Adventures in Final Fantasy Tactics Editing (Afterword)

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My face after finally finishing this whole thing.

I know I said that the previous post was the end of these entries, and while that’s technically true, I have some thoughts about the whole thing. After all, the original point of the “Adventures in Final Fantasy Tactics Editing” was supposed to be a dev blog of sorts, but after a few posts I stopped dev blogging and doing something of a Let’s Play. That was fun for awhile, but eventually it became boring and writing about it became frustrating.

Hacking this game was one of the worst things I’ve ever done in my 16 years of playing this game. Giving everyone every job at the beginning just sucks the fun out of everything. The initial joy of running around chapter one with a bard or a dancer quickly runs out as soon as you get to chapter two and everything kind of evens out and bards/dancers go back to being crappy jobs with okay support/reaction/movement abilities (well, Bard’s Move+3 anyway). Likewise, Samurai and Ninja don’t work well until late chapter two unless you also hacked the shops to sell everything early (and then tune the availability of those items as well). So what you’re really stuck with are the same classes you could have unlocked easily enough in chapter one (well, Lancer could be thrown in with Samurai and Ninja), so it doesn’t matter in the end.

But why would that “ruin the fun”? It’s because the fun of these games (at least for me) are about getting some work done on my units to get them to the job I want, and if I find that I like using a Geomancer while working my way towards Ninja, then that unit stays there. Essentially I like to think of my units as people, and in a sense I kind of roleplay while playing the game (not like, super hardcore or anything, more like what Metal Gear Vincent ended up being). Having everything open right away just doesn’t lead to anything fun like that (Metal Gear Vincent being the exception).

My favorite type often gets it's shit wrecked.

My favorite type often gets it’s shit wrecked.

The same thing happened with Pokémon. Used to be that my crew (My brother, my friend, and myself) all played Pokémon the same way: Get some Pokébros, get badges, get legendaries, live it up, and maybe go for a complete Pokédex.

And then my brother started doing a tournament series at the library (which was part of a thing he started while working at said library called “Save*Point”, where we setup 8 man Mario Kart Double Dash matches and did Smash Bros. Melee as well). This was during Pokémon’s 3rd gen (Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald/Leaf Green/Fire Red) run, and we had recently fallen back in love with Pokémon. Battling seemed to be a great thing to start doing at these Save*Point tournaments, and with gusto we began to form our teams. At the time, it was pure, innocent. I rocked a Xatu and a Shiftry in my team, along with Mr. Mime (I don’t recall what else I used in my early teams). I thought these dudes were awesome. Xatu is my favorite Pokémon of all time, and the other two were just cool (I named my Mr. Mime after Verbal Kent from Usual Suspects).

As the scene grew, we looked more and more into the ins and out of team building, and eventually found out about something called Effort Values (EVs). Turns out that there’s an entire subsystem of stats that determine how strong you can make your Pokémon! That was ridiculous, who knew something like that was ever in there? Well, one thing led to another, and then we found out about Individual Values, which measured how strong you Pokémon COULD become. These IVs were determined at birth, and had their own mechanics separate from EVs. The rabbit hole was deeper than I ever imagined, and we took it upon ourselves to master them.

This is basically what it was like trying to explain the complexities of the system to people when we first started.

This is basically what it was like trying to explain the complexities of the system to people when we first started.

So we started breeding for IVs and training up EVs (Fire Red/Leaf Green was great for EV training), and we took our Pokémon out into the tournaments, and when they didn’t work we spent days breeding different Pokémon. Eventually we deduced that our favorite Pokémon just weren’t up to snuff, so Xatu, Shiftry, and Mr. Mime lost their spots on my team and I started breeding Salamences and Starmies instead.

All the while that initial spark, that innocence that we had when playing pokemon was fading, but it was replaced with this competitive scene, so it wasn’t so bad. Our teams had heart in them. We put blood, sweat, and swears into our teams, and we got great memories out of the bargain.

Eventually, however, even that started fading. Breeding became a pain, EV training dull, and raising the Pokémon all the way to level 100 was a chore. We lost that spark from our early days of competitive battling. Some of it was the metagame changing and us becoming fatigued while trying to adapt, but mostly it was us getting older or starting college or a job. So our solution was generating Pokémon with a third party program (Pokésav in this case, though later a GTS exploit was used). Now we could simply skip the bullshit with breeding and EV training and skip right to the part that matters: Battling.

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My face after the spiritual death of Pokémon

That elation of not having to breed and train lasted about a week, and slowly but surely the fun of Pokémon faded. When your Pokémon are simply a collection of ones and zeroes to you, when they’re just things you barely know, they lose their shine. My perfect IV Salamence wasn’t interesting at all. He wasn’t something I had built up from the ground up and crafted. He was just another Salamence. I put him in a separate box from my team I bred without thinking, but I knew deep down he wasn’t anything I cared about. If he didn’t work I’d simply try a new Salamence with a different hold item and move set.

And that instant when I realized it all, the game became boring as fuck.

Luckily for me, I’ve found my initial love for the games again, and even bred up a team like in the old days (they really went above and beyond to help facilitate breeding in Pokémon X/Y), but that innocence is still lost. I’ll never entertain the notion of trying to use Xatu or Torterra in a real team. They’ll always be there for going through a new game though, and that’s fine with me.

To bring this all back to the initial point: I peered into the mechanics of Final Fantasy Tactics once and lost a little bit, but it wasn’t too bad. When I started hacking the game and opened up classes right away and changed shop inventories, the game lost it’s soul. The wound isn’t deep, but for now at least I don’t see myself trying to start a new data anytime soon. These wounds need time to heal, and when I do eventually play it again, I won’t be doing any hacking to the game. It’s too much work for very little payoff.

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And the worst of it all? I never found out how to change Axe/Flails from random damage to fixed damage. The one thing I wanted most from this patch was to finally be able to bring an axe into a fight and not feel like I was just being a shitter. What a missed opportunity!

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