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Izrand Allure

So I haven't looked at RMN in four months, and a random (?) AO3 ping this morning made me think that I should, so I did, and now I see LA's sequel announced just one day beforehand. Apparently I check RMN exactly often enough. :-P Also: Wooooooooot!

Weird and Unfortunate Things are Happening

author=unity
Originally I was going to have you "buy" skills from a shop menu, but that lacked the flexibility I wanted.


I'm curious what the obstacle was. If I had to guess, it would be handling skill prerequisites.

(Context: RM's available customization hooks seem...not well documented. It's not clear to me what's easy, what's hard, and what's impossible.)

author=unity
Yeah, that's an issue with VX Ace, I'm hoping newer makers are better about it (I'm working with MZ now, and as the default settings for controllers work for me, I haven't looked into rebinding yet).


I have MZ (and also Ace, but I only ever used it to mine LA). I looked at MZ's input code a while back, and I *think* I saw a way to do interactive rebinding, but I haven't tried it.

author=unity
Yeah, I was really happy with {the enemy types} when I came up with it, and some people take to it like a duck to water, but others don't, and now I can see that maybe it wasn't as elegant of an idea as I thought it was initially. Not sure how I can modify it to be better for a possible future WU 2 or spin-off, but I'll keep my thinking cap on.


(epistemic status: talking out my ass) Such systems should either follow well-defined rules (e.g. opposites on an element wheel), or match everyday intuitions; otherwise, they come across as arbitrary. WaU's system looks like it's trying to take the latter approach, with mixed success. Examples: it makes intuitive sense that armored or spectral targets are resistant to physical skills, that nightmares are resistant to terror, or that machines are resistant to terror and sorrow. It's less clear why the Mystic type is weak to sorrow and resistant to the others (though I can sort-of-see it if I squint), and I can't see an underlying theory in the Oddity resistances at all.

Mileage probably varies a lot by play style. I care a lot about fair-play-insight mechanics because a lot of my enjoyment comes from learning the rules well enough to exploit them.

(on editing, I remembered that in the early game I had additional issues memorizing the icons themselves. A label or context-help button (a-la select in FFT) might have closed the gap)

author=unity
author=Error
Zlonyth's private rooms and commentary were awesome and I always looked forward to finding them.
I'm glad! :DDD Had a lot of fun with Zlonyth! Huge thanks to Sooz for how Zlonyth talks, I could never have pulled that off without her!


Thanks, Sooz! :-)

I always had the impression LA was close to a one-woman show. Is WaU different in that respect, or was I wrong to begin with? Makes me feel a little bad for not crediting more people in AD's author's notes.

author=unity
I agree with a lot of what you said in your Balance section. Tho I am curious as to why you decided not to use stat-boosters, as I had hoped they would allow players to tweak characters a bit, such as allowing certain characters to have expanded PSI point pools and adjust physical and psychic damage.


It was just a well-defined way to increase the difficulty without fundamentally changing the game. If I had run into something I couldn't beat without them, I would have relaxed the restriction.

(NB: that does not necessarily mean Hard is too easy. I'm probably not a good metric.)

If there's one thing I took from making and balancing battles in this game, it's that I don't think I want to tie skills to items like this in future games. It makes it way too hard to balance and like you said, Miriam's bullets are often just "battle shorteners."


I notice that Dottie's eldritch spell was limited in a different way, but worked out fine. The difference seems to be that there was an opportunity cost for *not* using Eldritch Eye. If there were a similar cost to not spending bullets and pieces (a capacity cap, maybe?), spending them might feel like a better option.

I did smile at the line about an unspent resource being equivalent to an unearned resource. On some level I knew I was failing to learn the lesson.

(hidden for spoilers, not just for WaU but also classic FF)
author=unity
As for the one mystery character you mentioned, I in fact did not allow you to save them through any means. In the future I think it *would* be fun to allow you to save a character like that through a very esoteric method, so I'll keep that in mind for future projects.


I was only partly serious, for the record. I'm reminded of all the contemporary complaints about Leo in FFVI or Aeris in FFVII, and those stories wouldn't have been improved by a revival option.

But it's fun to think about, and I'm sure there's stories where one could get away with it. Probably those where the death isn't character-defining.

(fun fact: I don't know if you played FFVI when it was current, but at the time there were a lot of hoaxes claiming that Leo could be saved or revived. All lies. Then, something like twenty years later, someone actually found a way to do it. It was totally unintended by the developers, required massive bug abuse, and was 100% awesome.)

author=unity
Also they are exactly who you think they are, tho I did poorly by giving them so little focus in the story before they joined the party. Again, something I hope I can improve on in future games.


Oh, I don't know about that. It felt like genius bonus to me. Or at least it made me feel like a genius for spotting it.

author=unity
If you want a hint...


Mrgh. You might want to move that under hide tags; I didn't want that much of a hint. -_- But I was already looking in more-or-less the right place, so not much harm done.

author=unity
If you ever decide to do a second playthrough, you can call up the password screen to input the code to auto-translate the languages by pressing Q as the screen scrolls up to Dottie's house.


You were a step ahead of you; one of the guys next to the machine says as much. :-P

author=unity
Thanks again for all of your thoughts, it was an enjoyable read! :DDDDD And I'm so glad you ended up playing the game!

I've been doing a lot of brainstorming for an eventual Luxaren Allure 2. No promises yet, but if I can figure out the plot and systems, that may be my next big project! Here's hoping.


You're welcome. It's nice to be appreciated. :-) And whenever LA2 is in the cards, I'll jump on it with both feet.

On another note, back when I wrote AD, you offered to give me feedback if I ever dove into RPGMaker. Is that offer still open? I have a project in mind for the near future (if I can solve a certain structural issue with my intended plot), so I might want to take you up on it soon.

Weird and Unfortunate Things are Happening

Well, if the items you're talking about are the ones I think you are... Well, they're pretty hard to find, and they're not in the Bonus Boss area, and not blocked off by any points of no return.
I meant to avoid looking under the hide tag, but it showed when I hit quote. Thankfully, the answer to your question is yes. That's where the clue said to look, and that's where I found a locked door (and assumed, admittedly without evidence, that it was related). I just haven't found a key for it. I did find and use the two bones; as far as I know all I'm missing is the heart.

Now that I know the solution is find-able without exploring hell, I'll take another crack at it.

What Difficulty are / were you on? Because all difficulty information of a review depends on that?
Hard, with additional handicaps. I did say that right at the start of the section. I even cited that reason for mentioning it. O_o

Weird and Unfortunate Things are Happening

.

So apparently I wrote "a day or two" when I meant "a week or two". That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

So! Weird and unfortunate things are happening, and lots of people are dead. Woo!

I loved it, but didn't know if I would going in. Urban horror isn't my usual genre, and I've never liked front-view Earthbound-style battles as much as side-view FF-style battles, and a save-the-child plot hook is...not an element for which the target audience includes me.

But I do love things that are dark as hell, and there were more than enough horrible things happening to keep my attention, and at some point I started to capital-C Care. Unfortunately I don't remember exactly when, which is a shame because that would probably be useful information.

I waited way too long to write up thoughts, so I'll just have to see what I can remember. Pardon the giant wall of text. I was too determined to write *something* to take the time to write a smaller one.

Mechanics:

The skill system was simplistic on its face, but presented interesting and meaningful choices, which is exactly what a skill system should do. It's a bit awkward to use, but I'm guessing "walk around an abstract map to pick out skills" was a workaround for RPGMaker limitations. It worked well enough and I hope you don't mind if I consider stealing it.

There are far too many quality-of-life details to list them all, but they were much appreciated. I'm thinking of things like indicating examinable objects (a feature I remembered from LA), providing maps, the boss warning (no fear of missing missables!), item descriptions that state what can be safely sold (ditto!), recording tutorial information as items for later perusal (a workaround for no in-engine help?), notes about how to rebind the controls, skill descriptions that are actually useful... I'm forgetting a whole host of things, but you've obviously thought hard about routine RPG annoyances and endeavoured to fix them.

(I do wish there was a way to *interactively* rebind the controls, so I don't have to experimentally figure out which button on my pad corresponds to RPGM's notion of "A" or the game's notion of selection/cancel. But that's a gripe with RPGM, not WaU)

Replacing the traditional "fight" command with a more interesting set of basic skills was a good move. So was making areas "empty out" so players who like to search thoroughly aren't constantly frustrated; the usual method (encounter-preventing equipment) has issues.

While there were a few spells I didn't get much use out of, there was no obsolescence. Spell selection was limited, but almost everything stayed useful. The spell design and differentiation feels more like Lunar than Final Fantasy (in a good way).

I'm not sold on the arrangement of enemy types and weaknesses. It's not *bad*, and it's certainly something new, but it usually wasn't obvious why type A had weakness B. Some of them made sense, others didn't, and I couldn't deduce them, only memorize them. Rather than memorize them or keep checking the in-battle help text, I mostly just used area spells to probe weaknesses on the fly.

I remember a number of puzzles having relatively subtle clues. I appreciated it but can't remember what they were now.

Zlonyth's private rooms and commentary were awesome and I always looked forward to finding them.

Balance:

I played on the highest difficulty with a couple of additional handicaps: No selling items and no permanent-stat-boosters. My perception of balance is colored accordingly.

Mooks remained dangerous-but-beatable throughout the game, which IMO is the most important balancing act. This section is full of nitpicks, but they're exactly that -- nitpicks.

Opportunities to heal felt few and far between, especially in the early game. I am not sure if this is a plus or minus; it was frustrating, but it also turned health and psi point management into an interesting optimization problem, at least until Lamar joined (and psi management stayed so until near the end of the game).

Lumin Flash seems too powerful relative to Alicia's other skills, its cost, and the stage of the game when you get it. She opened with it in nearly every battle, all through the game. I'm not exactly *complaining*, it preserved my ass excellently, but maybe it should have been more expensive or further down the skill tree.

Scourge Rot was the majority of my damage for a long time. Eventually monster HP outpaced it, though, to the point that I stopped bothering. So, oddly, it was too strong early on and too weak in the endgame.

Miriam's bullets seemed too rare relative to their worth, and (most of) her spells too expensive. For much of the game, I had trouble finding something for her to do after blinding (and later corroding) everything. Her other options often didn't seem worth the resource expenditure.

I'm not sure what the Right Thing would be here. Maybe expanded bullet effects. As-is, they only end fights faster, they don't help control the battle or otherwise get you out of trouble. Their rarity makes them impractical to combo with Overdrive, and maybe Overdrive itself should have been cheaper. Its opportunity cost is high at the beginning of a fight (where it competes with applying blind and acid one turn earlier), and it takes three turns to turn a "damage profit", and by then you've spent ~100 out of ~150 MP.

Dottie's chess pieces also seemed unusably rare until endgame, but in her case it's justifiable because their benefits are gamechangers.

The Princess area of the final dungeon was *exactly* as hard as it should be. Those damn Fiendish Minds stopped me dead just as I started to think things were getting too easy. :-P

Story:

Hidden for spoilers:

I went through a good chunk of the early game expecting a betrayal. I only stopped expecting it because the mechanics were so wrapped around the human-evocation alliances that any betrayal would require completely changing them.

(it is not clear from the stinger scene whether the betrayal hasn't happened *yet*, or if you just want it to look like that.)

Zlonyth was my favorite character (despite his background role), but I think Elothu was the best-written. I'm not sure if you were going for a blue-and-orange morality thing with him, but it's how he came across. He doesn't seem to have a *moral* problem with the Inner Evocations abusing their hosts, he just finds it *distasteful*. He appears arrogant, but it's not actually self-aggrandizing, because it's not about him; he just values a certain kind of superiority, and doesn't hesitate to ascribe greater superiority to those he thinks deserve it.

Viola and Erick...I have mixed feelings about. Their deaths were so sudden that it was hard to get worked up over them at the time. On the other hand, when they showed up again later as creepy not-exactly-undead, that part definitely worked.

Obsidian (name check?), by contrast, was unreservedly heartbreaking. I still have Dottie equipped with the hairband charm because yeah. And yes, I did try to save her and I'm guessing you enjoyed plotting the result. Also, I have a suspicion that Obsidian was supposed to be the same girl who was previously bullying Dottie at school, though I can't look up the relevant dialogue to be sure.

(It will be awesome and/or horrifying if there actually *is* a way to save her. I couldn't find one, but if I were writing this, I might hide the method in Expanse-speech somewhere so that the player can later feel guilty for not putting the effort into decoding it...but I'm an evil bastard)

Margaret's late-game upgrade made me smile. A small nod towards sentimentality. Kind of like taking the Cael Hammer into the last level of Bastion. :-P

Uiroq's presence makes me wonder if this is supposed to be in the same multiverse as LA, or if it's just fan bonus.

I didn't see Sadie coming. I feel like I should have.


Misc:

As with LA, I got that last-dungeon feeling well before the actual last dungeon (specifically at the temple, IIRC). I didn't get the same sense of gruelling-ness, though, possibly because WaU mostly doesn't have "towns" in the traditional sense to break up segments, so I didn't feel their absence as much. I don't know if that decision was inspired by anything in particular, but I mentally mapped it to SMT3, which was the same way.

"A resource never used is the same as a resource never earned." Spoken like someone who's saved way more elixirs over the years than they should have. :-P

The school "dungeon" stuck out to me. It felt too long, but it was magnificently creepy. Grade schools creep me out to begin with, so I was primed for it. The Fool's Key areas (did they have a name?) also got progressively creepier throughout the game and it was great.

I've yet to find the daughter's heart in the final dungeon. I found the clue regarding its hiding place, and I found the door that I think it's behind, but I lack the key and haven't been able to find it.

I've heard nothing about the key from any of the NPCs I can reach. It may be in Makyo, which I haven't explored much yet. I'm debating whether, before putting a lot of time into it, I should replay the game with the language decoding on. It might contain things that would be useful to know.

Speaking of which, the decodable expanse languages. I *love* the concept (which is unlikely to surprise you, after AD), but never actually tried to decode them. The trouble was that I had no good way to transcribe them for later analysis. I can't copy-paste out of the game; and the letters don't resemble English ones so I can't type them into another window; and I have arthritis, so physically writing them down would be slow and painful. Nevertheless, I wanted to know what they said (I kept expecting them to contain warnings that the evocations were about to betray me, or something), and I'll play again to find out now that I can decode them. I'm not sure what to expect on the scale between "interesting but nonessential material" and "complete reinterpretation of events," but I look forward to finding out.

In retrospect, I should have taken screenshots whenever Expanse text came up; that would have worked just fine for transcription, and I'm pretty sure the language itself is normal English text with a custom font. I puzzled out a few lines along the way just eyeballing it. Oh well, too late now.

{edit: and now that I've reminded myself of custom fonts, I remember noticing that the designs on some of the walls in Daybreak look suspiciously like someone speaking in hands...}

---

And, wow. I wasn't expecting to write a thousand words when I started typing, but I'm guessing you won't mind. I'm sure I had more to say, but at least for the moment it's lost in the last two months of memory. This will do for now.

Weird and Unfortunate Things are Happening

I did not. :-P And my cold did get better, though it took a while. Then I spent a couple weeks procrastinating on saying more here until I felt guilty about it.

I haven't forgotten and I promise I'll have more comments in the next day or two.

Weird and Unfortunate Things are Happening

Enjoyment is a thing that happened. I also just did a double take watching the credits. :-P

I have a cold and don't feel up for analysis, so for now I'll just say that I finished it and loved it. More later.

(edit: my magic number was 74. I don't know out of how many, but I know I'm missing a few things.)

Weird and Unfortunate Things are Happening

Terrain made from dismembered body parts, drinking celestial saliva to heal...this should be fun. And disturbing. But I had no need to say it twice.

Also, hi. :-P

Luxaren Allure

author=Unity
If I wasn't already doing my own projects, I know I'd be interested in working with you on something like this, as you've already impressed me with your writing :D

This made me smile. I'd be interested too if the opportunity ever comes up, but I have to warn you that it might be unwise to ever put my writing on your critical path. :-P I am catastrophically slow, to the tune of about 30 words/day.

author=Error
If it's specifically the start of the relationship that you're having trouble writing, then...skip it. Make them already together when the story starts.

That could potentially work with the plot I have, actually. Though, a big motivator was all the stories with love triangles I've read in the past, and just wanting the characters to realize there was another option

That's a really good point. Showing how they get from point A to point B also might do a lot for people who don't get how it's possible, which is still most people.

("Am I *actually* mad about this, or do I just think I'm *supposed* to be mad about it because the rest of the world treats jealousy as a feature instead of a bug?")

(I may Have Opinions, beg pardon)

Luxaren Allure

author=Unity
Actually, I started making a game about just that, a love triangle that would culminate with the three characters forming a relationship, set in a Dragon Quest-like world where the three of them are servants of that world's goddess. It's on hold for right now, as I'm struggling to write the start of a polyamorous relationship in a way that I find satisfactory


I just thought of a way you could cheat this, depending on what else is going on in your plot. If it's specifically the start of the relationship that you're having trouble writing, then...skip it. Make them already together when the story starts.

(granted, if the mutually-falling-in-love thing *is* the plot, obviously that doesn't work. :-P)

Luxaren Allure

author=Unity
You have no idea how much time this saved! I was dreading having to go back and comb through event after event for these XDXD;;;


Just in case you want to track down any other inconsistencies, here is the dump. It has the map and event IDs for all text. Any spreadsheet program that accepts .tsv/.csv should be able to open it (I use LibreOffice). Tab separator, no quoted-string delimiter.

It's easy for me to look back and think of all the things I could have done differently, even though my current goal is always "make the thing as best you can, fix errors and really blatant mistakes, and then move on to the next project."


I never really stop fixing old stuff. I take some weird narcissistic pleasure in re-reading my own work, and I always find some spelling or usage error or just awkward wording that I missed.

(I only fix small things after release, though. Sometimes I want to make substantive changes (e.g. alter plot points that I'm not happy with), but every time I've seen someone *else* do that, I didn't like the result.)

And, back to what I said earlier, it's always possible to eventually replace the stock art with custom assets, especially when it comes to stuff like character art and enemy battler art (tilesets can be a little harder).


I'm not sure it's even possible for me to learn to do my own art -- I have arthritis in my fingers (I'm supposed to be too young for that. :-( ) and writing by hand is painful. Presumably drawing would be the same, so if I can't do it with a keyboard and mouse, I can't do it.

...But this is a helpful thing to know anyway, because it means I just have to catch the attention of a competent artist sometime before v1.0. That doesn't seem impossible.

In the meantime, I have basically every asset pack that's been made available via Humble Bundle, so I do have a bit more to work with than just what comes stock.

If you want to talk to me more here or in PMs about your project, feel free! :D


Thanks. :-) I'll probably take you up on that once I have some time to poke around RPGM again.

I've been replaying the game, and I got to the part where Merel has the nightmare about her own past, and I've got to say, reading your fanfiction had an effect on me, as when I saw them talking about the large cauldron and the fact that there was a reference to early alchemy made me think that your backstory, Error, is more interesting than what I had envisioned.

Them being rounded up and alchemically fused into slaves for a demon army is a pretty chilling thought and made that moment more creepy for me.


Wooooooot!

Now I'm trying to decide if "Creator thinks my backstory is more interesting than their own" is the highest compliment I've ever received. :-P (The current title holder is a friend who read Wizzrobe and (later) told me he had serious trouble hitting the attack button on his next playthrough)
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