The Big Balance Patch: An Overview

Brief Development Update

I got a lot done last week, finishing up the remaining maps (though I might have to finish the stuff Pyxxis isn’t done) and writing 3/4ths of the major scenes that needed to be written. I am hoping to have the last major scene done and be able to begin balance testing this week, but no guarantees.

Chicken got me a scene that needs to be edited, Hund is almost done the inks, Koops got me some monsters, and Urimas got me tiles and sprites, which is what he does. For money.

What the hell are you posting, Salty?

I asked last week if people wanted to see a list of all the features in the Big Balance Patch, and at least one patron said yes, while none said no. That’s a supermajority! So now you all get to read what’s coming up.

The UI is a WIP

I’m still using the old UI pieces with a few modifications. Naturally, this means stuff doesn’t look so great. The UI will be getting changed much later on, so everything you see is still a prototype.

Let’s look at skills!

You now have a set of classes or jobs that have a bunch of skills associated with them. You can buy the skills with JP you get, which can be gotten from doing quests or beating up enemies. Once purchased, you can equip the ability on the rightmost box on the bottom.

Most enemies drop 10JP, pending balance feedback, so you’ll get a steady drip of new abilities. The JP is given to whatever job you happen to be in, but if you have mastered the job, then it goes to the global JP pool and can be spent on any job.

What are those locked abilities there? Well, find a skillbook…

And you unlock the next slot. Finding a skillbook also grants 100 global JP, and the slots unlocked unlock for every job.

Each job has six abilities pre-equipped, plus the CP ability (next to Parry), but four are locked behind skillbooks. The abilities are unlocked in order, meaning you no longer have to find a specific skillbook to get a specific skill. This means the chapter can be approached even less linearly than before, since in the current version, you really need to find skillbooks to help with certain enemies and that railroads you to certain areas.

For Mei, all of her playable forms have their own skill lists. You can equip abilities from any job in the eight slots on the right side, allowing a ton of variability in playstyle. You’ll be expected to adapt your ability selection to the enemies you encounter!

Florentina has two new jobs, Treasure Hunter and Mediator, and follows the same rules of skillbooks. Florentina can’t change jobs in-battle, but Mei actually can thanks to her runestone. However, Mei reverts to her previous job when the battle ends (because otherwise some of the chapter scripts would break since there are places you’re not supposed to be in one form since you lack access to a save point).

The colors of the background and borders of the ability suggest what it does. There are now lots of passive abilities and support abilities to pick from. Passive abilities only work when equipped in your custom slots, but some jobs already have a passive equipped. If two of the same ability are equipped, their effects stack together.

While the combat interface looks pretty similar, it has a lot of small changes. For example, you will notice that characters now have an MP bar. Most abilities don’t use cooldowns anymore, instead, characters generate 10 MP per turn and start the battle with half of their maximum. You can equip abilities that increase MP generation and some abilities may restore it on use.

Your “Cooldown” is therefore how much MP you have. You don’t get to keep it when the battle ends, so you may as well go all out.

Yes, the UI sucks, I’m working on it.

Here you can see some new symbols. These are shields (the blue one) and adrenaline (the orange one). These are usually zero, but some characters and jobs make more extensive use of these. They basically are extra health bars that take damage in place of your health until they run out. Damage-over-time attacks bypass shields entirely, but shields are lost when combat ends. Adrenaline has no special properties, but 50% of adrenaline is added to your health when combat ends, so Mei’s werecat abilities can actually heal her as she deals damage.

Retreating is now no longer effectively the same as defeat. Instead, it allows you to actually properly run from a fight.

But after using it, enemies have extended sight cones and will spot you faster. You also won’t be able to ambush enemies for 20 seconds, and if you get into another fight, you won’t be able to retreat at all!

Defeated enemies also appear on the map instead of vanishing with a poof. Really helps immersion, I’ve been told.

You may have noticed the top right corner has a little scroll. This is to help keep you oriented. When you enter a new area, you’ll see a little overlay telling you where you are, and it will remain in the top right as a reminder.

As part of the Big Balance Patch is Chapter 1 Expanded. Chapter 1 now has a bunch of new areas and people to talk to. These new areas are to the west of the existing world, and are preludes to chapter 3 which needs them more extensively.

There are a couple of new dungeons, some new outdoor areas, a new village, several new major characters and events, and even a new transformation sequence and playable form for Mei!

Some NPCs speak fascinating wisdom.

While others are a bit more knowledgeable.

And some are crossover characters we put in as part of a fundraiser.

Let’s talk about gems.

Gems now have one of six cuttable-colors, Grey, Red, Blue, Orange, Violet, and Yellow. There are also other colors of gems, such as Green, but those cannot be cut.

Once you are the owner of two gems of different colors, you can take them to a gemcutter (Alicia in chapter 1) who can merge the gems together.

When two gems are merged, the new gem has the properties of both, including its colors. Since two gems that share colors cannot be merged together, this means a Red/Grey gem like this can be merged with a Yellow, Blue, Violet, or Orange gem. You can thus make custom gems to fit in your equipment.

Most gems provide simple stat bonuses, but some change a character’s weapon damage (special abilities may also benefit from this!), provide passive effects, or generate extra MP or CP for use in combat.

The interface may not look all that nice at the moment, but it’s a lot better at showing what gems you have equipped.
You can also see that you can equip backup weapons. You can swap to these weapons in battle for the cost of a free action, which can be very helpful if you have a weapon that deals a different damage type.

An early example is Mei’s Serrated Katana, which now deals damage as Bleeding instead of Slashing.

Speaking of, resistances are now a bit easier to understand. Resistances now stack with protection against direct-damage attacks, while resistances are used for DoTs (which bypass protection). The formula is 1.0 – 0.95^Resistance, but you can see the actual values on the stats screen.

The prediction window is now more robust than a toolbox, showing the percentage chance of an effect applying in addition to accuracy and damage. The prediction window is also manually programmable, meaning I can jam all kinds of stuff in there.

Remember how I said Mei can change jobs in mid battle? That means Zombee is now a playable form! It’s expensive to use, but has incredibly powerful abilities and greatly increased stats.

Some jobs also have abilities you can purchase that can’t be used in combat. These are called Field Abilities, and appear in the top left. These include abilities to get the jump on enemies, go invisible and run right past them, or just show more of the map.

These get used a lot more extensively in chapter 2, as Sanya gets puzzle abilities like firing her gun to shoot switches or dropping bombs to clear rubble.

That’s most of the new stuff, though I will point out that a lot of the various bugs left over in chapter 1 are being addressed. Combat also flows a bit smoother and has a much more powerful engine under the hood, allowing for all kinds of wacky abilities. In future chapters (and somewhat in chapter 1 already!), you’ll be able to have party members be transformed in battle and join the enemy team, be able to force enemies to join YOUR team, use exotic abilities like guaranteeing crits for the next attack, abilities that strike 3 turns after being used, and more!

There are other feature I haven’t mentioned yet, but this is enough for now. You’ll have to wait for the BBP to come out to see what they are.

So that’s enough of that. Back to work on the kistune booze scenes.

Curious Cat

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