Thursday, August 31, 2017

Version 1.03 Released

The Lunarian Shuffle has been upgraded to version 1.03.  Get it at the usual location, https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B9k5jnZ_x-ijRG5BTE1objljbzQ

Initial equipment randomization has been added!  Characters who join later in the game will likely have stronger equipment, but armor in particular might or might not be significantly behind the times.  If you are brave enough to choose Hard Mode, your characters will be missing their hats and rings twice as often, and they might even not have body armor!

Hold Y to Run is in!  Most of the credit for this addition goes to Myself086, though we had to work together on some changes to his original patch.  Grabbing out of the way chests feels better than ever.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Version 1.03 nearly complete!

Version 1.03 is almost done.  Here's a preview of the changelog:
  • The initial equipment of each character is now randomized.
    • Compared to v1.02, this is on average a nerf to early game characters, but a buff to the later game ones.
  • When an ally leaves and rejoins the party, that character will retain whatever equipment was being worn, rather than being given another set of equipment.
  • The King of Fabul will award a random "level 16" equipment of "goodness" 80+.
  • Trapped chests give equipment only, unless the original had an Elixir.
  • Implemented Myself086's "improved" Y to dash code.
  • Minor balance changes.
  • Minor "shorter cutscenes" mode improvements.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

V1.02 released!

The next version of The Lunarian Shuffle is now live!  This version features balance changes, bug fixes, and most importantly, a "shorter cutscenes" option that can make the game play about 40 minutes faster than usual by giving the player a tl;dr version of the plot.

As always, get the new version here:
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B9k5jnZ_x-ijRG5BTE1objljbzQ 

V1.02 nearly complete!

I have done the bulk of the work for The Lunarian Shuffle's v1.02 release.  "Shorter cutscenes" are now an option.

I decided against the "faster menus" patch.  It changes the feel of the game rather significantly without impacting the actual time expenditure much, which is the opposite of what I'm going for with these single-sitting-friendly options.

The "hold Y to run" patch has been implemented, but I'm pulling it out of this release.  It was designed to work in the Ancient Cave project, which has no real cutscenes and no vehicles.  When beginning a plot event or while riding an airship or chocobo, the code behaves rather strangely, often making you move slowly when you shouldn't.  I still want the feature, but its interaction with the main story is not yet up to The Lunarian Shuffle's standards.

A few other minor changes have happened, most noticeably another buff to FuSoYa's spell learning levels.

Today I will be streaming a final test run of v1.02's shortened cutscenes before making that version live!

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Goals for v1.02

The Lunarian Shuffle is a play experience that is designed to appeal to players who want to show off their skills at planning strategies to complete the game.  It will reward you for coming up with new solutions to familiar problems.  Players who want to test their skills in a challenge run are already well served by the current state of the randomizer, especially with Hard Mode selected.  However, players who want to race through the game are presently blocked by something incredibly basic: without knowing exactly what tools lie ahead, even a technically-easier version of FF4 winds up taking about twice as long as the normal speed run; simply finding 5-7 hours to play the game in one setting is prohibitively difficult.

To better serve would-be racers, v1.02 is going to focus on adding options that make the game shorter for a speed run without removing actual content.  I am including these as options because I do not want to force casual or challenge runners to have the game be altered from its original form any more than necessary.  Options that are presently planned include:
  • "Y to dash."  This is a feature developed by Myself for a different ROM hack; he has offered to share the code for it.  Hold Y and the main character will walk faster than usual.
  • "Fast Menus."  Also a donation from Myself, this option will remove a lot of the lag that normally slows down scrolling through a list of items.
  • Shortened cutscenes.  This will be a major project; I will go through each cutscene and hand-craft a quicker version of it.
    • Text boxes will mostly be removed (except for obtaining / losing key items).
    • Characters will walk faster.
    • Plot-fights will be untouched.
Again, these will all be optional.

I am currently planning to hold a race next weekend; for now, that race is planned to be a v1.01 race because I don't know if the above options will be ready in time.  If they are, then you can bet I'll be showcasing them.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Version 1.01 Released

The Lunarian Shuffle has had its first patch since its official release!  Get it at the usual location:
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B9k5jnZ_x-ijRG5BTE1objljbzQ

tl;dr: Massive buffs to chests inside dungeons.  Item duplication glitch patched out.

Here's the full changelog:



V1.01


“What is this item?” page added to the information panel.

Mist Dragon’s physical defense is now 0.  This should help all-mage starting parties, without affecting more “normal” parties very much.

Patched out the Item Duplication Glitch.

Significant balance pass:
  • Items that are completely useless (as every character that can equip it starts with something at least as good) have been removed.
  • Items that are specific to a small number of characters will stop appearing after all of those characters have left for good.
  • The Rat Tail can no longer appear in the final dungeon.
  • The “level” of most dungeon chests have been increased, especially chests that are “out of the way” or trapped.
  • Chests and shops before the “level” of Mysidia’s shops are 2x as likely to contain Cure1, Heal, Ether1, and Life potions, as well as Tents.
  • Items that are useful over a long range of levels, but aren’t as amazing at the high levels, now have 2 “Goodness” ratings.  In other words, they will move from high-value to low-value chests as the game progresses, instead of clogging late-game chests with their mediocrity.
  • Various items that I previously overrated have been reigned in and should no longer clog high value chests.

The Tower of Babil ascent now has appropriately flagged treasures, instead of all being “whatever” like vanilla implied.

Now everyone can play the harp during Edward’s cutscenes, rather than turning into copies of Edward.

The kissing sprite is now a heart bubble, rather than only allowing Rosa and Cecil to get it on.


Fixed an issue where if one of the Twins replaced FuSoYa, WMeteo would be solo cast.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Speedrunner drama

Well, it turns out the FF4 speedrun community doesn't like change.

Yesterday, after the topic came up in Discord, I decided to hunt down the code that was supposed to fix the item duplication glitch, and write a patch that makes it actually work.  A few hours of RAM value hunting and assembly code writing later, FF4 ROM hackers now have a patch that can make GP actually matter in their projects if so they choose.  I posted the fix on Discord and left for the night.

Today I logged on to the Discord to find about 100 comments from speed runners who were furious at the concept that a version of FFIV without item duplication could exist.  Mind you, nobody had yet indicated that the patch would actually be used.  I find this situation frustrating because I designed my project to be a strategic / competitive experience and also to work best when resource management actually exists - while I don't generally want to take decisions on this sort of thing out of the hands of the players, I know that if a player wanted to play the game in the way I designed it, that player would have a terribly difficult time finding anyone willing to race against them that way.

In short, the severity of the opposition to the existence of the patch is itself a demonstration of why I may have to actually use it.  My project is largely one about resource management, but given the state of the community, I don't know how I can get anyone to actually manage their resources without using a heavy hand.


In other news, I've tested a few versions of cutscene shortening, and I've not found anything I like.  Most of the cutscene time is spent with the main character and/or NPCs walking around and doing other animations, rather than talking.  Removing those motions makes the game a baffling whirlwind of teleportations.  I'll keep thinking about the issue, but for now I have no clear path forward on that front.

I'm getting feedback that the distribution of items is not "nice" enough.  To some degree I think this is players' usual tendencies to call for power creep in every game, but in this case I do think that some improvements are in order.  My current plans are to:
  • Mark items that are specific to one character, and remove those items from item sources from beyond the point in the game where that character permanently leaves.
  • Increase the "level" of most chests in dungeons, while either leaving stores untouched or reducing them.
    • Especially increase the "level" of chests that are trapped or out of the way.
  •  Take some items that have a wide level range (stuff like the Gaea hat and elemental arrows that are still potentially useful long after they are current) and make them no longer have as high a "goodness" rating at the upper ranges.