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pogeymanz

What (in your opinion) are some low-hanging fruits for making FFT 1.3 better?

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I really love the concept of FFT 1.3, but it can be quite frustrating and I just don't have the time or patience for that. I only got part way into Chapter 3 before I stopped playing (due to personal life things) and then I never felt like picking it up again because of how horrible I heard Chapter 4 is (and Chapter 3 was plenty tough enough).

But after seeing some of the great things in FFT 1.3, I just can't imagine playing Vanilla again. With shitty Archers, uninteresting Wizards, enemies that never unlock interesting classes, etc.

So my main motivation here is to change FFT 1.3 to be easier (like the "Content" version). Probably significantly so. But I want to do that by primarily taking away "cheap" shit, like having enemies be 10 levels higher than you, while also outnumbering you and starting with better field position. I feel like that isn't so much to ask.

I only want to make really simple modifications to FFT 1.3.

But there's another aspect to what I want to do. I also want to remove all speed growth from the game. @Emmy has discussed the issues with speed in FFT and has argued for several interesting solutions/mitigations. I'm going for simple and easy here, so I think I'll just take away speed growth altogether. This should keep mage classes useful and interesting for the whole game. I'll obviously need to tweak a lot of things to find a sweet spot for balance.

This is all really just being done for myself. I want a game that I will enjoy playing. But I'm willing to hear what you guys think would be good changes to make things more fair/fun/easy. I'll be happy to post the results here if anyone is interested. So far the only things on my list are these:

  • Enemy levels = Party level for all battles (except some bosses/assassinations can stay higher)
  • Fewer enemies in some battles, especially randoms- I want randoms to be mostly not hard
  • No speed growth
  • Far fewer enemies with immortal flags - this shit's annoying when they're so good at reviving
  • Maybe some innate Gained JP-Up or just a general JP price lowering? Opinions?

I plan on only using the FFT Patcher Tools, etc, because I don't know anything about hacking PSX games. Unless someone can point me to some "Learn to hack FFT" guide(s).

Edited by pogeymanz
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If you're just looking for a vanilla-ish but relatively easy patch, these patches are popular:

http://ffhacktics.com/smf/index.php?topic=11789.0 

http://ffhacktics.com/smf/index.php?topic=7182.0

IMO the "1.3 content" changes are the exact opposite type of approach to making 1.3 less difficult than the kinds of changes that should be made.  Some things that could be done that you haven't mentioned:

1. Fix the game's scaling and make status effects an important part of the game.  The game needs to not punish playstyles other than hyper offense and needs to not invalidate 3/4 of the game's skillsets; especially since status effects are one of the major ways to make the game have more depth than "punch shit" that doesn't require asm to change. If enemies are doing less damage to you but are now capable of don't acting your whole team, for example, suddenly they become more dangerous in a more interesting way.  This should go both ways - the player needs meaningful enemies that are vulnerable to status, and shouldn't be able to just null everything with a ribbon either.

2.  XP/JP by battle, not by action.  This is a change I made to MT that I can't go back to not having after making that change.  No more beating yourself over the head for 4 hours to just be able to do something other than punch shit.  No more worrying about taking too many actions to beat a battle, and thus overleveling.  Of course if you make this change, you absolutely need to fix the game's scaling to not punish you for more levels, since your game will now have a minimum level for every battle.  The way I did it was to guarantee that no ability costs more than one battle's worth of JP to get, and action abilities are mostly cheaper than r/s/m including a few free abilities.  That way your character is never helpless and trying new strategies is not particularly costly.

3.  100% transparency.  Why have an ability that can cancel charging/performing, that doesn't work on units flagged by class, with no intuitive reason for the unit to be immune to it?  It's one thing to have an ability that is immortal immune, that the player knows is immortal immune.  It's another thing to randomly flag things as immune to useful sounding skills.  Why even *have* a skill like that, if you don't want the player to use it?

4.  Make bosses other than Velius, Queklain, and Adramelk interesting.  Assassinations are generally garbage compared to a well thought out ??? boss, and the other ??? bosses aren't as well thought out here.  Zalera is a joke, Zalbag is a punching bag, and Altima is a slot machine.  Some of the issues with assassinations can be fixed with scaling/status effects, while those ???'s (and others) need to just be rewritten to have something interesting about them (status effects, nice abilities, etc).  Be creative! :)

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Thanks for replying, Emmy!

1 hour ago, Emmy said:

If you're just looking for a vanilla-ish but relatively easy patch, these patches are popular:

http://ffhacktics.com/smf/index.php?topic=11789.0 

http://ffhacktics.com/smf/index.php?topic=7182.0

These are too vanilla for me. In particular, I hate the vanilla Archer, Lancer, and Wizard skill sets, and these preserve those, making those classes still very uninteresting.

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IMO the "1.3 content" changes are the exact opposite type of approach to making 1.3 less difficult than the kinds of changes that should be made.  Some things that could be done that you haven't mentioned:

Could you elaborate on the content changes that you think are the most egregious? I think the fixed story battle levels is a mistake, but what else?

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1. Fix the game's scaling and make status effects an important part of the game.  The game needs to not punish playstyles other than hyper offense and needs to not invalidate 3/4 of the game's skillsets; especially since status effects are one of the major ways to make the game have more depth than "punch shit" that doesn't require asm to change. If enemies are doing less damage to you but are now capable of don't acting your whole team, for example, suddenly they become more dangerous in a more interesting way.  This should go both ways - the player needs meaningful enemies that are vulnerable to status, and shouldn't be able to just null everything with a ribbon either.

I agree 100%. Can you give an example of how you might achieve this? Do you just nerf damage output from almost everything? Do you make statuses hit rate higher and/or make damage attacks miss more often?

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2.  XP/JP by battle, not by action.  This is a change I made to MT that I can't go back to not having after making that change.  No more beating yourself over the head for 4 hours to just be able to do something other than punch shit.  No more worrying about taking too many actions to beat a battle, and thus overleveling.  Of course if you make this change, you absolutely need to fix the game's scaling to not punish you for more levels, since your game will now have a minimum level for every battle.  The way I did it was to guarantee that no ability costs more than one battle's worth of JP to get, and action abilities are mostly cheaper than r/s/m including a few free abilities.  That way your character is never helpless and trying new strategies is not particularly costly.

If the enemy levels are always fixed to your party's, then the only concern for overleveling is from them having equipment that you can't get. That's not _that_ bad, but I do like this idea. The only thing I worry about with having abilities being too cheap is that you might have everything (you care about) unlocked long before the end of the game. The shitty thing in Vanilla is that I always know what is good, so I just get that stuff and by mid chapter 2, I basically have my end-game build.

How hard is it to implement this change?

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3.  100% transparency.  Why have an ability that can cancel charging/performing, that doesn't work on units flagged by class, with no intuitive reason for the unit to be immune to it?  It's one thing to have an ability that is immortal immune, that the player knows is immortal immune.  It's another thing to randomly flag things as immune to useful sounding skills.  Why even *have* a skill like that, if you don't want the player to use it?

Agreed. That's bullshit. What are some examples of this? Is this easy to fix in the patcher tools?

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4.  Make bosses other than Velius, Queklain, and Adramelk interesting.  Assassinations are generally garbage compared to a well thought out ??? boss, and the other ??? bosses aren't as well thought out here.  Zalera is a joke, Zalbag is a punching bag, and Altima is a slot machine.  Some of the issues with assassinations can be fixed with scaling/status effects, while those ???'s (and others) need to just be rewritten to have something interesting about them (status effects, nice abilities, etc).  Be creative! :)

Truth.

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1.  It's more that the only reason Content is easier is because you can grind to overcome battles with sheer numbers (when you can't in standard 1.3).  This is the type of behavior that should be discouraged in patches, when you should be rewriting battles to allow for multiple types of strategies and not just a small handful.  That will make it easier in a more enjoyable way, instead of easier in a way that allows you to combat tedium with more tedium.

2.  The biggest thing wrong with 1.3's scaling is nicely illustrated by the way it handles MP Switch.  Because MP switch is nerfed in a way that leftover damage from what hurt MP will roll over into HP, and enemies frequently do enough damage where they can kill someone through MP switch (unless you set up specifically to use it, but any setups made specifically to use it are better spent towards specifically using Damage Split or Meatbone Slash for the better turn economy), it's not very useful for the player to have.  However, when the enemy has it, they have far more HP and MP than any player class, and the ability to heal BOTH to full at any given moment.  This turns MP switch into effectively a second HP bar for the enemy.  What you need to do is change the scaling of the game such that enemies don't have every single advantage.  Enemy is tanky with MP Switch and lots of HP/MP to use it? Don't give it the ability to heal to full or deal much damage in one turn.  Enemy has a OHKO move? It should have low speed or the defenses of a wet paper bag.  Stuff like this will increase variety in the game and thus make it more interesting.

Another thing you mention is to make status effects have higher probability to hit.  No one's going to go for a Petrify that has a 30% chance to hit when the enemy can just throw a Soft on it.  Remove evasion from status effects and make it just a faith based check.  That will give the player a way to increase probability of their own statuses, while at the same time being more vulnerable to enemy status (Faith status).  And, since you mentioned evasion, lower the evasion given by shields/mantles and don't give so many enemies Concentrate.  Nothing should have nearly 100% dodge rates without needing to spend an ability slot (abandon) on it, and you shouldn't need to have Concentrate in so many battles either.

3.  Fixing items to not strictly be better than one another can solve this problem.  This can be done by spreading out bonuses given by things.  That way someone can make a meaningful choice between, say +200 HP, +100 HP and immune Frog, or 0 HP and +1 speed.  Also there shouldn't only be 5 abilities you care about.  Abilities should all have their uses so that the player doesn't just immediately buy Phoenix Down and ignore the rest of the Chemist set.  The change to make xp/jp by battle instead of by action was hard to make, but easy for you to implement (you can find it in my asm pack).

4.  Some examples of this are the bad tooltips in the game.  Lots of abilities don't tell you what they actually do in their descriptions, lots of abilities are things that affect some units but not others, etc.  You can fix this by fixing the text of the game.  Tell the player when you make a unit innately immune to something.  

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The reason I stopped playing FFT 1.3 was due to reaching the point where poaching became available. The impression I got was that I HAD to get all of this important gear but actually doing so without overleveling was a huge time waster. In the forums people were talking with a straight face (straight...text? what to you call that sort of thing on a forum?) about how it's find to just edit your file and add those things to your inventory to conserve your sanity.

I will admit that my motivation was not helped by the stories of absurd things that would happen from that point onward.

As for the question of how to make anything other than hyper-offense valuable, I do think increasing the effectiveness of status is good but just removing enemy elixirs is a huge step in the right direction. I don't care if that would make hard mode easier, that item single-handedly makes a large part of the game's skillset non-viable.

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12 hours ago, Emmy said:

2.  The biggest thing wrong with 1.3's scaling is nicely illustrated by the way it handles MP Switch.  Because MP switch is nerfed in a way that leftover damage from what hurt MP will roll over into HP, and enemies frequently do enough damage where they can kill someone through MP switch (unless you set up specifically to use it, but any setups made specifically to use it are better spent towards specifically using Damage Split or Meatbone Slash for the better turn economy), it's not very useful for the player to have.  However, when the enemy has it, they have far more HP and MP than any player class, and the ability to heal BOTH to full at any given moment.  This turns MP switch into effectively a second HP bar for the enemy.  What you need to do is change the scaling of the game such that enemies don't have every single advantage.  Enemy is tanky with MP Switch and lots of HP/MP to use it? Don't give it the ability to heal to full or deal much damage in one turn.  Enemy has a OHKO move? It should have low speed or the defenses of a wet paper bag.  Stuff like this will increase variety in the game and thus make it more interesting.

Ah, yes. So, there's two points in there. One is that MP Switch, specifically, isn't good enough. And two is that enemies have access to setups that the user doesn't. Fixing #2 is just a matter of reviewing each battle and making sure that the enemies have trade-offs like you mentioned. I'm not sure I'm able or willing (yet) to do anything about #1.

12 hours ago, Emmy said:

Another thing you mention is to make status effects have higher probability to hit.  No one's going to go for a Petrify that has a 30% chance to hit when the enemy can just throw a Soft on it.  Remove evasion from status effects and make it just a faith based check.  That will give the player a way to increase probability of their own statuses, while at the same time being more vulnerable to enemy status (Faith status).  And, since you mentioned evasion, lower the evasion given by shields/mantles and don't give so many enemies Concentrate.  Nothing should have nearly 100% dodge rates without needing to spend an ability slot (abandon) on it, and you shouldn't need to have Concentrate in so many battles either.

Agreed 100% on evasion and concentrate. The hesitation that I have with making (some) statuses easier to hit is that it will then make Item and/or White Magic basically required for many (most?) battles. Then again, maybe that's already the case anyway, since revival is so important in 1.3 (and even in Vanilla, really).

This would definitely make the game more interesting, but my first priority is making the game easier. So, the status stuff might go into my lower priority pile, but the Concentrate and evasion shenanigans is in high priority.

12 hours ago, Emmy said:

3.  Fixing items to not strictly be better than one another can solve this problem.  This can be done by spreading out bonuses given by things.  That way someone can make a meaningful choice between, say +200 HP, +100 HP and immune Frog, or 0 HP and +1 speed.  Also there shouldn't only be 5 abilities you care about.  Abilities should all have their uses so that the player doesn't just immediately buy Phoenix Down and ignore the rest of the Chemist set.  The change to make xp/jp by battle instead of by action was hard to make, but easy for you to implement (you can find it in my asm pack).

The other nice thing about the xp/jp by battle is that (I assume?) everyone gets the same amount. So your summoner, who only gets off one or two actions wont lag really badly behind your fast melee dudes.

12 hours ago, Emmy said:

4.  Some examples of this are the bad tooltips in the game.  Lots of abilities don't tell you what they actually do in their descriptions, lots of abilities are things that affect some units but not others, etc.  You can fix this by fixing the text of the game.  Tell the player when you make a unit innately immune to something.  

Ah, yes. Fair point.

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58 minutes ago, Regdren said:

The reason I stopped playing FFT 1.3 was due to reaching the point where poaching became available. The impression I got was that I HAD to get all of this important gear but actually doing so without overleveling was a huge time waster. In the forums people were talking with a straight face (straight...text? what to you call that sort of thing on a forum?) about how it's find to just edit your file and add those things to your inventory to conserve your sanity.

I feel like it only became "okay" to suggest things like that or to criticize 1.3 in the last year or so. Before that, you just weren't hardcore enough. These days it's finally okay to say that the game isn't perfect and that some of the "challenge" is just bullshit.

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I will admit that my motivation was not helped by the stories of absurd things that would happen from that point onward.

As for the question of how to make anything other than hyper-offense valuable, I do think increasing the effectiveness of status is good but just removing enemy elixirs is a huge step in the right direction. I don't care if that would make hard mode easier, that item single-handedly makes a large part of the game's skillset non-viable.

I ... might just remove Elixir altogether- or rather, just replace it with a more nerfed healing item. That's a super cheap item.

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Enemies having setups the player doesn't is fine.   The problem comes when every enemy has every advantage.  Immune to all status, high speed, 999 hp/mp, ability to heal this to full instantly, ability to ohko units, def/mdef up, abilities themselves are ridiculous (such as instant kills with long range, large aoe, no mp cost and/or no ct), ridiculous movement, etc.  This tends to have the opposite effect as what is intended - it actually makes the game easier in some ways because you know exactly what to prepare for, and many of these enemies have stats so high that the ai would never consider using a status effect.  Think of the enemies as playing certain roles in the formation.  These can be stereotypical roles like tank, glass cannon, healer; or you can mix and match.  Let's say for example you want to create an enemy with ridiculous speed/PA/MA.  It should die if you sneeze on it, and have vulnerabilities to a handful of useful statuses like Slow and Don't Act.  Then you can pair it with your tanky elixir user that is slow and has very low damage output.  Stuff like that.  

Removing elixirs is fine, but part of the problem here which makes elixirs annoying is that player access to the same item won't help as much as enemy access (even if the player got them).  If enemies are just ohko'ing you anyway, it doesn't help you to heal your HP to full, and if they have so much HP that you can't kill them easily, that means an enemy throwing an elixir down will reset your progress.  The problem isn't just the elixir itself, but the game's scaling and the distribution of the items.  If instead of being an item, it's a move that is rarely distributed in skillsets and has a CT/MP cost/some other balancing factor to it, it becomes far less annoying.

Poaching is another issue that's leftover from vanilla that is a terrible mechanic.  Easiest fix to it if you want to keep it is to get rid of rare drops.  Best bet is to just eliminate it entirely in favor of additional sidequests or even just putting the items for purchase late into the game.

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I get what you're saying about the Elixirs. But, I think that even if it were a rare ability with an MP/CT cost, it would either be too good or useless, depending on the costs. I think the only way to balance that would be to get pretty creative. Something like fully healing HP+MP, but also petrifying them or something (as just an off-the-cuff example).

What's so bad about poaching? Is it just the tedium of getting the rare poaches that offends you?

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Most games with rare drops tend to be balanced around the power level of common/fixed (such as storebought) items, with Rare items being a nice bonus you get once in a while from the normal process of playing through the game.

1.3 raised the difficulty bar so high you end up feeling like you need Perfumes to compete in late game and thus having to go out of your way since Poaching for rare items is a boring and tedious activity you really must dedicate a couple hours to do if you intend to do it legit unless you're lucky.

(In a bit of irony, Perfumes were the COMMON poach item of their respective monsters in vanilla)

And outside of Perfumes, most poaches were pretty pointless too, giving you cheap storebought items. Tonberry Knives are like the only ones I can think off the top of my head that are useful.

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If I recall correctly, poaches are more important in 1.3 if you've been trying to run low level. That was my playthrough style, and I saw a pretty long list of gear that was better than mine. But the sheer time sink smacked me in the face and welp, there were other games I could play. So that's what I did.

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If I can reply to the presenting question: FFT 1.3 is one of the greatest video game mods of all time, despite its many flaws, and deserves a 1.4 the same way Philsov's 1.2 deserved Archael's 1.3.  The "low hanging fruit" for 1.4.0.1 would be to simply remove some of the CH 4 immortal flags and make those battles more interesting than "Haha! Power Source!"  Seriously, don't change any classes or abilities or speed-is-the-only-stat or anything big-picture like that, just find some ways to make those last-chapter battles a bit more differentiated one from another. 

Even easier, there are a few quality of life improvements that would go a long way to making the game more enjoyable.  Your first time through the game, it's easy to be unaware that some units are "immortal," and that can be confusing.  Give them unique sprites.  Honestly, just changing all the immortal-flagged or unique-classed or non-player-accessible-ability-having enemies to look different from the classes you can access as a player would be a great improvement.  Start with Germinas Peak.

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If you're looking for proper vanilla mod, you can try my mine. It makes the game more challenging a little but it's still genuine vanilla. No more excessive equipment added like knight's sword, crossbow, shield, robe on squire  or 4-5 move increase on some jobs. No more stupid boost that breaks the game balance between you and enemies.

What I disliked the most is making changes that benefits you but not for enemies and make some abilities useless. If you want to increase damage, just add Arcane Strength as innate on black mage instead of increasing MA on weapons. That way enemies will become fearsome force to reckon with too. Some jobs are nerfed with reasons and vanilla re-balance mods often disregard that.

1.3 is good for people who really want challenges but it's not really suitable for vanilla style. Some items and abilities really shouldn't be there in vanilla like Cancel Strike or add oil that makes the game too easy in vanilla. Oh, try to get Female Thief and female healer with best zodiac compatibility, it'll help you a lot. :)

Edited by Windows X
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