A stupidly long post on fixing Pokémon's difficulty
So I haven't played a mainline Pokémon game in ages, and I want to, I really do, but gameplay is so important to me and Pokémon just doesn't deliver. Most games can be mindlessly cleared with one or two pokémon with one or two moves, and that's just not fun; so here I am today to complain about the difficulty even though it's not actually gonna affect the next game. ;-;
This is gonna be long so please bear with me.
So I'm gonna be using Fire Emblem (another big series Nintendo owns) as an example and something to compare Pokémon to. Although the combat systems in both games aren't entirely similar, they both do have similar worries when designing the battles. To anyone who isn't familiar with how Fire Emblem's combat system works, I'll explain right now, if you already know, skip past the next paragraph. So to put it simply, instead of only 2-4 units being on screen, all units from both sides are on a map at once. The game is turn based so one unit initiates combat on another to enter combat. During combat, both units' stats are compared to determine how much damage they deal to each other and how high their chances of hitting and critting each other are. For the most part, it's similar to how it works in Pokémon, with one key difference. If one unit has more attack speed than the other (the difference in speed can vary from 1,4, and 5), instead of attacking first (whoever initiates always attacks first, with one exception) they attack twice, effectively dealing 2x more damage than they otherwise would have.
With that out of the way, I'm gonna get into two play styles both game's developers need to address to stop the gameplay from being mindless. In Pokémon, it's move spamming, and in Fire Emblem, it's turtling. Move spamming is just as it says, you spam one or two different moves to sweep entire teams, and turtling is where you slowly bait the enemy, taking on a map bit by bit, which is, as the name implies, slow. It's so painful trying to avoid these play styles if the game design makes it so unnecessary to do otherwise. Why bother using moves to buff your stats when you already one shot the enemy with a single move, you're only wasting time and healing items. And why bother planning out your moves in Fire Emblem, when you can just carefully bait the enemy and easily cut them all down in a single turn?
There's an easy way to combat both play styles, simply make the AI smarter. For example, in Fire Emblem: Conquest, during the AI's turn, if one of your units is in range of the enemy, but that enemy does 0 damage to said unit, they won't bother attacking. Another thing the AI does is if there's a bunch of enemy units grouped in one location, and you only place a single unit into one of their range's, they won't attack. However, if you place a unit into all of their ranges, then all of them will attack that one unit, most likely resulting in death. In Pokémon, a good idea is to simply make the AI remember your team. During the battle, if you swap out to a different pokémon, the AI will remember the first one, same with moves. If you use splash on your magikarp, the AI will remember that and be wary of it. Let me flesh this out further, if the AI sees you're repeatedly spamming one move, they'll punish you for it, for example: if you keep spamming Fly, the enemy will swap out to one of their pokémon that takes ineffective damage like an electric type, then retaliate with a move like thunder, OHKO'ing your flier. Another example: Let's say you start a battle with a Geodude and you use earthquake once, defeating the enemy pokémon, then switch to another, and enemy pulls out a pokémon that is weak to rock types, but has an effective move against said rock type, the AI would guess that you're going to pull that Geodude back out, so they use the effective move, predicting that you're going to take the Geodude back out. This AI change would easily make the game a lot less mindless. However, any memory the AI had of you in a previous battle would be wiped, since you most likely would have swapped out a pokémon and/or learned a new move.
Although I wish I could say that's it, there's more that can be changed, like the EXP. So if you lost a gym battle, you'd most likely have two different ideas on how to take it on the next time, either try a different strategy, or grind, and oh boy, I HATE grinding with a passion. Not only is grinding boring, but it takes away any actual strategy and trivializes pretty much any game's difficulty. You might say that "It's optional, if you don't want to do it then don't," but these games punish you for NOT grinding (minus the more recent games 'cause EXP share). You may think everything is fine and dandy, but when you enter the next gym, the enemy's pokémon are 6 levels over, and curb-stomp you. So you're trapped in this situation, either you don't grind and have to deal with pokémon who's stats are leagues higher than yours, or you do grind and you mindlessly sweep through teams.
A seemingly easy fix is to just lower the "your pokémon didn't obey!" level cap, but if you just so happened to feed a bunch of EXP to a pokémon through not grinding, they stop obeying you, punishing you for playing normally; but the real solution doesn't have much to do with numbers, but more to do with the world building and design of routes and towns. Let's say a town's gym leader has a bunch of fighting types, but the game has mostly given you normals and ghosts types to you so far. A good solution is have a house in the town where if you complete a quest for a resident, they'll give you a psychic type that's specifically designed to be strong enough to help out in the gym battle, but not strong enough to trivialize the fight, you'll still have to make a good strategy. Simple things like this not only incentivize not grinding, but also exploring the world and building attachments to locations and the people in them. Instead of just skipping houses and location, you're being rewarded for exploring the game instead of grinding. But there's a bit more, I said that the solution doesn't have much to do with numbers, but changing up numbers to punish grinding can help stop this too. For example, defeating a wild pokémon would only give you a 1/4 of the EXP you would have otherwise gotten from a trainer battle, and if you keep fighting pokémon in the wild for too long, you'd encounter a big group of varying pokémon, since they're mad that you've been beating up so many of the local dwellers. While it wouldn't be impossible to beat them, since you'd be fighting around 6 different pokémon types at roughly the same level as you while you can only have one on the field, there's a good chance you'd lose. One more thing, if a pokémon game with selectable difficulties were to be made, have EXP share be available in a normal mode and be able to gain 1/2 or all of EXP from wild pokémon, but not in hard. (I swear, you're getting to the end, just gotta get through some more) There's one more thing that trivializes the game, money and items. If your pokémon gets crit by the enemy, a single potion could easily fix that. Excessive Items only negate threats, and just like grinding, trivializes the game, however the fix is easy; don't worry, it's not completely removing items, it's making money and items more scarce, at least on the harder difficulty. World building would also take a big part in this. For example, you might find more dropped items in wild areas where there are really strong pokémon, but not so many in others. There would be no easy way to grind for money because if there are places like casinos (which would never happen again), you'd be gambling; you'd either win big or lose hard. Another thing is in most games, you're a kid living with a single mom, so of course you wouldn't have much money, and since you're a minor, nobody can hire you for jobs. Most money would come from battles and quests, which of course, quests would further strengthen the world building. One more thing is to lessen the effects of items, like instead of potions healing for 20, they heal for 15. This is all to prevent item spam; you'd be more thoughtful of your items instead of just buying 53 super potions and cheesing a gym battle with your spiky shield grass type. Healing centers however, would function as normal.
That's pretty much every problem with game design solved, however, there's still one more, and it's the developers themselves. Jumping back to Fire Emblem, I'm gonna use two gams from the franchise as examples, Fire Emblem: Awakening, and Fire Emblem: Conquest (I know I've already used this five times already, but it's gameplay is really good.) I could trash on Awakening all day, but I'll keep it limited to the difficulty.
Both game's hardest difficulty is called Lunatic, which is, of course, insanely hard. Yet Conquest's lunatic is actually fair to the player, meanwhile Awakening's isn't. In Awakening, most of your units just can't contribute in combat because they're so outmatched by enemies because Intelligent Systems (the Dev's for Fire Emblem) hardly even play tested the maps. Meanwhile in Conquest, EVERY unit can be useful right off the bat (with a single exception), because the levels were play tested with these units in mind. This makes me fear that even IF the Pokémon devs tried to make a hard mode, they'd half-arse it and it only ends up being unfair to the player. Let me tell you what I mean by unfair. Take the AI changes I mentioned a while back. Instead of the AI taking guesses at what you're going to do, the game just straight up FEEDS the AI what you're going to do, then start planning their move after you've entered yours. I said the memory AI was the best solution because it's exactly what the player does, they remember what pokémon the enemy is using and what moves each pokémon has, and plan their moves based on guesses of what the enemy is going to do. If the AI knows what you're doing, they're gaining an insane upperhand against you that you just can't keep up with. They might also inflate enemy stats to where you just can't do much. Stuff like this kinda makes me not want a hard mode on a Pokémon game, because I feel that the devs will hardly even try.
Anyways, I'm almost done, just a few minor things that can make the difficulty better. Instead of having gyms be based around a pokémon type, it's based around the history of the town/area the gym is based in, like the main pokémon for a gym leader could be a species similar to a pagan god the town used to worship, so the dev's won't be limited to a single type. Also, whenever you enter a fight, the opponent's lead pokémon should be random, and not set. This is to prevent the player from cheesing the first stage of the fight, which is arguably the most important.
Aaand that's about it, thanks for reading through that Great Wall of Text, or skipping right to the end lol. If you have any questions or any ideas you think are better, feel free to say so!
EDIT: Fixed some issues
submitted by dded119
Tempest Trials+: Royal Treasures Megathread (08/08/20)
Tempest Trials have returned! This megathread will contain all relevant information about the event. If you want to discuss specific strategies that you've used or you want to request help, there are other threads that are linked in this post. This event begins on 8/8/2020 12:00:00 AM and runs until 8/18/2020 12:00:00 AM And no more threads showing off the 7th map. There's no need for a bunch of posts displaying the inflated stats of AI or close victories/defeats clogging up the subreddit. If you see these kinds of posts, please report them and hopefully they'll be removed. Tempest Trials Rules:
- There are multiple difficulties of challenges that you can pick from. The higher the difficulty the higher your score will be.
- HP will not be restored between maps.
- If a unit is defeated you cannot use them for the rest of that play-through.
- Bonus units will be put into play and will add a multiplier to your run's score.
- Your score is determined by how fast you complete the maps, how many teams you have remaining and what bonus units you used (if any at all).
- Each run will add to your total score which will determine your ranking for even more rewards.
- Your score for the run will be determined when you finish the last map or all of your allies are defeated.
- Bonus units receive a stat boost.
- Every ally receives the same stat boosts as bonus units for the first two runs of the day. Along with this, the score is multiplied x3 for the first 2 runs.
- SP multipliers stack. It is possible for bonus units to get 48 SP per unit defeated.
Current Bonus Heroes
|Score ||Reward |
|1,000 ||4★ Darros: Seawalker |
|6,000 ||Divine Codes (Ephemera 8) x50 |
|10,000 ||Sacred Seal: Phantom Res 1 |
|12,500 ||Dark Blessing |
|15,000 ||5★ Darros: Seawalker |
|20,000 ||Sacred Seal: Hone Dragons |
[Here is the layout for the last map in the series and the final boss's stats and skills on Lunatic-7.](Coming Soon)
|Bonus ||#1 ||#2 ||#3 ||#4 |
|40% ||Veronica: Harmonic Pirates ||Geese: A Life at Sea ||Brigid: Orgahil Pirate ||Tibarn: Shipless Pirate |
|40% ||Darros: Seawalker ||Veronica: Brave Princess ||Eyvel: Mistress of Fiana ||Tibarn: Lord of the Air |
If you want to discuss Darros: Seawalker as a unit, CLICK HERE
If you think there's anything that needs changing or something you want posted here, just ping me at Mina_7756!
Weekly Discussion Thread
submitted by Mina_7756