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Eternal

Final Fantasy XII (PC): The Struggle for Freedom - A Difficulty Mod

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Hello everyone! This is my first post here on NG+, but I'm excited to be able to share this project with this community. I've been out of the modding scene for the past few years aside from some minor projects, mostly due to work and real life stuff consuming the vast majority of my time and energy. I was working on FFTA2 for the most part until I stumbled upon the FFXII (PC) modding community. To that end, I was able to work with some of the many talented folks who are working hard on making tools and doing research on XII's inner workings. With their help, I was able to create the first difficulty/rebalancing mod for FFXII, called The Struggle for Freedom (SFF), designed for The Zodiac Age on PC, for English-speaking communities.

XII, and Ivalice in general, hold a very special place in my heart. FFT was one of the first RPGs I ever played, and XII was the first numbered FF I ever finished. Even when I was younger, I always thought XII had a lot of potential and wanted to mess around with it. Why did First Aid have to suck? Why did all Black Magick have to feel the same? And why do those three invisible items added in IZJS not have models? And further, why can't every character feel unique, like they do in other FF games? Those are all some of the founding things I wanted to change with this mod, among many other changes. Here's what the biggest changes are:

  • Enemies have 2x HP and a 1.3x boost to their other stats, making them hit harder, faster, and actually able to survive for a bit longer, without making enemies super tanky and feeling like a drag. Many enemies now use abilities that people have never even seen them use before because of the added survivability.
  • If you use the default version of the mod, each character is assigned a set role and License Board to give them a unique role within the party. Vaan is fast and excels at evasion and combos, Fran is able to wield offensive magicks, Balthier is the best item-user, etc. There are two versions of each board for each character- a Struggle Board, and a Freedom Board. Struggle Boards are linear and have set growth, similar to FFX's Sphere Grid and FFXIII's Crystarium, and Freedom Boards are more open, similar to XII's original License Boards. For those not wanting set roles, there is also a version of the mod included that has the original 12 jobs and the PS2 version of the License Boards.
  • If using the SFF boards, you face a choice- you can either pick up Quickenings early in the game as shortcuts to proceed on the Board faster, or opt to not pick up Quickenings until after the rest of the Board is complete to access a series of bonus Licenses for each character.
  • Espers are now far more useful and, if you use the default SFF boards, are assigned to each character. Each character gets two Espers, each having very different playstyles and abilities that compliment their summoner, and Espers have completely revamped AI to take advantage of their skillsets. For example, Belias excels at helping Basch tank by using Bubble/Decoy on him while Belias uses magick, and Adrammelech uses Hastega/Slowga/Blindga and Thunder magicks to aid Vaan.
  • Many abilities have been completely revamped to either fill a new niche, or to be more useful. For example, First Aid now heals a flat 10% of an ally's HP (great for using between fights!), rather than healing a very small amount of HP to an HP Critical ally. Bio/Scourge are now Water Elemental, and Gravity/Graviga are now Earth Elemental and act as regular spells (rather than fractional damage), giving the player more elemental options that were lacking in the original. Further, Fire/Ice/Thunder magicks are now very different from each other. Fire focuses on damage, with each casting of Fire able to potentially inflict Oil on the foe. Blizzard is AoE, and Thunder spells have a greatly reduced cast time.
  • Equipment- primarily weapons- have been greatly rebalanced. The three invisible items now have models and are more balanced to be on par with other late-game weaponry, and are now available through the Bazaar (albeit requiring rare Loot). Most late-game weaponry within each category is competitive with each other. For example, the Arcturus has enhanced Range compared to other Guns, the Fomalhaut has an increased Critical Hit Rate compared to other Guns, and the Mithuna has the highest raw Attack of all Guns.
  • Character stats have been revamped to better fit a character's role. For example, Basch now has some of the best VIT/HP in the game as befitting his role as a tank, whereas Vaan is the fastest, and Fran has the highest Magick.

What will happen in future versions?

  • Currently, FFXII modding is still very much in its infancy. There's many things we can't do just yet, and even things like editing text is very time-consuming. To that end, there are some minor text inaccuracies and other very small bugs that are being slowly but surely snipped for future versions.
  • We're also working on a Treasure Chest Editor, which will hopefully be done within the next few weeks. Once that's completed, treasure chests will be a 100% spawn, 100% set item, and will no longer respawn, much like traditional FF treasure chests. Those chests will have set items, generally the rarest item that would have normally been found in that chest to begin with.
  • AI is currently not editable for enemies. Hopefully, in future versions, we'll be able to make enemy AI more interesting.

I think that covers most of the bigger things... I would definitely add, however, to read the Readme/Master Guide included with the mod download prior to playing. It has a variety of useful information, as well as accurate info about Abilities/Equipment/Items that can't be found in-game at the moment due to text modding limitations. SFF isn't perfect, but I hope that it'll allow people to enjoy XII in a new way.

A lot of love went into making SFF, and I'm excited to share it with others who love Ivalice as well. If anyone has any questions or feedback, feel free to ping me on Discord (eternal248#1817) or shoot me a message here. I try to be as responsive as possible, and I'd love to hear from you guys! This is my first post here, so if I've done anything wrong, just let me know and I'll fix whatever I need to.

Thank you!

Download it here.

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Holy shitballs a mod for FFXII?

I like you already.

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Woah, and here have I been recently playing XII and noticing how unfortunately easy it is to overlevel and just roflstomp everything without even trying, and noting that regualr enemies usually die too fast for setting statuses on them to be worth it when you can just kill them in 2 hits.

Unfortunately I only have the PS4 version of FFXII:TZA and not the PC version, so I won't be able to play it, but I'm definitely interested in how this continues to develop. (Certainly gives me a good reason to pick up the PC version on a sale at some point.)

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Thanks! I'm just happy that it's something we were able to make.

A Dummy, the timing is rather unfortunate, since you just missed a fairly decent deal on it on Steam via the Summer Sale. That being said, the FF games get discounted pretty often on there, so I'm sure there'll be another sale on it soon!

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Looks really great sadly I can't get the PC version of FFXII (first have to invest into a better PC) right now but I will keep in mind the existence of this mod for when I will get the opportunity to play it.

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1 hour ago, Eternal said:

For those who want to play it, but don't really have the money to pay full price, XII: TZA is on sale for 50% off on Humble Bundle.

https://www.humblebundle.com/store/final-fantasy-xii-the-zodiac-age

Hey hey, if anyone's getting something from the Humble Store it should be through my affiliate link :kappa: https://www.humblebundle.com/store/final-fantasy-xii-the-zodiac-age?partner=nowea
More seriously. Squenix does sales on FF stuff very often, to the point where half the time the 'sale' price is the standard. Might be the first time TZA's on one due to newness though.

For some more substantial feedback on the mod itself. I can't speak on FF12 much as it wasn't really my jam. But I kinda figured when I saw the post that this was gonna be another time where "Someone we don't recognize drops a poorly thought out difficulty hack then leaves." This looks like it was well thought out and I'd be curious to see how things go once some more tools come up as I imagine AI scripts aren't exactly the best.

Kudos :)

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Thanks! Had I known there was an affiliate link, I'd have just used that to begin with, haha. Apologies about that.

As far as the mod itself, AI is a tricky thing right now. XII has some very weird quirks regarding AI, but the people working on going through XII's coding are slowly figuring it out. At the moment though, the AI isn't particularly terrible except in a few small cases.

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Just got through Giza for the first time and I already love what you've done. The only major critique I have is that Vaan is still a bit squishy at the start of the game so a lot of my strategies so far have involved legging it in the direction of the nearest save crystal to get HP back, but that's earlygame in a nutshell so I really can't gauge how much of an influence your enemy stat boosting has over that. Plus, again, Vaan isn't the sturdiest knife in the tool shed, and he doesn't have his spray-on abs to block incoming hits anymore (thanks HD upgrade).

I really like the design of all the license boards, I can see that a lot of care was put into what licenses lead to what and which charachters' archetypal boards get to have which equipment and spells available. Changing the elemental spells up to be more varied than just the same attack with a different element is super neat, I'm looking forward to trying out all the wacky new attributes so I can find which spells I gravitate towards the most during my playthrough. 

One of the big things I like about FFXII is that, personally, I tend to make different builds for each character every single run. Not quite certain how that would work with having license board "presets" but I really appreciate putting a new twist on the game itself through the changes you've made. If nothing else, these changes are like looking at the game through a new pair of glasses, and I like what I'm seeing so far (so to speak).

You get the Letha's Seal of Approval so far. Good on you!

Letha_Seal_of_Approval.png

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Haha, thanks! I appreciate it!

In regards to Vaan, he's actually a tank, just not in the usual way. Early/mid-game, Vaan is an Evade Tank, similar to how it can be done in FFT. Vaan gets access to some early Shields, Main Gauche, and has exclusive access to the Jade Collar, further boosting his Evade. One of Vaan's final Ninja Blades also gives him evasion almost comparable to the Main Gauche. Late-game, there are a lot of enemies that ignore evasion. That's the point where Vaan kind of evolves and takes on a new role- DPS. Vaan is hands down the fastest party member in the game and can debuff his enemies quickly with his array of Daggers. Late-game, he gets the Iga/Koga Ninja Blade combo to Oil the enemy and then blast them with Fire Elemental strikes, and the Mesa for Auto: Haste. Mesa + Thief's Cap + Berserk + Germinas Boots = Vaan attacking almost instantly, and fairly hard. He doesn't strike as hard as Basch, but with Vaan it's death by a thousand cuts. Sometimes literally. Vaan also gets Drain to steal enemy HP to help keep his HP topped off and Reverse, allowing him to soften enemies up for Penelo's healing spells to deal heavy damage to them.

As far as squishiness is concerned, with enemies doing more damage now, that's something that'll be commonplace. My general advice to people is to Gambit First Aid ASAP. First Aid restores a flat 10% of HP, and it's a great way to top your HP off between fights while conserving items and MP. First Aid is particularly useful in Garamsythe and Barheim, where you're somewhat trapped and may not have a lot of Gil to play around with. Later on, buffs and debuffs are vital. Sometimes a casting of Blind is worth its cost in Cures, and Protect (and Shell, for most boss fights) is particularly important. Basch makes for a decent emergency healer/buffer, and Penelo can easily keep everyone's Protect topped off. Penelo with a Healing Rod to Regen everyone is a great way of keeping HP topped off as well. SFF rewards out-of-the-box thinking, so it pays to use things you may not have in Vanilla.

Thanks again for your feedback! I appreciate it, and I look forward to hearing more about your playthrough!

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Dang, it's been forever since I played this... played through the International ps2 version with an english patch. The mindless difficulty of the main game just put me off so much near the end that I didn't even bother with the post game...
Zodiac Age got me hyped again but when I read that they lowered the difficulty further that was just a straight nope.

I have one concern about "number hard modes", where you just apply a flat multiplier... Did you test them with post game stuff / superbosses? Straight up multiplying superboss stats just seems like a bad idea in general.

Quote

We're also working on a Treasure Chest Editor, which will hopefully be done within the next few weeks. Once that's completed, treasure chests will be a 100% spawn, 100% set item, and will no longer respawn, much like traditional FF treasure chests. Those chests will have set items, generally the rarest item that would have normally been found in that chest to begin with.

Basically just waiting for this until I give it a go!

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Hey there Leer! Great question! The majority of late game enemies have been tested, with the exception of some super late game stuff, namely due to me hating things like the Great Crystal and such. They're in process of being tested by myself and others as we speak. That being said, there are plenty of ways to tactically take them down a few pegs. Fun fact- enemy stats (mostly) cap at 99, and a lot of them as such can't get a full 1.3x boost because a large majority of the superbosses are already very close to that number. Will I likely have to make readjustments in the future? Of course, nothing is ever perfect. For now though, things are pretty much where they should be. In regards to HP, certain enemies such as Yiazmat and Hell Wyrm didn't even get an HP boost (because that'd be ridiculous), and things like Behemoth King didn't get the full 2x HP boost just to ensure they're not tedious to fight.

EDIT: I also agree with you normally on number patches. I was actually pretty shocked when I tested initially, because by doing 2x HP and 1.3x stats, everything was basically where it should have been! It felt very natural to play, and I was absolutely shocked. I was expecting to have to spend a lot more time tweaking everything. That being said, there's a lot more than just number changes here!

Edited by Eternal
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Thanks for clarification, that's reassuring. Good thing when such a simple tweak is a successful step towards more enjoyable balancing.

Good luck on the treasure chest editing, hope everything goes smoothly. I just hate the idea of chests containing mainly random garbage and having to mindlessly farm chests to get the good stuff which you can't even know beforehand without consulting resources...

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So, we just made some developments tonight about treasure editing that makes things infinitely more difficult.

To give you some backstory, each item that doesn't respawn is assigned an ID between 1 and 254. This is how items like Silence can appear in two locations, but disappear once you pick it up at one of the locations- they share the same ID between locations. In order to make an item respawn, it needs its Respawn ID set to something below 255. Essentially what this means is that, as of what we know right now, we can only make up to 254 treasure chests not respawn. Otherwise, if you pick up an item with the same Respawn ID, it makes the other treasure associated with that ID disappear, and I bet that's how they did the Zodiac Spear trick in the PS2 version. We aren't sure at the moment just how many treasures currently have unique Respawn IDs, but it sounds like it would be very difficult at the moment to make every treasure not able to respawn as we thought we could do before.

We're still digging into it, but that's where things stand as of about an hour ago.

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Maybe keep the minor random loot chests around that just contain consumables and Gil but appear at random and respawn, but major chests that contain gear and spells would be the 100% spawn chance one time only chests?
Vanilla TZA already kinda does it like this, but many of the major chests still don't appear 100% of the time for some reason so you end up having to go through a specific room 2 or 3 times just to make sure you actually got everything.

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Yeah, that's the plan right now. The challenging part is that as of right now I have no idea how many free Respawn IDs there are, but I know that there are already at bare minimum 92 slots already used by the game. I'm sure we'll figure something out.

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