Opinions on Shorter to medium length hacks? (8-15) chapters?

Heyo, so I’ve asked a similar question on the discord server but I wanted to get more opinions on this topic from the main website. What is your opinion on hacks that are short to medium length in chapters? Are they valid? maybe as valid as full on 25-30 ish length hacks? (note: short hacks as in a hacks that has a story to tell throughout the chapters and Excluding one chapter hacks/ strictly gimmick hacks)

My personal opinion:
I think shorter hacks are an untapped potential in fe hacking and on the top of my head I could think of a couple advantages for a short-middle length hack could have such as:

-Lower work load, obviously but also a greater chance for the devs to finish the hack accounting for less risk of burnout or lost in motivation

-Allows for more gimmicky maps. I know that i stated this isn’t talking about a strictly gimmick only hack as in hacks that have a specific gimmick that applies for all the maps, but i could see per map gimmicks to be more welcomed in short-middle length hacks since less maps means less map development time which also means more thoroughly tested and thought-out gimmicks for the maps.

-Prevents player fatigue, on this point I think shorter hacks can be good for players that want a “lighter” experience in playing fire emblem. Don’t get me wrong building a huge army and developing strategies to counter difficult enemy placements can be very satisfying but it can also be very tiring to do for like 30 chapters over and over. Hence why I think a shorter experiences could get potentially get more players to play your hack since they don’t have to invest to much effort for a long stretch of time.

But mostly of all I think the biggest advantage for shorter hacks are:
The writing standpoint. With shorter hacks the developers can focus more on telling a shorter more focused and character based stories than bigger hacks. Say maybe a more localized personal conflict rather than a continent wide affair, maybe even make character specific gaidens for more in depth characterization and replayability if you choose to lock some gaidens on an alternative route or different conditions?. This could potentially attract players to play the game since it dodges the very common, lord vs emperor stories most fe hacks have.

now of course the problems a shorter hacks would be units snowballing but, lower growths/ bases or an exp gain nerf could counteract this.

Anyways though enough for my rant. What do you think of short-middle length hacks? is there any hacks that fit the category and you enjoy a lot? Do you think this is a category of hacks that has potential?


You should make what you want.

I generally prefer a longer hack since I feel like it makes certain systems of FE matter more, like resource management and leveling up units, and likely offers more replayability.

However, Storge is a good exception to this because of how it is designed.


oh yeah totally. To clarify and just to be safe, this thread isn’t intended to bash longer hacks or to somehow push hack devs to make shorter hacks instead of longer ones, as much as a way to get people’s opinion about a niche genre of hacks or get a conversation going about them, maybe give some ideas to new devs as well.


As a general rule, as long as the desired length is accounted for the hack design, I think the length of said hack shouldn’t be a problem.


Short hacks definitely have their place and, honestly, I think they should get a little bit more of a focus. I know that everyone wants to make a project that evokes the length and scope of what we love and enjoy about the series, but for a lot of people, that’s also what causes projects to languish and end up cancelled - too much of a time commitment for what they have planned, especially if the dev team is small (or just a single person) or doesn’t have a ton of experience already.

Start small, keep things focused and tight (stories tend to slide off of the rails towards the end of projects sometimes), and then, if you still want to tell an epic length story, jump in later or build up a larger team to make the group effort make things easier for everyone.


I don’t have anything actually against hacks of the length mentioned, but I haven’t seen anything that makes good use of having that number of chapters. Something like 18+ chapters works because it’s a full game with all the progression and such that comes along with it, and 1-6 chapters works because it’s just short enough to be a brisk experience and not overstay its welcome. However, I feel like the length of 8-15 chapters is just enough to be in an uncomfortable middle ground between the two extremes of length, which I think is why they’re not seen often, and why I don’t have much interest in them myself.

As for player fatigue, really this doesn’t need to happen in a longer hack. If it’s 20-24 chapters long, you can just make the chapters smaller and shorter than vanilla. Both of my full-length hacks I believe take significantly less time to complete than many vanilla games due to my tendency towards small maps.

Again, I don’t think it’s an inherently bad idea (something you could perhaps do that I can immediately think of would be an anthology type of hack of 15 chapters that has 3 stories of 5 chapters each), I just have to see a good hack at this length to make me not doubt it. But if you’re looking to create a hack of this length, please don’t feel discouraged and do whatever you’d like to, it’s just my preference.


Personally, I prefer short hacks because I can just boot them up and play a cool original concept casually. Like, long hacks are basically trying to compete with the official games for my time - which is generally a lost battle since ROM hackers just don’t have the same resources a professional development team has. Never the less, there are projects that actually manage to be better than anything Intelligent Systems ever created, but that is not feasible for the average ROM hacker. Besides, there are other ways to add replay value to a hack that doesn’t involve coming up with 20+ chapters.


Really valid points actually yeah, I guess 15ish chapters can be an awkward length. I really like the anthology Idea too

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you know I don’t know if this is gonna be controversial or anything but I think reskinning and rebalancing some of the vanilla fe games could be a really good way for people to start out. Because you can learn small focused portions of hacking instead of doing everything at once and get somewhat of a finished product with it. I know personally that modifying fe8 has been really helpful for me when it comes to helping me understand small segments of hacking (with febuilder of course) that’s coming from a person that doesn’t understand any techno lingo btw…


I think having a mini route split and or certain unlockable gaidens and units can really fulfil the replayability clause for shorter hacks.


Legends Of Avenir got me to play it time and time again because of the avatar customization system. Like, once in a while I go “What if I tried this build” and boom, I’m playing it again for the tenth time.


I’m someone who struggles to finish any game - I get super invested, I work hard at the game, I’m super immersed. Then it’s like my emotional trauma sets in and I cut it off before I’m hurt by it leaving me. So… I’m toxic to my own playthroughs? Short hacks relieve players of that stress since we’re not attached to anything in it - but then I rarely play short hacks because I want to get attached. Aaaaaaand then I ghost my game. Yeah. I do this in real life too, sorry, I’m the one who left you on read.


I feel like short hacks need to be present in order for a romhacking community to thrive. Short hacks need to be there to keep people’s interest in romhacks while the larger hacks are being completed, but that doesn’t mean that short hacks have any less value then full-length hacks, there is a place for shorter experiences and a place for longer ones. There is no ‘waste of potential’ because said potential is already being used.

Just as there should be shorter stories and films alongside full length stories and films there should be shorter hacks as well as full length hacks.