Fire Emblem: Starlit Souls (Demo Release, 4/32 Chapters Completed)

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On the continent of Tirnaanor, War has become a part of everyday life. For the past 311 years, the Republic of Qalinae and Kingdom of Ryless have clashed in what appears to be an endless Holy War. Once-good men have become corrupt with power and sinister shadows dance just out of sight. In this world of few pure souls, two individuals shine above the rest: Fledgling squire Opal von Alraiser of Qalinae and veteran commander Alhardt Ocrament of Ryless. Both of these individuals crave an end to this war and to rebuild Tirnaanor in their own ways, but little do they know that their dreams of an ideal world will set them on a collision course with not only each other, but with forces that have lain dormant for untold centuries…

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Hey guys, I’m Amberstorm and I’m here today to represent the whole of Team Tirnaanor to give you the first official demo release of Starlit Souls, a ROM hack that’s been under development by our small team of friends for the past year now. As of right now, we have 17 maps completed, 14 comprising Act 1 and the other 3 Act 2, with a planned total of 32 chapters across 4 Acts.

However, due to some real world complications among our writing team that have been going on for a few months now, we have yet to fully complete the script for said maps and likely will not be able to for a while. Being a hack in which we want to focus on the script, we didn’t want to release a gameplay only demo, but still wanted to release something to show everyone.

So, we’ve decided to instead make a compromise and release a 4 chapter demo that covers the beginning of Opal’s tale, with the complete script attached. The game is a bit dialogue heavy and has quite a few references to characters and locations that will be visited later, but we hope readers can still enjoy and keep track of what’s going on.

You can download the patch → [here] (6.38 MB folder on MEGA) ← I’ll be trying to update the patch regularly with any typo or gameplay fixes

You can also join our Discord to give us feedback or report any of those bugs or typos here

General Gameplay Notes/Changes

-Custom Music (Not 100% custom music, but some)

-Promoted units do not reset their level and the level cap for all classes is 30.

-Thieves can steal regardless of their Spd

-Avoid Formula changes to Spd+(Luk/2). This doesn’t make every unit have 100% hit though. Non-sword units will usually be sitting at around the 80%-92% region and enemies will at lowest be around the low 70%s

-Critical Formula changed to (Skill - 10). A nice QoL feature to reduce the chance of annoying crits early game and also to adapt to the next change.

-Stats, growths and caps have generally been deflated as a whole. The highest cap in the game outside of HP is 24 while the universal Luk cap is 20. The reason this is done is to create a larger focus on equipment rather than raw stats.

-Going off the last point, Resistance as a stat has been massively deflated in a similar vein to the Archenea games. Mages also have lower magic stats and most of their Atk comes from a general buff to tome mt.

-Weapons now have multiple subtypes: Blades, Polearms, Lances, Greataxes, Tower Bows and Crossbows. These subtypes are limited to specific classes.

-Weapon Triangle has been outright removed. We did this since we feel like weapons already naturally counter each in which classes use them. Fighters punch through the fatter classes like Knights and Soldiers, Knights and Soldiers eat up Mercenary and Myrmidon’s weaker attacks and hit reliably back Mercenaries and Myrmidons’ high avoidance allow them to dodge Axes better and exploit their usually lower speed and defenses.

-Because of the previous change, we tried to give each weapon type it’s own more unique arsenal and focus. Swords are super accurate and have a wide variety of utility weapons that make them adaptable, Spears are a good combination of power and accuracy but have lower durability then other weapons and cost a bit more and Axes and powerful, cheap and have high durability, but are heavy, suffer from lower accuracy and an extremely limited pool of utility weapons. While we can’t show these off directly in gameplay, we placed some examples of weapons in the base event shops at inflated prices that player cannot reach so you can see them, but not buy them and break the game

-Ranged weapons like Javelins and Hand Axes are now rarer items. They have very limited uses at 10/8 respectively and cannot be bought from shops, existing as enemy drops or village rewards. They do maintain respectable stats and good accuracy to make up for it. This is to try to incentivize players to think more long-term when considering committing to excessive 1-2 range use.

Major Gameplay Changes

-Supports are now innate bonuses that certain units have when near one another. There are no support conversations proper, but some base events may increase support level. As a result of this, support bonuses are smaller. We have attached a document with the exact values of the support bonuses in the folder with the UPS patch.

-Anima Magic has been radically changed, with each mage having their own affinities for magic and Max Rank they can use each magic type regardless of their Anima rank proper. (Ex: Fire Sage can only use S Rank Fire Magic, B Rank Wind Magic and C rank Thor magic)

-Stats now follow a Bracketing system similar to the one found in Berwick Saga. For those of you who haven’t played the game, essentially, a unit will always remain within 2 points of their average stats (Ex: If a unit’s average Spd is 12 at that level, they can only have 10,11,12,13 or 14 Spd) This means that a units stats are more controlled, but also not completely static like a Fixed Growth Run.

-Because Starlit Souls is meant to have a greater focus on character writing and has a smaller cast, making losing a single unit devastating, we’ve implemented not only turn saves that occur every fourth NPC phase, but also what I refer to as an injury mechanic, inspired by Dark Deity. In essence, Casual Mode is enabled for the entire game, however, a unit reaching 0 HP will result in them receiving a permanent -3 HP penalty as well as a -1 Str/Skl/Spd/Def penalty when they rejoin on the next map (obviously HP will not dip below 1 and Str/Skl/Spd/Def can’t go below 0). The Lords, as well as certain plot related characters (For this release Rosalie is the only unit in this category) are exempt from this, and will still cause a gameover if killed.

-There are now base events, where you can have your allies interact with each other, potentially raise some support ranks, obtain items or stat bonuses and buy some extra supplies if you need them. As of now there is only one of these, but there will be more in the full release.

Screenshots

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Credits

We have a full txt file with every person involved, but I want to also post it in the main topic. If I’ve missed anyone, PLEASE inform me as soon as possible either via FEU messaging or Discord so I can rectify the credits.

Project Lead: Amberstorm

Lead Writer: Based

Script Writers: Amberstorm, Based

Editor: Amberstorm

Lead Game Designer: Amberstorm

Assistent Game Designer: Gatekeeper

Map Designers: GreyWulfos, Amberstorm

Wizarding: Scraiza

With Additional Public Patches By: aera, Zeta, circleseverywhere, Stan, 7743, Hexator, Tequila, Kao, Zane, Leonarth, Kirb, Nintenlord

Beta Testers: Gatekeeper, Based, Scraiza, Brunhilda, Samburger, Rodda, Ref, Tchu, Mr. Legius, Lolina, GreyWulfos, Wibble

Artists: Bluey, Amberstorm, Tchu, Scraiza, Tobiki

With Additional Public Assets By: Alusq, Ambrosiac, Arkth, Aruka, blood, Nickt, EldritchAbomination, Nuramon, flasuban, Greentea, Team SALVAGED, Kek_Krebs, Beccarte, SD9k, TBA, Skitty, DarTheVaporeon, Raspbery, BwdYeti, Swain, Temp, Seal, RobertFPY, St Jack, Spud, HGS, MK404, Pikmin1211, ZoramineFae, Hexator, shadowofchaos, Moocavo, Vilkalizer, Temp, JonoTheRed, Kao, Marlon0024, circleseverywhere, GabrielKnight, Luerock, Leo_link, Iscaneus, MrNight, Velvet Kitsune, Kenpuhu, Jj09, Tristan Hollow, CanDy, Levin64, Ereshkigal, Lord Glenn, Sphealnuke

Spell Anims: St Jack, Aegius, PurpleMage

Battle Palettes By: Amberstorm

World Map By: Amberstorm, Val^8

Music (All Public Assets): RandomWizard, Mycahel, Marine, Sme, Swift Saturn, Alusq, Kingdom Hearts Ultimania, Scraiza

30 Likes

gonna try it now :eye:

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Woohoo! It’s finally here!

I’m Based, the lead writer, and I hope you all enjoy what we’ve got done so far.

I would also strongly encourage you to reach out to us on Discord if you want to give feedback, since we’re much more active there than on the site.

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Guess I should say something since Based did,Hi I’m bluey the artist. This was a long time coming,thanks to everyone who tries the hack and I hope you all enjoy it. Still proud of that title screen.

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Lots of mechanic things to show off, and appear out of nowhere (at least to me) Lets go! I’ll admit, I rarely care about plot but the technical things here look both impressive, and fun.

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I was reading the gameplay changes and I thought to myself “No way” because I was brainstorming a couple days ago to add a system of some sort to my hack when I’m done with my current project, so I thought yall were gonna do it first but turns out it wasn’t the same thing. But this looks amazing, good job! Also, hard to think this is a GBA game I thought this would have been a Lex engine game.

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Congrats on release! I recall the changes looking interesting at the last FEE3. Looking forward to trying and sharing feedback.

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I’m liking the status screen.

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Thanks! Unfortunately the person who made it, Tchu, has departed the team, but he allowed us to use it still

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Let’s go! Congrats on the demo release.

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Played the demo. Overall my impression is very positive. It’s clear that a lot of effort went into reimagining the foundational systems (especially weapons, hit/avoid, crit formula) to make a smooth experience. It’s clear that the game is well-tested and a labor of love.

The art style reminds me a lot of Souls of the Forest, and I wasn’t surprised when I saw Scraiza on the portrait credits. All the mugs are great. Paul, Boone, and Jerry probably are my favorite portraits. Rosalie is probably the only mug I think needs to be redone, the angle feels a bit off and her head feels small. Some of the units (namely the F2U portraits) still have mismatched outline, but I assume these are temp placeholders.

The gameplay is well-manicured. First chapter was straightforward, and though while I generally dislike chapters that seem to be designed to play with a specific set of moves, the gameplay and numbers were balanced well enough that it didn’t bother me. I found the 2nd chapter to be much stronger overall than the first.

It’s clear the team likes Berwick and FE12, and I felt that the gameplay did a nice job of merging these two disparate games. It kinda felt a bit like “Berwick but with good hit rates and bigger damage”, and it’s been enjoyable so far.

Below are some more detailed comments/critiques/bug catches.

  • The writing. Everything feels incredibly dramatic, and the scenes can drag on a bit. There’s a lot of name dropping and bemusing on things that the player won’t have much insight into, and the first map felt like more dialogue than gameplay overall. I get things need to be set up, but there was a lot of dialogue. The writing was far from bad, it’s clear whoever wrote it was having a lot of fun, it’s just a lot to digest and everything feels incredibly dire given the FEGBA backdrop. Similarly, there’s a lot of name dropping that is lost on me without context or a more detailed map. I’d also add Rosalie, in particular, goes on about how important and skilled Opal is, especially with rallying morale. I am not really seeing it, since Rosalie does most of the talking. Perhaps I am missing something. Overall, perhaps it is on me to get used to the more theatrical and dramatic tone of the writing, but it stood out and I wanted to share my thoughts.

  • Given how many major mechanical changes you’ve made, I think you should include these in the guide alongside the journal entries. I like being able to refer to everything in game. Assuming not everything is final, but keeping mechanics in the guide would be convenient for someone like me who just wants to use the game w/o keeping the thread open.

  • Jerry repeats “my boon companion” a ton and the journal entries are also very long given how much scrolling is required to read them. I’m being granular with this feedback, but calling it out because it stands out. It’s clear the writers like Kent/Sain dialogue :stuck_out_tongue:

  • The music stops looping in the base if you heal Opal after her convo with Jerry.

  • I like the base concept and the backdrop it provides for the conversations you’re going for. However, it felt weird to have the same exact items available in the shop/armory before and in the base, and made it feel a bit more superfluous overall. I’d recommend changing up the items a bit more since I did all of my shopping in the last chapter. Knowing the base comes after, I’d probably just ignore the store completely in O-3 in favor of trying to move faster towards the thieves (I stink and let most escape).

  • Few small typos: “Physical” is spelled incorrectly in the description for defense on the status screen, there was a typo in the end event w/ Paul and Rosalie in O-2, but I didn’t nab a screenshot. There’s a text skip in Rook’s intro scene when Opal shows up. Buck’s description seems wrong (is it Binks’?). End of O-3 “privileged” is misspelled in Opal’s dialogue. Opal/Jerry has a typo on “learned” in the base. Rosalie/Paul has typo on “imperfect” in the base. Edwin’s description matches a vanilla one as well.

Overall this is a densely packed demo and there’s a lot of cool experimental stuff inside. Despite its very clear allusions to other games at times, it feels fresh and is a cool demo to show what we can do with the GBAFE engine.

I need to finish O-4 and will follow up w/ more thoughts if anything else comes to mind.

Be proud of the work and I look forward to playing more of it.

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I really appreciate the feedback. I’ll briefly go one by one on the points since I need to leave for an arrangement in a few minutes

-I’m always down for cutting fat off the script and as time goes, I’ll be doing my best to trim it down more and more. As for Rosalie and Opal, that is a relic of one of our past writers and one I’ve been trying to grapple with for a while now without tossing his script away which I do no feel comfortable doing. I do want to add more scenes of Opal but I also don’t want to risk bloating the scenes even more, so I need to work on balancing that line.

-For the journal, our edits to it were very early on, hence the extreme bloat, but I didn’t want to go back and redo the entire thing at the last minute since I go back to my full time work tomorrow, next release will have some massive improvements to the journal command as a whole.

-We wanted boon companion to sorta be a catchphrase for Jerry or type of nickname he gives to Jude, hence it’s more common use, but I can look to reducing the number of examples.

-We’ve decided to scrap the O-3 shops in favor of just the base events shops and moving the money, the base events were a later additional so it didn’t occur to us to remove the ones in O-3 for redundancy sakes since it was just always there for us.

-As for typos, Epicer has been VERY through in his documentation of it on the discord and it’s made us realize we really need to do more in depth grammar checks, hopefully the next release will be better in that department.

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No worries at all - thanks for quick reply. The note about different writers makes sense. The early dialogue in particular was most theatrical but it tapered off with more characters in the mix.

And don’t sweat the grammar stuff. It can be easy to miss. All the other changes sound good and I look forward to seeing them.

I’ve put out a small new update, hopefully the last major one for the next few days at least. This should fix a lot of grammar issues present in the dialogue (massive thanks to epicer for taking the time to go through and pull out these issues, very much appreciated) and also cuts a few lines for bloat or redundancy, but no substantial changes to the script have been made yet. It also works removes the shops from O-3 and makes them only around in the first base event, where you will receive the money as well.

The team and I are talking about what we are going to be tackling next. Our current certainties are updating the journal as well taking a more in depth look at the script for anything we can trim down or tidy up. There likely won’t be an update for solely that, the only reason I put out so many updates today is because I wanted to clean up all instances of initial bugs or grammar issues sooner rather then later, any smaller grammar issues will come as part of a larger scale version update unless they start to pile up again.

We also have the first maps of Alhardt’s Story to work on, though that likely will not be in full swing until June. We’ll keep everyone updated on whatever we decided to do, either via here or our Discord server.

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I m enjoying this hack so far. I love the interaction between the characters and the moderate difficulty. So, this “Final Battle” in the Sound Room - is it custom made? It is so good ^^

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Ah, that. I actually forgotten I had left it in the ROM while testing songs. The track is Shadowlord’s Castle from NieR, the midi used was made by Mycahel here on FEU, you can find it in the music repository. Mycahel is credited for music assets in the credits file already, but I’ll update the Sound Room text to include the proper name