Legendary Weapons

Cythera

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Legendary weapons can be found in...a lot...of games. Those sparkly, strong weapons that typically involve elaborate side quests and puzzles or the dreaded mini-games to complete. Okay, the dreaded mini-game may be my personal preference - FFX anyone? Curse the 00:00 chocobo race!
Then again, it's a legendary weapon - it should be challenging to get. Right? Equip it for some crazy break damage limit, new skills, lowered MP costs, what have you. It's a legendary weapon, and it cuts through bosses like a hot knife through butter.
How do you balance A: a legendary weapon, so it doesn't turn the rest of the game into a cakewalk and B: the steps needed to get that weapon in the first place. Too weak a weapon and too difficult a side quest, and the player feels cheated. Too strong a weapon, and the difficulty of the game is gone. Also, how do you avoid the guide-dang-it situation and leave clues in game to even find this weapon in the first place? Honestly, without the guide, most of my FFX legend weapons wouldn't exist.
 

NinjaKittyProductions

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To some degree, most of the games I have played that have had Legendary weapons did not make it obvious there were even going to be said weapons. They were for the devote explorer and risk-taker to find.

I even played an RPG where the legendary weapon was weaker than the first weapon you started with... all along saying "you shouldn't believe fairytales."

Imo, if you are to make a legendary weapon, make up the rest of your weapons first. It will give you a good standard for what the next progression of a weapon would be. The legendary weapon would have slightly more attack/magic attack. It might even give you access to a skill or a passive. It could have a chance to apply all the debuffs per attack you make. It could be a legendary shield instead of a weapon, thereby giving you major resistances to magic/physical damage.

If you must leave clues, leave them with an NPC, say one of the bar flys. If the player talks to him, he recants a tale of his/her youth where they were after a tremendous treasure... a weapon that is said to rival the gods. Have them lament over the fact that they ran from the Dragon (or insert monster here) of "Blah Blah Blah" Cave. Subtle hints or off the cuff ramblings would suffice for a legendary weapon hint.
 

J-G

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Mmm simply make the weapons attainable towards the end of the game and it doesn't matter much if they are stronger. You can add some type of secret bosses to put this weapons to good use. Provide hints here and there as to where a player may find them etc.
This should in my opinion balance things out.
 

MushroomCake28

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Well make the strongest weapons available only in the endgame, and balance the hardest side quests (emphasis on side, since I believe the hardest challenge which not everyone can accomplish shouldn't be mandatory) taking into account that the player will have those weapons (so the quests become nearly impossible without those weapons).
 

The Mighty Palm

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I think a legendary weapon should be strong, optional, and hidden. The more difficult/tedious it is to obtain, the stronger it should be.

It should also be like... endgame or post game. The last weapon you will ever need.

I'm also of a mind that there should not be a legendary weapon for every party member. Rather you should have to pick who gets to use it.

I disagree that the endgame/postgame should be nearly impossible without the LWs because that's forcing the player to play the game the way you want instead of how they want.

TL;DR I think a LW should be the most powerful item, even if it's to the point the game becomes easy, but not ever required.
 

kairi_key

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I think it all depend on how you want the legendary weapon to feel in game. Maybe you just want the weapons to be used for endgame challenges so it's okay for it to make the game easy. Maybe you want it to be more balanced than other weapons like it's not the strongest in raw power but its stats or passive are the best.

The way to obtain the weapons can be thought of as a reward or challenge to certain type of players. You might wanna reward player who explore by hiding them in hard to find secret place, or assembling parts. You might wanna reward player who master crafting by hiding it in a long chain of crafting. You might wanna reward player who like battles by some kind of boss rush gauntlet. You might wanna reward player who pursue characters by hiding it in a character related sidequest. That's one way to think about it I guess.
 

Cythera

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Thank you for all your opinions so far - I'm seeing a general trend of 'never make the legendary whatsit mandatory for the main game', and I 100% agree. More of my aim for adding legendary weapons is to provide an alternate route for fights due to bonus natures of the weapon than sheer crazy-high stats. As an example for what I mean, I made a difficult (optional) boss that reflects all healing magic onto itself...unless it lands as a critical hit, then it connects with the original target. But healing magic doesn't critical in my game. Enter the legendary weapon for that character - it allows his healing magic to land as a critical. You can certainly defeat the boss without it, but with that weapon, it offers a different path.

I'm considering placing the legendary weapons behind a side quest geared for that character - something tied in with their history, rather than something unrelated like "clear the 70 floors of the tower of eternal death to get 1 of 3 parts to make this weapon."
 

TheoAllen

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I've done in my game that if you play a hard difficulty, the legendary equipment may help you a lot (although you can still do it without the equipment), but it isn't required in normal difficulty.
 

Aesica

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A. I'm actually okay with the weapon being gamebreakingly strong, but that's because I like my "legendary" weapons to be superboss rewards. And if the superboss is already the most challenging fight in the game, then I'm okay with the reward being something that lets the player stomp all over everything else. After all, they already beat the biggest challenge. Or as a twist, maybe the legendary weapons' OP-ness is required to beat the ultra-mega-superboss that's still waiting around the corner.

B. As for the steps, I'm generally okay with them being cryptic. I try to drop subtle clues to make players think, such as a suspicious section in a big network of caves that looks nothing like the rest of the caves. The music stops, there are strange markings on the floor, and what the player should recognize by now as a push-block puzzle. However, when they interact with the "blocks" (unlit braziers in this case) they get an item popup. "Huh, nothing works right now? Guess we have to come back later. What is this place for, anyway?" Hopefully this will then eat at them until they either forget or finally come back with the right item(s).

Overall, I think it's okay if these so-called legendary weapons are difficult to find as long as they're optional. If they're a core part of your game's plot, then they need to be in the player's face so they know what to do. Cryptic stuff can be fun as long as it isn't missable, because you don't always need to hold the player's hand through everything.
 

bgillisp

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What I did was I first created my weapon and armor tiers and once I figured it out and loot distribution, I then placed my legendary weapons. To find them you either:

a: Had to defeat an optional boss
b: Find a hidden room
c: Complete an optional puzzle
d: Sometimes a combination of all three.
 

Wavelength

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A ton of these issues (and they are real issues) are averted by making these Legendary Weapons into endgame content. As long as the player can only access these weapons near the end of the game, it's perfectly fine that they are so powerful that they would have broken the entire game if you had gotten them earlier. It's okay if it makes the final hour of the game comically easy because the player probably spent several hours (and perhaps took on challenges even bigger than the final boss himself) earning these weapons.

How do you balance A: a legendary weapon, so it doesn't turn the rest of the game into a cakewalk...Too weak a weapon and too difficult a side quest, and the player feels cheated. Too strong a weapon, and the difficulty of the game is gone.
Placed close enough to the end of the game it becomes much less important to "balance" something that is supposed to be gamebreaking. However, if you have a need to "balance" it (perhaps you have a lot of postgame content that you want to be challenging even if the player got the legendaries), you could have the weapon scale based on something. For example, you could have the weapon add 100% to the character's current ATK, instead of adding a flat +240. As the character gains more levels (and therefore more base STR), the weapon will become more effective too. Or you could go the Tales of Symphonia route and give the Legendary weapons a permanent +1 ATK for every enemy that the character kills.

How do you balance...B: the steps needed to get that weapon in the first place....Also, how do you avoid the guide-dang-it situation and leave clues in game to even find this weapon in the first place? Honestly, without the guide, most of my FFX legend weapons wouldn't exist.
The trick is balancing the feeling that the player found something rare and special, versus the risk that the player never finds it at all (without reading a Guide). Err on the side of making sure players can find it if they're looking around. Have a lot of different places where the player can run into a clue as to what they need to do to "start" the quests - NPC dialogue is a great way to give clues, but more clever ways such as Item descriptions and Environmental cues (e.g. a glowing crack in a wall) can get the point across as well. Once the player has "found" and started the quest, try to make it more and more clear what to do next (but also make the tasks more and more challenging). If there are lots of steps in completing the quest, allow the player to do them in any order wherever possible. While not perfect, the general structure for sidequests in Trails in the Sky did a pretty good job onboarding the player onto sidequests, giving the player a good idea of what they had to do (without making it too obvious how to do it or where to find it), and making the player feel clever when they found, conquered, or completed the objective.
 

Cythera

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Thanks for the helpful insight, @Wavelength
I like the percentage based stat boost; this is similar to what I do with weapons as is. The main stat (strength, magic, or luck) is increased based on the level. Every time the user gains, for example, 6 levels with the basic weapon, the main stat grows. The legend weapons are every 2-3 levels.
I worry with hiding clues in NPC dialog, people will skip talking to them, or think it's just a generic NPC talking about "when I was an adventurer like you..." thing. Would colour coding significant key words be an option?
 

Wavelength

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I worry with hiding clues in NPC dialog, people will skip talking to them, or think it's just a generic NPC talking about "when I was an adventurer like you..." thing. Would colour coding significant key words be an option?
Color-coding is definitely an option (there are several scripts/plugins to let you do it in RPG Maker, and in other engines you usually print out strings separately so you can format them differently as well, though it's nowhere nearly as easy as using RPGM plugins). However, it's also kind of the "least common denominator" way to do it, and the player won't feel particularly clever or immersed for picking out a colored word and doing what it says. Your concern about "the player might think it's just generic dialogue" is a very valid concern, but the key is to prime the player's expectations early on. For example, when you have a mandatory storyline quest early on (find a missing party member, for example), even if you tell the player very clearly where they need to go, you could also have several of the NPCs say they've seen a guy who looked dazed wandering toward X location. (This is also great because if the player has forgotten where they are supposed to go, these hints will lead them in the right direction.) Setting up this kind of expectation will prime the player to pay attention to, and process, everything that an NPC says.
 

Cythera

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Hmm, fair point. I want it to feel rewarding, not spoon-fed.
I have a thief NPC the party rescues at mid-end game; if I have her point the party in the general direction of these weapons with history/riddles, such as "I hear there's a legend item buried with this prominent historic figure! I don't remember his name, but here is the great deed he did!" Then the player has to figure out where this grave is and get past the undead guards (or something... bit of an on the spot example) would that still feel rewarding without holding the players hand?
It's an NPC players have had to interact with beforehand, so I feel like they'll be more inclined to talk with her later on.
 

Wavelength

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Hmm, fair point. I want it to feel rewarding, not spoon-fed.
I have a thief NPC the party rescues at mid-end game; if I have her point the party in the general direction of these weapons with history/riddles, such as "I hear there's a legend item buried with this prominent historic figure! I don't remember his name, but here is the great deed he did!" Then the player has to figure out where this grave is and get past the undead guards (or something... bit of an on the spot example) would that still feel rewarding without holding the players hand?
It's an NPC players have had to interact with beforehand, so I feel like they'll be more inclined to talk with her later on.
Yeah, I think that's generally a good way to do it for optional objectives like Legendary Weapons. Just make sure it doesn't clash with strong expectations you've set up in the past (for example, if you've never required the player to "find" anything before, and instead you just warp them where they need to be, they may assume that this hint is just flavor dialogue).
 

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