The evolution of Fire Emblem projects, and current focuses in project creating

Hello, this is Bilal.

It has been a long time since Fire Emblem projects have started to be created.
What I want to ask are your thoughts about the state of the project world as a project creator, enjoyer, or community helper.

Storyline, game, mechanics, art, immersion. All of us have different value on what we enjoy most in these games.
Which is the most important to you, and are you satisfied in its progress over time?

Maybe you think more that we aren’t really getting better at some things just because its been longer since project making has started. And that its connected mostly to the experience and goals of the project creator?

What do you believe current focuses are in project making right now, what do you think it will change to later?

Do you believe this conversation and reflection is worth having or no?


As an enjoyer, I think the state of the FE creations has never been better. A lot of projects in the works, and a lot of completed stuff recently.

For me, story and characters matter most. Good gameplay is important sure, but if I don’t care about why we are fighting or those fighting, I’ll lose interest. Storytelling has been great in the FE community. So many great story’s out there now.

Balancing seems to be the main issue that people have had. Some are too hard, while others too easy. Also balancing characters seems to be an issue for some. But I also feel this gets better and better. Besides, there is no perfect answer. It’s a very subjective thing. But more and more projects are including multiple difficulties to accommodate as many people as possible.

This is definitely a conversation worth having. People involved in multiple aspects of the process will probably have better insist than me.


I talk about it a lot on the discord, but I have always felt that the FE format, despite its limitations, can be a gateway to some really great storytelling if enough skilled writers put their mind to it. Historically, I’ve found myself let down in that avenue – while many hacks have nice writing, I often find myself wishing people would do more.

With FEBuilder making the hacking process so accessible for so many people, as well as a wide array of powerful community-made tools for additional in-game functionality, I think there’s been a serious uptick in the amount of experimentation that a hack can do to differentiate themselves from the main games in terms of how they play. I also hope, however, that this ease of use opens the road to more creative uses of the medium as a way to tell engaging and thoughtful stories.

In general, I think the community is finding ways to adapt the gameplay patterns of the FE franchise into a variety of more intermediate interpretations of the formula, which means there are a lot of projects coming out with really tight gameplay and a richness of focus that was less common when projects were much harder to get off the ground and before hack creators had a wealth of prior knowledge to learn from in terms of which mistakes to avoid. I think the future of the romhacking scene is extremely exciting, and I really hope to see plenty more bold, creative, and visionary projects out of the community as it continues to grow and change.


It’s an exciting time - hacking has never been more accessible, and the culture around how we share, give feedback to one another, and collaborate has never been better.

It is interesting to think about general design trends over time. We have over a decade of progress in hacking, and I personally enjoy figuring out the timeline of the trends and how they’ve changed over time.

I don’t think we as a community have thought about how we define the “ages” of FE hacking, but I think we’re far enough in the future we can start to think about how we categorize our history.

I’d argue pre-Builder and Buildfiles era, we’ve shifted from focusing predominantly on “big maps, sucker punch difficulty, high effort presentation” from the TLP era of like 2009-2013 (Ragefest, Elibean Nights, Dream of Five, Requiem, Death or Glory), to “vanilla-like experiences with focus on presentation and writing over gameplay” in 2013-2017 (Sword of Heaven and Earth, Road to Ruin, Order of the Crimson Arm). Biggest difference in these years IMO was the shift away from “Rage-inducing” difficulty moments over the years, but it’s not clearly defined. Most notably tho I can tell the change in philosophy about difficulty and map size over time, but there was always a strong emphasis on good presentation.

Builder and Buildfiles, as well as the many advancements in FE8 hacking (which I think are owed largely to the revival of this FEU, but historians pls keep me honest), we started becoming much more collaborative in our work, and there was a burst of [complete] projects that focused on making a complete game and the novelty of quickly being able to assemble a custom, full-length hack.

Honestly I don’t think anything pre-Builder deviates that much from vanilla FE7/FE8 numbers and gameplay design, and I think only in the past two/three years have we seen a lot more emphasis on non-vanilla experiences in GBA. The amount of cool tech available when I started VQ and where I ended is insane. Even Builder’s UI and features have grown tremendously during my hack’s development (late 2017 - mid 2020)

I think now with how many hacks there are, presentation is swinging back into the forefront as it did in the old days (man some of the old hacks are so pretty), but also with a combination of unique gameplay concepts and ideas.

It’s never been easier to build something and get feedback, so it allows us to be more bold in our designs, but also harder to stand out without some type of guiding gameplay philosophy that differs from vanilla GBA, and that’s generally built on the backbone of technical achievements from the mountain of ASM hacks.

You can see that many of the hacks that started development in the past year generally have a distinct aesthetic (narrowfont, dark colors for everything, use of specific map sprites and anims), but also have a non-vanilla gameplay philosophy (even just in the past 2-3 months, we’ve seen Vestrian Tale w/ focus on capture, and Starlit Souls, which draws a lot of inspiration from FE12/Berwick, and Storge, featuring lots of funky unit designs to choose for your journey, leveraging some of the newest animations).

It’s interesting to mull over and I’m keen to see what’s next. It’s never been easier to get started. Kinda mumbled through this I didn’t have my coffee yet. Apologies.


As I look through the repository and watch youtube channels post LPs and showcases of Demos, I find myself heavily enjoying the amount of time and effort Projects are placing into getting their story and finished product out. There are some wonderful animations, plenty of thought and difficulty, along with a wonderful amount of creativity that goes into these projects.

Personally, I’ve just joined this community and would love to become a Helper and eventually someone who can create hacks or help run projects. I do have ideas of my own but I’m not even scratching the surface for things that I can do to help. I’ll continue to play hacks, watch videos, and slowly integrate myself into the community so that one day I can do what I think would be a difficult but worthwhile Project with those who I have come to know.

I am curious as to how Project leads, Artists, etc. will respond to this and their opinions and thoughts.


I’m not sure that I have much to add because I’ve played embarrassingly few hacks before making Deity Device, only The Last Promise, Requiem, and probably half of Corrupt Theocracy.

But I guess what amazes me is how, more often than not, I was able to find a patch in FEBuilder that would let me pull off some idea of mine. The times that I was actually restricted by not being able to do something was less than the amount of times I was able to pull it off. The biggest deviation from vanilla in my hack is mages having unique spell lists rather than being able to use whatever tomes and staves they might find as items. This means that there is a set of items exclusive to each magic user, even if that means building several items as copies of the same spell. In the early stages, I had to try to coordinate this around the game’s existing weapon locks, and I still have the entry in my notebook listing which character would use which lock, ensuring that there wouldn’t be any overlapping between characters that could use the same magic type. As in, if one character gets Lyn Lock for Light, I can reuse Lyn Lock but only on characters that will never have a Light Rank. Then Weapon Lock Array came out and it was much easier to add magic users to the game because it takes away the limit on how many weapon locks can exist.

It’s really cool to see how people are continuing to develop ways to push the old GBA games farther than they ever were at release.


I think that right now most hackers are pushing their project to stand out from the rest, whether that be through gameplay like Storge or through absolutely amazing presentation like Vision Quest. There are now more hacks then ever, and because of the inherently addictive and easy to consume nature of fire emblem all these hacks rarely detract from each other, this is by far one of the best communities I’ve been a part of and I hope it stays that way for years to come.


I’ve been a fan of community projects for about 6 or 7 years now, although Ive only recently started interacting with the community. Theres a lot of talent and creativity coming from people making projects and those making resources for them and I believe we can only go up from here.

Tools for making projects are very accessible right now and its super inspiring and I get excited working seeing new projects and want to work on my own. Its great. Im very much looking forward to FEE3 this year.

With all that said, and I know this isnt what this thread is about, so I wont get into it, but I think this community has had a little bit of a maturity problem and does need to grow from that so it can be more welcoming if it truly wants to flourish.


I haven’t really played any hacks beyond 5 chapters of The Last Promise.

For my response to the OP, I don’t particularly care for the community’s projects these days. I don’t know. Nothing really stands out to me to the extent that I will look at it and think “damn, I really want to play that”. It’s a great question, but frankly, I believe a FE game needs fun mechanics to actually let you have fun, as well as an engaging story with an impressive cast of characters if it wants to take full advantage of the inherent permadeath mechanic. There’s a very good reason you must nickname all your Pokemon in a Nuzlocke, after all, even if it is an unwritten rule: to create attachment and ergo stakes.

I think the goals of romhackers these days is to try to really stand out with its mechanics or presentation or something. I suppose that makes sense, standing out is a good way to get noticed among others if we aren’t already well-established members of the community. Arch could release basically anything and I’d certainly look at it. However, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with a solid, simple project.

We’re all just here to indulge in the joy of creation and/or the joy of experiencing.

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