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Romhacking => Newcomer's Board => Topic started by: tryphon on July 28, 2014, 04:20:57 am

Title: Enhancing Phantasy Star III
Post by: tryphon on July 28, 2014, 04:20:57 am
Hi,

I'm studying Phantasy Star III code and I plan to hack it for enhancing several aspects of the game. I'd like to make it the game it was aimed to be, and not this multi-flawed thing, that succeed in killing almost every good ideas it had (and there were plenty of them).

Here's a proto-list of things that could be done the first that comes to mind) :

INTERFACE :
* Variable Width Font
* Enhancements in shops :
- displaying stats changes when selecting item
- adding item description
- select number of items to buy (to speed up monomate filling)

MAPS :
* Diagonal deplacements (done)
* Fast deplacement (almost done)

BATTLES :
* Sprites of fighting PCs
* Reenabling parallax
* New battle system
* New magic system, or enhancing current (how ?)

STORY :
* Many things

Please note this isn't yet a true project. I can decide it's too much a difficult task, or I can turn it into a true PC remake (in the spirit of Generations remakes).

But I'd like to gather ideas from the PS lovers, or confirmed RPG hackers. So don't hesitate to put some here. I'll accept, reject or postpone them (according to the difficulty of implementing them, or my own feelings about the game).
Title: Re: Enhancing Phantasy Star III
Post by: FAST6191 on July 28, 2014, 07:17:12 am
I usually just write Phantasy Star 3 off (PS4 is one of my desert island games and I would probably take 2 if 4 was not available for that), however contemplating how to make it work makes for a kind of interesting thought exercise.

However as I sit here I realise it has been well over a decade since I made a serious attempt to play it last and one minor attempt when it came to the GBA.

How much of my inclination to write it off is because it is the odd one out of the pre online series and how much because I do not like the choices it makes (and for the most part it is pretty inoffensive by 16 bit era RPG standards) I am not sure about.

Movement in game world is probably my biggest annoyance and you look like you aim to sort that, if you want to make nicer animation then I am not opposed to that. UI is another but I have been spoiled by newer ones.

For a true remake zoom out in towns/dungeons, 2 or 3 squares would do it. Equally no random battles and a grandia like system (touch enemies on a map) but that is getting to be changing a lot.

There is the temptation to make weapon/armour changes more useful, also maybe slightly easier to get/less grindy. Such things tend to risk unbalancing the game though.
Title: Re: Enhancing Phantasy Star III
Post by: Azkadellia on July 28, 2014, 10:34:25 am
Tryphon: If you know C#, you could modify Aridia (http://huguesjohnson.com/aridia/) to do a lot of things you want. Also, he's taken apart most of the game.
Title: Re: Enhancing Phantasy Star III
Post by: tryphon on July 28, 2014, 01:40:06 pm
I know Aridia and I have been in contact with Hugues Johnson. I gave him all the infos about the loading of maps in order to add map edition in Aridia. Unfortunately, he didn't have time to implement that yet.

Yes, I agree PS3 is the weakest of the serie (but I'd place PS2 far above PS4, would it be only for its story). But many of PS lovers find something very particular to this game. The game was rushed (many caves simply don't work all over the game for example, boss were discarded) and I wondered if I'd be able to fix it. I find realyl sad it didn't benefit of a remake, like the 2 first games.

Movement in game can be (and was) fixed, but the main problem with the map is that they are empty. It can be fixed too (I think I can edit maps, and even add new ones). Shrinking maps is a good option too.

Better animation is likely possible too (pretty sure), but I'd need a pixel artist for that to create new frames. So I postpone this until I can provide some enhancements to show it's more than an idea.

No random encounters and a Grandia system :
* I don't know Grandia
* it will be hard to implement (but likely not impossible)
* but it would be against Old School Phantasy Star folklore
* and if I had to implement a non-random encounter scheme, I suppose I'd go with Shining Force one :)
So for the moment, I reject this one.

Make the game less grindy is a priority, but i don't really know how to achieve that (change stats, change encounter scheme, change battle rewards...).
Title: Re: Enhancing Phantasy Star III
Post by: PresidentLeever on June 23, 2015, 06:28:47 pm
Hi tryphon, did you get going with this project and are you using Aridia to do it? Looking at this thread and the gamefaqs one I really like your ideas.

I tried attaching your Turbo movement hack to a rom (UE [!].bin, and UE (o1).bin) with the Nial Edition and Text Cleanup patches, but it screws the game up in the first scene where your wife to be is kidnapped (character moves too far down and then the game acts like you've used an escapipe and asks you to reset). Maybe you can create a fix for this?

On a side note, Nial Edition + Text Cleanup works with only some minor text glitches it seems (haven't played very far), but only if you apply the Nial Edition patch first. Doing it the other way around (as is recommended in the TC patch readme) crashes the game during the kidnapping scene.
Title: Re: Enhancing Phantasy Star III
Post by: tryphon on June 25, 2015, 10:00:54 am
I noticed the bug in the turbo hack (stupidly enough, I tested it on several maps, but didn't think about testing it in the intro).

I'll try to fix it asap, but I need to localize every scene where the main character moves without the player intervention. If you have ideas about them, please share :)
Title: Re: Enhancing Phantasy Star III
Post by: PresidentLeever on June 27, 2015, 10:59:22 am
Cool, I'm playing through PSIV Arranged now but will take note of those scenes in PS3 and post it next week. :)

June 29, 2015, 01:47:38 pm - (Auto Merged - Double Posts are not allowed before 7 days.)
Update:
There doesn't seem to be too many scenes where auto-movement interferes in the game; I'm playing through using Tony H's codes and am at the rebel cave in Elysium (generation 2 after marrying Lena). There's a short scene here where the party moves up to the rebel leader, but while the movement gets weird, it doesn't make the game un-continueable.

Other than that, there's been problems when trying to enter some caves, some narrow paths, and the ship in Aquatica (generation 1). What happens is the character gets semi-stuck and moves back and forth on one "tile".
I've then had to turn off the codes, enter a town building, then turn them on again, or enter certain caves with the codes turned off. But I think those are related to the GG codes only and not your hack.
Title: Re: Enhancing Phantasy Star III
Post by: ThegreatBen on June 29, 2015, 04:31:18 pm
Huge fan of PS I-II-IV tried to play this one but it was so bland, I like the sound of your project I might be willing to do the sprite art for the in battle graphics assuming this is a serious project and not just a pipe dream.
Title: Re: Enhancing Phantasy Star III
Post by: tryphon on June 30, 2015, 10:03:43 am
It's not a pipe dream. I have now some knowledge about MD programming, and thanks to lorenzo, editable and recompilable disassemblies are available.

Moreover, I love this game (and the entire saga) since childhood, so I'll definetely give a try to it.

But that's not the moment now : I have 2 projects I like to finish, or at least advance, before going back to it.

When I'll try to implement sprites to battles, I'll do it with simple art to show that it can be done, then I'll ask for help. I keep your proposal in good shape until then :)
Title: Re: Enhancing Phantasy Star III
Post by: ThegreatBen on June 30, 2015, 11:23:48 am
yup thats the best way, I would use the characters from PS 2 and 4 that most closely resemble the characters as a base then I can just open the rom and modify them till they match this game, anyway once you're ready just message me.
Title: Re: Enhancing Phantasy Star III
Post by: tryphon on June 30, 2015, 12:59:55 pm
Don't forget you have to cope with palette limitations. I still don't know how many colors I can provide. I suppose less than PS2, since PS2 has no backgrounds.

I'll see how PS4 manages that.
Title: Re: Enhancing Phantasy Star III
Post by: Avicalendriya on June 30, 2015, 01:18:27 pm
This has to be one of my most hated games of all time, though it is a sequel to one of my favorites. The disappointment that I felt when playing it for the first time was enormous.

Anyway, now that I've got that out of my system, I just wanted to say you've got a great idea here. Adding the party members to battle is an essential and cool addition. Another problem this game has is a real lack of environmental variety. The music is mostly awful as well. If you are seeking new compositions or additional sprite work, I'd be happy to help you fix this broken mess of a game.
Title: Re: Enhancing Phantasy Star III
Post by: tryphon on June 30, 2015, 02:54:48 pm
This has to be one of my most hated games of all time, though it is a sequel to one of my favorites. The disappointment that I felt when playing it for the first time was enormous.

More or less the same for me. I consider Phantasy Star 2 to be one of the best game ever made. I was more than disapointed when PS3 came out. But I learnt to like it. It's like no other game.

Quote
Anyway, now that I've got that out of my system, I just wanted to say you've got a great idea here. Adding the party members to battle is an essential and cool addition. Another problem this game has is a real lack of environmental variety.

Agreed too. One of my first work on the game was a tile and a map editors.

Quote
The music is mostly awful as well.

There I don't agree : the soundtrack is one of the best of the Megadrive. Battle musics are too short and change every 5 seconds, which is annoying, and some musics are clearly below, but there are lots of really great themes (main theme, village, map with increasing number of instruments, one of the palace themes, satellites, layan shrines with bells) that gives a lot of personnality to this game.

That said, a little more variety and improved battle themes would be great.

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If you are seeking new compositions

Yes :) But in the same style :)

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or additional sprite work, I'd be happy to help you fix this broken mess of a game.

Yes too. I'll contact you too as soon as I'm ready :)
Title: Re: Enhancing Phantasy Star III
Post by: PresidentLeever on June 30, 2015, 08:41:55 pm
Having beaten the game now (picked Laya for gen 3) I can report that there was no more auto-movement in that path. :)

Regarding music, I think DAC support would help the soundtrack a lot. And if the battle music changes happened more dynamically then it would be a cool, and ahead of its time (for consoles anyway) element to the game. As with several other elements, the idea is nice but the execution a bit lacking.

I've messed around a bit with Aridia today, trying to do some visual updates (just palettes so far since it's rather limited when it comes to actual sprite editing), but with mixed results since many sprites are drawn in a strange way or share palettes with unfitting stuff (for example the beaches sharing colors with all towns, palaces and air strips :P).

Some tests: http://imgur.com/a/FIYSe
Title: Re: Enhancing Phantasy Star III
Post by: Malias on June 30, 2015, 09:22:23 pm
This would probably be a lot of work, but I'd love it if someone would flesh out the game some more.  The world just felt kind of empty; there were at least one or two domes per lineage that you didn't have to visit.  Adding extra content that better utilized all the areas in the game would greatly improve the game.
Title: Re: Enhancing Phantasy Star III
Post by: tryphon on July 01, 2015, 07:00:56 am
Having beaten the game now (picked Laya for gen 3) I can report that there was no more auto-movement in that path. :)

You did all four path ?

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Regarding music, I think DAC support would help the soundtrack a lot.

Music is an aspectof game creation I don't master at all. I'll study it, and ask for help in spcialized fora. I always found the samples used a little 'scratchy', I wondered if it came from the 50 Hz version. It's hard to notice with emulators though.

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And if the battle music changes happened more dynamically then it would be a cool, and ahead of its time (for consoles anyway) element to the game.

I must say that I still don't see how to handle these changes well. The way the game does it is terrible, it'd be better if there were no changes at all. But the idea was cool. Do you know a recent game that does that well, and could give hints ?

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As with several other elements, the idea is nice but the execution a bit lacking.

Agreed.

Quote
I've messed around a bit with Aridia today, trying to do some visual updates (just palettes so far since it's rather limited when it comes to actual sprite editing), but with mixed results since many sprites are drawn in a strange way or share palettes with unfitting stuff (for example the beaches sharing colors with all towns, palaces and air strips :P).

Some tests: http://imgur.com/a/FIYSe

Normally, Hugues Johnson will add tile and map editors to Aridia sooner or later. Anyway, mine, while not so easy to use than Aridia, was 70 % complete (you could edit map, using any tileset, but not yet create a new tileset or editing a tile ; I have to code a compression algorithm similar as the one used by the game, or hack the game to use my own format) last time I played with PS3 hacking.

The world just felt kind of empty; there were at least one or two domes per lineage that you didn't have to visit.  Adding extra content that better utilized all the areas in the game would greatly improve the game.

Yes, I want to add extra-content. But I want to keep the original atmosphere of the game.

And the more I think to it, the more I realize its emptiness is part of this atmosphere. So this must be treated with care (I consider making the world more populated in the 1st quest, but less and less as the generations pass, for example).

Same for the graphisms. For example, Layan and Orakian villages could have different tilesets, but it must fit with the game esthetics (which is particular, almost western).

I consider also having two separate abilities, technics and magic, as in PS4. Orakians would use technics and Layans magic. It could be interesting too to expand the ability some Layan have to turn into dragons or other beasts :)
Title: Re: Enhancing Phantasy Star III
Post by: PresidentLeever on July 01, 2015, 08:53:20 am
No, just Lena->Laya, though I've played some ways into Alair's path now and it seems the same as Laya's in terms of auto walking.

As far as I can tell, there's no DAC/samples in PSIII's music, just FM and PSG synth used. I don't recall any sampled sfx either but I could be wrong (you can load the soundtrack from project2612 into a rom with vgm player 3.20, then open it in Gens and turn off YM2612 and PSG to just hear the samples).

I have some experience with making MD music though I wouldn't know how to change a sound engine or insert new music into an old game. For the battles I think if the changes happened on beat instead of abruptly, and were more subtle it could work, like changing the key to minor/major, changing up the beat or adding to the instrumentation like with the overworld theme. Or  you could have a transitional part trigger that leads into the different theme.

I think World of Warcraft or Oblivion did something like this, but from overworld into battle music and back. The game Proteus has the ost react to everything the player does, and in some older Ultima game that did this it was also abrupt IIRC.

The dead space in this game became much more bearable with 2x walking speed, but all the detours leading to poor items in dungeons and empty rooms in town buildings were still annoying. All the domes could probably be made ~10% smaller as well.
What did you think about how the warp palaces and air strips were introduced? I thought it was a bit awkward how you couldn't ask anyone about them or even investigate the latter at first. I'm not sure the air strips are even needed as you could make it so that Wren can't land on forests/mountains and block some later areas off that way instead. Then perhaps that tile could be edited and used as a hangar next to Aeron instead of that invisible entrance in the town... just brainstorming a bit here. :)