Author Topic: [WIP]FF7 Refined  (Read 1046 times)

Kutsufatmo

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[WIP]FF7 Refined
« on: 2021-11-06 03:43:38 »
I've been working on a simple dialogue overhaul and combat rebalance project, similar to New Threat except more minimalist in approach. It doesn't fundamentally alter the gameplay with any new mechanics, enemies, or bosses, but rather seeks to rebalance what is already there while also cleaning up the original messy English translation. In essence, I want this mod to capture FF7 as you remembered it with rose-tinted glasses, before you might have taken notice of all the little errors and blemishes playing it as a kid.

I also wanted to offer an alternative to Beacause that is actually designed to work with 7th Heaven from the ground up. My script takes a significantly different approach though. For much of the original dialogue, I viewed it from an "if it aint broke don't fix it" lens. That means keeping iconic stuff like Barret's famous "pizza" line and censored profanity untouched. I wanted to keep the charm of the original script while smoothing out the rough edges. I also didn't make changes to things like "Sectors" being called "Districts" even though this might be more technically accurate to the original Japanese. My primary concern here is not really accuracy so much as simply making the dialogue have an elegant flow to it, and in some instances even improving upon it regardless if it might deviate slightly from the original script. Though as a consequence of correcting a lot of errors and inconsistencies from the original translation, it will end up more accurate regardless. I tend to take the view that all art is flawed and original artists are not infallible; there is always room for improvement, so I will make changes where I see fit, but generally speaking, I don't plan to make any drastic deviations from what's already there. Major plot points will not be changed. This is after all intended to be a refinement of FF7, not a fundamentally new experience. My goal here is to offer something that first-time players can use for a more polished vanilla FF7, as well as give returning players some nice quality of life updates while still remaining largely true to the original FF7 experience.

As for my approach to the combat, I like the general pacing of the original game, so I will largely be leaving HP values of enemies untouched. However I did want to buff the damage of a lot of encounters, especially in the early game, as they're just so weak to the point of being too easy even for a novice. Bosses so far are the only enemy type I've modified HP for, as I noticed for example that Cloud can limit break on Air Buster for 600 damage, which is half of the boss's total HP value in one strike, so the length was just a little too short for my liking. But overall don't expect a brutally difficult trial. This aspect of the mod is intended to make the game a more well-rounded challenge, not a gauntlet of punishment.

As this mod is still in very early development, I have only completed the script and combat tweaks up to when Cloud and the gang arrive at the Shinra building to rescue Aeris. I will continue to update it as I find time, but I only work on this in my spare time / when I'm bored really, so don't expect any consistency from me, lol.

The mod is customizable so you can disable the combat tweaks while just using the dialogue or vice versa.

Alpha Version 0.4 Download: https://mega.nz/file/2IomBI7K#SUSpaTZKFf_JooEdjeHPTMu_RO4iEaD7607mc4Ffavo

Samples:






Some things I'd like to do:

- I can't get the Wall Market app to work on my PC, so I've been unable to make changes to things like potion healing values as I'd like to. If anyone has any tips on why it might not be opening, let me know.
- Currently the IRO was compiled by just slapping the whole flevel.lgp file into it, but I'd like to know how other mods break it up into smaller chunks, as I presume this would not only make the file size smaller but probably increase its compatibility with other mods by only modifying parts of the flevel file that are actually changed.
- Reading up on things, I noticed that some enemies will eventually get reused for the Gold Saucer battle arena with buffed stats, but I don't see separate enemies in ProudClod to represent this, which makes me a little concerned that it might modify their stats on-the-fly to be even more buffed despite that this mod already does that, which could result in some gameplay imbalances during this segment in the game. I'm curious if anyone knows how the mechanics of this actually work, as it could pose a problem down the road once I get to that point in the game.
« Last Edit: 2022-11-24 00:06:51 by Kutsufatmo »

Salk

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Re: [WIP]FF7 Refined
« Reply #1 on: 2022-07-16 08:34:03 »
Hello, Kutsufatmo!

How is FF7 Refined shaping up? I'm not unfortunately able to offer any kind of technical assistance but there are many FF modders here and on Discord that could do that.

Have you talked to any of them?

Kutsufatmo

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Re: [WIP]FF7 Refined
« Reply #2 on: 2022-07-24 05:41:51 »
It's coming along nicely, albeit very slowly at the moment. Some health issues and other projects had me sidetracked for a little while, but I have been at work on it again. Wall Market is one of the most dialogue-heavy segments in the game so it's kept me stuck there for a while. But at this point I have pretty much everything done there except a few bits of Honeybee Manor and then Don Corneo's mansion. I've also gone back and cleaned up a few more bits of dialogue in the earlier sections and fixed a bug that I missed in my last WIP release where some enemy spawns at the second reactor were broken. Hoping to release another alpha version within the next month or so.

I have not tried speaking to anyone on Discord yet but that's not a bad idea. I will still eventually need to make some item edits.

Salk

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Re: [WIP]FF7 Refined
« Reply #3 on: 2022-07-24 15:49:29 »
Nice with an update about your project.

Thanks!

Kutsufatmo

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Re: [WIP]FF7 Refined
« Reply #4 on: 2022-10-10 07:05:12 »
OK, I finally updated this with Alpha version 0.2! Wall Market is finished. All dialogue and combat have been overhauled up to just when Cloud and the gang escape the sewers and arrive at the train graveyard. The download link has been updated on the main post.

I would have liked to have gotten even further than this by now frankly but Wall Market gave me some unexpected hiccups. Nonetheless I'm very happy with the results. As the script is now, I think it is a substantial improvement over the original English dialogue. It seems much like the Beacause project, I'm finding that A LOT of the original dialogue was just messy in some form or another, so as much as I have tried to adhere to the "if it aint broke don't fix it" approach, nearly every piece of dialogue has ended up being modified or cleaned up in some way. But I think for people who have a soft spot for the style and "feel" of the original English translation like me, they'll still find it more appealing than Beacause. I went back and forth a lot on whether to call it Honeybee Inn or Honeybee Manor for instance, but ultimately decided on keeping it Honeybee Inn since that's how it was referred to in the old translation and as far as I understand it, it is still referred to that in the Remake, so for consistency's sake I'm maintaining it. I also went back again and touched up a few more pieces of dialogue in the earlier sections that I worked on already, and finally fixed some broken enemy spawns in the second reactor, so this version should be in much better shape than the previous WIP I uploaded. Pretty well bug-free now too.

Also this time around, as I was working through Wall Market I got more comfortable working with Makou Reactor's scripting interface, so I was able to get more fancy with adding a few extra lines of character dialogue that didn't exist previously in either Beacause or the original translation, complete with accompanying character animations for expression. I think it adds just a little more flair to certain conversations while staying true to the characters' personalities.



Hopefully now that one of the more dialogue-heavy segments of the game is behind me, I'll be able to make a more substantial update next time that progresses the game more than just a couple sections.
« Last Edit: 2022-10-11 06:11:06 by Kutsufatmo »

Salk

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Re: [WIP]FF7 Refined
« Reply #5 on: 2022-10-13 03:07:25 »
Again, thanks for keeping us updated here.

I'd like to ask you how many man-hours you expect are needed in order to complete your project and how many you've already invested in finalizing the Wall Market part.

Thanks and godspeed!

Kutsufatmo

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Re: [WIP]FF7 Refined
« Reply #6 on: 2022-11-14 01:42:23 »
Those are tough questions to answer unfortunately. The thing is the amount of time I spend on any given section can wildly vary depending on how tricky the wording is. I can sometimes get stun-locked for an hour just trying to find the right words for rephrasing a certain line and others I can have cleaned up in minutes. Sometimes I just walk away for a bit when I get stuck. So it's hard for me to give any kind of estimate on how much time I've spent on anything specific since it can be all over the place. What I can say is it's definitely taken a lot more time than I thought it would in general, but I'm also not minding it so much.

With a project of this nature, the nice thing about it is no matter how unfinished it is, it can always seamlessly transition to the old content when the new stuff runs out without "feeling" incomplete. You just might notice a sudden drop in writing quality after a certain point, lol. It helps keep me motivated because regardless if I sometimes feel in over my head or there's too much work ahead of me, I know that any amount of progress is worthwhile and not a waste of time.

I'm sure if I really cranked things out, I could probably have this done in a few months' time. But then this would feel like much more of a job than a hobby to me which I'm looking to avoid at the moment. I also don't think I would be able to maintain the quality I'm going for if I did that. So this is unfortunately looking like a multi-year thing, much like the Beacause project took years to get to where it is now. On the positive side, as I progress further I expect I will spend less time on combat tweaks as the challenge is already sufficient, so I can move more quickly just focusing on the dialogue.

Anyways, alpha version 0.3 is now out. Main post has been updated. Dialogue and combat are now done for the train graveyard, the sector 7 pillar attack, and the aftermath of the plate collapsing. This now leaves just some dialogue to finish up at Aeris' house and then the Midgar building, and that should be it for all of Midgar. That said, the Midgar building is a fairly big segment, so that may take some time, but hopefully not as much as Wall Market.
« Last Edit: 2022-11-14 23:06:18 by Kutsufatmo »

Salk

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Re: [WIP]FF7 Refined
« Reply #7 on: 2022-11-16 06:54:50 »
Hello, Kutsufatmo!

Thanks for the answer, full of interesting details about your working method. I, for one, am glad that you put quality over speed in your work. You'll take the time you need in order to keep the pacing and engagement in check. Ideally, it started as a pleasant hobby and will end the same.

One other question, if I may: how did you select which part of the game you tackle first? Also, on a more technical note, I think that Beacause needed to do lots of box replacements to accommodate the new text. Is it something that applies to FF7 Refined as well?

Cheers!
« Last Edit: 2022-11-16 10:33:43 by Salk »

Kutsufatmo

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Re: [WIP]FF7 Refined
« Reply #8 on: 2022-11-24 00:43:44 »
Yes, I've had to make many adjustments to boxes to ensure they fit with the new text. Thankfully, Makou Reactor makes this mostly easy by streamlining much of the process. There is an auto-resize button that will adjust boxes automatically to fit the new text, and will even account for character names if they are longer than the default. But there are a few text boxes that weren't properly formatted in the original translation which require me to go a step further and dig through all the scripted character events and make sure they are resized correctly. When I first started this project, I was not familiar with how to do that, so there are still some early segments of the game I will need to return to in order to really polish them up, but as it is now, they're still at least technically functional so it's a low priority thing for me right now.

As for how I selected where to start first, it just all around made sense to start with the beginning of the game and work my way forwards. That way I can easily create a save file from the beginning and test things out as I go. It also quickly became apparent to me that reading through lines of dialogue divorced from the actual context of the gameplay can be really difficult at times to understand what exactly a character is trying to convey. That's where it becomes doubly helpful to just jump back into a save file and run through the dialogue in context so I can get a better sense of how I should rephrase it if it needs reworking.

A great example of this actually is just the most recent thing I worked on; the climb through the plate ruins above Wall Market in order to reach the Shinra building. There's a section where Cloud explains the timing on when to jump onto a swinging wire in order to make it across, but the original wording of it was always kind of vague and confusing, so you could end up wasting a lot of time doing trial and error with the jump. So by playing through it again and getting a feel for it, I think I rephrased it in a way that should be a lot more clear to players on when exactly they should jump across.

At any rate, alpha version 0.4 is ready for download. This is just a small update I wanted to get out before the Shinra building, as I probably won't be releasing another update until I've reworked the entire building, and that could take some time. This update just cleans up the remainder of dialogue at Aeris' house before heading out to Wall Market and then climbing the ruins to reach the Shinra building.
« Last Edit: 2022-11-25 18:49:37 by Kutsufatmo »

Salk

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Re: [WIP]FF7 Refined
« Reply #9 on: 2022-11-25 15:44:41 »
Excellent!

Thanks again! Looking forward to more snippets of your development process in the future. I'll be sure to keep a vigilant eye on this thread for the time to come.