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1  The Community / Open Discussion / Re: How to tell a good story in a video game: Episodes or no episodes? on: March 30, 2018, 05:08:27 PM
Having played a number of RPGs, I personally feel that the GS games rank among the lower end of them in terms of story. They generally have simplistic plots, character motivation that is either missing entirely or is handled so poorly as to be unbelievable, bland personalities if they even exist, and a huge amount of effort put into things that, while amazing, have @#$% all to do with the story itself. If I give Camelot any credit at all, it's that they are amazing when it comes to their attention to detail, and they are good with maximizing the capabilities of whatever hardware they are working with. At least for these games anyway. Even simple things, like how walking in shallow puddles will create little splashing or ripple effects, or how using Douse in most cold places will make it snow instead, or how virtually every single generic NPC in Dark Dawn uses a unique model—which sucks, because Dark Dawn is so bland and the story so nonsensical that I bet less than 1% of the people who played that game actually noticed—are good. GS2 actually has battle animations that use legitimate 3D effects and look amazing, yet story-wise that game is the most rushed of the three and there are several subplots that are either botched or are never given the attention they deserve (looking at you, Sheba). I'll go into more detail on this another day.



Yet, of the three, I'd actually say that the first game has the worst story because of how boring it is. DD is much worse overall, yes, but at least there are some potentially interesting things that are alluded to. GS1 utilizes a number of classic tropes that are borderline cliche at this point, and on the whole is the least inspired of the three when it comes to story. It is easier to remember than DD because it is very pretty, which the second game does better anyway.

Ignoring Isaac being mute, which is also one such cliche that is used horribly, I can think of a number of things just in the prologue/tutorial part of the game that are taken directly from other games that performed well:
- Isaac is woken up out of bed;
- By his mother/parent/guardian;
- During a really bad storm;
- He meets up with his childhood best friend;
- He loses a parent/guardian;
- Time skip: He, his childhood best friend, his other friend/love interest, and his teacher enter a forbidden/sacred area and unwittingly steal the precious artifacts there;
- His love interest gets kidnapped;
- Disaster [almost] befalls his quiet, peaceful village;
- He is tasked with stopping Saturos & co. from lighting the elemental Crystals of Light lighthouses.

And I want to be clear, I'm one of the few people on this site who doesn't mind mute protagonists. You just need to put more effort into giving them a personality, and depending on the style you go for that can be really hard to do. The Mario & Luigi games generally do a really good job with the personality thing despite the fact that it's Mario, and both of the titular characters only ever speak in sound clips like Link in the Zelda series; they have no written dialogue to speak of (not counting when Luigi cross-dresses of course), yet the way they react to situations and show their emotions goes a long way. A much more recent example is some game I found on Steam called Iconoclasts. I found the story to be fairly average on the whole, but the one character I actually liked was the silent protagonist; she reacts to situations and demonstrates emotion, all without dialogue. Yet another example would be Link in Wind Waker; that kid is very emotive!

I also don't mind episodic plots, provided they can be justified. It's often just a variation of the classic 3/4 act structure that has been tweaked to fit gameplay needs. GS does it too, but the first two games rarely justify it while DD's actually decent attempts at justification are still marred by the mixed intentions of the designers. You are supposed to explore to find things, like Haures, Crystallux, etc., yet you are also supposed to follow along with a plot that has the gall to throw in some points of no return without warning you.



Episodic formats are not a problem. Poor or inconsistent justification for why you're doing the things you are doing is a huge one, however.

Let's look at another example. I'm going to talk about a game I first played in 2015. It's a certain RPG that captures some of the same spirit that EarthBound had (another fantastic RPG). It is a game in which your choices matter, unlike in GS. It also stars a certain character who is lost in a land of monsters and wants to return home, and it boasts a colourful cast of quirky characters that are generally quite memorable.

I'm talking about LISA: The Painful. This game is essentially broken up into three broad sections and is almost episodic on its own. The main thing that ties everything together is that you always have one primary goal; find your surrogate daughter, who is possibly the last women in a world of perverts. There's a real motive there, and almost everything you do ties in to accomplishing your goal or is related to the central themes of the story.


Contrast this with the GS games:
- GS1 has two main reasons for doing what you are doing. Stop the end of the world (snore), and rescue Jenna. The Jenna angle is completely dropped by around Mercury Lighthouse, and the last person to even remember that you have the star is Alex. Before you leave Mercury. This was one of a few characters who proposed taking Jenna as a hostage for said star, and nobody even remembers the trade proposal when you're there. Then you go to Altin, Fuchin, Xian, etc. because a bridge is out... Yeah. In fact, GS1 doesn't even try to justify the middle third of the entire game, aside from a bridge south of Vault being ruined. The text never explicitly tells you that this is why you're bothering with not-China, aside from a very brief mention during the Hammet escape sequence that, again, has nothing to do with the main plot despite the setup given to it. It would be intuitive to think that you should go after Ivan to help rescue Hammet at the start of the game, because you just helped him recover the Shaman Rod, you have been informed that Hammet went north to Lunpa, and you are not given any other answers for what to do next. Later still, Layana tells you about Hammet's hostage situation when you visit her in Kalay.

Hammet is relegated to being an optional sidequest that you can't do until after Colosso.


- GS2 has a few. Rescue your parents (which is stated as if that nuke was already established), to save the world, and because Alex and his party are suggesting you consider lighting the lighthouses in the next year or two. Kraden or someone also suggests doing it to replenish civilization. Okay. The parent revelation, while poorly handled, is at least a more interesting reason for doing things than simply saving the world. I question if this was even intended when they first released GS1 though, but I can go into that another time.

The biggest issues with this game, however, are that it's very directionless and incredibly rushed. I've been working on an essay to go into more detail on the rushed aspect, which I'll save for later.


- DD also has a few. Isaac and Garet need to do research, and lacked the foresight to keep some spare gliders around. Mt. Aleph is huge, do they seriously take turns? You go to Southern Angara because the bad guys put a roadblock up and you needed to rescue a friend; actually a good justification. Everything you do, at least up until the Eclipse, ties in to your two central goals of finding Kraden or going to Kolima for the feather. Even if the inciting incident, the reason the story begins after the intro, is dumb. However, when the Eclipse happens, your goal shifts to stopping the apocalypse.

This apocalypse, by the way, is completely mitigated by light. Three entire towns survive relatively unscathed because of ancient lighting in their walls. Many of the citizens of Belinsk, the town where it started, also survive. Obaba survives in a town that is free of monsters because they lit some things on fire. In Kaocho, the generals and the town's children presumably survive by going in the main palace where it is lit up. On that note, everyone else here dies, yet most people in Belinsk survive? What?

All Matthew really needs to do is just go to each town and tell them to keep everything lit up, since it's implied that the Eclipse will end when enough light has been absorbed anyway. Barring that, they could at least discuss the possibility of evacuating people with the boat they have at this point. This game also adds a tonne of lore that, again, has @#$% all to do with the story. Much like how Camelot was great at giving considerable attention to detail in the GBA games, they gave it to lore and backstory at the expense of the story we're supposed to care about. Which we can't anyway, because none of the characters we would want to care about are in any real danger. It's a shame too, because the potential for having everything stand out was really high with this one.



So while the story and gameplay are masterfully interwoven with each other in LISA, they are much less so in GS. It is worth noting that DD is perhaps closer to being a classic 4 act structure than either of the GBA games, yet that still didn't save the mediocre story from bad design principles. As an aside, DD tries to balance mildly darker themes and lighthearted humour together and fails. LISA manages to blend lightheartedness and some genuinely messed up themes together and succeeds. DD even sterilized some of the themes it wanted to cover some time after footage of the E3 press demo came out, and it suffers immensely for that. They had some genuinely interesting ideas too, like Tyrell being emotionally stunted from losing his mother at a young age, and people at large distrusting adepts because of the Golden Sun and perceived power imbalances. Played well, and that second one could have served as an interesting allegory for racism in a genre that generally misses the mark.

I feel like they were planning something like that with the lore about the Jenei and Fori, but I would also be willing to bet that the story went through some rewrites at the last minute. Especially given how the story gets far worse in the last quarter of the game.



I hope this isn't too much to take in! It's also worth highlighting that, if the first two games were structured better story-wise, they could have served as an interesting deconstruction of the classic JRPG. The first game adheres to a number of tired tropes and cliches, while the second actually subverts a lot of them while also introducing the revelation that the GS1 party was in the wrong. Every game in the series also has a pretty consistent theme regarding loss and/or abandonment, especially involving loved ones. It's a shame they never do anything with that theme, but it is there.

This is a very interesting subject that I've been thinking about a lot lately; thanks for posting it!


Edit: I just realized that I forgot to say something. LISA's "story and gameplay are masterfully interwoven with each other" in a cool way. Everything Brad can do is based on his current state. If he loses a limb, then he loses a button he can make combos with. If he's suffering from withdrawal, then his stats suffer. Every enemy you fight, barring some exceptions, is unique; they are either just ordinary people who are in your path, sometimes just as bystanders, or they are the mere shadows of their former selves.

GS does this to a lesser extent, in that you do have psynergy both in and out of the field but they are relatively disconnected. Jenna can learn Flare in her base class, yet can't use it to light things on fire? She has to get Blaze, which is basically just a Deku Stick with limited range. Garet's worse off because he can't even get that despite being otherwise eligible.

I would argue that the best way to tell a good story in a game would be to make the gameplay and the story linked together. EarthBound does a bit of this too, as do the other games/series I've mentioned. GS is fun because it does this to a point, but it doesn't fully commit to the idea; psynergy is generally just a means of solving puzzles, like in Zelda, but 90% of the time the puzzles only amount to matching pegs to their respective holes. One of the few times it ties in directly with the story, it is an automatic anti-Tret barrier that only works there and is autonomous, directly contradicting the idea that psynergy needs intense training to hone. Otherwise, you have Mind Read and Ply as the standard cutscene powers; Ply in particular is bad because it's not the only healing skill you have access to, yet the story treats it as if it is (even when in a class that doesn't have it).

Contrast with the abilities you get in Superstar Saga, where anything you learn in the field translates directly to a thing you can do in battle. Same deal with several Metroidvania games, where that is generally one of the main features of that genre. Or LISA, which I just talked about.

I feel like this is the same reason for why a lot of people hated the execution of HMs in Pokemon games too. Not only were they abilities that are difficult to remove, you also can't use your Pokemon to do other things in the field most of the time. GS is the same.
2  The Editor / Golden Sun Hacking / Ability Effects 48 and 52 on: September 28, 2017, 05:17:30 AM
Okay, so these two effects are only assigned to one ability each:

48 is assigned to Sidestep; the effect comes right after two damage reducing effects (one for 50% and the other for 90%) in the effect list, while the ability is just before Total Defense (which uses the 90% reduction) and Stand Ready (50% reduction). Like Total Defense and Stand Ready, Sidestep is also a non-elemental ability that is single target, uses the utility formula, and can only be used by the user on themselves.

52 is assigned to Crazy Voice, which is a PP damaging move used exclusively by Harridan. This ability is right between two other sound-based abilities that dabble in turn reduction (one inflicts stun, the other is a guaranteed 1-turn stun). The effect for this is also right beside the 1-turn stun effect in the ability effect list, and the ability shares some similarities with the other two sound-based abilities it is grouped with.

We have tried to figure out what these effects are, but haven't had any luck et. Research so far hasn't turned up any concrete evidence of them even being referenced or checked for in the second game's code, let alone actually doing anything. It is therefore likely that these two effects are variants of other effects (Sidestep of 50/90% damage reduction, Crazy Voice of stun/1-turn stun) that were planned for the first game but not programmed, and then carried over to the second game while also unfinished. This would make them similar to Charm/Confuse and Reflect.

We haven't confirmed 100% that they don't do anything, but I make this post simply because there has been no evidence to support otherwise yet and the arguments above might explain why.

Have a good day. :P
3  The Editor / Golden Sun Hacking / Re: Master Formula List on: September 25, 2017, 05:54:17 AM
Oh yeah, that's a good point; I'll add it soon!

I think I remember you mentioning that once? I just fixed Sleep's percentage earlier so that may have been it.


As for the other Stun, I think Fire Puppet uses it (effect 85). Not sure about any others, since usually an ability will use 23.
4  The Editor / Golden Sun Hacking / Re: Master Formula List on: September 24, 2017, 03:43:06 AM
Okay, I threw a new one in here involving the ePower boosts you get from summons! I really need to update this thing more. :P
5  The Editor / Golden Sun Hacking / Re: Test 0-7 Maps on: September 03, 2017, 05:28:50 PM
Not sure how I missed your reply before; thanks!

It's definitely possible; neither gsmagic or the original editor seem to recognize anything beyond these boundaries, though maybe one day we'll know for sure!


Also, I updated the first post with more images and info. As far as I can tell only Test 0 is based on an earlier (probably) version of an existing map while Test 5 is likely its own thing; the rest of these maps seem to have 1:1 event and heightmap placement for layer 1 but on every layer.
6  General Hacking / General Editor / Re: Best Map Editor? on: August 21, 2017, 03:00:06 PM
I remember using a couple different Pokemon map editors and Toad's Tool for SM64 when I first started hacking, but it's been a while.

Don't forget about Yoshi Magic either! Even though I feel like you might want to update how it works somewhat.
7  The Community / Introductions / Re: Introduction on: August 20, 2017, 02:29:08 AM
Hey there, welcome!

Let us know if you need any help! We have a Discord, so if things seem inactive around here then you can always hit us up on there!
8  The Editor / Golden Sun Hacking / Re: Three Ideas for Balancing Summons on: August 10, 2017, 06:22:13 PM
Leaf: Oh yeah, good point about djinn costs!


Role: I think they are high because the base RNG function used by the formula is high. That could be changed out, although if just changing the base formula then the higher numbers are necessary. Or at least I'm assuming based on the RNG being high and using the "general" RNG function for some reason.
9  The Editor / Golden Sun Hacking / Re: Three Ideas for Balancing Summons on: August 09, 2017, 07:22:39 AM
You can spread them out, but that also limits your ability to enter higher classes and gain better stat modifiers. It's an option that I feel is less worthwhile than just using Avoid and running around for a minute, especially when unleashes are already so good by default. Doing something like doubling costs or taking Caledor's approach would honestly be a better way of handling it (I think in his case he made it so any summons that use 3+ djinn can't be used right away in battle).


As for tools you can use, we have the editor, a different WIP editor called gsmagic that is in the works, and basic hex editing tools and patching software. There is also a patch for changing summon modifiers for GS2 if you know how to apply .IPS files, although not so much for the other ideas you brought up in the original post! :P

Are you familiar with assembly hacking at all?



10  The Editor / Golden Sun Hacking / Re: Three Ideas for Balancing Summons on: August 09, 2017, 05:13:35 AM
Hey there, welcome! Going to comment on a couple things before I get to my usual "let us know if you have any questions/etc." thing, lol.


First off, minor correction on summon damage is that it's not tied to djinn at all. Every summon ability, Cruel Ruin included, has a modifier that gets tacked on; while this usually correlated with djinn count, it is actually entirely distinct! This means that you could make Thor add 5% while Meteor adds 20% for example.

Second, cool ideas although maybe I should share my approach instead! I'm pretty similar to Role in that my main plan is to just go for a 2% damage modifier as a baseline and go from there depending on effect or ability priority, because djinn are already a pretty good cost for summons most of the time. Recovery also feels like it is balanced fairly well, at least better than unleashes, so what I would do if I were you would be to simply raise the djinn costs of all of the new GS2 summons rather than the djinn recovery rate.

I feel like I would also keep Granite around but get rid of Flash and give enemies more opportunities to manipulate djinn or do other cool things, because there are many ways to power up enemies that don't involve nerfing the party so much.



Overall:
- The summon damage modifiers would be extremely easy;
- Djinn recovery outside of battle would be really easy but it is also tied to PP recovery by default, so some work would have to be put into separating them (otherwise you'll also make PP recovery take longer outside of battle);
- Djinn recovery in battle might be easy enough, although I personally feel that it isn't the best approach (less annoying than doubling recovery time outside of battle, but what I would do instead is just increase how many djinn you need for certain/higher summons so they are more costly to use like Iris or Charon);
- HP/PP costs might honestly take the most work, but I don't see that being terribly hard either. I haven't looked into doing something like that so I can't say how it would really work.


And yeah, welcome again. :P
Let us know if you need any help with things! I'm a little busy with an AI overhaul and life so I might not be particularly helpful at times but I can try.
11  The Editor / Golden Sun Hacking / Test 0-7 Maps on: August 04, 2017, 06:09:58 AM
Okay, so this is basically just a quick post about those rooms. I've been going through the map editor in gsmagic and looking at the heightmap data of various rooms and figured out what most of these test rooms are based on:

Test Rooms; Heightmap:
0 - Taopo Swamp Cave (steam vents above Venus djinni)
1 - Madra/Garoh/Prox Cave Interior
2 - Contigo
3 - Kandorean Temple (pillar cave, with fallen monk)
4 - Kibombo Mountains (area with dog)
5 - ??? (one tall platform and two event tiles)
6 - Anemos Inner Sanctum (rooms with Charon)
7 - Daila Exterior (Flooded)

These heightmaps/layouts aren't identical to the ones that are encountered during normal gameplay though, especially that first one.

Spoiler for Test 0 = Taopo Swamp:
Visual Map of Taopo Swamp:


Heightmap:
Taopo Swamp:

Test 0:


Event Placement:
Taopo Swamp:

Test 0:



Spoiler for Test 5 = ???:


This image is a mockup of Test 5's heightmap placement with its two event tiles layered over it. The event tile on the right also has a layer tile that puts the player on layer 1, but I'm not sure why this is here.

The event tiles have IDs 1 and 5; while there is nothing for them in the room's code as far as I can tell, there is code for event IDs 8, 9, A, and B which are undefined in the map tile placement.

The functions for them are in this window:


Each one seems to clear a flag and do something with djinn but I'm not entirely sure what.


Aside from being smaller, the rest of the maps appear to have the same heightmap and event placement as the ones they are based off of. That being said, we are not 100% certain if they really are smaller or if there is more to them that current editors are unable to read.
12  The Editor / Golden Sun: The Lost Age Editor / Re: Editor crashes when trying to edit monster stats on: July 31, 2017, 06:50:21 PM
Huh! Silly question but have you tried restarting your computer?
13  The Community / Creative Works / Re: Big Brother Fangame Idea on: July 20, 2017, 02:00:41 AM
I haven't watched the reality TV show so I can't really comment on that, but I think Fox is talking about that while Role is talking about the George Orwell novel.
14  Golden Sun Games / Golden Sun: The Lost Age / Re: Can anyone explain this? on: July 07, 2017, 05:34:45 PM
Huh, I guess the Retreat glitch also messed with the behaviour of stones and stuff? Does it do anything weird with chests too?

It kind of looks like it did something to the stone's scripting, hence the garbage text and the item. I don't have an explanation beyond that though!

Nice find!
15  The Community / Introductions / Re: I'm new, please be gentle on: June 29, 2017, 12:05:40 AM
Hey there, welcome!

Let us know if you need any help with hacking stuff. :P
Pages: [1] 2 3 ... 233
Cbox
May 09, 2018, 12:35:37 AM
KyleRunner: The "Start In" field is not editable... I'll try making new shortcuts
May 08, 2018, 09:51:08 PM
Fox: If all else fails, you canmake new Shortcuts to do the same thing.
May 08, 2018, 09:49:53 PM
Fox: Export Properties > Shortcut (Tab) > Target / Start In ; Target (for Export) should be: (filename) 0 , and for Import: (filename) 1
May 08, 2018, 08:52:00 PM
KyleRunner: I can't change the path in properties menu...
May 08, 2018, 01:27:19 AM
Fox: You may need to edit something in properties, though... so it uses the exe file in the same directory.
May 08, 2018, 01:24:59 AM
Fox: It is suppose to be a shortcut, yes.
May 03, 2018, 11:48:05 PM
KyleRunner: Fox, the "export" function in your text editor is just a shortcut... Could you please fix it?
May 02, 2018, 09:53:45 PM
KyleRunner: I come here everyday. I'm working on a Portuguese translation, and the people here help me a lot.
May 02, 2018, 08:56:07 AM
Drake baku: My feel as well, I posted a little as well since my return, but silence was all that followed... At least the forum is a great source for data when hacking GS/ GS2, currently looking for something I have read a long time ago cause my PP recovery psy is not working
May 01, 2018, 09:58:04 AM
Fox: I am thinking a lot of this might be because of Discord?
May 01, 2018, 09:56:08 AM
Fox: Yeah, this forum is more dead than ever before.  February and April have 0 new topics. (All other months prior have more.) And March has lowest number of new posts. (It'd be dumb to count the very first month this site was created.)
April 25, 2018, 09:02:13 PM
Fox: Yes. The best tool is a hex editor. Well.... VBA, VBA-SDL-H, no$gba Debugger, GBATEK, and my documentation.... to use these to learn how the code/data works. Best method because it maximizes your editing ability... and then there is my program gsmagic that I was working on. Still in its early stages, though. (Even after year(s).)
April 25, 2018, 04:21:58 PM
Xendrox D: *exept tla editor.
April 25, 2018, 04:21:29 PM
Xendrox D: is there any other tool for hacking gs?
April 23, 2018, 09:26:27 PM
Atrius: Rarely, but not never.
April 23, 2018, 08:01:48 AM
Drake baku: Can it be, the god who created the editor, atrius. I heard you never came back online here anymore
April 20, 2018, 02:46:36 PM
KyleRunner: Atrius!!
April 19, 2018, 11:29:46 PM
Atrius: @Fox, I tried, but for some reason Mario Golf won't boot, and Mario Tennis crashes when you patch out the text compression, and I'm not sure why...  The normal text loading functions in them are basically the same as the ones in the Golden Sun games.
April 16, 2018, 07:44:36 AM
Drake baku: So it took about halve a hour of letting my lap stay off for it to suddenly work again
April 16, 2018, 07:31:28 AM
Drake baku: All of a sudden fox his editor gets errors. When trying to start it, thing worked fine yesterday...

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