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Listening to: Enigma-Mea Culpa

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That part about working on the library today? I lied. Today I slept and played Dynasty Tactics 2. (It's not completely slacking off. After all, I'm working on a tactics game myself, right?)

One thing I notice about Dynasty Tactics 2 is that I don't enjoy as much as, say, Final Fantasy Tactics or Disgaea. Thinking about it, I came up with this list of possible reasons. (The rest of this entry probably won't make much sense unless you're familiar with the game.)

For one, the plot doesn't exactly grab me. This is partly just over saturation on my part. I've played the original Dynasty Tactics, at least four of the Romance of the Three Kingdoms series, including the original Nintendo version, Destiny of the Emperor and quite a bit of the Dynasty Warriors series. Not to mention seeing anime based on the era, etc. So when Lu Bu betrays Liu Bei, it's not a big surprise to me. I mean it's not like Lu Bu made a career out of betraying his lords or anything. The other part is that they don't put much of the way of plot out there in the first place.

Another thing is that battles get monotonous fairly quickly. Sure one fight might be in a hilly region and another across a river, but that's still not a lot to differentiate the battles. Another problem is that since most battles result from random armies bumping into each other it almost feels like every fight is like a random encounter. This is less of a problem in Dynasty Tactics 2 than it was in the first version, with more significant battles getting special goals, but it's still missing the variety of say, Tactic Ogre or Final Fantasy Tactics.

While the unit types are better differentiated than they were in the first version, there's still a sense of blandness to the units. This is further exaggerated by the fact that you can choose the tactics you get now, instead of being determined by the general. So all my units end up with All Attack, Aid and Raid, these just being the most effective tactics for creating combos.

Finally, and this is related to the monotony of the battles, is that there's also a lack of emotional investment. For one thing, with the scenario based flow of events, winning some battles is literally pointless, since you lose all the cities you gained no matter what when the scenario ends. And since there's less branching in the scenarios, it ends up feeling that a lot things you do just don't matter.

So taking these ideas to heart, can they be applied to my game design? Well, I can't guarantee that Seventh Star's plot will be any more engrossing, but there will be more of it. Since the battles will be on a smaller scale (people scale like Tactics Ogre instead of army scale like Dynasty Tactics), there's more room in terms of believability for more detailed and varied map designs. The unit monotony issue shouldn't be there. With fewer characters and more personality for each one, they shouldn't feel like interchangeable cogs. Being on a smaller scale, different unit abilities should feel different as well. Customization of the avatar should provide for more emotional investment on that level. Whether or not the plot is enough to handle the rest is another question.

Oh well, tommorrow should be more code oriented.
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