Excited to share a new project I started working on recently, titled Fire Emblem: Lengths of Time. This is a sequel to Vision Quest.
The current release is intended to be played through Ch6 (7 total chapters).
However, you can play through Ch12 (15 total chapters), albeit everything post Ch6 is not well-tested and you are more likely to encounter bugs since I haven’t played some of the maps yet. I plan to work on this more down the road.
The game is balanced around Hard Mode, but you can play any mode without issue. Normal and Easy mode only changes the number of autolevels, reducing enemy stats accordingly.
Note that the images below show the game as it exists today, and every element of the game is subject to change as the team and I get around to it, as well as from feedback.
My view is that even if I never get around to making another update, I want to keep a public record of what the team and I have put together so far.
I started this project right around the time of Vision Quest’s v1 release in 2020 as an experiment and way to pass the time by fiddling with different systems and items to see if I could make something I thought was fun. I worked on this on and off since May 2020, at a much slower development pace. It’s been a fun diversion and it’s been nice to get back into some parts of hacking I haven’t been able to enjoy as much since most of VQ dev wrapped up in 2019.
I wasn’t sure upfront if I wanted to focus on another full length effort, nor a sequel, as my main objective was to create experimental gameplay based around capture, fatigue (which is not yet implemented), and some of the other amazing tech that’s been made through VQ’s dev that I couldn’t easily take advantage of at the time.
Additionally, there are many more projects to draw inspiration from than there were when I was conceptualizing VQ, and the community has evolved pretty drastically since then. It’s cool to see what newer hacks are doing and learn from them, while also continuing to draw from the classics.
There were a lot of loose ends at the end of Vision Quest, and I felt it would be easiest to use the same world as a backdrop so that I could spend more time focusing on gameplay and less time worrying about creating new lore given how much effort went into redoing almost every weapon and class in the game, in addition to all the new ones.
It’s safe for me to say this is a gameplay focused hack first and foremost, and the writing is there mostly to serve that. I’d say you don’t need to play Vision Quest to enjoy this project, but I have no doubt your experience will be enhanced if you are familiar with the world and its characters.
I’ll preface and say that this hack may be less accessible to some players than Vision Quest because of these changes, but if you’re open to something more experimental, it may be up your alley. My hope is that if nothing else, you can appreciate a different view of Fire Emblem and a synthesis of mechanics, aesthetic, and tone that I’ve enjoyed playing around with.
I don’t know when and if I will finish this or even put out another release, but I have a great and supportive team and most of the game planned out at a high level, so we’ll see where it goes.
The idea for this project stems from one of the draft ideas I had for my first project, modified to fit narratively ~20 years after the closing events of Vision Quest.
This story follows Kalea, the rogue Princess of Mahala, who leaves her life of royalty and luxury behind to pursue her dream of a simpler life at sea as a merchant. She leaves only with her retainer and friend, Uilani, traversing between ports in the neighboring kingdoms of Mostyn and Freyung, hiring a seasoned mercenary and a sea pilot, while making use of a few stowaways to help run the ship.
While on her most recent journey back to Freyung, she stumbles into a brewing civil conflict, and in her naivety and hubris, inserts herself to curry favor with the King for her own gain. She soon meets Wulandari, the daughter of the Great Chief Waluyo of Kuching, and the duo slowly peel away at the layers of what is a more nuanced problem that not only plagues Freyung, but the entire continent of Yaska.
Throughout their journey together, the two protagonists will have their beliefs and world views challenged and come to terms with the power and responsibilities that come with their station, all while grappling with the inevitable changes that come with the passing of time.
Gameplay-wise, I wanted to balance the game around the use of capture. All foot units get shove and all mounted units get canto+. Thieves get steal+ (can steal any item if BLD > item WT, including equipped items) and both thieves & rogues do not require lockpicks. There are no other skills outside of the occasional weapon skill.
My goal was to develop a capture meta inspired by FE5 while achieving more player phased oriented gameplay and higher damage outputs and hit rates seen in games like FE11 and FE12. I also wanted to avoid additional math from skills to create a more traditional FE feel while still maintaining high hit rates and damage output to encourage strong use of player phase to achieve objectives.
When it comes to cast, I wanted to create a large, diverse cast of units to enable iron man as a viable mode of play from the outset. I was inspired by FE1’s huge, front-loaded cast, and wanted to present the player with many choices at the outset to build their armies, while also allowing for more creative strategies and combinations.
I also cut EXP gains a bit to make benching units less punishing, while creating a slower level curve to allow for me to create more chapters and make missing out on a few chapters less punishing with fatigue.
I am a huge fan of the early and mid-game parts of Fire Emblem, and I wanted to create a gameplay environment that gave me as much of that to work with as possible. In addition to reduced EXP gains, I also beefed up the doubling threshold to 5 AS to help reduce doubling. The more I play FE, the more I realize that what makes the earlier game enjoyable for me is the lack of doubling, and emphasis on combining attacks for kills. By making doubling harder and tweaking speed, doubling is generally rarer (so far), but not impossible. All in all, these elements help create the feel I’m going for.
I intend to add fatigue down the road and am currently designing around its addition. However, I also aim to include a mode select screen so that players can choose not to use this on any difficulty if they so choose.
Thought this would be good to include so you can get a sense of what Fire Emblem games, hacks, and other video games helped inspire the gameplay. While I’d link to think I was creative, I do owe credit to other works for helping me formulate my own ideas. Here are some of the primary inspirations and what I most explicitly reference in LoT.
- FE5 - Emphasis on capture and utility-oriented gameplay, map gimmicks
- FE9/10 - Map gimmicks, heavy weapons, mechanic design, plot notes
- FE1/11 - Unit and cast design
- FE2 - Stat booster design, unit design, mechanic design
- Tear Ring Saga - story and mechanic design
- Dream of Five - Touchstone for me for aesthetics and character writing. (Especially Garath/Renair dialogue, which heavily inspired Kalea/Duck)
- Road to Ruin - Map aesthetics
- Sword of Heaven & Earth - Map gimmicks, unit & cast design
- Bloodlines - Map gimmicks
- The Last Promise - Sound design and MIDI selection.
- Souls of the Forest - Notes on transparency and fairness, general inspiration.
- FE7x - I probably cribbed ideas and design notes from here subconsciously since I’ve played it a bunch over the years.
Other Games: (some of these will prob become more apparent later)
- Shenmue - Touchstone for narrative ideas, side quest ideas & map gimmicks, and tone.
- Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time - Themes
- Super Mario Sunshine - Map gimmicks
- Luigi’s Mansion - Map gimmicks
- Animal Crossing - Map gimmicks
- Dynasty Warriors 4/5 - Map gimmicks, plot notes
- Sonic Adventure 2 Battle - Map gimmicks, epic music
- Tales of Symphonia -
Current Release Details
- 7 chapters (6 + 1 gaiden) - not totally sure on a planned #. Going to work on it until I don’t feel like it anymore. Initial estimates place it around 40 again because I am insane.
- Custom art, maps, and stories (many placeholder mugs for now)
- Capture, shove, steal+, canto+ skills on appropriate units. Thieves can steal any item if their BLD > item WT, including “equipped” items. Because of these features, no enemies will ever drop items - all enemies must be captured or stolen from.
- 1 RN - what is displayed is what you get.
- Adjusted avoid formula (speed + luck)
- Beefed up weapon triangle, +2/-2 damage and +20/-20 hit.
- Reworked and rebalanced weapons, including a wider variety of magic weapons and strength-based tomes. Weapons all have increased MT and hit rates for the most part.
- “Blade” or heavy equivalents of each weapon type, such as poleaxes, greatbows, and greatlances.
- All weapons changed stats to better balance them for the game. Keep an eye out for changes, such as big WT on some throwing items.
- Inversed branching promo structure (The return of “sword merc” and “axe merc”, etc.)
- Many QoL improvements that are commonplace in hackroms in this day and age.
- Characters named after food and dialogue also discussing food. There is also jazz.
- New music including custom-made MIDIs and other songs from other video games.
- Custom map objectives and side-objectives, such as Thracia style escape, destroying tents, rescuing horses, pumpkin procurement, and more.
Staff Credit - Pandan & Friends
Project Director: Pandan
Art: Laurent_Lacroix, Levin, Vlak, L95, Autonima, RandomWizard, hypergammaspaces, MournfulRelic, knabepicer, MrGreen3339, Dainn
Palettes: Pandan, Spear Doggo, knabepicer, kyrads
Playtesting: Pandan, Levin, LegendOfLoog, WarPath, Kyrads, Knight_Moris, Scraiza, knabepicer, Pushwall, TDAWS, MournfulRelic, Dainn
Tech Support: Stan, Tequila, Pikmin121, Snakey1, hypergammaspaces, Vennobennu, 7743
Weapon icons by Pikmin1211, LordGlenn, Card, GabrielKnight, EldritchAbomination, Peerless, Snakey1.
Animations & Map Sprites by TBA, SALVAGED, L95, Leo_Link, Wan, Eldtrich Abomination, AstraLunaSol, Scraiza
Battle frame by Pikmin1211 and Eliwan
F2U mugs by Capybara, GenericPretsel, AmBrosiac, and NickT
How can I help?
Playtest and share your feedback. Would love to get thoughts on map and unit design, and the overall feel of the hack. I found the gameplay to feel both old school and experimental, so I’m keen to get feedback.
There is a strong possibility that I port this over to buildfiles to more easily support some of the features and mechanics I’d like to include. Any help here will be appreciated. Additionally, I want to create a Tear Ring Saga style party split mechanic, which does not currently exist. Stan graciously developed a menu for this, but the back-end functionality does not exist yet.
Lastly, I want to give a big thank you to everyone on the team who supported this release. I’m really fortunate to have many fantastic people in the community support the project and encourage me to hack, and the project would not be as pretty or thoughtful without your contributions. It really means a lot to me and I don’t think I can ever properly express how grateful I am.