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Secret of Mana- Hard Mode

Started by bobucles, April 02, 2013, 09:13:33 AM

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Patch :
This patch works up to the Minotaur Boss. It's still WIP.

Hey guys. I've been working on a Secret of Mana mod for the past few days. I'm not interested in changing the dialogue or anything. My interest is in making the game more difficult, as the title is overall far too easy for my tastes.

Here's a list of my goals:
Quote1) Remove XP from all MOBS.
XP will only be given by bosses. It's been my experience that players can get up to lvl 40 or so entirely off of boss XP. This is more than enough to beat the game with some difficulty. Skill levels and gear upgrades remain intact as powerful and essential ways of improving your characters.

Status: All mobs up to Shade are set. I'm playing the game through while modding, so I play while I mod. It's kind of fun. 16 bit unsigned stats make this easy to find in the hex editor.
Quote2) Modify spell costs and spell system in general
So many spells in SoM cost 2 or 3 MP. This makes it easy to snipe bosses with a ridiculous number of spells. Many spell costs will be increased. Cure Water is going to get hit HARD, as it's 2MP for a spell that restores everyone's health to full. It makes all the girl's other spells worthless by comparision. MP growth curves and reserves will be adjusted as well. Since most spells are more expensive, having 8MP for most of the game will suck too hard. Final MP values will be around 50-60, most likely.

Status: Testing the magic changes. Everything up to Shade has been repriced, and many spells are now single target only. Changing the damage/heal/buff values is out of my reach for now.
Quote3) Modify gear stats
For the most part this will stay vanilla. It seems to be working so far. I mostly aim to weaken the super armor sold by Nekko at the end of the game.

Status: Just beginning to work on this. The Gold city shop is getting tweaked, as its battle armor, duck helm, and lazuri ring are available far too early. They're being moved to the Tasnica shop, which is locked out until Lunar magic is acquired. The memory locations are different from FinS link, so these changes may be incompatible with different versions of SoM.
Quote4) Allow XP to be given to dead party members
Some kind of check ensures that characters don't gain XP if they're KO'ed. I want to remove that.
Status: Starwin's fix seems to do the trick. Thanks!

Quote5) Tweak bosses to not be Sprite steamrolls.
There are liberal M.Def buffs going around to all bosses. I will likely boost HP and standard defense when lunar magic comes into play. Some bosses remain weak to magic. Some will be nearly impossible without the hero's supply of charged attacks.

Status: I'm just getting ready to test the two Lumina bosses. They will be fought with tortoise armor, which means they hit HARD. But they're like 30 seconds away from the inn, so a few quick hard bosses is a nice change over the long dungeon->moderate boss formula I've been using.


Quote from: bobucles on April 02, 2013, 09:13:33 AM
XP will only be given by bosses. It's been my experience that players can get up to lvl 40 or so entirely off of boss XP. This is more than enough to beat the game with some difficulty.

Doing this will make playing the game worthless, unless you just want to know the story. You might as well just remove the entire leveling engine from the game period.


A Action-RPG without the option for leveling seems pretty pointless to me too... You can make something like a ultra hard hack out of this but if you seriously wanna keep that feature but... yeah.


Nah, it's really not that bad. There are 3 growth systems that don't require XP at all:

1) Gold farming for armor and weapon forge upgrades (weapons provide over half of your attack power, and damage reduction easily surpass max HP values).

2) Mob killing for weapon skill. (charging weapons is very useful to get good damage against bosses)

3) Spell practice for spell upgrades. (to get the most out of MP, also obscenely good against bosses)

The XP system basically ruins the point of the other three by bringing your base stats up to obscene levels. I'm not missing it so far. I even killed the spikey tiger at level 3 (it's a real ball buster). But the annoying part is tweaking the code where dead characters don't get XP.


QuoteXP will only be given by bosses.

I absolutely love this idea.

You'll be able to control the difficulty balance much easier this way. As you said, there are other ways for a player to get ahead of the curve if they want to.


Rolan's curse II has stat increasing items in the game that you can collect. Like maybe bottles for increasing MP Max, Hearts for increasing max HP. You could consider adding that. To keep it balanced you can make them specific to the character. Maybe a icon of the boy on or above the boys MP increasing bottle, girl icon on or above the girls HP increasing heart, etc.


Quote from: bobucles on April 02, 2013, 09:50:32 AM
The XP system basically ruins the point of the other three by bringing your base stats up to obscene levels. I'm not missing it so far. I even killed the spikey tiger at level 3 (it's a real ball buster). But the annoying part is tweaking the code where dead characters don't get XP.

Then, why don't you just adjust the stat increases accordingly? The game play mechanism is not your problem, the level of stats is. ;)

More people would be interested in playing something rebalanced rather than game play removed entirely.
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Why keep XP at all then ?
With the system you describe, at a given point of the story, all characters will have a given level, and this is immutable. Then you might just as well make the boss kill directly affect the stats, and that's it. Makes more sense to me.


It seems like this has most of what you are looking for.


Thanks a ton, FinS! That has just about everything I'm looking for, and saved a ton of headaches I didn't anticipate. It seems that altering the death check is out of my reach, but no matter. That's what Analyze and cup-o-wishes are for.

To answer some questions:
- Bosses are pretty evenly spaced through the game, giving a nice smooth level curve. It's rough early on, but items help bridge the gap. In fact a healthy supply of gear upgrades and restorables appears to be pretty much mandatory. You will grind.

- I'm not altering most character stats because they honestly work very well into a "boss XP only" run. There's no reason to fix what isn't broken. If something gets too brutal or too easy I'll deal with it, but not a moment before. Spikey tiger kills me about 2/3 of the time but there's a save point just before the boss. No biggie.

- I will alter spell costs a ton. I just got Undine, so I'm getting a feel for what works well in Gnome's lair. In general healing spells are mega expensive(indirect item buff), utility spells will stay the same price(indirect buff), and attack spells all cost more. In exchange the starting MP will be higher, and final MP will be around 50-60 (lvl 40'ish + 4 walnuts is a ton of magic as is). I can't find spell strength data, so tweaking the MP is the best I can do.

- I will likely buff boss magic defense as a Sprite nerf. Hopefully I can find a sweet spot where the expensive spells are more effective than the trash killing spells. Your days of spamming 999 damage on bosses are numbered. They're for the mana knight to shine.

April 03, 2013, 11:41:07 AM - (Auto Merged - Double Posts are not allowed before 7 days.)

Holy shit Fire Gigas, please stop with the AoE spam. I'm so sorry! If you don't go in with full sprite magic, ragequit. ;) He will chain spell you to death.

This was my first test of the new MP cost system. Sprite can burn FG down with full MP, but being a spell short is still quite possible. Any less is suicide, at least for single player. Remedy is a life saver thanks to the casting animation negating enemy spells. Lots of spells have this trait, but remedy is the first.

I'm not quite sure how I can release this to the public. Maybe some kind of diff file? Oh well, I'll figure it out later.


Well if there were other things you'd want to edit, you'd have to learn some ASM (Or maybe someone would be willing to help.  Though this game would be fun to hack!)

As for a release maybe you're talking about?  You'd have to make an IPS Patch.  Lunar IPS works just fine for what you've done I believe.
'We have to find some way to incorporate the general civilians in the plot.'

'We'll kill off children in the Juuban district with an infection where they cough up blood and are found hanging themselves from cherry blossom trees.'


Sounds like that's just what I'm looking for, thanks!

It's Jabberwocky time. This is the first boss where I'm tweaking stats to keep them from being Sprite steamrolls. I pumped his M.Def from 15 to 80, with satisfactory results:

I'm running each boss a few times to try things out. Unfortunately there's a lot of luck involved. Sometimes it's a cakewalk, and sometimes you just get screwed. Most of the time it's hard but manageable. A combination of magical stun and sword tech helps to combo the bosses down with minimal damage. If the boss spams his specials, or uses magic (this guy has cure water +450HP and an acid rain that does ~70HP/all), then you kind of die.

For the magic changes, I'm going with "maxMP = 10+CLvl". Cure Water got hit the hardest (4MP, single target, currently 19MaxMP), and most Sprite spells are more expensive. Sprite has roughly the same number of spell shots at this point in the game (5 for Gigas, 6 at Jabber), but spell spam won't scale nearly as well as vanilla. Utility spells still suck, and I think some of them are broken. Saber spells remain awesome, and will make your dungeon life FAR easier.

Future bosses will likely include a combination of some armor with lots of M.Def to keep the Hero and sword techs relevant.

I'm noticing a strange trend among boss stats. A rather large number of them have 99% Magic Evade. The Spring Beak boss even has 99% Physical evade (though it turns out more like 2/3 - 4/5). Spells can not be dodged, so something about evade stat is strange. It seems that maybe it controls how often the defense stat works? Sometimes it seems to count once, sometimes twice. I dunno. Needs more testing.

Damn, Sprite magic is strong, and the damage variance is HUGE. It'll be tricky to make it work well. Either I can negate boss elements or just accept that only the proper element can do damage.

Also, it turns out that you can revive characters immediately after a boss and still get the XP. I'm totally chugging 2 revives per boss. So things are working out okay.

Viper down. He's really not so scary with the sword. But I am getting pretty used to seeing this screen a lot:


hey there

the basic idea of gaining EXP only from bosses is fine. whether the hardtype mod works or fails depends on the whole. well, i'm not interested in this game, i'm only posting because of the hacking part. i was bored so i checked if i could remove that death check as practise.

search the ROM for "BC 82 E1 F0 02 80 07"
and change it to "BC 82 E1 EA EA 80 07"

i only tested it quickly. i can't guarantee that it works. i recommend making backups of the ROM and your save data if you test it. in theoretical worst case some change could corrupt the save data due to unwanted side-effects.


Thanks a bunch, Starwin. That code seems to work perfectly. I still have to go back and test the Hero only battles, but that shouldn't be a problem.

Here's a patch with everything modded up to the Minotaur boss. Be warned, it's pretty damn brutal in the beginning! The pressure lightens up later on, mostly because fairy walnuts are so good. I dunno if I should change that yet, but it seems to work okay so far. I'm near the point where players have a fork in their mission choice, so I'm limited in how rough I can tweak the bosses. After that I'm cranking it back up.


I know it might be a bit late
but here is a slight documentation on SoM bestiary I did a couple of months ago
it is an excell table which I find easier to follow