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  3. How would you rebalance the Monsters

User Info: Rainrir

Rainrir
4 months ago#1
How would you rebalance the Monsters





This has always been a problem with the monster system in Saga Frontier.

You have things like Black Dragon/Dullahan/Gyphon, then you have equally hard to get (or harder to get forms) like Chimera (Scalding Gas comes only at high BR) or Suzaku (also high BR or on a relatively hard boss vs StoneGas on Furudo) or Snowfolk (995 effective HP) or ThunderDragon/Red Dragon (the skills are hard to get vs Black Dragon) that get the short end of the stick vs these top forms.

Plus its not very hard to balance them at all. Most of the monsters power differential comes from the things they have equipped in their hidden slots and the stat array they have. Just by changing the hidden equipment, some monsters can be made pretty competitive. The only difference between a Black Dragon and a Red Dragon is that the former gets a Moonlight Robe while the latter gets a pathetic SolGrail (they share the same items in other slots).

So what do you think?
(edited 4 months ago)

User Info: MysticLord

MysticLord
4 months ago#2
  1. Use Zarak's Seal and Equip All Learned Skills hack.
  2. Change the absorb rates to always, 1/2, 1/4, 1/8. Or if you careful about skill absorb spreads among the set of all monsters, 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 1/16.
  3. Fix skill absorb availability, by increasing the variety of enemy companions, by ensuring that all absorbable skills are available at end game BRs, and by increasing the number of skills that monsters can absorb.
  4. At BRs 1 to 3, maybe 50% of all monster skills should be available. At BRs 4 to 6, 75% of all monster skills should be available. As I said above, at BRs 7 to 9, 100% of all monster skills should be available.
  5. Increase monster stats at each BR so both enemy and ally monsters are powerful relative to your BR. BR 9 monster forms should have very high stats, rare boss forms should be even stronger.
  6. Improve the gear selection for hidden gear slots. No one lacking sword skills should have a knife, most enemies should have at least a weak shield, all 4 gear slots should be used, and they should be chosen to fit the monster role/theme and to ensure the best spread of defenses and other aspects of gear. For allied monsters this means that most gear should have at least one conditional skill that activates when you have a monster only skill equipped.
  7. Rebalance gear somehow, everyone has their own ideas about this so I'll leave it at that.
  8. Give every ally monster a single unique unremovable item that grants them unique abilities (some conditional) and other things. Sei gets Kusanagi, for instance. It needs to be really good to make up for the lost accessory slot, but again balancing is partially subjective so YMMV.
  9. Give every ally monster unique learned skills that no other monster can learn. Sei gets some sword skills (and the Kusanagi skill's EP changes from unarmed strike to sword so it can actually use it's weapon power).
  10. Rebalance skills, initially by plugging holes in existing skills and by figuring out what monsters generally can't do well, then modifying the skills that sort of do those things to do them better. Requires a long discussion on what roles a skill could possibly fill given the data, categorization of existing monster skills into one or more of these roles, and then what you could do to make each skill better suit it's role(s). My idea is that since monsters have fewer skills, their skills should be more generally useful. Fang should be a weak attack that inflicts poison, for instance, to differentiate it from Punch. Then each skill that is roughly similar to another monster skill should fulfill it's role in a different way than the others - Heal becomes a powerful self-heal and debuff remover, Magic Heal gets an AoE and is moderately powerful.
  11. You could potentially free up about 50 skills by making the mystic absorbs use the monster versions of their skills, but there aren't enough animations to spread that around plus the animation stuff is very poorly understood.
  12. I'm pretty sure that Psy Reflector and Psychic Prison work on skills that use JP, so increasing their utility requires giving more monsters existing spells, making more spells from the existing unused spell slots, and simply making more monsters skills use JP. I'm not sure how to make the spell casting animations appear though.
  13. Enemy monsters can be made considerably tougher by giving them the rarer skills. For instance, you could give every undead and mystic Counter Fear, give every enemy that has an elemental motif one of the elemental barriers, and give some class of enemies (perhaps the animated objects) Psy Reflector. This applies to reactions too - anything that could plausibly use a sword should get sword skills including Deflect, Kasumi, and Godless. Anything with a gun gets Reaction Shot. Mecs get InterceptSystem, SelfRepair, Combat/ShootingMasatery. Vanilla wastes a lot of skill slots, and the ones that aren't empty or duplicates are usually dumb stuff like Punch or Fang.
  14. Enemy monsters whose forms you can't get (humans, mecs, mystics, some bosses) can get the full compliment of equipment slots IIRC. No reason not to load them up with 8 pieces of equipment, other than balance.
  15. Enemies can't use skills inherent to gear. Giving them a Cure does nothing. I'm not sure if they use the weapon they're equipped with when they use a weapon dependent skill, someone needs to test that by giving a Xeno Wheel Slash, then testing it with a Knife equipped versus a Silver Moon.
  16. All monsters should have the same number of LP, just so you don't lose LP from changing forms. Along with that they should have about the same amount as everyone else, 7 to 12 points.
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a bazinga.

User Info: Rainrir

Rainrir
4 months ago#3
MysticLord posted...
Rebalance skills, initially by plugging holes in existing skills and by figuring out what monsters generally can't do well, then modifying the skills that sort of do those things to do them better. Requires a long discussion on what roles a skill could possibly fill given the data, categorization of existing monster skills into one or more of these roles, and then what you could do to make each skill better suit it's role(s). My idea is that since monsters have fewer skills, their skills should be more generally useful. Fang should be a weak attack that inflicts poison, for instance, to differentiate it from Punch. Then each skill that is roughly similar to another monster skill should fulfill it's role in a different way than the others - Heal becomes a powerful self-heal and debuff remover, Magic Heal gets an AoE and is moderately powerful.

I feel monsters are currently in the tanky, survivable, support role. Their speciality is they have relatively low damage vs the other races when maxed out, but are hyper survivable with special skills that no other races have.

They are less tanky than Mecs, but only slightly so. They are far less equipment dependent, do not have the Magnetic Storm/Gremlin weakness, or limited WP/JP pools and have easy access to the 3 barrier skills + Psy Reflector to make them immune to 3 elements and all spells (even if the last one is underused in this game). They also get unique support abilities like Dirge, Acid, Assist, Battle Song and Fast Action Magic Heal that is exclusive or mostly exclusive to them.

I would say they are in a good place relative to others, and the issue I have is I like more forms to be competitive.

MysticLord posted...
1. Use Zarak's Seal and Equip All Learned Skills hack.
2. Change the absorb rates to always, 1/2, 1/4, 1/8. Or if you careful about skill absorb spreads among the set of all monsters, 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 1/16.
3. Fix skill absorb availability, by increasing the variety of enemy companions, by ensuring that all absorbable skills are available at end game BRs, and by increasing the number of skills that monsters can absorb.
4. At BRs 1 to 3, maybe 50% of all monster skills should be available. At BRs 4 to 6, 75% of all monster skills should be available. As I said above, at BRs 7 to 9, 100% of all monster skills should be available.

I personally think a rare skill should be hard to absorb and making it too easy to get extra HP makes monsters curve in power a bit too fast (they are already endgame capable in one or two absorbs in the case of Riki/Thunder). Of course a rare skill should be somewhat good (like Magnetic Storm or Dirge) and not terrible (wtf is Temptation/Psy Reflector).

I would change it such that after a monster absorbed all 4 skills that particular monster has before (it can be from other monsters with some of overlapping skills) the rate of getting any of the 4 skillsl from that monster is set to 1/4 (the chances before that is the same as it is now). This will make it rewarding for players who stick to absorbing from one monster, while still giving them the ability to move their abilities around more easily.
(edited 4 months ago)

User Info: Rainrir

Rainrir
4 months ago#4
Right now Snowfolk has the following hidden equipment
WindShell
Sleetcoin
GelatinSuit

Giving a total of 44 Slash, 106 Blunt, 54 Pierce, 12 Heat 111 Cold, 22 Thunder and 32 Light defenses.

Compare this to Gelatin which is BR 8 Inorganic.
WindShell
ThunderCharm
GelatinSuit

The defenses are almost the same, except you swap Light resistance for Cold Resistance. While Snowfolk has better stats than Gelatin. that's still really lame for such a difficult form to get (and maintain).

Personally, I would change Snowfolk to the following
WindShell
SleetCoin
GelatinSuit
BlueElf

Giving a total of 64 Slash, 126 Blunt, 64 Pierce, 32 Heat 131 Cold, 42 Thunder and 52 Light defenses. A bonus is the immunity to water, but that is not a huge one since most lower Inorganic forms have water immunity. Even with such a buff, it is still less tanky than the Black Dragon in elemental defenses (and comparable in non-Blunt physical) and requires work for them to get the other barriers.

Other way to change it is
Windshell
Moonlight Robe
GelatinSuit
Genbu Shield/Mizukagami

Giving a total of 49 Slash, 122 Blunt, 80 Pierce, 60 Heat 73 Cold, 48 Thunder and 58 Light defenses. It loses its 100+ cold defense, but one of the skills needed for it is Frigid Veil/Ice Barrier anyway.

Once again it has Water Immunity, but that barely matters since this is suppose to be a top tier and difficult to get form. The key thing is the shield addition, which I feel is somewhat thematically appropriate (they hold that cute snowflake thing in their hands away). Mizukagami might be pushing it, since its technically Sei exclusive, but I feel it gives the power level such a form deserves. If not swapping out for Genbu Shield is also acceptable. I always find it lame that only Dullahan has a shield amongst the top forms, and the devs should have given shields to some other forms as well.

What do you all think?
(edited 4 months ago)

User Info: MysticLord

MysticLord
4 months ago#5
Rainrir posted...
I feel monsters are currently in the tanky, survivable, support role. Their speciality is they have relatively low damage vs the other races when maxed out, but are hyper survivable with special skills that no other races have.

I agree that they are generalists, and given the random nature of monster growth (and that enemies use the same skills, or at least fluff suggests they should) their skills should be more generally useful.

A generalist would do at least two things with each skill, like debuff and damage, deal one of two debuffs, hit multiple targets via an AoE, have a variety of AoEs, hit multiple defenses (which is good for reducing defense, and bad as it allows shield blocking to work on more skills), heal and remove debuffs, provide immunity to multiple debuffs, buff multiple allies, use a greater variety of useful EPs, and so on.

Since many low level skills are required for high level forms (assuming you don't edit form requirements), giving them multiple things to do enhances their useful at later stages of the game. So does giving their skills better power growths (a byte in skill data), which improve more the higher your stats are.

Compare this to humans whose skills deal more damage, but are all very similar among their categories - unarmed, sword, and gun. Though nothing's stopping you from rebalancing human skills.

Monster skills - all skills, really - need better descriptions. Though you can sort of get around this by making all the skills that use mental stats cost JP, and the ones that use physical stats cost WP.

They are less tanky than Mecs, but only slightly so. They are far less equipment dependent, do not have the Magnetic Storm/Gremlin weakness, or limited WP/JP pools and have easy access to the 3 barrier skills + Psy Reflector to make them immune to 3 elements and all spells (even if the last one is underused in this game). They also get unique support abilities like Dirge, Acid, Assist, Battle Song and Fast Action Magic Heal that is exclusive or mostly exclusive to them.

I wouldn't say they're less gear dependent. Everyone is gear dependent, they just don't have as many options.

I also wouldn't say that the barriers are easy to get in vanilla. If there's some way to boost defenses up to 255, and the barriers added 100 to whatever value you had, they might be worth 3 slots.

Psy Reflector wouldn't be that useful if spells were rebalanced because then you wouldn't be able to buff or heal them with spells.

Mecs are also gear dependent because most of their skills aren't very useful.

I would say they are in a good place relative to others, and the issue I have is I like more forms to be competitive.

I agree that more forms should be competitive, but a better way to look at it is that that you shouldn't need to micromanage skills to be competitive. It should just happen, and you shouldn't notice it much less feel the need to research it. Sure, some things will inevitably be suboptimal, but you shouldn't need a guide or spreadsheet open to play the game.

I personally think a rare skill should be hard to absorb and making it too easy to get extra HP makes monsters curve in power a bit too fast (they are already endgame capable in one or two absorbs in the case of Riki/Thunder). Of course a rare skill should be somewhat good (like Magnetic Storm or Dirge) and not terrible (wtf is Temptation/Psy Reflector).

This is an issue with the monster form prerequisites data, if you rebalance that and monster absorb availability it's not an issue. Make the table that lacks a HP requirement all end game forms, and don't allow any but medium-to-high BR monsters to drop those skills

I would change it such that after a monster absorbed all 4 skills that particular monster has before (it can be from other monsters with some of overlapping skills) the rate of getting any of the 4 skillsl from that monster is set to 1/4 (the chances before that is the same as it is now). This will make it rewarding for players who stick to absorbing from one monster, while still giving them the ability to move their abilities around more easily.

There are a few ways you can make monster absorbs more intuitive.
  • Make them only let you absorb skills they use or obviously have (barriers).
  • Vary the placement of skills in the absorb slots with different absorb rates.
  • If you have enough monsters, put a skill in 2 or 3 of the rarest absorb slots to make them slightly more likely to show up.
  • Follow the monster's theme.
  • Don't make any monster skills (or any you want monsters to absorb) miss-able.
Again, monster use should be something you don't need to think about. It should Just Work.
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a bazinga.

User Info: MysticLord

MysticLord
4 months ago#6
Defenses in OG max out at I think 100, maybe 99 for barriers.

I would change all the gear around a lot. What I would do is sit down and determine:
  1. What is found in shops, and he cost of the item in a shop, so i can balance according to the cost.
  2. What is found lying around, and how often and easily it's found, so i can balance according to that.
  3. What is an event drop, and if it's repeatable, and how often and easily it's found.


The things above are mandatory things that have limits in how you can modify them since you can acquire them from things other than monster drops.

Anything that isn't in one of those groups is put in a separate list, and I assume you can't really change the item type too much but otherwise you're free to do whatever.

From this list I allot 1 item per monster for unique unremovable items as per point number 8 in my first post in this thread, then maybe I would do the same for mystics, and the rest are what I have left to play with.

Of the ones I have left, I would figure out how many tiers of items they allow me, figure out how the items that aren't freely editable due to easier availability fit into these tiers (see much earlier point in this post), then get my tiers set up.

Examples:

Suit Tiers - 9 suits total
  1. Lowest defenses: 3 suits, 1 for mystics, 1 for mecs, and 1 for humans
  2. Medium defense: 3 suits, same ^
  3. High defenses: 3 suits, same ^


Accessories - No Tiers, specialized for skills & species, 28 total
  1. Mystics: 3 accessories
  2. Mages: same^ , tied to specific schools
  3. Unarmed: same ^
  4. Swords: same ^
  5. Monsters: 5 accessories, cover various elements, offer conditional skills, and ailment immunities.
  6. Unique monster unremovables: 8 accessories - conditional skills, ailment immunities, attributes, etc, tied to that monster's theme/fluff.


Clothes - 9 clothes total
  1. Low defenses: 4 clothes, 1 for mystics, 1 for gunners, 1 for mages, 1 for warriors
  2. High defenses: 5 clothes, 1 for mystics, 1 for gunners, 1 for mages, 1 for swords, 1 for unarmed


And so on for the other armors, shields, weapons, mec gear, and consumable items.

---

Once you have your gear rebalanced how you like it, with all the fixins and nothing left out, then you can pick and choose among the gear to build the monster you want. Do so with the understanding that enemy monsters will be very tough - tougher than allied ones if you give them additional gear to boost their defenses and so on - but only allied monsters will have access to skills found on items. So you can potentially, with 3 skills on 8 gear slots, have 24 gear skills plus 8 equipped skills.

That's not counting the hidden 9th and 10th gear slots that the Light Sword EP equips, and any items you create solely for that purpose.

---

tl;dr

The vanilla game is very poorly optimized for balance and difficulty.

Make sure you use a spreadsheet to keep track of your changes, track what can be edited, and organize you ideas very carefully in simple files such as plain text files with notepad.

edit

I should write an essay on a systematic approach to rebalancing Saga Frontier.
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a bazinga.
(edited 4 months ago)

User Info: Michael_C

Michael_C
4 months ago#7
I'd make more tier 9 monsters viable, with more damage.

Right now monsters make the best tanky supports in the game... if you're a black dragon or gelatin. All other forms are worse at supporting than the other forms, or worse at whatever else youre trying to make them do than a Human.

User Info: WoW Knight

WoW Knight
4 months ago#8
Lots fo good ideas so far, but, personally, I think monsters lack a sense of progression. Once you get the best forms, that's it.
I'd like that the harder to get forms, like snowfolk and griffith, were simply more powerful or had more useful abilities. Maybe from equips as mentined before.
More access to magic (related to their theme) would be nice too.
Having at least one form with damage capabilities comparable to humans would be great. Maybe adding a crucial skill to get it to a limited enemy, like EarthDragon to prevent easy abuse.

Also, what about adding Kylin's magic to some equipment conditionally to having Kylin's song? So we can use its skill slots for other stuff without sacrificing space magic forever.

Anyway, I'd play the heck out of this mod if someone ever do it.
---

User Info: MysticLord

MysticLord
4 months ago#9
WoW Knight posted...
Lots fo good ideas so far, but, personally, I think monsters lack a sense of progression. Once you get the best forms, that's it.

Varying the forms within each BR (which is basically a tier) is another way to look at things. A creature like a Chimera could have great physical stats and required skills that make use of those stats, while a magical form would be very different.

I think you can do that with all the forms for each BR, and turn the ones that don't correspond to a specific BR into oddballs that suit a range of 2 or 3 BRs.

Planning this would require keeping a spreadsheet with lists of all the monsters, from which you try to figure out the developer's intent or their best use. So for BR 1, you'd be like, "What is the goal of a cactus, or what's suitable for it? How does it stand out from other BR 1 critters?"

I'd like that the harder to get forms, like snowfolk and griffith, were simply more powerful or had more useful abilities. Maybe from equips as mentined before.

Snowfolk is BR 9 slime, they shouldn't be so tough to get. Griffith Jr. definitely needs better skills, stats, and gear though.

More access to magic (related to their theme) would be nice too.

  • Plants and fire element monsters could IMO use access to Light magic and Light Shift.
  • Undead: Dark Shift and Shadow magic.
  • All non-humans: Evil magic.
  • Mystics: Mystic magic.
  • Everyone: Rune and Arcane
  • Humans: All but Evil, Mystic, and the unobtainable spells (which are useless for enemies anyways).


Having at least one form with damage capabilities comparable to humans would be great. Maybe adding a crucial skill to get it to a limited enemy, like EarthDragon to prevent easy abuse.

IMO human and mystic enemies should use sword techs and magic, and human enemies should use unarmed and gun techs. Knowing that humans and mystics are very dangerous and can wipe the floor with you using your own skills significantly ups the difficulty.

The same applies to monster skill rebalancing (and adding more techs/spells to monster absorbs and enemies): anything that makes allied monsters better makes enemy monsters better. Which is fair to me.

Also, what about adding Kylin's magic to some equipment conditionally to having Kylin's song? So we can use its skill slots for other stuff without sacrificing space magic forever.

If you use Zarak's Monsters Can Seal & Equip code, or the patch made from it, you can add or remove spells without losing them.

As for conditional skills on items, I would make Vapor Blast non-conditional, then add Light and Dark Shift conditional on Reverse Gravity. It's very useful and you want it equipped always and if you make it conditional on that instead of Kylin's song then you can use it for human and mystic mages too.
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a bazinga.
(edited 4 months ago)

User Info: Rainrir

Rainrir
4 months ago#10
I disagree with trying to tie monsters to equipment or hard limiting access to powerful forms by requiring some kind of mandatory grinding. Their selling point across all Saga Games is their independence from equipment, more so than any race. This is the same in Saga Frontier. Optimal resistance and stat boosting accessories notwithstanding, Monsters are only race which can be endgame ready almost immediately (literally can go to Mondo with BlackDragon!Riki, ZeroWorm!Thunder/Cotton and Dullahan!Sei with Magic Heal). I feel taking that from monsters is a bad idea IMO.

I feel a more elegant solution to Monster Progression is that they get a damage boost beyond just HP for the number of skills they have absorbed.

The reason why many monster skills are much weaker than Mystic Absorbs, Mec Programs or Human Techs is because they have a much weak "Growth Factor" on their skills. Growth Factor influences the portion of the damage influenced by Monster stats (such as STR MOB VIT for physical and PSY CON INT for magical).

The highest skill factors on Monster skills are typically around 8-10, while Mystics can have up to 15 and Humans Techs can have up to 20 (!). If we take the Mystic Balance as totally borked (which they are) and ignored, and Monsters should be balanced against Humans, then my view is they should still do less damage (but not as much as they do in the current game) in exchange for having special skills, innate status resistances and higher defenses (and generally high stats unless humans grinded their brains out).

We can make Monster Progression tied to number of unique skills absorbed (since they already want to absorb unique skills for the HP boost). For example, for every 40-45 monster skills absorbed, the growth factor modifier for all Monster skills used by that monster is increased by 1. A monster than has absorbed 160 skills (of the available 192-4) would have a Skill Damage Growth Modifier of +4 (bringing the top tier skills to having Skill Growth Modifiers of 12-14). This will still put them somewhere behind Humans using the strongest spells and techs, but it gives a sense of progression beyond the relatively small +4 HP per skill (which actually adds up but don't feel as dramatic).

This way, it incentivizes Monsters to do what the game already encourages them to do, which is to find rare monsters and rare skills to absorb. It just incentivizes them to do so more. It doesn't take away their early game or mid game performance and allows fun ways for players who already know the system to "break" the game. The last point is important, as this is always one of the big draws of the SaGa series.

As for Kylin, I personally would make it such that Kylin always has assess to all Space Magic regardless of form. Perhaps it can be embedded in a hidden equipment slot in slot 9 or slot 10 (the slots used for Light Sword). In my vision, Kylin will always have Space Magic via a separate menu, kind of like how you can use skills specific to gear (think Phantasm Shot for Purple Eye, or Victory Rune/Cockatrice for Rune Sword).

Lore-wise, it fits as the gift is tied to the being so it doesn't matter what form Kylin is in so long as he still has the gift, Secondly, there is almost(?) no situation where someone else has the Space Gift (Blue/Rouge) AND Kylin is in the party, so it would be a simple fix to help Kylin be better.

The benefit of this is twofold. First, it allows Kylin to not be gimped by the need to sacrifice the Space spells (permanently) just to get some utility monster skills. or use a form that isn't Kylin. This has always been Kylin's problem and it makes him a bad monster (he is the worst monster in my view, due to having to give up too much to use what is special about him, and Kylin's Song isn't even as useful as Kusanagi in most cases due to how Sonic buffs/debuffs work in this game).

Secondly, it makes Kylin more "special" compared to the generic monster. He will always have a list full of Space spells that only he can use, and regardless of forms. It also gives more exposure to otherwise less used spells like Vortex, Dark Shift, Light Shift or Vanish etc. It also gives him some magical firepower independent of monster skills he wants or the form he takes, which can open up monster skill slots for other monster skills (whereas other magical monsters will want to have 1-2 main single-target magic attack and 1 hit-all magic attack).

In fact, I feel all monsters you have to sacrifice something to get (such as Kylin for the ability to buy Space Magic or Sei for Kusanagi) need to be more unique in general so that there is actually a choice involved.
(edited 4 months ago)
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