Friday, February 14, 2014

Job System Speedruns

Today I caught speedruns for a couple of games that seemed like they'd be very interesting to plan out. Final Fantasy V and Final Fantasy Tactics are two gameplay heavy games using the Final Fantasy job system to change what each character can do on the fly. I found the runs really interesting and it had me waxing nostalgic for my time in University. That's a little weird since a lot of my current lifestyle is very similar to my lifestyle back then... The big difference is that I now live alone and play video games by myself instead of living in a little house with a half dozen other gamers. If speed running had been a thing back in 2000, or if I'd known about it back then, I can imagine sitting down and spending stupid amounts of time with James, Josh, Byung, Tom, and a whole slew of other people who would drop into Comfy Prime while working out how to puzzle out each of the boss fights in FFV properly. I miss watching people play video games and talking about them. But people had to go and move away, and have kids, and be responsible.

Anyway, Final Fantasy V seemed particularly interesting because each of the boss fights in the game can be 'trivialized' with the right combination of job abilities on the different characters. Things like having one person wear a shield, have cover, and use defense while the other people sit at low health and can't be damaged. A bunch of the later fights were won by the interesting combination of casting level 2 old on the enemy (old slowly decreases the enemy level, level 2 old only works on an enemy with a level divisible by 2), waiting a set amount of time, and then casting level 5 death. Any even leveled boss can be killed like this if you have the timing down to hit the level 5 death when their level falls the right amount!

But it's not just a matter of figuring out the right combination of abilities... You need to earn enough job points across different characters to have access to the right abilities at the right time. I really liked how the guy I was watching had two copies of an accessory that granted auto haste and he switched what character got to wear the shoes based on which job abilities were crucial for a given fight. The thief would wear them for random encounters so they could flee faster! He also made use of the mix command to get powerful buffs for some fights, and the catch command to save up one shot attacks, and consumable rods that could be used to do high level spells without needing to actually level up black mage.

Final Fantasy Tactics was a little less interesting to watch, probably because I tuned in halfway through and the guy was at the point of winning every fight with his first action. But planning out the route to know how to win each fight right away would have been a very interesting thing to do back in the day. Things like how on some fights the only way to kill all the enemies on your first turn was to also kill yourself (you'd be using the math command and the only thing they had in common was something you'd have in common like level or height) and the solution was to bring along a second person who would live. Ramza commits suicide and random jobber stands around to collect the loot!

The guy running FFT had a counter built into his timing program to track how many times he had to reset by getting a random encounter (which you can't pre-math out and which are wastes of time even if you could one shot everything) and a second counter tracking how many times his math plan didn't one shot a fight (enemies can spawn with random health totals, random magic resist values, and a random zodiac sign which all modify how much damage they take). That's a level of detail and tracking I can get behind!

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