Part 9: More Money Than God
Well, between the last batch of footage being recorded and this batch of footage being recorded, the Super Bowl happened. And while I was out watching that, I left my computer and this game running. That led to a lot of silver being accumulated!
A lot! 32520 bars of silver, which is transformed immediately, giving us a whopping 260160 Filar! Our money issues are definitely solved for now.
Newfound riches in hand, we splurge on healing items, both of the blood and health variety.
And we also pick up all the new gear we couldn't buy last time, so we're now fully decked out to shit.
Here's our party's stats to see how far they've come. Note that Defense is sky high, Attack is also high, and Intelligence and Agility are still largely in the double digits. This shows pretty clearly the way gear impacts the game - there's multiple pieces of gear that boost Defense, one that boosts Attack, and none that boost Intelligence or Agility, so the stats also grow in that way with the gear you acquire. Like I've said before, you're going to want all the gear you can get your vampiric mitts on - as it stands, it's pretty much required to stay competitive, even with random encounters, I've noticed.
Fully decked out, our next stop is Tradan, which we've heard a few things about in the last update. People mentioning seeing smoke and that kind of stuff. Maybe something happened? Well, I think we all know exactly what happened. Or rather, WHO happened.
Coming into town, it looks about the way we figured it would. Kind of kaput.
What happened here?
Oh, I wouldn't say it like that...
It DOES look terrible, Asgar! Somebody or something unleashed its anger on this place...
And I know who...
No, I don't think so!
But I think Asgar is right! It must have been Aysha...
We'll see about that! Let's take a look around...
Walking around town, we find zombies wandering the map in lieu of random encounters.
Just like in Unterwegs in Düsterburg, they're edited villager sprites. Since the FAQ recommends a level of 15 for this part of the game and we're currently at 25, they don't really pose a threat.
We can also explore the houses, though there's not a lot to be found in most of them. There's some goodies strewn about, though it's largely just healing items and outdated equipment - even if we had been at level 15.
Brutally sliced open!
Lots of dead people, though!
Beyond that, not really a lot of interesting stuff going on in this town - a lot of smoke, but no fires. Literally - there's no fires in town, but the smoke still hangs thick as hell. Is that a thing that happens with massive fires? Then again, the city doesn't look all that burnt, either... the damage to the houses looks more like a storm of sorts - windows smashed, bits of the roof torn out, stuff in the houses strewn about, that kind of stuff. Guess we can't show the destruction Aysha caused if everything's burnt to a crisp.
Here's another shot of Aysha's interior design skills.
However, in the next house, there's something that seems a bit off. Well, first, let's see what else we can find here before we check that out.
The guts are spilling out!
Oh you, Asgar. Anyway, about that barrel...
Hey, there's somebody in here!
Hello, you in there! Come out!
Voice From The Barrel: No, I'm scared!
Scared? 1) You don't have to be scared! 2) Just come out now!
This is an optional bit. If we want to get this one out, we need to be reassuring, so 1) it is.
Voice From The Barrel: Oh, really? Why?
Because... 1) ...we want to save you! 2) ...we're no monsters!
Just saying that we're no monsters isn't going to work here. 1) it is.
Voice From The Barrel: You want to save me? You're lying! You don't want to save me! You want to EAT me!
Eat? 1) You're right! And now get out from there! 2) We're really not monsters!
Just stick with it, we'll get through to them eventually. 2).
Voice From The Barrel: Why should I believe you? You might be smart zombies!
... 1) No, we really aren't! 2) No, we really aren't! Honest!
Maybe the "honest!" will clinch it?
Voice From The Barrel: Honest?
Voice From The Barrel: Promise?
Voice From The Barrel: Scout's honor?
YES... scout's honor too!
Voice From The Barrel: Then give me your hand!
You want my hand? 1) No way! 2) Alright...
Yeah, sure, what's the worst that could happen?
Valnar sticks his hand in, and...
Ow, DAMN! I just got bit!
I've just about had enough! Let's go!
Voice From The Barrel: Why is your hand so cold?
Um... 1) ...it's cold outside! 2) ...you are too!
Get the feeling that going "you too" isn't going to work here, so we're going with 1).
Voice From The Barrel: Hmm... alright, I'm coming out! Make room.
Alright, here I am!
HARHAR! Good job, Valnar! A crisp little snack is just the thing we need right now!
Um... 1) ...no way, Asgar! 2) ...HARHARHAR!
Bad Asgar! Down!
What's your name, little one?
Yuffie? That's a nice name...
What happened here, Yuffie?
An evil woman came... and turned mommy and daddy into zombies! And the other people turned into zombies too!
An evil woman did all that? What did she look like?
She... she had blood red eyes! And long blond hair! And a pink dress!
Sounds like Aysha!
Aysha? Do you really think so? I can't believe it!
Valnar, just accept it! Aysha has changed! She's EVIL!
You know, I'm not entirely sure that her being evil means that she changed. She might just as well have been evil to start with. We still know jack shit about her backstory.
Waaaaah... I'm scared!
Come on, we'll bring you to safety!
You can't be serious! We don't have time to take care of this brat!
Eh, I doubt it. There's nothing all that time-critical going on here - after all, Aysha is definitely gone again. Whatever wrecking happened here has passed. Just have Asgar cast a spell that knocks her out, transform into a bat and fly her somewhere safe, like Asran, which isn't that far, and bring her to the church there or something.
But... I'm really scared!
It's pointless, Valnar! Leave her here.
... 1) ...come with us, Yuffie! 2) ...I'm sorry, Yuffie!
Yeah, come on, let's take her with us. We're not in a hurry to do anything. If we can take time out to learn a dead language, we can save a little girl.
Forget it, Valnar! It just won't work! She would only be a hindrance!
We're chasing a monster! We can't use somebody like her there!
Monster? You're looking for a monster? Waaaaaah!
I wonder if that was a smart thing to do...
First, we hear a scream. Then, we hear a splat.
Ahem... alright, let's get moving!
God damn, you're ruthless!
Thanks! I try.
And when we leave the house...
Oh, Valnar! We simply couldn't have taken her with us...
We could have at least tried.
Hm, what does she have in her hand there?
"Obtained 1 Blue Stone!"
Poor little girl...
There's a series of shrines spread around the world where you can use these stones to raise certain attributes of the entire party. They're quite valuable!
Also, this "we couldn't have done anything" thing doesn't exactly ring true when right now, I could just leave, go to a carnival and play games like "Guess the Number" or a shell game. I guess Marlex didn't want to leave you without the option of leaving and buying more items or grinding more, but that just makes it seem kind of dumb. Valnar's not being stupid for once!
To the north, we find the graveyard.
Skeletons pop out of the ground and attack, but they're not really a problem either. Well, I say that, but they do have attacks that can cause paralysis, and attacks that can deal a lot of damage and cause bleeding, which is still a big problem. Status conditions are never not a problem, especially bleeding. Still, we're stacked enough on healing items that it's not going to cause a lot of difficulties.
After going through some more skeletons, we enter the crypt of this graveyard, which seems absurdly spacious.
Very absurdly spacious. This is going to take some time to traverse, though we're not going to explore all of it. Thanks to my RPG Maker-vision, I can look ahead and see if the loot off the beaten track is worth it or not, so we're going to be skipping a lot of healing items, outdated equipment, save stones and that kind of guff unless it's really close anyway.
Aside from skeletons, we also run into "crypt zombies" here. They have an attack that can inflict sickness. This game loves its status effects. "Grinding" (more like waiting) for money and acquiring an endless amount of healing items, be they of the HP variety or the BP variety or the status effect curing variety, is highly recommended. Especially given the extreme encounter rate. Have I mentioned the encounter rate? We could transform into a wolf or bat to reduce the rate, but we're not at the level yet where we have enough of a blood pool to be able to just constantly be transformed. That's going to be something for a lot later.
WARNING: TALKING ABOUT NUMBERS INCOMING
For that matter, I'm a bit confused as to how exactly encounter rate works in RPGM2K/2K3. I found one source saying only that the higher it is, the more monsters you encounter, referring to 2K3. However, that can't be true for 2K, because the transformations increase the rate - the base rate is 30, the wolf transformation rate is 50, and the bat transformation rate is 60. The tips mentioned the transformed rate being 50% of the non-transformed one, so for the bat, that lines up, but it seems they've been lying for the wolf one.
Here's another source I found online, this time for 2K. This is a German RPG Maker guide, and it says that the encounter rate means "how many steps you either have to roughly take or at most take until an encounter". They further say that "the actual amount of steps taken until the next fight can also be considerably shorter". So that means that either the maximum amount of steps until a random encounter or the average number of steps until a random encounter in this game is 30, since the game was made in RPGM2K. For the sake of comparison, I checked if I could find a simple encounter rate formula for another game, and settled on Final Fantasy for the NES.
After each battle the game generates a random number between 50 and 255. For each step taken the value counts down. When the number hits 0 a random battle begins.
- On the world map on foot each step decrements the value by 6.
- Inside of a dungeon each step decrements the value by 5.
- On the world map while sailing on a ship each "step" decrements the value by 2.
- On Damage floor, while riding the airship, while in a seaport, or inside a town, the value doesn't decrease (no random battles occur).
There are certain map squares where battles always occur. These are the fixed encounters and fighting a fixed encounter does not reset the value. The number resets whenever it hits zero and a random battle occurs, or when a game is started or reloaded. The number is not reset by entering a town.
So, let's calculate the encounter rate in a dungeon for that. The game generates a number between 50 and 255, and decrements it by 5 every step, starting a random battle when it hits 0 (or lower). Meaning that for 50, it takes 10 steps. For 51-55, it takes 11 steps. For 56-60, it takes 12 steps and so on, up to 251-255, which takes 51 steps. Now, my math may be off here, but if I calculated things correctly, that should mean that on average, in a dungeon in Final Fantasy, it should take (6425/206) (read: 10 + 5*11 + 5*12 + ... + 5*51) = 6425 divided by (255-49) (read: counting from 50 to 255 inclusive) = 206.
So (6425/206). This comes out to...
...that. About 31,2 steps. Now, I don't know how exactly RPGM2K calculates encounters. If we assume that the number of steps set is the average until a battle, then we can just compare that and say that Vampires Dawn's encounter rate is slightly higher than the NES Final Fantasy's in a dungeon. However, if the number of steps is the maximum number before an encounter, then things get more complicated.
So, based on an entirely unscientific method, I'm going to simply assume that it uses a simple method of a base 1/n encounter rate (with n being the number of steps). It could also use an inverse parabolic method where you get most likely to get an encounter in the middle of the value range, or maybe an exponential one where you get most likely to get an encounter at the end of the value range, but it seems relatively balanced to me according to my, once again, entirely unscientific observations, so I'll just go with my basic assumption.
Using 30 as our rate, this means that the average number of steps in this case is 14.5 from 1 to 29, and 30 has a guaranteed encounter, which means it's about double as high as the one from Final Fantasy. I don't think it's THAT high, though I might be mistaken. Of course, I could also be using an entirely wrong function. Many things could be wrong here, I'm just writing all this because I thought about it for a while and god damnit, I'm going to have to waffle somebody's ear off about this, so you'll have to do. So, in closing, I would estimate that I would compare the encounter rate to that of the NES Final Fantasy in dungeons. Anyway, back to the game.
TALKING ABOUT NUMBERS OVER
One of the things that stands out in this dungeon right away is this big fucking gate. What does it hide? Nothing! It leads absolutely nowhere, and you can never go down it. I guess Marlex figured he wanted to spruce things up a bit, not just leave a wall.
Aside from loot and random encounters, the next noteworthy thing we find is this, down on level 3. There's four switches and a blocked passage ahead. We can press switches and we can de-press switches, it's a matter of finding out which to press and which to not press. I have no idea if there's actually a clue for this or if you're just supposed to trial-and-error your way through.
The solution ends up being this.
Beyond that, there's actually nothing interesting in this dungeon, as far as I can tell. No real interesting loot, one puzzle, a whole bunch of random encounters, that's it. We've reached the end, and our reward is this flashing key! Of course, with my knowledge of what's going to happen, I save. Not that I would need it to know that something's going to happen when I pick up that key, it seems pretty obvious. Saving!
"You are free to go, but if you do, your soul shall be mine!
Another one of the save messages, this time from the creator! Now, let's pick up that key.
Hey, check this out! There's a key that's shining like crazy here...
That key is definitely magic of some kind! But why is it just laying around here?
I have the feeling that this key is going to help us later!
Well, then come here, key!
"Obtained 1 Magic Key!"
Suddenly, more torches light up!
What's going on now?
The screen shaking violently!
We immediately go into bat form to limit random encounters and leg it.
When we come to this part, a bunch of rats go down the hallway and to the right, but if you follow them, all you're getting is a dead end, albeit not a very time-consuming one, it'll probably only shave about eight seconds off the clock.
Oh, right, the clock. Well, it wouldn't be much of a trap if something didn't happen if you take too long. Now, there's exciting escape music playing, and there's a counter ticking up in the background, going up by 1 every four seconds. And every four counter ticks, the music starts going faster, until the counter hits 40, everything explodes and you get an instant game over. That means that you've got (40*4)/60 = 2 & 2/3 minutes to escape. Time does not count down during battles, I don't believe the RPG Maker engine is capable of doing that at this point. So you best not dawdle, but provided you haven't forgotten where you're going, you should be able to make it.
Also, remember, the timer on screen is the bat transformation timer. The game doesn't actually show how much time you have left to get out of here.
However, there are a few more nasty tricks the dungeon has up its sleeve. At certain spots, the screen will shake and rocks start falling down, blocking the path you might have wanted to go along.
This happens on both sides of this rectangle corridor, forcing you to go through the middle...
...where a fire trap shaves off 10 HP from each of your party members! Mandatory damage, hooray! At least it can't kill your party members.
At certain points, the screen also shakes, locking you for a few seconds and wasting more valuable time.
However, since I know where I'm going, we make it out with plenty time to spare.
Outside, the transformation is forcibly ended...
Quick, let's get out of here!
...so that we can retransform in cutscene!
And the city fucking explodes entirely!
Damn, that was close...
At least we have the key...
Now all we need is the lock that goes with it!
...and that's that. Now we're just standing here, the game politely asking "well, what now?". I'm not sure, but as far as I can tell, there is nothing in particular pointing you towards Uruya, where you're supposed to go next. This game is very open-world in that it just doesn't tell you where to go to progress the story, so you're left to bop around until you just stumble into the right spot. Especially since the thing in Uruya just tells us where we have to go next, and it sounds just like any other sidequest, meaning that the player could just as well decide to not do that and instead do other things until they eventually return to that one thing and realize it was the one that moved the plot forwards.
I don't know if I like this. In one way, it makes perfect sense. We don't have any sort of lead right now, and we can pretty much just hope that we randomly pick something up. The story shouldn't just implausibly drop a hint in our lap. Furthermore, the game is designed in such a way that bopping around is required - the FAQ recommends level 15 for the previous dungeon, and level 25 for the next one, so you've got lots to do before you can match the new enemies.
On the other hand, it is kind of odd to just be completely dropped by the storyline and basically get told "eh, dunno where you should go next, just fuck about until you find it". Still, I don't think it's bad, because you run into the next plot thread just by being dilligent in exploring cities, which you should do as a player.
I guess this is as good a time as any to cut things - I should be trying to make some shorter updates anyway. Next time, we'll explore a carnival, play some games, travel to Uruya and kinda-sorta advance the plot! Also, we'll be visiting a whorehouse! Excitement!