Sunday, 19 May 2013

Grandia ReDux Complete #3: Magic

Magic is a rather big topic so I'll likely post some further details elsewhere. In any case, here's the rundown.

Different Types of Mana

Magic from the original Grandia to ReDux currently functions very similarly: In regards to MP you'll have three different pools -- each containing spells that are catagorised into being weaker or stronger than others. Weaker spells would be LV1, and stronger spells would be LV3. It was a simple enough process, and mana management simply came down to balancing weaker spells with stronger spells. The problem with this is that often times, the way you could use your mana was often confused and you could say -- a bit overbearing. There wasn't really any focus into balancing spell usage with similar types, since they were split into different pools. And using weaker and stronger spells was never really a choice for the same reason. Ultimately, you had 297 mana to use healing spells if you wanted to, or 297 mana for damage spells. This just made it easy for someone to essentially not care about which spell they were using. Take Alhealer and Alhealer+ for instance. One is clearly stronger than the other. However, both are seperated into different pools of mana, so you therefore have 198 mana to use both, while having little compromise on which spell you wanted to use at any given time, other than balancing mana in each specific pool.

A better way to balance this however is to scrap the idea of splitting spells based on power, but instead seperate them into defined types. If Alhealer and Alhealer+ shared the same pool of mana, then there is suddenly a need to think about what spell is appropiate to use. If you overheal with Alhealer+, your entire mana pool for healing spells takes a noticeable hit. Again, this works for say, Burn, Burnflame and Burnflare. All of these spells now share the same MP pool. What this means is that these spells can be balanced closer to eachother while offering a choice on whether extra power is essential. Previously, if you ran out of mana to use Burn, you would still be able to use Burnflame and vice-versa. Thematically that didn't make much sense and had to balanced oddly. Therefore, instead of three pools of mana separating power, they are now separating types of spells:

LV1 = Support Spells.
LV2 = Basic offensive spells.
LV3 = Advanced offensive spells.

'Basic' and 'Advanced' simply refer to the elements of the spells. Fire, Water, Wind and Earth are catagorised as 'Basic' while Explosion, Lightning, Blizzard and Forest spells are catagorised as 'Advanced'. This does not occur for support spells however.

Mana Restoration

This is fairly similar to the SP system changes mentioned in the previous post. What was also mentioned is 'Invoke' a new SP costing ability that all magic users have. To put it simply, 'Invoke' is a spell that restores a flat amount of mana to the user. This costs SP as well as having a fixed cast time. Again, this means that spells generally cost a lot more than they used to, which means that you'll need to invoke fairly often in order to restore your mana. However, because of the SP cost and long cast time, you'll need balance normal attacks with other skill usage in order to do so.

In boss fights, you'll require careful management of both resources inbetween areas of downtime. MP and SP items are no longer avaliable in combat, individual management is even more essential. Most of the reasonings behind this change was echoed within the previous post. 

New Spells!

In ReDux Complete there are also many new spells to learn! As well as tweaks and overhauls of the currently existing spells too.

Shield - A single target buff that increases defense. Earth element.
Star - A single target buff that increases Max HP. Explosion element.
Restore - Restores all health to a single ally. Forest element. Was previously Boost.
Bubble - A single target damage spell. Water element.
Bubbling - A damage spell that targets all enemies. Water element.
Wrath - A single target damage spell. Forest element. Was previously Craze.
Howlspin - A single target damage spell. Wind element. Was previously SHHH!
Confuse - Inflicts confusion on a single enemy. Water element.
Meltdown - Inflicts heavy damage on multiple enemies. Fire element. Was previously Fireburner.
Haste - Increases the IP of one ally. Wind element.
Runner - Has now returned!
Curse - Inflicts plague on a single enemy. Blizzard element.
Torment - Inflicts plague on multiple enemies. Blizzard element.
Shock - Inflicts paralysis on multiple enemies. Lightning element.

Spell Progression

Spells are now also recieved at a much more gradual pace than they used to. Higher level spells are especially recieved much later than they did before. This is so progression remains consistant across all areas in the game. You'll still be learning new abilities even near the end of the game, so progression does not come to a halt much earlier! In addition, higher level spells have room to be even more powerful or useful as a result. You should feel satisfied when learning them!

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Grandia ReDux Complete #2: SP System

In ReDux complete, the SP system is going to be completely revamped in order to become much more short-term oriented in general. This is inspired by Grandia 3, which had a system where your SP would rapidly rise when using normal attacks or taking hits, in return for skills generally costing more. It was a great system in that it would not only reward players for managing their SP more carefully, but not discourage them to use abilities in longer fights or areas. Let’s go through why a longer-term, more resource heavy system was not ideal.

Weapon skills are the bread and butter of any character – the idea behind them is that they are more powerful than normal attacks while defining the characters overall. This is all fine and good, and that’s what they represent in the original game. The balance between using them however, never really made much sense. JRPGs in general are notorious for long-term resource systems and Grandia’s SP system was no exception. The problem is that the game, especially early on, forces the player to save your SP and hinder the use of your skills, only because the system was designed to make it difficult to recover SP aside from item usage. And in-turn, late game scenarios often allowed you to spam them because of SP pools in boss fights, in addition to items needing to be constantly force fed to the player in order to use them to a good degree. There were a lot of flaws in this, of course.

Firstly, for the most part, SP was tight enough that in most fights you avoided using them unless you really needed to.  They were powerful, yet had no tactful use other than to blow what you have left to get through an area. And in boss fights, once you blew all your SP, the fight had to be balanced to be almost over since SP couldn’t realistically be renewed. End stages of the game would cause you to use skills haphazardly since SP couldn’t really be balanced. And of course, this ended up making normal attacks lacklustre and pointless to use, since spells and skills alike had a flawed resource system which didn’t really have the concept of downtime.

And that’s really the whole point of the new SP system; Downtime. Weapon skills now cost an extreme amount of SP – often depleting your entire pool with only a couple skill usages. However, using normal attacks will refill your SP very rapidly, and when you take damage also. This results in the concept of downtime where you can balance your skill usage, knowing that you have the means of restoring SP fairly quickly. Therefore, all skills cost a lot more now, with character base SP amounts being a lot higher (Justin has 100, for instance).

For example, here's a list of Feena's weapon skills with their associated SP costs:

Knifehurl: 30 SP [CRITICAL]
Randomhurl: 50 SP
Power Lash: 40 SP [CRITICAL] [DELAY]
Flame Lasso: 60 SP
Shock Whip: 80 SP [PARALYZE]
End of the World: 120 SP [FIXED]
Tree of Life: 160 SP [FULL RESTORE]
Time Gate: 140 SP [STOP TIME]
Invoke: 80 SP [RESTORE MP]

Name changes aside, Feena mostly has her old abilities intact with her Icarian abilities now becoming weapon skills themselves. Invoke can be learned by any character able to use magic and has a fixed cast time. This a part of the tweaked MP system which will be detailed another time.

Functionality of some skills has been changed though. Knifehurl and Power Lash are both low damage, but high interrupt skills. Like the other Grandia games, each character has their own skill (always initial) that has a guaranteed chance to cancel. However, Feena is the exception with two of them, and Rapp's cancel ability is AoE rather than single target (Discutter).

Non-Ranged cancel skills (Such as V-Slash, Power Lash and Flying Dragon Slash) also have 'Delay'. You may be able to work out what that means.

So what should this new system result with? Generally speaking, this approach to the SP system should enable you to use abilities a lot more, have more tactful usage of normal attacks, as well as better management in boss fights. Dungeons runs should feel less restrained on resources, with a better emphasis on balancing actions as opposed to saving them, which should result in a more enjoyable experience. Boss fights will become less bursty and more consistent, forcing use of combos in particular. This adds to balance as well. As a result, this should keep skills fun to both manage and use!