What do you want out of an original ROM hack?

Hello all, I am a long-time FE series fan (played FE7 on release in NA), and I recently began working on a new hack for the FE7 - original story/script, new characters/sprites, some new classes, some new magic, new items, new maps, etc. And it will feature a soundtrack of mostly original music (trained musician with 14 years of experience). You should also expect an engaging, well-paced narrative with a character focus (author of a novel and several short-stories).

I have a few questions for the community. There are a fair amount of original ROM hacks out there for the GBA FE games, so I am wondering:

What are you sick of seeing in hacks?

What do you wish there was more of?

Do you see any trending weak-points throughout multiple hacks?

What has your favorite hack been?

Would you be interested in a hack that directly ties into FE lore, but doesn’t directly contain characters/locations from the series thus far? (I know that’s a bit vague, but if I get too specific it would spoil major story components)

In what order do you value the following aspects:

  1. Writing/dialogue
  2. Overall narrative
  3. Character intrigue
  4. Map/level design
  5. Combat and combat balance/progression
  6. Gameplay (think of this as a combination of map design and combat/combat balance, how satisfying the game is to play in a minute-to-minute sense)
  7. Animations
  8. Music

Feel free to answer some, all, or none if you have thoughts on something I haven’t mentioned.

To clarify further, I have already put a decent amount of work into the hack, and I have implemented some ideas I believe will make it stand-out from the herd (you’ll be the judge of that though!). And I’m aware 10-15 replies on a message board doesn’t exactly constitute salient data, but I am curious to see the community’s thoughts.

Thanks for any responses, pointers, or questions.

4 Likes

Welcome!

I’d first off say the hacking game has changed recently, and before you get started, I’d recommend looking into hacking FE8 instead. Most of the community has moved to it, and given you’re scoping an original work, it’ll be friendlier for you.

My advice to people embarking into hacking would be to plan before building. Specifically, plan out things you want to do and changes you want to make to the base game mechanically. (New classes, new items, etc).

For yourself, I’d recommend outlining the hack start to finish and break out the chapter by chapter cadence. This will help make it easy for you to do the next part, which is the most important.

Maps. Maps are what generally set bad hacks apart from good ones. If your maps and gameplay are well-balanced, challenging, and fun, you will gain fans and support.

I would focus on making maps first and testing in chunks of 5-8 chapters at a time to adjust difficulty and level curve. Then get others to playtest. Then go back and make edits. Test again until satisfied. Then make another 5-8 chapters.

If you are an amazing musician and writer, but your maps are bad, it won’t matter, because no one will get that far in your game to enjoy it. Some may play through bad maps for story, but almost everyone will play through good maps regardless of story quality. The maps, in my opinion, are what makes the game.

That said, I’d recommend prioritizing 5, 6, and 7 on your list. The community at large likes nice aesthetics, but early on it doesn’t matter as much so long as the maps and gameplay on them is strong.

To your earlier question, from hacks I’ve played, the ones that are the best really commit to a design decision and are intentional about what they include, and what they don’t. Rather than throwing in every feature, good hacks tend to commit to exploring a few in detail and basing their games around them. So keep that in mind, because the community has put together a lot of tempting and flashy stuff.

For what I’m personally sick of, I dislike:

  1. Maps that could just be cutscenes
  2. Fighting with an army that is too small
  3. Offensive content for the sake of it
  4. Unfair difficulty (ambush reinforcements, the game sucker punching you)
  5. Maps that are too big

Hope that’s helpful! Sorry for rambling it’s slow at work today.

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I’d recommend looking into hacking FE8 instead. Most of the community has moved to it, and given you’re scoping an original work, it’ll be friendlier for you.

Interesting, thanks for the tip. The last time I checked in it seemed to be mostly FE7, I’ll look into how much work it would be to move everything to FE8.

My advice to people embarking into hacking would be to plan before building. Specifically, plan out things you want to do and changes you want to make to the base game mechanically. (New classes, new items, etc). For yourself, I’d recommend outlining the hack start to finish and break out the chapter by chapter cadence. This will help make it easy for you to do the next part, which is the most important.

Yup, all of that was completed early in the process. I am iterating and being flexible as I build though.

Thanks for the rest of your notes and the quick reply. Loud and clear on the importance of maps and consistent design.

By fighting with an army that’s too small, do you mean when your chapter unit restriction is low like 6 or 8 units? Or do you mean lore-wise when the protagonist army is just a small band of folks rather than the assumed armies off-screen in the GBA games?

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Oh! I misread. Didn’t realize you already started. I am not familiar with the differences between FE7/fe8, but it shouldn’t matter as much depending on what you’re trying to do. Someone else here may be able to better speak to it.

As for small armies, generally I don’t like maps with fewer than 5 units. Story wise as long as it makes sense, I can be on board. 6-8 is fine for early game, but by midgame I’d expect 10-14 deployments, but depends on the overall ramp up of your game.

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This technically answers both: Stories revolving around princes/princesses or what have you. I’m personally fed up with whole “prince good guy” / “princess good gal” fighting “big bad country/empire” type of stories. Then again, I’m not really a story-focused guy, and can forgive/overlook quite a lot if the gameplay is solid. For me gameplay is the most important thing in a hack. If it’s a chore to play, I just won’t.

Objective variety. Many hacks play it safe with having the common Rout/Defeat boss/Survive objectives, but what if there were things like (just to name a few):

  • Defeat only certain enemy units
  • All NPCs have escaped
  • Loot treasury (like when all treasure chests are opened the chapter is cleared)

Even if these weren’t the main objective, some variety to typical objectives would be nice.

As for the:

Top three:

  1. Gameplay
  2. Map design
  3. Combat and combat progression

As for the rest, not necessarily in this order:

  1. Overall narrative
  2. Music
  3. Animations
  4. Character Intrigue
  5. Writing/Dialogue

I’m often not very heavily invested in stories, so that’s why I’m rating it low. Custom animations, music and such are nice, but again, if gameplay sucks, I’m not sticking with your hack. Insert some random metaphor for a dish that looks nice but tastes horrible, that’s how I see the importance of gameplay over anything else. When it comes to writing, as long as it’s not cringeworthy poop-joke tier, I most likely can live with it.

Now, as for:

This may come as a surprise given everything I have said: Dream of Five.

It’s not perfect by any means, but what I really like about this hack is how I’m constantly kept on my toes. I have to focus and get in the zone. It’s really rewarding when you get to think through your choices and get rewarded for making the correct plays.

Throughout DoF I was able to see some of the design choices / intentions that the creators might have had. There were many occasions where both the player damage output as well as enemy damage output was perfectly calculated. Like, using this and that character allows you to just barely take down the Paladin, for example. This is something I greatly enjoyed. You could see the many gameplay decisions come together, the parts make the whole.

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What I would want from an original ROM hack?

  1. Maps that make sense (Look at Victory or Death and Battle Preparations from FE7 to get a picture on what I mean).
  2. A story that makes sense. It doesn’t have to be very elaborate, just a concrete story that drives the plot.
  3. Parachutes if the player gets screwed. Look at most traditional FEs and how they regularly give the player recruits. The last thing you want someone playing you hack to feel is frustration that the team they raised ended up being worse than Amelia’s placement on most FE8 tier lists without having a backup available.

Now for other miscellaneous things.

  • There are repositories of F2U (free to use) music and animations, so there shouldn’t be a need to worry about them.
  • The early game should have smaller maps, look at most FEs (JugdralFE excluded) and you may note that the early game maps are bland. This is good for early game because you don’t want to overwhelm a player right off the bat. As you get things along, you can add more gimmicks, side objectives and the such without it feeling rushed.
  • Feel free to ask for help. An average, full length (let’s say around mid 20s) can take a very long time (often over a year) to complete properly, so there is plenty of time to ask if you have no idea how to do some things.
  • If this is your first time hacking ever or in a very long time, I highly recommend using FEBuilder GBA. The simplicity of the program makes it very easy to understand how things in the ROM work. It also has a database of patches ready to use that you can use to experiment.

That’s all I have, and happy hacking!

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Welcome to the world of hacking, my friend! I agree with a lot of what’s already been said, especially regarding game/map design and hacking resources, but I thought I’d give a few miscellaneous pointers/echo some of the things I feel most strongly about.

As far as gameplay, I think it’s good to have a blueprint or roadmap for how the game will be balanced. Will enemies hit brutally hard, forcing you to player phase like in FE12? Or will your units have to often tag team to take down foes, like early FE6 or FE4? I feel a lot of hacks lack a coherent direction for their gameplay, and end up either being extremely easy or unfairly difficult to the point where it’s hard for the player to be rewarded for good, tactical play. Whatever design philosophy you take, it’s key to make it so that thoughtful play is rewarded.

Maps. Keep them tight. Have side objectives/time limits. Not much to say that hasn’t been said.

Feedback. Be open to it and making drastic changes. I made 12 “chapters” in 3 months, and since then have only made 3 in the last 4-5. First drafts are good, but if you truly want to make a good game, know that you’re in for a marathon. An unfinished or rushed project is never great. Void’s Blitzarre Adventure doesn’t count

Art/flashy features. They can take a backseat to the core of the game (good gameplay, good dialogue and characters). These things are cool, but can often be a distraction, especially in the beginning. There is a time for that, but focus on good eventing/maps first before aesthetics.

Lastly, if you want to see some hacks that I think did some of these things really well, take a look at some of the following projects(these are just a few that come to mind, there are plenty others!):

Souls of the Forest- Great gameplay, balance, maps, good integration of ASM features

VisionQuest: Good gameplay and maps, large but coherent plot, likable and relatable characters

Faith and Blood: Heavy story handled well, tight maps, thoughtful resource distribution and balance(money/weapons)

The Heroes We Deserve: Good integration of unorthodox objectives, excellent presentation and eventing, Good supports (you’ll understand this if you play)

These are all good hacks that I’ve learned a lot from.

Best of luck to you, man! We here at FEU are all excited to see your project take off! Don’t be afraid to reach out!

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Memes and other goofy aspects, forcing certain playstyles (forcing LTC with things to force you to push ahead at their pace, enemy composition that forces you to field certain units to deal with them, etc.), a focus on learning skills by level up in classes in the Skill System (would rather everyone have a unique combination of skills at base instead).

Make units feel unique instead of stat packs and classes, let the player be creative and have fun however they want, and, it doesn’t need to be grimdark and hard-line serious, but the goofiness needs to have a time and a place (comedy and tragedy are both classic aspects of storytelling, so they’re both fine to have in moderation and at appropriate times). (There is probably a way to structure a hack like a comedic play where it could be more heavily favored in that direction as opposed to something a bit more serious, but I’m having trouble thinking of a scenario that would fit to allow tight, coordinated comedy (less memes, more scripted) while still making the war and battle aspect that primarily goes along with the gameplay work. If it worked out, it would be a good fit for having a project that would certainly be different from most - see below.)

Different types of stories - we’ve done the generic FE formula enough. Come up with a theme and drive the story off of that.

Make a story about the hardships of a knight in service to their liege or one that has to weigh the responsibilities of leading soldiers in battle and the delegations of duties and tasks to them with the outcomes of those battles. Make a story about an adventurer merchant that buys, sells, and steals weapons and treasures to grow their business. Make a story about a con man that impersonates a famous noble or soldier and what that entails.

There are plenty of non-standard tales to be told that can incorporate FE mechanics and gameplay. Bonus points for ensemble storytelling where one central character isn’t the driving force and anyone can die or have things happen to them at any time.

Don’t get me wrong, projects like these are out there, but it seems like the vast majority always want to make something like what we’ve already got plenty of (which, if done well, these can be fine, especially since FE often leaves plenty of things on the table that could have been done better).

Heck, if you really want to make a story focusing on a noble but you have a (more) unique angle, more power to you! Two of the hacks that I wish would have been able to be completed (Exalted Legacy and Eternal Bond) both took political / rulership / succession angles with the focus on nobility, exploring it in ways FE never really bothered to do in depth (the burdens of rule, family and succession conflict, etc.), as it is often more focused on the “power fantasy” and “growth to a leader” aspects.

Also, overhauls to the weapons in the game. Change up what spell animations go where and what the spells do (hypothetically, for example: turn Bolting into a Range 2-3, A Rank Anima spell with 30 Crit but 65 Hit, 15 Might, and Armor Effectiveness). New weapons and implementations of abilities - no need to stick to exactly what the GBA games have as default.

Leaning towards no, because it makes it feel fanfiction-y. (Not that there’s something wrong with fanfiction in general, but it feels less authentic to me personally. It makes it easier, since you have a pre-made base to work off of, sure, and it’s always fun to think up your own stories, ‘What If’ takes, etc. based on things you love, but I’d rather enjoy something brand new.)

If you’re making up most elements anyway and you’re not really drawing from established places, connections, etc., then it seems like you could do away with the connection to that existing lore relatively easily or at least come up with your own spin / analogue / expy on it.

Again, dipping in to established lore to base a project on can be done well enough to warrant a yes, provided it clearly stands head and shoulders above the bar (Elibean Nights for its interesting Tale setup, FE7x for Myke’s superb writing, etc. - granted, these both directly do contain characters and locations from the canon games, but they’re two good examples that, conceptually, it can work). (Even Extinguished Blade at FEE3 a few years ago took me by surprise with its presentation, graphics, and alternate Elibe setting and what was covered in the demo plot-wise.)

For the aspects:

  1. Narrative
  2. Writing / Dialogue
  3. Gameplay
  4. Map/Level design
  5. Combat & Balance/Progression
  6. Character intrigue
  7. Animations
  8. Music

FE via hacks is mostly the same simple type of gameplay unless you’re a “wizard” that is pumping out tons of hand-crafted custom code and I have many things that I have grown bored of/with when it comes to gameplay that I’d love to see evolved in in ways beyond the GBA engine (or even SRPG Studio, Lex Talionis, or FEXNA), so it takes a back seat for me to what story you want to tell, the worldbuilding, and the characters. I don’t see FE as chess with characters, plugging in whoever gets the objective completed, I see it as a story with “real” (-feeling) people that features combat with those characters. I want to use certain characters for a run and not be “forced” into needing to use someone specific just to get an optimal one turn KO on a unit that would otherwise smash me on the Enemy Phase. I want to see how characters react to things or how dialogue changes when a unit fell in battle (a la Path of Radiance). (You should still have Pre-promotes or other “safety” recruits during the story, just in case, even though you would expect someone to have played a game in the series before playing a hack and they’ll more likely than not reset before losing a unit, especially if they want to use that character the whole way through.)

Gameplay is still important though, and if it isn’t fun or captivating, it’s hard to stick around for the story, even if it’s stellar. Animations and music are supplementary for me, if only because if you want a wholly original product, they require creation, which either means subpar graphics/tracks if you aren’t good at making them, using community available items which runs the risk of some things being too commonly used and shared between projects, finding others to collaborate with that can do them, or hiring/commissioning them, which requires funds and is a hard ask/demand to require from a creator making a non-commercial project.

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A fun game to play, maps that don’t make me want to tear my eyes out of their sockets, unique but thoughtful additions (gameplay mechanics, classes, items, etc).
A good story is nice but secondary to playing the game.

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pink-haired archers

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This technically answers both: Stories revolving around princes/princesses or what have you. I’m personally fed up with whole “prince good guy” / “princess good gal” fighting “big bad country/empire” type of stories.

I assumed this would be a common-ish note. I haven’t played every single original hack, but I’ve played quite a few (along with the GBA games). I agree some of the GBA games (and associated hacks) are a bit cartoony in their portrayal of the central conflict. I think the nature of the platform and the games’ assets push that style on the hacker/developer a bit, but I agree it gets redundant. I also think a lot of the thematic and allegorical content these pieces deliver is not nuanced enough and doesn’t do a good job of making the player consider complex ideas; the delivery of said ideas are often overt and haphazard.

There are repositories of F2U (free to use) music and animations, so there shouldn’t be a need to worry about them.

I did not know that, thank you for the tip! I have noticed some of the same classes/animations across different original hacks, so I assumed there was something like a library, but I didn’t think it was free or public.

If this is your first time hacking ever or in a very long time, I highly recommend using FEBuilder GBA. The simplicity of the program makes it very easy to understand how things in the ROM work. It also has a database of patches ready to use that you can use to experiment.

I did some hacking a few years ago that didn’t really go anywhere due to time constraints. I used Blazer’s guide with Nightmare, Mappy, etc… But FEBuilder is much more streamlined and has pretty much everything in one program, so I am indeed using it.

Lastly, if you want to see some hacks that I think did some of these things really well, take a look at some of the following projects(these are just a few that come to mind, there are plenty others!):

Thank you for your reply. I agree most of the hacks I’ve played are either too easy or have balance issues. And I will have private tests, but at the moment I don’t think I’ll be releasing anything until 1.0. But I have endured a fairly significant editing process in the past, which required a restructuring of my novel’s third act - so I am keenly diligent about iteration and taking my time.

Somehow, I haven’t played any of the hacks you listed, so thank you for letting me know. I play FE GBA hacks daily, for both pleasure and to examine my peers’ work.

Different types of stories - we’ve done the generic FE formula enough. Come up with a theme and drive the story off of that.

One of the main reasons for this hack’s creation, is the exploration and utilization of a theme I have not seen in any FE game or ROM hack (it may be in 3H from what I can tell, not sure, don’t have a Switch and have just seen reddit posts). The game’s overall narrative may feel a bit Fire Emblemy, but the character’s personal journey will have a new, unique twist. As a poster said, I don’t see these characters as chess pieces. These are “real” people that I want the player to emotionally engage with, and that is the basis for many of my plot decisions.

Also, overhauls to the weapons in the game.

This is something I’m surprised more hacks don’t do. The tools available allow for a huge amount of creativity it what weapons, spells, and items can do.


Some general notes/replies on balancing: I imagine there is a slight lack of cohesion in the FE fanbase (and these replies express that a bit) in that some people want to use any character however and whenever they want, and some people want each character to have individual identity and utility. At the moment, my hack is leaning toward the latter. Most characters should still be viable (with sufficient leveling) for most situations, but there will be instances when a particular character/class is obviously better to use for a specific situation. It probably won’t be so specific that if you happen to leave that character behind for a chapter, you’re SOL, but there should be some situations where your choice of tactic/move is limited by conditions such as enemy type/level, terrain, etc.

I do not want to make that the dominating ethos of the hack. But I also don’t want this hack to be Sacred Stones “Normal” mode levels of easy. Strategic thinking and tactical planning will be necessary. I may include an Easy mode for those who just want to follow the narrative.

Thanks for the notes everyone, very helpful. :+1:

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What are you sick of seeing in hacks?

  • Remakes
  • Units with high base def having high def growth
  • Indoor maps with serpentine corridors
  • FE6 remakes

What do you wish there was more of?

  • Changing formulas: hit, avoid, AS, Crit dmg amount, ect.
  • Changing terrain values, there’s no need for forts to buff avoid on top of def and healing
  • Magic and res sharing the same stat or mag/2 = res or something
  • Stat buffs that only last 1 map
  • Camel riders
  • No restore staffs or make it a rare 1-use staff
  • Every map has a turn limit but a carefree mode can remove this
  • Age of Empires II references, siege units
  • Multiple points/npcs to defend on top of the main objective to hurt low manning
  • Mounts cannot be rescued
  • Joe Rogan cameo

What has your favorite hack been?

Fire Emblem IV: Inheritors of the Crusade

Honorable mentions to Sword of Heaven and Earth and War Room Challenge 2012 (Biased because I contributed some maps)

In what order do you value the following aspects:

  1. Cute recruiteable female mage & archer
  2. Music
  3. Aesthetically pleasing maps & mugs
  4. Combat and combat balance/progression
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  1. Female Mercs/Heroes
  2. Skills
  3. Gun ( this is optional )
  4. Fun
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Blackjack and Hookers, baby

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Hi ! These are some interesting questions you’re rising here ! Let’s answer them as both a player and a romhacker, shall we ?

What are you sick of seeing in hacks ?

Um, well… I guess I’m sick of meme/joke hacks ? I always feel like it gets redundant 5-6 chapters in, at most. And not to mention the story isn’t usually the best, on top of that. I do respect joke hacks that manage to have an actual, original story going, but I prefer more serious hacks overall (Which is ironic because I usually prefer comedy over anything). Now of course, what I’d like best (And what I’ve been trying to do with my own hack obviously) is a weird setting, with funny, endearing characters with actual character traits, but still has some serious moments.
Thankfully, it seems like this trend has died off and now people focus on actual ambitious projects to tell an actual story.

What do you wish there was more of ?

Uuuuh… That one’s hard. I suppose there’s one thing I don’t see very often, and it’s focus around bosses. I mean, I know it isn’t essential to the experience or anything, but I really, REALLY like when you get to know a boss a little better, and don’t feel like they’re just here to be killed off in the same chapter.

Do you see any trending weak-points throughout multiple hacks ?

Mh… Outside of the meme-hack trend… Not really, I suppose. Maybe a lack of originality in some way, in that a lot of them follow the same storyline and ideas as vanilla FE games (Lord that looks like a shonen protag (Or mercenaries, or brigands…), evil empire, evil dragon, blah blah blah), but at the same time, there’s also plenty of more original hacks, so… Yeah, I don’t really know actually.

What has your favorite hack been ?

Well, let’s say hacks I created/helped create are out contest because of personal bias. It doesn’t leave a lot of choice then. Only hacks I’ve played were Elibean Nights and Order of the Crimson Arm, and those two both have their flaws and their qualities… But I’d say Order of the Crimson Arm wins by a very short margin, due to being to me a sort of example to follow in terms of how to handle my project. I guess. I don’t know. I’m confused. Very confused. Help.

Would you be interested in a hack that directly ties into FE lore, but doesn’t directly contain characters/locations from the series thus far? (I know that’s a bit vague, but if I get too specific it would spoil major story components)

In my opinion, this is the worst case scenario. If only the lore is based off something you didn’t create, then it will make the story feel less original, without the benefit of expending on already known and beloved characters. Not to mention the biggest problems in the hacking community is that many hacks just don’t stand out, so making yours a FE-related story wouldn’t help…

In what order do you value the following aspects:

1.Character intrigue (Assuming you also mean by that developing on side characters)
2.Writing/Dialogue
3.Gameplay
4.Map/Level Design
5.Overall Narative
6.Music
7.Combat and combat balance/progression
8.Animation

(Now that I look at other people’s responses though, I do feel like I didn’t bring anything new to the discussion… Whoops.)

  1. People using skills for the sake of using skills, as if the more skills you put in your hack the better it is. The issue is compounded by the fact that someone that thinks to give the player as many skills as possible is a great idea does not adequately understand how to balance their game, so you end up with a horribly unbalanced end product as the creator has given out skills effectively at random.

  2. The idea that the bigger a map is, the better; a lot of hacks have unnecessarily large maps, which lead to slow and unfun gameplay as well as effectively revoking the viability of any classes with a low move stat. It is both easier to create and more fun to play a map that accomplishes the same thing the large map set out to do but on a map 1/4 the size (unless you’re a masochist and/or think FE4 is a well-designed game); it doesn’t overstay its welcome, and it’s not frustrating or tedious to play through.

  3. Difficulty options that cater to the hack creator’s preferences and not to a general audience’s preferences. Too many hacks have Normal modes that play like Lunatic modes; not to say you shouldn’t have that difficulty option, but it shouldn’t be the lowest difficulty option offered. All that only having high difficulty does for you, in the long run, is potentially turn off more people of a general Fire Emblem audience from your hack.

Short, self-contained hacks that accomplish what they set out to accomplish in a handful of chapters. So many hacks want to be sprawling epics across 30+ chapters, but not only is that a ridiculous amount of work to implement that will take you years to accomplish, but you’ll also inevitably have great inconsistencies in quality from the beginning of the project to the end, should you reach the end. So many hacks die before they’re finished because the finish line is set so far away from the starting line. Give yourself realistic goals, tell a smaller story in a shorter amount of gameplay, don’t commit to a 4-year project right off the bat that you may not even be a fan of yourself by the time you’re a year in but feel obligated to finish. This is how we get so many dead projects, just be realistic with your goals and make shorter hacks.

See answer to question 1.

Recently, Fire Emblem: Vision Quest; it has the tightest gameplay I’ve experienced in a long time, it avoids the issues mentioned in response to question 1, all-around a solid experience.

Unsure of what this question means; technically every hack that uses Fire Emblem mechanics and would be doing this? Are there even any hacks that wouldn’t be considered as this?

  1. Gameplay - This is one of the primary things that keeps the player playing your game. If your gameplay is bad, even if your story is amazing, they’re not going to subject themselves to it when they could just go and play another game. Keep in mind the story is entirely skippable, so it’s possible to play your game experiencing only the gameplay.
  2. Overall narrative - This is slightly less important than gameplay, as it is ostensibly entirely skippable, but is also the main thing that provides context driving you to continue with the gameplay. Ideally, these two are intrinsically intertwined and work to serve the purpose of improving the other.
  3. Map/level design - Tertiary to the above, good level design is a necessity to the gameplay and when done correctly a boon to the story. If your level design is bad, your gameplay is bad; if it doesn’t integrate well with the story, it weakens your story.
  4. Writing/dialogue - If this is not done well, your narrative cannot be conveyed effectively. As such, it is very important to making sure your story is expressed to the player.
  5. Combat and combat balance/progression - If combat is bad or unfun, the gameplay will suffer. Although this cannot directly affect the story as map design may, it definitely does impact the gameplay and is as such still important.
  6. Character intrigue - This is something that should not need to be a focus if your dialogue and writing are quality and your overall narrative is well-designed; character intrigue should come naturally from a combination of the two. If this is poor, it is just a symptom of the other two being poor.
  7. Animations - While interesting to look at, animations are ostensibly optional, as they can be turned off at any time, and are not a necessity to gameplay or storytelling. Even still, bad or ugly animations or battle palettes still detract from the overall experience.

Side note,

As based on the questions you have asked your hack is not just a slight edit of FE7, you would probably be better off building it from FE8, as it has considerably more research, documentation, and support compared to FE7. Either way, I’m interested to see what you come up with.

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Would add if you are interested in checking out VQ, the current public patch is bad and I’ll have a new release available in a few weeks.

…I think you’re in the wrong topic @14nightfury

1 Like
  • Changing formulas: hit, avoid, AS, Crit dmg amount, ect.
  • Changing terrain values, there’s no need for forts to buff avoid on top of def and healing
  • Magic and res sharing the same stat or mag/2 = res or something
  • Stat buffs that only last 1 map
  • Camel riders
  • No restore staffs or make it a rare 1-use staff
  • Every map has a turn limit but a carefree mode can remove this
  • Age of Empires II references, siege units
  • Multiple points/npcs to defend on top of the main objective to hurt low manning
  • Mounts cannot be rescued
  • Joe Rogan cameo

Not settled yet on overarching changes to core formulas, but I am going to change Con to not be so uneven and stupid - this should also help with the “I want all characters to be viable” desire.

Stat buffs that last 1 map remind me of the weapon crafting mechanisms some games have, which I personally don’t like because I feel it is a bit cheesy and game-breaking (unless the game is literally designed so that those crafted weapons are necessary, but this does give me an interesting idea I haven’t seen in a hack yet). I will likely amend what some of the turn-based buffs (and status FX) do (and add some new ones), but I don’t think I’ll have a chapter-wide buff available.

What are camel riders?

Restore (or something like it) will almost certainly be included, as there will be long range status magic - and the enemy may be using Restore as well ;).

Mounts should be rescuable IMO. It’s a bit morbid, but the headcanon would be a rescued mounted unit actually abandons their horse to retreat and then gets a new one, once they’re at a safe distance. Kaga has commented that units change horses depending on certain events. For wyverns and pegasi, they have the luxury of simply flying away from the front when their injured rider is rescued by another unit. It is interesting to think about balance wise though and how it affects rescue strats, I’ll think more on it.

I suppose there’s one thing I don’t see very often, and it’s focus around bosses. I mean, I know it isn’t essential to the experience or anything, but I really, REALLY like when you get to know a boss a little better, and don’t feel like they’re just here to be killed off in the same chapter.

It’s probably not possible for every chapter, but overall I agree. Bosses tend to be throwaway characters/fancified red shirts. I also love how the GBA games (and most hacks I’ve played) have a predominant amount of bosses who when you get to them are all “Lol, you think you can take me on? I’ll kill you with my eyes closed,” after I just cleared their entire army and they have no reinforcements left, and when my Swordmaster OHKs them with a Killing Edge they’re all like, “What?! Me?! How could I be killed?! I’m amazing!” They often have the super villain attitude without the actual gameplay capacity to match it, and it feels very silly.

I guess I’m sick of meme/joke hacks ?

This hack isn’t designed to make you laugh. It’s designed to make you cry. :broken_heart:

Only hacks I’ve played were Elibean Nights and Order of the Crimson Arm, and those two both have their flaws and their qualities

I played both of those recently. I liked them both overall, but preferred OCA. My biggest issue with OCA was how it became super difficult around Chapter 22 or so (whenever it switched to predominantly fighting Braxians, if I recall correctly). Sort makes sense lore wise, but it was a significant change I wasn’t ready for. Side note issue: having red units really threw me off. There were many times throughout the game when I was like “wtf? why isn’t my turn ending? everyone went!” and after a minute of looking at the screen I realized "oh right, that’s my unit.’

If only the lore is based off something you didn’t create, then it will make the story feel less original, without the benefit of expending on already known and beloved characters.

Difficult to explain without giving too much away. I’ll admit this component is what I’m most conflicted on for the hack overall. The FE lore-related part of what I have designed is essentially a component of the larger narrative. Perhaps equivalent to the connection between Assassin’s Creed and Watch Dogs, if you’re familiar with that (but maybe a tiny bit further), or maybe the DC extended universe. If anyone reading this has produced a full hack and/or has story expertise from other mediums and you’re interested in appraising what I’m thinking, PM me. No official NDA of course, but I’d ask extreme discretion from anyone who’s interested.

(Now that I look at other people’s responses though, I do feel like I didn’t bring anything new to the discussion… Whoops.)

Not at all. If responses are repeated among replies, that is good to know as well.

  1. People using skills for the sake of using skills…
  2. The idea that the bigger a map is, the better…
  3. Difficulty options that cater to the hack creator’s preferences and not to a general audience’s preferences…

I have gone back and forth on skills. As I continue to create maps and see what unit balance is like, I will think more on it. Like you said, I don’t want to add them simply to have them be there, they need to add a mechanical dimension to gameplay, which may not be necessary depending on how the rest of the hack is set up.

FE4 is my favorite of the series, but what worked for that game doesn’t translate well to the handheld format. I am not planning on having any FE4 sized maps, everything should be comparable to the GBA games, in terms of size and pacing.

My first playthrough of any hack/GBA game is on Normal. Only after I become familiar with the mechanics, maps, growths, etc., do I try Hard. But I’m not a player who craves difficulty for difficulty’s sake, I do the Hard modes to give the content a different spin (or in 7’s case get those extra chapters/characters). I can say at least that there will be no content difference between a Normal and Hard mode if I release with Hard, it will just be balance.

As based on the questions you have asked your hack is not just a slight edit of FE7, you would probably be better off building it from FE8, as it has considerably more research, documentation, and support compared to FE7. Either way, I’m interested to see what you come up with.

Yeah I am going to switch.

Would add if you are interested in checking out VQ, the current public patch is bad and I’ll have a new release available in a few weeks.

Thanks for the note. I was going to DL and play it soon, but I’ll wait till the next patch. I tend to average 2-3 weeks per playthrough anyway, so that works.

Is it okay if I can request for a simple custom patch for FE8? It won’t be anything complicated of sort, I think.

You can certainly request. If it’s within my technical and time capacity, I’ll try to fit it in.

Good writing, please. I cannot stress this. There are some hacks which have mediocre gameplay at best, but I’ve never touched because their writing and dialogue is horrible. Normal syntax, no modern slang, and consistent writing. You seem like you should have no problem with this, as an author, but please don’t ever consider cutting corners. No writing is better than bad writing.

Aside from that, I enjoy the FE cliches in a fangame. I play Fire Emblem, after all. Dragons are great, red and green retainers are great, blue hair is great. Though, like with all cliches, it take good writing and story to work in it, just stacking them is bad.

New sprites and attack animations are always nice, and a unique mechanic, or mechanics not found is good, but one thing I get tired of is when hack designers feel the need to include everyone else’s mods into their game, even when there’s no good reason. Adding in layers of strategy is only a good idea when said layers of strategy interact well. There’s this odd compulsion to just stuff skills everywhere, even when said skills are just not really necessary or used at all.

Walker’s Order of Importance:
1: Narrative
2: Combat + Combat balance
3: Level design
4: Writing/Dialogue
5: Gameplay
6: Animations
7: Character Intrigue
8: Music

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