What do you guys consider essential in a hack?

For me, the size of the hack is not essential (although a hack of about 30 chapters is interesting). But in relation to the elements that a hack should have (bosses, story, characters, scenarios) what do you guys think a hack should have?

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Ironmanability. If your hack has 30 chapters with 20 characters of which you are not allowed to lose anyone, i will straight up ignore your hack, regardless of how good the rest of it looks. I don’t even need the units to be super indepth, just give me more units to play around with.
Gameplay is very important. It is the center point of the game, if the gameplay is awful i probably will not continue playing.
Characters being fleshed out is nice, but optional.
Story is nice to have but not important at all.

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Undoubtedly the plot, which must be original, coherent, compelling, and possibly with a few twists and turns, with frequent dialogues during fights. Serious, meaningful and mature dialogue content, without naiveté or trite and childish jokes. Classic gameplay, without too many quirks, absurdities or oddities, with increasing level of difficulty, without finally becoming excessive and frustrating. Minimum length of 20 chapters, unless the maps are large and with frequent dialogues within; then even 12 or 15 chapters may suffice.
Above all, the storyline should be written in excellent english, checked and edited possibly by a native english speaker, without punctuation errors or typos (which gives a sense of mediocrity and improvisation).
Ultimately, the interweaving of events before anything else. :face_with_monocle:

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Man I think the above post is pretty exigent for a fan made, non-commercial effort.
Though I do think a romhack benefits from all of these things, as there are 1 or 2 cases where I dropped a hack because I found the grammar to be a little too subpar, I don’t think these are necessarily essential.

What’s essential to a romhack in my view depends on the goal. If the creator of the hack is aiming for a “complete” Fire Emblem experience, aka the whole 20 to 30 chapter shebang like an official game, it honestly doesn’t matter to me what goes in it. That’s a whole game, usually catered to the particular aspects of FE the creator likes, and there’s always an interesting variation in personal biases there that I like to experience for myself.

When it comes to shorter hacks, having a hook or especially compelling aspect is what will convince me to try it. The whole hack doesn’t need to be excellent, per se, but give me something distinctive that I haven’t seen elsewhere and I’ll give it my time. Something like Milieu, for instance.

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It has to be fun to play, either because of its gameplay, story or quirky gimmicks, whatever you like more or are better at. Everyone has their own things that they like more than others, so there is no true definitive anwser.
Personally, I will put gameplay and characters above all, followed by story. The hacks I enjoyed the most were the ones who had entertaining characters in it. Not necesary complex or deep, just enjoyable to see and fun to use in the battlefield. If the hack fails in making characters entertaining or charismatic, or if the story doesn’t holds up, I would just drop the game.

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needs to have something that gives it some grip that isn’t just semi-decent gameplay. be it good moment-to-moment vibes, funny writing, engaging ideas (be it gameplay or narratively). Just something which makes a more actively engaging thing to explore.
cause often i’ll see if given the choice people will choose the one that, while more flawed, has more extreme highs compared to something which is more alright throughout with just kinda solid gameplay. almost anything else basically comes down to personal taste.
some people will value some bits more highly (gameplay over story or vice versa) but ultimately you need something that can keep some thought going on in SOME way. it may not grip everyone but you’ll get next to no one if little is goin on anywhere below the surface beyond decent gameplay. and alotta that just boils down to sincerity of design lol.

hack size is never something to really be too concerned about, it can be cool to see sheer size but i find shorter hacks way more interesting. especially when alotta longer hacks could’ve often done with trimming out the fat that bogs down the pace of the whole story.

or fuck…i dunno. people seem to like PMEs and rebalances, maybe that’s whats essential and you should just disguise your hack as one of those. that’ll get the masses crawling all over you.

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Engaging one liners

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For me, truly essential bits are QoL + polish, mature dialogue and an effort at balancing the difficulty.

Very specifically for QoL, the minimug. I can’t overstate the importance of minimug for me, I do not want to open every enemy stat sheet before every move I plan ffs. Calculate their speed for me pls. Show me hit rate, atk, def, res at a glance. Especially as someone who plays without animations and is generally busy irl, this is a massive game changer.

Mature dialogue makes a big diff for me as well. Just finished drums of war, the king of rijesca was such a PoS and I loved it. Completely believable “1 percenter”. Chef kiss

Balancing the diff - every player is at a different level so there’s no perfect. Ultimately we all want something that is challenging enough to be satisfying but doable without an excel sheet. It’s subjective, so if at all possible try to hunt down 2-3 dedicated play testers to sanity check it.

Edit: the minimug don’t forget the minimug!!!

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The limiting of skills on player and enemy units, and ironmanability. Having a game be filled to the brim with Luna+ Mercenaries and Provoke Generals only makes playing the game more of a chore, by increasing the cognitive load on the player in a way that isn’t engaging, but just flat out more annoying.

And with ironmanability, always keeping a close eye on the enemy units’ inventory, carefully choosing who to promote next to fit my army’s current needs, forcing me to adapt to an unfortunate situation by using a unit I dislike/never cared for, ironmanability could not be more crucial to the experience of a Fire Emblem game. I just finished up a Color Wheel Iron Man run of FE8, and man, it was some of the most fun I’ve had with FE8.

Now, I’m not going to iron man EVERY playthrough, but most of the time, that itch comes around, so having that option is more then welcome.

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I am more leant towards games that can be picked up without requiring having the “guide” (they are actually walkthroughs) for the game up due to the romhacker’s lack of attempting to make narrative call-outs for the player to pursue specific objectives or units that are otherwise invisible (as in near unobtainable to the player)

That is, games that are friendly to being player blind.

No, I don’t want to have to read beforehand that you are killing off these two units and refused to send their items to convoy, so I must “trade everything off” to the lord. No, I don’t want to have to read that I need to sleepspam a boss in a random chapter which has spoken zero times about joining you to become a recruitable (and is largely one of the few good ones, if not the only one, in that stretch).

If you make a game where progress is directly tied to reading a supplement, are you really making a game that can be played?

I think games shouldn’t be tied to “well the player will read the guide” in order to justify its balance.

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Couldn’t agree more with this one.

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im mostly here for good gameplay, whether that be through tight challenges or novelty and cool concepts. im not really a snob about visuals, technical aspects, or story, but id like for it to at least appear somewhat professional

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At least one woman with glasses.

That’s my joke answer. To be serious… Personal Skills. They’re better than PRFs because overpowered weapons on a weak unit can break when used, making the unit dead weight, or at best, an ordinary unit who doesn’t need the crutch of a strong PRF any more. But an interesting Personal Skill is always better than a PRF because it can affect how the character is used and perceived by players beyond simply increasing or decreasing stats.

I don’t mind a terrible story full of awful characters, it’s better than a dull and painfully safe story full of characters and ideas that have been done before a thousand times with nothing new and fresh brought to the table. But if the gameplay is terrible, nothing destroys the motivation to play it faster. Poorly designed maps and map gimmicks that make you say things like “Why is rain/snow/sand nerfing my weakest units while my strongest units are unbothered by it, or worse, buffed by it?” or “How was I supposed to know I needed that optional but not really optional reward?” or “Why did that character recruit himself on Enemy Phase and get obliterated?” or “Who flooded this map with weak enemies to give the Lord EXP? Just increase his plot-based promotion bonuses or give him a personal Weapon/Accessory to buff his stats or give him enemies who grant more EXP droppable stat boosters!” or “How could I have known ambush spawns were coming from there?”.

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This going to sound trite but…at least a good amount of unique portraits. There’s nothing
wrong with using F2E mugs from the repo (by all means go ahead, that’s why I make them), but your core cast of story-relevant characters should have interesting designs that I haven’t seen elsewhere.

Addendum:A decent amount of map music. I don’t mind the same song playing a couple maps in a row but for the love of GOD, do not pull an FE11/FE6. I can only handle Beneath the Banner or what have you for so long.

If you’re hack is 25 chapters long for instance, I expect to hear at least 8-9 separate map themes. (~roughly 3 maps per song and maybe a song that plays only on the final chapter)

Yes, I play hacks with the volume on, how could you tell? :gigachad:

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One of the… downsides(?) to actually playing hacks a lot is seeing/learning F2U portraits and spotting them so easily.

My first time watching FEE3 I was convinced every portrait I saw was entirely custom lol.

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Soul.

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