News: 11 March 2016 - Forum Rules
Current Moderators - DarkSol, KingMike, MathOnNapkins, Azkadellia, Danke

Author Topic: Zelda II Hack Project - I want your input  (Read 2185 times)

Trax

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 455
    • View Profile
    • Trax ROM Hacking
Zelda II Hack Project - I want your input
« on: September 28, 2018, 12:16:22 am »
Hello everyone. I started working on a new Zelda II project, and I'd like to have your input for some features that may or may not appear in the game. For now, I don't have a lot to show because I'm at a very early stage where I want to setup the basic skeleton for the new features, which also involves expansion relative to the original game.

Some of the features I want to implement come with implications that may not be desirable or hard to implement. Changing one game mechanics may please some players, but displease others. There's no perfect mix, of course, but I'll do my best to balance these things as much as possible, without sacrificing fun and challenge. Having your opinions will help me orient my efforts.

For those who have not seen it yet, here's a demo of the Ice Tile on the Overworld, that will be part of my hack:

www.bwass.org/romhack/zelda2/icetile.zip



Here's some of the things that will (almost certainly) be part of the hack:

- Expanded ROM, from 8 to 16 PRG banks, and from 14 to 16 CHR banks. Of those PRG banks, 4 will be dedicated to the Overworld, 2 for Towns and 6 for Palaces.
- Expanded world, obviously. The Overworld will be more than twice the size of the original, with more diverse terrain, at least one new functional tile (Ice Tile), Overworld may change over time and random battles will be more diverse. More palaces and/or larger ones.
- Only one saving slot. Since most people will play on emulator, I think it's a small sacrifice. The main reasons are to simplify the saved game interface and free up space needed for expansion. The original game has considerable free space in Cartridge RAM, but it can't be expanded.
- New graphics, for all sections of the game. Intro, saved game info, Overworld, Towns, Palaces, Ending.
- New spells. Improvements on the original ones and/or replacement of certain spells.
- New enemies, and enemy behavior. Most original enemies will remain, but they will change behavior, either permanently or become stronger later in the game. Same goes for bosses, either change their current behavior and/or create new ones.
- Pieces of Heart and Magic Containers.

Here's some things that may be part of the hack, all depending if I have enough time and if I can actually code them reliably:

- Map system. Press Select on the Overworld to display a map of the current region. Map pieces will have to be found. With the expanded Overworld, this could become more than a mere caprice.
- More spells. From 8 to 12 spells, most likely. If there's a real need for more than 8, there could be a way to have more, but it involves new coding. The original game has a few spells with questionable usefulness.
- Upgradable spells. For example, Shield protects more, Life heals more, Fairy becomes revertible, etc.
- Upgradable items. For example, Candle reveals more, Glove breaks more blocks, Raft lets you reach other places, etc.
- New special moves, other than Downstab and Upstab.
- Extended dialogs from friendly NPCs. Have more meaningful and longer dialogs that reveal the story in more details.

Now, with the things that I still have to decide on, and that will certainly change the core gameplay even further. I like the idea of making a hack considerably different from the original game, but I also think the essence of what makes Zelda II unique and fun must remain. It breaks down to these things:

- Lives and health system
- Experience and stats system (Attack, Magic, Life)
- Difficulty levels
- Save system

Lives and health system. Zelda II is the only game of the series with a lives system, and many people don't like it. It does seem out of place for a Zelda game. However, without lives, other aspects of the game would become inadequate. Lava pits would become a disproportionate threat to the player. One badly timed jump and it's game over. Having 3 lives (plus extra lives that can be picked up) is basically the equivalent of having as many separate health bars.

The alternative would be to make pits non-lethal. Subsequent Zelda games don't have jumping mechanisms as elaborate as Zelda II, but they do have pits of all kinds. Falling into a pit makes you lose a small portion of health and takes you back to a determined point. Doing that with Zelda II could be an interesting modification to the gameplay, but also a considerable coding challenge. Also, it would have the consequence of making pits a lot less dangerous. Calculated jumps would become less important, especially if the health penalty is small. On the other hand, losing all your health in one shot because an enemy pushes you back in lava can be frustrating.

Another aspect unique to Zelda II is the absence of items that replenish your health. Most of the time, you have to rely on the Life spell. Other ways include towns, leveling up, finding a Heart container or losing a life. Other Zelda games have hearts randomly dropped by enemies after defeating them. Again, adding this item in the game has consequences. Does it mean the Life spell becomes less important, or that it should be reduced in strength? Can having hearts competing with magic jars in random drops lead to a lack of magic available? Will it cause the Red Lady in towns to become obsolete?

Experience system. Again, unique to Zelda II. Instead of having to find swords and protective gear, you must earn experience points that are "traded" for more attack strength, better magic consumption and defense. Since Zelda II is a game centered mostly on combat, it makes sense to expect the player to fight enemies to get better. If we decide to remove the experience system altogether, there must be a way to make our character stronger.

One idea I had is that you would have to find different swords for Attack, and some other items that would increase your Magic and Life stats as well. One severe consequence of such a change is that it removes the incentive to fight enemies, and I think it could encourage players to avoid difficult fights. I don't like that much. However, I do like the idea of having to find stronger swords, which is similar to many other Zelda games. An hybrid could work too, but at the cost of more complex coding.

Difficulty system. I've been thinking for quite a while about integrating levels of difficulty in the game. Several hackers in the past used an alternate solution, by simply making an alternate ROM with more or less difficulty, and the players could choose according to their skills.

One of the main reasons I want to integrate difficulty levels is to provide an incentive to tackle greater challenges. Beating the game at a higher level could lead to secrets of all sorts, like special dungeons, hidden items or an alternate ending. Now the caveat is that players could find it a bit daunting to restart the game entirely, without knowing exactly what lies ahead, just for bragging rights.

Another idea is to make the game end prematurely on lower levels, to encourage players to take the next level of difficulty to progress more in the game and finally see the "real" ending. Again, similar problem, you get to play a shorter game, with a fake ending, just to be told that you need to be more skilled. I'm still trying to find a balanced formula. Find a way to have a relatively satisfying ending at the lower levels, while making it worthwhile to restart the game and increase the difficulty.

Save system. In my opinion, this one is less divisive among most players. Many have complained about the fact that you have to restart at the very beginning of the game after a game over. No mercy, not even at the start of the current palace (like in Zelda 1), except the last one. Now, with a larger Overworld, this could become even more annoying.

Instead of these limitations, there could be a few key points where you can restart from, including when you reload your saved game. Similar to A Link to the Past. You start with one starting point, and then, along the game, you find other points that you activate and these let you restart from there. I think it's fair, assuming the Overworld will be larger and arguably less linear than the original game. That, however, would be at the cost of being able to restart at the beginning of the palace you just died in.

Thank you for reading. Any other idea? Anything that stands out? Do you agree or disagree with anything? Let me know what you think of all that...

hollowshadow

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 15
    • View Profile
Re: Zelda II Hack Project - I want your input
« Reply #1 on: September 28, 2018, 04:06:58 am »
Sounds amazing! I'm sure it will blow everyone away!
It's long overdue someone takes a Zelda II hack to the next level with custom coding & expanded ROM.
It sounds like quite the undertaking :laugh: I wish you luck with setting up all the new features.
Always happy to see more hacks for Zelda II.

Shadic

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 26
    • View Profile
Re: Zelda II Hack Project - I want your input
« Reply #2 on: September 28, 2018, 10:02:41 am »
First of all, seeing this thread posted makes me incredibly happy. Even just seeing you spitball out ideas for the game while reflecting on their greater effect.. It's fun to see. I'm just going to reread your thread and comment on certain posts that you've brought up in order.

Here's some of the things that will (almost certainly) be part of the hack:
- Expanded world, obviously. The Overworld will be more than twice the size of the original, with more diverse terrain, at least one new functional tile (Ice Tile), Overworld may change over time and random battles will be more diverse. More palaces and/or larger ones.
This is definitely a good idea, although obviously with greater design considerations to consider as well. A larger world becomes much more difficult for the player to keep track of, especially in older games that often lack recognizable setpieces. The (later mentioned) map would certainly help in this regard, but additional world map tiles may help with this as well, even if they function identically to grass/desert/graveyard. This would also mean another tileset for random encounters, which is more effort, but would also help the world feel less repetitive.

Towns could actually use the same variety, come to think of it. I'm not sure the tileset limitations that exist, but having each town look different (just as palaces do) would really help, even if it's just a palette change. We all remember the weird feeling we had when we first entered Old Kasuto!

- Only one saving slot. Since most people will play on emulator, I think it's a small sacrifice. The main reasons are to simplify the saved game interface and free up space needed for expansion. The original game has considerable free space in Cartridge RAM, but it can't be expanded.
I don't see any issues with this, honestly. Two may be preferable and has history in the series already (Majora's Mask), but this is indeed a world of emulation. One is fine.

- New graphics, for all sections of the game. Intro, saved game info, Overworld, Towns, Palaces, Ending.
Definitely agree with this. While I'm a fan of the current graphics, they can definitely be improved. It will also help your project have more of its own identity. This very well may not be your area of expertise, but what about music? If people were interested in assisting, this would be a cool way to further feel different, though I'm not sure how easily expandable Z2 is in terms of music, both overall length and amount tracks. (I may just be a huge fan of how cool this "demix" sounds.)

- New enemies, and enemy behavior. Most original enemies will remain, but they will change behavior, either permanently or become stronger later in the game. Same goes for bosses, either change their current behavior and/or create new ones.
Also a great idea. Taking other enemies from the series may help this feel more like a "proper" Zelda game, which was a common complaint of the original.

Here's some things that may be part of the hack, all depending if I have enough time and if I can actually code them reliably:

- Map system. Press Select on the Overworld to display a map of the current region. Map pieces will have to be found. With the expanded Overworld, this could become more than a mere caprice.
As mentioned prior, this would be great if possible. Especially with the larger map.

- More spells. From 8 to 12 spells, most likely. If there's a real need for more than 8, there could be a way to have more, but it involves new coding. The original game has a few spells with questionable usefulness.
I'm mostly curious as to what spell ideas that you have. The original game does indeed have spells of questionable usefulness (Fire, Reflect, Spell, and Thunder). Buffing Fire and Reflect should be easy enough to improve, since they don't really apply to most enemies in the game. Having Fire actually damage everything (and do more damage), while having Reflex allow Link to block effects that he couldn't before would do wonders already.

My main concern with more spells is wondering what sort of niche they'd have, while still providing general usefulness.

- Upgradable spells. For example, Shield protects more, Life heals more, Fairy becomes revertible, etc.
- Upgradable items. For example, Candle reveals more, Glove breaks more blocks, Raft lets you reach other places, etc.
- New special moves, other than Downstab and Upstab.
A fun idea for sure, but I'm not sure how to make these improvements feel impactful without making the original item/spell not seem weak. This may require some brainstorming. As for special moves, I'm curious what other functionality you could give Link, the combat as-is feels simple, but is somewhat graceful.

- Extended dialogs from friendly NPCs. Have more meaningful and longer dialogs that reveal the story in more details.
A great idea. With a text-speed increase, of course.  :thumbsup:

Now, with the things that I still have to decide on, and that will certainly change the core gameplay even further. I like the idea of making a hack considerably different from the original game, but I also think the essence of what makes Zelda II unique and fun must remain. It breaks down to these things:

- Lives and health system
- Experience and stats system (Attack, Magic, Life)
- Difficulty levels
- Save system

Lives and health are indeed intrinsically linked, and I'm glad you see that as well. My own personal opinion is as follows:
- Heart/Life drops should be a thing off normal enemies, and approximately as common as you'd see in a game like Link to the Past.
- To counter that, that the "Life" spell should be moved much later in the game, and provide more health at the expense of being even costlier. This would cement it as a very powerful late-game ability that lets Link not necessarily be reliant on enemy drops in dire situations.
- Falling into a pit should not be a cause of instant death. While a common trope to platforming games, it does not mesh well with the Zelda spirit/gameplay flow. Instant-death effects should be rare and highly telegraphed.
- Lives may need to be looked into if things were balanced this way. I think if done properly, they could gotten be rid of.


Experience system - It's a part of the feeling of the game, though Another concern with doubling the size of the world would be that the level cap of 8/8/8 may feel insufficient. Either it takes too long to level, or leveling caps out way too early in the game. Increasing it to 10, or even 15 would really make the player feel more powerful by the end of the game. Also, losing all EXP on game over feels bad and limits what you can do with the Lives system.

Difficulty - This is complex. While we live in an era where most NES games are way beyond the difficulty scope of most gamers, hacks like this typically aren't found by the "average gamers," either. Most people playing will be fairly seasoned gamers.

I'm not a fan of locking the best ending behind difficulty settings, personally. Most games will hide the best ending behind certain accomplishments, instead. Finding all ___ plot MacGuffins, as an example.

While it would accomplish the same thing as requiring more skilled play, perhaps there could be some (well marked) bonus/challenge areas that would need to be completed for the best ending?

Save System - I'm much more a fan of restarting in the current palace than the system you've suggested. Though I also would like to see towns feel more important at the same time. Most older RPGs put the player in the last town they visited when they die. Perhaps a combination of the two? If you die in a palace, you start there. Otherwise, you come back in the last town you've visited.

Again, I'm super happy to see this thread! Hopefully I don't feel like the obnoxious "ideas man" that dictates things without contributing to their implementation, as I've been on the other side of that coin before. Best of luck with this project! I'm very much excited to see how this ends up.
« Last Edit: September 28, 2018, 12:51:24 pm by Shadic »

ultimaweapon

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 127
    • View Profile
Re: Zelda II Hack Project - I want your input
« Reply #3 on: September 28, 2018, 10:53:05 am »
@Trax

Expanded World - You already know I agree with this and you know I'm a big fan of the ice tiles thus why I put my hack on hold. If you can find a way to incorporate ice in the palaces too, even better.

One Save Slot - That's really not that big of a deal. A worthwhile sacrifice to expand the game.

New Graphics - Definitely a plus as well. I believe Revility had made big strides in how good the graphics can get. If you can improve on that, that would be totally awesome.

New Spells - This is a most welcomed addition. On top of that, some of the current spells are in dire need of an upgrade such as Fire, Shield, Fairy, Reflect, and Spell. The Fire spell is so underwhelming. It needs to be made a bit more ferocious something like Ryo's Haoh Shou Ko Ken from King Of Fighters. At higher levels, Shield should reduce how much damage you take, and Reflect should reflect more attacks. Fairy should actually heal and also be on a timer for how long you can be in it or you control how long you're in it.
Incorporating new spells like a Freeze spell, your Dash spell from Shadow Of Night, a double jump, even a modified version of Njosro's Ghost spell are some things that come to mind.

New Enemies - I agree with this as well. I also think the final palace should have every boss character from previous palaces as well as a new final boss. I always thought a good idea would be after you defeat Dark Link, he actually transforms into Ganon and you fight Ganon.

Map System - That also sounds good as well. This part you can keep a bit simple. Just pressing either Start or Select shows you the map and your current location. Use the extra space for all the other more involved stuff.

Extended Dialogs - Definitely makes sense here.

Experience System - I actually like the experience system. Keep Zelda 2 unique. Expand on the experience system and increase the level caps.

Upgradable Items - I definitely agree with this. Giving the items more purpose would be awesome. Also adding new items if possible be be even better.

New Moves - It would be great to see some new moves like a charge slash, spin attack, dash attack or psycho crusher style attack would be cool. Also, upgrading the sword would also be a big plus.


I'm definitely interested in seeing what you present.
Trust in the Heart of the Cards

njosro

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 64
    • View Profile
Re: Zelda II Hack Project - I want your input
« Reply #4 on: September 29, 2018, 04:49:55 pm »
I did a double-take when I saw this thread. I'm so excited!!
Those are ambitious ideas you mentioned, and I love them.

Map System: How would you feel about palace maps? I was thinking you could hard-code the in-game palace maps once you finalize the layout. The player would have to find a map and compass like in the game boy games, where the map just gives the general layout and the compass reveals the main item and boss location. You could display the map beside the list of spells when you press Start.

New and upgradable spells: YES. Some of the game's original spells were too weak or specific.

Upgradable items: This sounds really cool, as long as it doesn't get to the point where every item has an upgrade and suddenly all items are only half as useful as before.

New enemies: That would be awesome. Even if all the enemies stayed the same but had slightly different behaviors.

New techs other than upstab and downstab: What kind of new moves do you propose? A charged blade maybe (instead of spin attack)?

Lives and health: Both you and Shadic made really good points.
About the life spell vs heart drops: I personally think that as long as you make the life spell fair, there's no need for heart drops from enemies. Also, the life spell has the potential to be upgraded (if you decide to have upgradable spells), which further decreases the need for heart drops. On the flip side, you could have the rare fairy appear once every, say, 12 to 16 enemies kills.

About the lava: I really wish I had kept the file, but I once made it so that lava just made the room refresh and you just lose health as if you hit an ironknuckle. It had one or two glitches. I think with your hacking skills it would be a lot easier than you might think. (If I could do it, then you definitely can!) I could look into it again if you want.

Experience system: I think the exp system is important and should remain. Like you said, it gives the player a big incentive to fight! As for a sword upgrade, how about an upgrade that makes the sword a bit longer?


Misc idea about jump: How do you feel about having a JUMP stat instead of a MAGIC stat? Basically you jump higher as you level it up. Or, if that sounds completely stupid, how about a collectible item that permanently increases your max jumping height by one or two blocks? (and eliminate the jump spell)

Misc idea about healing: You could have an optional, collectible item that refills one square of health after every 8 large enemy kills or something like that. Then hearts wouldn't be competing with potions in the random drops.


Whatever you decide on doing, I'm sure it will be amazing.

hollowshadow

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 15
    • View Profile
Re: Zelda II Hack Project - I want your input
« Reply #5 on: September 29, 2018, 10:33:26 pm »
I had coupke ideas for new spells:

#1. No knockback, could make passing tough jumps easier when projectiles are on screen. An upgraded shield or reflect.

#2. Shrink, make link smaller to the size of 1 block to fit through tight spaces. Maybe possible changing fairy spell to keep link on ground and graphics edited to mini link.

i'll let you know if i thing of more  :)

KingMike

  • Forum Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 6579
  • *sigh* A changed avatar. Big deal.
    • View Profile
Re: Zelda II Hack Project - I want your input
« Reply #6 on: September 30, 2018, 01:47:37 am »

I don't see any issues with this, honestly. Two may be preferable and has history in the series already (Majora's Mask), but this is indeed a world of emulation. One is fine.
I have read that was a localization change.
I read the Japanese version originally had the standard three save files but one was cut in order to add the Owl Statue temporary saves to the western versions.
"My watch says 30 chickens" Google, 2018

itemdrop

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 44
    • View Profile
Re: Zelda II Hack Project - I want your input
« Reply #7 on: September 30, 2018, 12:29:36 pm »
I wanna Start by saying i'm very excited by the ideas and this project in general. Now that I got that out of the way this is a very ambitious project and with that being said it usually means something that will take years to make. The more ambitious the more likely your not going to finish it as these types of project are always passion projects. I'm not trying to be a downer but stating the obvious. It might make the game better by not trying to implement so many ideas. the more ideas the more the game might feel disjointed (potentially). I see how your attempts to tie everything together so I think overall you can have all work with all of these ideas it's just something to consider.

Some of the features I want to implement come with implications that may not be desirable or hard to implement. Changing one game mechanics may please some players, but displease others. There's no perfect mix, of course, but I'll do my best to balance these things as much as possible, without sacrificing fun and challenge. Having your opinions will help me orient my efforts.

One of the things with Zelda 2 I feel is it suits a certain play style. You can easily make it hard but usually it's at the expense of being cheap hard or potentially boring hard ie too much grinding, repeated cheap enemy placement or having to cast multipal magic spells and not having enough magic to do so.


For those who have not seen it yet, here's a demo of the Ice Tile on the Overworld, that will be part of my hack:

I have played this demo and it's very good for what little there was to play. I could so this being used specifically on an entire map or having distinct little pockets of this idea spread around every map.


- Only one saving slot. Since most people will play on emulator, I think it's a small sacrifice. The main reasons are to simplify the saved game interface and free up space needed for expansion. The original game has considerable free space in Cartridge RAM, but it can't be expanded.

I have a big question here I dont think your implying it will only play on emulator but I hope this game will play on original hardware using everdrive or a powerpak.

- New graphics, for all sections of the game. Intro, saved game info, Overworld, Towns, Palaces, Ending.

When I started making my hack I wanted to do all new graphics. I mean everything and to me this is a huge time sink especially if your picky which I am. Are you planing on doing everything on your own. music, hacking, dialogue, maps, dungeons and sprite work.

Are you planing on getting help ?



- Map system. Press Select on the Overworld to display a map of the current region. Map pieces will have to be found. With the expanded Overworld, this could become more than a mere caprice.

insanely cool idea. collect a thon are awesome.

- Upgradable spells. For example, Shield protects more, Life heals more, Fairy becomes revertible, etc.

After playing cv3 I had this idea too. To make fairy revertible it could have different puzzle elements allow you to go back to old areas etc etc etc. HUGE POTENTIAL.

- Extended dialogs from friendly NPCs. Have more meaningful and longer dialogs that reveal the story in more details.


I feel if your going to be this ambitious you'll definitely need this in your hack.


Now, with the things that I still have to decide on, and that will certainly change the core gameplay even further. I like the idea of making a hack considerably different from the original game, but I also think the essence of what makes Zelda II unique and fun must remain. It breaks down to these things:

I hear what your saying here but your definition of what you determine what fun is about z2 isn't going to be the exact same as anyone else. Just from my own experience I always aimed to make the game fun for me and hope others will enjoy it. That's not to say I didn't think about what others like and didn't like I def did.

Lives and health system. Zelda II is the only game of the series with a lives system, and many people don't like it. It does seem out of place for a Zelda game. However, without lives, other aspects of the game would become inadequate. Lava pits would become a disproportionate threat to the player. One badly timed jump and it's game over. Having 3 lives (plus extra lives that can be picked up) is basically the equivalent of having as many separate health bars.

The alternative would be to make pits non-lethal. Subsequent Zelda games don't have jumping mechanisms as elaborate as Zelda II, but they do have pits of all kinds. Falling into a pit makes you lose a small portion of health and takes you back to a determined point. Doing that with Zelda II could be an interesting modification to the gameplay, but also a considerable coding challenge. Also, it would have the consequence of making pits a lot less dangerous. Calculated jumps would become less important, especially if the health penalty is small. On the other hand, losing all your health in one shot because an enemy pushes you back in lava can be frustrating.


Im not sure changing this core mechanic is a good idea. I feel like you can always make something hard but fair you just have to work for it. I also think that this is what makes z2 different its a side scrolling platformer trying to take that out or make it less prevalent would make the side scrolling aspect less rewarding and less impactful.


Another aspect unique to Zelda II is the absence of items that replenish your health. Most of the time, you have to rely on the Life spell. Other ways include towns, leveling up, finding a Heart container or losing a life.


Well you forgot one thing Fairies!!!! in the overworld and in palaces. XD


Other Zelda games have hearts randomly dropped by enemies after defeating them. Again, adding this item in the game has consequences. Does it mean the Life spell becomes less important, or that it should be reduced in strength? Can having hearts competing with magic jars in random drops lead to a lack of magic available? Will it cause the Red Lady in towns to become obsolete?

To your point. Once you have life spell the red lady in all the towns becomes obsolete if there is a magic lady in the same town. Maybe you could make the red lady do something completely different.


Experience system. Again, unique to Zelda II. Instead of having to find swords and protective gear, you must earn experience points that are "traded" for more attack strength, better magic consumption and defense. Since Zelda II is a game centered mostly on combat, it makes sense to expect the player to fight enemies to get better. If we decide to remove the experience system altogether, there must be a way to make our character stronger.

One idea I had is that you would have to find different swords for Attack, and some other items that would increase your Magic and Life stats as well. One severe consequence of such a change is that it removes the incentive to fight enemies, and I think it could encourage players to avoid difficult fights. I don't like that much. However, I do like the idea of having to find stronger swords, which is similar to many other Zelda games. An hybrid could work too, but at the cost of more complex coding.

this would be a huge undertaking to implement but would be insane and complex. I do like the idea of having upgradeable swords. I'm trying to do something similar in my hack but only one sword the master sword ala Attack 9 sword. I also see people doing as you stated basically avoiding enemies. For me personally Combat is the thing that always makes me come back to Z2 to no matter what. So this could really effect the game in a negative way if not carefully done.


Difficulty system. I've been thinking for quite a while about integrating levels of difficulty in the game. Several hackers in the past used an alternate solution, by simply making an alternate ROM with more or less difficulty, and the players could choose according to their skills.

One of the main reasons I want to integrate difficulty levels is to provide an incentive to tackle greater challenges. Beating the game at a higher level could lead to secrets of all sorts, like special dungeons, hidden items or an alternate ending. Now the caveat is that players could find it a bit daunting to restart the game entirely, without knowing exactly what lies ahead, just for bragging rights.

Another idea is to make the game end prematurely on lower levels, to encourage players to take the next level of difficulty to progress more in the game and finally see the "real" ending. Again, similar problem, you get to play a shorter game, with a fake ending, just to be told that you need to be more skilled. I'm still trying to find a balanced formula. Find a way to have a relatively satisfying ending at the lower levels, while making it worthwhile to restart the game and increase the difficulty.



Speaking from experience I really dislike the idea of a shorter game. they did something like this in castlevania 64 if you played on easy you could only get to a certain point and the game just abruptly ended. I didnt know this or I would have played on normal. This could cause great confusion and anger if a play doesnt read your note !!!!! if you could have the player continue his quest by choosing normal or hard after a certain point this might work but abruptly ending it or prematurely ending it for me is a bad idea. Why not implement a second quest for hard or have new game plus be an actually hard mode ( I want to do this in my hack) were new game plus increases all enemies strength and starts you off with nothing.


Save system. In my opinion, this one is less divisive among most players. Many have complained about the fact that you have to restart at the very beginning of the game after a game over. No mercy, not even at the start of the current palace (like in Zelda 1), except the last one. Now, with a larger Overworld, this could become even more annoying.

Instead of these limitations, there could be a few key points where you can restart from, including when you reload your saved game. Similar to A Link to the Past. You start with one starting point, and then, along the game, you find other points that you activate and these let you restart from there. I think it's fair, assuming the Overworld will be larger and arguably less linear than the original game. That, however, would be at the cost of being able to restart at the beginning of the palace you just died in.


A couple of things here. I like the idea of starting players at the beginning of palaces if they game over. You could make it were you have only one life but you start at the being of a palace this might be a simple solution to having players only have one life and being more like the series. better yet you could have it that they start the palace with only 3 hearts not 4 5 6 7 8 if they have more hearts. so there is a punishment for game overing but you still have 2 more men at full health and magic. so its punishment but not a sever punishment as it is in The Legend of Zelda.

I just want to put this out there if you ever want some help working on rooms, palaces or sprites I'd def be down to help. either way I hope you are able to make this project fully realized.

Trax

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 455
    • View Profile
    • Trax ROM Hacking
Re: Zelda II Hack Project - I want your input
« Reply #8 on: October 03, 2018, 01:29:37 am »
Well, thank you all for your comments, I'm glad to see there's a strong interest in this project, even though I admit there's not a lot to show right now. I prefer to make things clear from the get go and not get ahead of myself. I want to make it a priority to have the basic skeleton well done before going in every direction. I think that when the bases will be set, the rest will go smoothly and, hopefullly, this will let us not worry about the project's completion.

Don't be afraid to throw ideas and show opposition, that's the very reason why I asked for your input, and I can take it, don't worry. It is by having multiple points of view that we eventually come to a balanced solution.

Some people offered their help, and of course, I will gladly accept it. If you have ideas for graphics, why not try a few things right now, and submit them to me? I can work with mockups, even. For the story, it should wait because stories can be pretty much anything and I want to setup a basic context. We can flesh out the text later in the game, and since the extended dialogs are in the "maybe" list, the extent of the story is not determined yet. My strengths are level design and coding, so I'll probably do the lion's share, but I won't refuse a good idea. As for music, I don't have any specific plans, and I know it's a complicated area. I disassembled some of the music data in Bank 6, so I know the basics of the music engine. I would not mind having the same songs, but the minimum would be to have different instruments, something like that.

Itemdrop. I completely understand your warnings about big projects, and it's good that you mentioned it. I made a similar lecture about the Zelda II Redux project early on, so I would be stupid to not follow my own advice!

I have a text file in my Zelda II folder with a lot more ideas than what I listed here, that I accumulated over the years, and I'm sure many of them are unworkable or unreasonable by their complexity. So, of course, not everything can be done, that's the thing with imagination, it's almost infinite. But we have to work with the limits of the system, the limits of the game, and the limits of our own skills. That's the reason why I made two lists: ideas that are reasonably accessible and expected in a hack of that undertaking, and the other list is everything that would make the game more awesome, but are not essential for completion, if time or whatever else gets in the way.

Another important point. There are a few things that I may want to keep secret, for the surprise at release. That said, it's a bit in contradiction with me asking for your help, right? Anyway, for a start, I already have two ideas for special moves, and one of them is about 75% complete. But they are also in the "maybe" list, so they could be skipped over unless I want them to become essential to the gameplay.

So, here to go over some points you talked about, and add more of my own.

The expanded ROM structure is pretty much set, except I have yet to decide if Towns should have one or two banks. If not, then the bank could be used for more Overworld or more Palace rooms. As for the Overworld, the original game doesn't even use near the maximum it could have used. Death Mountain and Maze Island don't use the same map per se, but they are exact copies of each other, and they share the same range in Item Presence RAM. There's 4 maps data-wise, but the entire Overworld is basically 3 maps big. My hack has potential for 8 maps. Check this image I made that illustrates the approximate proportions we could expect with the expansion:



Alternative to saving points and all that. Each region could have one arbitrary starting point, and whatever region you were in when you last saved or died would be the region you start from when you restart the game. That could be a reasonable compromise and would be relatively easy to code. Also, I'm not against the idea of being able to restart in the Palace you died in, but this feature alone doesn't feel like it's enough of a penalty for dying. The other one is the loss of your experience points. No matter which method we settle on, the basic rationale for me is because of the larger Overworld.

Here's my comments on the possible change/upgrade for spells:

- Shield. Universal use. If you think there's danger ahead, you can give yourself a boost at the cost of magic. The Shield spell could become stronger as you increase your magic level. That would count as a "silent" upgrade, as you don't need to actually learn a stronger spell.

- Jump. Can be used in many places. Can be combined with the Dash spell, used successfully in Shadow of Night. Njoro's idea of having Jump making you jump higher is something I thought about some time ago, but the problem is one of expectations, both for the player and for the level designer. We can't know for sure when the player will have reached a certain level for a certain pit, for example, and that could be seen as a cheap death. There's also the danger of having Link actually jump too high for a specific jump to take place.

- Life. The ubiquitous spell. Similar to Shield, could heal more as you level up. Or even have some sort of randomization.

- Fairy. Meh. Limited use. Can be used to escape a sticky situation. In the original, it's essential in a handful of places. Having the revert upgrade could provide a bit more interest, with possible puzzles of some sort. Also, the locked door glitch.

- Fire. Limited use, not even essential. Not particularly powerful, only a few enemies need it, not even one boss. Enemies later in the game are almost all immune to it. Funky idea: an upgrade lets you activate a "shield" of spinning flames. Lots of coding.

- Reflect. Essential to kill exactly one type of enemy and one boss. Also, strengthens the shield, which is more interesting, especially against strong weapons, like axes. Reflecting other types of projectiles would require some coding.

- Spell. Essential for exactly ONE use, in the same town where you learn it. Lame. Its other use is not very interesting, unless you want to escape a bad situation. Could be replaced by something else.

- Thunder. Powerful, but costly. One essential use on the Thunderbird. I think the cost in magic balances its power, and prevents its abuse.

Here it is for now, my reply is already quite long. I'm sure I didn't comment on everyone's ideas, but I will eventually. Let's keep this thread alive and keep the ideas coming.

ultimaweapon

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 127
    • View Profile
Re: Zelda II Hack Project - I want your input
« Reply #9 on: October 03, 2018, 09:17:54 am »
@Trax

I agree with keeping this thread going, and one of the best ways is for me not to respond to everything, so I will tackle a few of the spells.

Fire
Through some testing of my own, I found a couple of bosses the Fire spell can be made to be useful for. My current complaint is its current design. It's a tiny fireball. A complete mess. Nothing ferocious when you think of fire spells in general especially if you compare it to the spells from A Link To The Past. The Fire spell doesn't have to go. Redesign it to make it more appealing. Also make have to be used against some bosses.

Jump
I think the jumping higher should be replaced with a mid air jump. That would be much more appealing and would fit better than just jumping higher. And combining that with the Dash from Shadow Of Night, and you have a total winner. I know the mid air jump would require a bit of coding to get correct.

Spell
Spell spell has been absolutely useless. You don't need the Magic Key to beat the last 2 palaces or The Great Palace, so taking the time to even use the Spell spell to get the Magic Key isn't necessary. Replacing that spell with something new would be best. A Freeze spell or Njosro's Ghost spell would be a couple of good ideas.

Let's here some other ideas. 
Trust in the Heart of the Cards

azul120

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 10
    • View Profile
Re: Zelda II Hack Project - I want your input
« Reply #10 on: October 14, 2018, 02:06:36 pm »

This is of great interest. I thought of a couple things:

Longer sword/hitbox, naturally.

Ice Spell: Ice-element damage, and also freezes enemies in place Metroid-style.

Fairy Spell: If you implemented a miniature spell, you could make this into a warp spell to warp to any previous location, a la Dragon Quest series.

The health penalty for water/lava pits is something that should definitely be done. The Monster World games have also done it. Lives could be excised as long as reasonable save points are provided.

I've thought of doing something like this in Unity (after learning how to use it, heh), but also add item usage into the mix, a la the grappling hook, to make it more Zelda/Metroid-like.

While they could be extraneous, any thoughts on other Zelda hallmarks such as shops and rupees?

Some of the Ys games could provide excellent reference in balancing item/weapon/xp level upgrading as well as salables/consumables.

Trax

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 455
    • View Profile
    • Trax ROM Hacking
Re: Zelda II Hack Project - I want your input
« Reply #11 on: October 23, 2018, 10:45:34 pm »
Sorry to keep you waiting, guys. Got some major hurdles tackled. In a nutshell:

THIS. GAME. IS. COMPLICATED !!!

Exceptions everywhere, weird code that seemingly does nothing interesting, mysterious variables, it never ends. I've been working mainly on three things:

- Make sure every region can be connected to each other by land, i.e., by stepping on a Key Area. Using the Raft should be similar, to be tested. Having more than one possible Raft travel dock will be a bit trickier.

- Create a reliable system for more Random Demon Battles. Each Terrain Type will have up to 8 different Random Battle areas. Most likely, the distinction between "weak" and "strong" Demons will be discarded. Difficulty will be totally random throughout the region. The original game uses Key Areas from the 62 possible choices to store Random Battles. There are 7 types of terrain, and 2 versions (weak and strong) for each. It means 14 Key Areas are "wasted" on Battles, where they could be used for regular areas. Now, the Battle Areas have their own Map Data and Enemy Data.

- Selection Screen, which will have only one save slot. Name entry will be discarded. The screen will show more details on your currently saved game. This is work in progress.

As a side bonus, I made a little hack where Link is partially hidden when walking on a Forest Tile in the Overworld. See:



Some other work in progress includes the Pause Pane that will be redesigned and extra tiles on the Overworld. Now, for more discussion on your comments.

Here's a general observation about new tiles to be added to features that are essentially "universal". What I nea by that is, if I want to add some visual aspect to the game that must be accessible everywhere, I have to "reserve" one or more tile slots for every graphics banks that are bound to use it. Not that it's not possible, but most sprites graphics banks are already loaded. So this has to be done sparingly. For example, having a bigger Fire sprite or a more impressive Flying Blade would be very interesting, but it also means that it would take 2 sprites instead of one. This represents not only a challenge in coding, it also means that everywhere the new sprite is going to be available, the tiles must be "sacrificed". Some graphics banks may be more accomodating, but others not so much. Anyway, just so you know about that detail and keep it in mind.

Shadic, I like the Demix you linked to. It could be an alternative song for some towns. Right now, my knowledge of the song system in Zelda II would allow me to code the song by hand, which would be tedious work. As for adding a completely new song to the repertoire, I'm not sure. Music is complicated on the NES. I'm not turning my back to the idea, though.

Some of you brought good points about the Lives/Healing/Hearts/Falling in pits question, and I'm still thinking about it and how I will mix everything together to form a coherent system. Right now, I like the idea of having Hearts drops, and pushing the Life spell further into the game. Another arrangement that you guys brought up, is having pits deal only damage (and restart the area) and ditch the lives system. I think we can get some balance in that, too. Having Save Points to complete the picture is also interesting. All in all, if I think the reprogramming of this system is too complicated for some reason, I'll fall back on the lives system with not much changes. I can't tell yet.

I think most of you agree on the idea of making the game shorter for lower difficulty levels is a bad idea. I also think that, but the general concept of having difficulty levels spawns from two major points:

- Allowing less skilled players to play more "casually" and not be too frustrated by the difficulty, and still make the game worthwhile. At the same time, allow more hardcore gamers to really tackle a challenge, AND reward these players for facing great danger.

- Create a reasonable amount of replay value, by adding extra stuff to the game, expecially for those who try at higher difficulty levels. The counterpoint to that is the possible repetitiveness of starting all over with more difficult enemies. So, adding extra regions or rooms in palaces could be interesting, without sacrificing the general storyline. An alternative, more complete ending is a good idea, I think.

My take about the lack of money. Zelda II is not based on money, and even though every other Zelda game have rupees, I don't think it would fit in the Zelda II universe and gameplay style. What resembles money is experience points. They are, in a way, the "currency" by which you get stronger stats. You don't buy items, you have to find them.

Sorry for not having much to show to you guys, but the project is going forward. More visual things to come in the future. Stay tuned!

By the way, I don't think the Magic Key is relevant. It simply destroys the idea of having locked doors for the rest of the game. If you have any idea of something that could take its place, let me know.

ultimaweapon

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 127
    • View Profile
Re: Zelda II Hack Project - I want your input
« Reply #12 on: October 24, 2018, 03:20:13 pm »
Let me start with the last item first. The Magic Key is totally irrelevant. There are absolutely no locked doors in the Great Palace which gives the key no significance. Maybe you can turn the Magic Key into the Master Sword or at least the Magical Sword from Zelda 1. Having a different sword that's more powerful than your sword at level 8 would be much more beneficial.

After you get to level 8 for everything, the only thing your experience points do is allow you to get extra lives every 9000. Maybe you can build something into the game that allows you to spend those experience points after everything is leveled up for additional items or stronger versions of your magic. This option would not open up though until Life, Magic, and Attack are all at Level 8. This would keep the Zelda 2 formula in tact but give it something fresh.

I'll comment on the other stuff when I have more time.
Trust in the Heart of the Cards

Revility

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 18
    • View Profile
    • The Revility
Re: Zelda II Hack Project - I want your input
« Reply #13 on: October 24, 2018, 08:05:36 pm »
Here’s some ideas for you....

-replace the fire spell with boomerangs.

-reflect & shield turned into tunics & always on.  Red would replace shield,  blue would replace reflect & grant shield also. Both are always on.  no more constantly casting shield.  Reflect would be way more useful if always on.  This would also give Link a visual upgrade.

-hearts cut into 4 pieces to collect...  would give the player more reasons to hunt through all those extra caves & empty homes.

Replace the hammer with bombs.  You could change the sound in the overworld when breaking rocks & some sort of pow effect. 

Thanatos-Zero

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 208
  • NES Graphic Designer
    • View Profile
Re: Zelda II Hack Project - I want your input
« Reply #14 on: October 27, 2018, 04:44:25 pm »
Reflect is more of the obligatory Mirror Shield upgrade from Zelda 3 to Wind Waker.
After that the Mirror Shield was no longer a staple in future games.

Regarding Shield, we could have a blue and red variant.
Still those upgrades came not for free, but had to be earned.
The Blue Mail could become available after beating the first two palaces.
And the Red Mail becomes available in the real town of Kasuto.

itemdrop

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 44
    • View Profile
Re: Zelda II Hack Project - I want your input
« Reply #15 on: October 30, 2018, 09:16:59 am »
Slow and steady wins the race. glad this project is still moving along. my hack is getting close to the end after its done I might try a do a few sprites for you. if you don't like any of them just throw them out XD.