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Everything posted by BTB

  1. Leet Sketcher's "Imp Skimp" hack: properly updates enemy sprites if they cure themselves of the Imp status (or so I'm told; needs testing)
  2. Hello, my name is BTB, co-creator and designer of Final Fantasy VI: Brave New World. And like anyone with a job or hobby that attracts an audience, there are certain questions that tend to come up a lot to me in my capacity as a modder of video games... certain "frequently-asked questions", if you will. Today, I would like to take a moment to answer some of the most common/pressing of them. Why don't you just make an original game? Of all the questions modders are asked, this is easily the most offensive as it both belittles and completely misses the point of our craft. It's like asking someone who enjoys restoring classic cars why they don't just make their own. I'll talk about this in a bit more detail further below, but the short answer is that improving on an existing idea is an entirely different task from forming a new one and, more importantly, is no more or less valid a form of artistic expression because of it. Why did you change "X" thing? Game mods face a somewhat unique obstacle in that, unlike an original game, they are expected to justify their own existence. Design decisions are generally not scrutinized in a "vanilla" game to the degree they are in a mod, which makes a certain amount of sense given that players are actively looking for changes in the latter no matter how much its creator wishes they would treat it like the former. It's kind of like dealing with people who can't enjoy a movie because they're too busy comparing absolutely everything about it to the book. Modders take note: no matter how stupid, arbitrary, or poorly thought-out anything in a base game is, no matter how minuscule or insignificant, someone will question your decision to change it. I've had people ask me why I changed the names of certain enemies in Brave New World when their original names were literal nonsense words so unremarkable that nobody (including the person asking) remembers what they were. And you can fall back on logic or reason all you want to justify your actions, but ultimately the answer will be "because I didn't like what it was before and wanted to change it". And one of the most important things to learn as a modder is that there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Why DIDN'T you change "X" thing? Contrary to the above, the answer to this one is usually, "I couldn't". Modding is frequently bound by the restrictions of the source material or by how deep into the code we are able to dig, and things that may seem to the outside observer to be an easy copy/paste job often aren't. Also, do assume that modders (or at least good modders) have put a lot of thought into their final product and have considered all of the potential implications of even a seemingly small change. That said, ask away - I've made countless changes to my mods based on player feedback pointing out something I just hadn't thought of, and at the very least you're likely to get an interesting piece of developer insight in response. Why would you mod a game that you don't like? As the designer of a prominent Final Fantasy VI mod, it often confuses people to learn that I am not all that fond of the original game. While some mods are created by people who are deeply in love with the game in question, these mods are rarely of good quality since their creators saw so little room for improvement. More often than not, they end up veering into bad fanfiction territory and/or falling victim to the philosophy of adding more stuff just to have more stuff with absolutely zero regard for how well any of it fits in or concern for existing content (AKA "Squaresoft Design Theory 101"). This is not to say that good modders hate the games that they are working on; something obviously had to draw them in, after all. But I've come to realize that too much reverence for the game you're working with tends to prevent good or even necessary changes for fear of breaking from the traditional and familiar - this mentality is the reason I am often bitched at for fixing legitimate bugs and exploits. Good mods are ideally born from an attachment to an idea (or ideas) by people with a vision of their full potential and, more often than not, a certain degree of frustration toward their flawed execution that keeps them from realizing that potential. And this frustration - something generally lacking in people who are already happy with games the way they are - is what drives us to make a better game. On trial and error... So, this is neither a question nor a complete sentence and it pertains to game design as a whole rather than just modding, but it's an important topic to discuss here given the prevalence of "kaizo" hacks out there in contrast to an audience that is generally more accustomed to modern game design. For those unfamiliar, the term "kaizo" comes from the name of one of the earliest known hacks of its kind: a Super Mario World ROMhack that utilized extreme difficulty as a form of comedy, winding up as a sort of self-directed schadenfreude. This was an extension of the very first such games - a trilogy of Super Mario Bros. hacks called Syobon Action or "Cat Mario" - whose difficulty stemmed entirely from their "puzzle" elements which murdered the player in increasingly ridiculous ways for taking the most logical course of action, thus forcing a purely "trial and error" method of gameplay that (along with the racist sprite hacks of yore) has since gone on to stigmatize modding as a whole. The term is now used to describe any ROMhack of difficulty sufficient to warrant pure trial-and-error gameplay and tends to be freely (and often unfairly) used to describe mods that introduce difficulty of any kind. It's because of the above that Brave New World shies away from the "difficulty hack" label altogether, but it tends to draw arguments from players who (correctly) realize that it is, in fact, much harder than the original game. My personal take is that there seems to be some degree of resistance to the idea that the player should be made to think, that the game is a puzzle meant to be figured out rather than a mere interactive viewing experience. What some players label "punishment" is to me simply a part of the learning process. Learning involves experimentation, which by its very nature equates to trial and - more often than not - error. Brave New World was designed with the expectation that players would frequently die and be forced to rethink their approach to certain battles, but comparisons to games designed to make the player suffer are inaccurate and something that we wish to avoid. There seems to be a commonly-held notion that a good game should be easily beatable by a blind player ("blind" in the figurative sense, not literal) without failure and that anyone who thinks otherwise is one of those "Dark Souls" weirdos. There is little acknowledged middle ground between games requiring no effort whatsoever and those specifically designed to be unfair, which from my experience manifests primarily as an unwillingness to experiment. Again using Brave New World as an example, one of its major design philosophies is that the random encounter system should pose a challenge to the player's abilities to figure out how to deal with them quickly and efficiently, or else they exist for no other reason than to waste the player's time. A big part of this is a wide variety of enemy weaknesses and resistances so that no one attack or tactic is universally effective, thus forcing the player to adapt to each individual encounter. Sounds good, yeah? The result of the above design, however, brings to mind the cautionary advice of Mark Rosenwater against fighting human nature. It's become somewhat of a meme in the Brave New World community for a new player to complain that "X thing is useless because everything is immune to it", with that "X thing" usually being wind damage. And it's not that this statement is even remotely true (approximately 15% of enemies in Brave New World resist wind damage) so much as that players are so rarely forced to attempt different strategies in the original game's design and are very quickly discouraged from doing so at the first sight of failure. The unfortunate ultimate result of this phenomenon is a refusal to move away from "tried and true" tactics even when they fail, with players stubbornly attempting the same thing over and over again rather than trying something new (which, by the way, is the definition of insanity). In conclusion... And that's it for now. Perhaps in the future I'll do a "part two", but these are the questions that have been stuck in my head for awhile and itching to get out. Thanks for reading, and remember that modders are just people who perform a labor of love for no reward other than the hope that our work makes the world a better (or at least funner) place. (Or get us laid. That's pretty nice.)
  3. Well, I've also spent many versions working to make sure that Phantom wasn't a total waste on either Celes OR Shadow... and that took a lot of doing. As for a magic bonus on Shadow, I always leaned away from it on the basis that there's really not a whole lot he DOES with that stat - it boosts his scroll damage, and that's it. He does have a freely-available magic-boosting relic for that purpose, and as with Locke I had no desire to stack that "free" relic with a magic boost from espers.
  4. A similar thought has occurred to me, yes.
  5. Nah, you didn't have a nerve, it's just something that's come up a lot. And Mark Rosewater's first rule of games is "change your game to fit your players, not the other way around". The Fenrir change is something else I see a lot, though most people target Phantom. It makes the most gameplay sense of any of the suggestions I've seen at the cost of removing a +2 Speed esper from a character I think thematically deserves one.
  6. I gave Relm and Strago a rod that procs a stamina attack out of sheer annoyance for the lack of respect that their stamina builds get, but it's a very gated weapon that requires you to give up something equally cool. Really, the bigger draw with Stamina Strago in 1.10 is going to be better magic defense and ~200 HP regen ticks. As for Edgar, he doesn't really have a "stamina" build so much as he as a "tank" build that stacks HP and just happens to get some stamina on the side.
  7. Main observation I see here is something I see get suggested to me a lot, which is "give everyone a stamina attack". I've avoided doing this specifically to avoid homogenizing stamina builds across characters - giving everyone a stamina attack just makes stamina a better (or worse, depending on the attack) version of vigor, and I've really only designed a few characters with "stamina as an attack stat" as a truly viable option. Different characters are meant to get different benefits out of stamina, something I hope will become much more apparent with the regen formula rework in 1.10 (among other things).
  8. I've often wondered why characters other than Setzer and Sabin never really attracted the HP-stack builds, especially the ones with +60 HP espers.
  9. That's way off in the future. 2.0 material, for sure.
  10. Glad I could be of assistance
  11. It increases magic damage like the Crystal Orb would. The next update will make this effect more clear. To your second question, no.
  12. Updated the changerog yet again. This should be the last of any major updates: note the (tentative) updates to status display and the status screen along with finally doing something about how difficult running from fights became following the introduction of nATB. Also, as part of our ongoing efforts to scale back on needlessly-hidden things, Relm will now come equipped with the Memento Ring. Finally, some terminology changes will seek to make things easier to understand: spell points ("magic points" in vanilla) will now be called esper points, while what is currently called esper points will be rebranded as esperXP. There are a few more additions yet to go into this list, but that should be it for anything particularly noteworthy.
  13. Reflect working on a timer made it entirely pointless as a deliberate defensive effect since you never knew when it was going to wear off and it would often do so before being of much use. Changing it to behave like Image guarantees that it will defend against at least something before going away.
  14. Glad you're enjoying yourself!
  15. Forests on Triangle Island.
  16. Vanilla had an attempted failsafe against this sort of behavior where it basically tacked on another 50% evasion check to everyone hit by it. That... didn't go well in practice.
  17. That or you've got a pit in your basement.
  18. Dude, Letha busted a nut over the regen change. Something about Stamina Strago being "your new god..."
  19. It won't be TOO significant - just enough to be worth considering. I'll let Think talk about it, though, since he's the one working the logic. ANYWAY... more changelog updates. Big one as of now is an update to the Regen formula which relies less on the character's max HP. It's a minor change for most characters, but it's a significant buff to high stamina squishies (Relm/Strago) and a huge kick in the nuts to 25 Terrato Sabin. Also of note is switching the 3/16 step on Earth Blues to Wind Slash so that it's no longer a wasted turn in boss fights, some elaboration on WHICH bosses are getting their HP slashed, and some other stuff I can't remember. Seriously, the changelog is fucking 30 kb of raw text right now. My changelog needs a changelog. Fuck me.
  20. Thank you! That is correct, yes. And Crusader also has Demi/Quartr while Alexandr now only has Holy.
  21. Yeah, I dropped the idea of the Lazy Shell being a mass prevention tool for everyone. On the other hand, setting it to "dark" damage means that the Ghost Ring is a prevention relic that anyone can use. If you're going to go gimmick, go big or go home.
  22. More changelog updates. Alexandr and Crusader are being swapped (details inside), Merton becomes a fire/"dark" elemental spell (instead of fire/wind), and shop edits are elaborated upon.
  23. Mog Mascot with Attitude, Kupo BASE STATS Vigor: 30 / Magic: 36 / Speed: 36 / Stamina: 30 HP: 156 / MP: 0 BatPwr: 24 / Def: 36 / M.Def: 36 / Evade: 18 / M.Evade: 18 EQUIPMENT Weapons: Spears, Rods, Thrown Weapons --- Shield: Heavy Shields, Light Shields, Elemental Guards Head: Helmets, Crowns, Hats Body: Heavy Armor, Medium Armor, Light Armor, Parkas, Robes, Vests SKILLS (Dance) Wind Song (plains) - focuses on healing (Stamina) and multi-target wind damage (Magic) Desert Aria (desert) - focuses on evasion with multi-target earth/wind damage (Magic) and some healing (Stamina) Forest Suite (forest) - focuses on status healing (Stamina) with assorted damage (Magic) Earth Blues (mountains) - focuses on single-target Earth damage (Magic) and Healing (Stamina) Dusk Requiem (caves) - focuses on fractional damage and instant death Love Sonata (town/factory) - focuses on restoring Mog's HP/MP with assorted damage (Magic) Water Rondo (river/underwater) - focuses on entirely on direct damage (Magic), mostly water and bolt/poison Snowman Jazz (snow) - focuses on heavy ice damage (Magic) with some evasion (Note: the "home" dance of the current terrain will always succeed; success of non-native dances is determined by Stamina) ---Jump (replaces Fight) - Fight (Vigor) + 100% damage (spears) or 50% (other weapons); ignores row ---X-Magic (replaces Magic) - cast two spells instead of one ESPERS Maduin - Magic+1/Stamina+1 --- 24 MP: defense-ignoring wind damage (Magic) on all foes Shoat - Magic+2 --------------------- 36 MP: sets Stone on all foes Palidor - Vigor+1/Speed+1 ----- 24 MP: party attacks with Jump (Vigor) Terrato - HP+60 ------------------- 64 MP: earth damage to all foes (Magic) SPELLS Sap - Magic Poison - Magic Break - Magic Quake - Magic Doom Drain - Magic --- Muddle Mute SleepX SlowX Haste Float