long while.

As development on case 2 got underway, we kind of fell out of the habit of posting here, until not posting became its own habit. We’re sorry about that. A lot of you have asked whether this project is still ongoing. The answer is most assuredly yes! We haven’t been saying anything, but we’ve still been working on the second case at a steady, if slow, pace. With this post, we’re hoping to break that cycle and start posting again more often. So, without further ado, have some preliminary info about case 2 after the break. More to come later.

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New team members + MLI turns 3!

Hello, everyone! It’s been a while! I’m happy to report that we’re finally done processing all of the applications we’ve received for case 2 recruitment. We’ve made final decisions, meaning that if an applicant hasn’t heard from us yet on a position that they applied for, then unfortunately, that means that they did not get that position. Sorry! We had a ton of very talented applicants, and we wish them all the very best, even if we weren’t able to give them a position on our team.

Before we get to that, though, we have a second announcement, as well: as of July 16, My Little Investigations is now three years old! July 16, 2011 marks the day on which I initially created the project file that ultimately ended up starting this whole project, though at the time I had thought that it was just going to be a week-long side project just for my amusement. Amazing how things sometimes just happen like that in life – the initial example post got put on Equestria Daily, I kept working on it, then ZeusAssassin contacted me in August, dawnmew contacted me in November, and we had our first recruitment in December. None of that was planned, but I sure as heck am happy that it all happened as it did. I wouldn’t have traded those three years for anything. To commemorate that anniversary, we’d like to give you just a little sneak peek at some of the stuff we’re working on for case 2, which will be at the bottom of this post.

Before that, however, I’d like to present the full roster of new team members. Please join me in giving them a very warm welcome!

Visual Artists

Vector Artist – Pirill
Animator – Megamanhxh
Cutscene Artist – Poppun

Music & Sound Design

Audio Engineer – ShadTK

Voice Actors

Applejack – Heather Feathersong
Sapphire Shores – Heather Feathersong
Trixie – Heather Feathersong
Lyrica Lilac – Cerridwen
Royal Ribbon – GloryOfTheRainWings

Fluttershy – Carmen
Princess Celestia – AnnaChloeM
Aunt Orange – Icyfire888
Masquerade – Carmen
Jenny Juniper – PrincessRil

Spike – GloryOfTheRainWings

Philo Reed – ThatCanadianDude

Uncle Orange – Mickwhitefire28
Gustave le Grand – DaWillstanator
Caesar – DaWillstanator
Dim Delite – TheHeroOfMobius

And to give you a treat for having read this far, here’s a very early glimpse at some of the stuff we’re working on already for case 2. 🙂

Character art!

Animation!

Backgrounds!

Music!

That’s all we got for you so far. We look forward to working together with all of these awesome new team members, and we’re looking forward to bringing you an awesome second case!

Voice actor auditions are now closed!

As of this moment, we’re no longer accepting new voice actor auditions. Thanks to everyone who tried out! We’ve had a tremendous turnout, and will take a little while going through all of them. Please be patient as we do so. We’ll keep you posted with updates here.

Applications for visual artists and audio engineers will still be accepted until May 23.

Equestrian Dreamers: The Classified Files Part 4

Today, we spotlight a dedicated and wonderful vector artist of the team, TehJadeh! Before she departs from the team for now, I want to say how much of a pleasure she was to work with for the past 2 years. Gabu, I, and the rest of the team will not forget her contributions to this project, and thus, we’ll be creating a new section in the “The Team” tab honoring all former team members. More names of members leaving the team will be posted as the days go by, so stayed tuned to that.

And without further ado, take it away, TehJadeh!

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