While supports in GBAFE are slow to grow and have a cap of 5 max per unit, many romhacks try to fix this via faster growths, larger ranges, and increased caps, like unlimited B supports in some. Even with these changes, do you think supports are more reliable and should be used, or do you ignore them? Writing wise, do you read them, even if it’s only the first time, or do you skip them?
I like to play hacks that focus on game play. So I normally skip or don’t even worry about them.
I enjoy supports. I’m not usually going to go out of my way to get them, but when they’re fast enough to happen naturally, I’ll definitely read them, and I enjoy the small element of additional strategy added by trying to position your units in ways that take advantage of their supports.
even if they’re a fucking slog to get through I enjoy putting effort into supports, I personally like the take on supports where you get support points if they’re in a 5 tile range of each other, it allows for everyone to get at least one support and I like that, it also opens the door to being able to answer minor questions about your hack’s characters and world that are either too specific to just include in the main story or it’s just a neat piece of trivia that didn’t need answering, like how did one of the characters get a scar or something.
I think it’s a better use of your time as a game designer to create the hack & finish it then to try and flesh out your characters with supports, especially if you are still learning who they are and what traits they have. I would suggest that supports should only be polished once the game is far along.
Polished, you say?
Of course, inspiration strikes without warning, so I think you should make bullet point notes or draft a few lines here and there when you have an idea about a character.
There’s also something to be said about the variety of game design. If your only task left is to write 240 supports, I can see how that would stump some people. Hopefully between your notes you make throughout your project’s journey and the desire to fine-tune aspects of your hack as it nears completion, you’ll be able to find it within yourself to write whatever supports you wish to write.
From a dev standpoint, I wouldn’t prioritize supports over finishing the full game, but fully written supports definitely help a game stand out, characterize a cast, and draw in more players who enjoy this element of FE.
I recall finishing all of VQs core gameplay and main story writing before fully embarking on supports. It took me about 6 months to write and insert supports for the full cast, but I think it added a lot of depth to the game and made it a more complete experience.
In short, I’d save adding them for the end. Mechanically I recommend doing it by chapter instead of by turns to discourage turtling, and adjusting bonuses as needed so units don’t become too powerful too quickly. Vanilla gains are generally pretty good IMO.
I typically enjoy supports as they’re often the only way some characters get to be seen outside of recruitment dialogue. Though it can be a little annoying when a unit I like doesn’t support with any other units I’m using or a support I like involves units with different movement types. Fliers rarely get anything out of supporting anyone but another flier.
From a dev standpoint, I had written all of the supports available in Part 1 of Deity Device around the time I finished Chapter 5. And I stopped to write the rest of them after I was about a third of the way through making the game. Of course, some of these were changed or completely rewritten later on. Some supports are fun to write, but I did run into instances where I was just trying to fill out a unit’s supports list and it felt like a chore.
In my next hack, I don’t think I’m going to have traditional GBA supports, and supports will instead be adjusted automatically through story progress or accessing optional events. I guess the most comparable thing would be FE4 convos that give bonus love points. This is mostly because supports being player controlled took part of the story out of my control, and that was somewhat difficult to write around at times.
I love supports, especially when the limits are uncapped so that I’m not obligated to replay in order to fill up the support room. I think they’re a fantastic finishing touch on a hack.
It’s easy to get wrapped up in writing them before the game’s done, so I’m thankful that for my project I have a team of writers to help keep progress on them going while I’m working on other stuff. I agree that there’s some that are fun and some that feel a bit like a chore, so having a team really helps me get people who are more passionate about writing certain characters breathing life into them.
Gameplay-wise I’m going for a fairly 1:1 recreation of Shadows of Valentia’s system, where using staves on allies and getting a kill within 2 tiles of a partner increases support points, and conversations are gated behind certain points in the story. I wasn’t able to do asymmetrical support bonuses even with Snek’s SupportRework, but I was able to distribute bonuses so that units with lower movement (#forsythsquad) get some really good bonuses to make them worth fielding.
Make the game first, worry about suports later. Most people won’t unlock even 10% of them, so there’s no need to worry your hack will feel unfinished.
I wrote all my supports as I made the game, and I’m really glad I did it this way. Basically, after I made the first 5 chapters for an initial demo, I went back and wrote supports for all the characters who joined in those maps before moving onto chapter 6. This made me realize that I hate writing supports in bulk because it’s just so much writing all at once. By breaking it up per chapter, I got into a great work flow of “Story → Portraits → Map → Events → Test → Supports” for every chapter, which prevented work on my hack from getting super monotonous.