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Author Topic: Lessons we've learned from Dark Dawn  (Read 48887 times)
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« on: 16, May, 2011, 01:57:28 AM »

Now that Dark Dawn is out, we've got more examples as to what to do and what to avoid in our hacks.  So what lessons did you learn, and how will you apply it to your hacks?


I'll start us off.


Transformation as a Free Action - because of the relative ease of the game, you were better off attacking with Sveta than you were going beastform.  Even in boss fights this seemed to be the case, as only a few boss fights warranted the sacrifice of the turn.  A better way to make beastform or other transformation abilities useful is to have them activate instantly, rather than cost a turn to preform.  I figure this would work by causing an immediate Kite-style followup turn where you give the commands via transformation specific menus.

Plot Forced Armor FTL - DD made me realize that I really, really, REALLY hate it when a game forces armor onto you.  Sure, it was one hell of a resistance build, but it'd have been fun to at least try other builds with Sveta, you know?  It just reinforces the my belief that there should never really be a true 'final gear' or 'final set', but rather several different options available to each character.

Variety is good - I had a couple problems with variety in the game.  First, Tyrell just seemed better than Eoleo simply due to having a wider equipment selection.  Second, Sveta arguably suffered from having only two weapon types and one single armor type.  While I understand why they did it, I think it'd be better to work out a way that characters can be equally viable in terms of gear selection.

Sometimes less is more - Remember how DD had eight well defined and in-depth characters?  No?  My point exactly.  Arguably, DD could have lost four characters without losing any value.  By having a team of Matt, Tyrell, Sveta, and either Rief or Amiti, it probably would have been better than having all eight.  Himi and Eoleo were just too late in the story to allow for any real development, and in terms of fleshing out the characters, one could say that Sveta was the only one who had the proper treatment.  By focusing on four characters instead, they could have easily built them up much better.  Eoleo and Himi would be much better as NPCs in this game, and characters in the next.  It's probably best just to focus on making a few well-developed characters, rather than trying to fill out all eight slots.

Silence isn't golden - They tried to give Matt more personality, and through the different choices, you can sort of get a gist for how he normally acts.  Problem is, there's just no substitute for a voice.  The age of the Silent Hero is long past - the only way I can see it working is if there's an actual storyline reason for them to be mute (such as in Drakenguard).  Otherwise, though, I must disagree with the thought that it allows the player to be the main character.  I'm Role, not Matt.  I want to know how Matt reacts.  How I'd react isn't even an option in this scenario.  Nowhere do I see "Pull an Alex" in the selection choices, after all.  Instead, I'd rather get to know the MC, rather than have him just be another hollow shell.
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« Reply #1 on: 16, May, 2011, 10:30:50 AM »

I like the idea of a silent protagonist. It wouldn't feel like Golden Sun without it, and I'm always devastated when Isaac starts talking.

Otherwise, I completely agree with those points.

I'd also point out:
Points of no return is just asking for hate - especially with Golden Sun, that delights in both showing you something you do not have the ability to obtain until later, and also hiding things that can only be found through sheer luck or obsessive and thorough exploration of each area (which no one really wants to do, right?)
In Dark Dawn, they practically ruined the game with the points of no return. Enough said.

Light versus Dark is boring - Dark Dawn just didn't grip me as much as the originals did, and this wasn't just because of the other bad points we've listed here. The main reason for this, I think, is that the storyline was duller and less engaging than the originals. Think about it; a large portion of Dark Dawn revolves around evil creatures taking over the world and, let's be honest, this has been done (way) too many times before. The thing that really stood out with the originals was that actually, both sides were 'good' and the only villains weren't the antagonists but merely creatures or people whom the player encountered.
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« Reply #2 on: 16, May, 2011, 12:15:59 PM »

There is something to be said for the power of the mind - Hence, the ideology behind psynergy being used with the mind. How is Insight encouraging players to use their brains for problem solving? It is almost like saying "Eh, the players are too stupid to be able to solve our relatively easy puzzles" or "All of our previous players have grown up since the release of TLA seven years ago, none of these new kiddies will be able to solve anything".

You should see the vast world out there - Unlike the first two games, exploration is not really emphasized in Dark Dawn. If you think about it, almost all of the towns that you have to go to have straight paths to them. Having to explore to find Garoh or Apojii was fun. The new areas of land/sea were pretty small, it did not take much to find the plot-related areas once somebody says "north" or "west".

Other than the silent protagonist one, I agree with all of these. I mean, you are controlling that person, why can't you decide how they react as well?
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« Reply #3 on: 17, May, 2011, 09:18:16 PM »

I have no problem with choosing how I react.  I just want to hear what my character said.
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« Reply #4 on: 18, May, 2011, 08:27:09 PM »

Transformation shouldn't be an option AT ALL. Especially not into an overpowered beast thing.

I definitely want to hear what the character says.
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« Reply #5 on: 19, May, 2011, 02:17:13 AM »

Beastform actually wasn't all that OP. Since it puts a djinni from set to recovery every turn you're in beastform, you end up going back to your weak normal form after you use up all your djinn. And while she had the best stats in the party when in beastform, other chars could still rival her damage with their better EPAs.
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Spoiler for quotes:
[9:00:50 PM] Randel Peltier: Ok...what did I do last night?
[9:01:19 PM] Kain: Something boring, repetitive, and lasted for about sixty seconds.
---
[10:45:08 AM] Salanewt: But yeah, the elemental phalluses are being... Stroked up by Saturos and co., and the energy will go towards... Mt. Muffin, where the Golden Climax will arise.
[7:28:42 PM] Salanewt: An added bonus is that Isaac and co. were trying to stop Saturos and co. because their beliefs state that Mt. Muffin should remain a virgin.
---
[9:54:21 PM] Randel Peltier: Guess the number in my head an you get to pick what I say. Number between 1-10
[9:54:28 PM] leaf: 11
[9:54:36 PM] Randel Peltier: @#$%!
---
[8:38:13 PM] Randel Peltier: Shes like this queen up on a pedastal that I have yet to court.
[8:38:29 PM] Kain: You've tried courting her.
[8:38:43 PM] leaf: and failed spectacularly
[8:38:44 PM] Randel Peltier: Ive tried...shes the best dating game ever.
---
[12:24:35 AM] Salanewt: I need to find a picture of a naked person to put on the Christmas tree next year.
---
[2:19:06 PM] Zeadra: wait... Rief's a guy???
---
[1:09:57 PM] Zeadra: well if you want to know if its a new effect or something weird, just check GS1, if side step is there maby it is the nimble dodge thing
[1:10:35 PM] Kioll: For once, you've contributed something useful.  o.O
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« Reply #6 on: 19, May, 2011, 02:35:25 PM »

I agree with most of the stuff said, including the silent protagonist. A big (albeit Fan Dumb based) peeve I have is when people say that Matthew has such a powerful personality. No. He doesn't. He swears at some point and that's about it.

I personally saw very little development in most characters. This is my overview of the entire party:

Matthew - Silent protagonist with absolutely nothing. I mean, not even his actions really gave him a personality.
Karis - Essentially existed to tell Tyrell he was wrong. She got better later in the game but she was still bleh.
Tyrell - I liked Tyrell. I felt like he was the one of the few natural characters in the game, he made me crack up and reminded me a lot of why I liked Garet, without seeming too much like Garet. He, like Rief, had personality, balls and was interesting.
Rief - Another character I liked. He's one of the few characters with an actual set of balls. He also usually moved a conversation forward, unlike most characters that had an obsession with simply regurgitating what someone else already said in a slightly different way... but that's a different matter. Because of this he came off as interesting.
Amiti - Oh man, Amiti. First off, every. single. goddamn LINE he says basically lays down exactly what HIS morals are and what HE thinks of something and it just blocks the whole goddamn conversation. After a while every time I saw his face in a conversation I instantly pressed "A", just because I knew damn well it was going to be something along the lines of "I disagree with that and I will certainly hate you forever because of it" or "I agree with this and I will certainly love you forever because of it". AUUUGH.
Sveta - Sveta... eh. She's okay. I don't get where most peopel say she's getting this personality development from because she doesn't really have all too much (sacrificing yourself is a pretty strong moment, but she doesn't really develop; I felt like that always felt like something Sveta would be able to push herself to do). She annoyed me though mainly because like many of the other characters she mainly fell flat on her face in the personality department and just felt like a cutesy girly girl to me.
Eoleo - A HUGE missed opprotunity here. Eoleo is the GODDAMN SON OF BRIGGS. How. How. HOW could you not make him freaking AWESOME. Seriously. Even though Briggs not really having a sense of humour anymore disappointed me, I expected Eoleo to be a sarcastic twit would be the logical route to go. His lines came off as stale "I gotta do my duty" bullshit and he had little personality whatsoever. I really was disappointed with him.
Himi - Deus. Ex. Machina. That is all.

And thus, my little lessons are these.

We get the point. We don't need every. single. GODDAMN member of the party to tell me how to feel about something. You know what makes this powerful? Or this powerful? Or this powerful? It's because they don't tell us how to feel about it. They just tell us how it is. If we're told in Schindler's List that "isn't it wonderful that this Nazi realized what was going on and saved all these Jews' lives" or "wow, atom bombs are horrible, don't you think" in Barefoot Gen a billion times it loses its meaning. ToS also suffered from this problem and it drove me up a goddamn wall. I mean for crying out loud, the last example I provided was completely fictional and I bawled at the end of reading it - because I wasn't told how to feel about it. For example, why did DD have to tell me that all the people dying in the Eclipse is horrible? OF COURSE IT'S HORRIBLE! I don't need you to tell me that. If they just left it as you going to one of the old towns attacked by the monsters and everyone is dead I think that would have been more effective than everyone saying "Oh my god. The eclipse will kill all the people. This is horrible."

Golden Sun's not great as a series in this respect but even the stuff in the first two games were done better than this, like when Karst and Agatio died and all they really said was that they felt "so cold before they died". You didn't have Jenna or Sheba saying "wow, I feel so sorry for Karst and Agatio *wink wink* They're dying now and I feel so bad for them even though they were the bad guys." DD gave me a huge feeling of this forced emotion through the whole thing.

Super Cool New Summons "Hey guys? Wanna see some cool new summons? Yeah, that's right! We've got some cool new summons! It's named Crystallux!... Wait, you want more? Well, too bad, suckers! That's all I could come up with, even though there's obvious in-game relations that could be made with Apollo, or just more cool stuff like Loki, Sleipnir, Scylla, ect!" This REALLY irked me. They had 7 years to come up with cool new summons and they came up with ONE. Granted, it is pretty sweet, but seriously. ONE summon. >_>
« Last Edit: 19, May, 2011, 02:57:58 PM by Charon the Ferryman » Logged
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« Reply #7 on: 19, May, 2011, 04:24:02 PM »

I learned not to get hyped up lol and that Camelot storytelling absolutely sucked @#$ in that game.

I learned that camelot are not afraid to throw death into the mix, nevermind mass genocide lol.

cant wait until Felix hears of Briggs death.... please ooooh please make something good come out of his wasted death, I agree with you Charon, Briggs and Eoleo were a let down.
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« Reply #8 on: 19, May, 2011, 06:57:31 PM »

In fairness to Matthew, you only really got a glimpse of Felix and Isaac's personality when you weren't playing as them.

And I imagine when Felix hears about it, he'll say 'Oh, ok. Anyway...' or something similar. If they bother telling him at all.
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« Reply #9 on: 19, May, 2011, 07:31:53 PM »

I totally agree with those! They only really developed Tyrell (probably the comedic relief) and Rief. Karis and Sveta had some time, but they could have used more. Also...

Quote
We get the point.

So many one-liners, EVERYONE has to say something! Why!? Learn to think of others Amiti, learn to be witty Eoleo, and go hide in your hole Himi! After one or two people, I am sure that players would understand what the party thinks of something.

Bosses /= Hotel Staff - "We would like to thank you for defeating us in battle, and we hope that you enjoyed your time with us! Please have this turd souvenir as a memory of our battle". What this means: Having battles with bosses that give you worthless items that you can only use once. I mean, it would have been nice if they were at least reusable. Weapons or armour would make sense, or even items that you can purchase again later on. However, having a one-time drop of an item that is both useless and incredibly cheap is really pointless. For those who like to beat games 100%, items like this make it harder to do so; less inventory space, and you can not buy them back if you do sell or use them.
« Last Edit: 19, May, 2011, 07:45:14 PM by Salanewt » Logged

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« Reply #10 on: 19, May, 2011, 09:53:45 PM »

Most of the plot is just a freaking fetch quest. For a FEATHER. An effing feather. Even though the hugeass bird you get it from is a major plot point, and has an assload of build up, but it fights like a retarded Chocobo.

ALL the game's bosses go down like a bag of bricks after a few turns if you're at a decent level. Hell, even DULLAHAN, the hardest boss in the game, drops like a rock to a maxed out party with all the djinn.

Just what the hell were they thinking?


 

« Last Edit: 19, May, 2011, 10:35:06 PM by MegaDarkNero » Logged
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« Reply #11 on: 19, May, 2011, 10:02:26 PM »

That is true, plot and bosses have always been a very well-thought out and important part of GS ... till today. Also Nero, ask yourself, were they even thinking at all at the time?

I've learned actually quite a bit from this game: don't copy it in all aspects.

Length + RPG = Godly - Remember back in the day when Golden Sun didn't take just a few hours to complete? I do too. No, no, I don't want your after-game events if the main part took me less than half a day to stomp on; we demand a game that has some length to it! It's always like, "You found the first town. You're 1/10 of the way done with the game! You fought a boss? Great, you're almost done! Only 7 bosses to go!" ... In an RPG? Ugh. Golden Sun had LOTS more. Don't even get me started on TLA ... but that is part of what made them good.

Let's Explore ... Oh Right ... - What happened here? You would think with the world changed by the Golden Sun event, you could take a few extra routes here, there, that way, way over there, in that new cave, etc. EXPLORATION, people! Why has Fallout done so well? Exploration! Why have (the old) Final Fantasys done so well? Exploration! And how about DD's predecessors? GS and TLA? E.X.P.L.O.R.A.T.I.O.N. If that's "not possible", give the player something to explore/revisit the rest of the world with. Limited to the eastern side of a whole continent? I don't think so!

And I also mildly agree on giving the MC a personality. Mildly because I would like to influence a few of his actions still; just give the guy a voice, ok? Matt would thank you personally, too. Why can't he now? Oh um, maybe because some people decided to only let him learn one word in the U.S. release ... and it wasn't a very nice one apparently.
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« Reply #12 on: 20, May, 2011, 10:21:46 PM »

On the exploration, give back the freedom to mess with the order of events in the game. In both TBS and TLA there was the option to do a mission with or without the Mercury Adept.

Quote
maybe because some people decided to only let him learn one word in the U.S. release ... and it wasn't a very nice one apparently.
And even that was a mistranslation.
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« Reply #13 on: 21, May, 2011, 09:10:36 AM »

Woolseyism =/= Mistranslation.  Get your terms right.
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« Reply #14 on: 21, May, 2011, 08:42:08 PM »

I apologise for not knowing an obscure term that I had no reason to know. Nice addition to the discussion by the way.
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« Reply #15 on: 28, May, 2011, 11:19:18 AM »

Actually, you can gauge Matthew's personality by others' reactions to your choices in conversation. There's usually at least ONE particular option that gives a funny result. That said, they didn't do a very good job of it, and I personally HATE silent protagonists. Lloyd Irving, Yuri Lowell, and Senel Coolidge FTW!!! Heck, every main char from the Tales series except for Stahn Aileron FTW! (Why Stahn? Because his Japanese voice acting sounds loud and obnoxious, and because he's dense. But anyway...)

Don't make a weapon system based on grinding: In DD, I would always accidentally grind without meaning to, thanks to always wanting to learn that next unleash. This, I think, is part of what made all the bosses way too easy. That, and the fact that they were too easy to start with. Or, at least, if you're going to make a weapon system based on grinding, make it so the bosses are actually tough enough that you might WANT to grind.

My two cents on the characters:

Matthew: Nothing to say here, except that it's funny if you respond with an angry face when what's-his-name betrays you after the Mountain Roc fight.

Karis: She's definitely intelligent (I do wish in-game characters would stop pointing that out, though!) and would make a good leader in Matthew's place were she not a bit cowardly. She's also a bit of a suck-up at times.

Tyrell: There's a VERY good reason not to let him lead. He's dumb as a post for a lot of the early game, and is impulsive for the rest of it. I hate how he was the only one to even TRY to stand up to "Arcanus".

Rief: He's a know-it-all and his voice is annoying. He is a believable character, though. He's also got no common sense whatsoever, which is why Matthew is still leader.

Amiti: Our local naive morality pet, which is why HE doesn't get to lead the party. Not such a bad guy overall, though.

Sveta: Has really very little discernible personality. She doesn't use emotes, doesn't express her opinion when she talks, and even her manner of speaking doesn't show any real personality. OK, so she cries for a while after Belinsk, but she manages to sound forced and dull even then! And then she's perfectly willing to nobly sacrifice herself without really any comment or inner monologue about the implications, just like your stereotypical videogame hero. That also really kills any potential drama in that scene, too. And she talks to Matthew during it, but really she's all just "Sure, we'll die, but at least we'll save the others!" in stereotypical RPG fashion. In fact, were it not for her angsting for a while, she'd very easily be able to completely replace Matthew as leader of the party. Except that, y'know, Matthew's the only one who can draw the Sol Blade (Himi could, too, but I doubt she'd be able to lift it), so you need him to be able to open the door to the Apollo Sanctum controls.

She seems to just be there for the cute factor and the furry fandom.

... Why the h*** does she know Cure Poison and Restore in her base class, anyway? And why does she also learn those two moves as a Gladiator? I can almost understand knowing them while in Beast Form, but...

Eoleo: He gets a few good lines, but you never really learn his personality, thanks to a lack of random conversation in Golden Sun in general, and the fact that he joins too late in the game. He'd probably be a decent leader, but nobody wants to listen to him thanks to that whole "first impression" thing. You know, the part where he instantly starts insulting you as soon as you rescue him.

Himi: Deux. Ex. Machina. I mean, you'd think the party would have the decency to be surprised when the Third Eye randomly floats out of their inventory and embeds itself in Himi's head! And then the other guy asks what happened, and you know what they say? "You've just seen it yourself." Seriously? Is there some bit of culture clash going on here, or am I missing something? And then she starts FLOATING IN THE AIR, and they aren't the least bit surprised about that either! While it's possible to learn about her future sight thing from the townspeople, nobody mentions that she floats during it! So why isn't anyone surprised?
« Last Edit: 28, May, 2011, 04:10:51 PM by JamietheFlameUser » Logged

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« Reply #16 on: 28, May, 2011, 03:17:38 PM »

Only thing I really disagree with for you there is the furry fandom comment.  Ever since Garoh, people wanted to to have a werewolf character.  This was fanservice to them.  Hell, this was a fanservice game period.

First four act as Expies for the O8, satisfying those who wanted the originals to return.  The tutorial fight also serves this.
Himi is a female venusian, which was wanted.
Himi is a venus mage, which was wanted.
Eoleo was wanted as a playable character.
Sveta was the wanted werewolf
Sveta also acted as a "Jovian Fighter" of sorts, also wanted.
Amiti was basically people who wanted Piers but with better equipment support (what was really needed was better class support, but oh well).
We also got bows to satisfy that last bit.


Long story short:  Want a game to not suck?  Don't add everything at once. Add new stuff in installments, not together, otherwise it'll backfire hard.
« Last Edit: 30, May, 2011, 08:48:14 PM by Role » Logged

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« Reply #17 on: 29, May, 2011, 12:01:18 PM »

Bows sucked. Not only were there far too few artifact bows in the game, the ones that were there felt weak compared to other weapon types. Worst of all, unless I missed a major area that was cram-packed with the things, there weren't any bows that were useful endgame.

I found that most disappointing out of everything else.
I think I've complained about the artifacts before, because (either due to so many characters appearing in such a small game or just because there weren't any) I found myself relying on normal weapons for most of the game because I found artifacts so rarely.

This doesn't feel like Golden Sun for 2 reasons:
A) Maybe we were spoiled for choice in the first two but there definitely seemed to be a lot more artifacts.
B) There were so many ancient ruins and dungeons in the first two games, and apparently even more opened up, that you expect there to be a lot of ancient, magical items like artifacts. In fact, now I think about it, the dungeons in Dark Dawn felt quite bare and empty.
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« Reply #18 on: 29, May, 2011, 02:56:49 PM »

Himi: Deux. Ex. Machina. I mean, you'd think the party would have the decency to be surprised when the Third Eye randomly floats out of their inventory and embeds itself in Himi's head! And then the other guy asks what happened, and you know what they say? "You've just seen it yourself." Seriously? Is there some bit of culture clash going on here, or am I missing something? And then she starts FLOATING IN THE AIR, and they aren't the least bit surprised about that either! While it's possible to learn about her future sight thing from the townspeople, nobody mentions that she floats during it! So why isn't anyone surprised?
Didn't you know that this happens all the time in Japan? Srs.

Actually, you bring up a really good point. Personally I think that they would have been even more shocked and dismayed than western audiences because of the culture differences. If you look all around Yamato (or whatever it's called, it's been a while) there's a ton of stuff that shows its traditional atmosphere and their religion and all that.. When Himi is brought up with the Third Eye, she's pretty much the equivalent of Jesus in the eyes of her hometown... and then they're all like... "cool beans". I think that if Shinto prophecies or other religious contexts were coming true people would flip their @#$% in Japan, not just blow it off like "yeah whatever," maybe even the Buddhists would be like "THE HELL?!". Hell, with ANY religion I think people would be going nuts, so the fact that they didn't in DD makes it all the more excruciatingly stale.

Just remember. There's always Takeru.
« Last Edit: 29, May, 2011, 02:59:28 PM by Charon the Ferryman » Logged
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« Reply #19 on: 29, May, 2011, 03:35:38 PM »

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Amiti - Oh man, Amiti. First off, every. single. goddamn LINE he says basically lays down exactly what HIS morals are and what HE thinks of something and it just blocks the whole goddamn conversation. After a while every time I saw his face in a conversation I instantly pressed "A", just because I knew damn well it was going to be something along the lines of "I disagree with that and I will certainly hate you forever because of it" or "I agree with this and I will certainly love you forever because of it". AUUUGH.

At least Amiti had a personality, even though it was an annoying one. You don't have to like every character that Camelot comes up with. Some characters where probably intended to provoke dislike. I was more annoyed at the beginning of the game, where everyone has to name everyone else just because the player could then look up who they where. Although I do understand the reason for it... It was still annoying though, made the conversations sound fake.
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