The Storm is Over (probably)
Like I expected a few weeks ago, I think the big-bills-out-of-nowhere have been resolved and I’ve managed to cover everything, though I’m not totally sure yet since a couple things are up in the air as I type this. I also still don’t know the itinerary for the family event in late December, so no idea what costs are going into that.
That said, ah… some other family expenses came up in this interim and we’ve been going super fast with new pixel art (and I wouldn’t have that changed either way), so I actually can’t say that I’ve gotten back over the savings threshold that I’m looking for—which means continued extra hours at my normal work. Nonetheless, even though I still have more to do, at least I can say that I think the “storm” has passed.
So in celebration of that, and also because it’s my birthday tomorrow, and also because it’s raining as I type this—and I love the rain (and you had better believe that it’s not even once going to be used as a “the sky is crying” storytelling device in Dreamblazers)—here’s a much bigger post than the past few weeks!
Art Assets Page
First of all, the new art assets page is up. :D I have still more to add to it, like the character designs, area intro boxes, and overworld screenshots, but I took some time to do the page justice and recompile all the dialogue portraits to group them by character instead of lumping everything into one gigantic collage.
From now on, this one page will be the go-to source where you can see basically every non-spoilery art asset for Dreamblazers. =) So no need to scroll through dozens of blog posts to figure out where Cool Thing X and Awesome Thing Y were originally posted.
Behold some mighty Vivavines!
What’s that, you say? “After stuff like a gargantuan sea slug and an elemental griffin and a super colorful bird, how am I supposed to be excited about a sprawling mass of vines?”
Oh, pshaw. The Vivavines are possibly the most exciting enemy I’ve shown off yet. Let’s go over why!
Like Harpilures before them, Vivavines are ubiquitous enemies that you’ll encounter just about everywhere. Yes, that’s right: the nuisance enemies aren’t bats here in Dreamblazers! That alone should thrill you, but it gets better. :D
“Couldn’t anyone who encounters Vivavines easily run away since they’re plants?” No. No, they couldn’t. Vivavines are more lively than your average plant and can “walk” wherever they feel like on land.
Vivavines are an enemy type ripe with flavor and worldbuilding. Until now, all the monster sprites have been naturally-occurring, naturally-abundant creatures. Vivavines, however, are vines that sprang to life by overabsorbing magic from the world’s mana flow. Five hundred years ago they existed only as extremely rare phenomena, but after that time the Empire instituted the Shield Our Surface (S.O.S.) initiative to layer healing and barriers on the planet itself. (I’ve hinted at this before!)
When you have a world full of people developing planet buster and galaxy buster magic, it’s the kind of thing that has to exist to explain why the planet hasn’t been blown up!* (But that’s not why the S.O.S initiative was created from in-universe reasoning. Teaser! :P) …but the initiative did come with this drawback. With more magic flooding the world, Vivavines popped up all over the place due to readily-available mana sources.
While Vivavines aren’t the only enemy capable of a certain game mechanic that I’ve wanted to discuss in detail, they’re the best opportunity yet! Along with Greatwolves, Griffinaires, Archweavers, Felossuses, and even our own party member Telia Evenway, Vivavines are one of many living things capable of using the capture mechanic. This mechanic involves a fighter pinning, trapping, wrapping, or otherwise capturing a target, preventing them from taking their next turn and setting up for a unique followup attack.
Different moves have varying baseline capture rates, but their chance of success is also based on a combination of Speed and Power for both the user and target. I’ll give some examples with the current formulas, assuming everyone is level 20 and has their default outfits…
- Vivavines using Trap Wrap (default 100% capture) have a 78% chance to capture Leaf (fast and strong) but a 114% chance to capture Tango (medium speed and weak).
- An Archweaver using Pounce (default 40%) has a 27% chance to pin Celty (super fast and super strong) but a 44% chance to pin Evelyn (very fast and medium strength).
- (However, Celty and Evelyn are skilled at dodging attacks, so factoring in the chances that an Archweaver even hits them in the first place, the real odds of them getting pinned are 4% and 29%.)
- Over on our side, Telia using Diving Crush (default 30%) has a 33% chance to pin an Archweaver (fast and super strong) and a 55% chance to pin Vivavines (medium speed and medium strength).
These are very specific numbers, but just remember the general rule: stronger and faster fighters have an easier time capturing; weaker and slower fighters have a more difficult time avoiding capture.
All of this ties into my last point…
Enemy sprite variations!
Just like in my favorite source of inspiration, Pokémon, some sprites will come with variations. Usually these variations will be purely for eye candy, but sometimes it’s more. In the case of Vivavines, their stats and AI patterns change as well. The bigger vines have superior HP, Speed, Power, Magic Power, and Skill while the smaller ones have superior Magic Defense, Evasion, Spirit, and Energy. This leads to some differences in how they use their moves:
- Binding Vines – Support magic that reduces Skill, Speed, and Evasion. The small vines use this more often because their lower Speed and Power means they need to weaken prey before wrapping it.
- Double Whip – A physical attack that smacks an opponent twice. The large vines use this more often because of their greater Power.
- Earthen Shield – Support magic that boosts Defense. The small vines use this more often to protect their lower HP.
- Energy Siphon – A special technique that drains HP and Burst Energy but can only be used on captured prey. Small Vivavines usually use this when they can, but large Vivavines virtually always use it.
- Needle Storm – Offensive magic that throws needles at everything. Despite being weaker, only the small vines use this move since they recharge their magic more quickly.
- Spiky Vines – Offensive magic that does damage and slightly reduces Speed. The large vines use this much more often than the smaller ones.
- Trap Wrap – A capture technique with very low damage but very high capture rate. Both types of Vivavines use this very often, but the large ones are even more devoted with it.
But what are the large vines? Just more mature plants that have been around longer? Well, sometimes that’s the answer, but there’s more to it. For one thing, Vivavines—like every other species—can only absorb so much magic before they overload. For a species like elves, a severe case of manaburn means uncontrollably discharging energy until normal magic balance is restored… but for elves, normal magic balance still leaves a perfectly complete being. For Vivavines, “normal” magic balance is returning all the way to being ordinary vines. That’s why the smaller ones recharge more quickly and have higher Magic Defense; the large vines are on borrowed time.
Other than that, though, some species like dryads and sylphs are capable of fighting alongside Vivavines. They can accelerate their growth or even create them outright, so the size isn’t always a matter of age, but also battle strategy.
(No pun intended. :P)
So how about that? The Vivavines may not look like much, but they’ve given me more to talk about than every previous enemy combined. One way or another, I’m aiming for nonstop intrigue.