[FE8] [COMPLETE] Call of the Armor v1 (20 chapters + 3 Character Selection Interludes)

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Hello Fire Emblem Universe,

Welcome to Fire Emblem: Call of the Armor (development name: Project Telephone Strategy), a [complete] Fire Emblem 8 hackrom.

The final release is 20 gameplay chapters w/ 3 Tear Ring Saga inspired character selection interludes. You can play with up to 65 units total, and 50 in any single run of the hack.

This hack was built in ~4 months by a team of 14 chapter creators, dubbed Team Distant Roads. It took just under 4 months to complete our first draft, and then we spent a few weeks playtesting, rebalancing, and polishing as needed prior to posting a public release.

We created the hack by modifying the game ‘telephone’, in which players would pass a message to each other in a line, and the goal was to see how much the message would modify by the end of the chain.

Please read the sections below for more details about the hack and how we built this.

You can download the patch here via Dropbox.

Intro to Telephone

To apply the idea of telephone to hacking, each of us claimed one or two of the game’s twenty chapters, and added onto the story (chapter start and end events, talk convos, new characters, lore, etc.) to try and create a coherent narrative. We kept track of the hack’s chapters in a spreadsheet, passing builder patches and saves to each other for testing.

While we collaborated to ensure some degree of consistency (especially on matters of lore), we aimed to maintain the spirit of the game telephone throughout the hack’s development. This meant there was little communication or direction provided between creators about which units to add in, how the story would unfold, and what gameplay goals to achieve. Each of us would review the previous chapter(s) to get a sense of balance and the story, and continue building from there independently.

We’ve included a section below with our rules and methods if you’re curious to learn more about how we put this together.

While we would edit units and maps to help improve balance over time, we did not touch the script in order to preserve the author’s original intent outside of grammar errors or any major plot/lore inconsistencies that would’ve made the story incoherent.

Throughout the hack you’ll notice the varied styles in map design, unit balance, and writing, which was enjoyable for all of us as we played to get a sense of each designer’s style.

The goal was to see how we could create a group project that maintained a degree of consistency and quality seen by smaller or solo dev projects, while also taking advantage of the speed that group efforts often offer. Considering the short turnaround time and the format’s limitations, we are largely pleased with the end result and it was a fun exercise in hacking that allowed each of us to experiment outside of our solo works while also creating a game that we all ultimately enjoyed both creating and playing.

Screenshots

Below are some screenshots of the hack:

240x160imageimagecota_inserted_final_quotes.emulator-0imageimageimage

Plot Summary

The story focuses on Princess Kuijia, a princess sent away by her father as a civil war between the recently split East and West Kotor heats up. She departs her homeland only with her aged retainer, Shale, a handful of rookie knights and refugees, and a harrowing plea from her father to protect the armor she wears at all costs.

Feeling guilt for leaving her father and country behind, Kuijia seeks to raise an army and return back to East Kotor to free her country and end the conflict.

Throughout her journey, Kuijia will learn more about the mysterious armor she wears and the secrets it holds, meeting an eclectic cast of characters who join her on her mission along the way.

Gameplay Changes + Features

For gameplay, to make it easy on all designers, we agreed to stick with vanilla numbers and systems across the board. The weapon triangle, vanilla items, and mechanics are all unchanged from base FE8.

We did add in a few of the QoL patches such as display range, show growths, etc. Full credits are down below.

The only mechanical changes from vanilla

  • Lord classes were changed since we didn’t want to work with an Eirika or Ephraim Lord.
  • Armors get 5 move, but promote to 5 move general
  • Added Halberdier as soldier alternate promo (they can also go general).
  • Summoners summon personalized green units. This was to nerf their usefulness, but primarily because we ran out of character slots.

We did add custom items as well to spice things up.

Team Distant Roads Staff

All team members here contributed directly to the game’s development across the board.

Chapter Creation & Writing

Knight_Moris
RandomWizard
Citrus
Rivian
Kyrads
LegendOfLoog
devisio
MintX
Pandan
A_Reliable_Chair
Epicer
MournfulRelic
Warpath
MrGreen3339

Art & Assets / Interlude Character Contributors / Playtesters

Levin
Dainn
Laurent_Lacroix
TDAWS
Sdaht
CountReglay
ArcherBias
Hypergammaspaces
ChivesKirk

Technical Support
7743
Pushwall

You’ll need to guess who built each chapter!

The Rules / How We Built This

This format worked really well for creating a group project, and if you’re curious to learn more about how we handled things, these were our rules and guidance as we built the hack.

Note that because this was our first time trying something like this, we agreed to stick with vanilla FE8 numbers and classes, barring Lords and adding halberdiers so we could use playable soldiers more freely. If you attempt something similar, we recommend establishing every mechanical change that would impact multiple chapters (engine hacks, class list, etc.) upfront, so everyone is only focused on what they need to build for their chapter (adding new units, new items, building their events, etc.)

We created a spreadsheet for everyone to sign up and link a patch and a save so that it was easy for all of us to pick up, test, and iterate the next chapter. This spreadsheet also contained our rules, as well as notes about characters added, supports, and everything we wanted to track for easy reference.

We also used FEbuilder because it was what the majority of the group is familiar with and supported the sequential nature of telephone by design, but there’s no reason you couldn’t do this with a buildfile. In many ways, it would’ve been easier to manage had we done so.

See below for the excerpts we used internally:

How does this work?

  • We will take turns passing the patch back and forth to each other in the order on the previous sheet. Each person is responsible for building on the narrative as they see fit, adding in a new chapter and units, and continuing the overarching game
  • The first person to start the patch will set up all of the agreed upon quality of life patches, as well as the only class changes to the ROM (new lord and halberdier). You may add 2 new units per chapter.
  • Try to complete your chapter within 1 week to keep things moving. If you are busy when your turn arises, feel free to swap with someone else.
  • In order for your chapter to be accepted, it must not break any of the rules and must be as bug-free as possible (ie you can start and end the chapter, playing as intended)
  • The script is sacrosanct. Once you pass the patch, unless there are rule-breaking elements or the story’s coherence is too far gone to be considered acceptable, we do not want to make any edits. Your goal is to build upon the existing chapter and continue telling the story. Think improv best practice of “Yes, and…”
  • Try to spoil as little about your chapter as possible. The goal is for this to build on itself as organically as possible and see how we continue working on this combined effort over time.

Tactical rules for sanity

  • You cannot edit anything that is not directly part of your chapter. No adding or removing new mechanics or engine hacks. Once these are decided upon upfront, you cannot edit anything that would impact chapters that came before.
  • Classes are to remain vanilla - no adjustments of any kind to classes beyond what was agreed upon.
  • Use vanilla map tilesets when possible. If you have to use a new map tileset or palette, add it in, do not replace
  • Same with music and items. Add in only new stuff, do not replace existing.
  • No making fun of real world people, community members, or their works. Try to avoid using vanilla characters if you can - be creative! Memes do not age well and can be jarring - take things seriously and give it your best effort.
  • No breaking class conventions. If the vanilla armor knight doesn’t use bows, you can’t make your epic self insert armor knight a bow armor, etc.
  • Please add in chapters and characters in descending order from the top.
  • Make sure that every chapter, your enemy levels only increase by 1 in comparison with the previous chapter. Adjust as needed and use prepromote enemies as you see fit, but ideally not until we are at the level 10 generic mark.
  • As a general rule, please avoid arena grinding during playtesting, especially in situations where the save is being used to work on subsequent chapters.
Tier List Maker

Link Here

Credits List
HP Bars Tequila and Circles
Escape ASM 7743
Narrow Font Scraiza
Passive boosts patch Venno
Show heal amount Tequila
AI PRevent healer mistarget Magrika Is Now Canon
Change easy and normal mode penalty into bonus Shuusuke
Weapon Lock EX 7743
Status effect swords Aera, Stein, 7743
Move after talk/support circles
Limitless trade Aera
Fix prep store pricing Aera
Continuous battle BGM 7743
Change battle BGM by chapter 7743
Steel Sword Icon Beansy
Anti-huffman Hextator
Modular mini mug box Zane Avernathy
VQ style mini mug box Scraiza
FE6 Portraits with Fixed Frames Obsidian Daddy, Lenh
Weapon icon CamTech075
Armor mage map sprites WarPath
Armor Mage animations Orihara_Saki, TBA
Baron animations DerTheVaporeon, Leo_link, Nuramon, Iscaneus
HAlberdier animation and map sprite TBA
Portraits Laurent_Lacroix, Blade, RandomWizard, Lenh, Shin19,CanDy, SSHX, Zelkami, Levin, Epicer, KrashBoomBang, RandomPretzel, Zorua, L95, Nickt, Ken
GFE1R Oghma CirclesEverywhere, NickT
Danger Zone CirclesEverywhere
Unlocked Supply 7743
Item Icon Indogutsu Tenbuki, EldritchAbomination, Lisandra Brave, Gabriel Knight, Beansy, Zelix, Ereshkigal
Music Saxor, Pandan, Jordan Davenport of VGMusic, Sme, SurfingKyogre, RandomWizard, Runa, Scraiza, Erik Menjivar of VGMusic, King Meteor of VGMusic, KHInsider, pieordie1 of VGMusic, Andrew Shand of VGMusic
Unit Battle Palettes Epicer
Ice Shard Spell Sme, Compile
Set Unit Status Patch 7743
AI fix hypergammaspaces
Battle Stats w/Anims off Tequila
Add event: send items to transporter 7743
Set unit condition Tequila
Broken wall effect 7743
That Person’s name (Bravely Default) Sme
Evil church (Clock Tower) Dolkar
Person combat (Berwick) RSflame
Female Mercenary Map Sprites Agro
Female Mercenary Animation TBA
Corrupt Eye Spell Orihara Saki
Inazuma anim Arch
Frostcalibur Anim Shyuterz, Hiroto
Get units in range matching condition 7743
Judgement Anim arch
Set Preparation BGM By Chapter 7743
Add Event: GetKillerUnitID Leonarth
Oathbringer, Stone Breaker, Charybdis icons GabrielKnight
Stone Breaker Anim Bonsai, Blazer
Conversation 1 (FE4) SurfingKyogre
Veld (FE5) SurfingKyogre
Phantom Map Sprite Pushwall
Deathgoyle, Elder Bael, Gwyllgi Map Sprites Pikmin1211
Corporealis X Animations Arch
Many custom tunes & other MIDIs Chair
Zain’s Blade II Icon Zarg
Weapon Icon SacredStones

[/details]​

​Thanks all for taking a look at this. Please share your feedback and we hope you enjoy.​

Lastly, as a fun competition, see if you can guess who built each chapter - everyone here made 1-2 chapters. We’ll post a scoreboard in the first post after enough time has passed and you’ve made your guesses.

You can make your guesses here: Telephone Hack Predictions

​Truly Yours,

Team Distant Roads​

46 Likes

I’ve had a lot of fun doing my parts on this EPIC hack. Hope you all have fun!

13 Likes

The hack, chief…
It’s bad.

12 Likes

The best part of a team project is that you can try to take credit for anything that is good and defer responsibility for anything that is bad.

12 Likes

This hack was a treat to test, and I’m super happy that I have a unit in Interlude 2 (pick liam.) Thanks for this whole thing!

8 Likes

very epic hack would recommend

10 Likes

by that logic i made [best chapter in hack which i will not say the number of in order to maintain secrecy]

7 Likes

Inb4 someone complained about my chapter.
Other chapters are pretty cool though. Definitely would recommend.

9 Likes

It’s been a pleasure to watch this develop from an idea in my little hackrom server into it’s own full thing! I’m amazed with how high quality and cohesive it all turned out being, and it was also my pleasure to contribute an interlude unit, write a few convos, and playtest the later dev versions! CotA may be one of the most smooth playing hackroms in recent memory, and I think anyone who goes into it will have a good time. Things get wild, yo.

8 Likes

Really enjoyed being involved with this project, its been a blast and its amazing to see it go from start to finish. I hope everyone who plays enjoys themselves and I especially hope my chapter is decent lmao

8 Likes

This was a lot of fun and I was impressed by how effective decentralized ownership was in keeping everyone engaged in the project. There was no unilateral decision maker and everyone had ownership over their chapter(s) and characters, as well as how the story advanced.

I found the telephone format particularly effective for group projects and I hope to see others try the format on their own.

It really helped that we all aligned on the baseline classes and gameplay, as well as established rules we could point to if we came to any disagreements. I found that because we had a strong foundation, it enabled us to be creative within those bounds and make a cohesive experience.

I hope everyone plays it and shares their feedback. Big thank you to the team, contributors, F2U asset makers, and wizards who enabled us to put this together in such a short time.

10 Likes

thank the stars, NEW FE HACK, babbbbyyyyyy :pray:t4::pray:t4::pray:t4:

5 Likes

It was a heck of a ride being on the dev team for this, lots of laughs, lots of lore, and absolutely 0 memes.

Anyways, everyone playing better use Zain or else I will say rude things about your mother.

8 Likes

Sees Floor
Hm yes, the Floor is made of chip damage

7 Likes

This was a super fun hack to make and I’m glad I was a part of it. It was really crazy to see how it evolved and changed over time.

11 Likes

I’ve been watching this develop in the past few months and I’m really happy to see it get off the ground and launch. I’m real proud of everybody who’s helped contribute to this, cause it’s been real fun in almost every way. Thanks once again for letting me submit an interlude character. Make sure to pick Arkell in Interlude II!!

5 Likes

inb4 the plot twist is “protect amor” and really it was about protecting the friends we made along the way

5 Likes

Pandan strikes again!

1 Like

I don’t deserve that much credit - this was a big team effort and my contributions were relatively small.

16 Likes

Is this tan house supposed to be visitable in chapter 5? My Pegasus unit is the only who can successfully land on the door tile but there is no visit option. Just wondering if this was intentional since the house appears to have its gates open for an event to occur there

1 Like