May 2019:Altamira Boardwalk

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Area of the Month for April 2019 is The Altamira Boardwalk!

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Player: You!(Class/Level)

Review Date(s):


Descriptions: X/10

How does the area's room descriptions(descs) work for you? Do they give you a good idea of the area? Do things that stand out in the desc and NEED explanation GET that, either from flavor text(extra-descs) or NPCs in the room or anything?

What about mobiles(mobs) and their descriptions? Can you get a decent mental image of who or what this NPC/monster is? Do they respond when you talk or interact with them?

Some areas have interact-able objects like fountains. Do they stack up well also?


Balance: X/10 (OR N/A)

(NOTE: combat will be most accurately gauged when your character is in the area's suggested level range.)

If this area has combat, how does it feel? Does anything jump as horribly overpowered and impossible to deal with? What about the flipside, anything far too easy to beat?

Are purchased or rewarded items at the appropriate strength levels? Is the effort required to obtain rewarded items reflected in their usefulness (or uniqueness and fancifulness)


Attractions: X/10

Why would you suggest someone come to this area? Is it just a good place to grind experience(lots of mobs)? Does the area provide a chunk of good gold and loot?

What about the quests? Does this area's quests feel properly done, or is there some part of it that you feel needs work?

For towns, are the shops good? Any other non-combative attraction for the area?


Connections: X/10

How easily and well does this area connect to its nearby areas? Does it make sense thematically to be connected to the areas it is?


Personal

Any comments you'd like to make that you don't feel apply to the other sections can go here!




Player: Emouse (Dollmage, level 100, 18 remorts) - Token'd

Review Dates: 5/25/2019-5/27/2019


Descriptions: 9/10

Flavor descriptions are probably Altamira's strongest point: It's generally basic and straightforward, but so is the content. For better or for worse, most of it is done through timed echos in given rooms instead of extra descs. Considering how many things on the main boardwalk are pure flavor with no clear gameplay consequence, it's impressive how much has been put into them. I suspect I haven't seen everything there is to see here... The idle banter for Agnp and the ways the rides operate are probably some of the strongest parts.

There are a few things that I'd like to see with extra descs (like the building where Agnp is, and a little more about the rides before actually handing over a ticket to get on) but the main boardwalk is good.

Smash Stadium has lots of flavor for its mobs and some nice ASCII art (which may need to be addressed for screen reader purposes), but the frequency of extra descs for stuff in the stages is inconsistent - Ness and Captain Falcon have few, but many of the others have multiple extra descs for flavor. There's space for touch-ups, if only for screen reader compatibility, but the Stadium does even better than the main boardwalk for description purposes.

The Smash Stadium prize exchange tent is also good, but has some room for improvement: The weight of the prizes is not listed, but is somewhat relevant for budgeting space for remorting in a region designed around remorting - but considering the ability to exchange AFTER remorting, it's not necessarily a serious issue. More archaic and annoying is that the exchange attendant is missing some quality-of-life features available on many of Lilly's event exchangers; listing the say prompts for the items you have enough points for, being able to check how many are currently carried, and attempting to return extra tokens are all proven possible, but not implemented here. Inconvenient? Yes. Worth updating? Eh... if it's simple.

Balance: N/A for combat; estimate 8/10 for equipment/rewards

I don't really have any characters in an appropriate level range for this, and Smash Stadium has a (very) wide level range, so I don't really have a good grip on the combat balance here. Sorry!

That being said - the meta-level balance of the zone design and equipment is... odd, but effective. I've been told that Smash Stadium was intended for remorting, and it shows: While you can visit to collect tokens at a wide range of levels, the time attack nature of the reward amounts and escalating danger of the later rounds (for both opponent level and how many team up on you at once) the area is easily most efficient to visit at level 100 while preparing to get above-par equipment for your next lifetime. Even then, the final two matches put you at a significant enough disadvantage to be somewhat threatening even at 100 with okay 1st-remort gear. You can still visit at lower levels and gather tokens more slowly; all of the combat areas being flagged Arena prevents you from gaining or losing XP/dealing with corpse nonsense in the process, and the loading screen/1-player-at-a-time process prevents friendly fire between players to mask that.

I'm not as sure about the way the rewards for the different matches operate, though: The fact that you only get rewards at the end of each bracket (up until the final two rounds where you get teamed up on all at once) makes it painful to try and experiment with how far you can go when you aren't coming in at full power to curbstomp the whole event. Granted - that's part of what the way it's designed is intended for, so that's not as big a deal as it could be. The gold rewards for different brackets are a bit puzzling considering the in-world explanation for the area, but I'm willing to just smile and nod. However, it IS odd that while the brackets scale in level progressively, the gold rewards for brackets go 5, 10, 5, 10, 0. At least, in the echos provided. The extra gold is probably a reasonable reward for the time/combat involved, but the way the amounts scale is puzzling.

In terms of smash token payouts, the only real pain point for me is the time limit for the 5th bracket - 98% of the time I can get 30 or 36 points after Ganondorf while rocking heavy Lunar Subterrane gear, but 40 points is incredibly difficult to pull off and usually puts the max 150 advertised in the tent out of reach. 40 points is also, strangely, more than the amount of tokens rewarded for the significantly-more-dangerous final two matches with no extra prizes. I remember specifically bowing out instead of dealing with those matches while trying to quickly collect Smash tokens on Hevea years ago, and even with Emouse's Lunar-gear might I walked out of the last bracket losing 3-5x as much HP as I did up through Ganondorf. Some adjustment for the last 'bracket' may be appropriate, whether it be by making 30 points the max for the Ganondorf bracket with the rest being treated as a 'buffer' for the time you can take and moving the token to one of the last-bracket opponents, or by adding something extra that Master Hand/Crazy Hand/Psycho Mewtwo/Enraged Ganondorf/Giga Bowser can drop.

As for the Smash Stadium exchange prizes... they're mostly fitting for their intended role - above par for the level, but most realistic to get as remorting gear - or to stockpile Smash Stadium tokens to get as needed during remorts at the level they're useful. This is a unique way to work around remorting inventory restrictions on a limited cash budget, though the selection is limited and repeating the trick in multiple remorts has maintenance costs (mostly in time spent at Smash Stadium). This is especially true for the consumables - Mario Multivitamins are competitive for consumable healing through mid-levels, or even high levels as a Kirby because pill. Metal Box and Parasol are relatively unimpressive but have uncommon resists for the slot if circumstances demand. Star Rods, Heart Containers, and Warp Stars are handy for multiple uses of several spell types when short on remort slots, especially with Recharge. The Reflector Shield and Tour Bus are both very good for their level range, but a little heavy to always budget space for while remorting - tying into the "remort the tokens" strategy even more. Piecing together enough of remort inventory mechanics to figure that out is trickier to manage.

The two rod-type items from the stadium exchange are the odd part: For Freezies, Frozen Touch is purely defensive, short-lived (for good reason) and isn't as useful against mobs since the Frozen affect doesn't always stop mobprogs. While the level 30 wear/level 50 cast is a strong discrepency, the substantial cooldown and abrupt drop-off of success rate once you start facing higher-level enemies make it feel like it has a narrow niche. But that may be due to my investments in other equipment to allow playing aggressively while remorting, thus devaluing defensive extras. Thematically it doesn't really... fit to change much about it, since Frozen Touch strongly matches what Freezies do in Smash, but I'm not sure it's something I'd be inclined to get. The Fighting Wireframe Trophy is even worse. Admittedly - it seems to be intended as a bragging-rights trophy more than something with practical use. But even then, level 1 rod of Legionairre is not very unique or fancy. I don't know what to do about this one, if anything: Possible easy tweaks could be to add a sell value of higher than 2 (to make it the only way to exchange Smash Tokens for cash, though the ability to do that for large sums of money at level 0 could be dangerous) or adding Uncounted so that keeping it as a mostly-useless trophy doesn't use more space while remorting than the 100 Uncounted tokens exchanged for it.

Agnp's inventory is... mostly more flavorful than powerful. The action figures are an interesting (and relatively expensive) way to counter the basic non-human races' mainstat deficiencies, but generally aren't all that powerful. There's reasonable flavor arguments for adding some for the remort-only races, but if the pattern sticks they would still be relatively tame for balance concerns. The paintball and rubber band weapons are mostly entertaining but have added affects that could find a niche (earth damage and tracer at any level is a rarity). The dice are cute and handy for RNG decision-making, and Demonicor's universal equip options and ever-so-slightly better stats are offset by being a level 100 item. The Angela Doll and Wrath's Wardrobe are more considerable for balance purposes: Angela is one of the biggest MP boosts in the game, but provides nothing else while using a hand slot - there are other high-end items, a few of them even buyable, that can compete in total stat boosts, so she's mostly good for squeezing out every last drop you can for Wizen or Megamagic.

Wraith's Wardrobe... I'm not sure how to feel about. To my knowledge it's the best all-around container than can be bought at a shop, making it a top choice for locker fodder and budget item management, but the price is substantial. For use as a locker, Wraith's Wardrobe is in a good place balance-wise; 1,300 gold is a serious expense your first few remorts and remains a solid chunk for any life's budget - like the Smash Stadium tokens, it's a significant every-remort expense, but in the form of extra gold to remort instead of extra time to replace stuff you're ditching/using up to remort. You can't get it TOO early with a level of 70, but... I'm kind of an old fogey in terms of the value of containers: I'm used to there being a sharp divide between containers readily available from stores or basic quests and containers locked behind either raidbosses or Immortal tokens, where 'lesser' containers are only good for managing inventory and have little to no weight reduction value. Wraith's Wardrobe defies that divide by being a good-but-not-unbeatable container that is available purely through gaining XP and gold, with generally adequate capacity, relevant weight reduction, and of a very reasonable weight itself. I have a gut feeling that it's possible for it to be TOO good in these categories, but I don't know if that's me being reactive and undervaluing container level/Adhesiveness when the Wardrobe is at the strength a high-level/cost container should be, or if the Wardrobe's not-locker properties are so good that outclassing lower-level containers for in-inventory use through remorts is a concern. There IS still room for a better-than-wardrobe-worse-than-raidboss/immtoken containers could be designed, but the space for it feels relatively narrow. I don't know if this is - or should be - a concern. If if is, the Wardrobe's inherent weight and weight% reduction mainly affect its value as a carried container, and not its value as locker fodder.

Attractions: 7/10

Altamira is in a weird place for attractions: It has a strong selection of shop buyables and equipment for a wide range of levels and budgets, and the Smash Stadium is a good experience for fighting and remort preparation... but you can't gain XP here, at all, and the Quests list for the Boardwalk is completely blank. Several other zones send you to Altamira as part of quests (such as the ferris wheel qflag in Wutai) but there's nothing that starts in Altamira outside of Smash Stadium, which is self-contained and doesn't rely on qflags.

What Altamira HAS is strong and appropriate, but it's completely missing some categories of content. No XP combat for a 'town' is reasonable, but I'm not as sure about completely outsourcing (or unlisting) all quest content.

Moving/duplicating the ferris wheel quest line here would probably be helpful - I don't know what other qflags are used or set in the area, if any, but setting up something to let the 'quests' command point out things that can be done in the area would be nice-but-not-vital. If new quest additions would be worth it, tracking for the highest Smash Stadium brackets you've cleared (possibly with one-time XP rewards?) and retrieving new plushies/action figures/less kosher desires for Agnp feel like tasks that direct you to the big features of the area.

Connections: 9/10

Altamira's location and connections are pretty good: Its location as a beachside carnival in a relatively peaceful region makes perfect sense, there's a mix of Cleft races about, and there are a few references to other areas in the Cleft scattered around (such as the Monotoli advertisement in a Smash Stadium extra desc). More could be possible, but it's in solid condition as it is. ... it is slightly odd that most of the events are classical carnival rides, while Smash Stadium is fashioned as an advanced technological fighting ring, but it's also relatively easy to hand-wave as Monotoli marketing.

The only real problem: In terms of broader lore, Smash Stadium is a bit... out of character? All of the Smash characters are treated as if a person that could play Smash Melee were looking at/talking to them, and in that context things make sense. However, Mario and Luigi (at the very least) have existing places in in-character Clefty lore that go unaddressed. I'm not sure if that is, or should be, considered an issue.

Bugs/Exploits:

In Guardia - Altamira Boardwalk: Entrance, I'm not sure about some of the grammar: The "it's" in the room desc and the archway's extra desc may deserve a look.

Mixed blessing: The merchant tent mobs appear to be flagged inert, meaning that they don't appear as line when you look in the room. Probably intentional, but it does make it harder to tell which rooms in the boardwalk "list" will work in. Is this an appropriate time/area to expect players to experiment with that with low prompting? I don't know. Adding a mention of list working even if the shopkeeper isn't obvious may be appropriate?

Possible item name oversight: the Smash Stadium tokens can be checked with "ten", "point", and "token", but not "smash" or "stadium". Considering the other point tokens that have popped up for other things, it may be worth giving ways to refer to the Smash tokens specifically.

Personal gripe: Many of the room transfers in Smash Stadium won't take charmies with you, so I've always had a hard time clearing this efficiently as a primarily-summoner. Usually happens when you're 'chain-transferred' - when you gather your team into a room everyone transfers properly, but after your minions have been transferred into a room they don't transfer to the NEXT room properly. For example, if you gather into the first "loading" room, your followers appear for the fight against Ness, but not for the following fight against Captain Falcon. This forces re-gathering every other fight, which is a significant slowdown when trying to speed-lap the contest, and a moderate threat for the last few rounds when you get attacked immediately after being transferred (since Gather can't be cast in combat). I don't know if this is caused by an easy-switch choice of transfer method, a code quirk that would be more difficult to address (or cause problems elsewhere) or what.

Pichu's talkprog seems to misuse the "self" variable and not actually echo its own name. Oops.

One of Master/Crazy Hands' special attacks seems to not echo a damage value: "Master Hand and Crazy Hand clap together, crushing you between them!"

The enemies in the very last round (Psycho Mewtwo, Enraged Ganondorf, and Giga Bowser) all have an on-defeat message that implies not leaving a corpse, but do leave corpses and (edible) bodyparts: I'm not sure whether this is intentional. Considering how glitchy they are by nature, weirdness would be fitting, but it's a bit inconsistent with the on-death echoes.

Some NPCs have no talk progs, when that seems to be standard for most locations:

  • Merchant Tents
  • Master Hand
  • Crazy Hand
  • Enraged Ganondorf
  • Psycho Mewtwo
  • Giga Bowser

Apparently ALL of the Smash Stadium opponents are not flagged carrynone and most don't leave corpses, risking vaporized Flings and lost items if you're trying to get a reaction out of character-specific stuff or off-the-wall theories. (I have given Samus at least one Chozo-looking thing in the past.) I'm not sure whether carrynone or on-death dumping their inventory in the next Loading room would be more cost-effective. This has been tested on:

  • (Target)
  • Ness
  • Captain Falcon
  • Nana
  • Popo
  • Mario
  • Donkey Kong
  • Mr. Game and Watch
  • Young Link
  • Yoshi
  • Kirby
  • Fox McCloud
  • Roy
  • Falco
  • Samus
  • Pichu
  • Pikachu
  • Luigi
  • Dr. Mario
  • Marth
  • Mewtwo
  • Jigglypuff
  • Metal Ness
  • Zelda
  • Link
  • Sheik
  • Bowser
  • Princess Peach
  • Ganondorf
  • Master Hand
  • Crazy Hand
  • Psycho Mewtwo
  • Enraged Ganondorf
  • Giga Bowser

Overall: A

Altamira is a strong zone, reliant on Stadium remort content, shops, and flavor descriptions for its value over effectiveness for directly gaining levels - and does it VERY well. It does still have shortcomings, primarily in quest direction and showing its age, but the place has held up well for a good reason.

Recommendations:

I don't know if it already exists, but due to the all-or-nothing nature of the brackets in Smash Stadium, it would probably be good to have some sort of warning for participants that are low enough level that clearing the first bracket would be difficult. Having the ride operator's talkprog check for that and say something along the lines of "though getting through the first bracket might be difficult for someone of your strength..."

I dislike the discrepancy in the max payout of Bracket 5 and 'Bracket' 6, especially considering the relative danger of each. If it would be easy to make Bracket 5 a max payout of 30 points with more of a time buffer and 'Bracket' 6 a max payout of 40 points with greater danger involved, I think it would be an improvement.

The Smash Stadium Token Exchange is a bit archaic - a lot of point-exchange-mob features have been displayed in a lot of Lilly's events, but not here. Depending on how much of a hassle setting those up is, it may be worth bullying him about bringing the attendant up to snuff.

The fact that the Smash Stadium battle rooms are flagged Arena is relatively subtle - the only explicit hint without dying in the Stadium is that enemies don't provide XP, which doesn't really tip you off that you won't need to worry about necroing if you die there if you aren't already familiar with what the arena flag implies. Adding a sentence to the end of the second paragraph of the bulletin extradesc in Altamira Boardwalk - Smash Stadium Prize Vendor room would work: It already breaks the fourth wall about "the only way out is death!" - adding something like "But don't worry too much, the rooms are also flagged Arena, so all your items and XP will stay with you if you die." would point it out explicitly in a location that makes sense, and tip the player off that this is a thing that can happen in other regions as well.

The barren 'Quests' list for the Boardwalk is slightly misleading and unhelpful: Copying over/transferring the "ride the ferris wheel" qflag from Wutai would show that there's at least something to interact with, and additions/publication of qflags related to completing Smash Stadium or that hint to check out Agnp's shop would allow the Quests command to direct you at more of the features of the area.

Excessive Ideas:

Smash Stadium and Altamira are already really good, but oddly enough... Smash Stadium also feels like a great place to expand or improve on - if only because of the fact that the Smash series has expanded since the time of it the Stadium's creation, and the area being based on the 2nd of 5th (so far) of the series is an awkward place for it to stop. There's a lot of room to be flexible with how to do it - a starting point for more dramatic areas with meta-weirdness based on Brawl's Subspace Emissary or Ultimate's World of Light, different battle modes (multiple room arena with groups of fighting polygons/wireframes for Geomancer love?), alternative character sets for existing/new brackets... there are a lot of different directions things could go, but it just feels awkward with what's currently there. In a way this also goes for the item exchange: Lots of fun new things were added in Brawl and later that would be neat to see, and expand the options that Smash Tokens provide for remorting. Smash Ball float? Single-use event that lets you use Super off-class, or a class-specific special ability! Assist Trophy? Event to call up NPCs for various things! Party ball? Stack of Instant bonuses to grab, or it blows up in someone's face! Whether any of these are worth implementing or empowering the Stadium further over I shouldn't push.

The uniqueness and interestingness of the Wireframe Trophy as a bragging-rights treasure is underwhelming: Legionaire is not a very impressive spell even at-level, and simply raising it to be a don't-worry-about-recharge version of the Star Rod's high-level damage concept feels lazy (and potentially risky). Refasioning it as some sort of fancy-but-possibly-useless Event-type item would be much more interesting. I don't know if anyone would be up for it, but it feels like a no-combat-value "pet" follower ala the pumpkin and reindeer rewards from Cooper's seasonal events could be appropriate - or some sort of reusable actual-combat-pet summon item, probably something not-the-best-but-free for lower levels to keep with the area theme.