Hacking, the Community, and the state of both


#1

(Or how we became divisive elitist fucks: a writeup)

Over the past 2-3 years, hacking has changed immensely. new tech, new hacking methods, new tools, and of course, new members.
Now, the community is the most important part of hacking(or anything, really.). If there is no community, there is no hacking.
However, recently, the community has been pretty. divisive, to say the least. Drama, Elitism, all that jazz. We’ve become less of an actual community for simply making hacks, and more of a political debate house always complaining about everything.
I’m gonna try to go over recent events that “broke apart” the community, and list 3 of them.

1. Buildfiles, FEBuilder, and huge egos

Now, starting in around 2016, there needed to be change. the old hacking methods were far too buggy/impractical, and the tools were way too buggy.
The response to that was thought of originally by CrazyColorz, and was to use Event Assembler for everything. That method spawned some tools to make using it easier, and was quite appreciated.
A lot of people liked it, and grew attached to the method. However, some grew too attached to their self declared “Better Hacking Method”.
Fast Forward to end of 2017. During that time, one of the most impressive hacking tool in the community, FEBuilder, was released. It could do just about everything very easily, and even got support for fan engines such as the skill system later down the line. It was truly a lifesaver for those that were less experienced with hacking.
However, some buildfile people(no, I won’t give out names, but it should be easy to figure out who if you are in the FEU discord) Disliked the tool, with their argument mostly being “it’s worse than buildfiles”, and the only thing backing that up being “it’s easier to fix bugs and keep track of changes”.
Now, that would be fine, however, the attitude quickly changed to something akin to a witch hunt, where said buildfiles people where almost harassing FEBuilder users, saying that the tool was shit and you had to switch to buildfiles if you planned on doing an actual hack.

Nowadays, that kind of talk seems to have calmed down a bit, but there are still people complaining about others using Builder.

2. PMEs, the inferior type of hacks

Recently, there has been a surge in the type of hacks known as PMEs. PMEs, aka Pick My Edits, are hacks where the creator accepts character/class/misc edits from just about everyone. Usually, most of these edits are meme edits and are done for the hell of it, and for fun.
However, some people(Again, no name cause I don’t want any witch hunting from trying to stop it) disliked the idea of PMEs, and the sudden burst of them, as it was “cheap” and “not actual hacks”.
These people don’t seem to realize there is appeal in PMEs, however. I asked a few people on some places for their opinions and why they like/dislike PMEs, and I want to list them here.

“I like them because I like seeing how the creators will change the game and that they are a combination of peoples ideas”

“Basically what [Above] said, but i also dislike the oversaturation of pmes that are filled with uncreative ideas”

“I like the idea of multiple people (that wouldn’t be able to otherwise) put their ideas into a hack
Because a lot of people have interesting ideas but don’t know how to implement them themselves”

That was how most of the answers looked like. as you can see, there is an appeal for PMEs, people like the community side of the concept, and how it allows people that wouldn’t care about hacking otherwise to take interest in edits.
However, people still try to bring down PMEs because “They’re uncreative, useless, suck, yada yada yada”. I don’t like to put my opinion there, But I really have no substance for this part I do think doing that makes new hacker reject us, see us as elitists, that only care about our own custom chapter hacks that are better than anyone else, and I hate that that’s the image we bring to others.

I’d like to thank Fort Alpea, and Fort Mangs, for helping me to get some data, this is where I got the quotes from, by asking them why they liked/disliked PMEs.

3. Blitzes, Oh my Blitzes…

Blitzes is a form of hack making that was popularized by circles, who wanted to “raise the bar”, and thus did so by doing a full 31 chapters hack, along with the community to help him. it was very successful, and the final product became void’s blitzarre adventure.

now, i’d suggest you read another write-up, by darr, about blitzes, to catch up on them.

I just want to talk about the bad parts of it, and how the community started countless debates over one guy who wanted to raise the bar.

First off, I want to talk about the “blitz lore”. Blitz lore is something that was thought of around the time the VBA “”"“Unofficial”""" Prequel, Resonance, and was made to expand upon MC’s writing of VBA. People wanted to expand upon the lore, however, there were countless argument about it, and people considered it non-canon, others thought it was stupid.
Recently, that debate restartedagain after people complained MC was given “Too much writing power” for the recently finished VBA 2. People were also complaining that people kept making the prequel, resonance, non-canon and unofficial. Now, my opinion on this is that we’re a fangame community, I don’t think we should really care about officiality, but that debate is already well over, so let’s not continue it.

What I do want to talk about is Resonance, because that’s one hell of a drama hole. But mostly because I have personal experience with it.

Resonance was a Prequel of VBA that was made around the beggining of 2018 by yours truly and fresh new members of the community for the most part. However, said members grew to hate Resonance, and shit on it at every occasion.
It soon became an easy target, one that you could rely on when you made something bad, just say “not as bad as reso”. The dev team is the one that critiqued it the most, saying it was a buggy mess, and unplayable. however, recently, people have replayed it, and most of those accusations are pretty incorrect, at least according to them.

Now what happened there? was it a rejection of another blitz, or maybe the original form of resonance staying as the most representative of it, or people just wanting something they can easily shit on? it can be interpreted many different ways, and I’d prefer not to comment on it, as I would be biased.

Conclusion

I’m gonna be honest, I think the community has gone to shit recently. We all consider ourselves superior to others that don’t do stuff like we do, and by such people are being scared of us because of that, because we’re acting like elitists, you could say.

I’d say we became worse than the community we consider “cancerous”, such as Ft. Mangs and Serenes.

I apologize for the small size of that write-up, I just don’t really have time to write something huge, so I skipped some stuff intentionally.

For now, I’ll go play some games with my cousin, so :wave:


#2

I have nothing else to add, you managed to point out almost every negative/ positive trait in the community.
Well done, considering all of the effort and time you put to write this.
Praise @Kirb !!!


#3

The builder vs buildfile argument is stupid and gets me upset. People learn and understand things in different ways so let them create a hack their way.


#4

way to shove lexou under the bus here :frowning:

:::::::::::::::::[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[

This is very much true and something that I like a lot.
The thing I have against it personally is that there are so few things that are actually interesting: Most of them end up being [base game], [with these units subbed for these ones]; without changing anything to be more cool and fun (ie new maps are rare, changing the enemy layouts are rare, etc) so it oft feels “it’s just X” to me.

(I have no good commentary to point 3.)

I disagree that people consider themselves superior to others.


#5

Groovy. Haven’t had much time for this or Discord lately, so I can’t speak to how things have been lately but I can get behind helping people enjoy hacking however they want to do it. Buildfiles is great. FEB is great.

FEditor… well, we can still be elitists about that, right :wink:


#6

Emblem Magic didn’t have such the cultural impact FEBuilder had on the community. However, I did think about it when writing this.


#7

I’m actually really glad that you brought this up, some people in the community look down on less experienced or less well known hackers for various reasons whether it be due to their lack of skill or choice in tools, and I feel it is this toxic behavior that has contributed to the decline of the community.

I honestly can’t believe it sometimes when I read a comment or a reply from a person that edits a game boy advance game for fun where they act like they’re so much more special than everybody else, some people take themselves way too fucking seriously and it needs to stop. Just because you made or you use a certain sprite/program/hack/fucking whatever doesn’t mean that you are somehow more worthy or more exempt form the rule than everyone else.

I’m not trying to shit on anybody, if that is your hobby then all the power to you but the lack of self-reflection from some of these people makes me want to blow my brains out.

Also this cracking down on new people that don’t know any better for breaking a “rule” like accidentally using a sprite they found on the internet really bothers me, quit acting like judge, jury and executioner, I get that nobody likes plagiarism but not everyone is familiar with the rules since this is a very niche community. Also you’re cracking down on “theft” whilst editing an already existing ROM of a game that you most likely downloaded from the internet, does anybody see the irony in this?

Again, your making fan-fiction on a 20 year old Japanese strategy game for people on the internet, get over yourself. No one cares, none of this matters, so lets just try to have fun.

The only reason why I have not made my frustrations clear before is because I myself am not very well known in the community and would therefore most likely get shit on, or nobody would listen.

So in conclusion, this is the internet, nobody cares, stop taking yourself so seriously and go fuck yourself, merry Christmas


#8

Seeing all the hate on the Discord server is really making me sad, I loved this community, I loved helping artist with scripting their animations and I loved making simple weapons edit. But now… we aren’t better than others forums that I wont name, because it won’t make me any better than the ones that are hating on others. If you’re thinking that someone is doing something bad and wrong because they are not using the same methods has you then just get out of this communitty that I want to like again.


#9

Whistling

Good writeup though, I find most of your points pretty agreeable. Just gonna add the whole “dropping your project being the norm” thing is what really leads us to making substandard blitzes in the first place. Not trying to point fingers or anything since I myself abandoned my own project a while ago.


#10

I accompany FEU and Serenes for more than a year and i still don’t fell confortable with the more experienced members, but i don’t wanna bother them(i only made this accont this week to ask a simple thing, but it was useless since nobody helped me anyway). i want to learn and increase myself into fe hacking.

I personally like febuilder more than buildfiles because febuilder is simple and has a lot of information on how to use it, i cant use buildfiles if i don’t know how, i feel like they don’t want other people in the community. also i don’t get it why they hate smaller hacks like PMEs, sure there’s a lot of it and it does get a little annoying after some time, i mean, i am part of pokemon hacking for 8 years and still has a lot of people making all pokemon in (insert game here).

As for blitzes, i just agree 100% with daar.

Just my opinion as a “new” member :neutral_face:


#11

FE: The Destiny gets left out (by name) of the history books yet again.


#12

I have a different train of thought about the community. This will probably not be a popular opinion but I think some of the difficulties we’re facing come down to the board software itself. Discourse as a forums software is…interesting. I like how it looks and it’s pretty easy to use and post with. But, I think it worked better when FEU was a smaller site and not the 1000+ site members and ~450 discord members that we are today.

The software seems to be based around the idea of one never-ending forum index, kind of like reddit or imgur’s front page but without subreddits for specific things. The closest we get to any kind of sub-forum is the Categories system. Maybe it’s just me though, but I rarely sort the forum by Category, instead just looking at threads that have had recent activity. Also, be honest with me, but how much do you actually scroll down the forum index looking for random threads? I don’t really do that either. Topics get pushed down pretty frequently, soon to be lost into the forum unless someone goes looking specifically for it or had the thread bookmarked.

Most of the discussions in this community seem to happen in the Discord these days, and I’ve seen people joke that the board itself is nothing more than a glorified library to search through (via Discord and FEUbot may I add, meaning you don’t even have to use the search on the site if you don’t want to). But Discord itself isn’t that great for extensive discussion on a topic, since all we’re working with are a handful of channels for hacking. If a conversation is happening in one place, you either have to wait until it’s done or try to awkwardly butt in with your questions or content. It’s not the best setup for asking questions, though when it does work it’s great to get help instantly and often from multiple people at one time. The biggest downside to the discord however, is that questions answered in Hacking Help for example don’t always make their way to the forum, our so-called library of documentation. So it becomes a guessing game of whether or not the information you’re looking for is archived on the site or way back in discord logs somewhere. Having more documentation and question threads in specific locations on the site benefits everyone and reduces how much repeat questions we have, and how often we have to ping the Wizards on discord for info.

As this site grows, I think we might be better suited to a more traditional forum software, where people can post threads in dedicated sub-forums without fear that their topics will get washed away by a bunch of one-off questions from people or more popular threads being bumped often. I know Categories somewhat mitigate this but I’m legitimately curious how much people sort the forum by Category. I also think people should try treating the forum and discord the same, and try to use both equally too to avoid that feeling that the forum is just an afterthought to the discord.

Will this help? I’m not entirely sure, and I also don’t expect it to happen given the scope of my suggestion. But it was just an idle thought I’d been having recently and now seemed like a good enough time to share it.


#13

:wave:

You’re getting a call from my lawyer.


#14

I didn’t really have any reason to include it.

I am your lawyer.


#15

Feeds into both buildfiles and the debate surrounding MC


#16

How many people here remember Hextator? Old enough to remember the time when FEditor ruled without question because the Great Spud himself made it, and everything he said was final? It was the norm back then for experts/wizards/etc to have the attitude of “no; you don’t know any better” when asked about anything. The reality that FEditor is a messy app that breaks your rom without telling you was unthinkable. If you asked how to do something like make a str/mag split back then, you would be told “give up; it is impossible” instead of being shown the resources to start learning assembly. The community is always capable of improving, but its current state is downright saintly compared to the hostile elitists’ club that originally existed. It’s why I learned to do everything on my own: I was afraid to ask the big guys for help because I was convinced that doing so would completely destroy my reputation to the point that I wouldn’t be able to show my face again.

You have my one hundred per cent guarantee that if we were still using FEditor, this conversation would not exist because everyone would still be dancing to Hextator’s tune and too afraid to do half the stuff that we can do with hacking today. I use both buildfiles and FEBuilder and they’re both a huge help, allowing me to make ten FE8 chapters in the time it used to take me to make one FE7 chapter. Is this thread a cry for attention? If you are actually trying to be constructive here, manufacturing hysteria by saying “the community has gone to shit” does very little to help things.


#17


This was my first assembly-related post.
I didn’t really have the right language/experience to communicate well with Cam at the time (and I assume he’s more experience now than he was then as well), so getting help here was kind of difficult (and unproductive).

You can see that Hextator’s later reply is rather demeaning, however, especially since he didn’t direct me to the right resources to begin with.

I’d say part of the issue then was how much smaller the community was. There were fewer people FROM WHICH to get help in the first place. And those that were, were as Alusq said (I say those, I mean Hex).

Nevertheless, I do agree that there’s a bit of regression (imo the golden era was just prior to FE: The Destiny’s release, where we had Cam, me, Venno, icecube, and jj all actively hacking – but that’s a tangent). I’ll see what I can do to address the concerns. I’ve always made it a policy to have lax moderation; I’ve found SF’s rules to be fairly draconian (a bit of an exaggeration, but certainly strict than here). I’d like to keep it that way, but it’ll just take a bit of thinking to come up with a good, effective compromise.

Fwiw, not blaming anyone in particular here, but I do think many of the issues are caused by a shift in user base. Part of that is just that the crowd has gotten larger – it used to be no more than 20 people who’d post frequently, and everyone knew everyone. My point is that I do believe the decline is the fault of the userbase. But I also believe it’s my responsibility (as an admin) to mitigate the negative effects that they may have (on themselves).


#18

Arch really needs to put in a dislike post button.

Also, as a non-hacker, I think I’ll stay out of this conversation, my experience doesn’t seem to be pertinent.


#19

Please realise that hacking in this context falls into gray areas and that what you’re saying amounts to

If you don’t credit the original creator(s) for their work.

(Source: https://nedroidcomics.tumblr.com/post/41879001445/the-internet)

Everybody knows that what is being done in this regard is quite a gray place, and the large team responsible for the games that we’re messing in are… responsible for those games.


#20

I did not realise that this was happening.

It seems that a lot of people have switched over to using Discourse as a means of getting hacking help, which saddens me, as this very much defeats what Arch’s vision for FEUniverse was meant to be. I think half the reason for the decline is the existence of the Discourse itself.

We are supposed to be a library of resources, not a chat room.

It doesn’t help that new members are told “just use Discord”.

Discourse is fantastic software and so much better for what we need than the garbage that is IPB. I read that someone was concerned about their topics being “pushed down” by new stuff - if that is your concern, perhaps you should post in your topic more.

I like that Discourse gives equal weight to each topic. ANY new topic goes to the top, regardless of what it’s for.

I am sorry to the new members if you feel or felt intimidated, even back when we were just starting out. I have been doing this for far too long (this year will make the 9th year I’ve been in the hacking community) and I’ve grown impatient and time-poor.

If you have noticed a decline in community standards and you see it happening then it’s up you uplift the community. This applies to all of you. You are the community and it is what you make it. If you want the forums to be more active, then use them. If you don’t think people should use FEBuilder, perhaps you should write some tutorials explaining how to use buildfiles. Or, perhaps you need to make buildfiles easier to use.

More than anything, however, you need to remember that this community was founded to HELP EACH OTHER.

So help each other.