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Update ( 7/23/2012 ) - Upkeep

A peculiar thing I've noticed about Ill Will, in most of my testing, is that the game is probably ideally played twice. That is, both the cutscenes and the gameplay come in two layers.

Cutscenes have a good bit of background activity going on (especially now), and there's a lot of information that seems to be fluff until you read it with proper context in the plot. That was one of the intended goals at the project outset—using dialogue branches to ratchet up replay value—but the nature of the plot eventually evolved into something that invites replaying naturally, if only to get the better handle on the setting and perspective on events that comes with knowing what happens next.

Gameplay-wise, Ill Will was always intended to have a slight New Game Plus feature, for the purpose of making that second playthrough a breeze and letting players pick up missed scenes, Traces, Skills, and other miscellania. The ability to bump up to a higher (or lower!) difficulty on a New Game Plus was a notable incentive, as well. With the realization that the player will take New Game Plus around half the time (for added plot incentive), I began to wonder if I should more fully embrace New Game Plus and litter it with some exclusive content.

If I did so, this would mean a light sprinkle of NGP-only scenes throughout the main narrative, that were originally excluded due to the potential they had to spoil a great deal of the plot. The second time through, a player would be privy to seeing story-critical acts being performed in chronological order, in addition to being told that something had happened or been done during the first playthrough. Of course, this also gives me leeway to add a smattering of superbosses, and everyone loves superbosses.

So, I invite feedback on New Game Plus content. On to the changelist:

  • The Guard command has received a strong nerf, but only when it's used successively. The first use still reduces damage taken to 1/10. Subsequent uses in a row, however, now "only" reduce damage by 1/2, which isn't sufficient to buffer the sorts of charged blows Guard is used to buffer. This makes Guard timing a measurable skill, and allows players to abuse the mistimed guards of their foes.
  • Most (as in 2/3) bosses have had their HP halved or more, but have had their moveset correspondingly widened. The main boss of Tier II is a particularly egregeous example. Generally, expect bosses to kill faster and die faster, although they (usually) don't do either too fast.
  • Several menus have received updates that I never did before, for some reason. (Laziness?) For example, the Trace equipping scene displays the party's level.
  • Lots of dialogue has been shorted or streamlined. Not that cutscenes are anywhere near as short as, say, Demon Tower (♥). Generally, the trimmed lines were simply one character restating what another had said, or lines that needed adjustment in order to sound like natural, spoken English.
  • Exactly two songs have been excised, and four songs have been added.

Basically, I've gotten more done this night and morning than I have in months.


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Circumstance penalty for being the bard.
Psssst it's 2012.
can't make a bad game if you don't finish any games
Let me dream.
can't make a bad game if you don't finish any games
Not to bump, but I'd like to note the two following additional points:

  • Each pair of allies seems viable in all stages of the game, which is outstanding. Any build of MC can find an "optimal" pair, or hotswap between allies, with relative ease. Generally, the choice to alter the active party is a deliberate choice to address troublesome mobs or bosses, and comes with some rearranging of Traces and equipped skills. This is all working as intended.
  • Found an astoundingly simple way to assign multiple turns to an enemy each round of combat. Enemies of this type take all of their turns in a row, at their normal place in the turn order. Some mobs will employ this (especially mobs with extreme mage-type leanings), but this feature will generally be wielded by bosses. Their capacity to force a few more non-damage turns from the player lets me cut HP a bit further, and really drives home the intended playstyle of bosses. No longer will they be shut down by a single elemental shield!
When it comes to commercial games, NG+ can ultimately determine whether or not I even keep a game, let alone play it again. I am fully in favor of extra stuff and whatnot for successive playthroughs.
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