Oh fucking man.
This was a joyride, a rollercoaster of emotions that had me biting my metaphorical fingernails until the very end of the presentation. No other game has had me as captivated as this game, and Square Enix did a miraculous job with this title. I'll break the game down into several segments, consisting of story, gameplay, quality, and replayability, and judge the game on all of these criteria.
"Everything that lives is designed to end. We are trapped perpetually in a never-ending spiral of life and death. Is this a curse or some kind of punishment? I often think about the God that blessed us with this cryptic puzzle...
...And wonder if we'll ever have the chance to kill him."
NieR: Automata follows the story of two characters, androids who are fighting machines on the surface of Earth several thousands of years into the future. The story follows 2B, a combat model, and 9S, a Scanner model. Their target: a large massive machine that is classified as a Goliath-class Unit. Being led by several other relative Units, named YoRHa Units, 2B commences a strike on the Goliath class Unit, striking at its weakness.
Afterwards, you meet 9S and team up with him to scavenge the abandoned factory for the large Goliath class Unit. The true enemy is swarming all over: machine lifeforms. After quickly dispatching them, 2B and 9S make their way to the very top of the factory where they fight and seize the Goliath class Unit.
NieR: Automata actually has a really strong opening that gives you a sense of danger and loss immediately, which pulls you into the gameplay that much faster. It's executed very well, and from that, keeps you on a rollercoaster of emotions and experiences. That, combined with storytelling from multiple fronts (we'll go into detail about that later in Replayability, as there is a lot to cover in that one). As you progress onward, you'll see that the machines start to form feelings of hatred, wanting to have families, conceptuality; almost akin to human emotion. With you, the player, as an android, you are sent to strike down these machines, but you wonder along the way...How did these machines start to develop feelings? Or should they even be allowed to develop feelings at all? Or to even understand what it means to have emotions and feelings?
As humanity was wiped out several thousands of years ago, the inhabitants were launched onto the moon and were forced to live there while the fighting between androids and machines continued on the surface of Earth. Remember that as we go along.
Yoko Taro blends so many references together in a congruent fashion. You'll soon discover as you play through 2B's "route" (again, refer to the Replayability section), the machines soon become deranged, wanting to fell others to become Gods in their own right. And the mastermind behind this large scale attack? Two machines named Adam and Eve. Yes, the very same names from the Biblical reference. Eventually, before long, you kill Adam in order to quell the machine uprising, which however, throws Eve into a maniacal state and going on a rampage.
And that's the end of Route A.
And yeah, that's what I thought, too. That's it? That's the whole story? But then the game tells you to play it through again to experience the game from someone else's point of view.
Now, you play through the game again as 9S. The very same character that made his first appearance helping out 2B. You play through the story again, but as you play through the game...you realize that machines want to become human, more and more, displaying emotions that machines shouldn't exhibit. 9S however often reports that "machines don't have feelings" and that "the things they say aren't supposed to make sense". You'll see more development coming from Adam and Eve as characters than you did when playing through 2B's route, which gives Eve his motive for...you know, being an asshole. You also discover as you wake up from a strenuous fight one day while repairing your system as 9S that there is a confidential Bunker notice. It is explained throughout the game that YoRHa was established in order to fight the machine threat on the surface of the Earth. A separate subfaction, known as the Council of Humanity, was created to lead YoRHa along the right path. However, in the records established, there is no such thing as a Council of Humanity. Meaning that once 9S has access to this knowledge, he begins to become aware that something heavy is going on with YoRHa and the Bunker in general.
I for one personally had a problem with the fact that if something is supposed to be that confidential, what is it doing sitting in 9S' memory banks but whatever.
You then kill Eve again, and unlock Route B.
And then...whew, the game takes you for a wild ride.
Route C, D, and E, are probably where you are going to get most of your "feels" from the game. Route C, D, and E lets you play as the rogue YoRHa Unit, "A2", a defective combat model who was originally in YoRHa, but left. Originally, when playing as either 2B or 9S, you run into A2 during the course of your travels, fight briefly, then she leaves with a very cryptic message. "Command was the one who betrayed you."
Now, Route C starts off with 2B and 9S acting as a guerrilla tactical Unit providing support to other squadrons throughout the city, who have gone on a rampage ever since Adam and Eve were destroyed. Their rampage, however, isn't caused by them dying, it's actually from being disconnected from the network, a vast port where machines reside. At least, in theory, it's never really explained that well in the game aside from Archives (refer to Gameplay section). After wiping all of them out, a group of machines comes in, and, to pretty much sum up about ten minutes of backstory, fucking wrecks your shit, infecting the YoRHa battalion and all the androids in the vicinity, leaving 2B with a viral infection that, you, as 9S, have to solve. However, it's not enough and 2B is ultimately left to the fate of becoming corrupted by the virus. She isolates herself by slowly walking her happy ass (refer to CTRL + F and then "pacebreakers") all the way to an abandoned commercial facility where she is ambushed by several corrupted YoRHa models.
And this is where you take control of the rogue YoRHa fighter A2. By fighting them off, you are alleviating 2B of the responsibility of being a badass main character and shoving all of that on A2. Oh yeah, also, you kill 2B in the meantime because she doesn't want the virus to contaminate any more androids. 9S, however, is in the distance, and notices A2 killing 2B, and now he swears revenge on all machines and A2 for killing 2B.
After 2B's death, a giant tower struts up from the ground, mechanical in origin, which is explained later on as an "ark that is used to transport the memories of humanity to space to preserve their knowledge". Now the game gives you options: To fight either as A2 or as 9S. Both of them lead to the same conclusion, it's up to personal preference on how you want to complete it: 9S first of A2 first.
On A2's path, you discover machines attacking other peaceful machines who have no desire to fight. A2 originally thought, same as 9S, that all machines need to be destroyed because they are the enemy, but she then quickly realizes and changes her stance when these peaceful machines want to help androids. A2 is a character that comes off as incredibly jagged, almost careless and only pursuing one goal, while 9S however deteriorates into a manic being bent on revenge on all machines and A2 for killing 2B. As 9S, your responsibility is to acquire "keys" which are needed to get inside the monstrous tower. As you do, a girl in red, called the Red-Girl Assassin in the game, calls out to 9S, stating "We cannot be killed. We are infinite, yet we are finite. We are the collective consciousness of all humanity. We are the embodiment of the perfect being."
As you play along, A2 and 9S eventually meet up, fight a large Goliath class enemy. The game rapidly switches back and forth between A2's and 9S' perspective in dealing with the huge threat, and eventually the two team up and destroy the Goliath together. I use the term "team up" loosely, because after the fight, 9S wants nothing more than revenge for what A2 did to 2B. And then, depending on who you choose, you get to see two different endings, with humanity's thoughts and logic being launched up into space.
As you play through 9S' route, you discover that there is no more humanity. Nothing at all. Not even the people on the moon are real; their collective thoughts are stored on a consciousness on the moon. 9S begins to question the meaning of their existence if there is nothing to protect, as androids were tasked with killing machines and protecting humanity as their only values. Which...becomes the focal point of the story as you play as 9S. What is the meaning of life if there isn't something to protect?
Yoko Taro does an excellent job blending so much together in a cohesive fashion, even if the first ten hours or so of the game felt like filler and then playing through Route B again made it all completely impactless and pointless. At the very, very end, though, once you struggle through the entire game, you start to understand and empathize for all the characters: machines because they want to feel as human as possible in a desolate, lonely world, 9S because there is nothing more to protect since his concept of revenge has been shattered, and A2 because she goes from being narcissistic and angry to caring about machines, and even 9S, to protect and preserve his memories.
Alright, let's get the negative out of the way first.
YOUR CHARACTERS ARE THE CLUMSIEST DUMB SHITS EVER.
And what I mean by that is they trip over every single object that they can find, or they just run through bushes at 200 miles per hour and stop for no reason. Now, this is one of the biggest gripes I had in the game: Pacebreakers. I didn't care at all about the fact that when I'm trying to get from Point A to Point B that my character that I was controlling stops ALL of their momentum and trips over a bit of rock or sand or goes into a bush and stops all forward momentum. It's irritating. I want to play a game to get immersed into THE GAME. I don't want to have to be constantly watching my feet to jump over every spot of what might be considered a trip spot or a pacebreaker because that's not fun. I didn't want to have to walk at 2 miles per hour when I was controlling 2B when she was infected by the virus because it breaks the pace of the game and makes it much slower than it needs to be. I don't want to be able to lose all my forward momentum when coming off a Glide because that's also a pacebreaker.
The world of NieR: Automata isn't as big as I had imagined it to be. Considering we are in an age of JRPGs with notoriously big areas and cascading plains, mesmerizing forests, and big blankets of snow areas, it disappointed me that the world of NieR: Automata only consisted of a few largely inhabited zones, but nothing really more grand-scale beyond that. I would have liked to have just a slightly more tad bit of variety with the maps. The Desert Area, however, was easily my most favorite area, tied with the Forest area.
Alright, now that all the negative is out of the way, let's focus on all the things the game does well.
The game can be split up into three different types of areas: 1. 2D top-down Flight Unit sections that function similarly to games like Galactica or Space Invaders, 2. 2.5-D Flight Unit Sections that function similarly to twin-stick shooters by using the Left Stick to move and Right Stick to Aim and fire, and finally 3. The RPG aspect of the game, where you are running around killing badass machines that are the size of skyscrapers.
And in those RPG sections, you can get 2D environments like this (which I didn't really care for), and other 3D environments which are gorgeous as hell.
The amass of enemies you can fight are incredibly vast, ranging from bipedal enemies to large cylindrical enemies that shoot out of all sides, to enemies that crawl around 2D environments like snakes. And then you have chances to fight insanely huge Goliaths in flight Units, making combat exceptionally large-scale.
Each character that you play as in the game has their own skillset and moves that you can utilize. As 2B and A2, you have a second weapon which you can equip that you can use with Y to keep your attacks going, and as 9S, you can hack into enemies with the Y button and get into a 2D top down twin-stick shooter portion, where you have a certain limit of time to defeat all the enemies in order to hack the enemy, dealing a shit ton of damage to them.
Unfortunately, I didn't like these sections too much because I'm horrible at twin-stick shooters. Don't expect me to be playing Metroid or any other twin-stick game in the future from now on. And the bullet hell when unlocking Route E....uggh. Never again.
As for the actual RPG portion of the game, it's quite robust. There's a multitude of Side Quests you can do if you're ever bored out of your skull and want to kill some time. Given the size of some of these quests, some of them take literally like five minutes to do. I think the longest Side Quest was still Emil's Determination, and that only capped out at about thirty minutes give or take.
You have a weapon selection system, ranging from Short Swords (Katanas), Large Swords (giant ass Katanas), and Spears (duh). I found Spears to be rather fun to use, but also clunky in some regards when fighting as 9S, but as A2 and 2B, Spears were incredibly fun. Short Swords are all around balanced and Large Swords favor more damage and swing really really slowly. Duh.
The kick though is, each weapon comes with its own backstory that you can view in the weapon information tab of your Main Menu.
This adds a really flavorful portion to the game and making weapons have sentimental value, instead of them just being static icons with damage values and combo values. I really appreciated that little touch.
There's a skill system in the game where you can apply chips to your characters to augment their combat abilities. But to be honest, once you have all the required chips, all of the other ones seem pointless. This is your chip setup for about 99% of the game once you get these chips: Deadly Heal, Vengeance, Anti-Chain Damage, Overclock, and any of the Maximum HP, Short Range, or Long Range Attack Up chips. Deadly Heal makes it so that you heal a certain percentage of your total HP after defeating an enemy, and since the game is pretty much a horde mode game where enemies come at you by dozens, except during Boss Battles, Deadly Heal is pretty much an auto-include. Vengeance reflects all damage back to the attacker, so it's also an auto-include. Anti-Chain makes it so that when you are hit, you are invulnerable afterwards for a brief moment. Overclock is whenever you execute a perfect Dodge, time stops for a brief amount of time, making everything trivial in said horde mode game.
All of the other chips are pretty novelties you can collect, like EXP gain, Offensive Heal (where you recover HP when you deal damage), and Auto-Collect Items (Hey, Warframe fans, there's your universal vaccuum). You can also remove your OS Chip and get a bad ending. And the hilarious thing about the chip system is that it works with flight Unit sections as well, so each time you destroy a dinky little ship after taking essentially 2 hits, you recover 50% of your HP, completely trivializing the game.
Of course, however, this is all for a Normal Mode setup. On Hard Mode, enemies become much much tougher, and Lock-On is disabled, and in Nightmare mode, you die in one hit.
And yes, I'm ballsy enough to try and do a Nightmare Mode run.
There's also online functions in the game. For example, if you are connected to the Network, you will find the corpses of all your YoRHa buddies scattered all over the world. You can pick them up and get their goodies, which augment you with certain abilities for a time, depending on what they were wearing when they died. Or, you can alternatively repair them and they can become your ally for an extended period of time. Which is cool.
The combat is very fun paced and I thoroughly enjoyed the combat in some regards. The beginning of the game is much much more challenging than the end of the game because enemies scale with you. It reduces the need to grind basically and lets you gather chips you may need in order to completely roflstomp the game later on. Oh yeah, and you also get to fight a huge colossus later on in the game in a sort of 2D fighter fashion- MAN YOKO TARO IS A FUCKING GENIUS.
So the overall consensus: The game difficulty is just about right for what the game presents. Fast fluid combat is balanced by expertly dodging and tactfully taking out opponents as they come at you. Or if you have Deadly Heal just go apeshit and kill everything in sight. It nails down some portions of the game completely right, but misses in actually immersing people in the game and WHY they want to play a game: to be able to run around fast and not be distracted by clutter on the ground.
Compared to probably about 99% of the dumbass Steam populace that can't seem to get this game to work, I actually had zero problems with running the game.
I just wanted to get that out of the way. You all have seen my computer specs. It's a fucking rig. And yet, I'm happy to announce that I had zero problems running this game at 60 FPS. The only time where my game would hiccup is during the City Ruins because it's a high foliage area, but otherwise, I ran everything at max settings and had zero problems. So...git gud.
The quality of the game is probably THE BEST part of this game. The game is fucking beautiful, the script and deliverance of the lines in said script is amazing, the characters feel alive with intentions, and the best part is...
THERE ARE NO SPELLING ERRORS IN THE SCRIPT.
Compared to the last two games I've played, not seeing any errors in what the characters say versus what the game shows us as text is relieving.
Each zone you go to feels so alive and beautiful that words like "mesmerizing" and "beautiful" don't even begin to describe it. Especially in the Forest Zone where you see giant castles and giant waterfalls cascading the landscape. You can definitely tell work went into this one, compared to the two previous shitty games I've played that were probably released within two months after the first idea was conceptualized.
And here's the kicker.
If any of you have watched the first twenty minutes or so of the recently hosted Game Awards show on Twitch, you will have seen that NieR: Automata got the award for the best OST for ANY game out of the year. And rightfully so.
Regarding Voice Actors for the game, Kira Buckland completely nailed the part of 2B, Kyle McCarley fluctuating between a respectable Scanner Unit to a ravaging husk filled with revenge and yelling, screaming even, to get the full inflection of his emotions, and Cherami Leigh nailing A2 in it's most professional form.
This is the first time I will have ever given a game 10/10 for its quality. Everything it does about Quality, it does right.
Except for the people who can't get this game to work. But they should just git gud instead.
Alright, so, I mentioned before that Replayability was going to be the key of this playthrough. This game forces Replayability on you, and it blends in with the story exceptionally well. So while it's not a replayability versus story thing per se, there is absolutely a reason to go back over and play through the game again. You get a Chapter Select so you can easily go back and clean up any side quests you may have missed. On your first playthrough, you'll probably be playing just for the story, but on your second playthrough, you can go back and get any side quests you may have missed as 2B, plus a few extra on top of that. And on your third playthrough, you finish everything humanely possible.
You can pretty much get 90% of what you need done in a single playthrough. The other 10% you need a guide for, since there IS a missable achievement/ending that you can't get one way or the other. And filling out all of the Archives takes patience and time. My finally tally was getting all the endings except for that one missable ending (because I played through without a guide) and getting about 75% of all the achievements? Give or take.
But yeah, in terms of Replayability, there is A LOT to have.
But be warned if you're trying to 100% the game, the game will force you to delete all of your save data, so if you want to 100% everything, you have to do everything else first before you do that. Just a word of caution. You can go to the fextralife wiki and look up NieR: Automata if you ever need to confirm the location of something, or to get that side quest you need, or that one ending you need, before trying to clear your Save Data.
Now, it's time for the final wrap-up. In this section, I'll detail if this game is truly one for you, and if you should decide to play it or not.
Would I recommend this game?:
Overall: 8.5/10. Amazing.
While definitely not high enough to give a Game of the Year medal or anything like that, this was definitely one of the better games that I was waiting to get my hands on, but wanted it to go for a reasonable price because of all the intense negativity on Steam and not getting the game to work.
Also, yes 2B's ass is good. Become ass gods.
The impossibility of perfect encounter balance.
Or maybe just my failure at it.
Now that I've finished bare bones mapping for most of my act 1 dungeons, I was thinking to myself : Why don't you make some nice
encounters so you actually can get some playstesting done?
I open up the database, create some basic enemy types (Skirmisher, Artillery, Soldier, Brute,...), give my characters some basic skills (fire, ice, darkness), and try them out.
Now, I have been pretty anal about getting my stats right ( see my previous blogs), with HP's and so forth being determined by the amount of hits
I want the enemies to take before dying, and the amount of hits a player will take before dying.
It all seemed so perfectly balanced on the spreadsheet, until I started playtesting my encounters.
Which shows again , numbers are no substitute for raw playtest data.
All went well until I tried basically anything beyond a basic damage spell or attack. Then the balance shifted into weird directions.
After giving it some thought, I think I have found the 4 biggest disruptors for encounter balance, in rising order of complexity :
Today, I'll be tackling the first 2, the other 2 are for another time. Maybe next week. Because for these first 2 , I have found a simple tool to balance these out.
1. Multitarget spells
For a starter, Multi Target/Hit skills, abilities that hit 2 or more targets, cause problems because they are damage multipliers.
Unless the damage is nearly neglectible, or the cost is excessive, any multitarget spell is just an order of magnitude better than any single target spell.
Any small boost or debuff is felt way harder than with single target skills.
An example : At level 20 the player is supposed to do 400 Damage per attack.
Now, as I am working on a one enemy per player character system, there should be about 4 targets.
So easy, you say, just let the multi-target spell deal 25 % damage, so 100 per target.
That's nice, but that means it is now useless in any stituation with less than 4 targets. Now, most enemies will have 4 players fighting them, so this solution works nicely for enemies.
Obviously that does not work for Players, so in comes my good old friend : limited resources.
Any multitarget attack should just cost a certain amount of MP/TP, even if the single target version does not. How much MP/TP ?
The easiest solution I could find was to just give each MP point an amount of damage it could deal. After long debate, I came to 50 % damage (or healing) per MP point spent.
So assuming I use a multitarget spell when I have 3 or 4 , so 3.5, opponents, I deal 350%-100%= 250% more damage, so a multitarget spell costs 5 MP.
What about high levels, you say ? Seeing as I don't believe in straight upgrades ( no Fire 1,2,3), I have an additional solution: Monster HP escalates way faster than player damage,
so by the time he can spam fireball, enemies dont take 2 hits, but 4 hits to take down, and he will need all the fireballs he can get.
It allows the player to grow without needing to replace his basic skills, as I combine it with a small MP pool, topping out at 110 MP for mages at lvl 100, and rising MP generation, topping out at 10 MP per turn at lvl 100.
Instead of casting fire (0MP) and saving his MP for the fireball (5MP), he can alternate between the 2 the moment he regenerates enough MP, maybe even casting regular fire a couple of turns, to save up for the big guns (25 MP/shot).
Now, in the case of TP using skills, how do we balance this ? That is something for another chapter.
2. Status effects, buffs and Debuffs.
The core of combat: Action economy.
In combat, in the rawest sence, players and enemies trade actions for damage. Given the way I balanced my game, equally levelled players and enemies recieve an equal amount of damage per spent action , it is just the HP's that differ.
So in the strictest sence, the opponent has to spend a certain number of actions to win , and the player has to spend a different amount of actions to win.
In a basic combat, the 2 cavemen beating eachother with clubs until one falls down kind, aka the attack spam battle, the players will allways win or the enemy will always win, with, outside of criticals, no variance inbetween.
But that is not how real combats work. In a combat with multiple characters on both sides, both sides generate actions each turn , and spend them to kill the other side. Once one side has spent enough actions , that side wins.
A 4 heroes against 3 rats scenario at level 5. The rats deal about 20 % of the players hp in damage each action they takeand can take 2 hits.
So the rats generate 3 actions per turn, and need to spend 20 actions to win, the players generate 4 actions a turn and need to spend 6 actions to win.
So however you slice it, the rats always lose in 1.5 turns, having dealth at most 4.5 actions worth of damage, but if the player focus fire having dealt only 1-2 actions worth of damage.
The worst case scenario is that all the rats hit the same guy, and he dies.
This is a nice and safe encounter even if the player just divvies up his attacks evenly instead of focus-firing (which is pretty dumb for the player).
Now, let's replace the rats by snakes. Suppose they have a poison attack, that deals no initial damage, but poisons with 20 % HP per turn damage , and a regular attack.
How much more dangerous is this than the rats ?
Assuming the same encounter, 3 snakes vs 4 players, equal level.
The players still generate 4 actions per turn , and need to spend 6 actions to win. The snakes also need to spend 20 actions and generate 3 actions per turn.
Supposing the snakes have basic AI and do not attack already poisoned players, is this encounter more dangerous than the rats one?
Looking at it hrough an actions generated/spent lens might give us an answer.
Nothing has changed on the player side, so were ignoring that for now, but the way the snakes behave is totally different than te rat behaviour.
After poisoning the players, suddenly the snakes are generating damage on the opponents turns, in effect generating actions.
A little turn by turn :
Snakes spend 3 actions , to poison 3 players. The players take 3 actions worth of damage because of the poison. The players spend 4 actions and kill 2 snakes.
The final snake attacks one player, the party then mobs him, but still takes poison damage twice.
So grand total : The players take about 6 actions worth of damage before winning, therefore this encounter is about 2-3 times as difficult as the rats one, but still nowhere near a danger for the player.
Now interesting things happen when the number of snakes or rats changes.
Suppose we have 3/6 rats, and the player focus fires to kill rats as fast as possible, and tries to kill a rat before it takes a turn, and the rats attack randomly:
Round 1: Players spend 4 actions and kill 2 rats, rats get 4/1 actions.
Round 2: Players mow down 2 rats, rats get 2/0 actions
Round 3 : All rats die.
Suddenly the 6 rats get off 6 actions, in opposition to the 1-2 actions if there where 3 of them. So the encounter with twice as many rats is not twice as hard, but up to 4 times as hard. Notice also how the 3 rat encounter is actually 3x easier if the players focus fire.
From this we can conclude that encounters do not scale in a linear fashion, and even adding one enemy does nasty things to an encounter.
As a bonus the same situation with 6 snakes :
Players focus fire on the 6 snakes, and the snakes spread poison as fast as possible, to a player that still has to take its turn.
Round 1 : 2 Snakes killed, 4 players poisoned. 4 actions worth of damage.
Round 2: 2 Snakes attack, 2 snakes killed. Snakes deal 6 actions worth of damage.
Round 3: 0-1 snakes attack, 2 snakes killed. Snakes deal 2-3 actions worth of damage.
So the snakes deal 12-13 actions worth of damage. So the 6 snake encounter is still twice as dangerous as the 6 rat one, and might actually heavily damage a party, seeing that 20 actions by the enemy kills the player.
If the player spread his damage instead of focus firing, he would take :
Round 1: 4 Players poisoned, 2 regular attacks, no snakes killed: 6 actions for the snakes.
Round 2 : 4 regular attacks, 4 poison damage actions. 8 actions by the snakes.
Round 3 : Kill 4 snakes.1 attack by the snakes. 4 actions worth of poison damage, and 1 regular action.
For a grand total of 19 actions worth of damage by the snakes. The players might actually lose this encounter if they are really dumb and just attack spam to random targets.
Now why this whole explanation about rats and snakes ?
Because they demonstrate that nearly all things can be calculated in an actions worth of damage, and to show that he who generates the most actions wins.
This is an important factor in encounter balance. It shows that the more enemies you add, the more turns each enemy gets, so you have a near quadratic effect on encounter difficulty.
It also show the importance of debuffs and buffs and status effects, once you start to see it as trading your turn for theirs, and why status efects are annoying if used by the enemy and useless if used by the player.
"Wait what ?" You might say, but it is true. As we see in the 6 rats scenario, the players have to spend 12 actions to win, but the rats have to spend 20.
So each action for the players is 1.66 times more valuable than one from the enemies. Even if the player had a 100 % accurate stun it is only worth it if the rat would have lived 2 additional turns. And this is the best case scenario.
And forget the classical blindness spell with a 70 % succes chance and a 70 % accuracy reduction. That would only generate on average 0.7*0.7=0.49 actions per turn. Meaning, in our rat case, the rat would have to live 3-4 more turns before it becomes worth it.
I easily solve this by having the player cast blindness spell also deal damage, but cost 1 MP. As I established earlier, 1 MP gets you 50 % of an actions worth of damage/effect/healing.
So with the same reasoning, the ice spell that deals regular damage and freezes for 2 turns with a 50 % chance costs 1 MP, as it negates a full enemy action (that's about 1/1.6= 62 % of a player action).
Now when used by the enemies, it suddenly does become worth it. If an enemy action costs a player an action , he has traded up, seeing as the player actions are worth 1.6 times as much as the rat ones.
It also poses a floor for healing spells. If a healing spell does not heal at least, in our example, 1.6 x as much as the enemy would deal, that healing spell would have better been an attack to end the encounter faster except when that character would otherwise die, then you're trading an action for an action.
Buff spells suffer the same fate. A single target buff spell that raises another characters attack by 50 % is only worth it if the combat lasts 2 more turns to break even, and 3 turns to be better than a standard attack.
Meaning that I find that a single target buff should cost 0-1 MP (probably 0 to encourage buff use), but a partywide buff should cost 1 MP if it lasts 1 turn ,because you spent an action to generate 1.5 actions (3*50% more damage), gaining you half an action.
Any turn after that should cost 4 MP, so a 3 turn party wide buff should cost 9 MP. Now, to encourage buff use, because 90 % off players will still always go for the straight damage spells, I might just reduce this to 6-7 MP.
Now comes the difficult part : The exchange rate between player and enemy actions shifts at higer levels. This is because at higher levels, the balance is different.
At level 5, enemies deal 20 % of the players HP in damage and take 2 hits to kill, while at level 100 they deal 60 % of the players HP and take 7 hits to kill.
So the players need to spend 28 actions to kill the enemy, and the enemy needs to spend 8 actions to kill the player. Suddenly the enemies turn is worth at least 3.5 times as much as a player one.
This means that a player is spending at least 5 MP a turn (+250% Damage) to make his actions on par with the enemies actions, and should probable be spending about 10 MP per turn if he wants to win(By coincidence, that is what he regenerates in MP each turn). It also means that status effects become really important for the players to use, as each stunned/silenced/frozen enemy is worth 2-3 player turns. And I am ok with that. It just means that abilities that unlock later should be balanced for use at that level, and that some low level abilities become better as the levels advance, thereby keeping them relevant.
So what I'm saying is to not stare yourself blind at the numbers in this article but maybe to try and see combat in terms of an action economy, with both players and enemies generating and spending actions, with a certain exchange rate between these 2 actions, and an MP cost to generate what amounts to extra actions.
It simplifies the numbers to simple actions spent, and allows you to quickly mentally simulate important battles, and balance skills.
This is most valuable in boss encounters, where you can actually start to see it on a timeline, and thus balance the boss way easier.
Yeah, I could write out a long post, but I won't.
What happened before will never happen again.
I'll make sure to archive everything I say from here onward.
Meant to do that for the lighthearted post but ultimately didn't think it was necessary. I was wrong for thinking so.
It won't happen again because I won't let it. All my blog posts from here onward I will archive, and if such an issue arises, it will be mitigated and invalidated.
May the Divine Twenty-Four guide the benevolent to their light...
With each passing day, I find the following to be more and more apparent...
There's this thing going on within the higher levels of societal classes, mainly the wealthy, and governing classes that disturbs the living sh*t out of me, and that is this massive censorship model that very few seem to even know about, let alone speak/act against.
Of course, I am talking about online and offline censorship, the former examples being Google, Facebook, Twitter and such, but also on the latter, with the police being allowed to use unnecessary force against people whom have done nothing wrong, against those who are exercising their rights, and the government and corporations fueling these things with their own manpower and most importantly, their own damned, blood-covered silver. (There are numerous other examples but police are really high on the list and frequency of occurrence is impossible to ignore)
It saddens, angers, and enrages me to see this happen, not only to people who don't have a clue, but to people that speak/act against it.
I personally am not fond of certain freedoms because of how badly they are abused, but f*ck all if they are to be taken away by the very same mortals, MORTALS who swore an oath to PROTECT the very same rights.
Of course, there are some parts of the world where such natural rights are either restricted or even completely obliterated by blasphemous religious regimes and/or avaricious and greedy governmental factions, in which, my only wish is for those who suffer undeservingly to either have their pain ended swiftly and mercifully, or for their oppressors to be brought to their overdue end.
Roughly translated to English from my native tongue, it means 'made to speak falsely' which is synonymous with 'censorship'.
One quick tidbit about Parolian context... -ssha/-sshi/-sshu/-sshe/-ssho/-ssya are secondary prefixes which are indicative of negative context accenture (meaning that the phrase will always sound like the person is speaking vilely of the context). In other words, censorship is seen as a bad thing in my native tongue (and logically so).
Anyway, moving on to the next thing and that is how the greedy, avaricious model of censorship has filtered down into various areas of general society, such as public places, online forums, among others. There's a system in place that does allow at the discretion of the higher ups of any given public place, forum and so on to censor the lesser masses, regardless of whether those involved in the censorship process are right or wrong. Of course, that is really no fault of the higher-ups, though allowing oneself to feel right in censoring another regardless of whether the act was right or wrong is a massive character flaw, and that is something I have seen and been a victim of, time and again.
That said, more often than not, this is something most don't even realize that they're doing, and the reasons why list potentially in the hundreds if not thousands, and since I'm no thorough expert on the inner workings of the mortal mind (though I'm an expert at predicting actions but that just takes practice and an unchanging redundancy), I won't really get into that since that is a bit beyond the scope of this blog (not to mention there are many things I do not know well enough about to bring my thoughts into the matter forward).
For those that are guilty of this, but are unaware, I do hope that one day, you do catch it, and reflect on the potential negative influx you're creating, so that one can be more balanced in making decisions that affect others.
For those that are the opposite of the unaware, the ones that do this for the sick pleasure of it (fortunately I've only run into a small handful like this in recent times and never more than that), if you ever run into me, no matter where or when, I won't let you off easy. You're in for a painful reality check.
Now, you might be wondering why I wrote this blog post at all, especially here of all places.
Well, for one, it is good to let people know what is going on, no matter where the information is placed, as long as the balance is as close to equal as possible (I don't think I need to explain this further-hopefully). Two, there are some issues with language barrier censorship that I've come across rather frequently as of recent (and no, not just here but the little blurb about not 'liking the rules of the forum' was the final straw; either I get this off my chest or something bad would happen-likely offline because this is the kind of thing that does tend to set off my stress and unfairly at that), and I used to actually be guilty of this sort of thing myself. Of course, when one doesn't understand what the other is saying, naturally, that frustration will occur, but saying 'speak English pls' is a really bad way of going about it, not to mention quite disrespectful. It is better to ask for someone to translate, or for that person to try to speak more clearly, rather than throw up a false language barrier.
I get it, this is an English-speaking forum, no further commentary on the subject needed, but how many of us have English as a first language, or even a second language? Hell, how many of us rely on the rather unreliable Google Translate for English translations? I can almost guarantee that quite a few of us rely on some form of a less-than-reliable translator just simply because of that restriction. I mean, yeah, sure, the restriction does make some sense, but to have it shoved in our faces, it is just not okay and sets a bad example.
I mean, this is not an 18+ site, there are people here that are potentially impressionable; let us not set that example for them to follow, or even let that even be a possible mindset.
Of course, let us also let them think for themselves, which also means that the censorship model is even worse to have, in the case of free thinking and expression.
Not saying that we should abandon having certain restrictions, but for those of us who do not speak English (or for a Spanish forum, do not speak Spanish or -insert language here), don't admonish us just because we don't know the language. That is all we ask. And if we're feeling good and we say/sing/shout something in our native tongues, don't kill the vibe by saying 'speak English pls'. We wouldn't do that to you (or at least I would like to think we wouldn't but I cannot truly speak for everyone).
As a race of beings designed to coexist, we're currently doing one Hell of a job dividing ourselves, and one of the ways we're accomplishing this is through the current censorship model, whether on purpose or not. Let us unite and end this. Together, we can end the throes of censorship, greed and avarice.
Puzzles and Failing
Something has been on my mind in the last couple of weeks, as I am laying down the basics for each of my dungeons.
It was puzzles, and how they are implemented in RPG maker style engines.
Short aside, this is the definition I am going to be using as a puzzle: an obstacle in a game that cannot be overcome through brute combat or manual dexterity.
My biggest problem was with how much work they take if you want them to be Flexible, Resettable and Solvable
Now for a little story time.
I come from a heavy Tabletop RPG background, and have 18 years of experience as a Dungeon Master in D&D.
My second favorite part ( apart from the actual face-to-face role playing) is handing my players a difficult
puzzle and seeing them trying to solve it in a creative way. Now, could this be frustrating as all hell if your players are having one of their Duuuuuuuuh moments?
Yes, but I solve this by having 2 things :
1. THE solution of the puzzle doesn't exist. Or more specifically, the puzzle doesn't have a definite solution. Now, this is exceedingly easy to do in a Tabletop game, where you are, as a DM,
can actually hear them working it out, and when they actually start doing things that should work, I can say :"Sure, That works". I call it the room full of tools approach.
Give them the obstacle and a lot of ways to interact with it.
The player feels clever, their creativity feels rewarded, and I didn't have to sit there waiting untill they found my "one true answer."
Now, while this is easy as pie in a tabletop RPG, this is by far the hardest to do in a digital RPG, as each possible solution has to be specifically put in the by the developer/deigner.
But there is a middle of the road approach:
While you can't have puzzles with no solutions, you can still implement the room full of tools approach (or the all ways lead to rome approach, whatever),
and have multiple answers to your puzzle.
My favourite puzzle to do this with is the push a block puzzle, or the scate along the ice into rocks puzzle, or the teleporter puzzle. Spatial puzzles, not dialogue puzzles is what I'm talking about here.
I sprinkle the adequate blocks/teleporters around, and keep trying to solve it myself until I get A solution, and then start trimming the ones I did not use. If there are more possible solutions, great, but I am sure there is at least one.
Cross the broad river is another one that works kind of well with this. Or as you might call it, the find 3 out of 5 keys approach. There are more interactables then are needed, with the spares either unlocking a bonus treasure,
or some of them are locked behind additional obstacles.
The key to make this the least bit workable is to have a lot of common events that do the things you want.
I have a stockpile room, with a pile of interactable objects that just need 1 or 2 variables changed, and a boatload of common events.
Now for the next Piece:
2. Allow the players to "Fail Forwards". This was especially relevant in tabletop, but our cRPG's can benefit from it too I believe.
Imagine : the players are investigating a murder in a dwarven city, and they find Gunpowder on the crimescene. Instead of thinking "Gunfactory" and them going to the Industrial district,
they interpret it as cannons, and go and look in the Harbour district. Do I let them waste their time and present them with a roadblock ? Off course not, you give them a hard encounter
with no treasure, have them find a note specifically indicating the Gun Factory, and maybe a tighter timeline for the rest of their mission.
The heroes are trying to climb a wall, and they fail their skill check, do I let them plummet to their death ? Off course not, have some damage, and you attract a simple encounter.
Don't let failure be a roadblock, but just another obstacle.
Now this is again easy to do face-to-face, and harder to do in a computer RPG, but there are lessons that can be drawn from this.
a. withold extra reward
Once again the example of a block pushing puzzle. Maybe the solution is really easy to just pass the puzzle, but off to the side is a treasure chest, and getting that one will be way more difficult.
Maybe if he usus only 3 out of 4 keys, he might still have one for the bonus room
The player can advance anyway, even if he fails, but that treasure chest is there; shiny, shimmering, splendid.
b. give hints if stuck
Another aspect of this is getting the player back on the right track if he is wrong or stuck. I'm not saying solve the puzzle for him, but maybe have an interactable object start blinking
after the player is just standing there with his finger up his nose for 2 minutes. Maybe give a hint, or give him the first step of the puzzle , maybe have the hint be delivered by a partymember who would see such things.
c.penalties, not roadblocks.
A final aspect of failing forwards is to have failing the puzzle to just apply a penalty to a later event.
Concrete example: Somewhere a third through my game I have a 7 Sins Themed Demonic Dungeon, with each sin being represented by a different permanent status effect.
There are seven Bosses, each removing one sin from the party, until only one is left, then there is a final boss battle. Depending how you do it, the final boss, or any boss in between really, can be a breeze, or an absolute (but still winnable) nightmare.
So even if the player just does the bosses in a random order, he could still possibly defeat the dungeon, it would just be insanely hard.
Now, on to a totally different topic:
Resetability and Robustness.
Sometimes a player fails a puzzle. He pushes a block into an inescapable corner, he drinks the poisons in the wrong order, ...
Basically he screwed up and cannot continue.
Now, how much do we need to plan for this ?
While there are certainly ways to foolproof a puzzle, and we should do this to as many puzzles as we can,
doing this to each and every one would, in my opinion, be enormously laborious.
I have found a simple way around this, but most of you are not going to like it : The player is going to have to sometimes reload.
When a player has to do this, I feel not the player, but the designer has failed, but limitations on the engine are what they are.
Now to soften the low : Use autosave. Have the game save at the beginning and end of small local puzzles. Having to redo just the puzzle stings a lot less.
It almost mimics the table top puzzle solving in that you can try and interact with the object to find the right solution, instead of being stuck if you fail.
Ah! You say, what about your promised big puzzles ? Your 5 skills required dungeons ? Those are actually also solved by very careful use of when to autosave.
Here the autosaves are at the beginning of the dungeon and at each convergence point; the choke point in the dungeon each of the possible paths has to take, where you put your minibosses, Story Cutscenes,...
Because you know that if they made it that far, they are not halfway a broken puzzle.
Of course I still allow manual saves, but the autosave is there to say : you're allowed to experiment and fuck up, we've got your back.
Is this an enormous Hack ? Yes, Yes it is, but so are most things in RPG Maker
Because resetting a "shove the block into the right hole" puzzle might be easy, a "push te rock into the river,
so you can cross, then freeze the river under the block, so it floats off, and blocks the river further downstream slowing it down so you can make a bridge out of ice so that you can melt the block free and push it into some other river" might be slightly more difficult.
One final thought : there is no reason to have random encounters during a precision puzzle, unless the puzzle deals damage on failure and thus the encounters are part of the puzzle design.
So, what are your favourite kind of puzzles ?
Push a block
Sequence of levers.
Entire minigames (Mastermind, ...)
Weaknesses and the False Player-Enemy Equivalence.
Back for another round of my opinions in game making. I'll start with some theory before getting to the point , so please bear with me.
The word for today is equality.
More specifically in player character and monster design, and how they need not be designed the same.
Somewhere there is an underlying feeling that the game we are playing should be fair, and that they should be playing by the same rules as us.
But should they ? While nothing is as infuriating as a cheating AI, the player and the AI serve wildly different purposes.
While certainly some of the AI cheating is there due to limits in technology, because an AI will almost never be as good at adapting as a human player except in some discrete systems.
That doesn't really matter, because the player is there to win, but the AI is there to lose entertainingly.
So to answer the question "Why does the AI/Enemies sometimes get to follow different rules than the player ?", the answer should be because it leads to better gameplay, or because of technological limits,and not for any other reason , because no-one likes a cheating AI, and yet, sometimes letting the AI cheat just a little leads to way better gameplay.
The same can be said for how each sides game pieces are built or function. Every case of enemy-player inequality should have a solid reason.
Why can the boss spam the high MP spells almost turn after turn , while I can't? (Because then that's the only thing you would do, heavily reducing your variety in gameplay.)
Why are bosses immune to instant-kills ? (Preventing Anti-Climax and reducing RNG as a factor)
Why does the boss get 2-3 turns ? (There are 4 of you and only 1 of him, so he still only gets 2-3 actions vs your 4)
Why doesn't the enemy have to worry about building up TP ? (Because the game engine doesn't track enemy TP)
Now all of this was a small snippet of my thoughts to explain my reasoning in the next bit.
Let me make a bold and broad statement (that will probably be misinterpreted) :
I do not believe in player character weaknesses.
With weakness I mean a glaring defensive weakness , not an offensive one. I'm fine with the mage not doing physical damage, what I am not
ok with is the same mage folding over like a wet paper towel to an attack that barely scratches the armoured fighter, or the fire mage dying to even a light ice spell.
"But ..." I hear you think "why didn't you put the mage on the back row then ?" Because the back row is a hack, a cheap patch designed to hide an obvious design problem.
In theory it sounds nice, put your mage on the back row, trading physical attack for defence. My problem with this, is the no-brainer deciscion this is.
There is never any doubt the character should be in the last or front row, so why don't we just up the mages defence and get rid of this hack.
(Warning, some numbers up ahead are exageration for effect, used to prove a point, please do not take them as absolute law)
I'm fine with the mage taking 20 % more damage, given equal health pools, but usually the mage takes up to 40 % more damage, and has only 70 % of the fighters health pool, quickly making any hit that endangers the fighter an insta-kill for the mage.
On the other hand, no player character should have complete (passive) immunity to a certain element (I am ok with skill usage granting temporary immunity), because then each encounter with that element is just a roulette to see who gets hit ,
or in the case of Good or cheating AI totally useless as the character will never be attacked with that element.
Now, to be nicely controversial, I believe enemies should have glaring weaknesses and blanket immunities.
Why? Because from the beginning the enemy and player are not on equal footing and are not playing the same game anyway. The enemy is there to provide 2-3 rounds of resistance and then fall over. It's loss rate should be 95-99 % (excepting boss battles).
The other reason is choice and gameplay. Having your fire mage just die to Ice spells rarely creates interesting deciscions, outside of the binary "do I bring him or not?". Giving him an amulet of ice protection isn't a choice, but a must at that point.
But deciding wether to use your fire mage to finish off one enemy, or do a big chunck of damage but not killing a second fire - weak enemy, that is a deciscion point.
To use persona 3/4/5 as an example : Hitting the enemy in his weakness and chaining them up to eliminate a though encounter feels great, but getting surprise attacked and wiped before you even get a turn feels horrible and is one of the most controller smashing moments in an otherwise very good series of games.
This also nicely touches on another problem with for example mass insta-kill spells. Say there is a spell that has a chance of killing an enemy 50 % of the time, and it targets all enemies. Is this spell fair in the hands of the player ? I believe yes ( at an appropriately high MP cost).
Is it fair in the hands of an enemy ? Unless it is heavily telegraphed and able to be countered, no, I do not think so. Suppose you cast it against 4 monsters, there is a 1/8 chance of ending the encounter right here. If it works, fun , but nothing special. Now the same spell cast by an enemy you encounter regularly.
Giving the party a 1/8 chance to just game over without counter-play is just nasty. To add on top of this, if a surprise attack by your encounter can defeat a fully healed party without ever giving them one turn, even if rarely , then maybe tone down the encounter slightly (or eliminate surprise attacks).
In summary, what I am saing is : enemy weaknesses lead (or should do so anyway) to gameplay and choice, player weaknesses leads to random blowouts or nothing. Because players get way more affected by randomness than monsters. A monster is there for the one battle, the player is there for at least a 100, so the 1 % chance to be randomly buttfucked will eventually happen.
Now how I'm doing it in my game:
Small weaknesses ( up to 20 % more damage)
Medium Resistances (up to 50 % less damage)
Many resistance granting spells and abilities, but no passive immunities.
Glaring weaknesses (up to 500 % more damage)
Above and beyond immunity (Reflect , absorb, immune , ...)
Reacting to certain elements with counterattacks, so the right choice isn't always the right choice. For example : Fire does 100% more damage, but gets you counterattacked.
Having a weakness not necessarily be more damage, but inflict a debuff, having lightning inflict stun on turrets, fire inflicting enrage on beasts,...
And on a final note : balance your (random) encounters not for the average , but the edge cases. What if the encounter turns into a total shitstorm (all enemies randomly select their strongest move and/or all enemies crit in a row), do the players have any chance? Even if it is only 5 % likely, because that 5 % will eventually come up.
Field Skills and the HM Mule
Today I'm going to try a shorter piece, about field skills,their quirks and how I want to use them in my game.
With field skills I mean things like the classical pokémon HM moves like surf, fly and cut, but also skills like lockpicking, or step by step regen.
Basically these fall into 3 categories:
Key skills : Cut, Strength, Whirlpool, ...
Convenience Skills : Fly, Step by step Regen.
Reward Skills : Lockpick treasure chests
Today I want to mostly talk about the first category.
Key skills are skills like surf, or cut. They are required to physically acces or complete areas.
They might as well be replaced by a key somewhere in your inventory, or a boat item, yet at the same time they feel better.
Maybe it is because it feels like the character is being awesome.
The feeling of a character smashing a rock wall does conjure other images than the same character just turning a key in a door, while it is functionally the same.
On the other hand, in games with a numbered amount of skills per character, they feel like a skill tax, leading to the HM mule : a character that is not actually part of the team, but just is there for his key skills. This is, I find a big design flaw in those type of games, as they constrict player choice for no good reason.
I have made these type of skills a key point in my game, but with a slight difference:
Each key field skill is at first unique to one character, and there is no limit to skills known.
This seems like it solves the HM mule problem, but as my party size is a small 4 characters,
chosen out of a possible 20, it is actually still the same, filling up one of your 4 party slots without your choice.
This I have attempted to solve by:
Keeping the dungeons short, under 30 minutes short, so you are never stuck with someone you dislike using for long, and by making character swapping as painless as possible.
As there is no strictly better gear, there is no need for the equipment shuffle. Just toss the required character some gear he can use, and you are ready to go, no need to rob another character first.
The balance is also more and more forgiving for a slight level difference, a gap that widens as the game continues.
As the game progresses, eventually characters start learning other characters field skills, allowing you options, making the requirement sting less.
Especially because eventually dungeons might require up to 10 required skills, necessitating that the player actually spends a little while puzzeling together a party.
Because walking into the dungeon and realising you brought the wrong team, and making you walk back to the party select zone (or in pokémon, Bill's PC in the pokémon center), to go get that one character that can crush rocks is not something that I need in my game, I am being pretty explicit and forthright about my required skills for a dungeon, having the player find Enemy Intelligence on the next dungeon beforehand, to make it part of the puzzle the player can solve. It feels less like you are stuck with a character if he is there because he is part of a solution you thought of yourself, probably because it puts choice back in the hands of the player.
Having an obstacle have multiple solutions. The poison gas rooms might be something for the Air mage, or the Poison-immune cyborg. The energy fields can be bypassed by either having the magic nullifying character, the electronics overloading one, or the hacker. Once again , player choice is preserved, while not negating the uniqueness of characters and the necessity to change up the party.
Have them also be combat abilities.
Things I am trying to do with this:
As I said before, it allows me to make party composition a puzzle that needs to be resolved over and over again. I like optimisation , but not of the set-it-and-forget-it kind.
Give each character his moment in the spotlight. If I make a dungeon aout a characters abilities, he remains in the players mind throughout the dungeon.
Easier cutscenes in dungeons , as I have a pretty good idea of who out of the 20 characters will be there.
Make complex dungeons that are actually fun and intuitive.
Some examples of Field skills I am using:
Air Bubble (Water Breathing, Smoke Screen, Survive Vacuum, reduce wind speed ...)
Freeze (Create steppable ice, make ice boulders, ...)
Absorb Magic/Energy (Bypass energy Barriers, destroy magic wards, ...)
Shock (Overload electronics, stun guards, ...)
Fire (burn bushes, melt Ice, ...)
Move earth (Push Rocks, ...)
Mind Control (Remove Guards, Have big beasts smash boulders, ...)
What are your thoughts on these types of moves, and are you using them in your game ?
This week it's time for another random topic : Encounters, expecially of the random kind. Bosses and other scripted encounters are a whole different kettle.
Warning : Following is a heavilly opinionated piece. The points put forward here are personal opinion born from
personal experience as both an avid RPG player, both jRPG and aRPGs, and a tabletop Dungeons and Dragons Dungeon Master.
First, why do I use random encounters in my jRPG, as opposed to on map random encounters or fully handcrafted non-respawning encounters?
There are some basic reasons why I do it :
1. It's Fast and Easy
2. It's Flexible and Robust
Reasons other people think why I shouldn't or did do it :
1. Not Realistic/Outdated
4. Too Random/Dissalows skilllful play/ Interaction
Now for a little elaboration on these points :
Let's admit it, it is fast, a set and done method. I make some enemies, an encounter list, paint some encounter zones if I'm feeling fancy,
and I'm done. I can churn out a lot of content in a short mount of time, it is 90 % realy streamlined database work, if you have your enemy stats already layed out.
Not having to bother with every encounter, just making sure I have about a target number of encounters per area on a
mildly suboptimal run through, which most beginners will be doing on their first runaround, alllows me to be more productive as the one man team I am.
It makes playtesting way way easier, I can just switch them on and off to my liking. It also makes mapbuilding easier, not having to account for enemy terrain
passability for roving encounters, or an enemy getting stuck and blocking something, wether it be an NPC, a switch or a doorway. I don't have to put up 20 respawn timers on every map.
I often do entire redesigns of certain areas. Random encounters allow me to at least reuse my encounters, freeing up time for the other parts of the redesign.
Now, to discuss some of the downsides :
1. Unrealistic and Outdated
As a short asside, when people use "realism" in a video game, often they mean verisimilitude or appearing real within it's own work.
We accept a lot of things in video games, aka. willing suspension of disbeleief, but then other things that are
just as unrealistic seem to jar us out of it. As a designer, I think we should strive not to be realistic, but just
not to break that willing suspension of disbelief, not introducing elements that we think "do not belong there" and thus do not seem real.
This means many genre conventions, even though they are outdated, are tolerated within their genres, because they seem to belong there.
Things such as ridiculous jumping distances in Mario, or the health regeneration in shooters, the speed boost from drifting in certain racing games. They are in a vacuum totally unrealistic, but because they are part of the genre, we accept them.
As thus I do not see random, instanced, encounters as an absolute problem in top down 32-bit jRPG's, while they would totally seem out of left field in for example Call of Duty, or Skyrim.
Where some might see lazyness, I see efficiency. If I had the time, I would personally and lovingly craft every single encounter the players have, but alas, I am a one man team attempting a game with over 100 dungeons.
Productivity is key here. My personal experience as a D&D dungeon master has taught me much here. It is a way more efficient use of my time to spend 50 hours designing about 20 robust, interesting reuseable encounter templates that
I can for example fill with Brute #A,B, spellcaster C, Healer D and environmental hazard E, slap some paint on the wall and call it finished in 5 minutes, than lovingly spend 2 hours crafting each encounter,
only to have the players trash it in 2 turns, or completely miss or circumvent it. This moves more work to preproduction, but once set up, allows for a lot of things to be done rather fast.
These encounter templates will be explained further later on in my rant/article.
3. Too Frustrating/Frequent/Repetitive
This most often has to do with 3 things : Encounters are too frequent, or they are present in areas where they should not be, like complex puzzle areas, or they are formulaic and boring.
I find that these are both adequately solvable without having to go to map or event based encounters.
The important element is that of player control. He has to be able to , through choice, influence encounter rates, I find. In my game this is a rudimentary stealth system and certain weapons allowing for surprise attacks more often.
4. No Skill involved.
This one I'm going to split up into 2 parts : Avoiding encounters/Pre-emptive strikes and preparation.
The wandering of enemies on the map does give the illusion that the player he can skillfully avoid the encounter,
or in some systems (like the Persona Series) hit the enemy before it hits them and get an advantage in combat.
While in theory this works nicely, in practice this comes down to either it being too easy, and you always evading/suprising the enemy,
or being too hard, in which case, why have bothered. I try and reach the same effect by correct equipment choice and actions in combat.
A player that wants to be stealthy can try to be so, but I don't have to put every enemy on the map, Win-Win.
The other comes down to preparation, thinking that if I can see the enemy/encounter (if they have unique map sprites per enemy type), I can prepare for it.
Now there are RPG's that go heavily of off this model, like the Baldur's Gate series, where each resource is unique, each spell is single use,
and encounters are often save reload retry heavy, but for a standard jRPG, with a flexible, often MP based resource system, I just see a frustrated player spending 5 minutes in his inventory, specifically preparing for every encounter he meets.
For flexible resource systems (MP-Based) I think it is more fun if the player does not know when he is going to encounter what, in the short term, forcing him to improvise from turn to turn, while still allowing for mid-to-long term planning.
What I want them to think :"This cave has bats and snakes, I 'll take my anti-bat weapons and anti-snake ones. Better have a nice mix of both. In the encounters : Hmm, snakes, I should keep him healing poison, while the guy with the anti-snake goes to town on them, and the rest takes down the snake handler"
What I do not want : " The next encounters looks like snakes, everybody put your anti-snake gear on, next encounter is bats, better take off the anti snake, and put on the anti-bat, repeat for every encounter."
One I feel leads to more dynamic play, the other leads to menu overload. That said, like I told you, there are series where this is appropriate, I just don't think it is in my game.
Now after my too long rant defending why I'm using random encounters, Let me explain what I am doing with them.
First of all, all of my enemies are based upon a blueprint of what a monster of their role should look like in combat, like brute, healer, artillery, ...
So my orks are lvl 9 brutes, my flame imp is a lvl 17 artillery, ... (More on the specifics of this in a following article).
Short summary :
Skirmisher : Base
Brute : Low Def, High damage
Soldier : High Def, Medium Damage
Elite : Counts as 2 enemies
Solo : Counts as 4 enemies
Artillery : Multi-target damage
Buffer/debuffer: Raise/Lower stats
Controlers : Take control away from player (stun, sleep, silence, ...)
Summoner : Does nothing for multiple turns then casts high damage spell or summons other enemy.
Sniper: Heavy Single target Damage, with set-up or wind-up turn(s)
Next, I spend time designing Encounter templates.
An encounter template is like an ingredient list, listing all the things that are in the encounter, centered around a central challenge
beyond just kill all the enemies, requiring the player to think how to best do this.
Once you have these, you can pick n mix with enemies you have, and voila, you have an enormous amount of quickly generated content.
This will be clearer with some examples, so here, have some examples:
1. The broodmother.
Enemies: Elite Soldier, and minions.
Challenge: Kill the broodmother, while also killing all the minions she spawns turn by turn.
Abilities required : Multi-target skill, high damage single target
2. Beauty and the beast
Enemies: Solo/ELite Brute or summoner and 1/2 healers/Buffers
Challenge: Keeping one half occupied while you deal with the other half.
Required Ability: Debuff, Stuns or Spike damage
3. X marks the spot
Enemies : 1-2 Debuffer and 3 Snipers.
Enemy AI: Focus Fire
Challenge: Keep the debuff off the targeteted character long enough to kill either the debuffer or the snipers first.
Required Ability : Debuff remover/ Bufffer
4. Artillery Misery
Enemies : 3-4 Artillery, each with a different Element.
Challenge: Stay alive long enough to kill the enemies
Required Ability : Intense healing, elemental resistances
5. Spikey Portal
Enemies: 3 Skirmishers, 1 Summoner
Challenge: Kill the summoner before he summons something nasty that might be a total party wipe, while also not ignoring the other enemies chipping at your health.
Required ability : Spikey Single target Damage, Medium multi-target damage.
6. Sands of time
Enemies : 2 controlers ,a healer and a damaging environmental effect.
Challenge : Kill the enemies before they can just stun all of you and let the environment finish you off.
Required abilities : Spikey Damage, stunbreaking, environmental damage negation.
7. Palace of mirrors
Enemies : 4-6 Brutes, with wildly different immmunities and weaknesses, absorbances and reflects
Challenge : Kill them all with AoE spells, using the correct spells in the correct sequence.
Required abilities : Multiple AoE Spells of multiple elements
8. Down with the King
Enemy : Solo enemy that begins combat with a series of buffs.
Challenge: Stack your debuffs correctly, so you both survive and damage him enough before he reapplies these buffs.
Required Abilities : Spikey Damage, debuffer, Healer.
9. The bubble pop
Enemies : 2 Skirmishers and 2 Debuffers
Challenge : Reapply a buff that is needed for survival (for example: water breathing), while still killing the enemies.
Required abilities : Reapplying the survival skill in combat.
10. The breather
Enemy : 2 Skirmishers
Challenge : None, just a breather
Each and every one of these can be filled in with level apropriate enemies and quickly populate a dungeon , without giving the feeling that the encounters are identical.
Now as a bonus point, you are allowing the player to build a repertoire to handle similar encounters once he sees patterns.
I try not to use more then seven different enemies in one dungeon , but even then , that still gives a whole lot of gameplay.
Deer! (Hi there!) I have add more CG for scene like
And I add some animated CG too! the first animated CG is
There will be more animated CG, But they won't animate in Gallery (Sorry I'm not much of a Programmer)
Okay that's for now, if there something new again I'll tell you.
Bye Bye! (I'm not going anywhere, If You feel like say hello or something just PM me or leave comment down below)
One week later, one more topic to talk about. Sorry in advance, it got a bit long.
This week I'm going to zoom out a bit and explain the general structure of my game.
This will be a mechanics based article, the story itself will be kept a surprise for the actual game, so it might seem a tad dry, but it does keep the article focussed.
For reference, when I say a dungeon in this post, I mean any Isolated space, with enemy encounters, with a clear beginning and end. They might be a slums district, a volcano, or a space station.
When I say an ability or skill, I mean one that can affect the environment ( push boulders, nullify blizzards, ...).
It is divided into 5 chapters:
Chapter 1: Intro (lvl 1-10)
Chapter 2: Gathering the team. (lvl 11-25)
Chapter 3: Seeking for power (lvl 26-50)
Chapter 4: Seeking perfection (lvl 51-90)
Chapter 5: Finale (lvl 91-100)
The first chapter is spent as kind of a mini version of the whole game, introducing all the aspects I will be using.
Because there is no use in waiting for halfway through the game to introduce core elements.
This is something I gleaned from a design motto they use in Magic,the gathering :”If your theme is not at common it is not your theme. “
Translating for video games : if a mechanic is only introduced halfway, or used sparingly, can you really call it the cornerstone of your game? FFXIII suffered from this enormously i found.
So my intro will have you gathering team members, quickly switching PoV's in dungeons, introduce quickly the 3 main realms of my game, and will culminate in a small scale 2 party jailbreak.
Except for the first and last chapter, each chapter consists of a series of dungeons,
organised by level into groups of 2 to 4, but seperated by physical location. Each group will usually have a dungeon in each realm. The realms are Fantasy, Sci-fi and Action ( not real names, just placeholders for a general idea and tone).
Each dungeon in a group gives physical acces to a dungeon one group up, and
gives a character or ability needed to traverse a different dungeon one group up.
So for example, the first group of dungeons is (lvl 11-13) :
Wizards tower, Dictators palace, and the aztec pyramid.
The group 2 dungeons (lvl 14-15) are the Supersoldier labs, and the Volcano.
Completing the aztec temple gives acces to the volcano level, but you still need
the ice mage to cool certain lava parts, which you recruit in the SciFi-Dictator's palace.
Finishing the Sci-fi dictator level unlocks the supersoldier lab dungeon,
but you need the magic-draining character to nullify the energy fields,
which you can find in the wizard's tower, and so on.
Now when I say physically unlock a dungeon , this usually means you get information on the location of the next dungeon, or it might literally mean that dungeon is on the other side of this one.
The information on the next dungeon will usually include enough info to know what or who to bring to the next dungeon. This will be consultable through some sort of adapted quest log system.
Two small addendums :
1. you make your party when entering a dungeon, and the maximum party size is 4.
2. Xp is not shared, but the away team gains xp equal to a full dungeons' worth upon completion as it is considered to be doing something useful while you are in the dungeon. (Fending off pursuers, gathering intel on something, ...).
That means you can't just have 4 characters worth of gear, because the away team might get some quick cut-away segments, requiring you to do some battles, or a small set-piece.
Each group of dungeons is balanced around a central level, with each dungeon raising the characters level by about 1 or 2, determined by the level range and size of the group, with a lot of the xp being bound up in the end of dungeon boss.
This ensures that each new set represents a difficulty spike, while still allowing some sequence breaking.
As an example the 11-13 dungeons are balanced around level 12.
So a character that just starts chapter 2, being lvl 11, will find the first dungeon he does a little harder then average (11vs12), and the third one he does quite a lot easier (13vs12).
If the player really wanted to, he could skip a dungeon and go and do a group 2 dungeon (13vs14.5). The game will however eventually require him to go back and do the third dungeon,because eventually he will need the location and the character/ability it opens up.
Now, with the non linear acquisition of characters, you might imagine cutscenes being a mess.
I plan on doing a full blog on this topic later, so for now, just know it is something I still need to hammer out.
Now, back to my game structure.
After a set level of dungeon groups, eventually the final dungeon of that chapter is unlocked, requiring all of the then available characters to have been obtained.
These I intend to be the big setpieces, with a multi-party assault with multiple parties each doing their part.
By the time you start the first one, you will have acces to about 20 characters, so that means about 5 different parties, each doing their part.
These might be :
1. The home team, keeping the escape vessel safe
2. A strategic support team, attacking key points ( taking out snipers, alarm blowers,...)
3. A stealth team, stealing passwords to unlock certain doors
4. The main team
5. The cavalry in case something goes south for any of the other teams.
The smaller dungeons will have this too, but not on this scale, mostly a quick splitting up and reconvening.
Once again, more specifics are for a later blog, as this one is still about the big game structure.
After having acquired nearly all characters by lv 25, and having finished the big chapter ending dungeon, Chapter 3 starts.
Here dungeons will be unlocked by having the right abilities, and the right team member, as each dungeon is attuned to one specific party member. You still have to physically reach them by completing other dungeons.
So the party will be the main character, the attuned character and a character there for his ability, with one additional character being free choice.
During each one, the attuned character gains a new ability.
For example, we want to empower the lightning mage to become a lightning/water mage, able to call a storm to stop fires, but the dungeon is an underwater temple,
necessitating bringing the wind mage long to create an air bubble.
Once again , this chapter climaxes in a multi party siege of the chapter ending dungeon.
In chapter 4, the gloves come off.
Like in chapter 2 and 3 there is a linked sequence of dungeons, with rising levels, but they will require ever more arcane requirements, often requiring 2 parties with each a specific set of abilities.
Now, this might seem like it really restricts player choice, but as the previous chapter was spent getting each character a second ability,
there will be, by design multiple correct solutions. Some abilities might also be substituted by others.
Once again, there will be an ability earned per dungeon completed, allowing further dungeons to be attempted.
An example of this in practice : There is a polar research station that requires a team to enter some ice caves, and a team to get into the command HQ.
The ice cave team requires : someone with fire powers to melt ice boulders, someone who can nullify the biting cold magical blizzard, either through a heat aura, a regenerative aura to nullify the damage,
or wind powers to stop the blizzard. The other team needs a stealth person , and at least someone who can overload security circuits, control electronics, or someone who can absorb energy barriers.
As the main purpose of the dungeon is to empower the ice mage, she too has to come with either team A or B, as these reconvene to actually defeat the boss, with a party of 4 chosen from those 8.
There might be some cutbacks to the home team fighting of yeti's from assaulting the ship.
Once all the abilities are achieved, chapter 5 can commence.
Chapter 5 is the big final dungeon, testing everything learned up to that point, a multi stage dungeon requiring multiple party formations to split, reconverge, and finally face the big bad in a 5-way boss battle.
That burger looks very happy to see you, I'm sure he won't mind if you take a bite out of him!
This is a sketch of the inside of Burger Blip, featuring Bo and Sadie. For now, I won't be posting any pictures of BB, but I have indeed finished the BB map and the character sprites that are within it. I just need to fix the lighting a little!
Emotions are a very fragile core of our very hearts, but they can also become the strongest weapons if wielded properly. To watch friendships blossom, to have true love and friendship come to life, to have people rely on you and you rely on other people...these are all emotions central to the human heart, and why friendship is such a critical aspect in our lives and why it should never be taken for granted. I'll break the game down into several segments, consisting of story, gameplay, quality, and replayability, and judge the game on all of these criteria.
Emotions. They are the basis of a human heart. And Blue Reflection is a compelling story following three girls who help those in their school, Hoshinomiya High School, overcome their emotions and let them fight on. Because I want you all to experience the story the same way I did, sit down in your chair, your bed, or wherever you are currently at right now, close out of other distractions...and put this following song on repeat and listen closely.
Blue Reflection follows a girl named Hinako Shirai, a first-year student attending Hoshinomiya High School. When the game starts up, you see her in a very solemn and very lonely state. Hinako originally before was the famous star of a ballet school, almost at the top of her class, but due to an unfortunate injury concerning her knee during ballet class, she would never be able to dance again. After the accident, she switched schools and was made to live a "regular life", as a schoolgoer. She was put into the 1-A Regular Class of Hoshinomiya High School, which has a less strict curriculum than the Special Class, but more about that later.
Hinako shortly thereafter runs into another girl, Sanae Nishida, who originally was in the same grade as Hinako in their previous school, has also transferred to Hoshinomiya to work on her cooking. The two bump into each other in the hallway, and Sanae is simply ecstatic. However, this triggers a change in the atmosphere...a side effect of uncontrolled emotions called "rampancy".
Hinako becomes teleported to this strange world thereafter with lots of flowers around and a very calming and serene atmosphere. However, a strange entity on the other side of the riverbank, a Demon, as it is called in the game, attacks Hinako and forces her into the river. Hinako drifts downward to a nearby spot, crawls out, and is surprised. However then, she hears two voices in her head that allow her to give her the power to eliminate the Demon. The two girls, Yuzu, and Lime, give Hinako the power of the Reflector: the power to balance human emotions through kindness and understanding.
After completing the dungeon, Sanae returns to her normal state, still admiring Hinako, but in a much less over the top way. The next day, Yuzu and Lime appear as classmates of Hinako's, with the intention of collecting Fragments, a collective of human emotions, to bolster the Reflector's power. The game then becomes about the three girls, Hinako, Yuzu, and Lime, as they collect Fragments through the Reflector's power in order to defeat the most menacing of foes in the world: Sephirot.
Along the way, you'll find more girls around the high school, such as Sarasa Morikawa, who originally looked up to Hinako as a rival in ballet and aspired to be everything she was, Rin Sanada, a tennis ace with a perfect record, who is amazing at cooking and loves older men (personally, my favorite girl), Ako Ichinose, a news reporter/broadcaster who wants to make friends through videos and sharing her upbeat personality, Shihori Sugamoto, who is a pervert and we don't associate with her, Chihiro Inoue, a cute girl who uses her arts and crafts to charm and make friends with everyone, Fumio Taya, a musical prodigy who works tirelessly to become the best musician, Kei Nariyama, a high school basketball star with pizzazz in sports, Kaori Mitsui, a gamer girl who was originally on the track team, along with Rika Yoshimura, track star who wants to break out of the "normal" nomenclature, Yuri Saiki, a genius girl who is emotionless and the toughest nut to crack, and Mao Ninagawa, a famous actress with dual personalities. Each of these characters brings so much life to the game and makes each character shine as though they were really alive, and not just 2D models in a game.
Eventually, emotions within the real world start to become more complex. Things start blending together and human become harder to understand for Hinako as she tries to fight her way to save her friends' hearts. Fear can spill into sorrow, happiness can spill into anger, anger can spill into sorrow, and everything just...comes together so well. The story was so amazing from beginning to end, as we see Hinako fight for what she believes in: her friends, her compassion, and her sense of conviction in doing the right thing. There are many beautiful moments throughout the story that can occur in every day life, ranging from dealing with troubled teenagers spouting rumours about you over the Internet, dealing with a high-class versus low-class daughter who can't follow their dreams, splitting from the track and field team due to not having confidence, not having someone to look up to in your darkest hour, and so on.
Through the collection of many Fragments, Sephirot appear to attack the school, and as is your job as a Reflector, it is your duty to reflect them off. However, later on, you get the ability to kill them outright anyway, which kind of makes the first half of the game just plot armor for Hinako. Which is one of the things I kinda didn't like about the game, personally. I would have rather they built up the power to completely annihilate Sephirot in the first place rather than it fall victim to plot convenience, but that's just being very nitpicky of me.
Also, Sephirot look fucking cool.
As you fight and fight, you discover that the "dungeons" you can go to is actually the basis of the human conscience and emotion. Now, I'm gonna draw a parallel to Persona 5 for a second here, since this game has taken a lot of inspiration from that game. This game has a place called "The Common", the place you go to to find Fragments and fight Demons in order to increase your power. Persona 5 has a place called "Mementos", the place you go to to find Quests and fight Personas in order to increase your power. Seem familiar?
Yeah, this game is a lot like Persona 5 in a lot of ways, where emotion and friendships are your quick ways to victory. However, I will say one thing, though. The two games are completely worlds apart. If we were to compare the two games as pizzas, for example, Persona would be a sausage and pepperoni extra large pizza with stuffed crust and a side of cheesy garlic bread. Blue Reflection would be a nice Hawaiian pizza with a side of bread sticks. Simple, but MUCH more casual than Persona 5. Streamlined in such a fashion that makes it feel like you aren't stressed for time trying to do the things you love and balance it out with fighting Sephirot.
Now I'm hungry.
As you play along, you'll discover the secret of the two young girls, Yuzu and Lime, who they really are, and why they chose Hinako as the source of the Reflector's power. Turns out, Yuzu and Lime are already dead. In a freak experimental accident gone wrong (totally not senor plot convenience, right?), a previous Sephirot wanted to try and merge The Common and the human world together, but failed. Yuzu and Lime were the result of that experiment gone wrong. However, their souls remain in The Common, but their actual identities are masked and no one knows who they are unless they have specifically come into contact with Hinako first, and given a ring to show that they are friends. By the way, if I ever got a ring from being friends with a girl, I'd marry her.
Then, the Sephirot who wants to erase all human emotion and existence comes after you defeat all the previous Sephirot.
Humans can be so frail and fragile as their bonds with friends crumble apart. Friends go away, relationships and hearts can be broken, people can even die. But that doesn't mean we should give up and lie down. It's in the endurance of the human heart to always persevere, no matter what, and this game has no shame in telling you that. The final boss makes you realize your fear and regret, your sorrow and your anger, and your wish to persevere humanity's wishes, with the concept of "never forgetting the people who made us get here in the first place", even if they aren't really there.
The story is easily one of the best parts about the game. GUST has always made games with really really good storylines because they work. Even though it's overly cliche with the whole schoolgirl trope, it still works. Unlike "That game which shall not be named" that I did last time.
Oh boy, is there a lot to talk about in this one.
This game is very casual. But that's not necessarily a bad thing, because it follows a system that is very barebones, but still gets the job done. Unlike Persona 5, where you had to grind to Level Up in missions, in Blue Reflection, all your Level Ups are handed to you as you progress. Meaning, that there is no real way to grind, except by doing missions and getting "Growth Points". So, while it doesn't typically follow the usual RPG trope, it's still a good experience.
As you can see here, you can level up individual stats for Hinako, Yuzu, and Lime, and depending on how you level them up, they will get skills based on the different types of "trees" you invest in. There's ATK, which is obvious, DEF, which is obvious, SPT, which stands for Special Time, which effects how fast you go in combat (more on that later), and TEC, which does things you may not normally expect from typical RPGs, like Critical Strikes and Luck, and also getting skills that decrease enemy stats or increase your own. The fact that you can mold your characters to suit any role is actually really really fun, and offers a lot of replayability in how you want to build your characters. To start off with, though, Hinako is generally a Jack-Of-All-Trades good in every scenario character, Yuzu is a tank......which is really strange considering she's the smallest character in the game, and Lime, who is a glass cannon.
Every character can learn some sort of healing skill, technical skill, or attack skill that makes them completely not worthless, but not every character will be strong in every situation either. So in that regard, you have to balance your characters through certain trees and make certain that you are investing your points wisely.
Now, let's get into the real bulk of gameplay: Battles.
Battles are fought as Wait-Time ATB, for those RPG Maker nerds out there who know what I'm talking about. You have your timeline at the top which is incredibly easy to follow: Your turn on the left hand side, the enemies on the right hand side. When a target gets to the middle, they get to take their turn. Incredibly easy, straightforward, and to the point. And there are also attacks that help manipulate the timeline, for example "Bewitching Ivy" for Yuzu, which can knockback a foe on their timeline, and puts two "nodes" on the timeline that, when they get to their turn, knockback the same foe again. So there are lots of clever ways to manipulate the timeline to your advantage.
However, with it comes a little bit of a negative I have with the combat.
It's too easy. Along the way, you get a skill for Yuzu called "Grape Wave", which deals a shit ton of damage, knocks back foes, and has very little Wait Cooldown before you can take your turn again. Although it costs a lot of MP, you get all of it back anyway at the end of the fight, so all you have to do is spam "Grape Wave" for a majority of your fights, and....you win. And it's like that for a majority of the game after unlocking "Grape Wave", which might I add is a Story Skill, not a skill you get from unlocking and investing Points into trees. If "Grape Wave" were like that, I would have had a MUCH MUCH more fun time with the game, prioritizing strategy and actual thinking, rather than just spamming one single move over and over and over and over and winning constantly. That's not really fun. And because of that, a LOT of other skills during combat aren't really that usable, especially anything with "over time" in it's skill description.
There is difficulty select, but all it does is make the enemies more spongy, doubling their health. It doesn't change the attack values for the enemies or increase their loot drops or anything like that, which is really a bummer, because if that were the case, I could have flown through the game on Hard difficulty without even breaking a sweat.
Another reason why the combat is so easy. Do you see the Reflect 40% in the corner? That's a special mechanic called Ether Gauge. When it's at 30%, 60%, or 90%, you can use a special ability called Overdrive, which gives up a portion of Ether Gauge to give the turn character an extra action. If enemies didn't die to Grape Wave from Yuzu, the next step would be to use Overdrive on Hinako, use her Attack Up Skill, and then use an attack that hits all enemies and kill them that way. No matter what I did, it seemed like I was always striving for a challenge in combat when it really wasn't there. Even Sephirot fights are ridiculously easy if you know how to use Overdrive, Guard, and other commands at your disposal.
There's no Equipment, no money system, or anything of the sort. Everything is done by stats. Which is both kinda positive and negative. It makes it more casual, but it also makes a lot of the game straightforward and one-dimensional in terms of what you can do.
So while the combat isn't that great, there's a lot of variety with what you can do regarding skills. It's just a shame that Grape Wave is so ridiculously overpowered, especially in a game where you get all your HP/MP back at the end of the fight. If that didn't happen, combat DEFINITELY would have been a lot more challenging and more strategic.
However, onto some of the good things about the game.
Like Persona 5, at the end of the day, you can invite certain girls to hang out with you at various locations: The Tomb, The Convenience Store, The General Store (which is kind of the same thing, game. .-.), the Theatre, the Arcade, the Photo Booth, and the Bus Stop. Do this repeatedly, and you'll get special perks in combat when you fight against Sephirot.
As you develop Friendship Points with your friends, you can unlock some of their most powerful Fragments. And Fragments are easily the most awesome thing about this game, which is why I'm super frustrated why I didn't take a picture of it when I did my playthrough. Fragments are, in essence, upgrades to your already awesome abilities. For example, think back to Grape Wave being ridiculously overpowered. Now imagine it having a less Wait Cooldown time and always guaranteeing a critical hit with 20% more critical damage. Or a heal-all spell that charges up your Ether gauge and also gives everyone an Attack Up buff. Or my personal favorite, a spell that increases every party member's Attack and Critical Rating, but lowers their Speed, which is then counterbalanced by a ridiculous "target party member gets ATK+, DEF+, SPD+, LUK+". Yeah, there are a lot of crazy synergies you can pull of in this game to make your combat experience even sweeter. And that's definitely one of the high points of the game for me.
Grape Wave is still broken though.
And each character you are friends with comes with their own set of Fragments, and as you do their Dungeons, you can get some of their most powerful Fragments. Your best friends are definitely the ones that increase efficiency when over 20% Ether, "Changes the equipped Skill", and anything that gives an ATK+ buff, as those are your most powerful tools.
As you fight in The Common, you can obtain items from the monsters you defeat, which can then, in turn, be used to craft certain things. And while I couldn't get a screenshot of the crafting menu, the crafting menu is entirely complex, needing materials from three different, sometimes all four zones, and finding all the similar ways to get the items actually is the only real "farming" you have to do in this game, especially if you're going for 100%, like I am.
So yeah, while the combat is very bare bones, it's still experimental in some regards. Bottom line, I wish it would have been more challenging, but we can't always have everything great in life.
This is both the best and worst parts of this game, strangely. And I'll go into a few details why.
This game is fucking beautiful at 1080p.
I know the screenshots don't really do it justice but EVERYTHING LOOKS SO FUCKING GOOD AND IT'S LIKE HNNNGGGHHH I CAN'T TAKE ALL THIS BEAUTY. And it runs wonderfully in 60 FPS as well with no frame drops!
....And then there's cutscenes, which look ugly as hell with 480p definition and choppy texture, like it's run through a grain filter from something in the PS2 era. And they're locked to an ugly 30 FPS, which is one of, if not my biggest pet peeve in games. If you're gonna have a game, make it run at either 60 FPS all the time or 30 FPS all the time. Preferably the former. But don't have inconsistencies in your game that ruin the quality experience for viewers.
Maps are fucking beautiful and sometimes I just spent my time walking around the Sorrow Area (pictured below) and Happiness Area (pictured above) just taking screenshots because I had nothing better to do.
The music is easily the best soundtrack I've heard in years. And that is not an exaggeration. Every track in the game has a beautiful oscillating piano line that is absolutely heart-trembling and amazing. Every track in this game felt vibrant and colorful. The best word I can use to describe this game's soundtrack is....electric.
When you're fighting a Sephirot, the music absolutely makes you want to get your blood racing.
When you're out in school and the rain starts pouring down on you, there's somber music to go along with it.
When you're hanging out with one of your friends, it plays really calm music. Everything about the soundtrack is so incredible and easily one of the highs of the game.
Every track fits in with the game so well. Especially in the Fear Zone, which is easily the most unsettling track in the entire game, with off-beat and off-key piano strokes hidden behind a filter that screams uncomfortable.
...*sigh* And then camera angles like this can happen where you're stuck looking at the ground and not being able to take in the scenery of the game.
And yes, that's me with the maximum amount of tilt DOWN I can go.
And now for the negative, besides the gross looking cutscenes. The script looks like it was rushed and made in two days. There are spelling errors and grammar mistakes all over the place. It really ruins the immersion of the game when there are constant spelling mistakes. Mistakes that can easily be rectified by plugging your script into Microsoft Word, hell, even NotePad of all things! And the port on Steam is riddled with gross and quite often, frequent, crashes whenever a cutscene decides to play. I know TecmoKOEI aren't the best at making ports, given their ignorance to the DW series and Toukiden, but come on, this is ridiculous. I don't want to have to lose 45 minutes worth of progress in the game due to a random infuriating crash.
Quality is hit and miss, honestly. Depends on if you're a graphics freak like I am, but infuriating random crashes aren't tolerable. Everything else about it was good, though.
As stated before, there's a lot of different things to do regarding building your characters, and there's a New Game +, but unless you're going to 100% the game the first time, there's really no reason to go back for a second playthrough unless I really really loved the game as much as I did. So ultimately, that's not really the greatest of determiners for a game's replayability value, but honestly, there needs to be a reason to go back through the second time and cherish the game as much as the first time.
Now, it's time for the final wrap-up. In this section, I'll detail if this game is truly one for you, and if you should decide to play it or not.
Would I recommend this game?:
Absolutely yes. However, don't buy it on a whim like I did for the $59.99 price tag when it has glaring issues with the port development, such as lackluster cutscenes and random crashes. Wait until it goes on sale for about $40 before trying to consider this game. It's at least not as bad as NieR: Automata in terms of port development, but it still has glaring issues. Unlike NieR: Automata, there's no fixes for the crashes either. But if you want a casual RPG you want to breeze through while looking at cute girls, then this is absolutely your dream game. If you want to buy this thinking it might scratch your Persona fix, you'll be disappointed as those two games are worlds apart. It's still a very fun game in its own regard, and I highly recommend it.
Overall: 7.6/10. Great.
Now take the absolute best track in the entire game no questions asked.
Now it is time for my weekly collection of words that could loosely be categorized as a blog post.
To follow up on last weeks post, I will be talking about the gear in my game, more specifically the armor and Accessories.
Like I gave my weapons types, I did the same for my armor.
They are Light , medium or heavy, with light giving 2 levels worth of magic defence, heavy giving 2 levels of physical defence, and medium being a medium between these. These bonusses are static, so late game gear wil give the same bonus as early gear. While the defence stat is split between mdf end regular def, that does not necessarily mean that all light armour is meant for mages, and all heavy armour is meant for fighters( not actual classes in my game). A fencers' armour is light armor, but is obviously better suited for a martial types, while the demonhide robes might be considered heavy armor, but better on a mage.
Why keep the bonuses so close you ask ? It is because you can choose what to attack with, but not what to defend with. If the mage gets splatered all over the dungeon wall by an attack that would only incovenience the tank of the team, then fights become either RNG based if the AI is random, or impossible as the mage eats all the attacks in the first round and dies, if the AI is semi-competent.
Warning : Short math break : When I say 2 level's worth of defence , I mean the characters defence is as if he were 2 levels higher. As all my base stats are equal to level^2, this raises the defence by 4*lvl +4, meaning the difference between light and heavy armor in damage taken is: lvl^2/(lvl^2+4*lvl+4). This is an equation that quickly trends towards 1 (or 100%) with increasing lvl.
So a 10th level character who dons heavy armour would have his defence rise from 100 (10^2) to 144 (14^2), meaning he takes about 70% of the damage he would have in the light armour, but at lvl 20 he would take 82 % of the light armored characters damage. This eventually tapers off, until he takes 96 % of the damage he would take in light armor at lvl 100.
This might seem counterproductive, but it just means that the higher the character goes, the smaller the difference, allowing me to really fine tune those late game bosses and enemies. As damage in % of a characters HP rises from 20 % at lvl 1 to 60 % at level 100, this is necessary, as at 60 % of a characters hp, having the mage take 42 % more damage than the tank is kind of a problem, as any crit will instadrop the mage from full HP, and even regular attacks will take out 84 % of the characters HP at that level, while the heavy will just fold to any spell cast in his direction. That is even assuming they have the same max HP, which they might not.
Math break over.
Now, why do I have my armours give an actual bonus to a stat, but not my weapons ? Because a bonus to a defence is an actual choice to be made. A stat bonus to attack will usually trump whatever other effects a weapon could give, but here I find it to be a meaningfull choice. The bonus also doesn't escalate as much, as atk is squared in the damage formula, but not defence.
After type, each weapon has an origin : Fantasy, Action or SciFi.
As a general rule, Fantasy armour aids resource generation (tp or mp), Action armour gives resistances to damage types, and SciFi generates a small barrier around the user, replenishing every turn.
On top of this, each non standard armor has a unique ability, such as the mech suit giving a nearly impenetrable physical defence and missile attacks, but giving glaring weaknesses to most elemental damage or the time-mage robe reducing cooldowns, but decreasing mp regeneration. Almost none of these are pure upside.
The only other equipment slots will be accesories. These fall into two categories : a neck slot and a hands slot.
The neck accessories are defensive and will take the form of amulets, cloaks, ...
Most of them will be both up and downside.
Some examples : The amulet that protects from silence, will also cause all spells to generate extra noise, thus making stealth harder. The cloack that grants immunity to poison also nullifies potions, and so on.
The other accessory slot, the hand slot, including rings and gloves, is focused on granting abilities. These are without downside, but as you are limited to one, it still presents the player with choices: "Do I want my fighter to be able to cast a cure spell every 3 turns or spend mp to cast a fireball ?". Most of these will either use a cooldown or warm up or consume the characters MP/TP, even if the base spell would not.
As for availabilty, each base type and origin has one armor that is available in reasonable quantities (a total of 9 options), but the special ones are all unique, as are all accesories. Seeing as you have to equip about 20 party members eventually for the multi party dungeons, choice is the name of the game.
Long story short : Options, not dictations.
Smarter Enemy AI
On certain enemies, they will be given a smarter AI which is manually critiqued by me.
Side Quests: Going to focus a bit on side quests
Drawing: Trying to learn how to draw for the project
Enemy Graphic Reform: Redoing enemy graphics once I get good at drawing.
I know it's been over a year, but it's good to be back again. Apparently having a full-time jobs cuts into your Blog and Game making time, who knew ?
Today I want to talk about the gear in my game, more specifically weapons and armor, and why I chose to trim it all the way back.
Now that I've been away from my game and had some time to think, I wondered, why does my game need heaps and heaps of weapons and armour?
It is not the focus of my game, it will lead to endless menu micro-managment because of all the splitting up and regrouping of parties, endless shopping trips and grinding, because every character (up to 20) needs to be kept up to date on gear, it affects balance if they are under or over equipped, …
The list goes on and on and on. So I made a seemingly radical choice. I dumped weapon and armor upgrades. Now don't get me wrong, there is still gear to be found, but no piece of equipment is “strictly better” then any other.
To illuminate : strictly better is a term that I first heard about in Magic the gathering. It means “Identical in every way except the numbers are better”.
Applied to RPGs, this would mean tossing your dagger for a mythril dagger because it is identical to the dagger, but has a higher attack stat. There is no reason to use the dagger over the mythril dagger.
In some games, this is part of the fun, and it certainly has it's place in games, but not in mine, not with the character focus I wanted to have.
So I did away with the endless mill of +1 swords and chose a different path : Incomparables. Meaning I wanted no weapon to be mathematically better then any other, but unique and different.
As people who may have read my Elements ands skills blog post might remember, all of my elements are intrinsically different. For example, fire raises the users magic attack, lightning is luck based , … Now what if I did the same for my weapons and armour.
This necessitated my split of physical damage into 3 categories to allow for variety : Piercing , Slashing an Crushing. Each of these types has its own damage formula. Piercing ignores part of the targets defense, Crushing deals more if the targets hp is low, and Slashing deals more if the users hp are high. A weapon can have more than one damage type, for example, a morningstar is both piercing and crushing. Some skills require the use of the correct type of weapon.
Next, I divided my weapons into 9 weapon types, with each type getting about 3 weapons :
Sword, Dagger, Axe, Hammer, Spear, Peasant, Bow, Gun and Artillery. Each of these categories has an additional effect:
Swords are Skillfull, which means that they generate more TP when used.
Daggers are Fast, which means they raise the users agility. ( I use a ctb battle system, so agility is very important)
Axes are Punishing which means more damage on debuffed opponents.
Spears have Reach, which gives the users a big bonus on counterattacks
Hammers are Pulverizing, dealing more damage on a crit.
Peasant Weapons have Underdog, which means that when the users has a stat buf, the effect is greatly increased
Guns have Penetrate which means they ignore physical defence, and just deal damage equal to a.atk stat instead of a.atk²/b.def.
Bows are Silent, generating way less noise, therefore not raising the alert level as much.
Artillery has Unavoidable, meaning they negate block, and deal unresistable (Almighty) damage.
On top of that is the small, medium, large system.
Small weapons can be dualwielded.
Medium weapons are the standard, and allow a shield or small weapon in the off-hand.
Large weapons deal splash damage.
Each weapon also adds a skill unique to that weapon.
So to bring it all together, some examples :
The longsword is a Medium Slashing and Piercing Sword, so it can be wielded with a shield or small weapon in the off hand, it deals more damage if the user is at high hp, generates more TP, ignores part of the targets defence and allows the users to use Slashing and Piercing Skills. It has the ability to let the user enter a parry mode as a special ability.
The Quarterstaff ( different from a mage's staff) is a Large Bludgeoning Peasant weapon. So it deals Bludgeoning damage, deals more damage if the target's hp is low, raises the users attack when buffed with something, deals damage to multiple enemies when attacking and allows the use of Bludgeoning skills. As a special ability, it raises the users block, and counts as a shield.
Most of this is realised by using Yanfly's Weapon Unleash system, to give every weapon an different attack skill, instead of filling up the formula bar with 200 if-statements.
Deer! (Hi there!) If you have read this text that mean you want to know what happen to my project correct?
Well, I just add some skill, stuff, and a character from past! so there will be lots boss appear after Lexar Defeat Monster lord's, like fight boss to boss over and over.
right now I'm still working on those character, their sprite was Rm2k and now I need to remade them to VXAce their picture is also need to re-draw because too small.
plus I add more hard sub-quest, and even more confusing sub-quest, I also add some simple puzzle on dungeon too!
okay! My game might take time longer to complete, but! this is worth to raise quality of this game.
(Have you play demo? and want to give suggestion? don't shy, just put what your tough down below or PM me, I'll be gladly listen to what your tough!)
I still have a lot of work to do, but I think it's a good time to show off some story bits of chapter 0. ...Or, in this case, the whole thing. It's not entirely finished yet and there are still some bugs that need to be squashed. However, I'm quite happy with how it turned out regardless. I seem to enjoy making cutscenes look the best they can thanks to Galv's Camera plugin. The gameplay is every basic and I haven't gotten around to making any actions sequences, yet. This is mostly just to show off some bits of the beginning story. I might also try to get my topic back up again since I have some new stuff lined up, but I want to wait a bit longer just to make sure.
Anyway, here's Chapter 0!
Each character has a class or job that not only defines their skills and combat style, but it is an important and defining part of the character behind. For example, Araken is a monster hunter. This means that he has a set of skills to reflect that: quick strikes, counter attacks, crossbow bolts with different effects, etc. However, being a monster hunter is part of who he is, it shaped his personality, has given him an objective, something to do and to accomplish in life.
Classes are not just "I am a warrior because it says so in the menu." Classes are jobs, in the literal meaning of the word, not just the gaming term. Asher is a thief because he was raised and trained to be one. Sherr is a Druid because he was choosen to be one, something he accepted and welcomed with a smile in his face and hope in his heart. Karsten is a Judge-Knight because of family tradition and because he has a strong sense of what is right and what is wrong. In general, classes equal to a job, an occupation the character has and likes. The character has devoted their life to that class/job, training hard to be better at what they do.
Each character has a "class headquarters", where they can improve their weapons and armors, buy class-related items and accesories and complete quests and minor tasks. Of course, there will be a lot of NPCs to talk to and ways to learn more about the world and the lore. These "class headquarters" leads to the next element analysed in this section: job quests.
Job Quests: New skills and weapons
Each character belong to a class and has a corresponding "class headquarters" where you can freely travel. There is a set of skills for each character that are only unlockable through "job quests", a series of plot-related, lore heavy and character developing quests that have an increasing difficulty and offer great rewards in the form of the aforementioned skills and also new weapons.
Completing a job quest grants a new skill related that expands the role of the character in battle:
-As a Priestess of Light, Narissa will learn "Prayers", a type of buffing skills which are very useful in battle. Complete all quests to get a powerful and permanent passive skill.
-As an Expert Thief/Thief, Asher/Sherr will learn "Bombs", a type of throwing skills with different and explosive effects. Complete all quests to get "fragmentation" versions of the bombs hat target all foes.
-As a Mage, Rashana will learn "Erudition", a type of soul based magic that consumes HP and PM in exchange of dealing a lot of damage. Complete all quests to get a useful permanent passive skill.
-As a Judge-Knight, Karsten will learn "Shouts", a type of buffing skills that have an positive and negative effect on the character (e.g. raise max HP for 4 turns but lose 15% HP when it ends). Complete all skills to get a unique accesory.
-As an Engineer, Laani will learn "Gunslinger", that grants bullets with different effects. Complete all quests to gain a new weapon.
-As a Monster Hunter, Araken will learn "Elemental Bolts", which is self-explanatory. Complete each quest to receive new crossbows and all quests to receive his final crossbow.
-As a Druid, Sherr will learn "Alchemy", a skill used to brew potions. Completing each quest unlocks new recipes and completing all will grant a recipe for permanent stat bonus potions.
-As a Velaker (Scythe wealding blade dancer), Xander will learn "Shadow Magic", a dangerous but powerful magic. Complete all to receive his final scythe.
-As a Paladin, Heidek will learn "Divine Protection", a new set of protective skills that affect the allies but not the user. Complete all quests to receive his final shield.
In "Crystal Crown" you can't buy weapons nor will you find weapons normally in dungeons or dropped by monsters. The only way to get a new weapon is to complete tasks and quests for your "job headquarters". Each character has 5 weapons: first one is considered "regular", second is "normal", third is "average", fourth is "rare" and the last is "legendary". For example:
Araken uses swords. Regular, usual, longswords. Nothing too impressive, but he is comfortable using them. Now, say that you want a new weapon for him. Just go to the Order of Monster Hunters Headquarters and complete "Hunting Missions" to achieve "Hunter points". When you ahve enough, you can claim a new weapon.
However, this is not always the case: some characters will be asked to complete a series of quests either with the rest of the group participating or by themselves. Thieves will be asked to steal valueable relics from nobles and merchants. The Paladin will be tasked with heathen-dealing missions (in which you decide what to do, follow orders or not), etc. Sometimes you are asked to recover an ancient artifact as part of a "Job Quest", which will grant you a new weapon/armor/accesory.
The important thing here is that the player will need to advance each character in their classes/jobs to get them new weapons.
*Exception: Laani, the engineer, crafts her own weapons, but only after finding certain tools or after improving a weapon she alrwady own sufficiently. She will determine what she needs in order to craft a new weapon and then you will have to search for the materials and tools.
WEAPONS AND ARMOR
"Ok", you say, "I have a new weapon but is not that powerful. How am I going to defeat monsters with only five weapons?"
The answer is: by improving them. Weapons can be improved at blacksmiths and artificers (also called "crystalsmiths") up to +10 or up to +5, depending on the weapon. There are many forging materials to do so and they can be collected from mines, caves, dungeons and finally monsters, which will drop parts of them (horns, hide, etc) that can be later brought to a city to be processed into forging materials. Some weapons have a heavy lore background, explained during the quest involved in its recovery or after being rewarded with it. Other weapons are related to the background and story of a character.
Armors can also be improved, by the way. Some classes can wear various types of armor, but some others can only wear one type. There is head, shield, body, gloves and leg armor, in addition to necklace, ring, bracelet and earring slots. Accessories offer the usual elemental and state resistances, stat improvement, etc. I am working on a "full set bonus" for certain accesories and/or armors in the form of a passive buff or something like that.
There are several scattered across the world: in some towns, in each major city and in each "job headquarters". There are tiers for them, with the most basic ones being "Apprentice blacksmiths", who will only improve the first weapons of each characters. On the other side of the spectrum, "Master blacksmiths" can improve any weapon, except the final weapon of each character, which can only be improved by the blacksmith of the "job headquarters".
There is an exception: Laani, the engineer, her weapons (and only them) can only be improved by herself, providing that she has adequate tools and forging materials. Additionaly, some engineer equipment can only be improved by other engineers.
Crystalsmiths or artificers
There a few, settled in some of the major cities and key locations. As with blacksmiths, there are tiers, with only the crystalsmiths from the Garkon Tower Education and Research Facilities being able to improve legendary equipment.
I used customised Yanfly's "Item Synthesis" to create the menus for alchemy, as well as weapon and armor improving. With the recipe system the plugin offers I created several crafting menus for armor/weapon improvement, potion brewing, item creation, etc. The fact that you can open up the synthesis menu for just one recipe is also very helpful and honestly, it has been a life saver for an otherwise complicated but rewarding system I have set up.
I also use Yanfly's "Item Core" to add lore snippets on the info windows on the weapon/armor/item menus, sort of like Dark Souls do. I think it gives more meaning and life to the world, lore and item.
When it comes to matters of faith everyone has their own beliefs and fairies are no different. What does tend to be different for fairies is the way faith is treated. In general the fairy approach to religion can be summarized as 'that which is worshiped or revered gains power'. It is in someways the opposite of the common human approach, which can be sometimes be thought of as 'that which is powerful is worshiped or revered'. Of course it's not that cut an dry on either side, but it works as a good general starting point for the difference between common fairy and common human beliefs. For a fairy, religious devotion isn't thought of as much as about 'belief' as it is about 'choice'. To choose to hold something sacred or holy is to invest power into that thing, the more of one's own energy one chooses to devote to something the more power it gains in their eyes. The more power and renown something has, the more it can do and therefor the more useful it is to worship, but this is often a secondary concern and many fairies believe that worship for purely pragmatic reasons is less potent then devoting one's self to something just because they genuinely want to. Fairies do often hold that such purely pragmatic belief is done in 'bad faith'.
Fairies tend to also similarly look down on the idea of religion being some sort of 'duty' or 'obligation'. To most fairies any religious belief that demands worship or devotion is at best poisonous to the ones who follow it and at worse poisonous to everything around them as well. They also tend to be opposed to organized religious institutions (of significant scale at least) and especially opposed to anything they even suspect to be any kind of religious indoctrination by one. In fact fairies tend to shy away from the idea of having any kind of fixed 'canon' of teachings or beliefs, and instead prefer syncretically following whatever they feel fit. Most religious practices are often thought best carried out in private, and mass public displays of worship are often seen as disruptive or suspicious. This doesn't mean religious gatherings or places of worship don't exist, just that fairies rarely are that overt about prayer or other such rituals and preaching is usually kept to a minimum. Fairies tend to find most common human religions and religious practices to be repugnant, dangerous, or at least very very silly (especially Christianity, on witch there are also many historical reasons to bare a grudge), although most will grudgingly accept a person's choice in following one if they show 'true faith' as a fairy recognizes it.
While fairies do often worship many gods and other spirits (as personalized representatives of abstract concepts and as beings in their own right), they aren't necessarily thought of in the general sense as much more then a human might think of famous celebrities. In other words, often awe inspiring and worthy of respect for their power and fame, but not beings beyond understanding or reproach. To a fairy, gods and other spirits are just like any other being, at least in that regard. A fairy might just as well worship another fairy they are a fan of, or even a human in rare cases, living or dead. A fairy wouldn't necessarily see much difference between a fan convention and a temple, a cosplayer or a priest. What matters to a fairy is the devotion and energy put into something, not the exact form that devotion takes. That doesn't mean that that's all fairies worship however. To fairies anything and everything can be a target of worship, from directly worshiping abstract concepts to revering inanimate objects and everything in between. The wonders of nature are a common choice. Fairies often make little shrines of a sort out of things like a refreshing spring or well, a waterfall, a neat cave, a particularly large tree or pleasant grove, a small hill, anywhere that seems like a nice meeting place. Sometimes fairies may put up some altars made from a pile of stones or standing stones marked with runes. There might be entryways marked by Stonehenge-like gates. Sometimes it's just decoration, but sometimes it means a fairy felt the need to protect a place with magic and a barrier will keep out any who don't go through the gate. Sometimes these gates act as portals to other places.
Well loved objects are thought to be in some sense holy as well. Objects with sentimental value are prized and said to hold lots of power. Indeed, magically a well loved object can be very powerful, and can hold many blessings or sometimes powerful curses. An object's history and it's connection to the history of others is very important to many fairies. Though they don't truly exist in the fairy world, museums are also places a fairy might think of like a temple of a sort. One not only holding precious objects for display, but also in charge of understanding and explaining their history. Many fairies tend to be hoarders of artifacts that they personally find important, even if no one else does. It is even not that uncommon for fairies to, rather then revering or worshiping any particular thing, devote one's self to a concept or ideal. To a fairy someone who devote themselves to something like 'justice', 'love', 'science', 'power', or 'pleasure' are simply putting their faith into something like any other personal belief. And of course, many fairies choose to put their faith in only in themselves or sometimes in nothing at all.
Ritual can also be very important to fairies, both magically and spiritually (in fact magic and spirituality are often seen as deeply connected, but not always truly synonymous). Fairy rituals are often personalized or are part of a large collection of haphazard folk beliefs and practices. The form rituals take often doesn't matter as much as the function they serve and the feeling behind them, and fairies mostly encourage experimentation and improvisation over strict traditionalism or sticking to any one set of rules too strictly. This often extends to 'social rituals' such as manners or protocol, especially for solitary fairies (to a point anyway, there are still basic guidelines to follow if one doesn't want to be seen as rude). The exceptions where traditionalism and/or following a set of strict rules is expected are mostly for those within the Seelie courts and occasionally when fairies need to have a formal meeting, trial, or duel.
Since fairies are practically immortal they don't tend to care much about the idea of an afterlife. Many fairies find the idea silly or disdainful, but often acknowledge it's possibility. Most fairies who care to think about such things might say that things can create echos that might linger long after they are gone and leave it at that. Fairies also don't tend to care all that much about the origin or meaning of existence as a whole. There are speculations about it and a few scattered legends, but many fairies would say that how things came to be doesn't really matter, and what things mean is up to every person to decide. If fairies have any generally agreed upon explanation about existence as a whole, it's that existence is about, if anything, existing. That everyone and everything that exists, real or unreal, is fulfilling whatever role it may have for it's own sake and not for the sake of some higher purpose or god. Often fairies believe that happiness is truly found in loving one's own existence for it's own sake. Loving one's own existence doesn't necessarily mean only loving one's self, but also can include the world around them and everything in it. It also doesn't necessarily mean one can never be unsatisfied or upset, just that maybe one shouldn't let negative feelings ruin their passion for existing. And it certainly doesn't necessarily mean one shouldn't ever strive to change themselves or the world around them, just that maybe they should remember and appreciate where they are and what they are doing. Of course most fairies wouldn't say that in so many words, but it's really kind of important to us. After all, when a fairy doesn't care about existing anymore they die for good.
So in the end, to a fairy wonder and passion can be found in all things great and small. All you have to do is look!
I find myself in this putrid limelight often, being shamed for just being myself, for speaking the truth, for just...being...honest...and I tell ya, I'M DAMN SICK OF IT.
It happens to me everywhere, so I'm slowly dropping out of the limelight's reach on more and more social platforms. I already gave up on more than half of them, for this among other reasons, which includes Facebook, Deviant Art, Twitter, Instagram, Photobucket, and soon to follow will be Twitch, Discord, and all other forum-based platforms, if this is to continue, because I cannot justify conformity in any sense. It is thoroughly immoral, and furthermore, both damaging and senseless.
Also, conformity != civility. If anything, the two are complete opposites (and they are).
And before anyone starts a tirade on this, for whatever reason...
I am not like most; I present the facts in a way that is not often seen as much more than 'crazy talk'; to the commoner, I am just 'crazy', but that's their ignorance and their privilege showing. If anything, my level of intellect on a lot of things should be granting me 'pedestal status', or at the very least, some level of glowing praise, but not in this day and age, where superior intellect == mental illness and/or instability. Am I too intelligent for my own good? Probably, but there's nothing I can do about it, short of getting a lobotomy.
If you feel the need to not read any further, then please, by all means, don't. But I also do not want a two-bit opinion if you're not to read the full post. That's trolling, another sickening thing about the twenty-first century humanity, which is anything but human.
Back to intellect. "Okay, if you're so smart, why can't you fix this, or that? Or the world?"
There's one way to fix the world...you won't like it either.
Someone once illustrated the solution to the world's problems, and though there were no humans in it, there were four guillotines, seven nooses, and a bloodied heavy axe hung on a stone wall. There was a caption that said 'for those who feel the world is needing of change, but have no contributions to give, feel free to offer your life so that others may thrive'.
Obviously, no one who believes they are in control of their own lives would go for it, but in all due honesty, I could probably list a few thousand people by name who definitely would qualify as needing this type of voluntary execution (I won't mention any names), myself included.
"Wait, why would you include yourself??"
Because, as smart as I am, I lack the capability at the practical level to create the change. I'd be a liability, just another impractical asset whose intellect would likely not find much use, and therefore, would not be vital. That's all. The fact that it would be the end of my imprisonment here is irrelevant.
"You're so dramatic, so negative..."
Yeah, I know. I've explained this already, so I won't go there again, it stresses me out even further.
I'll tell you this. I'd rather write (or in this case type) out my frustrations, than have my frustrations be channeled through my fists into an inanimate object, like a wall, window, or at the worst, to grab a knife and show my extreme duress by positioning it into the seppuku preparation stage.
"You need professional help."
I HAD that before I moved from Colorado. I had a great team of doctors aiding me, and I was slowly recovering, but now I don't even have insurance, and likely don't even qualify, thanks to Donald JACKASS Trump and his BS TrumpCare.
"Why did you move from Colorado??"
Because, on my FIXED and VERY LIMITED income, I could no longer afford to live there. The cost of living keeps increasing, but the bottom line never follows. Soon, only the wealthy will survive...my middle finger (both of them) to that.
"Is there anything that I (or we) can do, to help?"
I always accept donations (not that I get any or have ever gotten any), so there is that. Otherwise, over the internet, there is little that can be done, or even asked of.
One thing about all this, is that if I were to ever make it out, and to become a great success, I would never forget about the struggles, and most certainly would never forget about those who also suffer, which is why PHANTOM Enterprises will always be a non-profit company, and that my band, Karma Bitches, will never have copyrights on our music.
Pie in the Sky dreams, I know...
Overworld maps - Provinces and Regions
In "The Crystal Crown" there won't be a single overworld map with every dungeon, city, town and minor locations. Instead, there will be many, many overworld maps (each slightly different than the others so as to represent change in environment, like jungle, desert, mountain, snowy, etc) that will depict Regions and Provinces.
The action takes place in a enormous continent dominated almost entirely by the Ark-Empire ("Ark" meaning 'power, might'). The Empire is divided into 21 Provinces, each one governed by one of the 21 Great Houses. Each Province is further divided into several Regions, governed by a House that pledged loyalty to a Great House and the Crown.
Archduke is the title of the Lord of a Great House.
Great Duke is the title of the Lord of a House.
Dukes are the title of the Lord of a Clan.
Of the 21 Provinces, the player will only be able to travel and explore around 12 in total, including main quest, secondary quests and extra stuff. I will explain this further via images, spoilered so as to not screw up with the formatting.
This is the Golden Province, the first place you visit in the game:
The Golden Province is divided further into 4 Regions:
Krastornaban Region, where the capital, Krastornaban, is located:
Nainmaqar Region (Nainmaqar means 'Bright Forest')
Gentle River Region (The river is named that way because is navigable)
As you can see, there are, in reality, four overworld maps linked to one another to form one Province. The player will be able to travel freely through these Regions, entering towns, ruins, dungeons and places of interest. Some locations will only be unlocked via main quest, secondary quest or world events. This is how overworld maps will work in "The Crystal Crown".
TBD: I have yet to create a way for the player to open a map that shows the full province and marks the location of the player within it. Maybe with X, Y coordinates, layers and several images? I don't know.
I really need to stop putting things off and actually really getting to work. But, what can you do when life loves getting in your way of everything.
Anyway, lots to talk about regarding progress. I've got some good news, though! I had just recently finished making all of the maps for Chapter 1! That means I can finally get around to eventing and hopefully pushing my first demo out the door. I'm also in the works of getting some art assets done. As of now, I'm only working on the title screen of my game. I would like to wait before I release my demo when I get my art stuff done first. I don't know how long that will be, but I'll feel better once I actually get it done.
So uh... Screen shots and some videos!
First, some screen shots:
And now some videos. One showing off the new title screen that's a work in progress and one showing off some bit of fast travel.
I'm actually pretty excited this time around that work is getting done once again. Without having to worry about maps (at least for now) I can finally focus on the actual game itself. I don't have a time frame on when I plan on showcasing some more stuff or when I plan on releasing the actual first full demo. For now, this is what I have.
Smarter Enemy AI
On certain enemies, they will be given a smarter AI which is manually critiqued by me.
New Wacom Drawing Tablet!
I hav a Wacom Drawing Tablet so I plan o do the art for battlers in the game.