Author Topic: I posted this in Reddit but I thought why not see what my favorite people think?  (Read 4602 times)

ZealKnight

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Ok everyone likes to complain about Final Fantasy. It's become fashionable in the video game world to hate on Final Fantasy. So in complete seriousness how would you fix the franchise?

If it were me, I'd start with canceling all these spinoffs. Not because the suck, but because they waste personel that could be used on speeding up the process of creating the franchise. FF12 took four years to be released and 13 took three. I'm not saying a game should only take one year to make, but two years should be a max.

Next, I'd fire Toriyama. Maybe Kitase too. Toriyama has pretty much proven himself unable to direct a game at this point. Yes Toriyama was credited as director of X but so were three others. He was not given full directorship of that game he did receive full directorship of X-2, XIII, XIII-2, XII:Revenant Wings, and Blood of Bahamut. Each of those games were decent, but they don't have the mass appeal of the old FF games. The reason I might fire Kitase is because he has TOO much power. At this point he is a symbol of FFVII and less of a creator. He probably is still a great writer, but he is such a supporter of Toriyama it makes me question is thought process. But the main reason I would fire him, is because of his inability to get along with Hiroyuki Ito. If you don't know who Ito is let me first direct you to his Wikipedia page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hiroyuki_Ito Basically he created the ATB system, Gilgamesh, the Job system in V and Tactics, Directed VI, The trial scene in Chrono Trigger, the materia system, Directed FFIX, the ATE system in IX, Mognet, Chocobo Hot&Cold, and Directed XII

Now here's the issue. Ito believes a game should be about how the player interacts with the story and Kitase believes a powerful story should take full precedent. I don't think they get along. If possible that they could work together the best Final Fantasy ever could be made. I.E. another FFVI

As far as battle system is concerned I'd start by taking XII's system and evolve it. I'd use the WiiU. I think the tablet is a great idea for JRPGs. You can use the analogue stick to walk around and use the the touch tablet to control your characters. This would ease the interface and if done well enough could get rid of the need for gambits. Use some standards in Western RPGs, such as auto attack after the initial choice to attack and auto attack things that attack you. If this still is too difficult gambits on all party members excluding the main character could be utilized. As far as Limits are concerned I'd like to include double tech and triple techs. They should be cut scenes similar to quickenings in XII. To get new single techs you would level up. And double techs would be gotten similar to Persona 4 where increasing your relationship with other characters can get you double techs. This would be similar with triple techs, but instead the three characters should have a group affection level as well. Add the idea where you can date any character you want. Hell why not make a character gay if you want. Have each of the characters hate the villain for reasons similar to Tifa's and Aerith's reasons for Sephiroth. (the only way of learning it though is by building the relationship with the character as to not have one character's story overshadow the other) As far as character design is concerned Nomura usually has that done pretty well, but if I had to suggest something (although really unimportant because he's great with this as it is) I guess I would take inspiration from some Kpop groups. I mean 2ne1 and Bigbang dress like a bunch of FF characters. In the first 6 seconds of Fantastic Baby we see G-Dragon looking like a FF villain: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AAbokV76tkU As for 2ne1 if you're interested: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HC9yVkniWQ4

The ATE system would be a great way of allowing the player to interact with the characters and build relationships. The ability system could use the crysterium system of XIII but instead of it being already done for you, you create the grid yourself. You start with 10 empty nodes and infuse materia (not really materia but I'm assuming it would be called something crystal like, basically items that hold a certain amount of nodes stats and abilities) into them to extend the grid. Of course by infusing some you sacrifice something, either they might be hard to come by or they take a bit of your stats. (like how equipping certain materia lower certain stats) Also Summons wouldn't replace the party, instead they would be a big attack that attacks all aggro enemies, there would be a short cutscene though so don't be too disappointed. I would make nine playable characters, each with their own unique weapon and starting stats, however the stats are completely customizable but for example a character that starts out as a mage is harder to turn into a tank but is possible to max out their stats in this way if you really want. As for leveling up, it does need to be there, the way stats would increase would be on a percentage scale, depending on which stats you increase on the ability grid. In other words if you spend most of your stat increases on HP in the ability grid then when you level up you get more HP than any other stat. Save points refill Hp and Mp. I'd include the battle chain from XII. Treasure Chests would not be random (WTF were they thinking putting that in FFXII!?) Weather like XII, but it could be done a bit better and traps could exist still.

Next I wanna stress Mini games should be involved in the main story at least once, like VII and X. And the FFIX or FFVIII card game. Also all sidequests should be available at all times, but most importantly they should yield the BEST equipment and abilities and should have just as compelling a story as the main story and be about major characters (not necessarily the playable characters, but major characters none the less.) not some random NPC whose entire creation was solely for the sidequest to exist. This is what made Chrono Trigger's sidequests so great and why I do the everytime I replay it... every year.

A world map would be awesome, but I could deal with a FFXII style of map. Another thing I would like is just conversation for the sake of conversation like in WRPGs where I can ask anything I like. That's only my take on the franchise though. I'm sure I missed something in this rant though. lol
« Last Edit: July 10, 2012, 01:01:29 pm by ZealKnight »

Kodokami

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Is XII's battle system really so great? Has it devolved so far as to have gambits do most of the fighting for you? I'm not bashing it (I think it a rather neat concept), I'm honestly curious to know if that is the prevailing opinion. Personally, I have always enjoyed X's battle system the most--simple and turn-based, with a clearly defined turn order (and one that doesn't cheat either; I'm looking at you, Radiant Historia). I would like to see that utilized again.

I'm short on time, but one thing I would love to see every RPG implement is The World Ends with You's difficulty settings. Story is important, and to have an enemy you just can't seem to defeat get in the way of that is frustratingly frustrating. As such, difficulty should be a challenge, not a necessity. TWEWY's option to modify difficulty (even after losing a battle) is quite a boon. Even leveling up is an option; Neku gains levels from experience, but you can reduce them (and thus his overall strength) to raise the chance of looting. Neat, huh?

alfadorredux

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I was not particularly impressed with any aspect of FFXII, and the battle system did not strike me as something worth emulating (a friend of mine failed to finish the game because of it—it was just too twitchy for her. I did get to the end, but I don't think I'm going to repeat the experience any time soon). Furthermore, even if some of Squeenix's executive may claim that story is paramount in their games, FFXII's plot was murky and difficult to keep track of, and most of the characters were unengaging. Flashy video cutscenes do not a story make.

Basically, the problem is that adding WRPG/MMORPG elements to what was originally a series of hardcore JRPGs messes with players' expectations, and not in a good way. If I'd wanted one of those other types of games, that's what I would have bought: there are plenty of them out there. By contrast, the number of true JRPGs released in English for the major consoles seems to have been in steep decline since the middle of the PS2 era...or is it just me?

This doesn't mean that JRPGs can't or shouldn't innovate—it means that substituting bits and pieces taken from other people's games in an attempt to pursue the mythical mainstream audience isn't innovating. Neither is adding an idiot like Van to a game as the main character because they think that's what some demographic or other wants (IIRC, Basch was originally supposed to be the main character of FFXII). Squeenix needs to get back to its roots and not worry quite so hard about what the market wants (newsflash, guys: if you start building a game right now based on what the market wants most at this point in time, by the time it's released, the market will have moved on. You don't catch the damned rabbit by running to where it was ten minutes ago).

ZealKnight

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I was not particularly impressed with any aspect of FFXII, and the battle system did not strike me as something worth emulating (a friend of mine failed to finish the game because of it—it was just too twitchy for her. I did get to the end, but I don't think I'm going to repeat the experience any time soon). Furthermore, even if some of Squeenix's executive may claim that story is paramount in their games, FFXII's plot was murky and difficult to keep track of, and most of the characters were unengaging. Flashy video cutscenes do not a story make.


You didn't like Basch, Balthier, Ashe, or Fran? I personally love FFXII. I'm not sure you really played much XII if you're still trying to use that old argument of "game plays itself, lol!"

Gambits are there as an option, but you absolutely do NOT have to use them. There's an option (on by default, I believe, but it's been a while since I've played, so I could be wrong about that) to have the game pause when you open the battle menu. From there, you can flip between characters and put in your own commands for each character. You can play it entirely manually if you wish.

As for the gambit system itself, it will only do what you tell it to do, so while it does automate some basic things, it's still entirely your call as to what it's automating. If you know that every time you have your main character attack a monster you're going to go give the rest of your party an order to attack the same monster, why not just set a gambit for that? It streamlines the combat which is something that I think everyone can agree is not a bad thing. You're never going to be running into a situation where you're thinking "why are you doing that, gambit system? That doesn't make any sense and you're stupid!" (unless you misunderstood the "program" you entered ;) And even then, if the gambit has gone off the rails, your manual inputs will override the gambit so you can fix the issue immediately, then you can go back into the menu and tweak the gambit to fix whatever issue has arisen. They did purposefully make it in the image of an MMO, but for every person like you who takes exception to that, there's at least one person like me who loves the idea. The bits that they took from MMOs work really well and because it's single-player, you don't have to worry about other idiots fuckin' around with your ability to enjoy it. Because it's offline and non-subscription, they don't have to build the game to be a total boring-ass grindfest.

Being able to see the mobs (and thus being able to choose to avoid them if you wish) is the single best thing to come about in JRPG design in years, I'd say. It's really no different than being able to Run from battle which you've been able to do in every FF ever, it's just less tedious. If they need to force you into a battle, they have ways to ensure you can't get away, but for what would be random battles in prior installments, you get the choice ahead of a loading screen/battle-start-animation of whether or not you really want to bother.
As for gambits, again, you're right, nobody at all seemed to mind them in Dragon Age: Origins... I didn't hear word one about that game playing itself, but it had literally the exact same system. The difference was the Final Fantasy fans don't want the franchise to stay fresh and ahead of the genre. They want Dragon Quest with Tetsuya Nomura's art.

You set up gambits for your party members, so that they will do exactly what you want them to do. If you want them to deviate from that, just give a direct order and it will override it. You don't need to turn the entire system off to get the manual control. If 90% of the time you're going to have all three party members attack one target, tell me why it's better to have to input that Attack command three separate times EVERY time? Wouldn't it be smoother to tell the game "hey, unless I tell you otherwise, I want these two fools to attack whatever I'm attacking"?

Everyone makes out like FF12 was this radical departure for the series, and while on the surface it was, when you think through the mechanics, it's really not that far off of what came before. Besides I said try to get rid of the gambits with forced direct control using the tablet of the WiiU. That should be the goal of the battle system for FFXV honestly, a way of having a Nomura style FF game with the enemy/battle on the field with direct control of each character. I just said if the interface is still too hard or if the PS or XB is the chosen system then the gambit system is perfectly fine.

As far as characters are concerned Basch and Gabranth are two of the greatest characters in FF history. Between the dialogue and motivation or the design they are all around lovable. Ashe was strong but not sociopathic, in contrast to lightning. Balthier was witty and badass. Vann is the only worthless character in the game. At least Penelo befriends Larsa and uses him as a MAJOR bargaining tool with Arcadia. Fran was sexy, interesting, and informative. Shes basically Lulu with an interesting past, and a sexier design. I won't say the game was perfect. Parts of it were down right stupid. I liked Vayne. I just don't think the epic things he did were presented as epic as the should of. Like when he killed his father. I believe he killed all his brothers too. Too bad they didn't say anything about that.

Honestly if you really want the classic JRPG experience Dragon Quest might be your thing. FF is always trying to evolve to stay ahead of the rpg genre. DQ is just classic fun. You should try that out. It might be your thing instead of current FF. That and the 4 warriors of light and bravery default.

ZealKnight

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Wow, I just re read that post and it sounded very dick. I'm sorry. I just meant if you go back to FF12 I think you'll find that it is still fun and respectable. I can't do that with 13 or 13-2. They're very hard to go through again. And FFX's battle got so boring at times and SO easily exploitable. I think it's a great game, but I think it was directed very well that you don't see the flaws easily.

alfadorredux

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Balthier and Basch managed to hold my attention to some extent—without them, I likely wouldn't have finished the game at all. The girls I remember only vaguely—it tends to be more difficult for female characters to catch my interest (I couldn't even remember Fran's name until you mentioned it). Van, the other girl (Penelo?), and the NPCs, including the antagonists, mostly didn't work, and what little I remember of the plot is a jumble of politics that didn't seem to make much sense at the time, never mind a couple of years later.

As for the combat system, there is nothing you could possibly do to make me like it. The problem isn't that it's too complicated, the problem is that I want to be able to focus on one thing at a time rather than having to keep track of what three characters and some number of antagonists are doing simultaneously. Screaming, "WILL YOU KEEP THE FUCK OUT OF MY HAIR WHILE I [DO X]?!?!?!" at the screen isn't fun—it's stressful, and I play games to destress. (Oddly enough, I have less of a problem with this in the Star Ocean games, suggesting that there's something additional about the implementation here that's messing with me, although it could be just the difficulty level.)

So yes, I do want to put in the attack command three separate times, thanks very much. That doesn't make me get ticked off at the game.

The Final Fantasy series up to and including X did constantly reinvent certain things about its gameplay, namely the skills/magic and sometimes the levelling paradigms. The only significant change in the combat paradigm, however, was from the pure turn-based system of the NES days to a system of turns assigned by speed. Moving away from that seems to have been a large part of what made the games less enjoyable for me.

I get the impression that what I want from these games may be completely the opposite of what you want from them. Which is fine, but it does mean that we're never going to agree on what needs to be done to "fix" the series.

(And actually, Dragon Quest—at least the early games in the series that I've played—doesn't wow me either. I'm more of a Suikoden fan.)

Boo the Gentleman Caller

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ZealKnight, have you played Xenoblade? MANY of the aspects your describe are actually evident in Xenoblade... The FFXII semi-real-time combat, the weather system, the character affinity, etc. Double tech's and summons weren't included in Xenoblade, but I didn't miss them, to be honest.

Honestly, Xenoblade felt like a more refined FFXII. It took the combat strengths of that game and made them so much more user-friendly... and more fun. And we all know that at the end of the day the 'fun' factor takes center stage. I'm still slowly playing through it (having a baby makes video game time a rare occurance) and have been LOVING it so much. It's one of my favorite video games ever, and that's saying a lot. Each time I play it it is an absolute treasure.

I tend to hate each Final Fantasy the first time I play them. My first RPG was Chrono Trigger, followed by Secret of Mana, and then FFVII. Beyond FFVII I have have played each one in order. The first time I played FFVIII, I hated it; I hated the draw system and gave up on Disc III. I came back and played it a few years ago and absolutely loved it. To this day the Laguna story is one of my favorite video game stories ever - I think FFVIII could have benefited from more Laguna, in fact. Next I played FFIX and also hated it the first time I played it; the story didn't keep me engaged and the mechanics were just 'blah.' I played in again around 2005 or 2006 and loved it. In fact, it's my favorite Final Fantasy to this day. Time came and I played both FFX and FFXII (I skipped FFXI and plan on skipping FFXIV). I hated them both the first time I played them, got to the final dungeon, and gave up.

I think I get frustrated the first time I play through the games because they don't live up to my expectations that preceded them. I subconsciously desire a rehash of a previous FF title, and by comparison, the previous entry (which I have disliked to this point) looks good by comparison. It is this subconscious desire for more of the same that disappoints me.

I could say the same for why I think Chrono Cross disappoints some.

ZealKnight

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ZealKnight, have you played Xenoblade? MANY of the aspects your describe are actually evident in Xenoblade... The FFXII semi-real-time combat, the weather system, the character affinity, etc. Double tech's and summons weren't included in Xenoblade, but I didn't miss them, to be honest.

Honestly, Xenoblade felt like a more refined FFXII. It took the combat strengths of that game and made them so much more user-friendly... and more fun. And we all know that at the end of the day the 'fun' factor takes center stage. I'm still slowly playing through it (having a baby makes video game time a rare occurance) and have been LOVING it so much. It's one of my favorite video games ever, and that's saying a lot. Each time I play it it is an absolute treasure.

I did play Xenoblade. That's actually why I thought of this. The first thing I thought was this reminds of of XII. I personally think Xenoblade is the best RPG I've played. If it had Chrono Cross or Trigger's story I'd stop playing video games because no game could beat its perfection. My only issue with Xenoblade (besides how freakishly long it is) was the abilities started to get confusing. When monsters started to see me reading the future my mind was crying. That's why an FF coating would be friendly and loving.

Satoh

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I was honestly giving some serious thought about this until you made a dire mistake in claiming that an FF other than the most obvious FF in my mind to be the best in the series was the best.

I don't deny that you make a number of very good points about actually -fixing- the series being more important than just making fun of it... Though, anytime since XI, I sort of have trouble defending the series anymore... that aside... The one thing I just can't agree with you on... is that VI was the best. It just wasn't in my opinion... it was ok... I'd put it above X in plot, but far below it in terms of replay value... and X isn't even in my top 3.

I'd love to see the Classic ATB system turned into something maybe slightly new, just new enough to not be a carbon copy of  of the rest... and nothing else done to it... Hell I'd love to see another turn based system...

I have a problem with deciding which mindset is more important though... Is a phenomenal plot more important than an interactive one... well there's no way to answer that really... both things are important, and ideally I'd want to have a plot that is both interactive and branching ad nauseum, and phenomenal at the same time... but it can't be done in the space of time that games are made in... it would take a lifetime to accomplish that, and that's if you have a large group of planners that are all perfectly synchronized in function and execution...

However, I can say that as things stand now, I'd prefer a mildly engaging plot with lots of options over another RPG-on-rails...

I heavily disagree on the XII battle system thing though... I hated it.

To be honest, I think the best thing that could happen to the series right now is if a small group of indie developers that haven't even become a "company" yet, were to make a game and bootleg it as "the next final fantasy." I'm disgusted with pretty much everything I see in modern FF's. Too much focus on graphical realism details... I've seen realistic style graphics... and that's all they are... a style... they don't look real enough to be worth it anymore... it isn't something new and cool... so stop acting like its the only style there is... (that goes for all modern RPGs these days really... if I wanted realism I'd go get stabbed by a hobo... THAT's a realistic scenario.)

Can the fancy menus. There's no point. No one looks at the menu and says "Wow this game must be great because of how beautiful these menus are."

Music. More of it. The last modern RPG I played, while I loved it and all and had probably 200 songs... felt very stingy with the music, and FF is certainly not getting better about its musical variety... And the music they do have, seems to be pretty unengaging lately.
One thing to avoid... Metal. A lot of the FF's are using less orchestral music and more modern style music... While this in itself isn't bad, the actual scores for the music are a lot less interesting... again this applies to most RPGs today...

Switch back to the time tested "I stand an inch away from you and press a button to initiate conversation" tactic. That worked. It worked really well. Also, don't use any fancy gimmicks like having high quality character render portraits in every conversation... It just feels cheap anymore... I want what you abandoned: Interactive speech, with a few minor character animations applied to it.... and I stress the character animations. It seems like the only thing any RPG character knows how to do anymore is stand up straight; I know there wasn't much other than that in XIII... I'm not saying you need to have a cutscene at every conversation... (in fact I'm getting tired of those too)... Nah, I just want the characters to fold their arms and think once in a while... maybe look surprised for a moment...

Well, for example, I know Crisis Core lacked a lot of realtime character animation (and reused most of what they had, far too often... and yet still not used often enough to begin with) because it was a limited medium. UMD's are pretty small. FFXIII had seemingly less realtime animation, and it had something like 40-80gb of space on its Blu-ray disc... Quit wasting space and in fact processing power, on making the graphics look "shiny" and make them feel "complete," by having some variety in what they can do.

Mini games... some people are probably scoffing at the mention right now... but think about it, a few FF's had some minigames that were genuinely fun... Chocobo Hot and Cold, while it could get annoying sometimes, was actually quite fun to me... it isn't even the kind of game I normally like, but it was done so well, that I could actually get into it. It was something that I could do when I was tired of playing through a particularly unenjoyable (or far too familiar) part of FFIX... Tetra Master and Triple Triad... they get a lot of flak, but hell, they were fun diversions too.

Locations. I like having locations, particularly ones that are connected somehow, but also ones that I don't have to traverse 500 times to get anywhere... Basically... a world map.... Not a list of destinations I can choose from in a menu... not a series of tunnels I HAVE to walk through to get from A to B... an actual overworld, with things to see and possibly fight, maybe even interact with. Sure they can get tedious... but they're much less tedious than spelunking the same four caves over and over... and they're a lot more fun than looking at a shopping list of locations...

Random encounters... I could go either way with this.. it's a touchy subject... but sometimes random encounters are less annoying than pre-programmed mandatory ones, or having to learn the patterns of every map enemy so I can avoid every battle... When I'm being chased by map enemies I often find myself paying more attention to NOT BEING TOUCHED BY THEM, than anything else in the game at all. So with that consideration, I spend the majority of the game stuck in a constant state of irritation. Random encounters aren't so bad if they're moderate. If I can move a decent distance without triggering an encounter, I'm pretty ok. What makes random encounters annoying is when they happen too frequently.

On the subject of battle, don't make every situation just another excuse for a battle. Sometimes battle is important, other times they seem to get in the way.

Make some battles unique... Involve the player in a select few battles that are a bit more interesting than just killing the baddie... maybe the enemy isn't even an enemy and you can win just by defending... maybe the enemy goads you and has small interrupt scenes... But there is a stipulation to this as well... it can't be EVERY battle... If every battle is like this, it just becomes part of the mundane, and is no longer engaging.

Enemies that have quirks... Can be killed by healing... Weakness to Soft... hell maybe one enemy is gay and runs away from female characters using charm or something (no offense to anyone if it is somehow possibly offensive...)... I don't know... be creative... for once...

Here's an idea... make Token Black Guy not be Token... Make him just be a guy that happens to be black. Hell, have a whole cast of different skin tones... I mean not everyone is Black, White or Asian...

Love stories... they're cliche and they're getting more and more annoying... honestly these would be a really simple way to add some plot variance to the game... Instead of setting up your canon couples... maybe give the player some influence over the inevitable relationship that is going to be unavoidably added to the story. Not only that, but if you're going to make such a romance be important, why would you NOT have it be influencible? Because it means you have to work a little? Because your plot is only solid enough to support one couple?

Plot. The plots, while seeming to be of the utmost importance to the new FF's above all else, including being above FUN, are crap. People rag on X all the time, and I can see a few good reason to do so, but honestly, in comparison between X and XIII... I'd go with X in the plot category any day. I'd go with nearly any of the FF's previous for that matter.  VII isn't as spectacular as people claim it is, but it was engaging... More than that, it felt like something you were a part of, rather than something that was happening near you. The same goes for VI, VIII, IX, and X...  Considering how much Kitase thinks plot should be the most important thing... the plots really haven't been that great of late.



The short of it is... To fix Final Fantasy as a series... stop Nintendoing everything. You don't have to make EVERY FEATURE different and completely new while at the same time being an idea we've all had for a long time anyway... Stop using fancy gimmicks and just WORK HARD on making a game. Pick an engine from a mid-early FF and start with that, and add a new plot and characters to it.. If you spend all your time on the actual plot, keeping interactivity, branches, side quests, and minigames in mind, you pretty much can't go wrong. Where you fail, Squenix, is in trying to make every little thing innovative, at the expense of being fun... and also making the graphics too obtrusively "LOOK HOW COOL I AM" pretentious. Make FFVI/VII/VIII/IX with a different plot, world, and cast. You'll succeed then.

ZealKnight

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Oh shit... I did say VI was the best... I'm very bad at diction. Hard to argue, but I didn't really mean it was the best. But can't deny it's damn good. Also you said the music was failing. I COMPLETELY disagree. Not to say XII, XIII, and XIII-2 had amazing soundtracks, but...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MOJ91H4mraU That's a great OST in a game. As for the World Map I think everyone who play JRPGs and agree that they were more than just a nice thing to have. They were, in a way, an interesting way of making a menu interactive. As for random enounters, I agree. It's not that random battles are bad, however, I think it's much harder to find a balance of whats too much. Pokemon is too much. Revelations: Persona too little. Agreed about the interesting enemies. Example: FFV I think V was the first game where zombie were killed by healing. Not to mention enemies were creatively hard. Atmos would spam meteor then when a character died try to eat them. To this day I can't beat ExDeath. (I did give up about 6 years ago and never tried again, I should go back and do that) Instead of Yizmat who just took forever. Oh lord how that was boring. And I don't think SE was trying to have a Token Black character. I don't think they are trying to be racist or even trying to appeal to every race. I think they thought Sazh was a fun character and decided to use him. I agreed. I mean Reddas was black. He wasnt a token black character. He was a character that happened to be black. And I thought the fact that Snow and Serah were not the main characters and them falling in love before the plot was probably the best part of XIII. It did a great job of getting rid of that cliche. Until XIII-2 decided Noel and Serah needed to fall in love. I don't think Kitase does much anymore. To be honest I think Toriyama does it all. He sucks. Play the new Parasite Eve. And by play I mean don't, it's story wasnt good at all. And also I think what made VII, IX, and X so great was that you EXPERIENCED the story instead of just being told it happened. Youre introduced to Sephiroth with a trial of blood. Instantly you fear him. You fall in love with Aerith and then he kills her. You being to hate him. You experience Sephiroth not told "He's powerful and evil dude." And you're absolutely right. Squenix thinks what made their games great were gimmicks, but what they thought were gimmicks were actually ways of evolving what they already had. Materia was a way of giving you control of a character's class. Instead of you can be any of these classes, it became create your class. This idea came back in VIII, X, and XII. This idea seems to be slipping with every game lately. XIII is a great example of that. Not only could you not choose your classes for 70% of the game but each character had a limit on what they could do in each class. This came back in XIII-2 except you had access to every class at the start.

Thought

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An interesting exercise, though perhaps I'm not the best person to comment. I have several games that I've either (effectively) never played or I haven't bothered to beat. I still haven't beaten 8, only played enough of 9 to make sure my disc was working, had beaten the first boss of 12 before getting distracted, and barely passed the tutorial of X-2. Even at that, it took me around...6 years, I think, to beat FF VII. Compare this to the first six, all (except II) of which were beaten within a year of me first getting a hold of them (and usually within 2 or 3 months). I STILL remember the first time I beat Golbez, in the crystal room of the Dwarf Castle, or driving to get FF VI (well, III) shortly after it had come out (on Mother's Day -.- In retrospect, that was rather a poor, insensitive decision, on my part, but I think help proves the point of me being passionate about those games).

So, what was it, at least for someone like me, that made the first 6 games so engrossing, and the last 8+ so... not? I would that I've changed, rather than the series.

I played FF6 again not THAT long ago, and I never finished it. I couldn't overlook the random battles. I would play until I reached a part that I loved, then quit afterwards for weeks. Or consider FFI: when it first came out (1990), my brothers and I would always grind monsters to make sure we had bought all the best equipment as soon as it became available. Of course, we didn't call it "grinding" in my day. Nope, we called it galumphing. And we didn't call them monsters, either, we calls'd em roys. Yup, we'd say that ol Steve there (steve being what we called players) was galumphing himself some roys, yessireebobsusan. I just don't do that anymore. And, when I go back to the old games, I STILL don't do that. The 1990 version of FFI hasn't changed, so if I don't find it as fun anymore, I must be the one who has changed.

Thus, perhaps the problem with the Final Fantasy series is that its fans have grown older, expect different things, and the series is still trying to market to the same old age group. That is a fine business model. I don't need, say, Nickelodeon to market to me anymore (although I wouldn't say no to a Dexter's Laboratory reboot, or, actually, a reboot of ReBoot). If they still want to make games that target me-if-I-was-20-years-younger-oh-my-gawd-I'm-old, good for them.


That said, IF SquareEnix wants to be Squeeeeenix again, I do think there are a few accommodations they could implement for someone like me.

First, let the player control the random encounter rate. I don't mean any of this "Oh, I'll just avoid the monsters" crap, I mean let me set the actual rate. If I only want there to be big bad bosses, let me set it that way. If I want to have an encounter every foot, let me set it that way. And, of course, let me change it from day to day.
Second, have adapted difficulty that doesn't ruin the concept of preparing. I stopped playing Oblivion because I hated the fact that the world leveled with my character. I had to jimmy the system to be more powerful than everyone else, and, if I didn't, I was less powerful. That was lame. One of the reasons I've never finished FFVIII is because it had a similar system. There were, at least, innately harder and easier enemies, but it still had too much subjectivity.

How, one might ask, can the first and second point be melded? Through D&D. As a DM, I know that I can either throw several easy battles at players, or a few hard battles, before they rest and recover. As one adjusts the encounter rate, have the enemies that do spawn be more or less powerful (and give more or less rewards) in an appropriate manner. The key is in thinking of battles as a group, rather than individually. Actually, the key is thinking of encounters, rather than battles. Which leads me into...

Point the Third: What is up with all these thief or thief-like characters and no thieving?! It doesn't matter if a character is an assassin, thief, spy, priest, guru, or pacifist. Whenever they seen an enemy, their first thought is to attack, head on. Allow us to avoid enemies (or, at least, some enemies), to incapacitate them, to talk them out of fighting us, etc, and, most importantly, give us rewards for doing so. How? I'll get to that...
The Great Lord Point, Fourth of his name: are character's blind? Enemies should generally be represented on the map. Chrono Trigger did it wonderfully well: why hasn't that been universally implemented and improved upon? This would also allow us to solve the above point: once an enemy (or other obstacle) is avoided, give the party XP. Then, if the party goes back to fight it, make it so the encounter doesn't net XP.

And finally, point 5, break the game up into easily digestible chunks. If I only have 10 minutes, I should still be able to sit down and get something done, even if I am in the middle of a dungeon. Maybe this means giving me perpetual access to a minigame like blitzball (except, you know, with better music), or some way to improve characters, play dress up, decorate a house, forge the doombringer sword, etc. It is hard for me to squirrel away an hour or more to play a game. Not playing a game means, well, I'm not playing it, and I'll be less excited about the next title because, hey, I have 3.5 unplayed Final Fantasy games already, waiting for me at home.

You'll note that I said nothing about plot, or actual battle, or anything else. The reason is quite simple: one of the things I love about FF is that it tries to reinvent itself with each iteration. That's fine and dandy, but the above are those obstacles that are preventing me from enjoying any iteration.

Edit:
To be honest, I think the best thing that could happen to the series right now is if a small group of indie developers that haven't even become a "company" yet, were to make a game and bootleg it as "the next final fantasy."

*looks around* Where's Faustwolf when you need him? We have the technology, we can rebuild the series. Make it faster, stronger, better.
« Last Edit: July 11, 2012, 02:04:32 pm by Thought »

FaustWolf

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I couldn't stand Final Fantasy XII's battle system but I ended up cherishing the story. Basch's first conversation with Gabranth, and the scene where Gabranth is forced to execute Drace, are just gorgeous pieces of writing IMO. Balthier is always a treasure, and I found the ending satisfying. I still would have loved to see Matsuno's original plan of having the story centered around Basch and Gabranth (if I'm remembering the background notes right). Gabranth must have had some fascinating stuff going on in that noggin of his; too bad he just kind of peters out and loses his mind toward the end of the final version. Such a waste of a character's potential. It would have been a total treat if Drace had more screen time too.

I've been banging this drum for years, but I'm really keen on seeing someone mesh the battle systems of Xenogears, Chrono Trigger and Valkyrie Profile. Snappy turn-based battles with multiple actions per turn, player input for avoiding enemy attacks instead of leaving it up to a luck stat, and multi-character techs. I get excited just thinking about it!


Quote from: Satoh
I have a problem with deciding which mindset is more important though... Is a phenomenal plot more important than an interactive one... well there's no way to answer that really... both things are important, and ideally I'd want to have a plot that is both interactive and branching ad nauseum, and phenomenal at the same time... but it can't be done in the space of time that games are made in... it would take a lifetime to accomplish that, and that's if you have a large group of planners that are all perfectly synchronized in function and execution...
Yeah, this is something I've really come to appreciate after our various fan doings. Matsuno did accomplish it in Tactics Ogre, which had three paths. Three awesome paths! It's the only example of its kind I can think of too, unless we bring in visual novels like Radical Dreamers.

But there I go again, talking about non-Final Fantasy franchises.
« Last Edit: July 12, 2012, 11:50:46 pm by FaustWolf »

Satoh

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Matsuno did accomplish it in Tactics Ogre, which had three paths. Three awesome paths! It's the only example of its kind I can think of too, unless we bring in visual novels like Radical Dreamers.

You've just made a point you didn't intend when you said that... A good one, though.

If the developers were to take their most genius writer and create some sort of visual novel and call it Final Fantasy... keeping in mind a visual novel practically requires multiple branching plots and endings to succeed... (Fate/Stay Night is the most famous example I can think of, and all of its plot arcs were coherent to the main plot concept... Tsukihime is less famous but had even more arcs and each was treated seriously as well.)

Would it not work as a successful Final Fantasy? Sure, it's not what you expect, but it does have the main points we ALL want in our FF... Good storytelling, interactivity with the plot, music... We must consider too that characters make a visual novel...

I would honestly be more intrigued by FF the visual novel than I would be by the announcement that they're finally remaking FFVII, faithfully. Who agrees? Anyone? I know I'm an oddball, but how much of one am I?

Boo the Gentleman Caller

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To add a bit of history to the genesis of FFXII, as Faust said, originally the main character was Basch von Ronsenberg. However, the staff felt that a gruff, 30-second was too unlike the core Final Fantasy demographic, so they needed a new lead. Thus, Vaan was created. He was young, impressionable, and wide-eyed... much like the core demographic for the series. Of course, Vaan couldn't go at it alone, so he needed a best friend to tag along! Thus Penelo.

Both characters could have been removed from FFXII and the plot wouldn't have changed at all. It's true.

Think about it, almost every JRPG has a best friend for the lead character. Cloud had Tifa, Serge had Leena, Crono had Lucca, Shulk had Reyn, Ryudo had Skye, Fayt had Sophia, Zidane had Tantalus (and the underutilized Blank), Squall had everyone minus Rinoa, Tidus had Wakka, so on and so forth. I know this cliche isn't in every video game, but it's definitely something I've grown incredibly aware of over time.

I think FFVI, although not my favorite FF game, did the best job of balancing the cast with little overall character cliche. There was no headstrong hero, no princess, no muscle-headed boofus, no tragic knight full of regret. I just unintentionally described three Chrono Trigger leads, hahaha...

I think this balance is what Final Fantasy needs. No lead protagonist and a truly ensemble cast. Make each character shine, and make them matter. Make them unique. Don't give me a blank template to make each character a carbon copy of each other. I know some of you have described that facet as something you desire, but I don't want it. I don't want to customize my characters entirely. I'd prefer a tech tree for each character where the parameters are not endless and no two characters can be identical, but I can also personalize each hero to an extent. FFX did a decent job of doing this.

Just a few thoughts to add. I love this convo, btw.

Radical_Dreamer

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Your comments on game production show how little you understand the process. Adding more people won't necessarily get you a better game faster. It won't necessarily get you either of those things. I understand your frustrations with long development times and with companies seemingly wasting their teams on projects that don't interest you. What you have suggested is not a practical solution.