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  1. I've written at length at this point on multiple aspects of game design, covering a wide range of "do's" and "don'ts" of a vastly complex subject. Today, as indicated by the title of the article, I'd like to take a step back and propose a basic rule of thumb which can give you a basic idea about how well a game is designed without analyzing it too deeply (or, at least without analyzing it from any other angles). This guideline is as follows: "How much opportunity and incentive does this game provide to the player to use all of the tools available to them?" The over-simplified version of this question is, "how many of the options given to the player completely suck?" such as a fighting game with a character that nobody would use unless they wanted to intentionally handicap themselves. This test expands that question by asking why that character sucks - are their abilities simply bad, or are they just bad within the context of a game environment that wasn't designed with their abilities in mind? Sometimes an item or an ability in a game is actually helpful, or at least it would have been had it been given to you sooner. And other times you have things that are clearly designed to feed that monkey drive in your brain just by existing, but are clearly useless upon closer inspection. We will apply this test to five popular game franchises and see how they hold up. Bear in mind that this is not meant to be a comprehensive analysis of how well-designed they are on the whole, but rather how well they perform when judged according to this one specific guideline that is itself being evaluated as much as the games in question are. Also note that the term "tools" should be defined very broadly here to include basically any action the player can take: an attack they can use, an item they can collect, or even an environment that they can explore. Many people go through life embracing the question of, "why shouldn't I do this thing?" but today we'll be taking points away each time a game fails to come up with a good response to, "why should I?" So, without further ado... Super Mario Bros. Arguably the most basic of all platforming franchises, Super Mario Bros. should provide us with a decent baseline of expectations for this experiment. By its very nature as a pioneer of its industry, it will also provide us with examples of evolutionary leftovers from the era that bore it. Super Mario Bros. arose from the height of the arcade age and, in some ways, never really left it behind. Case in point, the supremely superfluous scoring system serves absolutely no purpose whatsoever and sticks out like a third nipple upon even mild scrutiny. That said, there is nothing in any Mario game which exists solely to boost your score (the same, interestingly enough, cannot be said for more "advanced" games like Ninja Gaiden and Castlevania), and so this entire mechanic can be safely ignored. The other vestigial mechanic of the series is its "lives" system, which at least upon its initial release was still quite functional. The original Super Mario Bros. demanded to be completed with either a minimal amount of fucking up or an excessive amount of grinding 1-ups from the only spot in the game where doing so was actually possible. Extra lives were otherwise very scarce, and collecting coins to earn more of them was, at least for the time being, actually rewarding. Throw in the fact that mushrooms, stars, and fire flowers (oh my) were vital upgrades because, again, arcade games were designed primarily to murder you and eat your quarters, and the first game in this long-running series is pretty coherent as far as our test is concerned. We shouldn't give it too much credit, however; given how basic it is, it would be like congratulating a caveman for discovering how to club his neighbor over the head. The second game, or at least the one we got here in 'Murrica, was a complete departure from the rest of the series as many sequels of the time were (bear in mind that Super Mario Bros. itself was a sequel to a vastly different game). Most notably, it introduced an incredibly cool character selection system that would be criminally neglected throughout the remainder of the series and significant exploration elements in its stage design. With the latter, however, we began to see the cracks form in the foundation of the series that would later grow into massive fault lines. Thoroughly exploring the game's "subcon" areas was critical to your survival as it contained both coins, which could be used to earn extra lives, and mushrooms, which would increase your more immediate survivability. The only problem was that each mushroom was applicable only to the stage in which it was found, severely diminishing the incentive to hunt them down in many of the shorter/easier stages - again, not the hugest of deals, but a portent of things to come. Super Mario Bros. 3 saw a return to the basics of the series running directly contrary to an attempt to be more progressive. The reappearance of the scoring system was an overt nostalgic throwback even by the standards of its time, but far more noticeable was the increasingly ripe corpse of the lives system dressed up in its Sunday best and being paraded around like it was Weekend at Bernie's. A game over would now send you back only to the beginning of a world rather than the entire game, not that you'd ever see it given that the game crammed more green mushrooms down your throat than a Dr. Seuss antagonist. Once precious extra lives were reduced from glistening oases in the middle of the desert to, "...if I hear that Goddamn Wonderwall song one more fucking time, I'ma strangle a bitch." Superficial aspects aside, however, Super Mario Bros. 3 fares about as well as you'd expect it to. The various power-ups were the real meat of this game and every one (except that damn frog suit) was a welcome sight whenever you happened across them. In fact, given their transient nature and the extreme rarity of the most desirable amongst them, they became a little too desirable and more often than not ended up being hoarded in players' inventories rather than actually being used. This issue was exacerbated by the fact that they existed in set quantities rather than variable depending on player action. The developers missed a critical opportunity at this juncture to take the franchise's iconic coins, which continued to litter every stage and made half the game feel like a dive into Uncle Scrooge's vault, and attach them to Mario's inventory rather than to the rotting carcass of his seemingly-infinite supply of lives. (Please note: SMB3 will be docked several points for the inclusion of the totally fucking sweet shoe in only a single stage where it ends up being more cool than actually useful.) Not much changed for awhile beyond this point in the series. Mario continued to cling to outdated mechanics long past their expiration date, culminating in a hilariously gratuitous appearance by Yoshi in Super Mario 64 to reward your efforts in finding every star in the game with a load of useless green shit, but they remained a relatively harmless and largely insignificant presence until their eventual abolishment. The important aspect is the incentive to explore the game's stages rather than running straight to the end, which is what these superfluous elements ostensibly existed to facilitate. When probing the depths of every stage stopped being necessary for the sake of survival, the series floundered a bit until it fully embraced the collect-a-thon genre. This issue was perhaps most prominent in SMB3, which presented the player with an amazing world full of secrets and almost no reason whatsoever to look for any of them. Curiously, the GBA remakes of both Super Mario Bros. 2 and Super Mario World addressed this concern with the addition of the "dragon coin" system (present in the original version of the latter, but there was no incentive at the time to hunt them down), but Mario 3 was for whatever reason ported over lacking the one change that would have made a classic game even better. And that's terrible. Score: Fair The Legend of Zelda Looking at just the first game in the series, Zelda scores remarkably well on this test. Every item in the Goddamn toolshed that Link has stuffed inside his tunic has a legitimate and viable use, although a few of them do see an unfortunately small window of application. It would be nice to stumble across the Red Candle a bit earlier than the seventh dungeon, and you may as well not even bother getting the wooden boomerang in the first dungeon since you'll acquire its upgrade almost immediately thereafter in the second. But these are ultimately minor nitpicks in an otherwise solid game. Moving on to the second title, we see similarly high marks. Items here served almost exclusively as keys to new areas, leaving spells as the "functional" upgrades. And again, there are some nitpicks - Fire could have been more universally effective and Reflect could have worked on more types of projectiles - but ultimately every piece of Link's repertoire feels like it belongs there and has something to add to the mix. Moreover, the experience system provided incentive clear up until the end of the game to use those abilities to murder everything you came across. The 16-bit jump to A Link To The Past is where we start to see extraneous elements creep into the game's design. Link's inventory is larger now than ever before, and at least some of this shit should probably have been cut from the final product: the Magic Cape was just a redundant version of the Cane of Byrna, red and green potions had no reason to exist alongside the clearly-superior blue ones, and not one but three different spell medallions that each killed every enemy on-screen was just a wee bit excessive. Now, the potions might not have been an issue if it weren't the biggest design misstep in this installment: completely ruining the economy. Collecting rupees became excessively trivial in this game, rendering it invalid as a balance mechanic (i.e. purchasing cheaper red or green potions instead of the more expensive blue ones) and reducing any attempt to reward the player with financial gain to "thanks, I hate it." Hyrule's busted economy would persist through its next several games and would remain arguably the biggest flaw of the series for quite some time. While Link's Awakening and Ocarina of Time both had a few items that mostly sat in your inventory and took up space, by far the absolute most useless thing in both games was the mountain of rupees burning a hole in your pocket because you had nothing to spend it on. The creators even seem to be aware of this issue between the snarky messages from rupee chests in Link's Awakening and the crowning insult of rewarding the player for finding every gold skulltula in Ocarina of Time with an infinite supply of money which was, by that point in the game, literally useless. The closest that the series ever got to putting its economy back on track was the Oracle games, by which I mean that there was actually a decent amount of stuff to buy and rupees weren't being handed out to players like free candy from the back of Jared Fogle's van. The Oracle games are also a welcome return to form with regard to their deliberately purposeful inventory and are especially notable for featuring upgrades to several items that seem to arrive just around the time that you're starting to wonder why you're even carrying the damn things around. Oracle of Seasons and Oracle of Ages both very clearly had their fingers on the pulse of what makes the series tick and combined the best elements of all of the games which preceded them while simultaneously learning from their mistakes. It's because of this that I choose them both to represent the Zelda franchise as a whole to render my final verdict. Score: Great (but Adam Smith would like a word) Mega Man The Mega Man fanbase is firmly divided between two types of players: those that insist on playing through as much of the game as possible using just the regular gun and those that have fun looking for opportunities to use the other weapons. While this article is written from the perspective of the latter camp, the existence of the former tells us a great deal about the design of the series and the unique challenges it faces as a result. More specifically, we must view the ability to play through the game's stages in any order - a staple of the Mega Man franchise - as one of the tools available to the player. Bearing this in mind, its design flaws become readily apparent. The stages are designed to be played in any order and this is reflected in their difficulty; each one is potentially the first one to be tackled and thus must be winnable without the benefit of any weapons other than your basic pea-shooter. This has the negative impact of providing little incentive to the player to experiment with their new weapons aside from the novelty value. Contrast to the Ninja Gaiden or Castlevania games, wherein subweapon use was greatly beneficial in preserving your health and, ultimately, surviving. A key factor in this discrepancy is the noticeable generosity that the Mega Man series has with health refills: were Mega Man's health pellets (which is to say nothing of E-Tanks) as uncommon as Ninja Gaiden's potions or Castlevania's wall chicken, there would be a far greater incentive to use all of the tools at your disposal in order to mitigate damage intake. Looking to the primary use of Mega Man's secondary weapons, we see a game that largely seeks to invalidate its own structure. Exploiting the weaknesses of robot masters to the weapons obtained from the others effectively trivializes every boss fight beyond the first in a typical Mega Man title, which in turn reduces the ability to play through the game's stages in any order to a simple decision as to which one to play first, with the rest of the order being dictated by the "weakness loop"(*). Mega Man 3 was the first - and only - title in the series to attempt to break away from this by having two loops joined together by a single robot master with multiple weaknesses, and this increasingly-stagnant series would stand to benefit from further exploration of this concept. (*Yes, the game becomes more interesting if you play the stages in a wacky order and don't exploit boss weaknesses, but I've said before that self-control is a terrible thing to balance your game around. There's nothing wrong with encouraging self-imposed challenges in your game, but you must provide the player with a tangible metric by which to do so.) A much more interesting take on the Mega Man formula would see each boss possessing minor weaknesses to several weapons as opposed to a debilitating weakness to a single one. This would change the flow of the battle drastically depending on which weapon was used due to the different behavior of each one and allow for a far greater variety of potential viable routes through the game. As for the stage design, some games in the series experimented with diverging paths within levels or optional exploratory elements that required certain weapons to proceed, but neither idea had the (apparent) intended result of promoting different routing choices since neither focused directly on strengthening that core concept. Instead, the design would have done better to focus on a dynamic difficulty curve with each stage posing greater hazards the later in the order it was attempted - and, thus, the more equipped you were to handle it. Score: Poor (Great with a few tweaks) Metroid Unsurprisingly, Metroid beats out pretty much any other game series out there when graded on this scale given that it's almost unfairly biased toward Metroid's core design concepts. Metroid games are specifically designed around the tools given to the player as a means of both progression and gameplay. This seamless integration makes every upgrade feel far more meaningful as a result with the only real downside being that the scavenger-hunt nature of the series makes finding your 50th missile pack feel a little like opening up a treasure chest full of soiled linens. So, really, what more is there to say here that I didn't already say in the article I wrote about Super Metroid? Well, games in the series tend to be somewhat on the easy side when played through casually, only revealing their true sadistic colors to players who attempt challenge runs. A low% run, wherein the player attempts to complete the game with as few items as possible, tends to see some fairly ingenious use of the items which are collected. Alas, this shoves all of Samus's other items by the wayside along with the equally ingenious tricks that can be pulled off with them simply because there's just no reason in any potential run of the game for those tricks to be used unless you're just screwing around. In short, if I had to find a failing with Super Metroid based on the criteria at hand, it would be that it's not a more robust version of itself. Enter the internet. Something that has become increasingly popular in the hacking scene are randomizers: programs which, well, randomize various aspects of a given game to generate virtually infinite replayability from a game that many players have beaten hundreds of times over by this point. They tend to be hit or miss, depending on the game in question. For example, Final Fantasy VI is an absolute mess of a game, and one of the more popular randomizers out there takes it and turns it into... well, an even bigger mess. There's no accounting for taste, I suppose. But something like Metroid, on the other hand? Samus is practically begging for it. If you love Super Metroid (and who doesn't?), definitely consider giving the randomizer a spin the next time you've got a hankering to play. And if you also like Zelda, you're in for a real treat. Due to an incidental compatibility between the SRAM usage by the ROMs for both games, it turned out to be possible to combine them into a single game, randomizing items from each throughout both games. And yes, I'm aware that what was supposed to be an examination of the Metroid series devolved into me shilling a fan product, but it's something I wanted to get around to sooner or later and it's not like I had much else to say here. (Also, you should play AM2R. It's fucking amazing.) Score: Excellent (guitar riff) Final Fantasy Obviously, we had to cover this one. I mentioned before when I touched on the concept of this test that the average JRPG would score miserably and if you've read everything I've written prior to this point you'll have a pretty good idea as to why. The issue certainly isn't the lack of options - if anything, you have way too many of them. Rather, there is simply no reason to not just pick the most powerful attack you have and spam it ad nauseam. Although by no means unique in this regard, Final Fantasy VI remains a notable offender due to the sheer excess of clearly superfluous options it provides. As I discussed at length in my article on boss fight design in RPGs, the complexity of combat in most JRPGs rarely progresses beyond, "hit the bad guy until he dies, stopping to heal thyself as necessary." Other options are indeed universally present - buffs for your characters, status debuffs for your enemies, or weaker attacks that might prove more beneficial if used under the right circumstances - but rarely if ever did any of them prove to be useful. Debuffs in particular are a subject I've elaborated on in the past, and their ubiquitous shittiness can be summarized thusly: they don't work on anything you'd actually want to use them against. Thus, the opportunity to utilize these options exists only on enemies for which there is absolutely no incentive to do so. Again, this is where Final Fantasy VI breaks away from the rest of the pack and stands out as a glorious example of what not to do seeing as several of its bosses are, in fact, vulnerable to status effects. Now, this might sound like a good idea at first - which it almost is - except that the majority of FF6's statuses will not merely weaken but will rather completely shut down whatever you use them on. There's a difference between an intelligent player effectively using the tools available to them in order to make a difficult challenge easier to overcome and a tool which destroys that challenge altogether. This highlights a significant issue with such abilities in RPGs. Seeing as they are tactical affairs rather than action-based platformers, their skills generally do not require quick thinking or reflexes in order to use. Implemented poorly, they're simply an "automatic win" button that the player merely needs to remember exists and think to use. Ideally, their use would be contingent on at least some degree of forward setup and planning and/or would render the battle easier rather than free. However, that requires careful consideration and battles designed specifically around the concept, so it's very easy to see why most RPGs simply go the route of status debuffs only being effective against trash mobs. So, coming back around to the original question: does Final Fantasy VI provide both opportunity and incentive to use abilities that, in any other JRPG, would have been completely ignored? Yes, it does, but the lack of careful design around this decision makes the result worse than if they hadn't tried at all. By allowing certain options to be so over-effective that there becomes little sense in trying any other option, you ultimately end back up at the same point where you started. Final Fantasy VI scores technical points on this front, thus proving that this litmus test is not without its flaws. Score: Abysmal Conclusion And there we have it: five popular game franchises judged by a single metric that hopefully provides some insight about how well their designs work. There are several other game series( that I'd like to visit in a potential follow-up to this article: Castlevania, Ninja Gaiden, and a different RPG series that might shine a better light on the genre than today's selection did. But for now, this article about a quick and easy way to tell how well a game is designed is already, ironically, one of the longest and hardest (giggity) that I've ever written. I'd like to thank the various communities that keep reading these articles and whose encouragement helps keep them coming. I honestly can't think of a better reward for my efforts than to have played a part in inspiring so many of you. (Well, besides the groupie sex.)
  2. On Games & Bad Design

    In light of the upcoming version 1.10 of Brave New World, I figured now would be a better time than ever to finally write that follow-up article to the one I wrote about the nature of modding. This time, I'll be talking about game design as a whole, using inherent flaws in Final Fantasy VI that are addressed in Brave New World as key talking points. I'm going to state up-front that you don't spend seven years underneath the hood of anything without developing a resentment towards the people whose mess you're cleaning up, but I'm going to forgo my usual vitriol towards Squaresoft here in favor of remaining as objective as possible... and in the process hopefully imparting upon y'all at least something I've learned in the last seven years. Intent is three-fifths of bad game design We'll start on an easy point, but a very important one nonetheless. If you ask most anyone what makes Final Fantasy VI a bad game he or she will invariably respond by citing one or more of its three most infamous bugs: the Sketch glitch, the evasion bug, and/or the Vanish/Doom bug. Although all three of these are serious problems in definite need of repair, none of them are indicative of poor gameplay design (although a case could definitely be made for poor coding in the case of the Lovecraftian Sketch routine). They are nothing more than mere programming errors. Let's make a comparison. On one hand, we have the above-mentioned evasion bug, which causes the physical evasion stat to do literally nothing due to an incorrect ASM pointer. On the other, we have the "stamina" stat, which does practically nothing due to being deliberately designed that way. One of these things is an honest mistake; the other is a bad idea. If we examine the sizeable number of hacks available for FF6, we'll notice that those which fix the above-mentioned bugs are the most popular - and with good reason. But nearly none of them, Brave New World being the only example that I can name, address the fact that three of the four core stats in the game are virtually useless by design. And it's extremely easy for people, particularly those who view the game through nostalgia goggles, to fail to realize that repairing its bugs does not do anything to address its more fundamental underlying issues: the ones that are there on purpose. Don't invalidate your own systems Final Fantasy VI is, by both its narrative and mechanical design, a game where magic reigns supreme over all else. Of the above-mentioned core stats, the only one that functions to any worthwhile degree is magic power. Even Sabin, the game's resident "monk" archetype - a class known for being bare-fisted fighters with no magical powers to speak of - is ultimately reliant on his magic power rather than his strength due to his ultimate skill being a "magic" attack. And this isn't because the attack itself is actually magical in any way - it's flagged as such solely because the game's physical damage formula does not mechanically allow for a physical attack meaningfully more powerful than the ones that Sabin starts out with. At their core, games are basically a series of interlocked mechanics designed with the intent of being fun to play with, or failing that at least mildly interesting. One of the biggest mistakes that a game can make - and one that this game is particularly guilty of - is allowing poor design choices to render one or more of these systems moot. In this case, the decision for physical combat to be useless in the face of magic negatively affects every other mechanic that ties into it, which is quite a few of them given that damage formulas are, understandably, a core component of the game. Let's look at equipment for example. Armor isn't in a terrible place because defense actually does work in FF6, so there's at least a reason to want to put the stuff on (even if 90% of the time it's just a matter of picking the option that automatically equips whatever has the most defense). Some armor can also boost stats in addition to providing defense, but we really don't care unless they include one of the two "god" stats: magic power or magic evasion. So while we can definitely see the effect of useless stats in play here, it's really not as bad as it could be. Weapons, on the other hand, feel the burn hard. As one might expect, when the only meaningful form of combat is tossing around fireballs and lightning bolts, it really doesn't matter what the hunk of metal in your hand looks like or how strong it is. Unless it's boosting that almighty magic stat, it might as well be a moist towelette for as much good as it's going to do you. Like other characters of his ilk, Sabin wears "claw" weapons meant to reinforce his role as "he who punches things". But his special "punch stuff" attacks - even the ones that actually do physical damage - don't actually consider what he's wearing on his fists at all. For an even worse example, we look to Cyan: an unfortunately-named samurai and perhaps the most maligned character in the original game because, unlike Sabin, his special skill is all physical damage. Since his ability is sword-related, it does actually require that he be holding a sword in order to function, but as with Sabin these skills all have their own set powers and function the exact same regardless of whether that sword is a legendary Hattori Hanzo or just some cheap garbage he bought on the Home Shopping Network. Upon defeating one of the game's penultimate bosses, you are bestowed with the most powerful katana in the game. And while that sword may do a good enough job of feeding into that all-important reward/pleasure zone in the player's brain, it's functionally identical to the one Cyan had when you met him. Never offer a choice between fun and convenience On the subject of equipment, we come to what is possibly the biggest design misstep in all of Final Fantasy VI: the Sprint Shoes. These were an item that, when equipped, would increase your character's abysmal walking speed to acceptable levels. Players would acquire them about an hour into the game, after which they were happily equipped and never removed because that hour was one spent watching Terra walk as if she had two pot roasts strapped to her feet. The important thing to note about the Sprint Shoes is that increasing walking speed conveyed no combat advantages whatsoever. It did not help you get more turns, dodge better, or even help you avoid battles altogether (that last one is an entirely different can of worms altogether). Its only function was to make the game less annoying for the player at the cost of occupying an equipment slot that would otherwise be used for something that did provide a combat bonus. It's telling that this is the only design flaw that was ever addressed in the deluge of re-releases that Squaresoft has put out over the years. Every other version of Final Fantasy VI provides a "dash" button to allow faster movement without the need for extra equipment, but curiously it does so without actually removing the Sprint Shoes, whose effects will stack with the standard dash just in case you needed to break the sound barrier or something. It becomes quickly apparent through such decisions that Squaresoft is more fond of Band-Aid solutions to problems rather than actual solutions, such as resolving the aforementioned Vanish/Doom bug by making "boss" enemies immune to being made invisible rather than addressing the mechanical problem that causes instant death attacks to ignore immunity when used on invisible targets. (Needless to say, Brave New World adds a dash button to the game and removes Sprint Shoes. It fixes the Vanish/Doom thing properly, too.) Just because something is long does not make it hard To expand on the underlying problem with the Sprint Shoes, something that players and game developers alike have a difficult time understanding is that just because something takes forever to accomplish does not mean that doing so is a challenge of anything but one's patience. This is ultimately an issue with any game where your character grows stronger over time, as most any challenge can be overcome by "grinding" out more levels rather than re-evaluating your approach and adjusting your strategy. Good game design favors the latter over the former, and I won't elaborate much on that subject since my previous article already discussed my thoughts on "trial and error" gameplay at length. That said, the answer to the "challenge vs. time investment" question lies within the consequence for failure. In a more traditional arcade-style game, such as pinball, the punishment for failure is "game over" since the entire point of those games is to see how many points a player can get before they die. However, that model doesn't translate to a game that's actually meant to be completed, especially one like Final Fantasy VI that requires several sessions to do so (unless your name is Puwexil). The consequence of failure in FF6 - or any other game with a save feature, for that matter - is time, and the "challenge" comes from whatever you have to do to get back to where you failed. The above point is one of the biggest reasons why unskippable cutscenes, particularly those that precede a challenging encounter, are so vehemently despised by the gaming community at large, as they are the most extreme example of failing to provide any challenge whatsoever in the process of returning to the point of failure. It is thus of paramount importance in a lengthy, story-driven game like FF6 to not utilize save denial as a form of difficulty, since it ultimately inconveniences the player rather than challenging them. This is why Brave New World adds several save points to the game and would have added more had event space (and other coding issues) allowed. Compare this to an action-oriented game like "I Wanna Be The Guy", where the only difference between difficulty levels is that the harder ones offer fewer opportunities to save your progress, thus forcing you to go back and repeat more of the game should you happen to fail (which you will). The "save denial" model works here since the game is a persistent test of skill. People who persist at the higher difficulty levels often see themselves becoming much better at the game as a result, since they are forced to practice more of the game for each failed attempt to progress. Back to Final Fantasy, a common complaint that players have regarding Brave New World is that many bosses have a lot of health and take forever to kill. To an extent, this is warranted: bosses must be able to take enough punishment so that your own endurance is sufficiently tested and so that luck alone will not pull you through the fight. However, there is a very specific tipping point - that point being where the battle ceases to be dynamic and instead becomes repetitive - where real difficulty becomes "artificial" difficulty and an otherwise-fun boss devolves into a boring damage sponge. The "damage sponge boss" issue is one where Brave New World admittedly struggles to hit the mark at times, and each new version strives to come closer than before. One major roadblock is a simple lack of space to make enemy AI as robust as it could be, and it's extremely important to note exactly what I mean by that. The key is variety, not just in how the enemy behaves, but in how the player should best respond to that behavior. An enemy with fifty different attacks is no more interesting than the one who only has five if the answer to all of them is just "hit it until it dies". A good example of this is Guardian, a late-game boss that possesses the most health of any boss in Brave New World. However, it is rarely cited as an example of the aforementioned issue since Guardian is a "boss rush" fight that goes through several drastically different phases throughout the battle as it mimics the attack patterns of other bosses in the game. Contrast to a boss that either doesn't change at all or simply gets more powerful as you whittle down its health, which at its worst is a very common but far less-recognized variant of the above-mentioned unskippable cutscene. You want to design more than a numbers game I've got a guy, God love him, who has been one of Brave New World's biggest and most vocal supporters from its earliest days. And this guy, he loves his math. Like, a lot. Whenever I get to work on a new update (and often when I'm not), he is always there to throw numbers at me and to point out exactly which attacks on which characters can produce the highest ratio of damage over time. He even wrote out a formula to help him calculate these numbers on the fly. But with each passing version of the mod, there is more added to it that his "magic" formula simply can't account for. And that's the point. You know what's fun? Games. You know what's not? Math. Regardless of whether or not you agree with that, a key point of good game design is doing your best to make one that can't be solved by a magic formula. Once upon a time, I watched a man play through Brave New World. And this man was known for, among other things, his tendency to power-level his way through games (the above-mentioned "grinding" issue) well beyond the point of them providing any reasonable challenge whatsoever. And as I watched him play through the end of the game with a team of over-developed characters all pimped out with equipment that prevented enemies from afflicting them with status ailments, I thought to myself, "...this is quite possibly the most boring thing I've ever witnessed." Status ailments are a staple of turn-based RPGs and the primary "X-factor" that can't be accounted for when looking at raw numbers alone. Anyone who's ever played Pokemon might recognize things like blindness, paralysis, and confusion as one of the biggest mechanics separating an interesting game from "hit the other guy until either he dies or he kills you". However, Pokemon is a rare example of a game where, primarily due to its one-on-one combat system, status effects were implemented and handled well. More commonly in games that possess them, they are either ridiculously overpowered to the point of being exploitative, or useless on the whole since they won't work against anything you'd want to use them against and they (usually) don't work on you since the game hands out ways to defend yourself against them like candy. It's thus a very harrowing tightrope that status effects must walk in order to be a relevant part of game design without completely running away with it. One half of the equation is a simple answer: enemies should make frequent use of them against your characters and there should be no (or very limited) catch-all methods of completely avoiding them. The other half is a bit more tricky. In order for status effects to truly have a place in a player's arsenal, three things must be true: One, there must exist enemies which are threatening enough that the player would want to disable them to make fighting them easier (or even possible). Two, those enemies must also be durable enough that you can't simply dispatch them through direct offense in the same amount of time. Similarly, disabling them should not consume more resources than direct offense would. Three, and perhaps most obviously, disabling your opponent should have a reasonable chance of success. This means that enough enemies must be vulnerable to status effects that players will consider using them. With respect to that third point, it's important to consider exactly how disabling a given status effect is. In Final Fantasy VI, the majority of them are completely debilitating while the rest don't actually do anything due to either bugs or poor design. FF6 commits a particularly egregious sin by making many of its bosses vulnerable to the former type, thus making it an inexplicable example of both wrong ways to handle status effects. Rather, the statuses that stop your enemies dead in their tracks should only work on some regular enemies (about half is a good rule of thumb) and only in boss battles when there are several of them - and even then not on them all. By contrast, the weaker statuses should be resisted uncommonly or not at all, and ideally should be worked into boss battles where possible to make them more interesting. Bad design giveth, and good design taketh away One of the less fun aspects of being a modder of poorly-designed games is that it often feels like taking a flamethrower away from a child after a lazy developer handed it to them and told them to go nuts. Remember that quip I made earlier about how Sprint Shoes don't actually help you avoid battles? Well, there just so happens to exist a well-known piece of "hidden" equipment in the game that does exactly that: the Moogle Charm. In what I consider to be a flat-out admission by Squaresoft that FF6's battle system was not entertaining, they put in a way to negate it entirely. And you'd be amazed (or maybe you wouldn't) at how many players are upset to see it gone in Brave New World. I promised myself that I wasn't going to rip off Mark Rosenwater's Twenty Years, Twenty Lessons speech in this article, but at this point I need to bring it up. In his speech (which I highly recommend watching), Mark talks about the emotional impact that games have on players, and it's through that impact that they become fans. Players want to feel empowered, and nothing has the exact opposite effect on them more than taking away something that's ridiculously overpowered and shouldn't have been there in the first place. Some people will argue that if players didn't want to use it, they wouldn't, but I'll just cut right to the chase on this one and say that self-control is a terrible thing to balance your game around. On a similar note, Mark also cites the process of film editing, stating " scene is worth a line and no movie is worth a scene. If it's not serving the film as a whole, it needs to go." And just as with films, the editing portion of game design is a very important one that is too often overlooked in favor of the "quantity over quality" mentality that Squaresoft is particularly guilty of. There are many things in Final Fantasy VI that are too overpowered for their own good and far more that do nothing at all, and players will complain about removing content if you take any of it out. But you should. Everything in your game should have a purpose, or else it needs to go. "Less is more" is a philosophy that I live by, and as such it's almost always better to look at doing what you can with what you have than try to add more. It's all about choices The concept of "fun" in a game, or at least one that favors strategy over dexterity and/or stamina, can ultimately be boiled down to a single word: choice. Choice is what drives a game like Final Fantasy VI if it wants to be anything more than a 16-bit movie where you occasionally have to press "A" to progress. It's also where FF6 drops the ball the hardest, despite providing an illusion to the contrary. Final Fantasy VI boasted the largest cast of characters of any JRPG of its time, each with their own unique stats and skills, and the possibilities to customize them through the game's esper system, not to mention its vast array of weapons and armor, seemed almost limitless. But the holes in this facade were already discussed at length earlier: stats do nothing, magic was the only thing worth focusing on, and the esper system allows every character to learn any spell that they want, thus rendering the cast entirely homogeneous. For there to exist meaningful choice in a game, there must be a difference in what you are choosing from. "Diversity" isn't just a corporate buzzword: it's the spice that brings games like Final Fantasy to life. And by restricting access to which characters can use which espers, Brave New World provides meaningful choices to the player that didn't exist in the original game. It may sound counter-intuitive, but restrictions on the choices you make are what make them choices in the first place. If you were offered a million dollars with absolutely no drawbacks whatsoever, then it's not exactly a choice, now is it? The same would be true if you were given the choice between one of a dozen different options, all of which were equally terrible or useless. Final Fantasy VI, again, manages to do both of these things. I draw much of my inspiration from games such as the original Final Fantasy or the Might & Magic series, where you select a party of characters at the outset of the game and how it progresses varies wildly depending on that initial choice. And that constant, nagging thought of the "road not taken" is what lures a player back in to your game after they've finished it, and often times even before that. "Replay value" is a term that gets thrown around a lot with regards to video games, and with good reason: you want to get the most out of that fifty bucks you dropped on them, after all. It's because of this that I for so long resisted the addition of a "respec" system in Brave New World, where players can wipe a character clean in the late-game and rebuild them with different espers. If a choice can be so easily undone, I reasoned, then the player would not feel their lasting impacts and the choice itself would therefore be meaningless. I eventually acquiesced on the condition that this process be made to cost resources - an apparent violation of my "time consumption is not difficulty" rule, but appropriate in this case since the investment of time would cause a player to rethink an attempt to rebuild their characters frivolously. Partial information is a sin What ultimately tipped my hand and convinced me to go along with the "respec" system was the notion that players were unlikely to replay a ROMhack like Brave New World as they would an ordinary game, and that new players would not know enough about the game as they progressed through it to make truly educated decisions about how to develop their characters. While I still don't entirely agree with this reasoning, it does segue well into my next point. Players make choices based on the information they have, and lacking that information, will be forced to do so blindly. Failing to provide players with the resources they need to make intelligent decisions will reduce your game to "guess how many fingers I'm holding up", which is rarely anyone's idea of fun. It's a less-extreme example of a "leap of faith" in a more action-oriented game, wherein players are forced to progress literally by making jumps that they have no possible way of knowing whether or not they will survive. In ye olden times, RPGs would frequently come packaged with "feelies" such as manuals, fold-out maps, and various charts of information that could not be easily provided in-game due to technical limitations. Brave New World includes such peripherals, but in addition also modifies the game's shopping interface to severely limit the amount of up-front information the player is given about items. "Why", you ask? Because the partial information that was provided in the original is far worse than providing none at all. Prior to the hack devised for Brave New World's 1.10 release which allows players to review all of the relevant information about an item prior to purchase, we initially deliberately provided none at all. The key is that in providing players only with partial information, they are not aware of what they are not being told and will make uninformed decisions based on what they do know. If a player is instead told nothing, they know that there is information they don't know and will (generally) choose to seek it out. Put me in, Coach! Speaking of characters and decisions that aren't necessarily permanent, we come to an issue that has plagued almost every game, or at the very least every RPG, that has ever allowed you to change your characters at will throughout. "Benchwarmer Syndrome" as I like to call it is a problem that it often addressed in games, but almost never successfully. The dilemma is simple: "how do I encourage players to partake of every character they are given control of instead of favoring a selected few while ignoring the others?" Perhaps a better question is "should I?" Now, in a game like Super Mario Bros. 2, where your characters do not become any more powerful through continued use, this isn't a problem: you simply select a character for each stage whose unique talents best suit your approach. But in basically any RPG ever, the strong getting stronger and the weak getting weaker is a severe problem. Final Fantasy VI is a notable example due to its exceptionally large cast: twelve characters (plus two hidden characters, bringing us to a total of fourteen) with only four of them being controllable at any given time. Squaresoft's answer in the case of FF6 was to provide "leaked" experience to all inactive characters so that everyone grows more powerful regardless of whether or not they are actively used combined with a final stage that forces you to utilize all twelve of them concurrently. It's not a bad solution, all said and done, but it is a double-edged sword. The inherent issue with leaked experience is that it equally encourages NOT using your benched characters since they will grow with or without your help and players tend not to use benched characters unless they're forced to. Other games have tried more innovative approaches, such as the "wagon" in Dragon Warrior IV allowing your benched characters to replace active ones at a moment's notice (a great idea in theory, but under-developed in practice) or Breath of Fire III's "master" system encouraging the use of your "B" team with masters whose primary benefits (stat gains) did not mesh with your favorite characters but whose secondary benefits (new skills) could ultimately benefit them. Notably, BoF3's cast was also half the size of FF6's with a much more favorable ratio (2:1) of total characters to those allowed in your current team. Ultimately, we chose to forgo leaked experience with Brave New World both to encourage the varied use of a cast that is now actually as diverse as it claimed to be in the original game, as well as the fact that the way it utilizes espers to further develop characters beyond mere basic growth sort of has to be done the old-fashioned way of actually using those characters in battle. However, that's not to say that our answer is the right one. Unlike every other topic I've brought up thus far, I'm not offering a solution to this one: just thinking points. How a game chooses to handle this problem ultimately rests on the answers to many other questions, all of which this article has gone on far too long to get into now. Above all else, have fun At last, we get to the absolute most important aspect of game design there is: make the game that you want to play and have fun while you're doing it. My favorite piece of advice to give anyone in their creative endeavors is to stay true to your own vision, and others will follow. If you make your game trying to please anyone other than yourself, then it will fail. To that end, it's readily apparent to anyone who plays Brave New World that it's a hack created first and foremost to amuse its creators. While we receive occasional frequent criticism for some of the jokes and referential humor it contains, what is never contested is how funny I thought a joke was when I wrote it. People can tell the difference between someone who is making a joke because they're trying to be funny and someone who makes a joke because they are genuinely amused by it. Understand the truth in that, and you will understand the key to winning peoples' hearts. In the end, making a game is just like being a rock star: if you're not having fun, you're doing it wrong. (And also, if you're really good at it, you get groupie sex.)
  3. Celes Chere Dog of the Empire BASE STATS Vigor: 36 / Magic: 36 / Speed: 36 / Stamina: 36 HP: 120 / MP: 30 BatPwr: 32 / Def: 42 / M.Def: 30 / Evade: 12 / M.Evade: 6 EQUIPMENT Weapons: Swords, Maces, Thrown Weapons --- Shield: Heavy Shields, Light Shields, Elemental Guards Head: Helmets, Veils, Crowns, Hats Body: Heavy Armor, Medium Armor, Dresses, Robes, Vests SKILLS Runic - nullify the next black, gray, or white spell cast by any character (friend or foe) and absorb its MP cost ??? - Stamina/HP ESPERS Ramuh - Vigor+2 ----------------------------- 32 MP: bolt damage (Magic) on all foes Siren - Magic+1/Speed+1 ---------------- 16 MP: sets Bserk on all foes Shiva - Magic+2 ----------------------------- 32 MP: ice damage (Magic) on all foes Phantom - Vigor+1/Stamina+1 ------- 16 MP: sets Vanish on party Seraph - HP+30/MP+15 ---------------- 80 MP: sets Rerise on party Crusader - HP+60 ------------------------ 80 MP: dark damage (Magic) on all foes Alexandr - Stamina+1/Speed+1 --- 99 MP: massive holy damage (Magic) on all foes SPELLS Ice (lv. 6) Ice 2 (lv. 12) Ice 3 (lv. 24) Bolt Bolt 2 Bolt 3 (lv. 30) Holy Merton Demi Quartr (All of Celes's black spells except Demi/Quartr scale with Magic) --- Rasp Bserk Slow Safe (lv. 21) Haste Float Scan (lv. 9) Dispel (lv. 15) --- Cure (lv. 1) - Magic Cure 2 - Magic Life Rerise Remedy - Stamina Regen - Stamina
  4. UPDATE: the beta cycle for 2.0 has at this point drawn nearly to a close. There are a few outstanding issues and undelivered updates (listed in purple in the below changelog), but for the purposes of anyone who's been waiting for a finalized version, the current beta patch is pretty much that in all but name at this point (with an extra-special thanks to Bropedio for making it all happen). If you're interested in playing it, please check the pinned messages in the #Brave-New-World channel in our Discord server. What's new in 2.0:
  5. While BNW 2.0 isn't yet "officially" released, the beta version is currently largely finalized with only inconsequential changes left to be made and we've reached the point of steering all new players towards playing it. So with that, I unveil the brand-new MVP thread for a new version, now with more voting options! Please do take a minute to vote for your favorite character(s) after playing (and please do actually finish the mod before you do) since it's more than just a popularity contest - it's extremely useful feedback for gauging how well the characters are balanced.
  6. The suspense is killing me

    No, you just need to say something in genchat and have someone give you a regular role. It's an anti-'bot thing.
  7. The deserts are still the best all-around grinding spots.
  8. Who's your MVP?

    Exactly what the title says - which character got the most use and/or contributed the most in your last playthrough? It'll be interesting to see how the results of this poll differ from the one on the ID forums, which is is somewhat corrupted by the fact that it's been up since forever and most of its votes were cast based on older versions of Brave New World.
  9. Who's your MVP?

    With 1.9 on its way out, it's time to go ahead and lock this old pupper up. Thanks to everyone who voted - hope to see you again in the 2.0 thread.
  10. The suspense is killing me

    Yeah, there's a link in our Discord.
  11. Well, the unified equip screen is now in and you'll notice a very distinct lack of purple entries (not yet delivered) in the changelog in the initial post. In other news, I've recently posted an article about good boss design in RPGs, specifically discussing Atma Weapon and Kaiser's 2.0 rewrite. It's not TOO spoilery for the latter as what I discuss is mostly limited to what you are given as a hint from a random NPC on how to beat Kaiser (information without which the fight is something out of the tenth circle of Hell).
  12. RPG Boss Design 101

    With the 2.0 release of Brave New World just around the corner and one of its most prominent changes being a complete overhaul of enemy AI, I wanted to take a moment to talk specifically about how to design a good boss fight in an RPG. Now, anyone who's played Brave New World at all in the six years since its initial release can generally agree on at least one thing: Atma Weapon is the fight to watch out for. He's big, he's mean, he caps off the first half of the game in an epic fight with its own special music, and I set out to make sure that every bit of that distinction was earned. All of the other bosses in Brave New World have slowly evolved over time to get to where they are now, but Atma in particular has barely changed at all for fear of fucking with the gold standard that I was holding everything else I was designing to. And that's particularly interesting since, when I wrote it, I really didn't know what the hell I was doing. There are many ways to go about making your boss difficult, most of which fall under the definition of "fake difficulty" and should be avoided. More important than if something is hard is why it's hard - I'm not going to complain if you have an erection, but I will be concerned if you got it from stabbing children. Giving your boss more hit points (beyond a certain threshold) does nothing except needlessly prolong the fight and, while random elements are necessary, relying too heavily on them will turn your fight into a luck-based mission. There are several reasons that Atma works despite the fact that his AI is not particularly complex or interesting by my current standards: most importantly, he uses a wide variety of attacks that are both directly and indirectly offensive, and his stats are fine-tuned to my personally-suggested guideline of, "make the fight just hard enough that you, the developer can beat it, but only barely, and then dial it back a notch". But even this is just scratching the surface of what really makes the fight tick. At their core, battles in RPGs are nothing more than a balancing act of priorities. At their most simplistic, those priorities are defense and offense. Will my character be able to survive another hit? If not, then heal, else attack. A third priority often comes into play in the form of a limited resource, most commonly MP for magical abilities, that might force you to think one more turn ahead. You can see right away that this isn't particularly deep, especially when that third priority isn't stressed hard enough either because MP is so plentiful or consumable items are so abundant to the point of never being an issue (extra demerits if said items are just as good as or better than any character-specific abilities that they imitate). Sadly, many RPGs are comprised of battles which are barely if at all evolved beyond the point of "hit the bad guy until it dies" - unsurprisingly, such games tend to be regarded by their fans for their stories rather than for their gameplay. I've stated in the past that status effects are the "X-Factor" separating an interesting battle system from a pure numbers game, and this is where we dive head-first into that concept at work. By expanding the above list of priorities to include both positive and negative effects on the player character as well as the opponent, suddenly there's a lot more to juggle. Indeed, Atma Weapon is a battle where negative statuses are applied liberally to the player while positive ones are periodically stripped by force. Atma himself gains status buffs halfway through the fight that the player can opt to remove. However, this is immediately followed up by a particularly devastating attack that will require action to recover from, thus effectively dividing the player's attention. Initially, these buffs were a one-time application which would simply reward any player who thought to remove them; the only significant change that Atma has seen in the last six years was my realization that a "set and forget" approach to this particular element meant that it didn't end up factoring into the player's list of priorities. In order for those buffs to be part of the great balancing act, they had to be a persistent factor throughout the fight, and thus a new core mechanic of the battle is preemptively dispelling those buffs at set intervals. The final ingredient in what makes the battle with Atma Weapon particularly rough is his inherent ability to regenerate health. That it makes the battle more challenging is obvious, but it's again important to note why. Looking at the player's list of priorities, we see now quite a few things: offense, healing, resource management, buffs and debuffs... but this can all still be simplified to "get on your feet and then attack", meaning that the player can adopt a heavily defensive approach to greatly minimize the risk of defeat. With the enemy afforded the capability to heal, however, offense can no longer be completely de-prioritized and becomes woven into the fight's balancing act in a way that it otherwise wouldn't. Other fights in Brave New World take different approaches to this problem, most notably Phunbaba's "rage timer" that earns the player a face full of Blow Fish if they go for too long without attacking, regardless of how powerful that attack is. So, where does good boss design have to go from here? We must look past offense simply existing as a single priority and break it down into several of them, else offense is a simple matter of "hit the bad guy with the strongest attack you have" since there's generally no benefit in not using the strongest attack available. This is a concept that the original game attempted to explore with "wallchange" bosses which would periodically shift their elemental weaknesses at random while gaining immunity to every other element. Unfortunately, it didn't quite pan out as they'd hoped since players found it preferable to simply ignore the gimmick by spamming non-elemental attacks. Even when Brave New World took this concept one step further by preventing non-elemental damage and thus forcing the mechanic on the MagiMaster boss, the result was more of a gear check than an interesting or challenging fight. So clearly, there was a flaw to this approach. Enter Kaiser, king of the dragons and famous dummied-out boss from the original game who finally got his global debut as one of many questionable additions to the GBA re-re-release of Final Fantasy VI. He also appears in Brave New World as a third "wallchange" boss who somehow ended up even less interesting than the two who preceded him. Of all the boss fights to get a complete rewrite in 2.0, none were as significant or as needed as Kaiser's, which basically takes the "wallchange" gimmick and makes it proactive instead of reactive. The elemental premise still exists here, but rather than waiting in boredom for a weakness to present itself the player must instead actively cycle through their available attacks in order to prevent Kaiser from unleashing its real ultimate power. It's an extremely hectic fight that, moreso than any other in Brave New World, tests the player's ability to balance multiple priorities if they are to have any hope of pulling through. And for the closest thing that Brave New World has to an optional superboss, I would accept no less.
  13. Not really. Best I can tell you is that the current beta is the final version in all but name.
  14. Here's a little preview of that equip screen hack GrayShadows is working on:
  15. BNW Randomizer

    Not exactly sure how well the randomizer is going to play with 2.0 (soon to be released), so I'm gonna go ahead and unpin this pending an update from @abyssonym (should it happen).
  16. Hey, there everybody. As most of you are aware, Brave New World 2.0 has been in development for awhile. And now, the beta is finally here. This is a thread specifically for the testing process and to track the bugs that occur. If you are interested in playing the 2.0 beta please hop into our Discord and request the tester role - you'll be notified when the beta is released and the role can be used to report issues/concerns and communicate with the other testers. Otherwise, the CURRENT STABLE VERSION OF BRAVE NEW WORLD IS STILL 1.9. CURRENT BETA VERSION: RC-27-Bro --- (check the pinned post in Discord for a link) (NOTE: editing the ROM in FF3usME disables all custom event scripting within a certain range at the end of bank CC, causing game crashes - DO NOT EDIT THE ROM in usME) MAJOR BUGS: • The vigor/stamina variance formula breaks at 85, leading to characters taking much more damage than intended (fixed in RC-27-Bro - will require re-testing in RC-28) • Intangir's (AKA "SrBehemoth") mid-battle switch can crash the game if the "esper" spell select is being loaded at the same time (fixed in RC26) • Tier 3 in the final battle has the incorrect stats, making death mostly an inevitability (fixed in RC-25) • RC-22/23: The fight ends prematurely during Intangir's transition to Intangir Z (fixed in RC-24) • If Intangir is imped when transitioning to Intangir Z, the latter's sprite will not properly load and can cause softlocks (can't be duplicated) • RC-21: Steal does not seem to be working properly (fixed in RC-22) • RC-19: Mind Blast is looping for every possible status, making any boss that uses it (Atma Weapon) essentially unbeatable (fixed in RC-21) • RC-19: the Imperial Camp sequence is (practically) unwinnable due to Soldiers having corrupted stats (fixed in RC-20) • Cleave and X-Zone were very buggy and could potentially softlock the game (fixed in RC-18) • Rages are not listed alphabetically in battle and some are not displaying out of battle (fixed in RC-18) • Sap damage is much lower than it should be on player characters (fixed in RC-18) • RC-15 would crash if the Imp effect was ever applied (fixed in RC-16) • RC-14 was missing an important piece of code for bosses (fixed in RC-15) • RC-13 was cursed (solution: skipped ahead to RC-14) • All outgoing damage from players is ~10% higher than it should be (fixed sometime between RC-11 and RC-13) • Items are sometimes not dropping from enemies as they should (fixed in RC-13) • Unusuable "dummy" items randomly populate in the player's inventory (fixed in RC-13) • Damage/healing numbers occasionally/frequently do not show up (fixed in RC13) • There appears to be some pretty heavy lag after most/all attacks (fixed in RC13) • The third fight with Ultros is unwinnable due to an error in his script (fixed in RC-12) • Game just crashes in battle for no reason (RC-9 only; fixed in RC-11) • Blackjack (the slot result, not the airship) crashes the game (fixed in RC-11) • Enemies do not seem to be taking extra damage from fire elemental weaknesses (elemental mixing hack removed from RC-9; re-added in RC-14) • The game softlocks after any battle after obtaining espers (RC-7 only; fixed in RC-8) • Game is randomly(?) softlocking after battle (fixed in RC-7) • Terra softlocks the game in the intro flashback sequence (fixed in RC-7) • Regen ticks are very low (fixed in RC-7) • The crane battle never ends, thus softlocking the game (fixed in RC-6) • XP gains are lower than they should be, significantly so at higher levels (fixed in RC-6) • "Slots" crashes the game when used (fixed in RC-5) • Whatever the fuck is going on here (fixed in RC-5) • Damage is VERY low (ex. Dadaluma) in some cases (fixed in RC-5) • The in-battle status display is incorrectly reporting several statuses (Muddle -> Rerise; Shell -> Stop; Haste -> Sap) (fixed in RC-5) • If you save at the point after the minecart ride and relaunch the game entirely, everyone gets innate slow (fixed in RC-5) • Characters seem to be taking much lower damage in battle than intended (fixed in RC-4) • Melee counter-attacks are not correctly targeting the attacker (fixed in RC-4) • Drain effects are not working properly (fixed in RC-4) • Goggles (possibly other status relics) are not blocking the intended statuses (fixed in RC-3) MINOR BUGS: • The "unequip imp" in the scenario select screen is sometimes not being hidden when a scenario is selected (may be fixed in RC-28... or the game might explode) • Some formations will look weird as pincer attacks (all fixed - thanks, Hero) • Magic attacks have an effective 1% miss rate against enemies (fixed in RC-27-Bro) • Intangir Z and Prometheus do not have Sketches assigned (fixed in RC-27-Bro) • SlowX has the incorrect targeting flags set (fixed in RC-27-bro) • Jackpot and Stray are not correctly targeting dead allies (fixed in RC-27-Bro - will require re-testing in RC-28) • Multi-elemental attacks (i.e. Giga Volt - Wind/Bolt) are not dealing half damage if one of the two elemental are resisted (fixed in RC-27-Bro) • Aurabolt/Empowerer are not doing halved damage from the back row as intended (fixed in RC-27-Bro) • When the Rage status is removed via a Green Cherry, status resistances are not properly recalculated (fixed in RC-27-Bro) • Dragon (the Bushido) does not have the correct rate for random petrification (fixed in RC-27-Bro) • The Witch enemy's special attack is improperly flagged and will thus always miss (fixed in RC-27-Bro) • The Ragnarok equip bonus (+25% magic output) is not functioning (fixed in RC-27-Bro) • Stamina dodging for MT attacks does not appear to work as intended (fixed in RC-27-Bro) • Grav Bomb always misses on non-floating targets (fixed in RC-27-Bro) • Seraph is not properly blocking the "Zombie" status (fixed in RC-27-Bro) • Fenrir incorrectly adds +1 M.Evade (fixed in RC-27-Bro) • X-fight is disallowing MP auto-crits (i.e. Daryl's Soul cancels the special effects of the Viper Darts) (fixed in RC-27-Bro) • Carbunkl, Seraph, and Phoenix are incorrectly giving 20 MP per EL instead of 25 (Carbunkl) or 15 (Phoenix/Seraph) (fixed in RC-27; Ph/Se are giving 14 MP, fixed in RC-27-Bro) • The random encounter rate sometimes skyrockets right after the Mine Cart Ride for about eight battles (fixed in RC-27-Bro) • Edgar, please, not in front of the children (should be fixed for good in RC-27-Bro) • Brushes re-target to enemies instead of friendlies on death (fixed in RC-27-Bro) • The Demonsbane and Tarot "kill undead" procs are not using the correct animation (fixed in RC-27-Bro) • The Chainsaw and Ichimonji/Zantetsuken death procs are not using the correct animation (fixed in RC-27-Bro) • Kaiser's script has a nested conditional that is causing problems (fixed in RC-27) • Lakshmi doesn't appear to do anything during her turns (fixed in RC-27) • The Kagenui has the incorrect stats before recruiting Shadow (purely visual bug; fixed in RC-27) • Puff Goo incorrectly hits itself when blinded (fixed in RC-27) • Manticores do not have MP to use Aqualung in the Colosseum (fixed in RC-27) • Face and Short Arm (final battle, Tier 1) have swapped positions (fixed in RC-27) • The solution to the Tombstone Puzzle in Daryl's Tomb is backwards (fixed in RC-26) • The in-battle "Rage" scrollbar stops one quarter of the way down the window (fixed in RC-26) • Mudcrabs are not properly flagged to not appear on the Veldt (fixed in RC-26) • ??? is not properly flagged to ignore defense (fixed in RC-26) • Intangir Z is dropping 2 Kagenui's (fixed in RC-26) • Behemoth/Diablos are incorrectly vulnerable to Bserk (fixed in RC-26) • Chimera/Manticore/Sphinx are incorrectly vulnerable to Sleep (fixed in RC-26) • Scan will sometimes spit out garbage after appropriate scans (could not replicate) • Ultima hits itself with Full Force (fixed in RC-25) • The "unequip" NPC in the scenario select screen does not unequip Cyan after Sabin's scenario (fixed in RC-25) • Final Kefka's script has an error causing his counter-attack routine to cease after the first cycle (fixed in RC-25) • The "Blind" status is causing the "Jump" command to do half damage from the back row (fixed in RC-24) • Imped enemies are not properly reverting to their original sprites when cured (LeetSketcher's hack was not working; removed for now - RC-28 will have a fix for Tonberry/Master T) • RC23: the Noiseblaster is (randomly?) Chainsawing enemies to death (fixed in RC-24) • Bouncy Balls do 0 damage (fixed in RC-24) • An error in their scripts cause Asura and Isis to never enter their final attack phases (fixed in RC-24) • Landslide will still inflict the "Slow" status on floating targets that it misses (fixed in RC-23) • The "Hobo" line of enemies may attempt to use a Tonic on dead allies instead of properly re-targeting (RC-23 has healing items re-target on death) • The Soldier rage has Cure 2 as the uncommon attack instead of the common (fixed in RC-23) • There is a small error in the Sphinx enemy script that affects its behavior (fixed in RC-23) • The Diablos enemy in Kefka's Tower is using the incorrect targeting for Cyclonic (fixed in RC-23) • Inferno's arms are less aggressive than intended due to a scripting error (fixed in RC-23) • Incorrect dialogue appears in the Guardian and Final Kefka battles (fixed in RC-23) • There is a small error in Kaiser's script which may make it more difficult for players to figure out how to fight him (fixed in RC-23) • The "unequip" NPC in the scenario select screen appears on the same tile that Mog spawns on (fixed in RC-22) • The Tzen relic shop has the wrong wares in the WoR (fixed in RC-22) • The Tentacles will not correctly update the position of characters when grabbing them and will drop them off to the top left of the screen (fixed in RC-22) • The chest that should contain Setzer's Viper Darts instead contain a second Tarot (fixed in RC-22) • Tentacle B has the wrong elemental settings (fixed in RC-21) • 024 does not properly respond to having Dispel cast on it (fixed in RC-20) • The Atlasphere enemy is not correctly updating its AI (fixed in RC-20) • The Royal Jacket still blocks fire damage (fixed in RC-20) • RC-19: a certain zone in the (WoR) Serpent Trench has no enemy encounter data (fixed in RC-20) • The Haste status (invisibly) cycles through with the Safe/Shell/Reflect statuses (fixed in RC-19) • MP damage is incorrectly triggering melee counters (fixed in RC-19) • The select button acts as L/R for multi-targeting (vanilla behavior, but it conflicts with the HP/ATB view hack; fixed in RC-19) • Exploder is randomly targeting the entire party when Gau rages Bomb and is also doing the wrong amount of damage (fixed in RC-19) • The Bserk spell animation is slightly buggy (fixed in RC-19) • Green-D's timed attack is misspelled (fixed in RC-19) • Antlion's special attack is not correctly flagged to deal no damage (fixed in RC-19) • The 777 Slot spin has the incorrect name (fixed in RC-19) • Lv. 9 Mages, Didalos, and Phunbaba have no Sketch attacks assigned (fixed in RC-19) • Tiny Tims have no common steal set (fixed in RC-19) • Banshees have the incorrect status immunities (fixed in RC-19) • The Mantra formula is broken (fixed in RC-18) • The Monet and Dali brushes have the incorrect spells (fixed in RC-18) • The armor shop at Thamasa sells two sets of Gold Armor (fixed in RC-18) • The 7-7-7 Slot spin is not targeting live characters as it should (fixed in RC-18) • Chesticle incorrectly drops two Frostgores (fixed in RC-18) • The guest in the Wrexsoul fight incorrectly spawns on top of a Soulblazer (fixed in RC-18) • A bug in Zone Eater's AI causes it to hit itself under certain circumstances (fixed in RC-18) • Mind Blast was causing issues with turn order after being used (hack removed from RC-17 for debugging) • Chesticle has no MP to cast its spells (fixed in RC-17) • One area of the Serpent Trench has the wrong pack assigned and another zone near Kefka's Tower has none at all (fixed in RC-17) • The "Empty" inventory command did not work in RC-16 (fixed in RC-17) • Shadow initializes with 999 MP (fixed in RC-13- will require a new save to be effective) • The 3x Wasp formation is improperly flagged as leapable (fixed in RC-13) • Bedevil (dance step) is missing the "redirection" flag (fixed in RC-13) • Terra's attack in the flashback sequence has no name (fixed in RC-12) • Fire Dance engulfs the targets in a cleansing warmth that soothes their wounds (fixed in RC-12) • Two NPCs in the Beginner's School are calling the wrong captions (fixed in RC-12) • Terra uses weird/wrong attacks in the flashback sequence with Kefka (fixed in RC-11) • Terra and Celes learn several incorrect spells through leveling (fixed in RC-11 - will require a new save to be effective) • The Rizopas fight can be trivialized by paralyzing with Suplex (fixed in RC-11) • “Gauge: Off” config setting doesn’t work in battle (maxHP shows briefly, then switches to ATB gauge as default) (fixed in RC-9) • The new save point in the Ancient Castle has no assigned sprite (basically: it's functional, but invisible) (fixed in RC-9) • Weird graphical errors with the Bushido meter flashing (fixed in RC-7) • The second (new) save point in the Cave to the Sealed Gate does not work (fixed in RC-7) • The Apocyllumina event is broken due to a blank caption where a choice is supposed to be made (fixed in RC-7) • Fanfare music plays in Terra’s flashback after killing soldiers (fixed in RC-7) • Cyan cannot equip Crusader; can equip Alexandr instead (fixed in RC-6) • Ghost Rings/Ribbons do not protect against Stop as they should (fixed in RC-6) • Empty enemy formations appear in the Serpent Trench (WoR) and Cave to Figaro Castle (fixed in RC-6) • The Magitek menu (appears in the first fight) has a bunch of "???????" options (fixed in RC-5) • Antlions (enemies outside Figaro Castle) have no regular battle script (fixed in RC-5) • The Shell spell sets Stop instead of Shell (fixed in RC-5) • Fire Dance (Blitz) does nothing (fixed in RC-5) • The special attack on Gau's "Soldier" rage does nothing (fixed in RC-5) • Kefka uses the wrong line if beaten at Narshe via an alternate win condition (fixed in RC-5) • When Giants use Magnitude on death, the targeting is incorrect (fixed in RC-5) • The armor shop at Narshe starts selling Antidotes post-IMTRF (fixed in RC-5) • Banon is wearing a "dummy" item instead of armor (fixed in RC-4) • Zeigfried is dropping a "dummy" item after he dies (fixed in RC-4) • Several NPCs in Mobliz are exhibiting... odd behavior (fixed in RC-4) • Spirit Claws are randomly casting Stop instead of Slow (fixed in RC-4) • Characters with the "Vanish" status may have it randomly removed for no reason (fixed in RC-3) • Terra, Biggs, & Wedge do not properly have the MagiTek status in the game's intro (fixed in RC-3) • The config menu is displaying the wrong version (BNW 1.9.0) (fixed in RC-2) NOT BUGS: • All of the special MagiTek commands are gone except for Tek Laser and Heal Force • Whelk dies in one round; there's no need to drag this fight out to "teach" players about ATB • The ATB bar no longer turns yellow when full; rather, the design of the end-caps will change • Enemies beyond the ones outside of Narshe/Figaro Castle no longer counter Steal by murdering Locke • You no longer wear MagiTek armor in the third segment of Cyan's Nightmare • The Cranes have no death animations (RC-24 adds text boxes to indicate that they have been disabled) KNOWN ISSUES (WILL NOT BE FIXED): • Banon will show up in the back row if Wedge was placed in the back row during the opening sequence • Rizopas can be skipped entirely if the last Piranha is killed with a counter-attack • The "shop preview" hack looks a little wrong for tools and causes some slowdown • Enemies will not counter dual-wield melee attacks if one of the weapons involved ignores row OR if the last weapon strike procs a spell • The new save point at the Ancient Castle is grey for some reason • Certain enemies can die individually under certain circumstances instead of simultaneously; can be annoying if they appear in large groups (*) *This is fixable but requires scripting space; therefore, only the most egregious cases will be addressed; please post any that you think need it BALANCE ISSUES: • Character ATB bars start half-full in back/pincer attacks, which is actually a stealth buff to slower characters (fixed in RC-27-Bro) • Blackjack (the Slot spin) is a little overpowered against most randoms (RC-27-Bro lowers its power back down to what it was in 1.9) • Many random encounters in the mid-WoR are a little too easy to steamroll with AoE damage (RC-27-Bro bumps up enemy HP in some places) • The Autocrossbow's low hitrate makes it scale poorly in the later game (Schematics now also set it to perfect accuracy - I have no idea when this got added in) • Shadow is a tough sell for Zozo because of the hiring cost (RC-27-Bro lowers his asking price to 1,000 GP) • May need to edit the scripts of the "Rain Man" line to make it more obvious when their AI has been changed (declined) • Intangir's tendency to counter with Meteo can be bad if the RNG is streaky (dealt with... sort of) • The "Robot" line of enemies respond extremely negatively to being hit by an elemental weakness (declined) • May want to (slightly) increase the HP of the "Jinn" line of enemies (declined; the Blackjack nerf addresses the possibility of OHKOing Jinns) • Sun Bath/Harvester are very weak when regular enemies use them (addressed in RC-27) • The Nightshade/Belladonna enemy group is too easily disabled by hitting an elemental weakness (addressed in RC-27) • The Ninja / 2x Dactyl formation on the Floating Continent has too much AoE damage (RC-26 lowers Dactyl's magic power) • Atma/Ultima counter Raid/Osmose/Empowerer as they would any other MP damage (addressed in RC-26) • Dullahan's S.Cross does a lot of damage (RC-26 lowers Dullahan's magic power) • Enemies on the Southern Continent are overtuned (Wyvern and Chickenlip are nerfed in RC-24) • Kaiser can be (somewhat) cheesed through a particular strat (fixed in RC-24) • Heartfire casts Regen on itself, but cannot be sapped (fixed in RC-24) • Ultros 2 may need lower HP (declined) • The Flan rage needs nerf (RC-23 changes the secondary attack from Life 2 to SlowX and move the Flans to after the Ifrit/Shiva battle) • Celes can be back-attacked during her solo segment of the WoR (addressed in RC-21) • Back attacks and pincers are still very overpowering even without taking extra damage from behind (RC-21 increases party's starting ATB in pincer/back attacks) • All incoming magical damage is lower than it should be (this was an error with in my damage calculator, RC-19 adjusted enemy magic power to compensate) • Shiva and Ifrit use Ice 3 / Fire 3 too frequently (addressed in RC-6) • The Telstar fight is a PITA (addressed in RC-11) • The Phantom monster-in-a-box in Locke's scenario (addressed in RC-5; further edited in RC-6) NEW FEATURES: • RC-27-Bro: Celes/Edgar/Setzer/Sabin to re-average to level 18 in the WoR, everyone else to 21 • RC-23: Healing items now re-target on death • RC-26: Enemies that can counter ANY attack no longer counter Scan
  17. Gonna go ahead and lock this up since we've wrapped up every reported bug and all that's left is known in the Discord. For the few remaining undelivered features in the current beta, please see the changelog thread (still pinned).
  18. Might I suggest the Readme:
  19. So, I know things have been quiet here lately, but a surprising amount of eleventh-hour shit has managed to find its way into 2.0, resulting in a rather massive update required to the documentation. The changelog in the initial post has been updated and that is FINAL - anyone who puts in something new that ISN'T one of the purple (not yet delivered) entries is getting an ass full of pipewrench.
  20. Good Morning or Whatever!

  21. [10:57 AM] BTB: Just an update... y'all can safely expect development to be stalled for the next little bit, and that's on both fronts - Bropedio and Synchysi. I'm still poking my head in here, but as far as I'm concerned we're about ready to wrap things up. The beta has everything taken care of save for a few minor bugs and I'm calling it on any new features from this point forward. [10:57 AM] BTB: The current beta is for all intents and purposes what you'll be getting in 2.0, minus some minor changes. [11:08 AM] BTB: Quckfill - in [11:08 AM] BTB: Colosseum alternate - out Weapon swap - in if it works Flee changes - uncertain Translations - untouched
  22. Party comp was a concern when coding Kaiser, and I realized that every possible party has access to at LEAST four elements.