First bug, and it's a nasty one: http://imgur.com/Jq1oJdk

I'm getting this off a fresh new game. I fought one or two battles, won two Bat Souls, gave one to my first party member and shattered the other. Went back, slept, saved, loaded, and then winning souls me this error and crash the game. It happened twice (Serk, then Sahagin) and then never again. Which is intensely aggravating, because I spent half an hour working on reproducing it with no luck. Argh.

Edit: The actual crash happened when I tried to open the Souls menu, I believe.


Oh, nice! It's been long enough since I played that I've forgotten pretty much everything, so I'm looking forward to going through it again. It sounds like a large update.

Act II+: Seeking beta testers!

Act II+: Seeking beta testers!

I'll help.

Vacant Sky Complete Edition: Act I+ Now Available

Finished it with all sidequests and Auria's special accessory. I didn't notice any bugs, though I did notice two speaker tag errors (the chest in the cave with Kasch has his speaker tag after talking to him, the second conversation with the farmer in Montagne has his last piece of dialogue use Auria's speaker tag). I'm looking forward to the rest.

It seems a little odd that the Oltram and Garas entries are still in the journal, though. You don't visit them on-screen in the revised Act 1, they're never mentioned outside of the journal, and the journal doesn't explicitly say that Auria, Seri and Zaqris passed through them on the way to Barette. Songuil explains itself, but unless the player played the original Act 1, they won't know what these places are or why they're there.

Act I+ Beta: What to expect

I played through the beta. Thoughts:

Furniture in some places isn't solid. There's a number of indoor locations in East Naven, for example, particularly the armor shop, library, and Ned's bar. The Hall of Legends, too.

Librarian in East Naven has an "Test" line spoken by Auria.

I think characters suffer a bit from the cuts. The events around Auria, Seri, and Zaqris heading off together feel a little fuzzy; it'd probably benefit from a little more dialogue at the end of her flashback.

Ejaro seems to say "." at one point during his dialogue after you pick your weapons. In retrospect, that's probably the flashback line that appears in yellow after the Weapon fight, but narration or a thought from Auria would make it a little clearer that there was a line we couldn't hear.

Some journal entries appear too soon, or seem relevant only to the old Act 1 (Oltram, Garas, maybe Virad). Banzdown entry is blank. I don't think some of the quests can be finished (finding George, finding Belladonna), though it's possible I just missed those.

Damage numbers seem wrong; I see "65" appear above Zaqris, and then he's missing 131 HP. The same happens with First Aid, which displays 150 and heals 300.

Cutscene before Weapon fight doesn't seem skippable. That's a bit of a problem, considering that that fight's a pain to win on Veteran. If it's meant to feel like an uphill battle, it certainly accomplishes it; a Ginger Ale and a First Aid barely healed more than he was doing with a single attack, and his critical was apparently doing 1100 damage after the damage number error is taken into account. I wouldn't have been able to win at all if I hadn't picked up the Geofruit Soda in town, because I won literally right as I ran out of SP with Zaqris. Maybe that's an optional win, though, considering the "round two" right after it. The boss that follows is incredibly easy in comparison.

No other thoughts at the moment. Act I is definitely the slow part of the story, but it's enjoyable enough. You don't have many options in terms of gameplay, though, especially since the character you can choose to level up isn't present for either of the bosses.

Screenshot Saturday 4

Hmm. I don't know, the EP count placement just seems unintuitive to me. They're basically communal SP on a different numerical scale; having to look down when considering whether you have enough SP and up when considering whether you have enough EP seems strange. Moving them closer together would be better. I can't really suggest where to put them without an idea of how the menus open up and such, but perhaps above the menu shown?

Bugfixes? I hope?

I've had encounters on the fifth floor of a Normal six-floor run crash before entering battle three times so far. Two times were on the 'ruin' level Triopolis Trifecta Triumverate (sic; 'triumvirate,' from Latin for 'three man'), the third was on the ice level Czarina's Fortress. The crash was consistent on the first two times; both times, when I came up the stairs and fought the bottom tunnel skeleton, it would crash and give me a system message. I don't have that save or the message it gave me, sadly, and I didn't spend the hour to test whether it happened if I fought something else first. It did happen even after quicksaving and loading the quicksave on that floor, though.

I do have the message on the Czarina Fortress crash, though. This crash happened on the skeleton right before the blue wall button.

"Script 'YEM Battle Engine Melody IV' line 2096: NoMethodError occured

undefined method 'viewport B' for nil:NilClass"

If possible, could you note the skill cooldowns somewhere in-game? That really impacts some purchasing decisions, but the game structure means you can't exactly save and check most of the time.

I'm not sure if it's intended behavior, but... If you one-shot Czarina (Stratego + Bane Machine + Attack buff + Lava Lane does about 3600), she says her standard "PUNCH YOU" line about five times in a row. I know that's because it's triggered by passing HP benchmarks, though, and it is kind of funny when it happens, so I don't really mind.

My general impressions on power levels so far:
Top: Jesse, Vaunea

Good: Seth, Marcia, Carmilla, Terra, Wish, Olsen, Ulyssa

Weak: Ersatz, Leon, Garret, Jasper

Bottom: Nadia, Padrick, Myra

My thoughts, in more detail. (Apologies if I sound like a jerk, I tend to be blunt when I'm doing analysis.)

Stratego is absurd, and Bane Machine perhaps even more so; Stratego has more widespread applications, but Bane Machine annihilates a single enemy, especially with Lava Lane. Jesse lacks variety, but Fire seems to be the best element to specialize in from the enemies so far. Vaunea's stuns are useful and quite cheap on energy.

Seth, Carmilla, and Wish have a lot of elemental variety; Seth starts with more variety than some characters can ever get! Seth and Carmilla in particular hit very hard, while Wish is just generally good. Terra's a little slow to start, but get her to Charge and her cooldown woes are alleviated significantly. Ulyssa is Shutdown Queen, especially once you get the physical stun for single-target damage. Olsen's just generally solid; she lacks variety, but what she does have is good. Marcia is, again, just generally solid. Physical is consistently good, and so is Wind, mostly because the basic Wind attack spell is amazing.

Ersatz... Well, Tundra is absurd, and his earth/light selection is pretty decent. But Earth is pretty common, and he starts out with absolutely no variety. Defense debuffs are good but not that good. Tundra is good enough that he gets used consistently anyway if it works on the present enemies. Garret has a good skill selection, but he has no offensive ability whatsoever to start, since he can't hit weaknesses; it makes using him unpleasant for a while unless he's on a very offensive team. The fact Leon does the most damage to things that murder him, and that doing that damage makes them murder him specifically more often, is kind of a problem. He doesn't do enough damage to offset that. And Jasper starts out horribly, horribly inferior to Seth, and that pretty much never changes. He's Seth with a worse starting Darkness skill and slightly better physical, but physical is something that's dime a dozen. He feels like party filler.

The bsaic Wind attack spell is amazing! But Nadia has nothing other than Wind and support. Sure, you can reduce the MP costs of others, but since the Wind spell is so good, you're probably going to buy it with most of the characters who can have it. That makes Nadia pointless outside of helping to one-turn the poor worm boss. Padrick has Garret's problem, but Garret starts with an actual moveset, if an uninspiring one. Padrick starts out almost as a joke character. Again, Impact is good but not that good. If Padrick has Garret's problem, though, Myra is the poster child. I'm sure she's very good if you can get the skills! (The lightning and ice spells in particular are damn good.) But her starting moveset is atrocious. Her one attack does good damage, but it also has a Cooldown of 5 or so; it means that, on average, she does the least damage by a big, big margin. If she had a second attack instead of one of her other two skills, she'd be significantly better off, especially if it was one of the aforementioned 'damn good' skills. HP is much harder to restore than energy, so I think you'd be safe chopping a turn off of the cooldowns of the HP cast skills.

I'm enjoying it so far, though the crashes are kind of disheartening; that's pretty much been how all six or so of my games have ended. That's the risk of playing a demo, though.

New Who Is? format: Who is Blaise?

It seems to me that there are two main dangers with blanket allowance of status effects: Poison and Rage/Berserk. I assume that both are traditional forms (i.e, percentage damage and "you use your normal attack instead of spells or abilities")? The former wrecks bosses for obvious reasons (see Tales of Symphonia, where nothing in the game had poison resistance), while the latter is nasty against pretty much everything; even physical bosses have serious problems with losing all of their abilities.

Plus it just potentially makes strategy uninteresting, since "enrage, buff ally defense/debuff opponent attack like mad, and use ST heals" will work on any single target that doesn't have Rage immunity or a programmed "hell no" response. (Case of the latter: Berserking Omniscient in FFV. IIRC, he hits harder than most of the actual 'physical' bosses.) It's just very simple and effective.

(Etrian Odyssey had one of my favorite implementations of poison: it isn't percentage, it's flat damage dealt at end of turn. That made it balanced against both strong enemies and weak ones. At some points, Poison was actually considered flat-out broken in the earlier games. Max the group-poison spell, one-shot everything! Then take advantage of retiring to switch them out for another specialization and bonus stat/ability points once Poison's damage stops being insane.)

Sleep is also a little problematic in any series with good buffs, on account of the fact that even kinds of sleep broken by attacks allow you free set-up; oftentimes, that's the single most threatening part of any fight.

That said, I certainly don't mind as a player. They're interesting tools. I'm also liking the character in light of that; Sympathizer and Chains of Love are both "whoa" levels of good (I'm assuming you need statuses for both parts of Chains? probably better to restate the description as an "if" clause), and Impassion is also really good. He's also dapper as hell. I can appreciate a man with a good sense of dress. (Even if he also has bad sense in hair dye. That probably doesn't help the teasing. He also needs to straighten his shirt, it's really crooked. It's either long on him or he's got some stomach showing under his rad coat.)

I'm a little iffy on Rain Dance, though. I'm just not fond of "truly random" things. It's one thing if you can influence it, like a low-accuracy attack that can either have the user's accuracy buffed or enemy's evade lowered, but I doubt there's any such way to control Rain Dance. I'd say it adds some elemental variety, but the big use you'll want for it is getting around enemies that have some level of Wind resist, and then you're playing roulette with your turn count that action round. So you'll probably just end up using statuses instead (especially with Chains of Love) unless they're weak to Water or Lightning but don't resist any of the three. That's kind of a narrow niche. I honestly see myself mostly using it for quickly testing elemental resists.

Who is Lysander?

Changes? In response to little old me? I feel so special. :D

Oh, okay, I was guessing it was RTP from the style. Still. Holy crap, those shoulders. It feels a little weird to say 'why is the head so small?', but perhaps that's a sign of too much anime.

I like this version better. ST healing should definitely be any healer's focus, and I feel like the change in focus also helps raise the importance of Gaia Link. It also encourages vigilance on the player's part. I definitely like Sukumai, that's an interesting spell. (Should have commented on it previously, but the squeaky hinge and the oil.) The change to give him more offensive 'oomph' is good as well. Soulspring will probably ensure he stays in my party.

My comment on Lysander 'not helping end battles any faster' was mostly targeted at boss fights. It depends on the game, but in my experience, non-boss fights are part of the resource management aspect of a game more than anything. They're a task focused around getting through them with minimal expenditure of resources, whether those resources be HP, SP, or inventory so that you can dedicate a larger portion of those resources to the boss.

Tarukaja helps with boss fights, certainly, but Retribution by definition is offensive only against randoms. Bosses will generally be immune to instant death. And against randoms, it's still likely to be largely defensive, since you won't have the dedicated buffs to increase aggro off of the bat. It depends on the Hama chance, really, since Rylan has Sukumai; it just feels doubly dicey, since they have to A) hit the target and B) die to Hama. It's the old instant death dilemma, where an ID spell is generally not used below a threshold and abused above it. We'll all see which side this sits on. Even without it, though, that half damage effect is useful.

(That said, isn't there a Press Turn/One More variant in this game? If so, please make sure that Retribution's Hama doesn't count against you if it's nullified, since that will happen in every boss fight. That would be horrible. Obvious, I know, but there's no mention of it.)

That said, it looks like he's a pretty good offensive caster, so this is less of an issue. It was really a problem only when he had no offensive buff options and his personal offensive ability was in question.
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