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Should Casual Mode have been introduced sooner?


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16 minutes ago, Integrity said:

exactly how you'd think - if your guy died, he died, and you had to start a whole new game file

 

sword of aragon, a pc strategy game from the late 80s sometime, had permadeath on named units, to at least name one, if rogue being a one character game isn't quite what you meant

e: in addition to other SSI games, i'm faintly sure the original might and magic had permadeath, or at least certain deaths were permanent, and that came out in 1986.

e2: actually fuck how did i forget wizardry (1981), the game that spawned the entire jrpg industry

No, I wouldn't really count one character dying and starting the game over again as Perma death. That's kind of just a game over. For Perma death there'd need to be some sort of going on afterwards without the character you would have had.

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Just now, Jotari said:

No, I wouldn't really count one character dying and starting the game over again as Perma death. That's kind of just a game over. For Perma death there'd need to be some sort of going on afterwards without the character you would have had.

sure, that's why i listed 3 more games where that isn't the case

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Retrying a map is the nightmare scenario. Resets are terrible failstates that force you to retread a bunch of content. Every FE should have mechanisms in place to disincentivise resetting and push through units dying; whether that's Casual Mode, turnwheel, autosaves, or my preferred method of a game just being ironmannable, where taking some losses won't cripple your prospects going forward.

I agree with all Florete's points on why FE10 would have been a great start for Casual Mode, and would also like to add that the cast of each party is very thin, and a single loss could be crippling to a party's long-term prospects of progress. I haven't tried to ironman 10, but I imagine it isn't particularly conducive to it - same with other games with thin casts and characters that aren't easily replaced.

And it's that replacement that permadeath is really about. There aren't really interactions with character death throughout the series - outside of story moments, anyway (try getting Matthew killed before the Dread Isle sometime!) - it's just an attritional cost to misplays. You're never in a position where you're spending units, like throwing a dozen zerglings into a handful of marines knowing you'll lose a couple but come out ahead, or trading a bishop for a rook in chess; outside of super niche instances (like warp-hurling dragons to make suicide runs into Medeus in 0%-growth FE11), a guy going down is never a sacrifice for gain. Things become immediately harder short-term (less action economy) and long-term (you now need a replacement), and depending on game you just lost everything that guy was carrying, too. That can be rewarding, if the game is built in such a way that you can sustain those losses; I managed to blind ironman Vision Quest, and that was deliberately built in such a way that a few losses don't snowball into a failstate. But let's not pretend that cold-blooded unit sacrifices are part of FE's gameplay loop. 

Ultimately I didn't put Casual Mode in DoW, but only because the patch was incompatible with anti-frustration QoL features that I prioritised (it was either the 'dead units dump their inventory in the convoy' or the option to have an autosave at the start of turns). Ultimately, if you don't want to play with Casual Mode, just don't play with Casual Mode. You could argue that the existence of Casual Mode disincentivises IS from making their games playable through cast death... but you wouldn't get far, since FEs have sporadically had paper-thin casts going back all the way to FE2. I'd welcome future FEs adding some middle ground, as well; an option for units to only die on the third defeat or something, perhaps.

Edited by Parrhesia
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10 hours ago, Jotari said:

No, I wouldn't really count one character dying and starting the game over again as Perma death. That's kind of just a game over. For Perma death there'd need to be some sort of going on afterwards without the character you would have had.

I've never really thought about it before, but yeah, there are two pretty different definitions of permadeath. Let's call them Rogue-style and FE-style. The first is characterised by "you only have a single save-file and when you game-over, the file gets deleted"; the second by "you have multiple characters and whenever one of them dies you carry on without them". And both of these definitely are permadeath. Regardless of how any of us think the word should be defined. Just based on the way that people actually use it. (I did a quick look around at wikipedia, tvtropes, urbandictionary, and a few random search results, and my initial impression is that Rogue-style permadeath sees slightly more usage, but FE-style is commonly used to.) It is genuinely pretty weird that the vocabulary of gaming has settled on one term to describe two concepts that are actually pretty different.

But yeah, even FE-style permadeath didn't originate in Fire Emblem. Or even in video games, honestly. Early computer RPGs copied it from tabletop RPGs like D&D. Which in turn were based on miniature wargames. And so on. I'm not sure it's even a meaningful question to try to figure out the first game with permadeath (of either type). It's just something that's always been around.

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18 hours ago, Hrothgar777 said:

What I think Nintendo should've done is have both, but specifically reward the player for roughing it out in Classic. Change not just the gameplay but the dialogue and, to an degree, even the story, if you lose certain people and/or successfully keep certain people from dying.

Shadows of Valentia did this, actually. Not so much in the gameplay aspect, but dialogue and endings will change depending on who lives and dies. For example, if Mathilda dies, Clive won't be too happy with Alm and at the end of the game he (Clive) gets a "bad" ending (The reverse is also true). If you can keep them alive until the credits instead, then everything will be hunky-dory and you'll get a better ending for the two. I believe the same works for a few other characters as well. 

15 hours ago, Jotari said:

I'm a bit surprised that no one has corrected you on this (though someone else did mention it), but New Mystery was the first game with Casual, not Awakening.

By God, New Mystery of the Emblem did it before it was cool.

Interesting to know that Casual was introduced in New Mystery, I wonder why that game was the first one to feature the mode instead of Awakening. 

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4 minutes ago, CyberZord said:

Shadows of Valentia did this, actually. Not so much in the gameplay aspect, but dialogue and endings will change depending on who lives and dies. For example, if Mathilda dies, Clive won't be too happy with Alm and at the end of the game he (Clive) gets a "bad" ending (The reverse is also true). If you can keep them alive until the credits instead, then everything will be hunky-dory and you'll get a better ending for the two. I believe the same works for a few other characters as well.

By God, New Mystery of the Emblem did it before it was cool.

Interesting to know that Casual was introduced in New Mystery, I wonder why that game was the first one to feature the mode instead of Awakening. 

New Mystery introduced a bunch of stuff that people associated with Awakening and "modern" Fire Emblem. Casual Mode, an Avatar, picking up random weapons off the ground. Eliminating weapon weight (though Shadows of Valentia brought that one back). New Mystery even had the first DLC in the series, unless you want to count the Sattelaview.

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I think a lot of people can be melodramatic about permadeath, but I know people who just like it better without that and I support adding the feature at any arbitrary historical point for those people. I like Fire Emblem with permadeath and I think there's something to be said for forcing the players hand, but I'm not too worried about it currently.

Wow that section was a mess, let me re-write that.

Some people are melodramatic about permadeath. However, I know people and have friends who simply enjoy the game more without permadeath and are very reasonable about it. For the sake of them, I am fine with the idea of casual mode being in any given game. There is something to be said for forcing a player's hand (such as making them play with permadeath on), so I won't say it "should" have been added earlier.

On 7/25/2023 at 11:45 AM, Jotari said:

New Mystery introduced a bunch of stuff that people associated with Awakening and "modern" Fire Emblem. Casual Mode, an Avatar, picking up random weapons off the ground. Eliminating weapon weight (though Shadows of Valentia brought that one back). New Mystery even had the first DLC in the series, unless you want to count the Sattelaview.

Truly the first modern Fire Emblem game. It makes sense, considering it was the first one Maeda directed.

On 7/25/2023 at 11:39 AM, CyberZord said:

Interesting to know that Casual was introduced in New Mystery, I wonder why that game was the first one to feature the mode instead of Awakening. 

See above. I'm assuming those two things are related, but I couldn't say for sure.

Edited by AnonymousSpeed
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I'd say they really toyed with the idea of Casual Mode when it came to Shadow Dragon. I can imagine that among the staff there were traditionalists on one side vs modernists on the other arguing the implementation of it with the map saves, paralogues and replacement units being the compromise (but the traditionalists still made you sacrifice an enemy in the prologue to encourage iron man). I have no proof,  but it makes sense. Shadow Dragon is obviously the first game where they really sat down and thought about how casual players (as in people who play casually, not the game mode) could be encouraged to finish the game (yeah, battle saves existed before that, but the main reason they existed in Genealogy is so you didn't have to spend several hours on a map in one sitting and Radiant Dawn surely wasn't giving much thought to casual players, though as I said earlier, as a first time player, I was very thankful Radiant Dawn had battle saves).

Edited by Jotari
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Yeah. If it were up to me, I would completely remove "death" in the traditional sense. Not at all for gameplay, but moreso for story. Because the game can't assume X or Y characters are still alive at a certain point, it forces a large number of characters to be sidelined for most of the plot, with a line of skippable dialogue here or there. I thought this was somewhat apparent in Three Houses, where the character's dialogue seems really skippable in several story scenes for the non-lord characters, barring in their paralogues of course. I feel Engage has it a bit worse in this regard, since most characters' only source of characterization is their join chapter & support / base conversations. Like, I don't think I can tell you a single about characters like Pannette or Pandreo since I haven't used them & thus haven't read most of their support conversations. In fairness, I'm gonna need to do another playthrough of engage to solidify these thoughts since I've been playing the game on & off and only just recently really got back into it.

In terms of gameplay, I am mixed on casual mode. There are some merits to it, like allowing for battle saves in Fates, but outside of convenience features like these, I don't think Casual Mode teaches players the best strategies. I think strategies that involve sacrificing unit can be fine in certain context, like with Veronica's Summoned units or Summoners Phantoms, since they are unique in how they are operated & can be repeatably summoned. However, your own units normally aren't this weak. Losing them in the middle of the map is just straight up bad since that is drastically reducing your action economy. It is very handy at the end of a map to just brute force bosses however.  I suppose the arguement could be that Casual Mode isn't actually meant to incentivize these kind of kamikaze tactics, but rather make the punishment less drastic, forcing less resets, and instead forcing you to deal with the consequences at the moment of having less units at your disposal to deal with reinforcements, other enemies, etc. In this way, it is quite distinct from Divine Pulse, with resets these consequences. However, it still does allow for a lot of positional cheese by leading certain enemies to aggro earlier than intended and the like. It certainly has merit, but I vastly prefer the Timewheel feature.

For earlier entries in the FE series, I actually don't think Casual Mode would be a good inclusion because most of the difficulty comes from keeping everyone alive w/o these convenience features. The one game that I think should have introduced Casual Mode is Fire Emblem 4 since that game is really long and some players might not know about Battle Saves.

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