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FFVI: Divergent Paths

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EDIT 07/08/2021: 1.1 Version Released!
(I pray each night that it's the final version) Laugh

Screenshots
Youtube Developer's Commentary
Casual Tom's Let's Play

First off, what is Divergent Paths, in bullet point format?
  • A storyline patch that re-arranges some of the storyline events in Vanilla for better pacing and emotional punch.
  • Adds 2 more playable characters, bringing the roster from 14 to 16.
  • One of the added characters, Leo, gets a full story arc that elevates him to a main character status. He also has his own musical theme.
  • All named side characters receive closure to their story arcs.
  • Adds 1 new Esper, 10 new spells, and restores some dummied Esper content.
  • Tweaks' each characters abilities to make the gameplay smoother than ever before.
  • Incorporates almost every bugfix coded thus far.
What is it not?
  • A retranslation. Woolsey's script is used, with edits only where storyline changes occurred.
  • A graphics patch. Though several graphics have been touched up, and new animation frames have been added to NPCs, you will not notice unless you are REALLY looking for them.
  • A rebalancing or difficulty patch. Though there are some tweaks to abilities (like Cyan's Bushido gauge not taking forever to fill), the enemy patterns, stats, etc. remain mostly unchanged. The only changes are for boss battles that have been shifted to occur at other points of the game.
  • General Leo Edition. Though I owe a debt of gratitude to that earlier hack, I have re-written the events from the ground up
Now, for the introduction:

Another day, another Final Fantasy VI hack. Why should Divergent Paths be any different than the others?

Divergent Paths is, at its heart, a re-arrangement of the story of Final Fantasy VI. Many people forget what games were like in the 90s. When Squaresoft released FFVI, they had no idea that it would become one of the most beloved games of all time. They had just one year to make the game and get it out the door, and there is evidence in the code that the production schedule got the better of them. Adding the final layer of polish to the story... re-arranging content to flow better and enhance character development... such things were not possible.

The inspiration for Divergent Paths comes from another famous 90s JRPG, Lunar: The Silver Star. When the game was ported from Sega CD to Sega Saturn, the original development team was given a chance to not just port it, but revise it. They took the opportunity to fix what they thought the two most glaring parts of the story were: Luna's lack of presence. So, when they came to the scene where Luna bids farewell to Alex and Ramus at the dock, they rewrote the scene to have her jump aboard the boat at the last moment. From that one small change, much of the rest of the plot fell into place.

What changes would be made to Final Fantasy VI if Squaresoft had been given the same chance? Divergent Paths is the answer to that question[/font][font=Homizio]. It begins with a simple change. Edgar, reunited with his brother after years apart, sees Sabin knocked off the raft, floating down the river. He doesn't wave goodbye... he does what any sane brother would do: jumps in after him! Thus begins a series of small changes to the familiar events of FFVI that make each beat of the story more in service of its beloved characters. The small changes cascade upon each other, peaking with a very different series of events in Thamasa. Everyone's favorite general survives the attack, and is given a chance at redemption. Even in the World of Ruin, the echoes of the events are still felt, leading to several changes that close off many characters' arcs in a more satisfying way (1).

Leo surviving in Thamasa will immediately draw comparisons to the famous "General Leo Edition". Divergent Paths owes a debt of gratitude to this earlier mod. FedoraJoe showed that the best way to get Leo on your team was not to revive him, but to change events to keep him alive. However, Divergent Paths has several key differences. First, no characters are demoted to guest status. Leo is added as a fully-playable 15th character, and Shadow remains playable. There's even a 16th character hidden somewhere in the World of Ruin, allowing for a complete roster.

Second, Leo has a fully fleshed-out character arc that is interwoven with other characters. By repurposing existing content that was not tied to any specific character (like the Wounded Soldier sidequest), and stitching it together with a handful of brand new key scenes, Leo becomes as central to the plot as any other main character.

While story is the main purpose of Divergent Paths, it is not the only change. In addition to the added playable characters, it includes almost every bugfix released, and utilizes dozens of other small improvements made by the community to make the game play smoother than ever before. This includes 1 new Esper, 10 new spells (2), and a lower random encounter rate to smooth out the pacing and keep the players on their toes without altering the base difficulty of the game. Divergent Paths even includes a new song, composed by William Kage, to add to the soundtrack (3). Each change has been tested wholistically with all of the others to ensure that it never stops feeling like the Final Fantasy VI that you know and love.

(1) Many of the storyline changes are taken from dummied lines, cut scenes, interviews with developers, and even the little-known doujinshi novel written by Soraya Saga.
(2) The new esper, Leviathan, and 2 of the spells, Flood and Grav 3, were taken from the GBA remake. The other 8 spells are borrowed from other Final Fantasy titles. In order to make these possible and allow an additional magic list for Leo, two concesssions were made: Players can no longer learn magic from shields, and all characters use the same desperation attack.
(3) There has been one slight system rebalance though. The encounter rate has been dropped by 33%, and the Espers have been given better levelup bonuses. This causes your characters to grow slightly more slowly, offering a mild challenge, and allowing you to specialize each character more, all the while cutting down on tedium. If you wish to train your characters more quickly, talk to the Moogle in the training school for tips on modifying the encounter rate.
(4) NOTE: Divergent Paths was made on an unexpanded rom, with all changes fitting inside the existing code. This wll allow the game to be playable on every flash cart, and should make reproduction carts easy to produce. Those that want to play it on original hardware will be able to.



 

STORYLINE CHANGES
   100%
SYSTEM CHANGES
   100%
CHARACTER CHANGES
   100%
MAGIC CHANGES
   100%
FINAL TESTING
   100%


Attached Files
.zip  FFVI.DivergentPaths.zip (2.62 MB, 71 downloads)
.zip  FFVI.DivergentPaths.1.1.zip (2.6 MB, 56 downloads)


Projects:
FFVI: Divergent Paths (Completed) - a complete storyline and gameplay hack of FF6 that adds Leo as a playable character
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This sounds pretty great. I've heard good things about Divergent Paths. I won't lie, pretty stoked my MMMMMagic patch is getting put to use, and getting an FF6 itch. Might go ahead and do this one once it's done. I don't know everything thats in the giant bugfix patch, so you may want to look out for conflicts since MMMMMagic makes a bunch of changes in C2 where I know a lot of the bugfixes exist.
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I like the changes planned! Moving Umaro to Guest Character is a better option than removing Shadow to make place for Leo.
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This looks awesome, and I can't wait to play it. ;) Also, I'm kind of amused, because while we're implementing it very differently, you and I have some similar ideas around Leo not having magic/a Magitek infusion. Can't wait to see how yours actually plays out. :D

Out of curiosity, did you need assistance adapting No X in Fight to work with Jump/X Jump as well? Or is that within the scope of your ASM abilities? I'd be happy to help if you do need it.


Current Project: FF6: Tensei | Discord ID: TristanGrayse
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My ASM skills are slim to none. Are you interested in coding the X-Jump improvement? Could also be released as a standalone.


Projects:
FFVI: Divergent Paths (Completed) - a complete storyline and gameplay hack of FF6 that adds Leo as a playable character
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Assuming you're already using No X in Fight, I figured it'd be easier just to hook Jump/X Jump into that. Either way, it's easily done working off of that code -- no need to reinvent the wheel.


Current Project: FF6: Tensei | Discord ID: TristanGrayse
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(11-23-2017, 09:43 PM)GrayShadows Wrote: Assuming you're already using No X in Fight, I figured it'd be easier just to hook Jump/X Jump into that. Either way, it's easily done working off of that code -- no need to reinvent the wheel.

Yes, I am using that hack.


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FFVI: Divergent Paths (Completed) - a complete storyline and gameplay hack of FF6 that adds Leo as a playable character
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Thanks to GrayShadows, I now have an expansion to LeetSkeetcher's "No X in Fight" that also applies to Jump/X-Jump. It works great.

I've finished event editing through Banon's death, and have confirmed that Leo shows up correctly in the party screen (This was a bug in General Leo Edition).

I'm also considering doing a command edit. Since "Leap" is no longer being used, I'm looking into changing that into "Morph" (short for Metamorph. I'd rename Terra's ability to "Trance"). This ability would act like the Ragnarok summon, but would have a lower hit percentage. To implement it, I'd simply build it as a normal spell and call it using the same style code as Shock (which calls Megahit). If anyone has some pointers on Command Editing, let me know. My previous attempt failed miserably.


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This is probably just me, but I think some of the class names you chose are a little... not Final Fantasy. For example: I think Strago's class name should be Blue Mage, to give it that extra Final Fantasy feel. And maybe, since Leo kind of has a few similarities with Cecil from FF4, his class' name should be Paladin, instead of Templar.


If you ever feel useless, just remember that Umaro has an MP stat.
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Well, to be fair, Arcanist is literally a class in FFXIV. Laugh

I agree that it may not be the best fit for Strago, though -- Blue Mage would be traditional, but I believe some translations have him as a Loremaster? Which is thematically appropriate, given his ability name, and carries similar connotations of a scholarly nature that you'd get with Arcanist.


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