A contest focused on narrative delivery and integration, as opposed to the other similar contests, which focus only on level design.
A common problem I've noticed in our community is the tendency to simply overlook or in the worst cases stomp on would-be developers who pour their effort into writing up big walls for their game, trying to sell its concept on some ambitious plan that's likely beyond their ability. Sure, maybe it is out of their league, but this also encompasses people who really may in truth be good writers, maybe in truth could make their game, if they had support and exposure, neither of which our community is exactly willing to provide. And it just doesn't help that it's all-around extremely hard to sell a game on story.
The goal of this contest is not to have groundbreaking gameplay or a gorgeous set of assets, it's to deliver a cohesive, enticing narrative over the course of three chapters.
Yes, three. A beginning, middle, and end.
It simply makes more sense that way, and allows people to practice actual proper Fire Emblem design, too. FE isn't played in a vacuum, after all, your decisions have consequences. Single-chapter games take away from this factor.
The absolute goal of this contest is just to give people a chance to make a name for themselves doing something closer to their forte, and it is my hope that it will serve as, as Circles puts it, an "incubation chamber" for fledgeling games that have otherwise struggled to get off the ground.
Contestants will be judged primarily on narrative delivery, with auxiliary components such as graphics and gameplay regarded as a clearly-noted bonus.
The use of "narrative" over "story" here is important: Narrative is the more inclusive term, it refers to things like lore, the world, and any part of the general idea of "story" that is told not through words. Games have a crucial leaning on overall narrative over just storytelling, because so much of the game will speak without saying anything at all.
Thus, narrative integration with gameplay is judged most critically among a submission's components.
Submissions may be made in any Fire Emblem game creation medium.
Romhacks are generally preferred due to their equal accessibility. FE8 in particular has made great strides recently, and we possess more sophisticated tools in general than ever before.
FEXP is acceptable, but it is strongly discouraged due to the clunkiness of the engine. If FEXP is used, it MUST feature the savestate script made by the community. (You'll have to find it yourself.)
FEXNA is allowed, but any submission made in FEXNA will be excluded from the final rankings due to the incredibly unfair advantage it gives, due to being limited access right now.
If you somehow have the means to produce a Fire Emblem-styled game in any other engine, please question one of us beforehand to ensure if it's okay.
Submissions must contain three chapters. No more, no less. They must signify a beginning, middle, and end. The material of the story being told may be whatever you wish, as long as it follows this structure. It could be an entirely self-contained story, or perhaps it's just an arc of a larger story. Or maybe it's even the beginning, middle, and end of the project you really want to make, and will serve as the groundwork for it after the contest, letting one "connect the dots" to finish it. As long as it contains the proper structure for a complete story, it doesn't matter too much what is told, so long as it is told well.
Submissions must be actual games, in case that somehow wasn't clear. If you submit a big document of stats and a script as your final submission, I will hit you on the head with a squeaky hammer and turn you away.
While visuals and gameplay are regarded as secondary components for the purposes of the Marithon, they still provide significant bonuses for having them. It is strongly encouraged for entrants to produce their submission with the best they can do themselves (Even if this is just recolors or basic splices) and then seek the assistance of others in the community. And it is strongly encouraged that if someone does so, please help them! You will be credited as part of their submission's team in the final rankings, even if you're already working on your own. It's a writing contest, but you can help other people with writing, too! There's nothing wrong with that. Just say that you have and you'll both be properly credited in the end.
...Unfortunately, most people will probably ignore this and just enter alone and/or ignore people asking for help, though...
The submissions will be compiled within 3 months after the announcement and prepared for judging.
The deadline is December 12th.
Should one have a late start, (At least one month after announcement) they may opt to use the remainder of the final month as development time, at the cost of being put at the end of the judging queue.
If there is a significant amount of late entrants, judging will begin at the predesignated time, and the late entrants will be given a third rankings list in addition to their placement among the others, a list rating how they stacked up against the other late entrants who had similarly little time. They will still be present in the normal rankings, this is merely to allow a level field of judgement among those who had less time.
!! As a warning, while it is not the focus of the contest, if your submission ends up too poorly balanced or designed, it can be disqualified for being too difficult to actually get through the gameplay of to judge properly. You will be notified if this is the case, and may elect to edit your submission yourself or allow one of us to do so instead, to continue to allow it to be shown. However, your submission will be left out of the final rankings. !!
!! Testing is very important, no matter your skill level. !!
Completed submissions should either be sent to me via the to-be-provided discord group, or through a PM here on Fire Emblem Universe, Serenes Forest, or reddit.
Please distribute romhacks as patch files, for legality reasons. There are easy tutorials for it, I'm sure you can find them.
Judging is broken down into four categories. Each set is evaluated with Concept × Execution, and each of the two can be at most 5. The maximum amount of points that can be earned per portion is 25. The maximum points any submission can earn without bonuses is 100.
The overall storytelling component of the submission.
The originality or general interestingness of the story's idea; its premise and overall theme.
How well the ideas within the story are carried out. Are the events of the story believable within the context of the setting? Is the story consistent with its established theme? Is the story in-line with its characters? Does each individual scene make sense?
The overall worldbuilding component of the submission.
The uniqueness of the world, including but not limited to geography, sociology, inhabitants, system of arcana, (if applicable) and so forth.
How properly the systems of the world interact with each other. Is it consistent with what has been established? Does the world affect its inhabitants believably? Is the system of magic without holes? Is the world intertwined with the story and characters?
The overall evaluation of the submission's characters. The protagonists and antagonists take central focus.
The uniqueness of the primary cast, in identity and design alike. (Not visually, but visuals help that factor.)
How all-around well-written the cast is. Are they believable characters? Do they fit in the narrative? Do they stay in-character? Do they experience character development? Is their dialogue well-written?
The overall assessment of the narrative's integration with the game itself.
The general degree effort put into integration, with emphasis on unique ways of tying the gameplay and story together.
How well the gameplay is integrated with the narrative. Are maps a location, rather than a place you play on? Do units reflect the characters they represent? Do the chapter objectives align with the characters, or do the characters just bend to meet the chapter? Are the events of a chapter consistent throughout its length or is it entirely isolated to the beginning and end? Do the events of the story make sense with the abilities you have in the game, and vice-versa? (Ex: The classic "people dying when there's a healer right there" scenario.)
Bonus points will be allotted for visuals, music, and so forth, but unless they actively detract from the narrative, such as a critical, poorly-handled style mismatch, (in which case they will actually result in negative points) these do not count towards or against any of the other components and are added to the end score.
Each individual component can add up to a maximum of the following points:
Chapter Gameplay: 20
Character Art/Animation: 15
Maps/Environmental Art/Etc: 10
For a total maximum of 50 bonus points.
As you can see, even a perfect score on auxiliary components cannot carry someone to a solid victory, but can most certainly close a gap between competing submissions. When the overall ranking is compiled, there will be two tables provided: One with bonuses and one without, allowing the strongest narrative to be shown off regardless.
Due to the likely weakness entrants will have in these auxiliary areas, it is highly encouraged, though not required, to team up with others.
Each submission will be given a colored star (★) representative of each person who worked as part of the creative process. Should one contestant work with another while still competing, their colored star will appear next to the final list of submissions as a hollow star, (☆) to mark their contribution.
(FEU Admins please tell me if this is something I can do or if I'll need to make a bunch of images for the colors.)
When all applicable submissions are collected, each submission will be played and recorded as video by myself, Maritisa. It will also be played by the other judges (And recorded by them if they so wish, though this is not an obligation.) and our scorings of each individual multiplier will be averaged to determine the submission's final score.
The list of judges is presently as follows:
- Maritisa (Myself)
- Circleseverywhere (Resident Hacking Wizard)
- Alfred Kamon (Author of Midnight Sun)
- StWalker (Writer for Staff of Ages)
I am currently looking for other experienced developers within the community to serve as judges. Please PM me if you would like to assist!
After this, a poll will be put up for crowd voting of all submissions, which will provide a third (or fourth) ranking list, that being people's choice. The poll will run for one week after all submissions are completed.
While the submission chosen by the "council of judges" will be declared to De-facto winner, should a submission somehow win all three (or four) rankings, I will, uh... be uh, very astonished. That's... um, about all I can do. Besides give it stupid levels of announcement but it probably already earned that.
There isn't really a prize to be won (Unless somebody wants to contribute one?) other than notoriety and exposure, so in a way everyone's still a winner anyway.
Please read the rules carefully and feel free to ask for clarification if something is not clear. I will gladly answer any questions.
Best of luck to all involved! Stay confident and know that renown is not out of your reach!
Remember, the deadline is December 12th!
You have 3 months, one for each chapter. Make them count!
A Discord Server is available for all interested to communicate, discuss ideas, and/or seek help.