So, it’s been a little over 2 years since Circleseverywhere made a thread for the well-renowned Skill System (March 18, 2017). With its introduction came a broadened level of creativity people could have with their hacks. In my opinion, it’s one of the many things that made hacking FE8 (which was already a goldmine of resources) even more worthwhile, and also caters to those who came in from 3DSFE/Tellius/Jugdral entries. Add in the ease of access via FEBuilder, and bam, now everyone can pretty much use them from the get go.
With all of the opening fluff out of the way, I want to ask you all: how do you really feel about the system, and how has it impacted your hacking experience?
Do you feel like they could/have lead to greater things?
Are they simply gimmicks in your eyes?
Would you be interested in trying to make your own custom skills eventually?
Are there any skills that were ported over that you feel should be buffed/debuffed to better suit GBAFE?
There’s certainly room to improve stuff, but I don’t think balance is a part of that, if you don’t like the numbers you are free to change them yourself, the skill system does not need to be balanced, much less do skills need to be balanced to each other. Even if you balanced it, that would only mean it’s balanced for vanilla (most likely) and only in the eyes of some, I think it would be a waste of time.
You can use whatever skills you want, if you think a skill is not balanced then either change it or don’t use it.
I’d like to see more emphasis on the displaying of skills, especially on the general map and not just in the stat screen. In Conquest, you can see what skills enemies have straight away, as there’s the 2nd screen. I understand this is harder to pull off as the GBA has limited screen real estate, but I think if we want more gameplay emphasis on the skill system, the display needs to be there too.
Agreed. Attempting to balance the skill system outside of the context of a specific hack is pointless.
The balance of a skill depends on what you’re using it for. A character with a subpar statline could still be useful because they have powerful skills, or inversely a character can have strong stats and weaker skills. Infantry can have stronger skills so they can compete with the greater mobility of cavs. So on and so forth.
I’d especially like to second this. Asm hacking is sometimes treated like an insurmountable wall by new hackers, but making balance changes to skills is dead simple. If you just want, say, *Breaker skills to do -25 instead of -50," it’s just changing a number. Even making new skills is simple, unless you’re doing something ambitious / far different from any current skill.
Aside from balance, the skill system is a pretty great ‘starter pack’ for a beginner Everything Assembler user. It comes bundled with a lot of very nice QoL hacks, a number of the EA tools already ready to go, and it just generally cuts down on the stuff a new user has to do to start hacking with EA.
Favourite element: the Heroes movement skills. I love being able to shove and reposition and all that jazz, and I’m thinking about giving some other movement skill to armour knights in my game so they have some unique mobility even though they still only have 4 movement (they’re stat walls and pretty satisfying to use otherwise).
Least favourite element: class skills being too abundant. If every single archer in the game has a skill that gives them +10 hit when there’s a friendly unit next to them or whatever, every merc gets +2 skill on even-numbered turns, and every mage gets +10 fortitude when defending, I’m not going to bother to keep track of all those fine variables; I’m just gonna say “screw it” and hope the modifiers are no big deal right up until I get a unit killed by a myrmidon when trying to finish it off with a weak unit because I forgot about Vantage. There’s no “fix” I can really propose to this aside from doling out class skills more sparingly (I only plan to do one per class and then one more that’s learned after promotion), somehow making their effects more memorable, or showing the skills’ icons on the battle forecast and make them R-buttonable so you can check their descriptions on the fly. I’d suggest putting them on the mini portrait box with MMB, but I still hit the R button to check stats even when they’re right there in the mini box. Come to think of it, though, the colourful, attention-grabbing skill icons would be a better fit for the mini box than cramming every single battle statistic ever into it.
Honourable mention: skills that get learned by T1 classes on a level after level 10, where I inevitably miss a few before realising that I’m playing the game wrong by promoting units early because it’s a demo anyway and I don’t have a complete game to spend raising anyone to 20/20. The potential stats that you miss out on with early promotion are enough of a drawback, in my opinion.
It’s also always good for there to be some contemplation about whether or not one needs to put skills in one’s game at all. Skills are cool and can bring a lot to the table, but if you’re going to add them you should prepare to design the game around them. I started creating a project in a blitz-like manner where I’m just trying to make twenty or so bare-bones chapters and then flesh them out later, but as it turns out there’s plenty of stuff to work with with just the vanilla system. With all the gimmicky weapons and new classes I have planned, skills barely feel necessary (there are still a few that I want, tho), and it’s what has led me to my current minimalistic plan for one class skill per class and character skills only for very important or special characters.
Absolutely blessed tool, with room for improvement.
I don’t know how hard it would be to implement, but I’ve been waiting for skill manuals and skill-granting items to be implemented since day one.
It’s also pretty annoying how, at least in FEBuilder, it conflicts with the patch that enables passive stat boosts from items.
As has been already stated, it would be neat to have the possibility of giving characters more than one personal skill, so that if I want my playable cast to have 2+ personal skills I’m not buffing all the enemies as well. It can be circumvented by giving your playable characters separate versions of vanilla classes, but if you’re planning on using the monster classes you’re gonna run out of space.
Do you feel like they […] have lead to greater things?
Are there any skills that were ported over that you feel should be buffed/debuffed to better suit GBAFE?
See Leo and Zeta’s posts.
That and also having visual (audio works, but I’d prefer visual) feedback(?) when some skills apply (such as maybe seal skills; Which I said I would maybe work on after having done the rally thing so stay tuned I guess).
You should now be able to emulate that with character-based skill learning lists (however, I don’t think FEBuilder supports that in its editor yet (@7743)).
The skill system is great. And it’s great not only because skills are great on a technical standpoint, but also because it is the one project that has gotten and still is getting contributions from a good bunch of people (as opposed to just being circles’s thing from 2017).
I can’t overstate how incredible the skill system has been in the ASM world. Personally speaking, making simple skills has been like a gateway to improving my own ASM skills, allowing me to be proficient enough to make my own, more complicated things. Being a beginner at ASM and having a released skill or two that you made in the current skill system feels great without having a larger commitment to an independent patch. Make a little battle calc skill, and congrats, you’re familiar with battle calculation edits!
So much documentation is provided by/has been created for the skill system. Take rounds data for example! Editing rounds data is a bit of an oof, but it’s much less of an oof now with the rewritten routines made for proc skills. Consider this: “How do I make certain tiles on the map heal me defined by events?” “Check out how renewal handles healing at the start of the turn, and you can try out the logic of if this unit is on a healing tile.” Not only has this cut this person’s research time hugely in finding how healing at the beginning of a turn works, but this is also an exercise in checking location events or trap data, good practice in ASM logic.
Additionally, existing skills act as good examples for ASM convention, a concept that can be difficult to grasp without examples. A hack may work, but problems often arise from poor convention; this is one of the biggest roadblocks for beginners even if they have the basics down.
From the perspective of someone who has benefited hugely from the existence of the skill system, this is undoubtedly a massive benefit to the community. Of course it has improvements to be made; it’s a constantly evolving organism as a community effort. As it grows and becomes more evolved, its usefulness will grow.
There are alternate animations for almost every proc skill hiding in a .7z in the Engine Hacks\Skill System\Proc Skills\Animations folder, have you tried those? iirc there are a few free to use ones floating around somewhere on Serenes, too.
From a game design perspective, the skill system is a powerful tool but can go south unless the creator is very careful.
It’s important to strike a good balance between skills being useful and applicable while not breaking or deterring the focus of the whole game. It is disheartening when I open a fresh hack rom for the first time and see 3-5 skills on the main lord right off the bat, and it’s a nightmare to wrap you’re head around it when you should be getting used to the first level instead.
Another problem I’ve seen (as mentioned by @Alusq ) is that when you get many skills and modifiers on top of each other (in addition to regular support, weapon triangle, and other bonuses) the player gets lost in the number and may just yolo it.
And then there are the skills like Sol and Luna… In the Telleus games these skills worked pretty well since with those games they were trying to appeal more to the western audience, and make the game a little more RPG-esk without letting the difficulty plummet cough Sacred Stones cough. My chief complaint with these skills is that they are very strong, they trigger off of a percentage chance, and you can’t alter their odds like you can a critical. They remove quite a bit of strategy from the game and tone it down to a few die rolls. They have a very timmy-esk “SMASH” style to them which encourages a play style which otherwise would not do so well.
TL;DR Lots of skills is bad, OP skills are bad, skill system is good if used well.