Level/ Difficulty design and the state of the current fandom


#1

So yesterday I cam across this topic in reddit:
41 votes and 101 comments so far on Reddit

where peps were simply shitting on the map and difficulty design choices in the TLP game.
I’ve never played TLP btw.

MAP1:

MAP2:

Everyone had a heart attack or something,
especially on the second map which is basically a straightforward “U” shaped map
which with a bit help from fliers can be tackled in many ways.

Also there were some ridiculously fun arguments for promoting at Lv10 instead Lv20.

To me it just shows that very few understand that FE is a RNG manipulation RPG
where the main “game” is pushing the RNG in your favour
or how to use various in-game mechanics like rescue and other mechanics.

Concerning the above maps, we can argue that they could be 10%~20% smaller
but from a design perspective personally I see way many pros than cons.

Another argument was that RomHacks in general are broken hard
or more hard than they should be
but that has to do more with the creator having better understanding of the mechanics
and the usual complaining that the official FE games are too easy.
Unfortunately, practice and repetition is what makes you better and more efficient
at this type of games
and most people aren’t willing to replay a romhack more than once.

My 2 cents


#2

Heyyy… that’s pretty good.


#3

A romhack being harder isn’t that hard to grasp, at least as a basic perspective. Think about it, if you’re making a game for the audience at large then you need to account for all abilities of play, but if you were instead just making a game for the smaller, hardcore community that know their way around a rom patcher and emulator then your ability to make a harder game which can still be beaten by the core audience is higher, right?

Also, I’m surprised modern fans aren’t all over TLP, considering it suffers from shitty characters, shitty stories and is just a downright chore to play, just like the newer games… cough


#4

I don’t think that a game from 2012 should be used as basis for a discussion on the “state of the current fandom”.

That being said, I usu try to cut off everything that isn’t needed to make my maps as compact as possible (unless the map has to be huge to make a point about how vast an in-game location is). FE: Requiem in particular is even worse than TLP about having gigantic maps.

Re:difficulty, another pro of people using FE8 as a base these days is that you can just play the game in easy mode if it’s too hard. Some people get rid of easy mode (and also sometimes hard mode) either because of technical issues or because normal is “the way the game is meant to be played”, but the only thing easy mode actually does in a vacuum (as far as I know) is give a flat penalty of a certain amount of levels to enemies which can vary by chapter.

Another reason for “rom hack difficulty” is that people often expect players to use emulator tools like states and rewinds, making a borderline-impossible game into a normal-to-hard game. You can put as many appeals as you want in your readme.txt, telling the player that the game was balanced around toolless play, etc, but people are still going to use them if that’s the way they like playing Fire Emblem.


#5

cut down on the initial enemies by like a half or a quarter, and position them in a less cluttered way and you might start seeing a bit better gameplay. Lowering the map size might help as well, because the unfortunate fact is that in order to hide how much empty or unneeded space there is on those maps the enemy design is just being scattered all over the map to keep you consistently fighting something, and to make it look more busy then it actually is. Also, both of them are basically just big long corridors, and the design is essentially primed to encourage grouping and turtling almost the entire god damn way, making it a chore to play because grouping and turtling well effective are really boring.

difficulty i have no hard opinion about though, just that a well designed game will teach the player what they have to do to succeed, regardless of difficulty.


#6

Well the game is OLD yes and in an era with way more limited tools than now
but the topic is only 2 years old. Relatively recent.

Well yes. But it’s also that you see soooo many “this game is easier than the older X games”
which give the impression that the target audience is around the SNES/ early GBA tier difficulty.

I think that disabling the difficulties
and then making an “Easy Type” version of the same romhack is the better balance choice.

You can do many things to “ease the suffering” outside flat stat numbers


#7

That’s relative.
IMO well designed games are the FE4 and FE12 (Mart’s 2nd story) in terms of difficulty and map design
but tons of players hate these 2 games.


#8

Im not talking just in the sense of tutorials, in fact a well designed game tends to teach the player what they need to know with as little tutorials as possible, atleast ideally.

Afterall, some of the worse parts of fire emblem tend to be the overly long tutorial sections, like about half of lyns mode and almost all of fe12s boring prologue.


#9

About the maps on my first post, I seriously think they’re some bullshit, maps as big as that I don’t think they’re a great idea (especially the second), and it’s even worse with the unit placement they have, since either they become empty and easy, or to make them difficult you need to buff the enemies up or make them attack you in a wave and clear them out it’s still too easy, so you have to go back to buffing and you’re not doing anything well, beside mobilizing units by empty spaces is borring, I think it’s better to make mid-sized maps with situations that force you to act fast but efficiently, either with relevant side objectives or with more than one defeat objective (example, Conquest’s map 10 where you have to protect a point so you have to consider not only to hold on but to also protect that point and forces you to stay alert)

And about the difficulty, in my experience I think a map shouldn’t be exaggerately hard, it may have some sort of “trick” to make it look exaggerately difficult but it really isn’t, but never something exaggerately hard or even less something that it’s too RNG dependant and I don’t think enemy saturation in a map is ever the way to make a difficult map, it’s complicated to do something hard without being unfair in FE’s system and so I can somehow justify some hacks being unfair (up to a point) in favor of maintaining a certain difficulty.


#10

I honestly dont remember conquests chapter 10 being all that difficult tbh. I would have loved to see them try and use the defend this line of squares objective more, but as long as you remember basic defense mission tactics its a fair cinch and the exact same as a regular defense mission. Aside from that though, its not the greatest example of multiple objectives in the series, mostly because the only way to actually win the chapter is to not lose for 10 turns and the fact that most of the collectibles are almost right next to you or carried by enemies that will bum rush you, so theirs literally no incentive to rush out besides punching takumi in the face, which well enjoyable is not the greatest of incentives unless you really hate takumi.

no, POR’s ch11 well not perfect is a better example of enticing the player, and showcases the advantages of multiple routes and how to put pressure on the player to move faster.


#11

Someone’s watched Egoraptor’s videos. Conveyance is definitely key here and I totally agree.


#12

I think it’s really interesting to see how player expectations have changed over time. Elibean Nights is a perfect example of this; it’s been in development for 7 years, and yet only more recently have people really started to criticize the gameplay and balance (which is great when the criticism is actionable).

Clearly, we had a fondness for oversized maps back in 2012. Hector’s Tale is the most egregious example; the map really could stand to be compressed. It’s a slogfest that takes forever to complete. Back in the day, grand-scale battles like that were more common than they are in the more recent games. FE4 was composed entirely huge maps, and FE6 definitely had some oversized maps. Going back even further, FE1/2/3 have similar issues (don’t get me started on FE2’s gameplay design). Whereas in 2017, you have an influx of new players over the past few years with completely different expectations. This is part of the reason that Elibean Nights has aged so poorly in certain respects; not only are some of the desogn decisions questionable, but the paradigm through which we view FE as a whole has shifted dramatically during the life of its development cycle.


#13

I could understand why about both games.
Genealogy not only is a marathon level per chapter, but it’s also pretty luck-based and very random (Wanna pair… [squints around for a Darrman] Iuchar with Larcei? Nope, she hooks up to Diermuid.) that it can be bad. Also, Brian and his Beran-faced Helswath :rage:

Meanwhile, FE12’s only fault is the long-ass prologue (and even rage-inducing, if you play in Lunatic), and the fact that Shadow Dragon left us a really bad taste in our gamer tongues, along with the botchered WTA system that plagued Shadow Dragon.

Oh my god, Gaiden. I know Shadows of Valentia followed suit with those maps, but the remake still has better design than Fates.


#14

Its an interesting shift certainly, i think what really highlights the problems with the larger map designs that were more popular, is that the movement in fe6/7/8 was much lower then in say fe1. the maps in fe1/11’s case were actually smaller then they appeared, because you usually had a host of units capable of traversing greater distances (it also higlights the problems with knights lower movement and lack of ranged options) as such when the majority of classes have lost about two panels worth of movement the maps need to change to accommodate.

No, I feel large maps can work if given the proper attention and care, but the design of the chapters flow needs to change to accommodate it. scattershot placement especially is bad when it comes to larger maps, but then thats just my opinion on the matter.


#15

Pyrathi Island in FE1 was such a marathon, despite not having anything to do with the story, and it was fun to me because of the constant waves of enemies and because you could swap a dude for another while being careful with the Pirates.

The one level featuring Morzas can be a funfest, or a nightmare, depending on who you bring.


#16

you didn’t squint hard enough, a wild darrman appeared
“Wanna pair… Johan with Lakche? Nope, she hooks up to Delmud.”

On topic: Big long maps aren’t that bad to me, my favourite’s FE4. However, big long empty stretches where all you move are five tiles a turn for ten turns until you get to one single enemy isn’t very interesting.


#17

Big maps worked in FE4 because in reality those were “split in smaller rooms” with tons of action in each one.

A big map in GBA has the 50 unit limit issue but you can have smart ways to trick the game and the players:

  1. The limit is 50 for each army. You can have 150 units on a map (blue- green - red).
    -> This means you have more events with green allies fighting on a different area of the map.
    -> Also if someone could hack it, you could make greens also be targetable and act as enemies
    which would double the amount of enemy units displayed.
    (then casually “paint” greens as reds and configure their turn music as appropriate)

  2. Make enemy reinforcements appear not based on turns but based on area events.
    Put a lot of enemies in the start of a map and since you have to kill them to progress
    once you reach a specific area trigger more enemies.

Because everyone played the game once or twice and due to the lack of knowledge
everyone tried to turtle their way through
when FE4 was designed to divide your units into groups.

Like I said, the more your replay a title the more efficient you become and the more you understand how the game works.

But who playes a romhack more than once???
Most play a romhack once and at the end throw a biased and rushed critique.

For that I blame the official devs for the reason we haven’t seen a proper map since 2005 (FE8).

Might as well make FE a turn based RPG with big parties like Suikoden series
and remove the map movement.

I mean, the new players that started with Awakening,
with what are they going to compare the maps on a romhack?
These maps and their difficulty are alien to them.


#18

This isn’t true, actually. Ephraim225 found this out when making Emblem Warriors for RF4; the ally units seem to either share the enemy unit cap or have a substantially smaller cap than enemy units.

As for big maps, I think people made them pretty much based on nostalgia. Were they ever really fun to play? I certainly never did find them fun to play… Just an utter slog, always hated them and always will and this won’t change. What’s the point of a massive map if you can convey the same thing in less space? Zoom out your map’s scale if you really want to go for “this place is massive” or something.


#19

[quote=“Seal, post:6, topic:3019”]
but the topic is only 2 years old. Relatively recent.
[/quote]no. Look at what has happened in the last two years. especially in hacking terms.
2 years is, to a certain extent, very old.

[quote=“DerTheVaporeon, post:13, topic:3019”]
FE12’s only fault is the long-ass prologue (and even rage-inducing, if you play in Lunatic), and the fact that Shadow Dragon left us a really bad taste in our gamer tongues, along with the botchered WTA system that plagued Shadow Dragon.
[/quote]no

[quote=“Seal, post:17, topic:3019”]

  1. The limit is 50 for each army. You can have 150 units on a map (blue- green - red).
    [/quote]You can only have 10 NPC units due to the way the suspend system works.

#20

This is the saddest thing I’ve read all week.

Yeah, that makes perfect sense. I don’t think we necessarily accounted for that back in the day; we just wanted bigger battles than GBA and damn the consequences, LOL.

Since I specifically brought up Hector’s Tale (which is a total mess unit placement wise), I spent some time last night compressing the map by chopping off three rows and three columns. I don’t feel like the map really “lost” anything at all.

Before

https://i.imgur.com/5oyFXzw.png

After

https://i.imgur.com/674P8mY.png
I’ll clean it up later…