So typically in FE’s normally you win a battle, and storyline wise you win the battle.
But let’s say in Fire Emblem Awakening you play as Plegia or Valm, how would you design several levels where you have to “win” the chapter, but storyline wise you are still losing the war etc etc?
I mean Escape is one way, Defend is another. But aside from that chapterwise you can win the battle, then have a stronger opposing force come post-events or on the final turn type of thing. But I feel like after a while (2+ chapters) that’s gonna get real stale.
Ex: I’m thinking of a hack idea where the MC is a smaller country who is being invaded by the Big Bad, and as a small country lord you have to defend your lands, while the opposing enemy just has a giant unstoppable army.
Technically that’s what Door of Destiny is all about. You’re “winning” while tragedies are happening all around your supposed victories and ultimately you are executed, framed and cucked, while the villain takes all the credit because you’re powerless to do anything.
TL/DR it’s less about the map objective and more on the story writing.
Let’s suppose it’s a defense or survive chapter, so you need to survive some turns or protect someone for some turns.
Let’s suppose 24 turns.
You want to show the player that he/she completed the objective, but in overall he/she lost the battle. So in chapters like these you could place extremely strong units on the last chapters, So if it is 24, in chapter 22 and 23 you spawn like a lot of dead manaketes or enemies with over status that can kill Dimitri the russian terminator with their hands tided and blindfolded at the same time.
Also, in the end of the chapter you can clear the map and show an event where a lot of enemies will spawn and outnumber the player units, like the soviet army did with the germans in ww2.
But let’s suppose it’s not a defensive chapter, but instead it’s a kill the boss or seize the throne chapter.
Well… I’m not sure but using lure tactics can work. Let’s suppose you are a commander, and you are advancing to the bad guys and winning some battles. But what you didn’t notice it’s that they are actually using defensive tactics against you, and you actually were going to your own defeat, as the german did in the battle of Moscow.
So you advance get surrounded and even if you complete your objective the enemy now surrounded you, and you are in a very bad situation.
I was just thinking about chapter 5x in the Sacred Stones. Maybe the player party has been preparing a long time for a big siege and they try to capture a big enemy castle. The battle is rough and long but somehow they win, only to find out that a lot of enemy reinforcements are on their way. Knowing they can’t win, the party has to sadly leave.
Another example would be, that two nations/armies join together for a group operation. The player’s army succeeds and so the first phase of the plan is complete, but the second army fails and the mission is ruined.
It is all about the story/writing in these chapters. There are various shows out there that have episodes where a battle is won, yet something bigger has been lost. Shows like Star Wars The Clone Wars do this often.
How about this? Most of your army has been reduced to shambles by a far more powerful force, and you have to retreat. The enemy is trying to encircle you, so you need to defeat the weaker forces blocking your retreat while a different part of your army (that you maybe aren’t playing as) holds off the enemy’s main force. The chapter’s objective is the defeat of those blocking your retreat, so the advancing main force is just an artificial time limit. If the main force is primarily units with similar or lower movement to your own units, it shouldn’t be TOO hard to stay ahead, so long as you’re always advancing. You’re winning the small-scale battle, but the only purpose it serves is to get you out of losing the large-scale battle alive.
one way to do a ‘winning is losing’ chapter is to make a chapter specific death quote for one of your units that triggers the end chapter event so even though you’re ‘‘winning’’ you’re still ‘‘losing’’
This feels difficult to me since not many players really want to see themselves lose all the time, but I think this person was onto something.
It may not be quite what you’re thinking of, but the thing that comes to mind for me is setting a Thracia 776 earlygame mood where it feels like you’re barely passing by the skin of your teeth. The player gets some victories to keep them engaged in the game, but the game still manages to convey the small time, little-guy feel that you seem to be aiming for despite that. Each victory in the earlygame feels like it’s earned thanks to how the units are balanced.
Combine this with a clear demonstration of the power gap between you and the enemy in-story, and you might be able to achieve what you’re looking for.
Having a map where most of your party is “green” units is one way to do it, like some of the maps in radiant dawn or my favorite part in Road to Ruin; I could also see something like a Zephiel/Black Knight style pursuer who pops up in maps who just can not be beat or cheesed, so it requires a fighting retreat
Outside of gameplay, the narrative can reflect this tone, with every victory being pyrhic or it being the lesser defeat, ie We freed a few mercenaries from a prison, but many more are still captured or dead and now the Empire is aware of our guerilla recruiting, or the party lives to fight another day, but the only commanding officers/experienced leaders died holding the door for them
In an out there example, just go full zombie apocalypse; have maps with scaling spawns of revenants and the more you fight back or lose you own units, the greater number of waves of spawns you have to endure
The easiest way to do this is to give a text reason to retreat in the EndEvent.
“There is an enemy horde heading towards us,” or some other appropriate reason, and the protagonists will be forced to retreat.
If you want to make it look nice, you can use the Event Script to create a cutscene of the enemy horde coming.
If you want to represent that in the game, then make an Escape map.
If you make a map where you need to let all the main characters escape, you can express that they have been defeated.
You can also dynamically switch the chapter objectives.
You can do that by using LOMA or ChangeChapterObjective patch.
You could also represent a map where “all the main characters have to escape” because they are suddenly ordered to retreat for some reason.
Since this is a fictional story, the reason for the retreat is MacGuffin.
You can make up any suitable reason.
Of course this is mostly going to be largely contingent on your storytelling abilities, but there’s definitely a few things you can do gameplay wise that could add to this.
1.) Make the game hard. Like among the highest difficulties in the series, and then some. Having the game be extremely difficulty sort of enhances the effect in two ways - it makes you feel that the enemy is way stronger than your army in a tangible way, and sort of has the realistic effect that you need to do things almost perfectly to even have a shot. When you clear the chapter, you’ll feel the same sense of relief that the characters themselves did. No matter how good your storytelling in this aspect is, it just won’t feel as genuine if you have an FE8 Seth on your team that can one shot every unit on the enemy side.
2.) Instead of having the unbeatable army come at the end of the chapter, experiment with having them advance during the chapter as a reinforcement. Even for seize chapters, this makes it into a pseudo escape chapter, as facing off against these units would mean death. It also puts into perspective that the armies you’re fighting aren’t the main foes, and that the real enemies are far stronger than you.
3.) Play around with map elements and NPC actions. For instance, one chapter could be that you need to seize this castle on the west while your army holds off an attack coming from the east. You could park a bunch of generic NPC knights on the east side that are just getting slaughtered by enemy reinforcements while you focus on the actual objective. It’ll help drive the point that even in victory, you’re incurring heavy losses.
4.) Possibly more controversial, but having an unavoidable playable character death (that gameplay wise just disappears), could add a lot, but this would be heavily dependent on your storytelling ability to make the impact meaningful.
5.) Don’t be afraid to throw in a few chapters where there is a decisive victory for your side. After a certain point, always escaping oblivion can get a bit stale. It also hits harder story wise when the underdog can actually score real victories and believe in their goals, only to be ruthlessly trampled down later on.
There’s definitely a lot of things you can do within the context of the gameplay and map that can really enhance the story you’re trying to tell. I think having a solid mix of elements like these can make your game very engaging story wise and gameplay wise. Good luck!
If you’re going full zombie apocalypse, might as well have each character set a global flag when they die and show up as zombies on future maps, just to make it hit home that much more when you let one of your characters get killed.
In Valkyria Chronicles your playable units are just one part of a much larger force, and so victories on behalf of your squad don’t always necessarily translate to victories for the entire army. You can also have chapters where “winning” is just “not dying during a catastrophic defeat.” Escape maps or maps that present the player as having already lost and are more about recovering in some way come to mind – think that one chapter in Remire village from 3H, where catastrophe has already struck and you’re just trying to minimize casualties and find who’s responsible.