I was debating on editing the affinity/support system in my new project and I was just wondering how other people deal with them in their projects.
Do you stick with the vanilla affinities? Maybe use Tellius affinities? Or did you make your own (looking at you VQ’s not-at-all-edgy Blade Affinity)? Or did you pull an Avenir and not really have affinities per se? Avenir’s got a great support system wherein support bonuses are determined by support pairings instead of unit affinities, and they even display the bonuses on the stat screen:
Do you keep the 5 total supports? What about the range of gaining support points? and the range of support benefits?
In my first project I kept it pretty simple, I just used the vanilla affinities but set the values gained to be ridiculously high where supports were unlocked by turn 2 every chapter.
This time around I’m debating on drawing inspiration from RD (don’t shoot me) wherein a character can only support one other unit at a time, but instead of using affinities to determine the bonuses, I’d tailor the bonuses to reflect the unit giving the bonuses (an off the cuff example would be Jagger the myrmidon giving +Avo and +Crit or Joey the Knight giving +Def).
I like to stick with vanilla affinities, the sprites are nice and it gives more of a separation between characters.
As for supports, I think supports should stick to the vanilla range of 3-7, as I don’t feel that having 5 flat is a good idea. It only forces to add dialogue for supports, and they are a giant pain in the bum. It should depend on the character for the quantity. For range, I like to keep it vanilla, because it makes positioning matter more. In terms of bonuses, I like to buff them a bit because in GBA supports aren’t worth it, so I like to increase support growth and support bonuses.
I like the way Path of Radiance tackles supports. Gaining Support Points by just being deployed in the same chapter. I get that it destroys the illusion a bit, if the characters don’t need to fight together because of this - but probably this is why I like it, since it doesn’t really affect the decisions that you have to make during the game.
Now of course it should still be an accomplishment to unlock the supports. And especially if it’s important for the Gameplay (like in Holy War, Awakening and Fates, to get children, gaiden-chapters, very high bonuses, Adjacent-Crits, Items, other events…), you should consider to make requiring them a bit harder, depending on the support-partners (Canon-Pairings or Childhood Friends being easier to unlock than supports with Strangers or former enemies, etc.) and how high the bonuses are and how many you can have per unit. Generally making the bonuses lower when you can have like 10 Supports, but maybe only 1 A- or S-Support that gives significantly more bonuses.
Unfortunately getting Supports in the GBA Games mostly ends up in grinding by letting the units stay close to each other until they get a Rank-Up. Imo that doesn’t really add much to the game. But that can be prevented by forcing the player to keep going instead of focusing on the Support Grinding. The player should mostly stay active, so he can’t get many opportunities to stand still.
I think the way I’ll try to do is to set the Supportrange to the entire map, so that I can simulate the PoR System. Pairings that are very likely to happen get a lower requirement, and those who’ll have a more difficult time together need more points. Also having a few supports but giving them good bonuses seems to be best imo. But I think that also depends on the number of supports and units you have in general. They’re there for multiple runs, but then again, you also want people to read them so…
Also Supports are a great way to give the characters a face. It’s not that important to give every character many supports or dialogue, but enough to ensure it’s fun using different armies in multiple runs and to show how the character thinks and acts. I think it’s a bit sad that GBA limits the supports to be on the battlefield, since off-battlefield gives you more options - which doesn’t mean that you can’t write whatever you want anyway.
I think it is a good decision to show the player what bonuses he/she will get when pairing up certain characters. Affinities could give you a hint though so it’s easier to figure it out. Except if every unit gives a unique bonus that is.
At the same time, affinity in my hack has a purpose in the story (and foreshadows some developments). It also has another gameplay mechanic, as specific growth scrolls can only be used by certain affinity units.
I’ve never actually gotten to the point of worrying about supports/affinities in a project (aside from character flavour, like a hot-headed character having the fire affinity), but I do have some plans.
First, I want to reduce the number of affinities no matter what I do with them. I never saw the merit in adding the heaven and earth affinities from Tellius when affinity support bonuses are already something I don’t bother to remember in the vanilla game (“support=unit get stronger” is good enough). The usual list of affinities I start with is fire/ice/wind/lightning/water, which coincidentally goes with another concept of mine in which affinity determines what kind of magic you can use. Yes, five types of magic is excessive for a normal Fire Emblem game, but not necessarily so for a project where magic is front and centre. Instead of being their own weapon types like anima/light/dark, there would just be one “tome” weapon type and whether or not a unit can use certain types of magic is based on a weapon lock that’s synched up with their affinity.
Amidst all this, I want to simplify the support bonuses into “one affinity=one stat”, e.g. fire/ice/wind/lightning/water give +1 strength/skill/speed/defense/magic for each support level. Maybe people like me will engage the system more when we get the support and see a big fat +1 in the stat screen when the units are close together.
When it comes to support options: only main characters are getting a lot of them, with a possible exception for a few mysterious characters whom the player only gets to learn about through supports. For non-main characters, it’s two or three possible support partners and that’s it. Although again, this is only a planning/conceptual thing. If I ever get to the point in a project where I write supports, and I have a lot of fun with it and can’t stop? They may very well all be getting a bunch of options. But probably not. The conundrum is more “it’s content people will never see” than “it’s too much to write”, anyway.
How to gain support points? The “deploy together for support points” method is definitely preferable over GBA vanilla, but in a perfect world I’d also like to add some FE13 mojo and give support points to units who defeat enemies while being within a certain range of each other. This means that you’ll eventually unlock supports with enough time, but if you want to be savvy about it, you can jockey your units so they fight close together and get the supports sooner.
As with anything, I think it depends on the scope of the project. Something only a handful of maps long is going to want a different scheme than something that’s closer to “full length”.
In the latter case, I would probably go with a mix of Genealogy, PoR, and SoV. Plot-timed conversations at the base after certain chapters have been reached and units participated in so many maps together as well as map-based Talk events that grant bonuses or items if units interact with each other on maps after hitting support levels and spending enough time in range of each other. So, the actual conversations would be done in the base and those generate the support letter that enables the combat bonuses when in range between partners, and if those units are more than just “coworkers” and actually stay near each other and cooperate, they can get extras on top of the stat bonuses, giving you more reason to have them collaborate in between Support Level conversations.
As for actual support bonuses and affinities, I don’t know what I’d suggest on that front. The bonuses should be enough that you want to keep units near each other in battle - maybe instead of small stat boosts per level, a percentage increase per level (i.e. +10% Atk, etc., but not necessarily a single stat for the pair), but limit to one partner overall to prevent abuse?
For shorter projects where you may not have characters have a built-in rapport or where they may not have the time to build one, I’m leaning more towards a mix of RD’s Map Affinity and Awakening’s Pair Up. I have an altered Affinity list and have them planned as a ring, with adjacent Affinities having a symbiotic relationship and any units that have the same Affinity or one adjacent gain a bonus when adjacent as if they were basic-level Support partners.
For supports in 4K, I let units get unlimited B supports, but only one A support per person. Supports also build really quickly, and support points build when units stand within 3 tiles of each other. Consequently, I made affinities generally weaker. Vanilla GBA affinities are pretty lame, since each one boosts 4 of the 6 combat stats (attack, defense, hit, avoid, crit, crit avoid), so for a given pair, you’re gonna get boosts to nearly everything. What I did was give each affinity one combat stat to focus on (e.g. fire gives attack, lightning gives crit, etc), with dark giving a small boost to the non-attack and defense stats. I also made every affinity give a little bit of hit.
Basically, if supports are easy to acquire and stack, then their individual bonuses should be relatively weak. If they take more work to get or are more limited in quantity, make the bonuses bigger. That’s what I think, anyway.
I think giving units that fought together on the same map an arbitrary number of support points seems like a valid way to do this.
I like the earlier suggestion of simply giving support bonuses to every unit on the map. It would certainly be easier to balance the game around this. It’d also be similar to leadership stars in that perhaps some units could support multiple/many/all units and be useful to deploy in that way. Naturally, the hit/avo formulae would have to be adjusted around this, too.
I love affinities and varied support bonuses. Ive always enjoyed trying to figure out which pairings help units get extra stats in meaningful ways. Creates fun tradeoffs and can also help adjust the balance of particular units.
I like giving good affinities to units that may have poor availability or weaker at join time to incentivize using them in a minor way.
The fe9 support mechanic structure of getting points by deployment is mechanically superior because you don’t get punished for playing quickly like in GBA. You don’t need to turtle or grind to get supports, it’s much more natural and means more players can actually view and use them because all they need to do is deploy the unit.
Making affinity bonuses all the same is fine but it seems pointless to have affinity at all unless it impacts other mechanics.
Everything. It’s so, so slow to build up a single damn support so you have to accelerate it to a stupidly high speed just to make the supports actually build up in a reasonable time. But when you do that, it also leads to a lot of crazy bonuses from supports which is very hard to balance around.
Also f*ck the 5 support limit. I can understand 1 A per unit but only 5 per unit?
Uh… You can remove the 5 support limit, you know. There’s that patch where a unit can get 5 partners, albeit limited to one A support and four B supports at max. Still, as long as nobody has more than 5 possible partners, that’s fine. And you can make affinity bonuses weaker to compensate for supports being more numerous and building way faster.
I personally know no one who thinks that way. The only reason I do not change it is because I usually want to keep the original designbasis intact and that sadly includes that nonsense. I personally just say to make supportgain mapwide if one does not care about being faithful, it is the better way.