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.


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!

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!




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!

Happy new year!

…Well, a belated new year, at least. Hi all! GabuEx here. I hope you all had a great winter holiday season, a great new year’s celebration, and a great 2012 in general.

We’re still hard at work behind the scenes, but to keep you interested and your appetites whetted, I thought we’d release a few teaser screenshots from sections not seen before from case 1. Nothing spoiler-y; we’re still keeping the story itself under wraps to ensure that you aren’t bored when case 1 is released – but, hopefully, these should intrigue you enough for now while we work on getting case 1 completed.

(And no, please don’t ask about release dates – we’ll let you know when we’re prepared to commit to something that won’t result in us working 39-hour days to get things completed. :P)

Find the screenshots after the break! Continue reading

A glimpse at progress!

Hi all! GabuEx here.

We’ve all been hard at work behind the scenes on the first case, and we can’t thank you enough for being patient with us while you wait. A game like My Little Investigations is always a bit tricky to give public exposure, since we can’t show you anything that would give people an inkling regarding the way in which the story goes – but by this time, I think it’s safe to say that we owe you at least a little something to whet your appetites and reassure any of you out there who might be worried that we most certainly are still going strong. So, I’d like to take a little bit to highlight just a few of the things that our wonderful team has been up to. You can find that after the break! Continue reading

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!

Continue reading

Behind the Scenes – Structure and Cutscenes

Huh boy.  Location implementation is taking much longer than I was expecting it to – every time I implement something I realize I need to implement something else too before I’ll be satisfied enough to record another demo video.  Already I’ve got locations themselves implemented along with transitions between them, initiation of conversations with characters in locations, cutscenes, and environment examination, but I’ve still got more to do.  On the plus side, this is going to be a pretty huge update when it finally goes live.  Hopefully you folks can wait a little while longer.

While we wait, though, since the last blog entry was pretty well-received, I thought I’d write another one, this time dealing with game structure and cutscenes.  …But first, more screenshots!  Just for fun.

Much more after the break!

Continue reading

Progress – Locations

One of the worst parts about designing a game engine is that a whoooole lot of the work you do goes into the underlying infrastructure, which tends to be rather boilerplate work that facilitates content when it’s done, but does not actually produce much of anything you can actually show others when it’s still in progress as proof that you’re actually getting work done.  Such is the case right about now – I’ve been working on enabling location navigation within the game engine now, which is basically taking us up one more level: locations contain characters, with whom you can get into encounters, as was demonstrated in the last video.

Unfortunately, I’ve still got a ways to go as far as work goes on this part of the game engine, but since I’m a tease, here are some early screenshots to tide you over and reassure you that I am in fact working on this game:

Continue reading

Character encounters coming soon

Just checking in to say that progress is coming along just fine on character encounters.  These will take us one level above interrogations – character encounters account for a full session with another character at a given location, which can include multiple questions and interrogations.

I’m still working on them, but a gameplay video should be out in the near future.  Here are some screenshots to tide you over until then!  (Click for full size.)