Hi everyone! For the sake of neatness, as well as saving time for everyone who doesn't want to read a lengthy post of information that they may not find relevant, this will be broken into sections.
After choosing your team, get ready for a challenging fight through completely revamped battles! Some Shining Force 2 enemies make an appearance under different names, but all of them are tweaked and renamed for a fresh feeling experience and challenge. The initial beta will have battles taking place in the same places and order as vanilla SF2, but, as mentioned, with different enemies and bosses.
Shining Force I
Shining Force II
Shining Force CD
Shining Force Gaiden: Final Conflict
The following is a list of characters that will most likely be choices in a customized experience, but are still subject to change based on further discussion.
Alternate Character Roster
Mae or Pelle *see below
Shining Force II
Shining Force CD
This leaves 5 more slots. Possiblities I've and others have considered include:
Adam or Zynk (SF1/SF2) **see below
*I favor Mae and so do some others, but some want Pelle. Who is better varies based on promotion, so I need to get their stats together and scale them up as I've done with the other characters to see who is statistically better. I would add both if them but we already have 2 knights from that game and its also the most heavily represented in the mod, so I don't want to add any more characters from that game if I can help it.
**I favor Adam, but again for the sake of games besides SF1 getting a fair representation, can I really add him?? Almost half of the alternate roster will be SF1 characters if I do. It's something we need to really discuss because I would like to have a robot in the roster. Neither if there stats are stellar, Adam is pretty good if you can level him but he's not amazing unless you promote him at 20 (in my experience as far as I remember, my memory is not amazing and I very well may be talking out my you know what.)
Video and Screenshots
The following is for those of you who care about why this project was started so long ago and hasn't even had beta testing done yet, why I was away for some long, and why I stopped working on this in first place. I recommend the TLDR for those that don't want a minute telling of exactly the kind of work involved in something like this and an already kind weird man's slow decent into madness and murder.
History; Warning: Wall of Text!
In any case, it took me a handful of years to come up with an idea I'm sure I wasn't the first to come up with, but the first to post about publicly (or at least I believe I was, I may be wrong). I made a list of characters I thought were good enough to make the cut from the relevant titles, which included all the 2D Force games (1, 2, Gaiden 1 and 2/SFCD, and Final Conflict), and those interested and I hashed out who should and shouldn't be in the game.
Once these characters were (mostly) agreed upon (I took some personal bias into consideration, as you'll see if you look into the character roster and if you decide to fully read the topic and see some of the displeasure my choices caused to a few), I moved in to getting the necessary stat info for characters, scaling it for those characters that came from games besides SF2, tweaking everything for balance (whether I did a good job remains to be seen to this day), and many other numbers related bibs and bobs, I moved onto to graphical worked.
I'm not sure which was more frustrating, the numbers or the pixels. I guess the graphical work was harder, being I am a novice spriter at best, a drooling invalid at worst, but I digress. In any case I managed to put all the character animations from other games into SF2 (or at least have it prepared to be put in; you'll understand what I mean if you continue in to the Description section.) as well as swapping out about 75% or so of the enemies and their graphics. Some of this wasn't a huge issue, but all of the sprites from SF1, for example, had to have their palettes edited since they are different between games. Thankfully the lovely Earl came through with many of that since he was working on a mod that used the same animations and had already edited the palettes and had them on hand to let me use. Thanks Earl, love you sweetheart. The entire enemy side of the game was scrapped and redone enemy by enemy (excepting those 25% that stayed from SF2, though most names and all stats were still changed in some way if they weren't redone altogether).
Character animations and sprites from Final Conflict had to be basically made from scratch since that was the only 8 bit game in the mix. I did a handful of them by simply editing and frankensteining them together from other characters (Ian bore a striking resemblance to Deanna, as an example.). These were edited so many times before I simply scrapped them in disgust. I don't know how long I wasted on them, but it was a long time and was one if the contributing factors in frustrating and discouraging me later on from continuing to work in the mod.
Eventually, I had a good portion of the mod the way I wanted it (besides what I just mentioned, of course). Character stats inserted and tweaked, 98% of the enemies how and where I wanted them (technical issues hindered me in the last 2%), weapons and items added/deleted/edited to my liking, and so on. Unfortunately, a great many things weren't going the way I wanted and a great majority due to limitations in the game itself, including, but not limited to: limited character battle animation slots, number of available classes, limited number of available palettes for animations, limited number of frames for those animations, etc. Some things could be circumvented by manually coding in things, but in many cases this would have forced me to do any future editing in the same way and I wouldn't be able to use SF2 Editor anymore (though if I really knew how to properly work with the games code and also was able to edit SF2 Editor itself to recognize my changes, I may have been able to solve this as well, but alas, I suck hard.)
Unfortunately, atop all the things that were slowly whittling away at my sanity and discouraging me with continuing to work, not to mention any burnt out feeling I was getting even without the setbacks, life got in the way as well. I ended up taking a break from working on this mod. I decided to stick to just tweaking stats and balancing for a while, that way I could actually get some enjoyment out of this thing I put so much time into by actually playing it through. I did it on the pretense that I would need to do a once over to check for major game breaking issues so I could let some of those interested in beta testing. I could also do the afore mentioned checks on game balance since all the stats at this point were done. My brother had done a preliminary test even before that and found the endgame almost impossibly hard. I managed to beat the last 3 or so battles for him, mostly because I made the thing and was able to exploit the AI a tiny bit, which obviously shouldn't have been necessary if I'd done my job properly. So after some tweaking I began my own playthrough. I didn't get far. A dozen battles in a few characters wouldn't be the way I wanted so I would tweak and restart. Tweak, restart, etc, etc. I was about halfway through a playthrough when I stopped for good. A break turned into an unofficial hiatus, which turned into a...coma?
When I decided to try and come back to it, the task seemed colossal. It had only been about 3 or 4 months since last I'd looked at the mod in SF2 Editor, and already I'd forgotten where I had left off and what particular thing I'd been trying to fix or work on. Of course, the proper way to do go back in would probably have been just to reread my notes or even start from a new playtest and fix the glaring issues as they come until I can slowly get back into things. I chose instead to wait longer and longer until everything about what I'd done was alien to me and I'd forgotten everything.
And so here we are! I'm going to give it another shot, at least so something gets out there, if only for better people than I to maybe mess around with if I can't manage to finish it myself (which I hope to, I really do, but I can't won't promise anything). If you read this whole thing, you are a champion, a gentle(wo)man, and a scholar.
Eventually even the testing slowed until I stopped completely. I was actually enjoying playing the mod despite its glaring graphical flaws, I just ended up putting the game down and not coming back to it. When I did feel interest growing again, it was immediately sapped by how daunting it felt to dive back into what had taken me a while to grasp in the first place, as well as a mod I had edited extensively to the point I had forgotten exactly what still needed doing and what had been done in what ways. Now here I am, many years after I first started the whole thing, prepared to give it another shot.
Feel free to post thoughts and questions here, but if for some reason you would like to discuss something one to one, PM me. I have email notifications turned on for PMs as well as for any posts in this topic, something I hadn't done initially and the reason why, in the past, I didn't always respond to PMs and topic responses promptly. I'm still working two jobs so don't expect an instant response, but I will be checking my email at least once a day, if not more.