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Since FE: Three Houses made a lot of changes to the standard FE formula in terms of gameplay, it's highly unlikely they'll throw it all out when it comes time to make the next FE game. A staple of FE has been shapeshifter units; most notably Manaketes and Laguz. With that in mind, for the next FE game, should the next playable shapeshifters use the same mechanics as monster units from Three Houses? Regarding Question 3, if more than two people list the same balancing idea, I'll add it to the poll.
One of the more noticeable additions to the next Fire Emblem game is the fact that a group of generic soldiers now accompany a character. This should make battles seem larger than they were in the past, and the new formations option will undoubtedly add several new strategic options to the Fire Emblem gameplay we all know and love (for the most part). It also means that there will undoubtedly be a few characters that buck this new mechanic by ignoring it altogether. The giant robot in the trailer already proves this, but it can't be the only example. And this thread will be about sharing ideas about what they could be and how they could work. As for some of my own: Dragons It's very possible that manaketes will return, or at least, some form of a dragon will eventually join your side. In most works of fiction dragons tend to be quite large, and Fire Emblem isn't an exception, so a single dragon being able to stand up to an entire squadron won't be jarring. To make up for loosing formations, dragons could have different methods to attack instead, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. For example, they could swing their tail as a powerful but slow and easy to dodge attack, or they could use their claws for a faster and more accurate attack, but at the risk of harm due to being closer to the action. Their dragon breath could tear up low res units, but be near useless against those with a high resistance stat, and so on and so forth. It's possible that dragonstones won't return, given that we don't know if this Fire Emblem game will have degradation, or they could appear and work similarly to how the did in the original Mystery of the Emblem, where dragons remained transform for several turns instead of a single battle at the cost of dragonstones having fewer uses. Shapeshifters We don't know whether or not shapeshifting units will return at this point, and it is very possible that they will work as normal squadrons, with the generics being other shapeshifters. It's also possible that one or two shapeshifters will either be strong/violent enough that they don't need soldiers behind them, and/or they can transform into a wider variety of animals/classes than normal. This could mean that instead of formations, they have transformations, and can turn into a different creature on a whim to best handle the situation. Whether they will be limited to animals, other classes (like Xane), or bizarre and otherworldy creatures (or all of the above) is up to debate. Assassins/Thieves It's hard to see characters like Jaffar or Gaius leading a group of soldiers, considering their skill set lies elsewhere. However, assassins and thieves could still have their use in this game, while still not being front-line units. For assassins, it's possible that they will have the ability to ignore formations, or at least, downplay their bonuses/advantages (if the generics bring any) and will have special abilities that target the enemy commander, such as sniping them from a distance, sneaking in during the chaos of a battle to kill the commander, impersonating a generic soldier and either taking temporary control of an enemy unit and/or getting a better shot at assassinating a commander without having to deal with the generics first. Despite these abilities, they still won't be one-man armies, and can't hold out in longer fights. As for thieves, the formations menu could replaced with actions such as pick-pocketing (gaining gold from enemy generics, and the more there are, the more money you'll get) stealing (obviously taking an item or weapon from an enemy) or possibly even capturing (we'll have to wait and see if this mechanic returns or not, as well as how it will function). This makes them a high-risk, high-reward kind of class because you will have to place them next to an enemy unit in order for them to activate their skills, but the benefits could very well be work it. That's only a few ideas. What are your thoughts on characters that won't command a squadron of their own for one reason or another?
Before I go further I should place this disclaimer: I know exactly dick about programming, romhacking, spriting, or digital art. This has only ever been a thought exercise, or a, "If I got to be in charge of a game," fantasy. I wish I had the time and the skills to make my own FE, but alas, you know how the world works, gentle reader(s). So with that in mind, let's jam. I like the concept of manaketes, laguz, all the shapeshifting humanoid units. Fire Emblem is a high fantasy series, so why not get a little crazy and have all your units be shapeshifters? Then, as I lay in bed trying to fall asleep as my infant son unconsciously nudged me in the ribs with his tiny little feet, the idea started to spread out and unfold. What if instead of being thought of as saviors and freedom fighters by people, your army was looked upon with horror? What if you were aliens? Or from another world where people evolved in a different direction? Why would you leave that world? What if you had to, because you had no home to go back to? That was the genesis of Dreams in the Dark. This thread will chronicle the ironing out of the story beats, the systems used in the game, and some hurdles I encountered in my game design document (hereafter referred to as GDD). [spoiler=Battle Options]Pair-up is gone, but some of its functions have been absorbed, osmosis-style, into Fates' Attack Stance. When a unit moves adjacent to another one, the wait command is replaced with two new ones, Offense (supports with an extra attack at half-damage, just like Attack stance in Fates) and Defense (builds up a shield meter, but gives NO stat bonuses, and enemy units can attack either defending unit) instead. This should eliminate the "stat-backpack" mentality that became so prevalent in the 3DS games. Rescue, Shove, and ledge mechanics are back. Weapon weight is not. Determining if one unit can be rescued or shoved by another is based on the rescuer/shover's STR and the Rescue/Shovee's DEF. Yes, this means that big, burly physical units are more adept at pushing and carrying their comrades. Doubling is harder to do than in most modern FE games. A minimum SPD difference of at least 10 is required, barring the influence of weapons, soulstones, and skills. Transforming is done manually, like in Tellius, but that is explored in more detail below. [spoiler=Your Army]Here's an overview of the types of units you'll be able to field, and their rough equivalents in a real game. Suzaku Tribe: All of these units can fly. What a surprise! -Falcon - Pegasus knights. Uses lances in human form. Can gain swords or spellsongs upon promotion. -Eagle - Archer. Uses bows in human form. Can gain spears or double down on bows after promotion. -Owl - Rogue, minus the stealing. Uses shuriken in human form and picks locks. High skill. Can steal after promotion. -Condor - Wyvern rider. Flying tanks! Uses axes in human form. Can uses lances after promotion. -Hawk - Myrmidon. Proficient with swords in human form. Very fast, relies on avoid and luck. Not overly strong or sturdy. -Raven - More traditional thief. Uses bows in human form. More speed focused than owls. -Heron - Cleric/monk. Sings different songs that act like healing and buffing staves do in other games. Can use tomes after promotion. Byakko Tribe: If you're looking for mounted units, these are the closest analogues you'll find, minus the actual mounts. Many of them have exceptional ground mobility. -Cat - Cavalier! Uses swords in human form. Can use lances, axes, or staves after promotion. -Tiger - Cavalier! Good move, decent defense and res. Uses lances in human form. Can promote for swords or axes. -Lion - Cavalier! This one uses axes. Can learn lances or swords after promotion. -Wolf - Mercenary. High skill. Well-rounded. Human form uses swords. -Fox - Sneaky mage! Uses tomes in human form. Can pick locks in both forms. Can use shuriken after promotion. -Bear - Axe fighter. High HP and strength. Low res. Uses axes as a human. Genbu Tribe: The weirdo scaly ones! Yay! These guys have far and away the best aquatic mobility with the exception of the tortoise. They also have an eclectic selection of roles. -Tortoise - Armor Knight. Uses axes. Can use lances and axes after promotion. -Turtle - Pirate! Yar! Uses axes as a human. -Frilled lizard - Mage. Uses tomes. Can learn spells that function like debuff staves (sleep, weakened, etc.) in other games after promotion. -Toad - Another pirate! Yo ho ho! Uses axes and can steal. Can use swords after promotion. -Snake - Aquatic thief. Uses shuriken, picks locks, and steals. Promotion can give lance proficiency. -Salamander - Another cleric/monk. Proficient with all the staff-like magics. Can learn to use swords after promotion. Seiryu Tribe: These folks earn their reputation as legendary beasts. You can only recruit one of each. Thinking of giving them 40 levels with no promotion, but not sure. -Black - Dragon Lord. Our first lord unit. Dragon form can fly. Uses tomes as a human, mainly a prf tome called Earth. Can learn to use swords after promotion. -Red - Dragon Knight. Human form counts as armored, uses axes and lances. Tremendous HP. Tremendous str, def, and skill as a dragon. Low luck and speed. Moderate res. -White - Dragon Mage. Human form can use all kinds of magic. Both forms can move over deserts and in water tiles with ease. Tremendous Mag and res. Moderate HP, skill, and speed. Low luck and def. -Purple - Fairy Dragon. Human form can use bows, shuriken, and tomes. Dragon form has no attacks, but can refresh units like a bard or a dancer. Both forms fly. Tremendous luck. High speed. Moderate mag and res. Low HP, str, skill, and def. [spoiler=Movement]You know who wins at Fire Emblem? Fliers. They have among the largest movement ranges in every game, and can blissfully glide right over forests, mountains, water, gaping ravines, and all at no movement penalty. Hell, in some games, they can use some of their rather generous movement stat, act, and then move again. That kind of superior mobility is crazy! Look at every game in the series and you'll notice that fliers are always a highly valued resource. And why not? It doesn't matter what kind of statistical advantage the really slow units like armor knights and generals have. In most maps mobility matters, and you can usually find at least one heavy armor unit at the bottom of most tier lists. I can't claim to have any kind of a perfect solution, but here's my idea: Special terrain that only affects fliers. Clouds that provide avoid bonuses, strong winds that slow airborne movement in one or more directions, and atmospheric turbulence that can't be flown through at all are the basic tiles that I came up with. These don't have to be ubiquitous, but certainly should be sprinkled throughout the game to provide another factor to consider when planning one's tactics. If your game uses skills (mine theoretically does) it even makes special movement skills like acrobat suddenly relevant to more of your army. Also, while we're talking about mobility, let's talk about water tiles! This is probably so uncommon as to be essentially a non-issue with most games, but I planned an entire sub-campaign around aquatic maps and battle on the high seas, so I might as well reinvent the wheel a little bit. Now, making units that are only good in the water is a mad fool's dream, and while I am both mad and foolish, I prefer a more practical approach: Amphibious units, like pirates in the GBA games. The only problem with pirates and berserkers in most FEs is that they only get to swim one space at a time. That is a little counterproductive, don't you think? Take for example Sacred Stones chapter 9a. This is a map that almost looks like it was designed to showcase a pirate's ability to move on water. If, say, you promote Ross to pirate, he can spend 5-6 turns or so moving across that relatively small stretch of water in the bay, or you can use Vanessa to cart a whole friggin' squad of your landlocked units straight into the action in the same amount of time. That's barely even a choice! Also, why is it that nobody knows how to ford a river? Long story short, my solution on paper is to use shallow water tiles and deeper water tiles. Shallow tiles have a steep movement penalty, but can be traversed by most units, and deep water tiles are impassable by landbased mounts (or in my game's case landbased quadrupeds) without a special skill, and can be navigated by "infantry" type units at a 3x movement cost (round down). If a unit is amphibious in nature they can move normally through any water tiles. I also toyed with the idea of strong directional currents, but I don't know if that's too much of a gimmick and should be relegated to "That one map" status. Of course, if in the totally crazy and not-at-all reasonable case you aren't looking to make a story centered around maps covered in water, all of this talk of water mobility might be "that one map" material, so whatever. [spoiler=Customization and promotion]Skills are Tellius style. The player will find skill scrolls throughout the game. These will be the main method for units to learn new skills, other than some class-locked skills, such as Avoid +10 or Crit +20. Everyone has a skill capacity. Promoted (or special) units have a bigger cap, and better skills take more to equip. There are also special items that can permanently increase your skill capacity, but they are rare and in limited supply, just like every other stat booster. Also, most classes have a class skill that cannot be removed, but also doesn't eat into their capacity. Several characters also start with skills equipped by default, at no capacity cost. Removing these skills will turn them into scrolls that can be equipped to anyone with the capacity, but the capacity-free benefit is lost. These pre-equipped skills will be referred to as default skills until I can think of a better term for them. Promotion is handled with master seals and leveling past 20, also Tellius-style. Each unit can choose either to embrace their more humanlike side when they promote, becoming more like traditional units and focusing on the weapons of those classes, or their primal side, in which case they will largely focus on their natural weapons, which are represented by striking. There are also a couple of items that give a unit a special promotion, similar to how the Dread Scroll and Wedding Bouquet in Awakening worked. Beyond that, there is no reclassing. This means that, once a special promotion item is used, that unit cannot go back to their regular promotion line. [spoiler=Weapons and equipment]All the classic weapon types are back: Swords, lances, axes, bows, tomes, and shuriken (admittedly not a classic, but it makes the ranged weapon triangle complete). Shuriken and knives no longer grant debuffs, and are restricted to either 1 or 2 range. Some special 1-2 range shuriken exist, but they have the same restrictions that other 1-2 range weapons do in Fates (no doubling, no crits, no battle skills, -5 resistance to enemy doubling). Speaking of which, magic is the only weapon type that by default has no penalties for being effective at 1-2 range, and bows are still awesome at 2 range, but only some special bows can attack at 1 range. The weapon triangle is Fates-style. Transformations work on a separate triangle: Beasts>Birds>Scalies. Dragons remain separate, because they are special snowflakes. Also, the Genbu tribe is a type that replaces Armor types for the purposes of weaknesses. There will be specialized weapons that deal effective damage to the different unit types, like beast lances, deep/dragonslayer swords, all bows against Suzaku, etc. Back from Tellius is striking, with the tweak that you can now actively attack bare-handed (or taloned, or clawed, or what-have-you) on your turn, even as a humanoid. Every Vilcoorian in the game starts with a strike proficiency and a more conventional weapon proficiency. Your strike rank affects what transformation stones you can equip as well as the strength of your beast form's attacks. Weapon durability is more like FE4 than anything else. Most manmade weapons will have limited uses, but can be repaired by a blacksmith. Transformations are only limited by the gauge, and soulstones never run out of uses. Forging is now used to change a weapon into a new one using precious materials (for example, combining an iron lance with a pearl creates a slim lance). [spoiler=Transformation]Transformation works with a heavy influence from the Tellius games (gauge) and a little bit of the other games (stones can be equipped to change stat boosts). First, the gauge is a little different. It goes up to 10. Transforming can be done at the beginning or the end of a unit's action, but not both (barring a skill). Every turn they spend as a humanoid increases the gauge by 1. Every battle they participate in as a humanoid increases the gauge by 1. Every turn they spend transformed decreases their gauge by 1. It does not decrease due to battles. There are also a couple of spell-songs that affect transformation gauges. As long as a unit has at least 1 in their transformation gauge they can take their beast form. Each type of unit has specific stat boosts in beast form that can change depending on if they have a soul stone equipped. Stones add various effects (Reverse weapon triangle, target res or def instead of the other way around, add element for weakness purposes, etc.) and change how stats are affected, like beaststones versus beastrunes or beaststones+ in Fates. Transformation stones are NOT weapons, but accessories, and should be relatively uncommon. Each unit type has a set starting point for their gauge, and some promoted units can even start a battle with their gauge maxed out. [spoiler=Playing House]Every character will have a support pool of roughly 3-5, with the odd outlier who has 6. The player can max out all of them at A rank, if they like. Maxing out a support line will open up a base conversation. Viewing said conversation will give those two characers a paired ending, and unlocks a skill scroll if one or more parties has a default skill equipped. Affinities are back. The types and their associated bonuses are pulled right out of Radiant Dawn. Since pair-up is gone, these bonuses are active so long as the two characters are within 3 spaces of each other, including if one unit is rescuing the other. I don't know if any of the real games ever did this, but any given character can benefit from any and all of their support partners' affinities, as long as they are within support range. This, combined with the lack of pair-up, should encourage formations and strategies other than, "duct tape two units together -> sprint for the boss -> profit!" At least I hope so. There is also a separate rating called, "Authority," which reflects how the refugees from Vilcoor feel about their leader. It starts out with a 'D' rating, and the decisions and accomplishments of Frey or whoever leads the group after she dies will improve it, up to a maximum rating of S, and several things can lower it, such as character deaths, neutral units dying, and, well, that's all I've got for now. Higher authority ratings confer several benefits, such as hit and avoid bonuses, increased shop variety, and the likelihood that a unit who falls in battle will survive their wounds and come back after a battle is finished in Classic mode. There are no 2nd generation units. There is already enough time/space nonsense with the world-hopping gateways, and the homogenization of the support system that they bring has left a bad taste in my mouth. Edited to reflect the changes to the thread so far.