What makes a good chapter?


#1

Most everyone here is into modding Fire Emblem and is working on a mod somehow - This, almost all of the time, will involve creating your own chapters.

Creating chapters, however, isn’t always a simple process. It isn’t enough to just have a chapter be functional. Chapters have to be engaging and enjoyable, but must also avoid being unfair to the player. How do you accomplish this, though? Everyone here has played through at least one (probably multiple) FE games. Everyone probably has their own idea of what makes a good chapter, and I would like to know what those are!

So tell me, what is your favorite Fire Emblem chapter? Why? What does it do to make itself engaging and memorable? What challenges does the map itself present? How does the positioning and AI of enemies play into this? Which events add depth and excitement and meaning to the chapter?


My First Map
#2

Some of my favorite chapters include:

FE1 the Eternal Palace, a fast paced map with multiple incentives to prevent turtleing, be it preventing the prisoners from dying or getting the treasure, speed becomes important, and every decision counts

FE 6 Chap 14, once again encourages speed, and actually does an escort mission, which has to be my favorite objective type in FE as future picks will make apparent

FE 7 Battle Before Dawn, my only gripe with this map is FOW which I hate, but I love and hate this map for being a defense mission that isn’t easily trivialized. Speed once again becomes important, as Zephiel really needs protection.

Flame Shield up

My favorite map in the series actually comes from a game that is rightfully bashed for it’s poor map design overall, but dang is this a diamond in the rough, Severa’s recruitment paralouge is always a joy to play for me, since quickly traversing the map is important, it’s an escort mission, and your army has to be spilt in two to effectively complete the stage.


#3

Funny you should ask:


#4

I like that! Really informative, covers a lot of things pretty well.

It briefly panned over a map that i’m a pretty big fan of from FE7, Chapter 14 (if I remember correctly), the one where you can recruit Erk and Priscilla. The map can get pretty challenging, between splitting up your forces to secure both characters, dealing with the enemies already in the field, the bandits from the northwest corner, and the enemies spawning from behind and below. It’s pacing was really good, close to overwhelming at times but not quite there.


#5

It’s hard to think up a good chapter but it’s definitely worth the effort and time.


#6

I think the best way I can consolidate my own personal opinions on FE level design is…

  • Make a map based around a set number of goals and sub objectives you wish to give the player.
  • Time and place enemies in such a way that achieving these objectives requires creativity and careful thought. Make the consequences more forgiving based on desired difficulty level.
  • Playtest the map a bunch, have others playtest it a lot, and polish and refine the map so that it’s interesting for good players, and fun for bad players. For example, a recent chapter I constructed can be completed in 3 turns, BUT you lose out almost all the rewards on the chapter, creating a dilemna for LTC players. Meanwhile, I also made a slower, but safer path for struggling players where you can bait out the boss and by time for the potential recruitable character.
  • Carefully consider strategies and different characters being used. For the sake of balancing, you might want to place certain enemy classes and weaponry to give an otherwise struggling character more time to shine and find usage.
  • Make the chapter as short as possible, and keep things convenient for the player. Sometimes, if there are two paths in the chapter, and one leads to a dead end, it might be nice to put a door leading to the same area as the other path, except maybe slightly further away if you want the player to still have some sort of distance/positional penalty. Either way, it’s convenient, and keeps players like me happy.
  • More on the former thing, cut back any gameplay that is repetitive or not engaging. Sometimes, it’s worth remaking the chapter if it just isn’t fun.

That’s all I’ve got off the top of my head at the moment. Hopefully I didn’t necropost or something. I rarely go on this website. >_<


#7

Mans. Seeing this thread makes me want to attempt to hold a Make a Fun Chapter contest again.

My first thought about chapter design tips is “don’t make your chapter overstay its welcome”. A lot of chapters in mods I feel are bogged down by the fact that they’re way too long, have too many enemies, or the map is too big. Yes, a lot of the excitement of FE comes from the suspense of not wanting to lose a unit after sinking 50 turns into a chapter, but I find a short, punchy chapter that makes good use of all of its units and map tiles to be much more fun than one that gives me FE4 flashbacks. One can compensate for the short length with difficulty: if a chapter only lasts for five turns, you can restart it more quickly and with less frustration until you eventually find out what combination of units/etc you need to beat the odds and take down the beefier-than-usual enemies. Enemies with crit rates or killer weapons really shine in these chapters, because if the player gets critted by one it’s less likely to be the end of the world.

Likewise, make the enemies more forgiving with longer maps and give them stronger weapons instead of crit rates (which will lead to someone getting screwed over by a random enemy crit on turn 30).

[quote=“MarkyJoe1990, post:6, topic:1269”]
Hopefully I didn’t necropost or something.
[/quote] Marc, sweetum, there’s no such thing as necroposting here


#8

Nah, it isn’t a necropost! I’m just happy to see more input!

I know the community here is full of people who are interested in the design of Fire Emblem, so it’s nice to get different opinions when you’re trying to design something good, or just to see what other people think leaves an impression on the player.

I think another one of my favorite chapters is 16x from Fire Emblem: Blazing Sword (The one where you recruit Canas, for those who don’t remember).

Here’s the Map

The map itself is filled with plenty of objectives, it offers the player a couple of ways to deal with the chapter as a whole, it offers the player large potential rewards if you recruited Canas or managed to defeat the boss that spawns on the bottom and the high-level enemies standing guard in the middle. Furthermore, the chapter was pretty short AND it had an objective that was neither rout nor sieze. (Okay, it’s kind of sieze but the approach is pretty different from normal).

Thoughts?


#9

Yep, @Alusq has said it, but to reiterate, “We ain’t no serenes”.


#10

And amen to that.


#11

Wow, I did not know that necroposting does not apply here. We all learned something from this topic!


#12

fwiw 10 days is not even close to a necropost. I mean, we routinely dig up old posts (of at least 3 months, possibly up to 9) and add to them. Why? BECAUSE WE HAVE A SEARCH FUNCTION THAT ACTUALLY WORKS!!! Eat that, unsearchable serenes. Which I’m totally not salty for being warning’d on.


#13

Honestly though, FEU is miles easier to use than SF because of the way the search function woks.

I’m not even hatin’, it’s just a simple truth.


#14

Rules against necroposting are stated here:


a good game design tip in general i have is having variety in each chapter. Having a game with plains and fields after plains and fields can get pretty boring for gameplay.
i also have two general personal rules about maps when i make chapters

  1. does it actually look pretty?
  2. can i trim map size so all of my features are efficiently realized in le game as perfectly as possible?

i could go into deeper detail, but i have tentacle monsters to sprite :octopus: