First of all it's great to know you're still working on this project. I made a HT hack of this game with the hacking tool you released some time ago and I would like to make a few suggestions as to how to tweak the game.
Thanks. I've always wanted to do this project, and I wasn't about to let a 2yr hiatus from keeping me finishing it. But, I'm interested in seeing how you went about your challenge hack.
-An interesting way to nerf holy, flare and meteor would be to increase the mp cost (1 mp for every spell doesn't make sense since some of them are clearly more powerful than others). Wizardry spells keep their monstrous offensive power, but you'd be limited on the number of times you can use them.
Until I can find the assembly routine that handles how magic spells consume points this would be a great addition to anyone's hack. For now I've actually changed where these spells (and the rest) are being obtained. I won't say much but expect Exit, Heal, Holy, Meteor and Flare to not be obtainable until much later than the original. One of which very much later.
-As for enemies being too weak near the end, the solution is simple: increase their stats.
I've already addressed this issue by overhauling each enemies' attack power and on some occasions adding status ailments along with the damage as well.
Balchmorn beat the game at level 33 and was apparently overleveled. Considering you could have leveled up to 42, I'd recommend the following: make these enemies harder, but increase exp. This way you can grind up to level 42 if you want, but the game would still pose you a challenge, plus the extra exp gained makes grinding less time-consuming. Grinding up to level 42 in the original game is not only pointless, but very long. Now grinding serves a purpose and doesn't take forever.
I've made enough tweaks I believe to allow the normal player to have a challenge throughout the game under normal circumstances. Any player who wants to grind out levels or achieve the "perfect" game would really be doing this sort of hack a disservice in a round about way. You are supposed to be challenged, if you grind out levels to make it easier wouldn't that defeat the purpose of the increased challenge?
A "speed run" player should be severely challenged up until around levels 26-28. A "normal" player who plays the game at the normal pace and style should be fairly challenged up until around levels 30-34. A "careful" player should be only slightly challenged up until around levels 34-36. Anything more than level 36 is overkill and won't provide that much of a challenge--which would defeat the purpose of the mod. But, even at level 42 I believe Dark King is still a pain in the ass if you aren't careful. Especially in his final form.
-I'd say to keep the seeds and cure potions buyable, but maybe increase the cost.
I've addressed this issue by limiting the entire game's GP amount. Normal monsters and even mini-bosses give you exactly 0 GP each. And by limiting the total receipt of GP from the whole game you will have to choose between buying items and buying the weapons/armor from NPCs--this adds another challenge element. You won't be able to do both. ;)
You will receive 660 GP from Battlefields and 780 GP from boss battles. That's a total game GP amount of 1,440 GP. You'll need 1,015 GP for the weapon and armor that various NPCs can sell you. That leaves you with 425 GP left to spend how you see fit.
Also, I've spread out enough Ethers (Seeds) for the player to use wisely but you can always trek through the easier dungeons to snag more Ethers. But, doing this repeatedly would make the game easier since you'll essentially be grinding EXP and those items.
-Battlefields just aren't used to their fullest potential in the original game. Lots of people just skip them for a simple reason. Often the rewards aren't worth it.
Already been addressed on one of my previous beta builds. Battlefields play an important role this time. Yes, there are a couple that may seem "worthless" but the reduced overall experience and GP in the game might make Battlefields a little more appealing this time around. Especially since I've altered almost every treasure chest in the game...
A most interesting tweak would be to actually increase the exp and gold reward, but to increase the difficulty of the challenge with each battle. i.e. 1st battle 2 mintmints, 2nd battle 3 mintmints, 3rd battle 3 scorpions, then 3 edgehogs, 3 sparnas, 3 centaurs etc... The last battle should be very challenging since it would bring a big reward. But just increasing the difficulty level for a bigger reward would make me happy.
The Battlefields pull from a table randomly, it isn't possible without rewriting the assembly routine to have the game select the "last' battle to be different. Battlefields are completely random within that data table.
-Medusa seems an absolute pain in the ass.
Good. My Medusa is even harder.
The problem appears to be her petrifying ability, which makes winning or losing mostly a matter of luck as to wether she decided to use it twice in a row or not. Victory should depend on strategy, not luck, but then again if it's the only occurance whre luck is a determining factor, i'd say it's ok.
"Luck" is an instrumental role for my hack. There are times where a well placed critical attack will outright kill one of your party members, or, as in Medusa's case cast stone/dead on both party members. This is something I actually had on my storyboard before I started my hack. You need to "fear" these monsters, and the best way to do that is to see a quick or untimely "Game Over". :)
-In your videos regular goons seem to give you more trouble than crystal bosses, or am I somehow mistaken?
Depends on the situation. I've addressed the "crystal" bosses a bit to be more of a challenge, the issue was the attack statistical data wasn't edited yet on my videos. But, there are a couple of regular monsters that are just going to be harder. Think of those as successors to "Sorcerer" from Final Fantasy I on the NES.
Keep up the good work, buddy. I'm looking forward to playing this hack once it's completed!
Thanks for the input. I've got what I hope to be a final version (minus dialogue) right now that I'm personally testing. Once my personal test is over I'll ask my other 3 closed beta testers to give it a whirl themselves. The treasure chest, Battlefield and monster attack edits really make a whole world of difference this time around.