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Author Topic: Secret of Mana: World of Balance  (Read 6634 times)

Timbo

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Secret of Mana: World of Balance
« on: March 03, 2019, 02:37:15 am »
Now, that Relocalized is winding down, it's time to talk about World of Balance.

Secret of Mana: World of Balance is a gameplay and difficulty balancing hack that rolls together all of the best hacks from several different creators and then tweaks them to give an optimal all-in-one cohesive gameplay experience that an end user can't do by alone with a bunch of different patches. The custom gameplay tweaks are unified together with changes to the game's text and dialogue that streamline the experience.

Notable Features:
  • Relocalization: SoM:Relocalized is used as the base for this hack. That means that it features my relocalized and uncensored version FuSoYa's expanded script and text.
  • Uncensored Gameplay and Graphical Elements: Just like in Relocalized, the chainsaw wielding killer robot is back and he brought his uncensored religious imagery with him.
  • Restored Intro: Also like in Relocalized, the Japanese background intro is restored and paired with the text from the HD Remake.
  • Improved Equipment Options: This is an updated version of the equipment hack I released here a few months ago. It not only balances the game's equipment but it rearranges vendor lists as well. Armor gets shifted around between vendors so that a new shop always sells improved gear. Equipment is also more selective as to who can wear it as well. Much of what could be permanently missed equipment can now be purchased from the game's final shop.
  • Improved Treasure: Rare drops are a thing of the past. World of Balance focus on the multi-player. World of Balance is meant to be shared with your friends endless grinding for missable or exploitative gear should not be part of the experience. All treasure is dropped by monsters at a common rate and each monster only carries one kind of treasure. As such most of the game's treasure boxes contain consumables. There are a few exceptions to this throughout the game, especially at the end when shops are no longer relevant. While some pieces of gear are still exclusively dropped by enemies nothing can be missed.
  • Balanced Weapons: Weapons have received a modest overhaul. There is no denying that some of the game's weapons are just better than others. The bow has tiny hitboxes and it's attacks can only hit a single creature. The Whip has better range, speed, and hits multiple targets. The most recent version of my weapon hack has give each weapon the same base attack score per level and a penalty for features such as medium or long range, ability to hit multiple targets. The end result is that weapons that are harder to use also hit harder.
  • Improved Upgrading: Thanks to Zhade equipped Weapons are properly switched with their upgrades when you get the forged. Thanks to Zhade and Kethinov, all weapons have 9 levels of orbs that can be obtained before the game's final dungeon. Enemies there still provide orbs in case you missed them earlier in the game. The Mana Sword is no longer part of the weapon orb system. It still obtainable but it exists outside the upgrade system. It is the 10th Sword.
  • Improved Charging: Thanks to Zhade weapons charge much faster. One of Secret of Mana's biggest problems is that there's no reason to actually charge your weapon. You can exploit the overcharge bug to charge your weapons to max instantly or spam spells until whatever you need killing dies. The overcharge glitch is fixed and the game is much better for it. Did I mention that you can hold down the A button to pause your charge.
  • Monster Affinity: This formerly broken feature has been restored and immediately nerfed. Weapons with this feature were supposed to deal a whopping 50% in damage to certain types of creatures. This restored feature now deals a respectable 25% damage to enemies of the appropriate type.
  • Monster Types: There are 8 categories of monster types: humanoid, plant, insect, animal, aberrant, unholy, armored, and dragon. Monsters can now belong to multiple categories.
  • Spellcasting Cooldown: When casting a spell there's a 5 to 10 second delay before you can cast the next spell. This small change eliminates spell lockdown and discourages spell spamming.
  • Balanced Spells: Spells have standardized MP costs based on their effectiveness now. Earthquake, Freeze, Fireball, and Air Blast all cost 2 MP and deal first tier damage. Diamond Missile, Explode, and Thunderbolt all cost 3 MP and deal second tier damage. Dark Force and Saint Beam deal third tier damage and cost 4 MP. Burst deals uber tier damage and costs 8 Mp. TLDR, spells cost is relative to their usefulness.
  • Slow: Formerly known as Speed Down, in addition to it's old effect this spell also reduces your charging speed.
  • Acid Storm: This bad boy is the 2nd tier Undine spell. Like the other 2nd tier spells it costs 3 MP. It only deal 1st tier damage because it also inflicts Poison instead of Defense Down.
  • Lava Wave: Lava Wave is another quasi tier edge case. Rather than being a stronger or weaker version of Popoi's other fire spells, it now deals 1st tier damage for 3 mp but causes Attack Down.
  • Fiery Cocktail: Formerly known as Fire Bouquet, this spell is essentially a Spirit (Wisdom)based clone of fireball. It provides Primm with some much needed straightforward offensive spellcasting.
  • Saber Spells:Thanks to Zhade, saber spells now provide a 25% damage bonus to creatures that are weak to their element or a 25% reduction to creatures that are strong against them. So, when the Frost Giant is casting Ice Saber on you, you should probably do something about that. Additionally, Saber spells that inflict status effects now only have a 25% chance of doing so.
  • Thunder Saber: This bad boy now inflicts opponents with the Confused status
  • Analyze: Instead of showing Exp and Lucre (GP) Analyze now shows you a monsters family types.
  • Quick: Formerly known as Speed Up, this spell increases your charge speed in addition to Evasion and Accuracy.
  • Moon Saber: Moon Saber no wins the game for you. It now returns a modest 25% of the damage you inflict with it as healing.
  • Energy Ball: Formerly known as Moon Energy, this spell no longer breaks the game for you. It used to guarantee a single ally critical hits with every attack. It can now target multiple enemies and inflicts them with the Defense Down Debuff.
  • Mana Magic: Primm exclusively casts this spoilery spell.
  • Manaburn: This is a new spell exclusively created to fix the game's final sequence and give Popoi something more to do than cast half of Mana Magic on Randi. I've mentioned this before but Secret of Mana is a three player game and it should be played as such. Previously, Popoi players basically sit the endgame sequence out. This spell brings Popoi to the forefront in a big heroic way.
  • Balanced Leveling: One of the problems that I have when I play through vanilla is that I'm usually over leveled. This eliminates all of the challenge from the game and makes it a bit of a bore to get through. However, if you tend to be underleveled as you playthough, this game has some steep difficulty spikes that can mercilessly wipe your party. To bring balance to the world I'll be tightening up the experience curve between bosses by creating more plateau levels. A plateau level is a level that requires experience that is practically out of reach with the experience given by current monsters. Attaining a plateau level doesn't give you a major boost in stats either as we don't want to incentivize grinding. For example, level 3 is a plateau level for Potos chapter of the game.  It has an Exp Requirement of 500 Exp. Since Rabites only provide 1 Exp apiece, level 3 is practically out of reach for all but the most dedicated grinders. When you leave Potos you'll find new enemies that yield significantly higher Exp rewards to make it easier cross from this plateau to the next one.
  • Better Monsters: I'm going to tweak monster stats to sand down and build up some of the respective difficulty spikes and drops in the game. Monsters have two purposes. Their first purpose is to help you level high enough to get to the next area and boss. The second is to use up your all of your resources along the way to keep you from overwhelming the boss.
  • Better Bosses: Boss fights are fairly broken in this game. Not only do they need major tweaks to their stats. Lots of them have really crummy AI issues. I'm currently working with Regrs to eliminate some of the issues present. I currently have hacks that fixes Marilith's (Hexas) Weakness change AI, allows Mega Xorn (Aegagropilon) to eat you, and a hack that makes Vampires Hittable when with weapons when their capes are closed. I hope to keep Mech Rider from doing nothing on certain maps, or buffing you endlessly on others, I hope to restore Tropicallo's second Brambler, to enable Death Machine (Kilroy) to dig with his drill, and possibly allow the Mana Beast to use its other spells. Boss battles are the real reward at the end of a chapter, they need to be exciting and fun and they need to provide a little challenge to bring that sense of accomplishment and relief when you defeat them and claim their weapon orb.
  • Improved Dashing: You can now change direction when running and run up and down stairs.
  • Skill Experience Increased:Weapon and Magic Experience is now 1 point higher per level. This means that you'll be able to level all of your level 9 weapons regardless of your characters level.
  • No Damage When Recovering: Enemies can't harm you when you're healing. To compensate for this change damage and healing numbers disappear at their fastest possible rate.
  • Chests Don't Despawn right away: If you don't have room for a chest's contents, it doesn't disappear unless you leave the screen.
  • MP Shown on HUD: You can see your MP all the time now.
  • Mana Spirits' have Default Levels: Undine starts at 0, Gnome at 1, Jinn at 2, Salamander at 3, Shade at 4, Lumina at 4, Luna at 5, and Dryad at 6.
  • Ghosts Don't Block Projectiles: If you can't hit them with your weapon it should probably pass through them and hit the next guy. Am I right?
  • No Exp When Killing Allies: This bug is fixed and rightfully so.
  • Freedom of Movement: Thanks to Zhade, Queue, and Binary Nova, you can now walk to the edges of the screen and have it scroll normally. Enemies will appear before you're on top of them and when you leave your allies behind, they teleport to your location.
  • No HP Restore at Level Up: Sorry. You're going to have to use your items and spells if you want to heal.
Why did I make this monstrous list you ask?

I made this list so I can talk about these changes. I don't just make hacks for myself, I make them for everyone. In order to do that I need feedback and sometimes ideas. I will from time to time pop in and ask people for feedback about a hack I'm working on.

Currently I'm working Evil Gate. Evil Gate as a spell is pretty much awful. It's effectively Demi, it takes an enemy down to half it's hp and unless it's a boss in which case it deals 1 damage. I love the spell from a technical stand point but I never use it because damaging an enemy directly for 2 MP is usually more effective. I recently created a hack that turns it into a single target instant-death spell that doesn't work on bosses or shadow clones and reverses it's behavior and heals ghosts, zombies, and demons. Even at 10 MP it's pretty powerful. I plan to build in a level check that Compares Popoi's level -8 + Spell level to either an enemy level or a random number. if the enemy level or the random number is lower than the spell will succeed.

That said, this kind of spell isn't necessarily more balanced, especially when Popoi gets the ability to absorb MP, so I'm considering making it a direct damage spell instead.

Another major change that I want to make is to generally weaken players at the end of the game. Ultimately, I want to stop players from leveling after level 60. There are a couple ways that I can go about this. I can take the stat bonuses that players have at level 60 and spread them across all 99 levels then increase enemy experience rewards so that players get the final dungeon at a higher level.

A different way to do it would be to preserve stat gains as normal until level 50 and spread the stat bonuses from level 50 to 60 among the last 49 Levels. These last levels would essentially be trophy levels for completionists.

Thoughts?
« Last Edit: March 31, 2019, 11:37:58 am by Timbo »

Shade Aurion

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Re: Secret of Mana: World of Balance
« Reply #1 on: March 03, 2019, 08:47:47 pm »
I can't wait for completion. As I said via PM, this is an amazing hack and I can't wait to get it working in conjunction with a myriad of other hacks, your Equipment hack and ReLocalized. I see ReLocalized is included in this hack, if your Equipment one included too? I always found it the best and most inclusive option.

The only thing i'd really suggest adding is more cut content and what I mentioned via PM. There are also different ending moons. Perhaps you could make them have some significance? I dunno, you've pretty much covered all bases Timbo. Well done yet again <3

Timbo

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Re: Secret of Mana: World of Balance
« Reply #2 on: March 04, 2019, 01:42:59 am »
I can't wait for completion. As I said via PM, this is an amazing hack and I can't wait to get it working in conjunction with a myriad of other hacks, your Equipment hack and ReLocalized. I see ReLocalized is included in this hack, if your Equipment one included too? I always found it the best and most inclusive option.

The only thing i'd really suggest adding is more cut content and what I mentioned via PM. There are also different ending moons. Perhaps you could make them have some significance? I dunno, you've pretty much covered all bases Timbo. Well done yet again <3

Equipment Hack Mk II is included. I forgot about the Moon thing. After taking with Queue it appears to be linked to the amount of times you saved on your save file.

If he fixed that, I'll definitely include it.

Vanya

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Re: Secret of Mana: World of Balance
« Reply #3 on: March 04, 2019, 01:55:54 am »
Awesome, this sounds like it will be fun to play with friends and a great improvement project.

Shade Aurion

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Re: Secret of Mana: World of Balance
« Reply #4 on: March 04, 2019, 02:28:44 am »
Awesome, glad to hear it. Your equipment hack was so underrated. I wouldn't play original Secret of Mana without it now ^_^

Is there a max amount of equipment you can have or are you able to get every bit of equipment in the game? That also might be worth looking into for completionist's sake XD I think there were a few bits of equipment cut out as well. You should be able to find them on The Cutting Room Floor. They may be able to be reinjected.

You really have created the definitive version of Secret of Mana Timbo :)

PresidentLeever

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Re: Secret of Mana: World of Balance
« Reply #5 on: March 04, 2019, 05:43:46 am »
"Monster Affinity: This formerly broken feature has been restored and immediately nerfed. Weapons with this feature were supposed to deal a whopping 50% in damage to certain types of creatures. This restored feature now deals a respectable 25% damage to enemies of the appropriate type."

So that means +25% for hitting the right enemies, and -25 for the wrong ones or no penalties?

"Spellcasting Cooldown: When casting a spell there's a 5 to 10 second delay before you can cast the next spell. This small change eliminates spell lockdown and discourages spell spamming."

Couldn't you block some enemy spells with your own is was that just Evermore? I could see that being a bit of a problem in terms of the time but otherwise it's probably good.

Thanks for your work, guys.
« Last Edit: March 04, 2019, 06:00:08 am by PresidentLeever »
Mini-reviews, retro sound chip tribute, romhacks and general listage at my site: Mini-Revver.

Timbo

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Re: Secret of Mana: World of Balance
« Reply #6 on: March 04, 2019, 09:35:32 am »
Awesome, glad to hear it. Your equipment hack was so underrated. I wouldn't play original Secret of Mana without it now ^_^

Is there a max amount of equipment you can have or are you able to get every bit of equipment in the game? That also might be worth looking into for completionist's sake XD I think there were a few bits of equipment cut out as well. You should be able to find them on The Cutting Room Floor. They may be able to be reinjected.

You really have created the definitive version of Secret of Mana Timbo :)

Thank you. The Ruby Armet and everything else is in the game and nothing is missable. It's called "Ruby Helm" now because an Armet is a close faced helmet and this one isn't even close to that. I had to shift it from a Primm exclusive item to a Randi exclusive item in order to make it useful.

So that means +25% for hitting the right enemies, and -25 for the wrong ones or no penalties?

The 25% bonus is to damage.


Couldn't you block some enemy spells with your own is was that just Evermore? I could see that being a bit of a problem in terms of the time but otherwise it's probably good.

I know you can do this with the Mallet item and possibly the Moogle Belt but I don't think there's a way to fix this particular exploit. I don't think it can be done with spells.

Artemis

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Re: Secret of Mana: World of Balance
« Reply #7 on: March 04, 2019, 11:48:17 am »
Would it be possible to make Mallet/Belt usable only a limited time in order to prevent them from being overused?

Of course, that leaves the question how to restore the items in the best way.

Timbo

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Re: Secret of Mana: World of Balance
« Reply #8 on: March 04, 2019, 11:51:01 am »
Would it be possible to make Mallet/Belt usable only a limited time in order to prevent them from being overused?

Of course, that leaves the question how to restore the items in the best way.

I'm not super worried about this exploit. You have to go out of your way to use it. Just don't try to break the game and you'll be fine.

Shade Aurion

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Re: Secret of Mana: World of Balance
« Reply #9 on: March 04, 2019, 03:15:15 pm »
Thank you. The Ruby Armet and everything else is in the game and nothing is missable. It's called "Ruby Helm" now because an Armet is a close faced helmet and this one isn't even close to that. I had to shift it from a Primm exclusive item to a Randi exclusive item in order to make it useful.

Nice! Adding cut content is always good :3
How about the equipment limit? Is it actually possible to hold one of every piece of equipment in the game?

Timbo

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Re: Secret of Mana: World of Balance
« Reply #10 on: March 04, 2019, 03:17:08 pm »
Nice! Adding cut content is always good :3
How about the equipment limit? Is it actually possible to hold one of every piece of equipment in the game?

No. I think the limit is 11 or 12.

Shade Aurion

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Re: Secret of Mana: World of Balance
« Reply #11 on: March 04, 2019, 03:22:46 pm »
Is that a hard limit or is it expandable? I think Secret of Evermore was just shy a few slots for fitting all equipment in the game but i'd say Secret of Mana would have 4x the equipment easily so its not surprising to have a limit but i've had quite a bit of equipment on me before so 11 or 12 seems like so little. It's cool to look through the items you've had sometimes especially if you've added ways to obtain missable and cut gear. Though I doubt you could have a ring menu with 30 bits of gear lol

DragonArk

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Re: Secret of Mana: World of Balance
« Reply #12 on: March 04, 2019, 05:42:00 pm »
I'm so keen for this, finally SoM is getting the treatment it deserves.
I know this isn't in your scope for this but would be cool one day to make an 'expansion' of the game and add areas that were probably removed from the game. The Japanese manual (which I have) has beta screenshots as well as the beta maps that show some areas that were probably cut from the game.

Timbo

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Re: Secret of Mana: World of Balance
« Reply #13 on: March 04, 2019, 06:32:42 pm »
Currently I'm working Evil Gate. Evil Gate as a spell is pretty much awful. It's effectively Demi, it takes an enemy down to half it's hp and unless it's a boss in which case it deals 1 damage. I love the spell from a technical stand point but I never use it because damaging an enemy directly for 2 MP is usually more effective. I recently created a hack that turns it into a single target instant-death spell that doesn't work on bosses or shadow clones and reverses it's behavior and heals ghosts, zombies, and demons. Even at 10 MP it's pretty powerful. I plan to build in a level check that Compares Popoi's level -8 + Spell level to either an enemy level or a random number. if the enemy level or the random number is lower than the spell will succeed.

That said, this kind of spell isn't necessarily more balanced, especially when Popoi gets the ability to absorb MP, so I'm considering making it a direct damage spell instead.

Another major change that I want to make is to generally weaken players at the end of the game. Ultimately, I want to stop players from leveling after level 60. There are a couple ways that I can go about this. I can take the stat bonuses that players have at level 60 and spread them across all 99 levels then increase enemy experience rewards so that players get the final dungeon at a higher level.

A different way to do it would be to preserve stat gains as normal until level 50 and spread the stat bonuses from level 50 to 60 among the last 49 Levels. These last levels would essentially be trophy levels for completionists.

Thoughts?

Anyone have any thoughts regarding these two things I'm currently working on?

Shade Aurion

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Re: Secret of Mana: World of Balance
« Reply #14 on: March 04, 2019, 06:44:34 pm »
I like what you're doing with Evil Gate because it was a pretty useless spell. I like your idea for it casting death but perhaps to add onto it, have it deal a small amount of dark damage as well so if its an enemy that is immune to death or a boss, it still does something? Maybe not a lot of damage, but some. There is still Dark Force for dark damage so it would really just be to cater to those using it on ghosts and stuff.

As for the leveling, that does sound like a better balance but maybe have small incremental stat ups for levels so its not completely pointless XD

One other thing I would suggest is maybe make it so when you max level a spell to 8.99, it always casts the max level special upgraded version of the spell? I think that would be a pretty cool change too as it was a chance thing if i'm not mistaken.

CountBuggula

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Re: Secret of Mana: World of Balance
« Reply #15 on: March 04, 2019, 07:05:38 pm »
I'm so keen for this, finally SoM is getting the treatment it deserves.
I know this isn't in your scope for this but would be cool one day to make an 'expansion' of the game and add areas that were probably removed from the game. The Japanese manual (which I have) has beta screenshots as well as the beta maps that show some areas that were probably cut from the game.

Has anyone ever made a comprehensive list of the things that were obviously cut?  Paths that don't go anywhere, story-lines that aren't finished, etc?

Does the Japanese manual have anything that's not on tcrf?

magictrufflez

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Re: Secret of Mana: World of Balance
« Reply #16 on: March 04, 2019, 10:14:41 pm »
I just want to pop in and post the same advice that I gave Zhade when he was starting his SoM overhaul eons ago.

It doesn't sound like you're planning on doing the type of hardtype hack for SoM that I believe is still uploaded to this site, but this bears worth mentioning--beware the rebalancing. The absolute nightmare of a hardtype hack I reviewed and hated raised monster stats to somewhat absurd levels without accounting for enemy hitboxes and animations for getting hit. This is a problem because some getting hit animations allow you or enemies to chain multiple hits after the first one, allowing some enemies to combo you to death in short order (Kung fu wolves were notorious for this). On the opposite end, too many enemy buffs rob players of their own ability to activate enemy animations that allow multiple hits. IMO this really amplifies the difficulty in completely unintended ways

You might not get to this point with just your stat or enemy rebalancing, but it's easy for me to see the totality of your changes making enough of a difference for this to come into play. Just something to consider, because I'd really hate for this overlooked factor to harm what sounds like a really great hack!

Timbo

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Re: Secret of Mana: World of Balance
« Reply #17 on: March 05, 2019, 02:05:42 am »
I just want to pop in and post the same advice that I gave Zhade when he was starting his SoM overhaul eons ago.

It doesn't sound like you're planning on doing the type of hardtype hack for SoM that I believe is still uploaded to this site, but this bears worth mentioning--beware the rebalancing. The absolute nightmare of a hardtype hack I reviewed and hated raised monster stats to somewhat absurd levels without accounting for enemy hitboxes and animations for getting hit. This is a problem because some getting hit animations allow you or enemies to chain multiple hits after the first one, allowing some enemies to combo you to death in short order (Kung fu wolves were notorious for this). On the opposite end, too many enemy buffs rob players of their own ability to activate enemy animations that allow multiple hits. IMO this really amplifies the difficulty in completely unintended ways

You might not get to this point with just your stat or enemy rebalancing, but it's easy for me to see the totality of your changes making enough of a difference for this to come into play. Just something to consider, because I'd really hate for this overlooked factor to harm what sounds like a really great hack!

My goal isn't to amplify the difficulty so much as even it out a little. I think most of that can be done by simply adjusting the level at which your characters encounter new monsters. I believe that the real game's real challenges need to be with bosses. The enemies between them serve two purposes. Their first purpose is to soften you up for bosses by draining you of your resources. Their second, is to level you enough to overcome those bosses.

My plan for balancing the game will mostly happen by soft-level capping players with plateau levels to prevent you from over-leveling. At least, until you get to the bosses. This isn't a hard mode hack though. Don't expect to throw your controller and scream at the top of your lungs. Bosses should be presenting you with a unique and rewarding experiences that come with risk. There absolutely needs to be a chance of failure but not so much that it spoils the fun.
« Last Edit: March 05, 2019, 02:12:53 am by Timbo »

Shade Aurion

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Re: Secret of Mana: World of Balance
« Reply #18 on: March 05, 2019, 07:09:55 am »
Out of curiosity, will any of the aspects of this hack be optional patches or just the one big one?

Timbo

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Re: Secret of Mana: World of Balance
« Reply #19 on: March 05, 2019, 11:18:10 am »
Out of curiosity, will any of the aspects of this hack be optional patches or just the one big one?
It'll be one big one. A lot of these changes will require a text and script changes that cannot be duplicated. After the hack is released, I may release parts of it piecemeal.