Everlong Review

Thank you for the excellent review! This is actually really great, because it's concise but detailed enough to give players a good idea about what type of game Everlong is, and the flaws and shortcomings that will have to be tolerated to enjoy it.

I absolutely agree the story is generic fantasy, and the game heavily utilizes typical JRPG design and tropes to chase the nostalgia of the SNES era. I'd say there's an overabundance of items and monsters, which has made rebalancing rather difficult, though tinkering with dynRPG has opened up some new possibilities. Many maps are downright embarrassing in their primitive design. To be fair, this project began with RPG Maker 2000, and parallax mapping wasn't much of a thing back then. Making the game more player friendly has always been a prominent goal, and I've had some great suggestions over the years that I implemented, such as Story Mode. I'm always open to new ideas on how to improve Everlong and make it more fun to play!

Everlong Review

The review is much appreciated, zorro. Let me try to comment on some of your points and questions.

I can definitely see how the name changes are confusing if you're familiar with previous versions. The revisions were intended to correct unoriginality and remove the vestiges of the final fantasy fangame roots.

The major story revisions stop after exiting Mariner's Landing when you travel to Eridwell's Refuge. A significant amount of expanded or new scenes for the plot and character development after this point were cut.

Character access to weapons, armor, their skills, and physical attacks versus magic were all rebalanced to create equity. Later in the game when you reach maximum level and recruit an NPC that can rebirth your heroes, all characters can then dual wield weapons and gain access to equipment previously restricted, allowing more play styles.

The amount of money received and the costs of items was reduced by orders of magnitude to make it easier to accumulate a meaningful amount later in the game. Otherwise, it was too easy to max out in the middle of a dungeon and stop earning. Access to the bank in the realm of Purgatory where players could deposit their money originally addressed this, but the process was tedious.

Traders generally accept drops from monsters in the adjacent regions or the previous dungeon, unless they are special traders with rare rewards from Monster Hunter Island or other tough bonus zones. They're mostly meant as an alternative means to acquiring restorative potions, similar to collecting items in hunting grounds, so the player can spend money on equipment first.

Any problems with fonts has mainly to do with the rm2k3 engine. Prior to the official release, players needed to install the fonts for most games to display correctly. I used to include them in the download package, but the fonts are available on this site.

The character stats after battle is the newest addition to Everlong. No other rm2k3 game has this with the default battle system, as it's a custom DynRPG plugin I wrote myself. There's a limited amount of control, but I thought seeing stat gains on level up, and EXP to next level would be useful for players. If you do not like the short stats displayed when you first toggle the menu, this can be disabled via key press. I think it's the period "." button on the numpad, which cycles through short, full, and no display. Check out the controls section under options for more key toggles.

I believe the bug in battles with the "electric" animation was counter attacks being triggered incorrectly. I do believed this was addressed in a patch prior to the current version, so hopefully you won't experience that anymore.

"Tyr-Anon" refers to the nation or land, while "Tyr-Anox" refers to the people, or more specifically the military rulers, both singular and plural. They worship the warrior god Tyr, whom you can acquire as a summon later in the game.

Thanks again for the feedback!

Everlong Review

How about implementing a special item that protects against Backfire or Reversal then? Like, nullifying their effect? There can be at least one in the game for such occasions. It will make battles more bearable.

That's a good idea that should not be difficult to implement. I'll add an accessory in the next update that grants immunity or reduces damage from special attacks, particularly Reversal and Backfire.

Reversal was meant to be dealt with by learning enemy patterns and never healing the entire team to full health. Unanticipated, it's an unfair skill. It's easy to forget or lose your place in a long pattern too, but the penalty is often a total wipe. It's also against conventional wisdom to not keep HP at maximum if possible.

Mitigating Backfire damage can be done through intentionally limiting attack output. This can be achieved by not casting Might, not reducing enemy defenses (Armor Break), or equipping lower damage weapons. These tactics again run counter to usual strategy, however, and apparently are another unwelcome addition to battle strategy.

I just remembered when I increased the damage cap, the resulting potential increase in damage returned against the player via Backfire and Retaliate was a major balance concern. Thanks for your feedback, I will definitely address these skills and any others that have become too extreme. I was also worried about the potential for exceedingly high damage from other skills like God's Eye that use hero statistics in calculations, which were also uncapped in a recent update.

Everlong Review

Thanks for the review SiegfriedCalibur! It's been awhile since a player posted a review, which I do appreciate, especially the criticism that helps improve the game when possible. You raise some excellent points about Everlong's design failures and weaknesses that I absolutely agree with.

Cliches - the original release was obscene in this respect. In the revisions I've tried to remove plot predictability and insert character complexity, but many planned story sequences were cut. The resulting ends were tied together in a generic manner just for a semblance of coherence to keep the story moving. The retcons also created a mess themselves. The game script would need a complete rewrite to address the situation. I'm most disappointed in the character arcs I never had a chance to include, which would have made the story more personal and engaging. Some of the writing is decent, but during my last play through I too cringed horrifically at times.

Bosses - definitely a joke for RPG veterans who know what they're doing, but I've had many frustrated players contact me about their difficulties, resulting in a nerfing trend over time. Bosses have fixed patterns in addition to random skills to reward player planning and strategy. The most devastating skills are almost always fixed to give players a chance to anticipate and cushion against unfair repetition. There needs to be recovery and regroup periods.

For example, Reversal as you mentioned is particularly nasty, but the Blob always casts it after Vulnerability, so players can prepare and actually use it to heal the team. Of course, a player doesn't know the pattern until after fighting the enemy once, just as they don't know how to prepare for elemental attacks or status effects. I REALLY wanted a plugin to allow changing equipment in battle without turn loss to mitigate this issue because I also disapprove of this mechanic. The assumption is players will at least equip their White Wizard with status and elemental protection to ensure healing and reviving in the face of the unknown. The rest of party can similarly be equipped defensively, or instead increase offense at the expense of being caught off-guard.

That wouldn't address enemy attack patterns, however, so I tried to make only optional bosses have surprises bordering on unfair. I admittedly got carried away with the length and complexity of these patterns, as well as the mechanics of some of the special skills. I often forget the damage formulas myself. That's why I added the Tactics help menu kalledemos mentioned, but that doesn't help players in the middle of battle. I also REALLY wanted scan skills to aid players in exploiting weaknesses and adjusting during battle. I did some preliminary planning, but implementation was not feasible even with DynRPG. Besides attack patterns and special skills, another issue you rightly criticized was counter attacks.

Counter Attacks - There's some serious over powered mechanics I tried to address with counter attacks. For example, Might makes physical attacks insane, so bosses usually have at least one skill to mitigate this enchantment, either by removal or damage (Might Makes Wrong). Initially these skills were part of fixed patterns only, but then I introduced the counter mechanism so enemies could respond immediately to player strategy. In older versions this was incredibly punishing, limited to using constantly triggered damage thresholds.

With DynRPG plugins, counters became more tailored, only triggered when specific skills or elements were used. This is still punishment for smart exploitation of enemy weaknesses, however, which many players have responded negatively to. My idea wasn't to stop players from using these weaknesses, but to encourage them to plan around the resulting backlash. For example, Glen can use Ice Slash and Vetu his best Ice spell against Liquid Flame for massive damage, but this will result in the counter Backfire, a truly devastating return of damage on the next turn. Therefore, these high damage skills should only be used on the same turn during a soft spot in the enemy's attack pattern, when the party is at full health, and in good position to regroup after the counter (Meredith is alive with plenty of AP for healing spells, and Justin can use items to supplement). This is admittedly an overly complex strategy, and clearly not fun for many players.

The easiest response to the counter attack grievances was to give players control of the counter mechanic and adjust it as they saw fit. In the options menu under custom monster balance, the counter attack rate can be set from 0-100%. Eliminate counters entirely and blast the bosses away if that's most enjoyable for you! The difficulty levels also have different counter percentages too. Only Hard Mode has 100% counter rate. I would have liked more ways for players to address the special skills often used as counters, such as reflecting Backfire damage, or breaking an enemy's will temporarily through accumulated damage so it cannot counter for X amount of turns, but that's beyond the engine's mechanics.

Magic vs Physical - in older versions Magic reigned supreme, but then Might came along and made Physical damage ridiculous. It was difficult to address this with the base RM2K3 formulas, since I was stuck with a particular attribute tag setup to make normal attacks scale higher (weapon multipliers are used). Thanks to DynRPG I was able to change the skills damage formula slightly to improve the Magic attribute's effect, and I overhauled how Attack and Magic change the power of equipped skills (different versions of the same skill depending on the hero's statistics, rather than level).

However, dual wielding and increasing the Attack stat limit again increased physical attack power. In response, Vetu was given the Nucleus item allowing him to double cast, but it has to be the same spell, and it takes his accessory slot (I would have liked more equipment slots). You actually can make Vetu's magic insanely powerful early in the game by ignoring defense and equipping him only with the highest Magic boosting armor, and once you learn his non-elemental spells he's actually better against enemies with high physical damage resistance or immunity, the number of which was increased in the recent update.

Vixen and Drakeor's magical summons fare worse because they cannot equip Nucelus (engine limitation with battle combo mechanic) and their spells are designed as attack all, geared for large groups rather than bosses (another engine limitation, only one target type per skill). I brainstormed additional mechanics where Drakeor could transform into dragon forms or Vixen into avatars of the gods with single attack skills, so earning their summons were more rewarding and battle effective, but these additions were never implemented.

Ultimately I agree magic doesn't balance with physical, especially at the end game. I feel the damage algorithms hamstrung me on this issue. I REALLY would have liked critical hits with magic, or double damage from reflecting spells off yourself.

Character Skills - In general I agree most skills are useless the majority of the time. They are too specific use and costly. Dispel is for rare situations where you must remove boons from bosses; regular enemies usually die too quickly for wasting a turn when you could just deal damage. I would have liked a dual effect where they also lower resistances, but there are engine limits to concurrent effects. Fatal attacks only work against weak enemies you can usually one-shot anyways. I wanted the chance of inflicting Fatal, or other status effects, to increase as heroes powered up, so you could force conditions on otherwise nearly immune monsters if you're strong enough. Again, beyond the engine's limits. By the way, ALL Fatal attacks have the same probability of working, so if it seemed Justin's skills were ineffective versus Willis', that was really bad luck.

I REALLY wanted to make physical skills base their damage off regular attacks, with a small cost for the additional status or elemental effect. This is not possible even with DynRPG because of the aforementioned weapon multipliers. Another thought was an entirely different cost system for physical skills based on building adrenaline during a fight through actions. This way it would take a few turns before the more powerful skills were accessible, but weaker ones could be more effectively spammed or used in a pinch. Not realistic to implement this with the default battle system unfortunately.

As for the other specific skills you mentioned, mass revival is rather over powered, so it never occurred to me to allow White Wizards such a skill. Phoenix is costly to cast and must be earned through a difficult bonus dungeon and optional boss. It also gives Vixen a unique and powerful skill to recommend her specifically. I included an abundance of single and multiple revive items to supplement.

Keen does have two dispel skills, that was an oversight in the last update! I recently changed Prismatic Eye to Dispel for the Fulgora fight in case Drakeor didn't have a spear equipped and couldn't dispel with Jump, thus dooming the party. I'll have to give Keen a different Skill Scroll than Dispel Slash now, thanks for catching that! You could argue Meteor Rain is expensive, so the regular Breaks for Glen are worth using if you only want to inflict a single condition, but if AP is no issue you're correct many earlier skills become redundant.

Rebirth Mechanic - I've never received any complaints about Purgatory before. I removed the Game Over result except from boss fights so that players were not punished if they forgot to save or went unexpectedly unprepared into a dungeon. Losing progress is extremely discouraging. If there are players out there who would prefer a hardcore experience, however, I could include an option to turn off Purgatory. I originally intended the use of Purgatory to necessitate a boss fight against the Grim Reaper before the player is allowed to proceed to the final dungeon, but that was cut.


I hope my (way too long) remarks shed some light on my thought process and decision making that led to the shortcomings in Everlong you reasonably criticize. Regretfully, many are the result of engine limitations, lack of time, or years of revisions. The game is so large and complex at this point it's difficult to address fundamental issues, but hopefully the recent version 3.30 and Beta Patches have made some strides. I'd really have to switch to a new, more flexible engine to make the game I wanted to and address all the issues currently outstanding.

As to the discussion about reviews in general, let's remember Everlong is just an amateur video game made by a single person using a productive but limited engine. Review scores aren't that important, certainly when compared to valid constructive criticism. There shouldn't be any ego involved or need to compare with other games. I've tried to allow players the ability to play the game to their best enjoyment (Story Mode, custom monster balance, adjusting encounter and experience rates, etc), but if you're not having fun don't force yourself to continue playing! All games have their faults, and enjoyment is subjective.

I'm glad you really like and enjoy Everlong! I've tried to make the updates of the last few years player oriented. Many features are the result of player suggestion. Why don't you write up a review too and let us know what you think the strengths of the game are, and the areas you think need improvement? I know it can take awhile to gather and type your thoughts for a review, but I'm always interested in what players have to say, and do what I can within reason to address the glaring issues and bugs.

Everlong Review

Thanks for the review! Even all these years later I find it interesting to see what players think of Everlong, and what I could have done better or perhaps improve in the future. My annual bug fix update is coming soon, but good criticism like yours always makes me consider finding the time to do more extensive work.

You're definitely right that the character development and story has some serious flaws, and some elements were thrown in there hastily. There are several towns like the one you referenced where I just didn't have time to integrate them into the plot and give them individual character. There's like 40 total towns, so I'm guilty of laziness and wanting to move on to designing other things.

Much of the story incoherence and repetition resulted from changing a fan game into something more original in a quick and easy manner. I had so much more planned for adjusting the plot so it was less "here's four more dungeons" and more an engaging mystery you unravel. This was going to involve more hero character development in the first half, and a more personal back story for Expirius and the four legendary heroes later in the game. I think I inserted a little joke about the four quest mechanic, when you get the airship and the mission to gather the aspects, the pilot Diego says "Didn't we already do this?"

Likewise, the heroes were meant to have vastly more development through specific events and flashbacks, but these were mostly cut and my time was spent on improving gameplay. Julia in particular I tried not to fall into the pit you describe, but your criticism regarding her is common, and that's now the number one flaw I'm considering changing.

I'm actually not happy with the level of adjusting the skill system, since it can only be done out of battle. It's not feasible in RM2K3, but I really want players to be able to change equipment and skills, and even party members during combat. Otherwise you have to reset and change strategy prior to engaging in difficult fights, which is a waste of player time.

One last thing, I put that "trailer" together in a few hours as a proof of concept, but never got around to doing something more polished. I don't know if it's a good representation of the game, but I'm glad to hear it gets a simple message across.

Everlong Review

Thanks for writing the review! Since you were so thoughtful and thorough, I thought I'd try to respond to your main points. I agree with pretty much all of your criticism, and would like to give an explanation behind many of the shortcomings.

Story: Everlong definitely has an unoriginal plot, since that wasn't the creative focus and was haphazardly rewritten over time to improve the story slightly. When you don't plan, things become generic and you rely on cliches. I've made some changes over the years and had more in mind, but the plot will never be the game's driving point. As for predictable characters, I had much more on the drawing table in terms of development for each hero. Almost all of that was cut, however, so their individual story-lines are very weak and unsophisticated. I wanted to make them more personally engrossing to compensate for the lack of surprises.

Aesthetics: Many of the sprites and facesets don't match styles as you say, and the monsters are often towering over the hero battlers. Every designer would like consistentcy, but I went for variety which necessiatated mixing and matching. The animations for Keen's skills are different since his abilities are supposed to be illusion magic, but I agree some of them are a little too out there and are more the result of using what was available resource wise. I did limit all the animations to 99 frames or less, however, so they should all execute in a couple seconds. I am aware that for some players their hardware processes the animations at reduced speeds, which would be a pain.

Gameplay: The bosses in the beginning of the game are designed to be simplistic to try and introduce players to basic concepts like elemental weaknesses. If you're a experienced RPG player, however, it won't be challenging or stimulating until later. I've adjusted the early bosses several times because players either find them too easy or too difficult. Status ailments are too devastating to allow against bosses, though I'd like to work around that and just give them reduced durations or effectiveness. I'm still undecided on the counterattack triggers. I don't want to punish players for using smart tactics and exploiting weaknesses, but it's too easy to defeat powerful enemies otherwise. I need more control over the damage algorithms to address this.

Issues concerning the speed and defense attributes, as well as regular attacks versus skill usage fall under the same category. I totally agree that physical attacks are overpowered. I tried to address this with enemy skills that strip the enchanment Might, lower attack power, or increase physical resistance, but it's a fundamental alogrithm problem. RM2K3 uses an attrocious method to calculate battle speed too, and I absolutely understand every player's frustration with the speed attribute and pace of battles. This is the number one thing I'd like to substitute a different algorithm for. Another engine limitation prevents the Magic attribute from having much effect on skills given the damage range. Likewise, Defense is rather unimportant except versus certain enemy skills with custom formulas like Overpower, or the enemies at the end of the game that have high enough attack values to actually influence the default algorithm significantly.

I wanted to introduce more skills for each hero, both for active use and passive benefits, along with chained combos, but this was unrealistic given engine limitations. A "Scan" skill was also beyond reasonable implementation, despite the need to determine which status ailments effect monsters. Each foe has a number of specific conditions that always work along with immunities. These usually follow a pattern depending on the enemy type (reptile, mammal, aquatic), but only the recruitable tactics NPC reveals these. I planned to include an information section in the custom menu like the Codex from Dragon Age or Mass Effect, but that feature was scratched.

I'm glad you did not experience any sense of grind playing Everlong. That was one of my major goals, since I don't think that's a fun way to spend your time as a player, and constitutes a poor design technique to infalte game length. I've actually had criticism about the lack of sidequests, particularly early in the game, and would like to have included more to make NPCs and locations more interesting and engaging.

In short, all your points are legitimate and something prospective players should keep in mind. Unfortunately many of these problems arise from engine limitations beyond my control. In other cases, they are the result of poor planning or cut material, neither of which I can remedy at this time. If you do manage to complete Everlong, I would be interested in hearing your toughts on the later battle and equipment dynamics, since they're vastly different. Thanks again for the feedback.
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