Solution to permadeath is not rewind/reset

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no matter whats done my ass is still gonna reset when someone goes down because i either ball all the way or not at all

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should make a game where you kill your own units to your benefit, not to your demerit

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like the Valkyrie Profile games? Man, those can get gruesome

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I really wanna make my first LT project be a thing where the lord just gets attached to people for A supports but then the player promptly kills them for buffs

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I agree with this. Permadeath was a good mechanic in older Fire Emblem games where you had a large cast of fairly interchangable units - there was some punishment for letting a unit die, but most of the time it was not all that severe and it encouraged you to try different units. In modern Fire Emblem games, with a small cast of characters that you’re encouraged to invest a ton of resources in, almost any death is a soft game over. Rewind is a band-aid to cover up how poorly permadeath fits in modern FE, and its presence has a lot of other negative consequences. Changing the failure state from “a single round of combat gone badly wrong” to “I bashed my head against this map over and over” makes the game far less tense and exciting and requires that maps be way harsher to the player to maintain the same difficulty. You can choose not to rewind, but you’re still playing on a map designed with rewind in mind - a lot of 3H Maddening ambush spawns are completely unfair without Divine Pulse.

My ideal for how the next FE game would handle character death:

  • Keep Casual mode - it does its job for those who want it.
  • Add in a mode between Casual and Classic where there are significant consequences for letting a characters HP go to zero but it’s not an auto reset. IDK if this would be a wounds system, depletion of a finite resource or something else, it would depend on the rest of the game. Clearly mark this as the mode the game is balanced around.
  • Maybe keep Classic permadeath as an option for turbo-elitists, but clearly warn people that this isn’t the intended way to play
  • No rewind. Design the maps so that the player is clearly warned of the dangers and doesn’t have to use trial and error or a guide.

Is it reasonable for IS to get rid of rewind now that it’s a well-established feauture that most people are used to? Probably not, but we can hope.

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This reminds me of a DS game called Valkyrie Profile: Covenant of the Plume, where one of the main mechanics was using the titular plume to sacrifice one of your allies. This gave them absurd power for one battle - I mean “solo entire maps by themselves” power - but after the battle ends they would lose their life.

The game balanced this out by being quite difficult and having a couple of other mechanics that try to push you to using the plume. And there’s also three different routes you can go to depending on how plume-happy you are.

Awesome, awesome game.

Oh, someone already mentioned it lol

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I think rewind is great though. Whether a character dies or is otherwise permanently negatively impacted, both options feel bad IMO. Just allow me a few undo buttons per chapter so that I’m not constantly making the most boring but safest move possible just to incur a permanent penalty at the end because I made some misstep very late into the chapter.

The problem with Casual mode is the lack of stakes. The problem with not having rewinds is an overabundance of stakes. Giving a set number of rewinds sits snugly in the middle, assuming you get the number right.

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I think it’d be fairer if unit death sends your unit back to the bench with a Scar that never heals quite right inflicting -1 stat per stack of Scarred. The Lord dying is still a Game Over condition. And the universally beloved half god half angel prince of six kingdoms and twelve empires divine dragon emperor self-insert OC if he HAS to be a part of Fire Emblem going forward. IS please don’t combine his role with the Lord next game. It praises the protagonist harder if he’s given credit for the Lord not being worse than he currently is, and gives the Lord room to be a character with a backstory and a personality sometimes whenever it wouldn’t steal Korrislethbin’s spotlight for too long.

“What if the player gets someone too important wounded?”

Add an expensive item that clears all wounds. For lore reasons when Not Naga’s blessing is given to Not Chrom to kill Not Anankos with the Not Yato everyone has their scars healed right before the final battle against Not Anankos.

“But that’s not enough to keep some players from cheesing the system and sacrificing their units constantly!”

Buff enemies when they kill player units like in Advance Wars Dark Conflict and give the player army a Morale Meter. If it goes down too low units who like you less start betraying you or abandoning you and units who like you more beg you to try harder and the hired mercenaries (who join you permanently if they like you enough) raise their prices or stop accepting your job offers.

I disagree with you philosophically.

There are no real stakes when playing a video game that aren’t self-imposed. You can keep resetting after a death until you’re eighty, or keep resetting after you run out of rewinds until you’re eighty, the true problem is that isn’t really any tactical or mechanical benefit to playing with permadeath on. Eventually your patience will run out and you’ll stop trying to beat the game perfectly and see 100% of the game on one save file. Maybe. But that just makes your run worse. You’re missing content. Because of user error? Maybe, maybe not. But the game has no content for Iron Man runs. No achievements. No tweaking numbers in future maps to account for your army’s current power level. The game doesn’t do enough things that encourage repeat playthroughs with meaningfully different choices beyond “Do I bother trying to train everyone/keep as many units alive as possible?”.

If I get Sumia killed in Awakening, that doesn’t cause her kid’s map to give me the sad cutscene where after recruiting her kid with Chrom, her kid is sad she failed to save her mother in this timeline too. That deprives me of a child in the future and a unit now. And her spouse doesn’t react. Stahl does not react. He doesn’t get a stat bonus to ensure the game is beatable and encourage me to use him. He can’t marry someone else if he already married her. Cordelia doesn’t react. The story doesn’t have a changed cutscene here and there to reflect how many of your doods keep dying or that an important character just died like in Ike’s game or Alm’s game. Cherche won’t show up to infodump about Valm and then ask where Virion is and then cry when she’s told Virion is dead. Nobody calls Marth or Corrin a loser for getting as many units killed as possible in a Maximum Deaths playthrough. You can’t save Jeralt by getting Monica killed before the Canon Event. No pity system resets the run for you if the game determines you’re softlocked with your remaining resources and units, giving you a cutscene where Chrom sadly informs Robin everyone abandoned you and your meme tactics doomed the world. At best someone might comment during the battle “Oh no, Lysithea died” or “We killed Ferdie” but it won’t cause characters to get buffs or nerfs or betray you or even lose support points with you. My investment into the unit who is now dead is solely gone and the game gives me no mechanical reason or lore reason to keep playing with the consequence of a death that 99 times out of 100 was actually RNG being BS. It isn’t doing anything interesting to give me any real reason to keep playing through the death besides my desire to not spend real time rewinding fake time with a button press or soft reset to undo this. Besides, how many FE games are designed to make permadeath inconsequential because you have too many doods, or BS because you don’t have enough doods to replace dead doods? The 3 Houses routes really should have added more Part 2 units to your army unique to whichever side you joined. Even if they were statistically inferior to your child soldiers besides the ones you neglected or trained wrong as a joke, it could give you functional unit replacements after the timeskip and better yet, characterize the characters you fight against in other routes more. Maybe it’d mean we wouldn’t need to kill Hubert like six times before he stays dead.

When has Fire Emblem ever done anything to seriously try to make respecting permadeath something with positive gameplay consequences?

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Stories of rich men who take back what they feel they are owed, what they feel their birthright is, when it is taken from them by other rich men… They’re fundamentally less relatable than stories of commoners rising up to overthrow the country or become nobles and protect the country’s people. That doesn’t necessarily make them worse, but a commoner’s perspective is something shockingly lacking from a lot of these tales of nobility and heroism.

The lord’s death should absolutely cause a Game Over screen, otherwise you’d need to lose all your units to lose the map.

How often does Fire Emblem have units prioritize targeting the main Lord? I remember it being a big deal that made Marth a great unit in his game despite having a lot of traits that would normally make him suck.

A morale mechanic could count up all enemy units at the chapter’s start, and all player units, and track how many of them are destroyed over time, and what percentage of them are destroyed. Have you ever played those “Kill every last one of them!” maps that becomes tedious once 99% of the enemies are gone and you need to hunt down those last few who have no hope of beating you and no ability to pose a challenge and all your interesting objectives are completed? I think it’d be cool if, when the foes hit sufficiently low morale levels (50% of their army defeated? 75%? The boss could count as multiple units for morale meter purposes to make his early execution more rewarding) enemies should cease fighting and flee, gaining a skill that makes them unable to counterattack and easy to Capture. You know, unless they never surrender or retreat for plot reasons (Zombie, mind control, indoctrination, fearing punishment from their Mad King more than death itself). Could even do a map where killing the enemy boss immediately causes his men to flee, because he’s forcing them to fight. Bonus morale damage could be inflicted if you eliminate a ton of enemies at once while taking little or no damage, that could be a cool way to reward fast play.

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On relatability

Being good-natured is not inherently relatable - and on this day and age, tales of ‘being promoted up for doing the right thing’ isn’t either. Relatability does not come from the general plotline nor the setting of the game.

You won’t see people going “ohmigosh, Drums of War is so relatable because of the medieval setting, it reminds me of when I fought with the visigoths to claim the iberian peninsula!”

No, they’ll comment on the grounded nature of the characters and their humane reactions.

Relatability is not tied to the setting, its tied to its characters and how they react to the setting, the “it’s so me” trend.

→ a commoner

→ tales of nobility

gee, I wonder why that is the case

Alternative Game Over conditions

Bear with me - you could put different game over conditions over a chapter beyond ‘Lord dies’/'Objective is failed (for Defend/Turn limit chapters) - as long as the player is forewarned about them.

You could have a mini-defend objective that must be kept safe while you march towards a seize, for example, or a unit-limit on how many allies fall on this chapter (mimicking morale).

Morale systems

I am not exactly too keen on a Morale system designed this way - this essentially is just something that could be evented with arbitrary numbers and done to what you wish to add a glorified rout counter to it.

Morale, in my pov, should be taken into consideration in the same way Valkyria Chronicles handles it - as a slightly extra resource based on your performance (and potential game over condition), with units having skills that take that Morale into account.

A glorified ‘X left to kill’ is kind of a meh take.

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I honestly just want them to balance the whole game around classic mode. They could do a punishment for deaths in casual mode like reducing growths (5% on each stat per death → small and a reason to watch out longterm but nothing that takes an important unit away because the stats stay the same) but I am fine as it is as long as they don’t repeat the mistakes of Three Houses.

A game thats balanced around classic mode can always slap a casual mode on it because it only gives advantages to the player. It doesn’t work the other way around because classic mode is not just a hard mode. It is an entirely different experience if you are willing to let units die once you mess up. It should still be enjoyable and losing units without any way of refilling their roles isn’t fun. Rewind kinda fixes this but also renders Permadeath pointless.

Designing around Classic Mode is the only solution I feel that stays to the way FE was in this regard and doesn’t come down to “Making it so that players have to repeat as little much as possible before they need to reset, because resetting is frustrating due to time loss.” They could reintroduce RDs and Holy Wars Savepoints at this rate its just less convinient.

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Yes, these are stories of divinely gifted divinely empowered giants among men who leave tremendously large footprints behind them as they slay deities and carve their names into history as easily as I would carve my wife’s name and my own into a tree. But despite all the common men and women aiding these divinely gifted divinely empowered giants among men, how many of them are used to explore what life is like for the commoners? Dorothea springs to mind, but who else? Vaike? It’s not as common as you’d expect given what percentage of an army is usually commoners, not nobles or their retainers.

Combining Defend and Seize? Great idea. Imagine if your best combat units have to escort your Lord somewhere with a NPC while he travels to a certain point, and slay assassins, meanwhile everyone left behind during this… boar hunt gone wrong or whatever… has to defend the town or camp.

“Kill all 68 enemies on this map. Yes, even those guys in the corner” or “Kill the boss. Even if you had objectives to complete, if the boss suicides on your units the map is over” or “Walk your slow-ass lord to the seize point” doesn’t sound like “Kill at least 70% of them and their leader starts fleeing, kill their leader and more than 50% of them and they all start fleeing, kill more of them in a single turn for a morale damage bonus, let them kill some of you or come into this map with deployment slots empty and they get more confident and more of them need to be killed before they lose morale and flee”. How many maps are basically won by that point anyway? I wouldn’t want micromanaging the morale meter to become the primary gameplay mechanic, but a game full of rout maps would surely benefit from a map where enemies can lose their nerve and make hunting them down as they flee harder than the tedious task of hunting them down while they wait for someone to enter their range.

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Rout every last one of them

1: If you make a rout map and end up with needing to walk around to corner enemies (that don’t naturally move towards your position at some point) for years, I do believe there is a fundamental issue with design.

2: ‘Walk your slowass lord’ over there is fixed with either having a lord that actually can walk, or maps that don’t require the extra mile to get there.

  1. Even then, consider the following: Droppable items, XP cuts, and so on and forth

Are you really willing to make the player miss on potentially half of that per chapter? Are you willing to write up an escape AI for all enemies with the potential of maps not really allowing one? I feel that this mechanic as is is a very backwards way to put a glorified counter that ends maps earlier.

If you’re making it so you only have to kill 75% enemies max, why not

cut it down to that 75% by default? Why do you need more if they will run before facing combat?

Spoken by a commoner in year 1427

“Sir, it is entirely crucial for the plot that the nobles are put to sleep on hay bales so ‘they can explore what life is like for commoners’.”

“Sir we should have this noble character die of dysentery after not being able to get honey water after running off into the wild due to claiming they are the rightful emperor and being kicked out and put into running by every other kingdom in the fray.”

By one, you could loosely put this on a game where the focus of the story is focused on a noble main character having to go through a rough life due to adverse events - but adding gratuitous moments of just throwing random people into sleeping in the floor and force them to complain about it is probably not part of the standard pacing of a FE hack.

A standard Fire Emblem isn’t going to randomly walk into ‘damn, the harvest this year was bad’ and then put you into a harvest chapter - and even by then, any concepts of ‘yeah, heroic nobility’ is gone by then. You’re still fighting an enemy army, you still have to do your classic Fire Emblem story and kill a dragon. There hardly is any moment to put any type of ‘grim medieval reality’ when you have a hoverboard kingdom and all your guys are busy fucking after the third chat.

The other factor is the story hardly cares by default. If you’re going to describe on a chapter by chapter basis where the fuck were people sleeping last night, the deplorable conditions, and any noble-commoner support ending to be a ‘yeah thats how we live, have you learned a lesson’, then that’s just, no.

I’m not sure where you’re going with this. Boring rout maps make hunting down the final few nonthreatening enemies boring and often something you can do without time pressure or the risk of failure, the time pressure of enemies fleeing if you win hard enough fast enough could turn hunting those foes down into a challenge. You could be losing, and facing a softlock, only to make one mad suicidal charge at the enemy boss and win, making enemies flee, buying you time to get back to the Base Camp and buy some replacement units. It could let the developer fill a map with 2x or even 5x the usual number of foes despite only making the player fight 20% of them before the map is won. That sounds cinematic as fuck. You might even sacrifice useless units to give the enemy more confidence if you really want certain units to get EXP. Or make cutting off some escape routes and making routed enemies fight part of your strategy.

I don’t believe the supports of characters like Dorothea harmed Three Houses. I don’t believe it made the setting worse to learn this interesting medieval era hellhole also sucks for poor people, not just the Crested and Crestless Nobles. Though I feel this is getting off-topic.

The setting was different - slightly more grounded - and the plot fit such mentions.

Compare that to the hoverboard empire game - Engage. Do you think talking about the grim reality of life would’ve fit there?

For the rest of your post, I don’t think you and I talk about the same game whatsoever, and these absurd tangents you go on for -

like, this thing. Why would you clutter the map with enemies (considering also enemy caps which have made some hackers set area based reinforcements to go beyond that)? What do you gain from that when a likewise scenario from a Survival chapter with reinforcements would essentially evoke the same thing you speak of?

I don’t vibe with you and all this unnecessary clutter in search for a solution for something that doesn’t exist.

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@SaintRubenio This also reminds me of a fangame I saw on Dani Doyle’s channel: FE Crowns and Thrones. Everyone can die, but commanders with faces carry on through the story. However, money, items, and faceless pawns do not carry on between chapters. You’re encouraged to squeeze every bit of utility from your lackey soldiers, from movement skills to meatshields, all for the glory of the elite. Losing a commander will lose authority stars, so you’re punished for being reckless. It really does take the meme of “your life is expendable” to the extreme.
That being said, it does make one wonder: how far should the game account for the player’s deaths? Sure, it’s heartbreaking when you get stuff like SOV’s mourning lines, but the story has to draw a line where the party has to go on. Shadow Dragon DS handed out extra content for people who desperately needed more characters, but this caused people to lambast it for “rewarding” the player for killing their own units. And what about forced deaths like Kaze and Dedue? People didn’t like Kaze’s death despite it somewhat making sense for his character because the solution was locked behind his A-Support with Corrin (which in itself also makes sense in character, mind you), which can be very frustrating for people who just want to use someone like Saizo (At the same time, if you really ignored Kaze, why would you care if he died?) or people who only managed to get the B-Support. People didn’t like Dedue’s death even though the solution was much more obvious (just play his paralogue) because either consequence actually renders Dedue meaningless in the overall plot. People claim they want their choices to matter, and while I agree, at some point, the show must go on. FE, for better or worse, can’t have any meaningful deaths for side characters without veering too much into the deep end. It would have to become a completely different game in order for stuff to actually matter beyond some extra quotes.
There is one game that tries to execute forced deaths well, and it’s

FE8: The Princess’s Lament, a revamp of the Magvel saga. Emphasis on tries. It’s a long rant. Feel free to skip it if you’d like.

The titular lament is that Orson kills Seth at Fort Renvall, and Eirika understandably loses it. From then on, everything goes very wrong. She becomes very consumed with rage to the point that it makes Dimitri look like Azama. It goes on and on, and there are a bunch of other story plotlines, but one of the main reasons TPL doesn’t vibe too much with me despite me being a big FE8 fan is that it ultimately makes Seth’s death kind of more like the typical Eyvel/Mikoto/Lumera/Ben Kenobi schtick where a respected mentor figure dies early in the plot as a big impetus for the protagonist. I get the feeling that people who liked this plot twist only really did so because of the irony of how Seth is a fairly powerful Oifey memed to Hel and back to Asgard and not necessarily because it was a genuinely well written impetus. Even if you are well aware of vanilla FE8, TPL!Seth is ultimately a character who doesn’t get enough focus and characterization to merit concern or sorrow, as most of the chapters prior to Fort Renvall are very similar, minus several extras that have almost nothing to do with him. We only get a tiny glimpse of the character and the fiat presumptions of what other characters have to say about him. And all of that is funneled into a rather overcentralized aspect of TPL!Eirika’s characterization. The big pro with TPL is that it makes Seth’s death the main focus of Eirika’s arc. The big con with TPL is, well, that it makes Seth’s death almost the only focus of Eirika’s arc, which is a shame because it could be the gateway for something larger. Compare TPL!Seth’s death with Mikoto’s: Birthright Corrin does use this as justification for defending Hoshido. At the same time, it’s not the only reason he decides to leave Nohr. At that point in the story, he had barely gotten to know the family that he never even knew existed. Yet Corrin states that the attack on Hoshido was a sign of something else: Garon is a monster who doesn’t care for his children. Even if Corrin never knew a single thing about his lost Hoshidan kin, he could not support someone who would willingly sacrifice his own as collateral damage.

Many people want characters to live or die depending on in-story decisions. While I don’t mind something like a conditional Orson, at the same time, story branches can only go so far before we get an uncontrollable tree that might have to be bent back into a single vine like Shadow the Hedgehog 2005. More does not equal better. Again, main characters aren’t really allowed to die while side characters who can die are ultimately expendable and meaningless. I’d like to talk about how I’d want to write Zola in Birthright, but I think I already padded out too much. If anyone would like my opinion on that, let me know.

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I can’t tell is this a roundabout form of feedback to Saint Rubenio or did you not realize he’s the dev of the hack you talk about.

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Ah, I think I’ve heard of that one. That’s the not-really-very-balanced-at-all-rebalance where Seth turns into a dog for no reason, right? Man, whoever made it must’ve been one helluva weirdo.

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Takes a SaintRubenio to know a SaintRubenio

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