Hey people! Been awhile since I’ve done a blog post, going to try to get better about getting these out again every so often. Best place to start will be focusing on all the various character revamps that I’ve already gotten into the game, since I do put a fair bit of thought into them, and well I like the sound of my own voice… Or at least the clacking of my keyboard when I get typing. Anyways, for backers this will only really discuss the ‘why’ behind all those various changes you might have noticed on the change log, but for you public users this will be a bit of a sneak peek into what’s to come!
So, to begin with I should probably explain why I chose to go with revamping the momentum economy this release instead of down the line with some other changes… well the reason is, Chimei. While most mages aren’t really on my list of ‘characters to revamp’ as they’re usually pretty solid, Chimei was on there because of the general difficulty there is to using her effectively. Between NoMoshing making evocations immune to deafen/censure and evocations getting to ignore the AoE revamp, Chimei’s skills and stats weren’t really a problem (aside from a few select cases I’ll talk about), but rather the difficulty was getting to use her effectively and this all comes down to how the momentum economy favored tanks and especially shunned mages. Given how she got her love quest this update, it felt fitting to address this issue.
If you’ve played Harem Collector quite a bit you’ve probably noticed that it’s almost impossible to get mages to ever use their ‘Focus’ skill to regain MP. Meanwhile Therese, Doll, and Raina will usually end up with more momentum than they know what to do with in any fight that poses a serious risk. This is because in base RPG Maker the math will work out that you gain momentum the fastest by taking damage, which favors tanks a lot, but squishier characters (which mages tend to be) will then suffer. Characters that rely on physical attacks will also typically won’t struggle too much with momentum as they will still use attack often and can usually take a few hits. Even if they drop by 50% of their max health (which would give them 25 momentum directly), they generally have the stats to take a hit or two before you heal them up, allowing you to play it a bit riskier with giving them higher threat values. Mages however have such weak attack values that they never use the standard attack, and their defences usually aren’t good enough to keep them alive if they drop to low health.
With that all in mind, you can begin to see why Chimei would feel pretty difficult to use. Even if you did know how to use her it took a fair bit of effort, because at the end of the day Chimei had the stats of a mage, and she can’t compete using evocations when she can only reliably get 2% momentum per turn. So the goal of the momentum revamp was to tackle how lopsided and slow the momentum economy was.
One of my first tasks was to make it so that using magic would still give you some momentum. After all, casting a spell is to a mage what a physical attack is to a melee character. The rate for this has been set to be 1/5th of the mana spent so that it’ll cap out at 8 momentum per turn, just as much as physical attacks will now give. This will help momentum be sped up more for physical attackers as well! The momentum from taking damage was reduced to be about 4/5ths of what it was before as well, to help even out the momentum gain while still keeping tanks relatively sustainable.
This goes a long way to help players get more use out of ‘Focus’ and physical attackers to be able to use their skills more often, but some of you who dive deeper into this sort of math might realize this would do very little to help Chimei specifically. Sure, she’ll be refunded 1/5th of the momentum she spent when using evocations, but evocations are a momentum glutton in order to have her stay competitive with typical mages, and if she can’t do that then you’ll just pick an actual mage. To address this problem Chimei was given two changes to improve her personal momentum growth. When you get Chimei she will gain momentum at a rate of 150%. Her relationship up bonus has also changed, before you would get 2 momentum per turn from her, but instead it now increases the rate she gains momentum even further, bringing her up to 200% the normal rate, so once you have that not only will she now be refunded 2/5ths of the momentum from using evocations, but Transfer Essence will also be twice as effective!
Speaking of that particular skill, before it just straight up gave Chimei momentum at the cost of MP and a turn, the problem however was that it was basically constant turn cost as she’d have to use it every other turn just to keep herself going. Now what Transfer Essence does is it gives you ‘Momentum Regeneration’, which means for 4 turns you’ll gain 8 momentum per turn, which will then be further multiplied by Chimei’s increased momentum generation effect. Now you effectively spend 1 “dead” turn to have 4 turns where you can use her easily, especially with the refund on momentum you use. Nerys was also given a slight momentum generation increase, since she falls in the same boat of being a momentum glutton with mage stats/skills, but the in-lore justification for Nerys is different than the one for Chimei. If you want to know what these are, well, ask me over in the backer’s lounge!
Now then, that’s a whole lot of talk about the upwards momentum, so now let’s talk about the downwards momentum. See, one thing that’s irritated me for awhile is how when you’re up against a boss that’s very momentum based, your best options to deal with them are to daze them to reduce their ability to hit you and get momentum off of attacks, slow down your damage so that they spend their momentum on lower cost skills that aren’t as dangerous, or kill them before they can do anything dangerous. NoMoshing gave Chimei a skill awhile ago, ‘Enervating Bolt’ that is designed to drain momentum, however he was limited by the base RPG Maker editor and using this skill had a good chance of giving the enemy more momentum with the damage they take than it reduced their momentum at the end of the turn. He’s also put in a few statuses that reduce it, but none of what he did just had the sort of oomph needed to counter a momentum heavy boss, so I decided to add in more ways to attack enemy momentum!
So the first thing that I did to fix the momentum damage options players had was I worked on fixing Enervating bolt, first by doing some scripting magic so that certain skills like Enervating bolt will not give enemies momentum when they do damage, and second I changed it so that it will directly drain their momentum by 80% instead of about 5. Now you might have noticed, that’s a pretty big difference, and that’s because of the basic RPG Maker editor, where it’s impossible to multiply Momentum specifically by a fraction, unlike every other stat. Now, if they’ve got 100 momentum it’ll be -80, but if they’ve only got 10? Well then it’ll be -8, by setting it this way we can high values like 80% to keep it significant while also not just always bringing them to 0 making shut down all skills instead of just stopping the big scary ones.
Since that gave Chimei a good option to countering high amounts of momentum, I also wanted good options for dealing with low amounts, and the ‘Stagger’ status seemed the best way to do this. Stagger already had a -2 momentum per turn effect to it. I bumped it up to -10 per turn to help make it be better for draining that last bit of momentum and helped give Therese a few more unique options compared to Doll and Raina. Then came the question of slowing down momentum gain as a whole to add in more strategic control over enemy momentum, so I gave the Nausea status an additional effect where it reduces your momentum gain to 50% of what it’d be otherwise, so now on top of all those stat downs your skills will also suffer if you’ve got it! Though, players have been able to inflict this status through stink bombs for awhile but not many people use those, so I decided that Bronwyn, since her basis is ‘an option for every situation’ (more on this when I talk about her revamp) seemed like she should also get some ways to deal momentum damage. Add in a new type of arrow equipment with a skill that can inflict nausea and do some momentum damage like Chimei’s thing, then move the arrows she can equip to be her ‘off-hand’ instead of accessory since now there’s multiple.
Now for the biggest problem that existed with the momentum system before, starting momentum! While all these ideas will go very far in helping momentum go up and down a lot more, a big problem can be that if you start a battle with 0 momentum it can really feel like a punishment for bringing a momentum heavy character as you can’t really use them. Conversely NoMoshing has made clear that stuff like carrying momentum from one fight to another (something RPG Maker allows by default) would run completely counter to the intention of how momentum vs mana is supposed to balance out. I had to think about this long and hard, but I believe I came up with a fair compromise. I chose to tie starting Momentum to your character level.
Levels may be an arbitrary gameplay mechanic, as Hero described, but they do represent the abstract idea of your characters getting stronger, which is why they learn new moves and have an easier time with old enemies. With this in mind, it struck me as odd that a level 50 character has the same chance as being caught completely unprepared for a fight as a level 1 character, which 0 momentum would represent. Under the new momentum revamp, the minimum amount of momentum you can start with will increase by 1 for every 3 levels, up until level 45 where you cap out at a 15 minimum. The maximum value that you can begin a battle with will always be 25, but this helps present each character’s growing familiarity with the challenges they face, it also goes a long way in also keeping it so that while you can always get 25, by the time that you’re level 15 and have a minimum of 5 that 5 momentum still won’t let you spam your best moves out the gate. This serves to ensure there’s always a chance to be caught relatively ‘unprepared’, but that your characters are learning and growing from their encounters along the way.
And there you have it! We’ve got a far more robust set of options here, both for your own growth and to counter enemy growth! There also might be one or two other surprises that I put in for the momentum revamp, but they aren’t exactly game changers, and it’s all probably not quite done yet as it was pointed out to me that since players have no real idea how much momentum enemies have or how much their moves cost it’s going to be very difficult for players to make perfect use of the various options, but I can always fix that down the line. Hope you all enjoyed my rambling!