In what romhack did you see the most egregious example of Player-Hostile Design, and how could it be improved?

You know, the kind of game design Josh Strife Hayes would rant over so hard, you’d swear he’s auditioning for the EFAP podcast. Softlocks that should have been patched out(like how you’re given money to buy food in GTA if you walk into the food tutorial without cash somehow), excessive grinding when changing growths or EXP gain rates (maps with multiple minibosses holding droppable optional rewards, anyone?) would have been the better option, ambush spawns and other awful things you can’t see coming that force you into trial and error gameplay mode as a result, any moment that basically asks you to stop playing the game and start having a guide play for you, untelegraphed important route-changing dialogue choices, and more.

Besides gender-locking classes like Pegasus Knight and Bride (we’ve all seen that video making fun of gender-locked classes, it’s the obvious answer)

No need for excessive negativity here, actually making and finishing anything is a great achievement even if it’s got problems. Addressing those problems with a sequel or update will only help game makers grow.

a- This is asking for witch hunting. This is poor form at best.
b- If anyone has an opinion like this, the place to post it would be in the thread of that hack.

c- Gender locked classes aren’t an issue in any capacity except when combined with the ability to reclass units into arbitrary classes (11, 12, 16) - contrast with Awakening and Fates’ limited character class pools for example. (I’m not sure under which banner 2/15 should go.)

d- Ambush spawns are bad, but can have a purpose - as an easy example, units under roofs when you open doors are technically ambush spawns - they weren’t interactable before that point and get an action before the unit that opens the door does.
– But “untelegraphed important route-changing dialogue” is literally the entire point of an entire genre of game, specifically, one where choices can actually matter.


the only acceptable answer is pandan’s vaunted play dream of five schtick


a and b- By that logic anyone who’s ever criticized a particular game or invited criticism of a general topic is witch hunting in poor form. Player-hostile design makes the game worse for the player to experience, talking about that is a valuable form of critique that can improve a game’s updates or sequels.

c- Gender locked classes don’t have to be “that big a deal” to be a dumb concept. “Only men ride dragons and only women ride pegasi” is inherently ridiculous, especially when these classes have different gameplay functions in a game where anyone can reclass into pretty much anything.

d- That’s not an ambush spawn. You know what ambush spawns are, come on. Of course, they’re only a problem when they aren’t telegraphed. If the boss I’m fighting says “Grrr, where are those reinforcements?” and a soldier on his side says “The Pegasus Squad will be here from the east in four turns, sire!” that’s enough telegraphing.

e- Untelegraphed is the key word in that sentence. If a dialogue option is going to severely matter, in a game that normally telegraphs “Your choices don’t matter”, that’s untelegraphed. It blindsides the player. This goes double for obscure unpredictable ways in which the Golden Ending is achieved, especially when the “good enough” ending is designed to make you wish you got the Golden Ending.


“pandan’s vaunted play dream of five schtick”?

Sorry, I’ve never heard of that game. What’s player-hostile about that?

They’re not. Ambush spawns are when you have no time to react and enemies immediately attack you. Unless opening the door immediately ends your turn and the enemies rush forward to attack, they’re just newly revealed enemies.

Especially when you expect to see enemies under a revealed roof…

Totaly agree with you.

a and b- By that logic anyone who’s ever criticized a particular game or invited criticism of a general topic is witch hunting in poor form.

Not at all. When you post, for example, a Steam review, you put it right into the inbox of the people who can action on it.

If I were to say that I think Sacred Echoes is terrible in this thread, hypergammaspaces wouldn’t hear of it unless someone intentionally notifies him or otherwise. And, if there’s any reasoning behind that opinion, that also wouldn’t get to gamma which would be terrible.

The outcomes from this that I am concerned with are twofold:

Either they believe the opinion for some reason, and spread something that they don’t know much about or generally be afflicted with that which plagues the internet at large, they may very easily say “hgs made bad hack therefore hgs is bad person”, which is something that has happened in this forum before;

Or, dogpile hate on the hack in a space where the creator doesn’t see it until it’s absolutely revolting and create a festering wound of negativity that has no reason to have been made because if it had been presented as feedback to the developer in the first place instead of as general bitching, it wouldn’t have been as bad.

That’s what I mean by witch hunting. This is asking “hey, what hacks are bad”, which is going to end up with people being incorrigible assholes about it.

Player-hostile design makes the game worse for the player to experience, talking about that is a valuable form of critique that can improve a game’s updates or sequels.

Yes. And that’s why it should be posted in that hack’s thread. So that the feedback gets to the person who needs to know it, or that the warning can be given to the people who checked the thread already, instead of in some other location.

c- Gender locked classes don’t have to be “that big a deal” to be a dumb concept. “Only men ride dragons and only women ride pegasi” is inherently ridiculous, especially when these classes have different gameplay functions in a game where anyone can reclass into pretty much anything.

We have examples in popular culture of creatures that value, off the top of my head, gender, virginity, colors, emotional states… So what’s wrong with a winged steed that rejects men, besides that the original Pegasus was rode by a man? It’s just mythology and worldbuilding.

But I stated it because it’s not player hostile. It becomes such if you combine it with letting the player reclass units into most classes but have randomly missing holes based on unit genders. You could solve that in turn with identically functioning classes with different names/designs, like a more dramatic “Priest” vs “Cleric” – say one rides a wolf and the other rides an emu.
The issue comes in that in normal FE, classes aren’t like that and are given different functions, notably Pegasi favor Spd/Res to the Wyverns’ Str/Def.

For example, are FE1 through FE10 player hostile because there’s no male Pegasus Knight? No. You have fliers.
Would they become player hostile if every recruitable flier was male?
Still no. It just didn’t work out that the game had that unit.

d- That’s not an ambush spawn. You know what ambush spawns are, come on.

I did say “technically” for a reason. You might think of under-roof units as not ambush spawns, and at gunpoint I’d agree, but they check every mark that makes me hate them so vehemently all the same. There’s no reason to not just show me what they are before I open the door; just like there’s no reason to make reinforcements get a turn on my team before I can see their threat. They’re not interesting because they just make me oops an attempt.

e- Untelegraphed is the key word in that sentence. If a dialogue option is going to severely matter, in a game that normally telegraphs “Your choices don’t matter”, that’s untelegraphed. It blindsides the player.

And this isn’t bad nor player hostile. It allows you to make a game where choices matter but not be predictable about it, which makes player experiences more unique without feeling like “oh I did X so I get Y” being the driving motivation behind splits.

It also leaves them wondering what does and doesn’t matter - and that’s cool for a lot of people. They like the sense of discovery and exploration.


Seeing as you’ve never heard of Dream of Five, it might be better for you to hang in the community more before making almost-daily topics essentially asking us for tacit approval of various design ideas in your head. Yes, that was passive aggressive. No, I don’t think it was unwarranted.


Tacit approval? Odd way to phrase “Offering my ideas for feedback and analysis before working on them”. Also, almost-daily? How often do I post here? If I’ve done something to offend you personally without realizing, and that’s why you’re attacking me, just let me know in PMs and we can talk about it there.

Which is the worst piece?
That would be your piece asking which is the worst piece.

I don’t have a better answer than this.

Against ambushes, I think I wrote somewhere before that the behavior of this boss in FE6 is ideal.


He kindly informs us that there is a surprise.

Or, it is ideal to explain in Shinan or tell the player that there is a trap there.
Because it is not a good idea to have a trap for the first time player killer.


I generally agree with 2WB with this one but to add on to it
No ideas are inherently bad when it comes to game design, it’s all about execution and what the game does to accommodate for that decision so saying something like “ambush spawns bad” or “gender-locked classes bad” inherently shuts down any room for nuance and innovation involving that idea.
When I first started working on my hack I got quite a ways towards completion before someone kindly told me that my maps were garbage and looked even worse than they played.
This isn’t unique to me specifically, many hack creators struggle to get any feedback unless they have their hack released in the oh so coveted [complete] status so potentially dragging feedback for a hack creator’s project here and away from their thread where they’ll be guaranteed to see it is not only damaging to their hack as a whole but completely contradictory to what I hope to be the goal of this thread, to help hack creators improve on their ideas and hack as a whole.


Romhacks don’t spring out of the ether fully formed. They’re made by community members who read the forums, chat in discord, and otherwise engage with the community. Singling out hacks like this is incredibly rude; they aren’t being made for money or by a team, they’re almost always a single person’s passion project, and one’s opinions on their game only matter insofar as it pertains to their ability to make that game the best they can.

Likening the feedback process to a steam review isn’t even quite accurate, because there you’re expected to pay money for access to those games, meaning you expect a baseline level of quality. Not so with romhacking, where the important part is enjoying the process as a developer far more than it is outputting a good project.

Beyond that, though, this isn’t feedback; this is looking for distanced griping about the work of actual community members engaging in a hobby they enjoy. I don’t see any productive point to this besides trying to take potshots at people – that may not be how you conceptualize this thread, but that’s what it is.


You seem to misunderstand what player-hostile is in this context.

I mean, I’ve played a few that have moments of “who thinks this is fun!?” in certain maps but never really had the “ok so screw me then” moment except in a few hacks that have long sense completed development.

However if you want an example, I’ll give you an example, these complaints I have already levied in their original thread so take that as you will.

Sun Gods Wrath has three instances of player hostility.
1.A chapter that has ripped 1-to-1 from thracia 776 with warp traps in thracian fog.
2.a final boss with gear that boosts stats beyond their caps so only certain characters can even attempt to deal damage.
3. Two bosses wielding weapons with 100% crit which can theoretically softlock you depending on two player variables.

This still doesn’t change the fact I like the hack, and the fact that this thread is a dogpile on older hacks made by people who may not ever see the criticism due to actually having left the community or being banned, like Tambo.

This is not how you ask what things the community has encountered that vehemently did not work in various hacks.

The issue is that in a lot of your past threads it feels like you haven’t thought about them yourself much if at all.

Like, the answer to a lot of ideas in game design is, very unfortunately, getting out a pencil and paper and trying it in a few scenarios and seeing “Oh, actually, that idea of mine was godawful.”

And I don’t mean that as a slight against you. Most of my ideas are trash. In fact, most ideas at large are of low value when first formed - the “99% garbage 1% gold” expression is born of that!
It’s a matter of how you take the bad thing and make it be not bad.

For example, the lesson that you want to learn from this very thread is “what was something bad so we can never do it again?” is one that we can analyze from many other perspectives using many other games. And we don’t have to look at our community to do it, we can point at professionally built games that have critical flaws.

As a minor example, in Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, the plot was terrible for the American Child audience, because they had neither the Japanese Culture of “Home is where you were born” nor the Knowledge to appreciate the game’s main message, conveniently summarized in memetic:

This backlash came because the game is “for kids”, but deals with a more complicated and nuanced theme than can realistically be expected to get through the average reading and comprehension levels of children of the age that were a large proportion of the FFTA audience.

Whether or not that is even bad is something that is difficult to discuss. For example, “Complicated themes in children’s games”… is good, because it gives children something to challenge their brains on which can hone their wit; and is also bad because it leaves children who lack the acumen to get it very displeased with the story - which is the reason I didn’t beat the game for like four years and why I hated it that whole time. The protagonist was completely unrelatable and the only thing I could see him as was a bully.

We can contrast this with opinions on Wargroove. Wargroove is spiritually an Advance Wars game, but it replaces some mechanics with some others and fixes one of the massive issues in that franchise. It ends up failing at being similar to Famicom Wars to feel like Gameboy Wars, but of course it does; it’s Wargroove, not one of the <console prefix’d> Wars games.

But Wargroove is a tile based tactics game that doesn’t have keyboard support with a very oversensitive set of mouse controls. It’s almost completely unplayable from my point of view - and that’s not even the actual game design; because when it comes to that, we have a lot of other things:

-Every unit in the game bobbles a huge amount all the time and the art decisions make it difficult to see unit anatomy.
-Every unit has its own critical condition and a few have unique critical damage ratios. This adds so much to track when trying to figure a fight out.
-The conditions are also not predictable or followable, though I will say most of them are intuitive – “Unit’s position has 2+ terrain stars”, vs “Unit is on a mountain”, “Target is on a road”, “Target isn’t adjacent to a Witch”, “Unit attacked at max range”, “Unit attacked without moving”
-On Commander death, you auto-lose. And your Commander is very good at slaughtering enemies even when they have only 3 or 4 Health remaining, so they can counter-kill trap themselves very easily; and it’s difficult to tell in advance how much damage that pile of units is going to do to your leader. Which, in turn, can easily cause you to lose a map that you were winning because the AI saw that dogpile opportunity.
-Dogs in forests looked like this for over a year:
Look at how it's not visible

We can also look at Fire Emblem itself to learn a few lessons: Radiant Dawn makes a lot of action unpredictable due to the insane kill rate between your actual critical rate and proc skill chance. A lot of players despise this, because it reduces the importance of planning.

And yet it’s not all downside: There’s plenty of people who think this is good gameplay - or at least, fun gameplay, to watch the carnage and then figure out how to poise everyone for a good next turn.

Yes, I’m calling you out, Cam.

Compare the difference between your Recent Topics and recent topics posted in Design.

Your topics are 18285, 18191 (this thread), 18106, 18107, 18086, 18082, 18043 (the only not-design thread thus far!), 17930, 17823, 17826, 17824, and 17807.

The only threads in the category that have been posted in after August that aren’t yours are Awakening Opinions, Unit list in hacks (basically a bug report!), Trying new flavors, and Archers & making them worth using.

Do you… not see how this bugs people? It’s not bad to ask questions, but it’s fairly difficult to figure out where you don’t understand things to the point that I have like four or five draft posts in your threads filled with me waffling on what to even say. I don’t have a clue what to help with.


Oh hey I played Sun Gods Wrath! That one was wild. With this thread my goal was to ask what the community has encountered that did not work in various hacks. It’s not intended as a PM to the creator or an insult to their past selves, but a general discussion that could help future developers avoid certain softlock-prone sections, difficulty spikes, and so on.

For example, a map only completable if you still have Warp uses for Warp Skipping and RNG blessed your best character with good stat gains, when you didn’t know you needed that character or needed her alive or needed to conserve Warp because it would be the only Warp staff in the game.

I can see that was your intent, just know that phrasing is super important.

I will say that several people here just went with thinking this would be trashing hacks, but I do see the merit in analysing hacks that aren’t likely to be updated unless a sudden rom-bricking bug suddenly appears due to how long they’ve been completed for.

Like honestly I don’t think a hack has ever done something that specific of a requirement for a clear intentionally. Some of the more brutal hacks here have been fully tested to work and be completable with a 0% growths patch.

Most hacks don’t even like actually giving the player a warp staff due to warp skipping shenanaigans being able to actually break, in a bad way, some maps due to how events are set up.

Utimately this whole thread was phrased really poorly but isn’t inherently without merit.

Personally, I’d be honored if people talked shit about my hack.

Criticism vs talkin smack, tbh very fuzzy line, bound ta piss off and step on some people’s toes either way

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I thought of a better way to phrase this. Is anyone here familiar with Tomb Of Horrors?

The stories say Gary Gygax designed it because he got sick of people saying “My character is invincible, he can beat anything!” and so he designed a very hard dungeon.

But… Is it really correct to call Tomb Of Horrors hard? If you’ve got someone telling you the only correct way to beat it, executing that winning strategy despite all the misdirection and obfuscation and setpieces designed to frustrate players and waste their IRL time and destroy their items isn’t inherently difficult.

Traps designed to be unfindable. Instant death punishments designed to be uncircumventable. This isn’t a challenging game of DND in the way that Kaizo Mario is a challenging set of levels in Super Mario World. This is like those Troll Levels designed in Mario Maker to be full of dead ends, pick-a-pipe, and obtuse solutions you’d never guess to puzzles that might not even be visible on your screen. Some call this form of difficulty cheap or unfair, but that seems like an inherently negative way to frame it.