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Bloodstained Hands v5.9.4 launched!

  • Strak
  • 07/10/2022 06:01 PM
The latest version of Bloodstained Hands is now available!

"Another update? Come on, you said it was finished seven updates ago, give it a rest-" NEVER.

Jokes aside, this game has turned into my main creative outlet, and whenever inspiration strikes, I get so motivated to implement a new feature or test my scripting knowledge that I can't put this down. The last few weeks have seen some of my more creative moments, and I've put a ton of work into some new features and mechanics that I'm really excited to share with you all. So, without further ado, here it is! Version 5.9.4!

What's included in the new version? Here's a brief list.
- Modified cutscenes dialogue, pacing, and on-screen interaction
- Modified Inventory sorting for more distinct "pockets"
- Herb bushes in the Caeli Forest will now replenish
- Added "Tonic Leaves" as monster drops at level 99
- Updated the Mission Log to display category names
- Updated the Monster Log to make it easier to switch between Stats and Gallery
- Remodeled the Guide to a similar style as the Mission Log. Added multiple categories for easier sorting, and a new section on skill data
- Added an extra reward for defeating the secret final boss
- Added a gauntlet match to the Sapphane Arena on New Game Plus
- Added a Window Skin changer alongside the Window Color changer in the System Menu
- Replaced one unreadable font with a retro game font
- Updated NPC dialogue and added alternative dialogue
- And various other bug fixes and quality-of-life improvements!

There are a few things I'd like to explain in greater depth here. No real spoilers ahead, I just want to condense the post size, so I'll put it in a hide tag.

So over the last several weeks, I've been working on a number of new systems to address various issues that came up during a casual playthrough of the game. First, I realized that the game basically loses all draw after you hit max level. I addressed this in a previous blog, so check that out for more details, but with this update I've included the Tonic Leaves!

These seven items will drop from any random monster at level 99, with a 1/3 drop rate (regardless of what that monsters previous drop rates were). Unique items that a monster would normally drop won't be changed, but any common item will be replaced. These items give a very small stat boost to whichever ally you use them on. With this mechanic, even after you hit max level you can continue to grow your characters! And you can direct their growth at your discretion! And finally, the Celestial Leaf will only have a 0.5% drop chance, but grants a significant boost to all stats, essentially creating a legendary drop. Maxed out your character and don't need any more EXP? That's okay, there's still an incentive to fight random encounters now!

What next? Well, you remember the Guide? That menu option that detailed various aspects of the game? Honestly, it kind of sucked. The concept was good, but the implementation was awful. It was just a series of text boxes that were difficult to sort, difficult to categorize, and broke the flow of the game in an effort to barely explain some basic game mechanics that most players are already familiar with. So, I went ahead and changed it.

This screenshot is slightly outdated. There is actually a fifth category, it's just not displayed here.

I was doing some work to clean up the Mission Log and Monster Log, making them easier to sort and understand, and I realized that the Mission Log script would be perfect for representing the Guide. I needed to make some heavy modifications, but I basically duplicated the script, cleaned it up, altered a significant amount of the functionality, and re-created the Guide! Now, the Guide will open up a scene that shows five different easily sortable categories, with every guide entry cleanly listed on a sidebar. The Guide content is much more readable and easier to display, and allows for more in-depth descriptions. In addition, I added an entirely new section to the Guide that displays every skill in the game, their statistics, special modifiers, scope, damage, hit rate, etc. But to avoid spoilers, the skills will only be revealed in the Guide if you have a party member that knows that skill or one of its successors. Want to know if a specific Overdrive skill is capable of scoring a critical hit? You can check that. Want to see the hit rate of Flurry? It's there. Want to see just how powerful your best spell is compared to your weakest? All the formulae are listed. It's actually pretty neat.

Okay, so that's Tonic Leaves and the Guide, now what? How about a little more customization in the System Menu?

I got some feedback about the crispness of the menu options, and I went ahead and added a little more customization to choose from. In the last update, you could freely change the window color to whatever you wanted, but I realized that the way I created that script also allowed for you to change the window border and backdrop image while keeping whatever color you chose. So I added four additional window skins to choose from! There's the classic skin, as well as a light, fancy, medieval, and retro skin. And to keep the retro theme, I replaced the last font in the list (which was barely readable anyway) with a retro game font for that classic SNES feel.

Alright, that's pretty good for an update. Anything else?

Sure, how about a new reward for beating the secret final boss? Sure, you can get the save file trophy, but it doesn't give anything more than bragging rights and a way to say "Yep, I beat the game. Did it all." So now, there's a special item that you can get for beating this boss that basically breaks the game. It's not really a spoiler, but basically you can learn a skill that one-shots every enemy in the game, even the final boss. Because why not? By this point, you've done all there is to do. Why not have an item that breaks everything, but is just fun to use?

And while we're at it, why don't we add something fun to do for when you've mastered the combat system? Do you remember the Battle Square at the Gold Saucer in FFVII? You could face a gauntlet of monsters that got progressively more difficult, with modifiers between rounds that could alter your strategy, finishing with a powerful boss. The further you go, the better your reward, but you fight solo. I loved that concept, and found a way to implement it here. After completing the side mission "Death Games," you'll unlock the Special Match on New Game Plus. Speaking to the Orator will give access to this special battle type, where you'll be faced off against a random enemy from each region in the game, scaled to the level of the party leader. Only the party leader can fight, so it's a solo battle, and enemies get stronger after each round. The last round will be a random boss from one of ten different bosses throughout the game. And there are modifiers! In between rounds, you'll roll two dice. Based on the total on the dice, you can get all sorts of different modifiers, such as having your Overdrive locked for the round, to getting an extra ally for the rest of the match! It's a serious challenge for hard-core players, but the rewards are worth it, and more importantly, it's a lot of fun! Test yourself. See how well you do, and how well prepared you are.

And finally, the last major part of this update has to do with dialogue. If you read the article I posted a little while ago titled "Excellence in Narrative: Pacing," you'll see that I've been working on altering the in-game dialogue. Very little of the actual text has changed, but the way that dialogue is paced out is dramatically different. You can still breeze through cutscenes by holding the dash button if you want, but if it's your first time playing, you'll have a much deeper experience. And if you think it's not a big deal, try it with the message sound effect enabled. That one mechanic highlights just how much of a difference this makes. It's hard to explain, but the result is definitely noticeable. In addition to the text pacing, I've also added a little bit more character interaction during cutscenes, as well as custom character sprite expressions during emotional scenes. All of this contributes to a much deeper story, more emotional characters, and an altogether more immersive experience.

And I almost forgot to mention, NPC dialogue has been updated as well. Civilians will now talk about current events, religions, beliefs, geography, even the main character, rather than simple placeholder text such as "Hi! Nice day isn't it?" In addition, almost every NPC has a secondary set of dialogue that they'll alternate between, so be sure to talk to everyone at least twice! You might learn something interesting.

So that's it! There's a ton of cool stuff in this update, and it should all be backwards compatible. I did some pretty thorough testing to make sure that old save files will still work, but if anyone gets any crashes or bugs, please feel free to comment below and I will do my best to fix them as soon as possible! Thanks so much for playing and for all your support!