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Topics - Fox Cunning

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Personal Projects / Ultima: Exodus (NES) *Editor*
« on: May 14, 2020, 11:25:34 am »
Hello, folks.

Not sure how many will be interested, but I just wanted to say that I'm still working on this editor as I had promised a while ago.
The goal is still far away (I haven't even started looking into the music/sound code yet), but so far so good - it can modify maps, NPCs, dialogue text, most palettes and a few more things.

Here's a quick progress video for the curious.

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Personal Projects / Ultima: Exodus (NES) --- Now released
« on: December 09, 2019, 12:22:43 pm »
Greetings.

I thought I'd share a hack I've been working on in the past week or so.
Ultima: Exodus on NES was definitely the best version of Ultima 3 back in the day, but still has its shortcomings. So I decided to do a QoL hack, but I will likely upgrade the graphics too.


Update 22 Feb. 2020


Version 1.00 has finally been released! http://www.romhacking.net/hacks/4949/



These are my goals, and my progress so far...

QoL:
  • [DONE] Allow using the Start button as well as Select to finish party creation
  • [DONE] Add an option to "set camp and save" when Start button is pressed (only allow camping outside of towns)
  • Don't allow monsters to attack diagonally, since the player can't While this would be easy to implement, it would allow cheap battle tactics
  • [DONE] During combat, allow another action after one has been cancelled via B button (still pass if B is pressed before selecting an action)
  • [DONE] Also, don't end turn when accidentally trying to cast spells with a non-caster, or opening the Tools menu when the character has nothing
  • [DONE] Reduce the duration of the screen flashes that happen when casting certain spells
  • [DONE] Make the "hit" sprite disappear more quickly to speed up combat
  • [DONE] Change NPC dialogue to better reflect the computer version and replace some useless banter with useful clues on how to progress the story
  • [WIP] Speed up the game engine. The NMI handler routine takes way too long
  • [DONE] Reduce the intro credits to two screens instead of five
  • [DONE] Improve and speed up enemy's combat AI
Gameplay changes:
  • [DONE] Allow the best character to try and disarm a trap in dungeons, instead of just testing the party leader
  • [DONE] Adjust the town maps so that they are not as redundant (e.g. duplicated shops / NPCs)
  • [DONE] Make horses useful (they allowed outrunning monsters in the computer versions)
  • [DONE] Fix the REPEL and UNDEAD spell behaviour, also make them more useful past level 2 but less overpowered
  • [DONE] Make enemy abilities more in line with the computer versions (e.g. Gargoyles and Manes should have magic attacks)
  • [DONE] Add some variety to loot chests by allowing weapons and armour to be found in addition to just gold
  • [DONE] Reintroduce enemies that were in the computer versions but not in the NES one
  • [DONE] Change the way Max MP is assigned depending on profession, to make casters other than Wizards and Clerics more useful
  • [DONE] Have different HP values depending on race and profession instead of it being the same for everyone
  • [DONE] Award attribute points to each profession's main stats upon levelling up
  • [DONE] Make loot scale with the level of the character who opens the chest
  • [DONE] Tweak HP/MP regeneration rate and food consumption
  • [DONE] Improve the enemy's battle AI
  • [DONE] Rebalance combat to make player characters more effective as they level up
GFX / UI improvements
  • [DONE] Change intro text palettes for smoother transition
  • [DONE] Change the text when a character is hit in battle so that it fits in the notification area at the bottom-right instead of being cut off
  • [DONE] During combat, add a marker next to the active character's name to indicate whose turn it is
  • [DONE] Also show what weapon is currently equipped when attacking, to avoid accidentally throwing your only dagger or wasting a turn trying to attack at range with a mace
  • [DONE] Replace status, gender and class letters with symbols (custom tiles, maybe replace unused Japanese characters)
  • [DONE] Replace health, magic and food letters with symbols
  • [DONE] Change "profession" graphics and palettes (e.g. status menu / character creation)
  • [DONE] Change all character / NPC sprites (maybe using Ultima IV ones)
  • [DONE] Allow NPC and monster graphics to use two different palettes (top sprites / bottom sprites)
  • [DONE] Restore Chuckles' jester outfit (he's wearing woman's clothes for some reason, but the ROM contains an unused jester sprite)
  • [DONE] Redo the "cutscenes" graphics (Lord British and Time Lord)
  • [DONE] Change fonts to something more fitting a fantasy game (something like the Pool of Radiance fonts)
  • [DONE] Upgrade all tiles
  • [DONE] Possibly add some new map tiles (e.g. different types of grass, ankh...)
  • [DONE] Upgrade dungeon graphics and allow a different palette for each dungeon
  • [DONE] Add character names on dialogue frames (if there is room for that in ROM)
  • Add some colour or graphics to the status screen There isn't much room left, and I prefer to use it for gameplay/QoL improvements
The UI can definitely use some love: the "party info" panel is unreadable, especially if your characters have 5-letter names.
Before:After:

I was initially thinking of including part of Ludmeister's excellent hack. As sadly I had no reply from him, I've started doing my own rebalancing.

********************** PROGRESS SCREENSHOTS *********************
Note that these are outdated and kept for historic reasons only!

Saving in the wilderness:Status screen:Battle UI (WIP):Weapon Display:
Dialogue UI:Dungeons:



I appreciate all comments, suggestions and criticism.

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