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!

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