Deep Look: Final Fantasy 8- Junctioning

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Posted by thatpinguino (1384 posts) -

Hey Bombadeers,

Here is the latest Deep Look! Deep Looks are largely gameplay and commentary like a Giantbomb quicklook; however, I try to cover games that have been out for a while and I intend to use the videos to highlight moments and mechanics that I found interesting. Also I aim to keep the videos under 20 minutes (maybe I should have called them actual quick looks).

In this Deep Look I examine the junction system in FF8 and show off how junctioning effects the combat and leveling in FF8. I explain how the junction system radically changes FF8's combat when compared to standard jrpg combat. I also explain how the junction system and scaling enemies disincentivize grinding and reward knowledge and skillful play. I hope you enjoy it! As always I love feedback and I am still striving to get better at this video thang so all criticism is welcome.

Edit: I also finished a Deep Look of more advanced junction techniques if you want something a bit more broken.

#1 Posted by thatpinguino (1384 posts) -

I added a little bit of an explanation of what Deep Looks are to the top of the post. I realize that almost no on know what my videos are yet, so the preface is necessary.

#2 Posted by Jesus_Phish (1152 posts) -

I know it's not the most popular opinion, but I loved the junction system of FF8. It was brilliant.

#3 Posted by Fredchuckdave (6162 posts) -

It's a good system, more interesting than Materia in my opinion; and there's something to be said for junction points on the world map and roaming around weird islands on different sides of the map to fight the hardest enemies and get more spells.

#4 Posted by Veektarius (5031 posts) -

I get what you mean when you say it disincentivizes grinding, but I never grinded in an FF game more than when when around farming spell draws.

#5 Posted by TheRealMoot (430 posts) -

It's a good system, more interesting than Materia in my opinion; and there's something to be said for junction points on the world map and roaming around weird islands on different sides of the map to fight the hardest enemies and get more spells.

Heaven and Hell island baby, every good spell and stupid tough enemies.

#6 Posted by thatpinguino (1384 posts) -

@therealmoot: I love the way FF8 uses its map. There are actual reasons to explore every nook and cranny of the world map. I can't think of many other rpgs that actually encourage you to look around the world map itself for items.

@veektarius: Yeah but you really don't HAVE to grind those spells for FF8 to be super easy. If you want 100 stock of everything then sure, but give me 100 triple and 100 tornado and I am good.

#7 Edited by TheRealMoot (430 posts) -

@therealmoot: I love the way FF8 uses its map. There are actual reasons to explore every nook and cranny of the world map. I can't think of many other rpgs that actually encourage you to look around the world map itself for items.

@veektarius: Yeah but you really don't HAVE to grind those spells for FF8 to be super easy. If you want 100 stock of everything then sure, but give me 100 triple and 100 tornado and I am good.

That little hidden island research lab. The shrine / castle for Odin. Tons, of little places to visit and find more Summons and stuff. Yeah, great stuff hidden in that game. Worth exploring every inch of it.

You want the game to be easy?! Status Attack Junction + Pain spell will mess up almost any non-boss enemy.

I have an old JRPG to revist...

#8 Posted by Fredchuckdave (6162 posts) -

@thatpinguino: Dragon Quest VIII and Final Fantasy XII use their respective maps pretty well and emphasize exploration; though there isn't the traditional world map experience in either.

#9 Posted by ToTheNines (841 posts) -

drawing magic was a bit.. tedious though

#10 Edited by Slag (4899 posts) -

@veektarius: Yeah but you really don't HAVE to grind those spells for FF8 to be super easy. If you want 100 stock of everything then sure, but give me 100 triple and 100 tornado and I am good.

I tried to get 100 Ultimas for my entire party. :(

I just couldn't break the grinding habit, which is probably why I was so miserable playing it. I hated hated staying in battles drawing over and over, so boring. I didn't have internet back then and giantbomb didn't exist so no podcast listening to take mind off it either.

but yeah in retrospect props to Square for trying something new and Triple Triad was easily the best minigame in the entire series imo.

yeah you still need a better signoff. :)

#11 Posted by thatpinguino (1384 posts) -

@slag: The only enemies I ever grinded were cactuars, tonberries, and the fish on Balamb that give 3 ap so I could get card mod. I had to kill the tonberries for the tonberry summon. I'm going to keep cycling through terrible sign offs till I get bored and just say somthing normal like "Pinguino out!" or something.

@therealmoot: Don't forget about meltdown and vitality 0 being a status effect that exists. You can render any boss completely defenseless in 1 can't miss spell. Not to mention degenerator for regular fights and The End for bosses. I also love the Obel Lake side quests. FF8 has a freaking lake monster!

@tothenines: It is a bit tedious, but I happen to think all forms of grinding are tedious so grinding one fight and being done, for me, is preferable to having to grind tons of battles. Also you don't really have to draw tons of magic if you know what cards to get or what creatures to steal from. Most items refine into 20 uses of a spell so you only need 5 per character and you often steal 2 or more.

#12 Edited by Brodehouse (10138 posts) -

FF8 taught a 14 year old me the basics of economics, opportunity cost and efficiency.

I've gone back to it in the last year with its release on Steam. I'm about 24 hours in, not far past the first disc. Just met up in Fisherman's Horizon. It would be great if I could actually wrap it, retread ground I haven't walked on in 13 years.

#13 Edited by Slag (4899 posts) -

@slag: The only enemies I ever grinded were cactuars, tonberries, and the fish on Balamb that give 3 ap so I could get card mod. I had to kill the tonberries for the tonberry summon. I'm going to keep cycling through terrible sign offs till I get bored and just say somthing normal like "Pinguino out!" or something.

I freely admit the game didn't make me grind, it's just one that was real bad for my ultra completionist playstyle. Totally a me problem.

What do you normally say when you're departing in real life? If it were me I'd try a variant of that, then it'd probably feel natural to you and would sound natural. you do say hello at the beginning so it would fit thematically to treat signing off the same way. :)

#14 Posted by Veektarius (5031 posts) -

@thatpinguino: I remember grinding some kind of unicorn monsters for their cure spell, mostly.

#15 Posted by GunstarRed (5480 posts) -

I have finished that game. After watching that video I'm pretty certain I played FFVIII completely wrong from start to finish.

#16 Posted by Superkenon (1506 posts) -

I daresay Junctioning is the best system to be found in a Final Fantasy. It's only daunting at first glance, then you realize it's actually pretty simple and jammed-full of fun, stupid possibilities.

I've played through FF8 twice, and I'm sure I'll play it again just to Junction some more crap.

#17 Posted by HistoryInRust (6407 posts) -

Always heard the Junction system was easily breakable. That you could super-charge your party from the ostensible outset.

#18 Posted by thatpinguino (1384 posts) -

@historyinrust: Yep that is the crux of my video! You can break the game in about 1 hour and never have a challenge if you want.

@superkenon: I personally love the command abilities like Mad Rush and Devour. You can have a team that specializes in being berserk or eating enemies and that is hilarious.

@gunstarred: Well then play it again!

@veektarius: Those are probably mesmerizes and you can steal their horns really easily or get their card to max out your cure spells early in the game.

@slag: You know you are probably right, I'll try a more natural sign off the next time I record.

@brodehouse: People always are surprised when I say I learned life skills from games, but the economic systems in FF8 definitely shaped the way I perceive cost and value.

#19 Edited by Video_Game_King (36272 posts) -

Two things:

  1. That "wet noise" I complain about whenever I say I don't do videos? I noticed it here. (If I knew how to get around it, I'd probably be making videos.)
  2. Maybe the Quick Look format isn't the best thing for what you have in mind. It would make more sense to do what Patrick did for the Xbox video. That way, you can just cut to what you need to cut to.
#20 Edited by thatpinguino (1384 posts) -

@video_game_king: What is the wet noise of which you speak? Also I figured I would use the quick look format to make the videos a little less formal than a full breakdown and also because I don't know how to edit yet.

#21 Posted by Video_Game_King (36272 posts) -
#22 Edited by thatpinguino (1384 posts) -

@video_game_king: Thanks for the heads up! I did not notice that sound, but I'll be more conscious going forward. I am toying around with doing edited videos for concepts that are really difficult to show in 10-15 minutes of gameplay so I might change up the format somewhere down the line. Thanks for the help on this crazy journey of mine!

#23 Posted by Nux (2427 posts) -

This was a good watch, good job duder! You really made me want to go back and give FF8 another chance.

#24 Posted by thatpinguino (1384 posts) -

@nux: Thanks! You should give it another go. FF8 is a lot faster the second time through and it is even more fun if you try out some of the more challenging builds. Like I tried spreading all of my GFs across each of my characters on one run.

#25 Posted by Demoskinos (15179 posts) -

Really love me some FFVIII my 2nd favorite Final Fantasy of all time.

#26 Posted by thatpinguino (1384 posts) -

@demoskinos: I'm gonna guess 9 or 6 is your number 1.

#27 Posted by Marino (4766 posts) -

@thatpinguino: Great. Just great. Now I want to dump 80 hours into FF8, again! Thanks. Really.

(You're on the front page now)

Staff Online
#28 Posted by thatpinguino (1384 posts) -

@marino: With my handy dandy guide to junctioning you only need to spend 20!

#29 Edited by Corvak (1173 posts) -

One thing I liked about the junction system is how you could actually get into it in the early game. Though breaking game systems is one thing I really liked about PS1 and earlier FF games.

Another aspect of FFVIII that is worth talking about is probably Triple Triad. One of the few FF minigames worth playing as you go through the main game.

Materia was great, but it was a shame you couldn't get to a lot of the more interesting combinations until the endgame.

#30 Posted by MannyMAR (529 posts) -

The junction system is easily my favorite Final Fantasy mechanic to date. My only gripe is that before you're able to draw haste spells it can be a pain to grind magic spells.

#31 Edited by thatpinguino (1384 posts) -

@mannymar: I usually refined spells from items rather than draw them. Most items refine to 20 uses of a spell, which makes refining much more time efficient than drawing.

@corvak: I actually did a follow up video to this one that covers Triple Triad and item refining. I think I might do another video on the world map in FF8, but it is going to take me some time to actually play through the game and get the Ragnarok.

#32 Posted by Accolade (364 posts) -

I know it's not the most popular opinion, but I loved the junction system of FF8. It was brilliant.

Agreed.

#33 Edited by KoolAid (1034 posts) -

FF8 may be pretty decisive, but you can't argue that the Junction system wasn't super unique! Glad it's getting some attention!

#34 Posted by Huey2k2 (492 posts) -

Ugh the junction system.

I respect that people really like FF8, but I absolutely hate it.

An RPG that removes any incentive to level is wrong to me on a fundamental level, but I say that as someone who enjoys grinding.

To each their own I suppose.

#35 Posted by MrSlapHappy (187 posts) -

I look forward to more of these. This is all pretty basic information, which makes for an excellent starter for your series on the combat mechanics of this game. I already have a good understanding of the basics of the junctioning system, but I never went very deep into it, so I will be interested to watch later videos where you discuss the deeper concepts of the system.

#36 Posted by Brodehouse (10138 posts) -

@huey2k2 said:

I respect that people really like FF8, but I absolutely hate it.

An RPG that removes any incentive to level is wrong to me on a fundamental level, but I say that as someone who enjoys grinding.

It incentivizes leveling up your GF abilities, and collecting or harvesting more and more powerful spells. The 'refinement' abilities make increasing your stats into a more numbers based approach to Monster Hunter; find where a monster lives, get the drop you want, refine magic from the drop. Additionally there's Drawing which I absolutely grant sucks out loud.

#37 Posted by thatpinguino (1384 posts) -

@huey2k2: What is it about grinding that you enjoy? Also what is it about a firm leveling system that you enjoy? I tend to see grinding as a symptom of game design flaws and a need to meet play-time goals, so I have never really found grinding to be all that compelling. As for leveling, I think it is an excellent means to an end as far as giving a clear progression system to the player; however, I think that natural skill barriers like the kind fighting games employ or expertise barriers like the kind FF8 uses are equally compelling paths.

@mrslaphappy: I did a follow-up video on item refinement that is a slightly more advanced look at junctioning, but I don't want to make the definitive guide to junctioning. I want to make a few videos that show how the system works and why I love it so much and hopefully introduce it to a new audience. I'm hoping that all of my deep looks will achieve that same goal and put a little bit of my own analytic spin on seemingly known quantities. That's why my video on item refining is likely my last video on straight junctioning, though I will do at least one more on FF8.

#38 Edited by Huey2k2 (492 posts) -

@thatpinguino: When it comes to grinding/leveling, I enjoy being able to shut off my brain sometimes and just grind for levels/money. I am sure that won't make sense to some people, but I find it relaxing, and even fun. Of course I am also a big fan of MMO's, so maybe my brain is hardwired to find "boring"/repetitive tasks strangely soothing.

Also I don't personally consider the junction system to be a real "skill barrier" of any kind. It is easily manipulated as long as you are willing to learn how to do it yourself, or read a guide that tells you how to do it. It's not really skill so much as it is the ability to manipulate the game.

Now I am not trying to defend leveling/grinding as skill based, because obviously they are not, but the core design of FF8 simply does not appeal to me in any way. I really dislike RPG's that try to remove the leveling/grinding aspects to them. I also tend to enjoy turn based games more than non turned based ones (although this doesn't apply to FF8).

I guess I was just raised playing old school JRPG's, and I am not really fond of ones that try to switch up the formula. Turn based grinding JRPG's are like comfort food for me.

But as I said, to each their own.

#39 Edited by thatpinguino (1384 posts) -

@huey2k2: I would call the junction system an expertise barrier rather than a skill barrier. The barrier is in knowing what to do and how rather than any difficulty of execution. I tend to steer away from strictly traditional JRPGs because I am always looking to be challenged/engaged either by the gameplay or the story of an rpg. As a result, I tend to only play the jrpgs that differ from convention. Thanks for the insight though! Ideally all rpgs should have options that satisfy both of our preferences, but unfortunately FF8 veers more towards quirk at the expense of convention.

#40 Posted by coloursheep (45 posts) -

I can understand why you think it disincentivises grinding but the way I look at it is that the game greatly incentivises grinding. Because the enemies level with you that means that the faster you level up the faster you get access to the best spells and can get higher stats. Normally there is some kind of barrier to getting higher level spells but in FFVIII it all depends on your patience. When I play FFVIII I get Selphie and Quistis to level 100 ASAP so I can get the best spells and unlock all the GF's abilities while keeping Squall as low as possible so later in the game I can level him up with Str+, Mag+, Spr+ and Vit+ equipped.

I am the same as Huey2k2, I love grinding levels in a JRPG while doing something else because I know that every hour I spend doing it will make me so overpowered for the rest of the game. Typically I try to find the earliest and most efficient way to grind and do as much as I can. In fact right now I am grinding FFX on my vita fighting the sinscales on the ship over and over again and have been doing so for about 20 hours so far because I can keep putting charging my vita and don't have to worry about saving because of sleep mode.

#41 Posted by thatpinguino (1384 posts) -

@coloursheep: But you can access the most powerful spells in the game using the card game and item refining without needing to grind at all. If you never grind or keep grinding to a minimum, then you really don't need 300 copies of every spell to run through the game. Honestly , you don't really need to do all that much to make your party super overpowered in FF8. I just think that grinding in FF8 is a waste of time if your end goal is being overpowered enough to walk through the game. If your goal is to literally see 9999 damage every time you attack, then grinding makes some sense. However, your relative power when underleveled and overjunctioned is higher than being overleveled and overjunctioned.

#42 Posted by dudeglove (8308 posts) -

Two things:

  1. That "wet noise" I complain about whenever I say I don't do videos? I noticed it here. (If I knew how to get around it, I'd probably be making videos.)
  2. Maybe the Quick Look format isn't the best thing for what you have in mind. It would make more sense to do what Patrick did for the Xbox video. That way, you can just cut to what you need to cut to.

Brother needs a pop screen, give him a break.

#43 Posted by ArbitraryWater (12134 posts) -

I bought this game for $4. That means I will inevitably play it. This is somehow your fault.

#44 Posted by thatpinguino (1384 posts) -

@arbitrarywater: I'm sorry?

@dudeglove: I have a pop screen, some of the mouth noise stuff is just technique stuff I'm not entirely used to yet. Also I think I was right next to the mic when I recorded this and that compounded the problem. My more recent stuff cleans this up a bit I think.

#45 Posted by MasturbatingestBear (1197 posts) -

Nice summary man, you should head over to the wiki and add an in depth section on the junction system. I'm currently the only person actively updating the FF8 page.

#46 Posted by thatpinguino (1384 posts) -
#47 Posted by Kittiah (38 posts) -

Really enjoyed the video, great work!

I had very mixed feelings about the Junction system when I played through it. I think I was soured on it in my first playthrough when I forgot to draw Carbuncle from Iguion and basically boned myself for the rest of the game.

I thought that it kinda sucked you could miss stuff like that accidentally, and also found it a bit odd that the Junction system seems to discourage using magic in favour of stat boosting from it instead. On the flip side, it did make for a very deep level of strategic customisation in comparison to both the Materia and Abilities systems of VII and IX respectively.

#48 Posted by thatpinguino (1384 posts) -

@kittiah: Thanks! The first time I played FFVIII I had a guide so I never missed any gfs, but I could see how missing a gf could ruin a playthrough. I mean the only mandatory GFs in the game are the first three, so missing any of the others can really hamstring your characters and make the game a lot harder. You can find any gfs you missed once you get to Ultimecia's Castle by drawing them from the bosses there. I think that is a bit of too little too late, but its better than nothing.

#49 Posted by TheEdge (26 posts) -

Now I understand why I had such an easy time beating the game, while my friend who grinded like a whetstone found it much harder. What a cool discovery! Thanks dude, and keep making these as long as you enjoy it!

#50 Posted by thatpinguino (1384 posts) -

@theedge: Thanks! I'm trying to keep posting these videos every weekend. I have a full time job so I can't really pin down on a single day, but I'm targeting Saturday or Sunday.

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