Ordinary Ox: Straight-forward Tanking and Attacks

Ooh. I admit, I'm not too interested in Ox (be fast or gtfo, tia), but I like the Traits. Are there slots, or are they all strict always-on upgrades? Is there a progression where Trait A unlocks Trait B for purchase, or are they all available from the get-go?

I also like the idea of having few "small fry" enemies; if it's not a straight-out dungeon crawler, boss and mini-boss battles are where all the real game play is, so it's good to hear there's more focus there. (Of course, the original V&V was basically a dungeon crawler, what with its focus on conserving resources so you could maximize exploration before sleeping and ending the day. I liked that, too.)

RMN Closing Down April 2nd

i vote we move from bad video game quotes to bad metaphors. perhaps they will convince wip, since argumentation and angry words seem to be failing

guys the unusually intelligent bees in my backyard are upset about me planning to destroy their hive because i'm sick of maintaining it
dialogue thus far has failed
they are stinging me
why are bees such assholes, guys :(

RMN Closing Down April 2nd

The thing is, why are you getting rid of the site because of the atmosphere on a separate part of it, one that isn't directly relevant to the *point* of the site?

This site exists for the game pages. You're deleting it because of the forums.

Admittedly, this makes more sense in light of your apparent attitude of "fuck it, I'm tired of doing this"; this thread seems to show that that's your real reason, and one you weren't willing to admit up-front. But if that's the case then you really should hand it off. This a community founded on user contributions. You own the web space, but the site itself is a communal thing.

This is just senseless.

Healbot Express: Convincing Players to Drop the Healer Chick

Oh, right, five-person party! And that's one of the details I liked seeing, too. I'll have to play around and find my fifth, then.

I see the tending towards "Use The Healer Because They Are The Healer" as something you design around. My feeling on balancing that: Make "The Healer" someone with a lot of healing power, and focus it on the reactive, while making a couple of secondary proactive healers. A reactive healer can work without a great deal of foresight, but they're weaker than the proactive healer, because the proactive healer generally does other things better.

A reactive healer has high-power heals, full party healing, and revival. Their role is to heal you to full even from near-death, to heal the entire party when you haven't been keeping people healthy, and to revive people when you really screw up. A proactive healer has weaker heals that they can cast faster and more often, and they often lack full-party healing or revival. If you don't screw up, then they're generally better, because healing is a secondary job and they're better at something else. (Notably, a good stock of items makes any fast character a powerful proactive healer.)

People gravitate towards the reactive healers, which is good, because they're more mistake-friendly, but don't mistake that tendency for a sign that they're inherently better.

Just my two cents as a veteran game-breaker and an amateur designer. I don't know how applicable it is to the big skill sets we're working with here (which I definitely like), though! Maybe there's something in there you can use.

The BoFII:TFC(XP) Custom Sound Test Menu

I enjoy reading all of the updates, even if they're not particularly big ones. For what it's worth, I'd be happy if you continued updating at your current pace!

Healbot Express: Convincing Players to Drop the Healer Chick

To use a familiar game as an object lesson:

Lyla wasn't the best healer in V&V original, not by a long shot. That was the Wanderer. He was almost always faster, his heal was better and gave a great buff, and his abilities gave him considerable staying power even without items. I mean, hell, his best skill unlock gave him a party heal on the negative side; this both gave him a heal to use on each side and allowed you to shift Negative to healing duties and Positive to the attack ability you unlocked at the same time. He literally had everything you wanted from a healer, short of revival and a little more predictability.

Sure, Lyla got a party heal earlier, but that party heal was trash - expensive, not that powerful, and it slowed your actions. If anything, it was *underpowered*. I used her, but my party also included Telia and Elena: between the Wanderer's heals, Telia's heal buff effects, and Elena's minor regen ability and item lore, Lyla was the worst healer in the party at end game!

(She was there because Orbs were the second-best weapon in the game and she was the best with them, and because hey, even bad healing is still healing. Bows were the best. Work off of the same stat as speed, elements are useful and action abilities can circumvent them when they're a problem, they give you speed bonuses, the Cherub improves CHA for Telia... Damn.)

What makes a healer good:
- Speed
- Sustainability
- Power of heal
- Versatility in healing

Speed is most important. It doesn't matter if the heal is weak or if it's strictly ST so long as you're fast enough to cast it when and where it's needed. Sustainability matters just as much. And those were the areas Lyla lacked, compared to alternatives. I don't think that will greatly change.

So, yeah. For the love of everything holy and otherwise, please do not resort to artificial penalizing of the healer. Provide alternatives and it'll work itself out, at least for the players who aren't lazy about it. And it sounds like your game isn't exactly catering itself to them.

(Current party plan: Wanderer, Telia, Elena, Sybil. I figure that the first three will probably still have enough healing, and my parties tend to be fast and support-heavy.)

One sentence blog post

Out of curiosity, why did you add back the AP costs to the travel spells? I can think of several reasons you might decide that, but I'm interested in the specific rationale. (I'm assuming that you haven't added them back to the movelists of non-Ryu characters.)

Dragons use all of Ryu's AP. You can't exactly dial back the spell cost to leave enough AP for either utility spell. The others who had it don't have this problem. This is especially annoying in the case of Exit, which serves the same "oh shit button" functionality as the Dragons do: "I screwed up and I'm going to die, so I'm going to (kill these enemies/leave this dungeon)." And in the event that you don't auto-leave a dungeon area after killing a boss, there's also the possibility of you not using the Dragons as an anti-boss measure because you want to be able to Exit afterward without using AP items.

I mean, considering Bleu/Deis had both and she was pretty solidly the best character, I think this change means I'll be using the skills *less* in this version than I would in the original, because they're actually substantially less convenient for a big part of the game. Which seems like a problem when the change is a matter of accessibility. And even if you added them back to the others' skillsets, then the end result is me never using them on Ryu as soon as Ryu has dragons and anyone else can cast.

Battle system updates and suggestions

My thinking on the physical reactions is that it effectively allows you to scale how extreme your character's build is, moving them one way or the other on a "accurate&weak" to "strong&inaccurate" scale. Seri can obviously go further on the "accurate" side than the "strong" side, since she can move on that scale on top of her natural character build, but if the enemy is particularly inevasive, she could adjust to do more damage. Similarly, if Vanquish is having a hard time hitting an enemy, then he can take a damage penalty for more consistency. It's not particularly interesting, though, so other ways are definitely preferential for balance.

Hmm. Ray's charge moves... One would definitely have to scale with remaining HP, doing more damage when he's closer to death, that's an obvious one. One that does more damage while he has a status, maybe? And then one that scales up with the number of unconscious party members. That's three abilities with a consistent theme that fit inside his character model, and there's probably room for more in that style. (And it also fits his occasional story tending towards "crouching moron hidden badass.") Make his decently powerful normally but especially powerful when the situation is bad.

Multi-hit sounds good for Blaise; since his crowd control ability is one of his selling points, a random-target multi-hit ability would be an interesting one. Potentially also one that does more damage if the enemy is buffed, or if they attacked him personally last round? (The last two going off of his in-story short temper.) But multi-hit sounds like the way to go for general purpose.

Laaik would probably be a good choice for a "does damage and heals self" Charge move. Maybe a "damage and buff self" move, kind of like an inverse of Curse? Moves that complement his "balanced offense and support" build by doing both.

If you implement Vel's transformation as an in-battle ability, why not make it so it only gives access to the character's skillset while keeping her stats? That makes it powerful but not excessively so, while cementing her role as "best overall support." If she has the ability to outright sub as another character, then she's a shoe-in unless the cost is really exceptional. (Two copies of end-game Seri or Auria? That would do horrible - if enjoyable! - things to balance.)

And yeah, I knew Blaise could equip the sidearms as well, I meant "the only character other than Blaise." I did forget about the Guest Star; it was part of the reason I ranked him highly, to think about it... They're excellent offensive items.

Hopefully this gives you an interesting idea or two!

Battle system updates and suggestions

I'm personally fond of the Charge system; I prefer it over Limit Breaks, if simply because it allows you to choose when to use the skills rather than having it largely decided for you. Why not add a few Charge skills to some of the physical characters, like Ray or Blaise? Ray's Enrage skill would have good synergy with a Charge move, for example.

On the topic of making physical attacking more interesting, you could also implement a physical version of the reaction system. Balanced, higher accuracy and lower damage, lower accuracy and higher critical? You could also potentially move Counter to offensive reactions and make Cover the fourth defensive reaction. (Of course, then you still have the problem of people using both...) Multiple types of normal attack might do a decent bit to help the high accuracy characters in the mid-game and the low accuracy characters at end-game; both groups struggle a bit at those points. It's not too interesting by itself, but it's a potential supplement.

If Ray and Vanquish are meant as the "defensive" physical characters, you could also differentiate them into "active" and "passive" defense. Vanquish heals and has defensive buffs. Ray could have moves where he reduces damage from or counters physical attacks aimed at party members or magical attacks aimed at party members, so that his ability to defend your party is based on prediction. Low-level versions might be defend against or counter the next skill, while better versions might last until his next turn. A skill in a similar vein might be "block all statuses this turn" or the like.

Let Blaise be Charge-based. He uses guns, so it even works thematically. Vel I have no real opinions on in terms of changes. She could use either a little more offensive power - I'd like Truth Perception on her! - or get most of her buffs a little earlier. She gets her good stuff quite late. Laaik is fine, though an offensive skill or two on him would be nice; once everyone else's equipment starts catching up, I'd say Vanquish is strictly better as-is by virtue of group healing. There's more reason to use Laaik over Vanquish if Laaik's a better attacker. (Laaik can also apparently can dual-wield a holy sword and a carbine. I'm not sure why he's the only other character who can use sidearms but it's still a pretty badass image, and that meant I kept him in my party for longer than was probably strategically sound.)

Rien is good. Not to my tastes (I'm too defensive) but good. Zaqris could use more on the magic damage end, especially with Rien being the only real 'mage' for most of the game. (Water magic comes a little late!) He's otherwise good, especially since his build seems like a good one if you keep his equipment current. (And unless the new paths change things Zaqris changes aren't too high in priority.) Seri and SUPER SECRET GUEST STAR are near the top in usability as-is, so I can't see much cause for change.

Just my two cents. I'm looking forward to the new versions!

Soul Shepherd

Mmm. I don't consider demon fusion for skills to take too long, when one considers the ability to buy back demons, though I suppose that is a matter of opinion. I really do think Souls are considerably closer to Magatama than equipment; they both teach abilities, alter stats, and change your native resistances. Equipment does the second and sometimes the third but never the first, and Magatama and Souls always do all three.

And yes, I've played DDS. In DDS, however, your characters all start on a given path and have natural stat growths, and as such aren't as flexible; while Heat can learn Ziodyne perfectly well, he'll never be good at casting it without many +Stat items. In that respect, your party in Soul Summoner is more like a set of four Demi-Fiends or Serphs than the other characters of DDS. You'll probably still split roughly 2-2 physical/magical because of Soul constraints, but it's not otherwise imposed that I'm aware of.

I consider a few of the mechanics needlessly grindy, yes. I'm not fond of having to repeatedly refight enemies for Souls without being able to affect the drop chances. Negotiation in SMT is sort of random, but it also follows patterns and your chance of success therefore rises after an attempt. A Soul isn't statistically any more likely to drop on your fifth try compared to your first, and the lack of ability to personally influence it also makes the random nature more of an irritant if you're particularly unlucky.

I don't think the Soul breakage particularly adds much; in the time it takes for the character to learn all three skills, you'll probably get another one if it's a soul from a random encounter. It just means it's not guaranteed. It's understandable to have it break if it's a boss soul or is 1-1 on its shards, certainly, but I don't really see how it adds much value otherwise.

I also consider the relearning unnecessarily grindy. In my opinion, the only practical difference between "buy back skills" and "reacquire through releveling the souls" is the grinding necessary. If the concern is that skills will be swapped too freely, why not require the skills to be bought for money or exchanged for experience? Grinding allows you to acquire both of those, and it means that sufficient amounts of either allow you to save time while still making you feel some sort of penalty. There's just something discouraging about knowing that the only way to get a skill back is to invest time. Time leads to money and experience but it's still more pleasant to spend either of the latter two.

Still, as mentioned, I'll probably end up playing through the final release. While these things were irritating and the game was a bit too wipe-happy for my tastes, the overall product was good. I'll be looking forward to any news.