I'd really like to get rid of LockeZ. His play style is way too unpredictable. He's always like this too. If he ran a country, he'd just kill and imprison people at random until crime stopped.
The Unofficial Squaresoft MUD is a free online game based on the worlds and combat systems of your favorite Squaresoft games. UOSSMUD includes job trees from FFT and FF5, advanced classes from multiple other Square games, and worlds based extremely accurately upon Chrono Trigger, Secret of Mana, and Final Fantasies 5, 6, and 7. Travel through the original worlds and experience events that mirror those of the original games in an online, multiplayer format.

If a large, highly customized MUD, now over 10 years old and still being expanded, with a job system and worlds based on some of the most popular console RPGs seems interesting to you, feel free to log on and check it out. Visit uossmud.sandwich.net for information about logging on.
Born Under the Rain
Why does the jackal run from the rain?



I like difficulty in games. When I win, it makes me feel like it was actually an accomplishment, instead of just an inevitability. It makes me feel good.

Difficulty in RPGs can be sticky compared to difficulty in more actiony games, though. A lot of professional RPG designers don't seem to have the foggiest idea how to do it, so you get games like the Suikoden series that could be beaten by a drunken quadriplegic ferret. As I see it, there are a few things that can be classified as "difficulty" in an RPG.

Reflexes and coordination - Introducing action game mechanics into an RPG can add very real difficulty to the game, especially for players who are used to RPGs and do not play many action games. This can be integrated into traditional battles like Mario RPG and Paper Mario, where every hit must be timed; or done on a full Action RPG scale like the Mana or Tales or Kingdom Hearts series, where you must actually run around and attack the enemies with each button press; or done on a much more limited level for just a couple skills like in Final Fantasy 8 and Final Fantasy 10, where your limit breaks are the only skills that involve timed button input.

Time consumption - Raw repetition as a requirement for success. This qualifies difficulty in that it makes the game harder to play; unfortunately, the reason it's harder to play is because it's less fun and makes you want to quit. This type of "difficulty" is typically not desirable in most situations, though in an online game where you are attempting to form a community, you may want to include a healthy amount of this to keep people playing longer than they would otherwise.

Complexity - So this ability costs 25 rage point and 16 MP and has a 3 round cooldown, and is only usable when the limit gauge of two or more of your allies is between 15 and 45 percent. Rage points are restored by 5-8 points every time you perform a normal attack and by 10-15 points every time you're hit by a normal attack, while MP recovers by 10% of its maximum amount every round, and both are reduced by half at the end of every normal battle, by 1/3 at the end of every sub-elite battle, and by 1/5 at the end of every elite battle. To learn the ability you must have spent 15 talent points in the Discipline talent tree and have learned the three prerequisite abilities that are above it in the tree, and your job level in the Dark Hunter job must be at least level 15, while your experience level must be at least 40 and your strength level and agility level must each be at least 4B and 3A, respectively. The player will spend the first half of the game just figuring out how the hell to play - once he understands everything, he will typically be able to abuse this knowledge to completely overpower enemies in a large variety of ways. This can actually be quite fun if done right, because it eventually gives the player a feeling of "overcoming the system" which is extremely satisfying. However, at the beginning of the game, it is often very frustrating for a new player, unless you are really good at introducing the ideas gradually.

Problem solving - My personal favorite form of difficulty in RPGs. You have a variety of abilities with interesting side-effects that work together in unusual ways, and you have to figure out how to use them to overcome skills that the enemies use. So, you're in the middle of fighting a boss, and your fire spell inflicts a damage-over-time effect, and then the boss counters with an area magic spell that only one of your characters is immune to, so you heal the other three with an area healing spell, and then dualcast Shell on two of them, but not the third because he has an attack that gets stronger when his HP is low, and then you cast a lightning spell because using fire again would be a waste while the boss is still taking damage from the first fire spell, but you didn't notice that the boss had used WallChange and now absorbs lightning, and he counter-attacks by draining your mage's MP down to 0, so you have your monk use his Chakra ability that you never usually use because it's awful but it does heal the entire party's MP a little bit, and then one of your other characters starts charging up for a strong physical attack but the boss kills him with an instant death spell before he finishes, but you had cast Reraise on that character so he manages to pull the attack off anyway, and now Shell wore off but you wait to recast it until the cooldown for Doublecast has worn off, and in the meantime the boss uses an area attack again and kills 3 of your 4 party members, causing the last one to go into Enrage mode and gain double attack power, so you summon Phoenix which revives your party and almost kills the boss, and then you have three members low on HP so you use the monk's Sacrifice ability to kill him off and fully heal the other two, and then since the boss is low on HP you use your other three characters's strongest attacks with no regard to survival and you finally win. When I design player and enemy skillsets, I try to create situations like this - situations where, every turn, you are responding to events that have taken place in the battle so far and thinking about how each of your skills can counteract whatever problems the enemies are causing or augment whatever strategies your allies are using. So that the player is never just using his optimal damage output strategy over and over, never button mashing his simplest attacks and healing spells, but always thinking critically about the situation. Because if he doesn't, he will die.

Preparation - The player is tested not on his ability to fight the battle, but on his ability to create a party that can effectively deal with challenges. You have enemies that use paralyze? Sleep? Instant death? Powerful lightning attacks? You're dead meat unless you find a way to make yourself immune to the effect or give at least two characters ways to heal the effect. You need characters that have access to the right elements, to the right buffs and ailments, to all the healing and tanking skills you need. You need a party of characters that complement each-other and build upon each-others' skills. This is very closely linked to customization, and yet at the same time directly opposed to it. You can't have this type of difficulty unless your game allows a lot of customization, but each thing the player has to do to be successful removes alternative options as valid choices. If the player has to wear a poisonproof accessory for this fight, then all your other accessories are "wrong" choices and the customization is essentially nullified and replaced with preparation-based difficulty. A decent measure of this is necessary in any game that gives you any customization at all, but it must be carefully balanced with customization so that neither one nullifies the other too heavily.

Bullshit - I am using this as kind of a catch-all for things that cause the player to lose that are not the player's fault. Typically in RPGs this amounts to inability to read the designer's mind (how am I supposed to know that Meteor Strike is tri-elemental and is cast every 8 rounds on the party member with the second highest HP and can only be blocked by giving that party member all three elemental barriers on that round?), instant death attacks, crippling status effects that can't be reliably recovered from or prevented, or whatever other bullshit you can think of. If every choice you made as a player was the best you could make under the circumstances, and you still were able to die, that is the definition of bullshit.

Can you guys think of other things that qualify as difficulty in RPGs? Do you disagree with anything above?

Need Script - Moving Panoramas in XP

In RMXP, Enterpenis decided that the ability to make panoramas actually move was no longer useful enough to include in their game design software. Anyone have a script to do this?

I can make one myself if needed, but I feel like this is the sort of thing that someone else has almost certainly already done.

Music looping script

Anyone have an RMXP script that lets music loop from a custom point in the song, instead of from the beginning?

Button Mash - Forcing the player to use different skills

In many RPGs, most characters have one skill that is most effective, and not many good reasons not to use it every round. Sometimes for physical characters that skill is just a normal attack. For mages and other characters who get upgrades to their skills as the game goes on, the best skill changes over the course of the game, but it's not really an improvement - you spend an hour or two where one skill is the best, then you spend an hour or two where another skill is the best, etc.

I find this boring. I prefer when games give the player reasons why they can't keep using the same skill over and over - I like to be doing something different every round. World of Warcraft gives cooldowns to all the skills you'd want to use over and over, so you have to rotate between different ones. Final Fantasy 13 gives you part of a free turn any time you change jobs in battle (and haven't changed jobs in the last 30 seconds), so that you aren't ever forced to stop what you're doing if it's working, but you get a direct benefit from choosing to constantly change it up. SaGa Frontier 2 has two types of MP, and regenerates both by a little bit every round, so that if you alternate between attacks that use different types of MP, you'll never run out. Even FF7 has limit breaks, while FF10 takes it a step further and makes sure that limit breaks can be used every few rounds even when you're not in danger.

A traditional MP system alone generally isn't enough to create real variety. It's better than nothing, and it's not impossible to make work; but typically either MP is easy to recover so you always use your strongest move, or MP is hard to recover so you always use your cheapest move. I like to see these kinds of more complex cost systems added as an extra layer to make sure the player is not getting bored by doing the same thing over and over. To me at least, having to alternate between a few skills is an improvement; having to actually put thought into the decision every single round is ideal.

Does this actually make games more interesting to you guys than mashing the same skill almost every round of almost every battle, and only stopping if something goes wrong or the enemy requires a different element? What other systems do you use, or have you seen, or can you imagine, that create a similar kind of result?

Micro vs. Macro Customization

Character customization is a major component in many RPGs. You can give your characters armor with different special effects, different resistances, higher pdef or higher mdef or higher secondary stats. You can give them weapons that deal elemental damage, that deal less damage but improve their magic, that randomly inflict status effects, that work from the back row, that improve in power when the character's HP is lower. In most games you can customize, at least to some extent, which spells and skills your characters know. In many games you can spent talent points or use some other similar mechanic to give passive bonuses to the character.

But you usually don't have fine-tuned control. You might get one weapon that does normal damage, and one that does 60% as much damage, is dark elemental, and has a 10% chance to inflict blind. Where are the in-between options? To give you the most customization, you would be able to also get one that does 80% as much damage and is dark-elemental, one that does 80% as much damage and inflicts blind, one that does 90% as much damage and inflicts blind half as often, one that does 70% as much damage and inflicts blind half as often while doing dark damage... More to the point, these wouldn't be different weapons, each with their own set of effects. Effects wouldn't come in a set. You would simply be able to choose individual effects.

This would offer the player the most options, no?

Yet offering players fine-tuned customization is extremely rare, even in games that pride themselves on their depth of customization, like Etrian Odyssey and Shin Megami Tensei. Effects come in sets. Always in sets. To get this talent, you have to take the three above it. To get paralyze immunity, you have to wear the bracelet that's weak to holy. To get the area healing spell, you have to use the priest class, which comes with six other spells and a whole set of stat mods and equipment restrictions. If you want a different set of effects than what the game offers, you're out of luck! You're forced to take skills and effects that you don't plan on using or don't like in order to get the ones you really want.

The question is, does this kind of limitation add depth or remove it? If you go to one extreme, you simply have the player choosing from a small set of wholly prebuilt characters, a la FF4 Advance, with no other customization available. At that point the game essentially has no customization at all, removing an entire key aspect of gameplay. But this creates a much tighter balance between experienced and inexperienced players, putting them on close to the same playing field, and allowing your game's difficulty level to be more appropriate. If you go to the other extreme, the player can literally align their stats and powers any way imaginable. But this inherently creates a ridiculously deep gap in power between people who build themselves optimally and those who are trying things out or who don't put much thought into their build, and as a result the game is either absurdly easy for people who enjoy customization or absurdly hard for people who don't (or both).

Which do you guys prefer, as players when playing a game? Do you think most other players feel differently than yourself? Do you prefer a middle ground? If so, how close to one side or the other?

Mixing RPG aspects into your RPG

Written by Tycho on Penny Arcade's blog last week:

RPG as a genre is practically a sauce, now: it's something you stew other genres in, imparting an addictive progression arc in terms of equipment or capability. Mass Effect couldn't be a more perfect example. But the flavor was too strong, they determined, too piquant, and ME2 was the result. Most people seemed to prefer the taste. The thing that people are never trying to impart from the conception of an RPG is micro-managerial combat. I say this as someone who likes that and would start a foundation to preserve it. That's what Dragon Age is about, essentially. They have a challenge ahead of them; generally speaking, people don't make games like this anymore, not at this tier of development, and there is a reason.

There are several different ideas that come together to create traditional RPGs. One of them is progression. The idea that your power increases over time not merely because the player gets better, but also because the character gets better. Because of this, the character's skill can somehow make up for deficiencies in the player's skill - but that's not why it's included in games other than RPGs. The reason that designers include this trait in action games and adventure games and puzzle games and fighting games is because, as Tycho says, it's addictive. You like being rewarded. You like seeing a little progress bar go up every time you do well, and then after a while, DING!, you are now an Apprentice Sub-Journeyman Bejeweller!

But Tycho is correct when he implies that turn-based, strategic, plan-out-what-you-do-before-you-do-it combat is something that has lost its mass market appeal. He calls it micro-managing, which is diminutive but perhaps accurate. People don't want to think about what they're doing as they play a game. They don't want to have to stop each round and figure out whether sleep or paralyze would be more effective. They don't want to stop ever, they want to be doing something at all times, and if they cease killing zombies for even one second, even if what they're doing during that one second is deciding how to kill zombies, they lose their patience and feel that the game is too slow. Get rid of the inventory, get rid of the equipment screen, get rid of customization. Games decide those things for you now, because deciding things isn't exciting. Doing things is exciting.

That's how gamers are today. And yeah, you guessed it: as is pretty much always the case in every topic and every post I make, I'm pissed off. I happen to really, really like Final Fantasy Tactics. And, you know, RPG gameplay in general.

What do you think are the reasons that people have become so intolerant of depth and strategy in combat? Is instant gratification important to you personally, or do you find your victories more meaningful when you have to stop and actually try to figure out how to get them? Do you want battles where you have five skills you can use, or thirty? Or three hundred? Or just one, with every battle turned into a series of "Press A to continue" prompts? Do you think there are other reasons why the former aspect of RPGs is so much more widely used in modern games than the latter aspect?

Don't limit this discussion to turn-based or even menu-based combat - the entire reason action RPGs exist is because of this debate, so it's very much fair game to consider them.

The Dedicated Healer

So, let's imagine you're playing an RPG that gives you a choice of party members. Each member has unique skills. And one or two of them are dedicated healers, while the others have limited or no healing capabilities other than items.

This means that unless the game is pitifully easy, you basically have to use the healer. No choice! In most boss battles, defense is way more important than offense, because as long as you can survive, the boss will eventually die no matter how little damage you're doing. So you'd be absolutely foolish not to use the person dedicated to defense.

How much does this bother you guys? Does it bother you at all? Do you wish you could take the white mage off your team without feeling like you're being punished for it? If so, is it enough to have two options of healers, or do you want everyone to be able to heal equally? If the game gives you two options of healers, do you feel compelled to use both of them?

If the game has made strong efforts to ensure that offense is just as important as defense, does this still matter? If you can customize each character and choose who gets healing spells, does it still bother you when the game ropes you into only having one dedicated healer?

I don't play many games with tanks, but being similarly defensive-oriented characters, I think the same points would all apply to them too.

Zelda/Lufia2/Wild ARMs style tools - RMXP

I need to figure out how to add tools to my game. It's pretty overwhelming to do from scratch. I am an okay programmer but I don't even know where to begin. Anyone know of a game that does this? Or a script that adds at least part of the functionality? Or want to make a script for me themselves?

Does anyone think this thread is biased


I thought games reviews like this was were am judged based on [s]it's[\s] their content, story grammar, and gameplay number of pop culture references, but not based on how many hours it is and whether the beginning is any good well you know the creator ignorant the reader is of the reviewer's popularity and intelligence, that's not what a review parody thread is all about. The only good thing this review pointed out was several things that has to be worked out in general There are no good things this review points out. This thread raised some good points but ultimately needed to deconstruct the review much further to be convincing, preferably without the use of strikethrough text, because that's annoying as hell to read.

Personally this isn't the only time I've seen a long game like this take the heat terrible game good review described as good terrible, it doesn't make sense to me with this crowd. Are most of you casual gamers into bad games autoerotic dogloving nazis freakshows (I'm not insulting, it's just a category)?

I don't know what, but [s]long games are hated on here.[\s] terrible games are loved on here. My captcha text for this thread was "spicy nuns". I'm not even kidding.

Let's Try with LockeZ

I assume you all know what the Let's Try initiative is by now. (If not, check out YDS's thread.) Count me officially in on it. I hate that there are like five different threads for this now, I wish it were actually something that was supported by the website instead of just being dumped in forum topics. But until someone adds a "Let's Try" button between Engines and Podcasts at the top of the website, this'll have to do!

Compared to other people who do Let's Try videos, I'm going to attempt to actually cover more of the game instead of just the intro. I want to go a little deeper than just giving you a superficial first impression. In order to do this and not have 30 hours of video per game, sometimes I will actually cut out parts of the game that I just have nothing to say about. Since I mostly only talk to point out problems, maybe you should consider each cut to be a compliment!

Without further ado, here are the games I've done videos of!

Possibly to do list:
One Night: Full Circle
Resident Evil After History

Send me requests, you guys! I won't make a video of your game unless you ask me to.