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Translation of Kaga talking about Berwick Saga, from his blog Part 1

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I recently stumbled upon Kaga's blog, and while going through it found some interesting entries about Berwick Saga.

At a glance it didn't seem as though translation already existed, so I decided to do it and share here. Surely I can't be the only one interested in reading what Kaga got to say about his last official game.

Here's the link to original post: http://zeeksweb.blog120.fc2.com/blog-entry-30.html?sp

Translation follows:

 

>>

Regarding the concept, there's a lot to be said, but putting it simply I strove to create an ultimate SLG, one to shatter the conventional state of consumer games))
I feel that being too focused on storyline and characters in my previous work (Yutona), I sacrificed the strategic part and the game balance, the things which should be the most important to begin with. Reflecting on that fact I have made drastic changes to the system to ensure the balance being kept until the very end, to maintain certain degree of tension throughout it, and have thoroughly balanced and designed every stage. TS (Tearing Saga) turned out to be extremely easy once the player got (raised) a couple super units, but BS (Berwick Saga) demands that the player himself possesses "qualities of a commander", demands him to possess abilities close to those of Caesar or Napoleon in order to beat it. And thus, though people wouldn't appreciate me saying such things, this one might not be suited for people who aren't that good (keen) with strategic SLGs.

>>

I think it's natural for hexes to be more suitable since it's a war SLG. Due to problems with resolution and control it was too hard to implement hexagonal field but it finally became possible with PS2. I'm sure you will understand why hexes are better by playing BS. As for simultaneous (mixed) turn system, I went after reality and to deal with problem of tempo.
In the usual alternating turn system there's no escaping the fixation of tactics. The ones called "landmine" and "baiting", no matter how complex you make the CP thought process, player will always have the advantage. But with the simultaneous turn system, since computer also chooses a unit to move as you move one of yours, the standard tactic of "keep the distance, bait them out and gang up with overwhelming numbers" cannot be used, and player is forced to adapt to each situation. There's also no waiting time. As you're unable to look away from the screen the tension never eases up and is quite speedy, in return it's 10 times as draining compared to TS))
You can save every 5 turns so I suggest you take a short break after each save.

>>

The reasons I increased the difficulty compared to the previous one include the ones I already mentioned, but there's also my own kind of commitment to turn-based SLGs.
In the recent years we see real-time SLGs being at height of popularity throughout the world, and the reasons behind it are that turn-based SLGs happen to be "too bothersome", "forced to perform monotonous tasks", "takes too much time" etc.
On the other hand, the merits of turn-based SLGs are that the player can utilize their intelligence to ascertain the situation, analyze the options and take time to strategically proceed with the plans, and these things are impossible in real-time SLGs.
So then, doesn't that mean that a turn-based SLG with meager strategic elements have no reasons to exist? (SRPGs are a different story. If they have a brilliant plot allowing to get emotionally attached to characters, then I think even ones with low difficulty are actually fine...)
I deliberately chose turn-based system for BS in order to have players think things thoroughly. Unless one gives up, there's always a way out of any situation. The harder the obstacles, the greater the joy of overcoming them, wouldn't you say?

>>

As for the world, there's no direct connection to the previous one. That is due to difference in vectors of the games.
(TS was a heroic fantasy with focus on plot, BS is a historical war account with focus on tactics)
There are tons of characters and mechanics we discarded. If we feel something might be off during the test-play we just redesign the whole thing.

>>

I can't give any specifics, but they all have their own reasons for being mercenaries. Perhaps one day they'll quit being mercenaries and join the Sinon Knights. In any case, a leader of an army needs to be paying attention to things. Try to get them to like you.

>>

If there was a unit with 100% evasion rate, then they'll become the so-called "landmine (immortal)" unit, and player will be able to win without using their head.
Appearance of such units break apart the game balance. I have thoroughly adjusted everything to ensure that won't happen in BS.
That said, there is good enough potential to achieve the hit rate of 100%. Raise the weapon skills (no need to defeat enemies) and obtain first-class weapons.

>>

Yes, the 0 range attacks step into the tile enemy is on. If they have a melee weapon equipped there's a chance for retaliation, but ranged weapons have no such worries. In this case both units receive the panel bonuses of the opponent's tile.
Range 1 attacks stay in the spot and perform attacks with ranged weapons. That would be crossbows and throwing spears, throwing axes, etc., and if the opponent has a melee weapon equipped, these attacks won't be countered.
(As an exception units with combat speed higher than 11 may perform charging counters)
In other words, even with same positioning advantage changes depending on different weapon type being used.
For example, think about the situation where you got a spear and a throwing spear on a forest tile and there's an enemy armed with crossbow on a plain type tile next to you.
If it was me I'd use throwing spear (if the two had same characteristics) without a single doubt. Because if there's a chance for getting retaliated, it's far more advantageous to throw the spear from the forest as it boosts your own evasion. (With the forest bonuses and application of ranged evasion it gives close to 20% advantage)

>>

Characteristic of this story is that main character doesn't have any "complicated blood relations". Reese's father was just another knight who was bestowed the title of Duke through his valor and achievements.
He is technically the lord of Sinon, but to other lords he's of a lower status and gets talked about as a "country bumpkin who got entrusted with a small remote country" behind his back.
Reese joined the royal army under orders of the king as the representative for his father with only a 100 men. Narvian people do not even know the name Sinon, other lords are making fun of him, king dislikes him, and as the result poor Reese has no time to chill.
The first part consists of modest (trivial?) story revolving around Reese, but the second half will show a rapid development tied into the grand scheme of things in the world.

>>

Reese is not the typical protagonist (hero), and you might think of him as being plain, but I created him in my attempt to draw a young man who lived through time of turmoil.
As I already mentioned, BS is not a heroic fantasy, it's a human drama taking place on the stage consisting of history and war, so those of you who came after playing TS might feel it to be a bit boring.

>>

Oh, and the story of the people surrounding Reese progresses simultaneously.
You can watch the endings for everyone in a single playthrough, but that would be difficult as there's a lot of them.
I'd say completing about a third on your first playthrough would be enough.

>>

The protagonist of BS is Reese, but Ward and Tianna are important characters who become player's eyes and ears. Ward on the battlefield, Tianna inside the castle are the facilitators of the story progression.
Especially Tianna is an important lady with potential to be the image character for BS, and if one was to say "isn't Ward enough?" I'm sure she would feel blue.

>>

Equipping shields is of utmost importance in BS. The "tanking" is impossible to perform without equipping a shield.
There sure is a technique of increasing the evasion by unequipping a shield, but I recommend always equipping it unless it negatively impacts activation of skills (combat speed). That said, with low proficiency in shields there will be many instances of missing, so try to increase the shield proficiency by equipping the cheap leather shields. Skill proficiency in shields will not grow unless you equip one.
In addition there's the "Shield Proficiency Skill”. It is possible to achieve activation rate of 100% by raising the skill mastery of characters who possess it. They will be able to shine as excellent shield tanks.
That said, shields are expensive and wear out quickly, so I recommend always having two kinds and alternating between them.

>>

I think the best weapons to use depend on what the player prefers, but I like cheap and durable ones. If you want to stash some cash it's most efficient to take away enemy's equipment and using it. Especially the Kingdom Issue series are quite good, so try using them till they break rather than selling them. Their sub par accuracy can be covered by unit's abilities and tactics.

>>

One might deem axes to be at their strongest in BS. Variations are abundant and easy to procure, and the cost efficiency is extremely high in comparison to other units. BS has 4 axe users and all of them are nice guys with distinct personalities.

>>

Experience points are limited in BS. They cannot be obtained through simply dealing damage, so you need to be efficient in getting them. We have conducted extensive testing so no exploitable glitches will be found (I think).
Also, the units who are not assigned to missions do their own training back at base so though not a lot, they do receive some experience points.

>>

The furniture should be looked forward to as something to indulge in on your second playthroughs or even later. Game is balanced so that there's no need for them. Furniture was placed as something to play with for expert players. Use any means and just keep stacking that cash. There are no ways of obtaining them other than through purchasing.

>>

Collecting and processing materials (craftsman workshop) is a very common idea in RPGs. This time we decided to implement it to give more range to strategies in terms of maps. Think of it as a sort of jigsaw puzzle, it should really show individuality of each player through decisions on what to craft and when.

>>

The collector Eltzheimer is a noble who fled the royal capital, and though source of it is unknown he looks to be quite a wealthy man. Clara the maid... she doesn't talk much and I myself don't really know her.
As for capturing, making sure it succeeds can be aimed for through usage of different skills and items. Of course, it does require precise calculations...

>>

Time an average player might take to see the ending? ... I do not know what is "average", but the volume should be roughly equal to that of TS.
That said, you can ignore sortie requests so depending on how you do it you could cut it in half. I wouldn't recommend that for anyone who's not a master level player though...

>>>

These look like some sort of notes from an interview but I'm not sure exactly what they are. I sound a bit condescending due to the high tension right after finishing the project, and (you know how it goes). Just look at these as some sort of reference. I don't think I said anything wrong. (Translator note: this part too is translated)

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Thanks so much for this! I've tried dumping some of the entries into online translators before, but reading a real translation is so much better. It's interesting how the BS system was purposely designed to eliminate some of the common player exploits/advantages in a lot of other TRPGs. That's definitely a big part of what makes the game so fun and refreshing.

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Oho! Now this is a find. This confirms a few of my theories on Kaga's thought process when making Berwick Saga. Quite the interesting read. Thanks a lot for the translation.

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Developer notes and commentary usually interest me, so thank you.

Although I'm not going to read this until after I've actually played BS. I want to form my own relatively independent opinion first, rather than be guided by the creator's beforehand.

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10 hours ago, Interdimensional Observer said:

Although I'm not going to read this until after I've actually played BS. I want to form my own relatively independent opinion first, rather than be guided by the creator's beforehand.

Sure, I actually think it will be more interesting once you played at least a couple of maps. Some things just make more sense once you experienced what's being talked about, rather than simply reading it and trying to paint a picture.

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11 hours ago, Serin said:

It's interesting how the BS system was purposely designed to eliminate some of the common player exploits/advantages in a lot of other TRPGs.

Yeah, I never even thought about it till I read it))
It makes sense how for example Tactics Ogre LUCT (my all time favourite) is considered to have quite high difficulty. It implements similar simultaneous turn system. Though it is still quite different from the one in Berwick Saga. Maps are larger, more units are present, variety of objectives, all that make up for a distinct feel in my opinion.
And the part about keeping up the pressure makes a lot of sense to me. Though again, I haven't made that conscious distinction on my own. I did find myself exhausted after the 3rd chapter, and am mentally prepping myself for main map of the next one. Kaga sure is relentless in his pressure and thrill)))

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This was an interesting read, it was nice to know what the creator's thought process were when creating my favorite turn based game, thanks for the translation. Judging from the title, I will be looking forward to later parts as well.

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Thanks so much for the translation! It's great to see what Kaga thinks about the game and strategy games as a whole! Lots of great insights into why the game was designed the way it was. I really like some of his digs at common FE tactics (dodge tanking, snowballing, etc.).

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