FEE3 2020: The post-mortem thread. Learnings & opportunities as we head into 2021

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Fire Emblem hacking community’s event, FEE3. With over 72 projects shown, this was easily the largest FEE3 to date. The organizers (Cam, Arch, Dancer_A, and myself) discussed this and want to bring in the community to gauge how you felt the event went and hear your feedback so we can continue to adjust for next year.

Following last year’s review and discussion (FEE3 2019 in Review - Observations & Recommendations), we made some changes to address criticisms and improve the event. Some of the most notable changes from last year were as follows:

Changes from 2019
  • Creation of an event discord server. This allowed for us to have streamlined communications between organizers (myself, Arch, Cam, and Dancer_A), volunteer LPers, and project creators. This reduced the amount of friction and confusion, and we did not have any repeats of work duplication, while also reducing the amount of projects that were dropped due to flaky volunteers.

  • Firmer guidelines on length. Following complaints of movie-length videos, we asked people to not record for longer than an hour. Most of the videos fell comfortably within this limit, and those that exceeded only did so by a few minutes. We turned away project submissions that were too long, and asked them to re-record for the sake of improving viewer experience.

  • Adjustment of upload times. Last year, there were complaints that with the length of videos and all videos being uploaded in a short window each day, it was hard to keep up with the event. We addressed this by launching a video once every 6 hours to create a steady drip of content to ensure that new content would drop at times convenient around the world to appeal to a global audience. Given the guidelines on video length, most of the time there was at least a 5 hour period between each video, hopefully reducing viewer fatigue, while also allowing for international audiences to consume content at a friendlier time.

  • Removal of premiere format. We went back to straight uploads to improve view totals and increase the likelihood that videos would get seen.

  • Scheduled buffer. It has become “tradition” for the event to be delayed, and this year, we scheduled the launch of the event with a built in buffer from the due date to ensure we could start on time. Of the projects submitted, only 25% were submitted after our internal deadline, only 1 project being delayed past the start of showtime (Midnight Sun, a unique case) - which is a huge step up from last year! We can do better though. Thankfully, with the buffer, there was no public delay period and we were able to wrap up the outstanding projects within a few days of the deadline.

These improvements did make a positive impact on how the event was run, but there is always still more that can be done. And with new solutions comes new challenges. For myself, I was involved much more this year than ever before, and inserted myself into doing a lot of the work to get organized and get the event as close to running on time as possible.

Number of projects

Number of projects.

It is no secret that the hacking community is growing larger. There has never been a better time to get into the hobby and it shows. The event had 20+ more videos than last year, and the event ran for 7 days longer than the previous two years (11 in 2018 and 2019 to 18 days in 2020). While this is great, this also presents challenges. There’s been talk of changing the event so it is less strenuous on the organizers or daunting for the community to consume.

Coordinating such a large number of projects in a short time can lead to confusion and frustration for those involved on the back-end. Additionally, there were people who requested interviews that could not be accommodated and people waiting to hear from LPers, leading to some showings not going as planned.

With the number of projects relative to the number of people who are willing and able to donate time to run the event as an organizer or LPer, it is increasingly challenging to accept every request.

The number of projects leads to a few other issues as I’ll outline below.

Acceptable projects

Acceptable projects

There was some discussion this year as to what would be acceptable to show. While we had to turn away a few projects for inappropriate content (the lewd kind, the gory kind, and the art theft kind), there were other projects submitted that some felt were not suited for FEE3.

Unfortunately, there were no clear guidelines in the thread or on the back-end that we could point to in order to provide guidance to these creators. With no clear guidelines, it lead to confusion, mixed messages, and unclear expectations of organizers and LPers. Traditionally, we’ve had an unwritten rule that reskins and rebalances were not allowed, but this year we saw an unprecedented increase in hacks that made edits to existing games vs. earlier FEE3 events that focused more on fully custom hacks.

Given the number of projects and the length of the event, should we have stricter guidelines on what gets shown and make it clear what is allowed? What would that list look like? To me, custom hacks, technical showcases, translation work, and art showcases make the most sense.

Rebalances, weapon reversals, and reverse recruitments and such, I’m more inclined to exclude them from the event, but I am curious to hear thoughts. I think as the event grows and the community gets bigger, it is paramount we establish clear rules and guidelines on what is acceptable so that we have solid grounds for entry.

Recording quality

Recording quality.

As with last year, we did receive feedback that some of the recording quality is not great. Between either lackluster commentary or production, there is an overall disparity between project showcases. This is largely because there are too many projects to record in such a short period, and because to properly edit and do anything fancy with the videos and visuals would lead to more delays of the event.

I recorded about 9 videos in ~2 weeks which each took about an hour or more of my time between recording, editing, and uploading - which is a lot for anyone to do in addition to their other responsibilities. Admittedly, the quality of my own work was poor this year, and having to record many projects couple with other responsibilities made it a challenge to represent each project as well as I would’ve liked to.

I know I am not alone in this. To address recording quality, there’s been discussion of changing the event format. Whether this means having some sort of nomination process for what gets shown to make the event feel more “premier” for the “best” the hacking community can show, or even planning earlier so that there is more time for us to record, it’s clear that the timing provided to for volunteers to record given the number of projects and time to do so creates an environment where corners need to be cut to ensure every project gets shown.

Additionally, because of the variety of LPers and instructions provided for projects, there are huge disparities in the overall quality of each showcase - which I find particularly unfair for projects that submit for volunteer LPers. Some LPers were not able to get what they wanted showcased, or were not reached out to about things they requested. I do think we need to be careful about what we promise to people who ask for volunteer LPers, since again we cannot guarantee that everything is completed exactly to project submitter specification.

Having clearer expectations for what a project owner gets when they ask the organizers to get a volunteer for them will help ensure that there is minimal disappointment in the overall showcase quality and content. Specifically, I think that if a creator submits for a volunteer LPer, we share a list of stand items they will get as part of this support.

In my opinion, if the burden is being put on organizers to showcase your project, that the expectation should be a 1 chapter LP done solo by the volunteer. If you make your own arrangements, sure, do an interview, co-commentate - but if we only get a patch and some instructions, the expectations should be clear with what level of support you will get.

I do think there is an opportunity here for us to re-evaluate how FEE3 is structured, whether it be operationally (ie longer term planning and more collaboration with LPers earlier), or adjusting the format so that fewer projects get volunteer LPers, but with hope that there would be higher production value.

My view is that we should provide greater notice for the event so that we have more time to plan leading into the launch. This will allow us to accommodate a greater number of projects without as much of a time crunch. While there has been discussion of limiting the event more drastically to make it a more premiere event to showcase the best in hacking, I worry that this could come across as “elitist” and stifle the development of newer projects that receive less support and have less visibility.

Personally, I’m confident Vision Quest would not be what it is had I not had a chance to showcase my work at FEE3 2018, and so I feel that giving each hack a chance is important, since this may be the only time in the sun someone’s work will get. Curious to hear thoughts on this because I do see merits to both approaches.

Visual identity

Visual identity
Similarly, I think we should create custom FEE3 graphics and assets (like templates for recording and thumbnails) so all videos have a consistent look and feel. Even though each LPer will bring something different to the table, there’s an opportunity to drive further consistency through a shared visual identity for all LP showcases.

Regardless of which direction we take, I do not foresee the recording burden falling on any one person, so finding ways to create common ground between LPers will help the event appear more uniform than it has in recent years.

With the absence of MK404, who previously created assets, I used the super mario bros 3 font and made a bunch of NES-inspired title cards, which were quickly lambasted by the community as “ugly” and “bland”.

The thumbnails were a last minute addition this year - I was not given direction or guidance on how we historically had thumbnails, and without this, I created the text only thumbnails that we launched with. Thankfully, Levin, Gamma, Miacis, and others were able to quickly address this by creating new thumbs. I feel terrible about the negative reception to this and agree that this was a miss.

This goes back to a lack of operational rigor in the event, leading to miscommunication and misunderstanding of how things get done, or in this case, did not.

Getting graphics support earlier and driving consistency will help better market and elevate the event, which I will discuss more below.

Operational planning

Operational Planning

Before we get into the last section, I do want to talk about operations. This is probably the most uninteresting and inconsequential for the general viewer, but I think this will continue to grow in importance over time. This event historically has largely been run by Arch and MK404. How two people have run an event so large for so long as mind-boggling - there is a ton to do, and I experienced it firsthand this year.

I do think we have an opportunity to improve our back-end processes to make things even smoother to run, and to also make handoffs between organizers easier. For example, I never ran FEE3 before and largely had to run with it using my own instincts and experience as a project manager to ensure things go down on time, and that the appropriate documents were created for review. I’m fortunate that my career has equipped me with both the foresight and skills to manage teams and run these types of events.

However, any process that relies on an individual is bound to fail. I also cannot guarantee that I will be available to manage this event in the same capacity for the foreseeable future. We need better mechanisms and processes so anyone can plug in and run the event.

In order to sustain FEE3 and ensure that new organizers can step in and run the event, we need to document everything. We need to create processes, establish roles & responsibilities, and hold people accountable to deadlines. I focused mostly on making sure we’d get all videos recorded and set up on time. Visuals and communications are not my strong suit, and I did not have insight into how this was done previously.

Ideally, any of the organizers should be able to pass these to someone else, and they’d be able to run the event on the back-end without needing to ask questions or come up with their own ideas on the fly. It was admittedly frustrating to do this blind while trying to respect how the event was run in the past - I had to rely a lot on my own instincts to determine what was appropriate for event management, while pushing others to provide updates and communicate next steps so we can ensure a timely launch.

To enable the event to scale to more organizers and go beyond the core group who has been involved historically, we need to create documentation. This documentation on acceptable content, timing, sample schedules, and general workflows will be critical for any new organizer trying to run the day to day of the event. In addition, I think we should expand the amount of people involved on the back-end by organizing committees who will help get the event up and running. Committees would be similar to our group of volunteer LPers, but helping with other aspects - such as quality control, project assignments, charity, and so forth.

We should not need to rely on any one person or oral tradition to make the event happen. Now that the event has grown and those who were most involved in the past are less so, it is critical that we document.

Complaints from the community

Complaints from the community

I know this is going to come across as adversarial, but it needs to be said - the amount of complaints we received throughout the process this year is egregious.

This is both the largest show and one of the first shows in recent memory to start on time.

I felt like myself and the organizers were on the receiving end of blame for not being as diligent with updates and communications ahead of the show’s launch. This is inclusive of the charity, details on the form, and other complaints raised before and during the event. While much of this criticism is fair, how some complaints were raised left a bad taste in my mouth, and the discourse between some members of the community and organizers was, for a lack of a better word, bad.

I do empathize with this to an extent, because a major reason we lacked proper comms is because the organizers are all working adults. We baked in enough time to do everything properly, and while this was clear to us, it could’ve been better communicated to the community ahead of time and more details could’ve been shared.

I think this can be resolved with more support on the back-end next year, more clarity on expectations from Arch (Who has been largely absent this year to do work, which is 100% understandable), and better documentation of how to run the event so we aren’t reliant on a few people who have done this for the bulk of its history.

I want to run a great event. All of the organizers do. But this is a hobby, and this takes time to execute. I’m not saying y’all should be grateful that people are doing this for you for free, but please consider that when you lodge complaints against the team, especially when things are moving slower than you’d like them to. I always try to be as diplomatic, cordial, and polite as possible, so I hope that everyone can extend that same courtesy, both fellow organizers and project owners.

I apologize if this comes across as adversarial, but it was frustrating to be on the receiving end of things when I couldn’t properly address these issues, and it seemed as though the event would be marred by negative feedback on these topics.

Hosting and marketing

Hosting and marketing.

This year MK404 bowed out of hosting FEE3. Which is understandable, given the amount of work that goes into it and what’s required. I am thankful for Ray for promoting the event on his channel this year, as well as his contributions and hosting the event for the majority of its 10 year life.

However, the change presented an opportunity for FEU to go its own way and not tie FEE3 to any one particular personality. However, this comes at the expense of views and potential exposure. The overall view count per video is down from last year, even with the improvements that were made and shift away from YouTube premier.

We worked with other communities to amplify messaging and market the event across different sites, but access to large numbers of subs helps with viewership. While this is a painful short term move and a major loss for the event, I predict going forward it will allow us to have more control and establish FEU as the go to location for romhacking Fire Emblem GBA.

While some may say it is regrettable that more prominent FE Youtube personalities were absent this year, there is still the question of how we can better engage with them to get the word out and bring in more viewers and interest. However, I think interest will only see dramatic increases with better production quality - creating a conundrum as outlined earlier.

This leads me to think - what is the core purpose of the event? Is our goal for FEE3 to showcase everything that we as a collective community have done, with the goal of giving each project some time in the sun to gain interest and feedback? Is the goal to provide entertainment by showing the strongest projects to build interest in FEU more broadly?

The identity of FEE3 is, in my mind, one of the biggest questions we will face going forward as hacking continues to increase in popularity and becomes more accessible, as it will inevitably make this event more unwieldy, unfocused, and difficult for viewers to consume and organizers to manage. While the original intent was for hackers to showcase projects, I think we have subconsciously moved away from this as the community has grown.

I am mixed on this issue, but I lean more towards doing whatever we can to showcase as many projects as possible to celebrate all of the community’s efforts vs. only celebrating a few. However, this will take more operational rigor, additional support, and stricter guidelines to ensure that we can “handle the weight” of the event.

Now that you’ve read all of this, dear reader, I ask you this: What are your thoughts? How are you feeling?

With ten years under the collective community’s belt, and the event continuing to grow, I think it’s important we decide the direction we take the event so that it can continue to flourish and bring more attention to the cool work everyone here is doing. There’s never been a better time to get into hacking and I think we as a community have a bright future ahead.

What was your experience like in the event? Would love to hear from project submitters, LPers, viewers, and anyone who engaged in the event in some way.

In short, here is my proposal outline for next year. I would like to get your feedback:

  • Create guidelines for acceptable projects. Types of projects allowed, as well as reiterating rules around gore, sex, and other inappropriate content. This needs to be front and center so that projects containing them are not.

  • Create assets for people to self-serve with recording so that we can maintain a consistent look and feel. This is inclusive of video streaming templates, thumbnail templates for screenshot insertion, and other relevant branding assets. These will be shared so people can self-serve and create their own assets to support their project’s showcase instead of relying on organizers to do so.

  • Based on the success of how organized volunteer LPing was this year, let’s emulate this across the event. I propose we establish the following committees to own the following aspects of the event: 1) Quality control inclusive of video/audio quality and appropriateness of content. 2) Volunteer LPers, 3) Visual arts for thumbnails, stream templates, and other branded FEE3 materials, 4) Promotions and communications: Responsible for outreach to other communities and interfacing with community during the event’s run, inclusive of thread updates and engagement with outside parties interested in support, and 5) Charity organization, selection, and promotions. Each group would have a committee head that would be responsible for organizing the volunteer groups. Organizers would be responsible for video uploads, schedule creation, and resolving any escalations. Those interested could volunteer by submitting a form ahead of the event with more details on what this responsibility would entail.

  • Create channel(s) on the FEU discord that are used for FEE3 planning so that it’s easier for our members to participate and share versus having a separate discord. The discord was a positive step, but we should keep it all in our existing server for ease of access and visibility to all parties involved. We can create private channels for organizers and each committee, as well as a public channel for questions and updates surrounding the event. These channels would be archived outside of FEE3 season unless we choose to run other, similar events.

  • Continue to streamline the form and submission process. You submit your project once with all the details. No new patches, no changes, just a single submission. To accommodate this, we will provide more notice to the start of the event so that everyone has more time to prepare. This form will include all requested assets to create thumbnails as well. Lastly, we will include more prescriptive fields should you need a volunteer LPer to ensure your content is represented appropriately.

In addition, I am most curious to hear discussion on the following:

  • General event feedback - how did you find it as a viewer, a project creator, an LPer?

  • Event format and structure - does this need to change?

  • Opportunities you see going forward to make the event better.

Thanks for reading and I look forward to hearing your feedback.

47 Likes

Thank you for reading my longpost on the event. I do want to also take time to share my own thoughts and feelings independent of this more formal review.

These comments below are my own and do not reflect the views of the FEE3 organizers or the moderation team. Read below if you want to hear me on my soapbox for a bit. I admittedly get a bit unhinged, so please pardon my language and directness in the below two sections, which I’ve added here as an addendum.

My own thoughts

My own thoughts

With all of the key points out of the way, I do want to dedicate space for myself to share my own, unfiltered thoughts.

It was not fun running the event.

Prior to this year, I was only involved as a volunteer LPer (2018 and 2019). I did not sign up to be involved in the event in this capacity, and very much felt like I had the bulk of the work dumped on me because I was in a chat on the planning discord.

There was very little back-end communication with details on how the event should be run, and there was no guidance on how we would hit our goals as deadlines approached. There was no discussion on who would do what. It wasn’t even messy or unclear, there was simply nothing. I “took the mantle” this year, as Arch put it, because otherwise, I am 100% confident there would have been no event at all had I not stepped up to organize.

Frankly, it was unfair, and I don’t want this to happen to me or anyone else who is involved again. The event is too big to leave it up to chance, and we need to be better if we want this event to continue as the community grows. I certainly do not want to be this heavily involved again or have so much of the event’s organizations fall on my shoulders (or anyone else’s for that matter).

I’m also personally disappointed in the conduct of some members of the community (including moderators). Between the complaints from users, the needlessly prickly responses from mods, the utter lack of communication from Arch, and the poor quality recordings from some LPers, I am deeply dissatisfied with much of the conduct surrounding the event. I sensed resentment from users towards mods and vice-versa, and spent too much of my time navigating this for the sake of ensuring we’d get FEE3 off the ground on time. Tension should not be this high given the scope of what we’re working on.

Overall, we need more involvement from the community and more leeway to run the event and more structure to it if we want this to continue operating at this scale. We cannot continue to rely on any one person to manage this event at this point. We need better planning, more people on board, and more runway to setup the event successfully.

And lastly, a broader complaint and request to the FE community

I am going to go a bit unhinged here as I talk about a topic that I find increasingly difficult to avoid, and also one that I find particularly terrible: Sexual and “mature” content in FE games. Ignoring the irony that we organized a charity drive for RAINN as part of the event (Thank you hypergammaspaces, Cam, and Arch for coordinating this), this shit has no place here.

I was debating making a separate call out post for this and naming names, but decided that may be too mean spirited, and I don’t want to bring direct attention to these projects.

If the below describes your project, you know who you are. You should be ashamed of yourself.

One thing that has progressively bothered me more and more, and is something that was at the forefront of my mind being part of this event, is the amount of outright disgusting, horny content that the community is including in their projects. Guys, it’s tasteless. Please stop.

We had to turn away a project because of sexual content and references. Another project wanted to use a picture of an anime ass as its thumbnail. A thumbnail was submitted that referenced Lilina, a 15 year old girl, having an “OnlyFans” account (a site associated with sexual content). A creator posted that you could get lewds in his discord. Another hack throws “rape” around casually in its opening dialogue. There are references to fetishes as defining traits for characters. While not directly in the videos, a not-so-deep-dive will reveal that some of these projects have dialogue about the “justification to touch a woman’s breast without her consent”, among other unsavory and harmful dialogue, as well as a project that shows child abuse through a cutscene.

If this makes you uncomfortable, you are not alone.

All of this is awful and inappropriate. I don’t want to stumble upon this when I go to play a Fire Emblem GBA hackrom. The community deserves better than this dreck.

Hackmakers, you are better than this, and you should be ashamed. There are children watching. Take your unwholesome shit elsewhere, please. There is nothing “mature” about what you are including in your project.

I’ve personally felt more alienated by the broader FE community in recent years because of how much conversation is dominated by lewd fanart and “uwu my waifu”. The hacking community generally doesn’t lean this way, and it is one of the reasons I’ve found my home here in the fandom as someone who recently returned to FE.

Looking at older projects, they handle these more sensitive topics with care, if they even choose to bring them up at all (many of the well-known ones, do not, except for those which we already banned on the site). It’s only more recently that this has started to become a greater trend. It is troubling, and I am worried it will only get worse as this deviancy continues to become more mainstream.

Part of this is on IS for pandering to the “I want to marry the pre-pubescent dragon girl in my head” crowd, and thus not-so-subtlety promoting this type of sexual deviancy to customers of the games and normalizing such derelict, downright atrocious behavior. This is not normal and it can be harmful.

Regardless, it is also on us, as a Fire Emblem community, to better regulate what is appropriate for all in our own spaces. Much like how FEE3 was founded in the wake of no FE12 localization, we must take the reigns of our own community and demand better of ourselves.

As someone who was 12 when FE7 was new, this type of discourse was hard to find, and being a kid, I never felt like I was being exposed to things I shouldn’t be. Frankly, if I had a 12 year old son (heck, even a child in his later teens), I would be wary of letting them explore the FE fan community today.

That’s telling, and it’s a problem. And many of you aren’t helping make the community a more welcoming place with this type of content in your projects.

I don’t know why people think this is appropriate and I implore you to stop and consider what you put in your fan game and what you subject the community to. Your hacks don’t need sexual or “mature” content to be good Fire Emblem games. There are so many other places (much better places, I’d imagine) to access this sort of lewd material.

I recognize what I’ve called out and brought attention to is the vast minority of projects, but it is a larger minority of projects than we’ve seen in the past.

I say this as a fellow member of the FE community, please stop with this shit.

Help keep our community safe and welcoming for everyone.

Thank you.

56 Likes

Honestly, I’m very sorry for your FEE3 experience. Nobody should need that stress when doing this event. I agree with your revisions for FEE3 too; there needs to be more communications and a filter for what can be constituted as a “Viable Submission”. There are some people who will definitely hate on this post, but after this year, there needs to be a restructure. I only wish that the guy who ran the event could have just as much fun as the people who participated in it.

6 Likes

As someone who had a project showcased this year for the first time (much love to Krash again), I wanted to offer my thoughts as someone who has been in the community for a fairly minimal amount of time. I’ll organize them as done in the initial post, since that seems to make the most sense.

Acceptable projects

I don’t think it’s entirely necessary to exclude rebalances, weapon reversals, and other edit-based projects. However, I do think these projects should be excluded from the “Let’s Play” format. A QnA or trailer showcasing the major goals of the project would suffice, and a Let’s Play of an edit-based hack doesn’t really contribute much on top of a shorter format. This would also allow for perhaps more of these projects to be shown per day, either at the end or beginning of the FEE3 event as a whole.

Other projects that thrive better in short formats could also be grouped together so that people can get into the mindset to get hype for a certain group of things. As a non-art guy I love art showcases, and if I knew that all the art showcases were coming out on X day I’d pay extra close attention that day. This would also allow more videos in a day for those days without losing attention, in my opinion.

I have little to no organizational experience, so consider these my naive outlooks on the topic from the perspective of a spectator.

Recording quality

Krash and I received some positive feedback about our commentary over my hack, to which I jokingly responded that all credit on my end should go to my wife’s new mic. This was not actually a joke. Personally I think that the literal recording quality is important to a showcase, and something that might need improvement. It’s unreasonable to expect everyone to have a nice mic, but I’ll get into that in my thoughts for operational planning.

As for things that can be done to improve quality without necessarily increasing the effort of the staff and hackers, I can think of two. The first is to simply have a blanket ban video editing/editing requests unless the hack submitter arranges it themselves. The topic briefly came up that some people did not like over-edited videos, and I think ultimately it will be better to restrict showcasing to the raw footage (minus sound quality edits) for all parties involved. This will also incentivize people to do their own legwork if they want their video to stand out.

The second is to have a hard cap of thirty minutes on content shown per video. This, combined with the above “no editing unless you DIY” rule will make people more carefully consider what they want to showcase, which I believe would increase video quality overall, again without imposing too much effort on the part of the event staff. The only thing this would require of the event staff is a timer so they know to start wrapping up their commentary around 27 minutes. The onus could then be placed on the hacker to submit a chapter they know can be completed within 30 minutes, submit detailed instructions for how to beat the chapter (which would showcase that they’ve at least playtested it), or simply do it themselves.

Visual identity

I don’t have any comment on this, but I thought the last-minute thumbnails were great, all things considered, and wanted to shout that out.

Operational planning

My opinions on this can be summarized as: recruit for staff earlier and more publicly. I did not recall seeing any posts recruiting for people to help with FEE3 2020. I might have missed them, but I did search FEE3 2020 just now and found no such posts. I think plenty of people might want to help that fell under the radar (for instance, the thumbnail team certainly stepped up in the hour of need, and that was without any forewarning). This will also allow for the most amount of time for people to ask questions and therefore produce the documentation mentioned.

Edit: Forgot to mention, but if enough people sign up, it’d be nice to have people do mic checks lol.

Complaints from the community

lmao I’ll show you adversarial homie

I believe nothing can be done in this regard. Even outside of FEE3 2020, interactions between long-standing community members are needlessly aggressive and filled with vitriol and self-pity. Is this a universal thing? Absolutely not. People are plenty nice so long as nothing sparks them not to be nice. In my own hack thread, everyone has been cordial and I’m super grateful for that. However, the moment a shitfest starts, no one can be counted on to act like the working adults they claim they are. As you say in your comments about not showing the community to children, I challenge those that read my statement to ask themselves whether they would be comfortable showing their parents/children how they interact with strangers when nettled. This is a community-wide issue that I believe cannot be solved by a FEE3 post-mortem, or perhaps ever.

You, Tangela guy, are actually always cordial though, and I wanted to shout that out.

Hosting and marketing

I’m on team “show as much as possible”. I think part of that is getting the increasing number of submitters to contribute to the event itself. Though I lack experience, I would definitely be willing to record at least one or two LPs for next year. Is that a lot? Heck no, compared to the massive numbers everyone went through. But more people doing less each is probably the way to go if you don’t want people going insane.

Last thoughts: the idea of a community charity thing is definitely good. Even if we didn’t wreck an organizer’s wallet as hard as we could’ve, it’s still something. I hope this is a thing going forward.

16 Likes

Does this mean you won’t let me submit epic fe6 rebalance #21460 next year? REEEEEE! How elitist!

jk, for real though, thank you for all of your hard work this year, I am genuinely grateful for what you’ve done to make this fee3 as enjoyable as it was this year, but also I agree that things need to be changed to make things next year much more stable and just a better product in general for everyone involved. (Also I absolutely agree on what you had to say concerning inappropriate things that are being incorporated into hacks these days).

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Pandan, thank you for stepping up to the plate to organise FEE3. I suppose I’m not really that involved with the community anymore but I still enjoyed seeing the projects pop up in my YT feed every so often for the last week. They were definitely released at a rate that felt natural to me - better than being spammed with 30 video uploads at once like some other subs I have. I enjoyed seeing all the projects and am gobsmacked at how much the community has thrived over the last 10+ years

I’ve been on the committee for my music ensemble for the last two years and I can really only caution against creating too many subcommittees - you do run the risk of “too many cooks” and losing control over certain aspects or delegating too much and tasks getting lost in the process. But it’s the same in any volunteer committee - someone always ends up having step up and organise the event. But having processes to delegate and divvy up work is probably a good idea going forward.

Sharing assets is a great idea - it isn’t your job to make videos look pretty, but you can certainly facilitate that among other content creators. With regard to recording quality, perhaps some guidelines could be created with the caveat that the organisers may ask someone to re-record or reject submissions if they’re not up to scratch.

Perhaps an FEE3 video editing “helpline” could be created - basically, stick all your experienced editors in a space and have them help other newbies and get them up to speed, and/or have some video editors create some basic pointers as to what kind of software should be used, etc to lower the barrier for entry? That way you’re more likely to get higher quality LPs, or at least you might get some more volunteers?

Anyway that’s all I have time for. Thanks again to the unofficial committee for organising, and thank you Pandan, the hero of FEE3 2020.

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Yeah this is fair. It’s worth calling out at the very least because it’s extremely avoidable and needless, in this case.

Thanks for the kind words and feedback, appreciate the detail here. Will have a lot to consider for next year.

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I love this idea. I think creating a space in discord for this would be helpful so people can get feedback and support.

Thanks for the kind words and feedback, Agro.

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I couldn’t be bothered to watch the majority of videos this year (so far). As an adult, an hour per video on top of other commitments just doesn’t fly. And, with the event running longer, I definitely felt less desire to go back and catch up as more and more videos appeared and were of similar lengths.

20-30 minute videos max. Make it a trailer if you have to and include a link to a full chapter playthrough (hosted on the creator or LPer’s channel) for those that want to do a deep dive if they saw something that they liked.

If the number of submissions continues to be daunting, I will again reiterate my suggestion from last year - do two showcases a year 6 months apart and limit projects to being showcased in one of the two a year.

I will say that spreading out the videos every six hours did seem to work very nicely in terms of not being crowded.

That said, the crew running the event needs to be held to standards just like the project creators and video hosts. There needs to be someone dedicated that signs up to lead and is committed to being in charge of things. In order to make things run smoothly, those people should be decided soon and they should be getting started on planning next year’s event(s) as quick as possible, that way if, closer to the event, things come up and responsibilities need to shift, the groundwork has already been started/done and there’s no scrambling to be done. Start planning a thumbnail template and design, start figuring out schedules and deadlines for smooth submissions, etc., that way it can be well on its way well ahead of time. I feel like if this happens, then making sure deadlines are met and getting the schedule set would be more of a smooth process as well.

Give a longer time table between submission and video premiere dates if needed for quality. Use a curated list of hosts that have shown they can record quality, both video and audio if you can and give them ample time to produce a quality video. Or, (as I edit this as replies have come in) have a set group of editors to clean up the raw footage and make it more digestible for viewers.

I don’t have a real opinion on what projects are acceptable, aside from things that go against community standards. Let people watch what projects they want to watch - it’ll end up being a natural filter. If people aren’t impressed by a reskin, then it just might not get a ton of views. Sure, it may not feel great for the creator, but at least they got to participate instead of being told that they don’t even get to be showcased.

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Please can we make it a point to ensure everyone is on the same page before we start assuming someone has done something when they haven’t or someone does something on their own and no one notices?

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THANK YOU, PANDAN!

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Dan, I can’t help but say thank you for your extreme hard work and contribution this year. I’m sorry for everything that happened behind the scenes, and I hope the next FEE3 can learn from this and the previous FEE3 events.

I think Pandan has conveyed a lot of things from the inside out, but yeah I’m just gonna give my critiques here.

As a viewer and a fellow member of the hacking community, I’m rather surprised with lack of community involvement in terms of the event itself. There’s no such thing as open recruitment for those who want to help organize FEE3 or something. And the fact that in the end FEE3 was being organized almost single-handedly by Pandan was astounding but sad.

I contributed on helping with making some of the new thumbnails for FEE3. Big props for Gamma and Miacis for initiating this though. Thanks for introducing me to Gimp, this is a new experience for me

From here alone, I can see a lot of problematic things between the organizers, mainly lack of communication and coordination. This hurts me since I was pretty much active in event organizers back in my college, and seeing this being disfunctional is a big shame. Yet-- props on holding this out until the end, FEE3. Good job!

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It appears clear that our hack is referred to in the last section of your comment, about the “mature” stuff. Now I can get people have different opinions, but this feels more like a personal attack, starting from the “you should be ashamed of yourself”. First of all, if something wasn’t ok with our video, you could have easily told us, the video is pretty short, we would have worked out something different. Then, you’re talking about this like it’s something despised by everyone, but we never received a single feedback telling us this is bad content, if not from one person that was working with us (and that’s why we created the two modes), quite the contrary, we received feedback from people who liked our death portraits, more violent scenes and darker atmosphere. If you don’t like something, it would be nice to first send us a feedback, and maybe discuss in private, instead of this public display (literally no one ever talked to us like those things where major problems). I understand there’s also the stress from the entire event behind this, but still.
Anyway, we don’t think many twelve years old go wandering the FE hack scene, and even if this is the case we now have a big [CONTENT WARNING] on our post, I don’t see why I can’t experiment a bit with some darker themes. I get that some people don’t want to see this in a FE hack, but it doesn’t seem to be the case for everybody, or at least, no one has ever told us so. Each of us will play what they want and prefer.
That said, we still feel like your ideas about our hack are a bit confused, and it made us confused too, we’d really like to speak with you privately about what you think makes you feel “unsafe” in our hack.

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Hey, thank you first of all for making this happen. It’s unfortunate that you ended up bearing the brunt of the effort, but I can’t be thankful enough that you let all of these people see their hard work on the main stage.

I know that I really don’t understand how hard the work was for this, merely being a contributor that had to get someone else to record a presentation for me. If you ever need help on this kind of stuff, just let the necessary people know. I’m sure that they would do everything they could to make sure all of this work goes swimmingly. Maybe this is an optimistic way of looking at it, but you simply need to ask when you it’s painful to bear the burden all on your own.

Whatever happens after this, I wish you the best of luck with wherever you go.

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First of all, thank you Pandan for all the hard work you put into organizing FEE3 this year. With so many projects, I can only imagine how daunting it was to handle the organization of the event. You did an excellent job and that is to be commended. :slight_smile:

I wholeheartedly agree with your post about mature and sexually inappropriate content in FE hacking, it has no place in it, full stop. It has no place here. Hackers should do better, and avoid placing that in their projects. It was very inappropriate to see the thumbnail for the project for FEE3, I am glad it was changed.

With that said, I do have some thoughts and suggestions for the next FEE3.

Submission Video Reviews: Now, most of the showcases for this year were excellent, however, there were some that were not very well done. I think there should be a person, or maybe persons looking at the submission videos before they launch for the event, to make sure the recordings are of acceptable quality. This year there were some videos that were put together hastily as could be seen, cutting out key scenes, and leaving viewers such as myself confused about the project being showcased. There were also some where it was harder to hear one commentator over the other, making it hard to fully delve into some showcases. This would also ensure that no inappropriate content would be showcased.

Acceptable Projects & Video Length: I agree with some of the points posted here already about that. I think fully custom projects should be the main feature, and the reskins, rebalances and meme hacks should have MUCH shorter showcases. As for the length of the videos, I honestly think only a few videos should be an hour long, the majority of the recordings should be between 20-35 minutes in length. Any video longer than an hour, in my opinion should not go over the 5 minute mark. Otherwise, the video just drags on. I also think that guidelines should be made referring to what was said in the OP.

Starting and ending the showcase: I think that the first video shown in the showcase should be the project from this year that got the most views first in the next FEE3. That way, the event would start off with a lot more exposure. The ending project for this year was a good example of what project to end it with.

I liked the 6 hour spacing out of the videos, it helped against you feeling swarmed with the amount of projects that were showcased this year. As a viewer, I enjoyed the event (even though I was not able to watch every showcase. I have to say though, the LPers I got to listen to and watch for commentary and gameplay were excellent. So kudos to you guys: Dancer_A, KrashBoomBang, Pandan, HeartHero, TDAWS, Noguchi and Snakey1, Zanryu, MegaTheGamer and Mel and Ray. The showcases presented by these LPers were my favourites, but the others were good enough quality as well.

Something LPers and co-commentators alike have to remember is that for FEE3, the showcase is not only to display the project, but also to encourage persons to play it. When you haphazardly put a video together, it will ultimately affect the project you are showcasing. There was one showcase in particular where the creator of the project had no real enthusiasm for the project, and that could be picked up in their voice as they spoke. The LP has to be entertaining to the viewer, to help the like/dislike ratio per video, as well as the overall impression of your project.

I loved the thumbnails that were created after the first day of the showcase, and I have to advise that colourful thumbnails remain in the norm for projects. It catches the eye of the viewer, and encourages you to watch the showcases.

Thank you again to Pandan, the LPers and organizers for FEE3 2020!

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The traditional format of FEE3 has been commentated let’s plays of 1+ chapters of a hack. With the sheer amount of projects this year, I don’t think this format works anymore. I don’t think anyone watches every single FEE3 video through. I certainly didn’t. There’s just too much content, and I think it needs to be scaled back. Also, and I don’t mean to call out anyone particular here, LPing Fire Emblem is hard. There’s a lot of dead air, and a certain amount of charisma is necessary to fill it.

However, it obviously is not feasible to make highly edited content, we don’t have the manpower. What I propose instead is a hard time cap at around 20 minutes.

How I envision this working is the hack creator submitting a chapter, along with a list of features/characters/map elements/story elements that are important to the identity of the hack. The LPer then plays the hack, specifically showing what’s on the list. They play the map for a few turns, and that’s the end of the video. This year’s Book of Exiles showcase is what I’m envisioning, although that video has more production, showing off multiple chapters. This is really cool, and I would like to see more of it if it’s possible to do so.

I think that tradition is holding us back. People have an expectation for FEE3, and I think it’s time to balk that and try to make something that’s better for hack creators, LPers, and viewers alike.

Regarding some other aspects to FEE3: I agree that there should be some quality control for videos (and I’m okay with excluding reskins outright). The idea for a more cohesive visual identity is great! There needs to be way more communication within the organizing team, as well as between the team and the general userbase. There’s been a frankly absurd amount of conflict this year and I think most of it could be avoided by people just talking to each other.

I’d like to close off this thanking Dan and the rest of the organizers for putting on this event, and to say that I want to be more involved in FEE3 in the future. This event is great, and I want to see it be the best that it can be.

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…since it seems like i posted my suggestions in the wrong thread, i will copy them over here

We need to do something about it’s length.

Having so many projects is exciting, 73 videos x 40 minutes average are not, imo. I don’t mean that the videos are bad, but so many long videos can (and most likely will) lead to burnout for many viewers. The whole “drop a video every 6 hours” thing i am also a bit iffy about, ngl.

I think it would be better if have a “main event” video, where trailers and short videos are shown, then side events with long videos/live streams so those who are interested can record/watch them.
This could alleviate alot of work from LP’ers, since recording so many long videos is tough.

For example, with 72 projects we could’ve 3 main videos (one video a week), with trailers and stuff, then long showcases inbetween.

Also while i know this is mainly to showcase hacks, how about we involve the community some more and add some kinda gameplay competition. For example a race/LTC of a section of a game/fanproject, maybe even involving some bigger people in the community to try and raise awareness for the event, as people love these things.

As for my last suggestion, i think we need more awareness within the FE community in general, like the subreddit, Serenes and maybe even non-english speaking fanbases. There should be some arrangements with the other communities, i think. For example, we could have an ‘‘international showcase’’ video, where projects in other languages are shown.

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Shameless Hiraeth plug, but I’ll come out and say my project does feature child abuse in the form of a cutscene (non-graphic, ofc.)

I do want to make it clear that this is used as a setup for character development of both involved characters, and is an integral part of one of the characters’ outlook on life and relationships. Although yes, this is anti-wholesome, I don’t particularly think this should be grouped up with “funny fetish characters” as it is an integral part of the story, and is most certainly not a scene created to be enjoyed for viewers, regardless of if it resulted in a poor taste FEUbot command (!daddy).

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Thank you to the community for putting this event on. This was the first FEE3 that I watched and it was certainly an entertaining few weeks. I really liked the release format, waking up every morning and seeing what new work was up for display was a nice little treat and I think a great way to space out the submissions so that everyone got a decent chance for views.

Being an entirely community run event done for free I don’t want to be too critical of certain things, but since we’re asking for feedback, there were a few things that stuck out to me.

Quality control is a big thing. Obviously not every hack will be equal, but certain video editing decisions and design choices left me wondering why these videos were even being presented. This is your moment to put the project that you’ve been working hard on for display. I understand that all of them are a work in progress, but your hack should not be featuring multiple egregious spelling and grammatical errors. I understand not everyone is a native English speaker, but nothing was more off-putting than seeing nonsensical and awfully spelled dialogue.

To add to that, there were a few videos where the sound quality was awful, and I’m not just talking about the microphone quality. Certain people spoke either extremely low and were borderline inaudible, or it was just impossible to understand what they were saying. Certain video commentary for some hacks could also be bad. One egregious example being the dude who was playing Minecraft during his demo, but there were other videos where the commentary felt more like a review criticizing poor design choices than an actual demo of the project.

Now in my opinion if you want to cut down on the number of submissions and have a smaller event, this is where you should draw the line. Frankly, you’re doing the creator of some of these more rough hacks a favor to go back and improve their work as opposed to putting out an unpolished demo too early and losing all interest. Again I understand almost every hack is a work in progress, but there should be more pride and review in what these creators are putting out there.

As for the mature content, it doesn’t particularly bother me, and I’d hesitate at the idea of moderating the content that other people put into their projects. ROM hacking is an art just like any other. If someone wants to experiment with darker themes, they’re more than welcome to do it just as you’re more than welcome to not play it. Put a warning in the subject of the video or the thread if you want, but policing other people’s art sets a bad precedent.

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Pandan, you are a true hero of the community. Everything that happened and that you went through was not for naught. I enjoyed seeing what people were making, and the excitement of discussions with fellow peers on Discord. Have a wholesome :chicken: from Honeydew.

My opinion on the mature content is to reference Jugdral, where it’s not excessive and part of the storytelling rather than being dark and mature just for the sake of being dark/mature.

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