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Salvius

Let's Mod Log- FE 7

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Hello, my name is Salvius. I was recently inspired to begin work on a brand new hack for Fire Emblem 7 since it is on the Gameboy making it well within my means to mod and because I personally enjoyed that iteration in the franchise. I was however severely deterred by the sheer amount of work that must go into modding a new game. I attempted to look for tutorials on what I needed to do to get started and though I found several, many wished for me to have such and such knowledge in advance or even worse to have payed for programs like RPG maker. I understand the merits of such a program, however I didn't wish to pay cash just to show off a fun hack I made to some friends. I digress.

If you came to this topic expecting an expert breakdown of what must be done to create your very own project, this isn't the place and I'm telling you now I don't believe such a thing exists. If you think I'm being wasteful or not very efficient in my work, your probably correct (I do appreciate any feedback or questions you may have though).

This topic is to catalogue everything I've done in my journey to create my very first hack. I write this log in the hopes that it will motivate me to act and that it can connect others who are in a similar predicament to myself. This log is written by the ignorant and is dedicated to everyone frustrated with how making a new fire emblem hack from scratch without any prior experience can seem near impossible.

So without any further delay let's begin my Let's Mod Log of Fire Emblem 7.

Edited by Salvius

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Day 1: I began as many of you undoubtedly have, on the Serenes Forums. From there I visited the Resources section of Fan Projects and found one of the first topics to be http://serenesforest.net/forums/index.php?showtopic=34874. This provided me with a lengthy yet very edifying document on using FEXP, a Fire Emblem Editing program which appears to work in tandem with the RPG maker. Needless to say I would prefer to avoid spending money to create a mod and so my search continued. From FEXP I came across the Fire Emblem Shrine http://www.feshrine.net/hacking/start.php . It was here I discovered some of the other utilities necessary in modding a fire emblem game as well as a document by Blazer titled The Ultimate Tutorial. Indeed this 320 something page document seems to hold the answer to life the universe and everything, but again it can at times be information overload.

I attempted to follow the initial set up steps prescribed by the Ultimate Tutorial on my tablet (It's a Le Pan incase anyone is curious). My tablet for one reason or another can't really handle too much and so I transfer to the PC. Looking back to the FE Shrine page, http://www.feshrine.net/hacking/start.php, I download everything again. Now I should be ready to begin.

It's at this point that I realized I'm out of water and that I needed guidance as to what I should be doing. How do I create new from scratch characters? What programs should I use for pixel art/ sprites? What are my best options for creating events within a chapter/ replacing those in the base game of FE 7 (sorry Lyn, you gotta go) and many other questions. So I abandoned my planned modding for the evening and watched some youtube tutorial videos on these very topics.

was a helpful tutorial on how to get started and it even explained some of the key concepts needed to understand how to mod, as did part 2

At the end of the day, knowing how I tend to procrastinate, I began this topic to prevent myself from slacking. I will post every day. I will accomplish something new each day however small it might be. Feel free to talk about my progress or better yet share your own with the community. Once again I hope this log can at least give potential hackers scope and I encourage everyone to join in on discussion and updates in this Let's Mod Log.

Edited by Salvius

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The best part of the Ultimate Tutorial is that you can view it any way you like--don't sit down and try to read it all, especially because it follows no particular order. I find that the search function happens to be my best friend whilst reading, making it easy to find whatever I need.

On another note, if and when you get into graphical works, be sure to head over to the spriting section of the forums. Lots of stuff that you're free to use, comments/critique, and more.

Also, FEXP isn't exactly for making mods/hacks, but rather a standalone game based in RPGMaker XP. The people who made that (unfinished) engine are making a much better engine titled FEXNA. Cool stuff to look up, if you're interested.

I wish the best of luck to you. Hacking is weirdly tough and ultimately oddly satisfying, even if you're someone like me who never actually posts anything. I will certainly be watching this thread.

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Haha, this reminds me of when I first started ROM hacking FE7 to work on FE404 almost 10 years ago, I kept a log too, only nowhere near as wordy. Heck, I still have the file!

ROM hacking is a tricky endeavor, so all the more power to you!

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Day 2: I would like to begin to today by saying how very thankful I am for such positive feedback from the Serenes community, I began this project never expecting a single visitor so for everyone who left feedback or those of you who simply decided to visit thank you for your time. With that being said day 2 was intense and I learned 2 very important things. Firstly If at first something doesn't work try uninstalling and secondly get organized because your computer can quickly become chaotic if you don't. Today I began eager at the prospect of actually implementing some of what I had learned in modding, I began with the Nightmare program and the Nightmare FE7 module, both of which can be found here. http://www.feshrine.net/hacking/nightmare.phpNightmare is a very user friendly program that allows you to manipulate many aspects of the game, from characters to just about anything. I played with Nightmare for about 15 minutes when suddenly I broke it somehow so that by selecting the data for Lyn I would get atributes from several other characters in the game as her presets. This was not an intended hack and when I attempted to play the rom it would shut itself off and best of all Lyn's portrait was the armory man. http://lparchive.org/Fire-Emblem-Sword-of-Seals/Update%2011/57-C7P45.png

I couldn't figure out what I had done so I deleted the rom and Nightmare and the Nightmare module and my virtual boy emulator (just to be safe), then I went ahead and downloaded them again. This time there were no issues and I was freely able to manipulate the game as per Ghast's instructions in yesterday's videos. Next I began to edit my first map in Fire emblem. I was inittially going to use mappy, but Markyjoe convinced me Tiled was the better option. This website has further details on how to set everything up and what to do. http://markyjoe1990.elementfx.com/?page=fetutsI know it's a weird page but it had some great resources on mapping and events. Tiled for me took some time to acclimatize to. I struggled for nearly half an hour attempting to get Tiled to identify the resources tiles from FE 7 which were provided via the download link for Tiled map Inserter. Eventually i found if you put the resources in the examples folder of Tiled it allowed for easy access, at least on my computer. For the next 4.5 hours I practiced map creation, attempting to reconstruct some of my favorite FE 7 maps. It was tedious work and I couldn't ever get it quite right but I learned a lot from that time and eventually created my first very own largely crappy and unremarkable FE map, but that's ok because not everyone can get it right on their first try and so I will continue practicing until I feel my maps are decent enough for other people to play on. When I finished my map I saved it to my desktop but couldn't find the file, maybe because my computer is a mess, maybe because it's a shared computer and so some space time continuum sucked it away to the other profile somehow, I don't know. I just know that saving it in the examples folder worked again and so I just saved it there then moved it by hand to my FE7 folder for organization. I then tried to open it with Tiled and found an error message, which could only be avoided if, you guessed it, I put the map back in the examples folder. If anyone has suggestions on how to better organize Tiled so that I can get out of the examples folder, I'm all ears. So, satisfied with my first map and pleased by my progress in Nightmare I call today a success, I finish today with a content smile. Tomorrow as many of you Americans know is thanksgiving so I don't expect as much progress to be made tomorrow, that being said I will most likely work on developing the ideas I had for my first FE hack. I will post these musings tomorrow and I encourage everyone else to also share where they're at in the whole modding process, novices, pros, dilettantes, everyone. Thanks again to everyone for provinding such great comments and furthering my understanding of Fire Emblem Modding, you are what make Serenes so enchanting.

At the end of the day, knowing how I tend to procrastinate, I began this topic to prevent myself from slacking. I will post every day. I will accomplish something new each day however small it might be. Feel free to talk about my progress or better yet share your own with the community. Once again I hope this log can at least give potential hackers scope and I encourage everyone to join in on discussion and updates in this Let's Mod Log.

Edited by Salvius

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When I finished my map I saved it to my desktop but couldn't find the file, maybe because my computer is a mess, maybe because it's a shared computer and so some space time continuum sucked it away to the other profile somehow, I don't know. I just know that saving it in the examples folder worked again and so I just saved it there then moved it by hand to my FE7 folder for organization. I then tried to open it with Tiled and found an error message, which could only be avoided if, you guessed it, I put the map back in the examples folder. If anyone has suggestions on how to better organize Tiled so that I can get out of the examples folder, I'm all ears.

Tiled is really fragile when it comes to saving maps. The reason that you get errors is because when you first save a map in a certain folder. Tiled remembers that path and will call upon it next time you wish to open that map. you're probably getting a error along something like "line 4, column 76 somthing"

What you need to do is open an openable .TMX file in Notepad, then open a non-openable .TMX file. Pay attention to line 4

mqZmqsY.png

Line 4 is the path that Tiled will try to follow to find your map. AKA, image source

<image source="../../Tilesets/FE8/0E000F10.png" width="512" height="512"/>

most errors have to do with this

../../

make sure your un-openable Tiled file matches up with that. If you want to change where your maps end up, you'll need to manually change the image source path in notepad. I'm like 90% sure on that.

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Day 3: Unfortunately today was a busy day. I didn't complete any modding I just tried to correct some errors I'm having. I began with Ghast's advice on my Tiled map file issues.

Tiled is really fragile when it comes to saving maps. The reason that you get errors is because when you first save a map in a certain folder. Tiled remembers that path and will call upon it next time you wish to open that map. you're probably getting a error along something like "line 4, column 76 somthing"

What you need to do is open an openable .TMX file in Notepad, then open a non-openable .TMX file. Pay attention to line 4

mqZmqsY.png

Line 4 is the path that Tiled will try to follow to find your map. AKA, image source

<image source="../../Tilesets/FE8/0E000F10.png" width="512" height="512"/>

most errors have to do with this

make sure your un-openable Tiled file matches up with that. If you want to change where your maps end up, you'll need to manually change the image source path in notepad. I'm like 90% sure on that.

His suggestion fixed my Tiled reading issues and allowed for me to better organize my custom maps. The next logical step then was to insert this map into my clean FE 7 Rom. I booted up Tiled map inserter and was greeted by some by now familiar topics. What is the map pointer, what is the offset, essentially quizzing me on the addresses of where everything is/ should be going. Opening up markyjoe's tiled tutorial found at the weird fetus resource page http://serenesforest.net/forums/index.php?showtopic=32802, I was able to decipher what was needed at every blank space. Eventually I selected my Tiled map .tmx file and my clean FE 7 rom file as well as wrote my offset at D0D000. I wanted an offset far away from anything in the actual game and because I only plan to mod this rom this one time I wasn't worried about space efficiency or anything. Then I set the map pointer to C9C9D8, this was again determined by markyjoe in a table linked near the end of their tile guide. One last thing, in this first map I made sure had no tile changes so that I could take things one step at a time. Finished with filling things in I selected run and was greeted by this error.

Could not load file or assembly 'ROMhacking, Version=1.0.0.0, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=null' or one of its dependencies. The system could not find the file specified. No data written to ROM.

Some Serenes forum searching later brought me to this page, http://serenesforest.net/forums/index.php?showtopic=32802. Here it was suggested that moving the .dll files could cause this error. So I went ahead and deleted everything from tile map inserter and then downloaded it again, this time I made sure the file never moved since download. I repeated the above steps and then got the same message. There's probably an easy fix, I'm not worried I just don't feel like doing extensive research tonight to fix it, I'll look into it tomorrow. Besides technical work I also began organizing my thoughts for the endgame, what do I want to make?

Most simply I want to make an expansion and reinterpretation of the Future past dlc in Fire Emblem Awakening. It will involveall of the children character in one capacity or another, some familiar maps and some new ones and even some returning characters from the parent's generation which I feel belong in this new retelling. It won'tt be a rip off of the dlc chapters but it will seek to provide a story for the darker timeline of Awakening. I have some plot ideas but nothing worth mentioning until I can at least crank out a sample chapter or two. Sadly this dream is a long ways off yet but at least i have something to head for. Today was less productive but Rome wasn't built in a day, it was built by two brothers whose mother tried to like feed them to wolves or some nonsense I forgot why I thought this story applied to my situation. Anyways, day 3 done Tiled seems super janky so I might switch to Yeti's map creator http://serenesforest.net/forums/index.phpshowtopic=50953&hl=bwdyeti I'm not sure yet.

At the end of the day, knowing how I tend to procrastinate, I began this topic to prevent myself from slacking. I will post every day. I will accomplish something new each day however small it might be. Feel free to talk about my progress or better yet share your own with the community. Once again I hope this log can at least give potential hackers scope and I encourage everyone to join in on discussion and updates in this Let's Mod Log.

Edited by Salvius

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Day 4: When making a mod for Fire Emblem a lot of things have to be learned and made. Hopefully you will have custom sprites, a new and creative story, new events, new maps and if your ambitious you may even have custom music or have changed some game mechanics. That's why I like to adapt the advice of Zane for everything it takes to learn how to mod.

The best part of the Ultimate Tutorial is that you can view it any way you like--don't sit down and try to read it all, especially because it follows no particular order. I find that the search function happens to be my best friend whilst reading, making it easy to find whatever I need.

True he was talking about the ultimate guide but he's right that not everything needs to be done in one attempt. I'm struggling with mapping and so I'll take some time away from it to work on Spriteing. Today I downloaded Gimp Inkscape to my tablet as well as toured the spriteing resources here: http://serenesforest.net/forums/index.php?showtopic=52389

Whenever I feel like coming back to mapping I can, I don't need to worry about missing anything by switching to spriteing for a bit.

Sticking with just one facet of modding may feel like significant process is being made when everything works, but if you hit a road block you can always seek help from the community. Leaving to work on a different aspect of your project doesn't mean you lose any progress, If you'r getting frustrated or having trouble like myself, I've found doing something new helps to alleviate those feelings. Really you know what you need to be doing and if it doesn't feel necessary at this moment to you, that's fine, do something you enjoy. You can always come back to whatever later when you feel like you understand it better.

At the end of the day, knowing how I tend to procrastinate, I began this topic to prevent myself from slacking. I will post every day. I will accomplish something new each day however small it might be. Feel free to talk about my progress or better yet share your own with the community. Once again I hope this log can at least give potential hackers scope and I encourage everyone to join in on discussion and updates in this Let's Mod Log.

Edited by Salvius

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Sticking with just one facet of modding may feel like significant process is being made when everything works, but if you hit a road block you can always seek help from the community. Leaving to work on a different aspect of your project doesn't mean you lose any progress, If you'r getting frustrated or having trouble like myself, I've found doing something new helps to alleviate those feelings. Really you know what you need to be doing and if it doesn't feel necessary at this moment to you, that's fine, do something you enjoy. You can always come back to whatever later when you feel like you understand it better.

i like this attitude. Good luck tomorrow !

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This is a lot of interesting info, but just like regular ROM hacking. . .it's all over the place. I don't have time now, but when I get home, I'll see if I can tl;dr things, and categorize them. That way, if someone has a question regarding something, it'll make it a lot easier to ferret out the appropriate log.

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Day 5: You get out of sprites what you put into them. What i mean to say is if you don't try hard, it will be readily evident but if you give it time and concentration, you can make a masterpiece.

There appear to be three major ways of generating new sprites. The first is splicing, the second is recoloring and the third is custom. Resources for all three can be found here: http://serenesforest.net/forums/index.php?showtopic=25963&p=1555400

Splicing as you may have guessed, synthesizes a new sprite from existing ones. You may take Hector's body from FE 7 and Big Roy's head (also FE 7) and create Brayan, the Big, Big Roy. The process seems simple enough, however when using the splicing method I found I felt constrained in my ability. If this method works for you though, kudos to you and be careful that your finished product is blended well and that it's not readily evident what your sources were for the spliced sprite.

The recoloring method may seem underwhelming, but that's just because you haven't seen Pi.

Their skill in this video is impressive to watch, they go above and beyond just reecoloring and it made me re imagine what could be done with existing sprites (something I will certainly work on in the future). They took L'Archel and transformed her into something new and beautiful.

The final method is just making a sprite from scratch. All resources I've read on this method suggest having an image to work towards and not just going off of your head. I personally love this method. There's a great freedom to your brush and you don't need to be as concerned with resembling other sprites.

All of these methods have been used by wonderful artists in the community and so there are plenty of materials on any of these methods to view. If your still struggling, perhaps practice with paper and pencil as I did to get a better understanding of ratios and shading. Try any one of the above methods or maybe all three(there aren't any rules on what you can or can't do) and make your own custom sprite; work on it until it's ready to be shared and if you still aren't comfortable, you don't need to share it. If your embarrassed by your art no one has to see it, just do what your comfortable with.

At the end of the day, knowing how I tend to procrastinate, I began this topic to prevent myself from slacking. I will post every day. I will accomplish something new each day however small it might be. Feel free to talk about my progress or better yet share your own with the community. Once again I hope this log can at least give potential hackers scope and I encourage everyone to join in on discussion and updates in this Let's Mod Log.

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Day 6: The computer I was trying to use to do everything just majorly crashed, I'm thinking it ran out of memory or something dumb and so I'm interpreting it as divine intervention to stop for the day. Perhaps this will finally be the motivation I needed to transfer everything to this computer. School is also trying to destroy my work ethic, as the year gets busier less and less time can be dedicated toward FE modding. Learning to find balance just seems to be yet another skill you must learn to mod.

At the end of the day, knowing how I tend to procrastinate, I began this topic to prevent myself from slacking. I will post every day. I will accomplish something new each day however small it might be. Feel free to talk about my progress or better yet share your own with the community. Once again I hope this log can at least give potential hackers scope and I encourage everyone to join in on discussion and updates in this Let's Mod Log.

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Day 7: Today was so much better. I switched all of my files over to the new computer and have begun mapping again. This time I switched to Yeti's map maker over tiled. http://serenesforest.net/forums/index.php?showtopic=50953

This program is simply phenomenal and it really improved my mapping experience as a whole. Hopefully tomorrow, I can get more time to play with this program.

At the end of the day, knowing how I tend to procrastinate, I began this topic to prevent myself from slacking. I will post every day. I will accomplish something new each day however small it might be. Feel free to talk about my progress or better yet share your own with the community. Once again I hope this log can at least give potential hackers scope and I encourage everyone to join in on discussion and updates in this Let's Mod Log.

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I played with mountains in Yeti's map maker today. In this program tiles are shown with indicators as to how they fit to provide correct shading. This feature has proven especially useful when tackling mountains, which are fast becoming the bane of my existence. Tomorrow I will attempt map insertion again, since I now feel comfortable using Yeti's map maker.

At the end of the day, knowing how I tend to procrastinate, I began this topic to prevent myself from slacking. I will post every day. I will accomplish something new each day however small it might be. Feel free to talk about my progress or better yet share your own with the community. Once again I hope this log can at least give potential hackers scope and I encourage everyone to join in on discussion and updates in this Let's Mod Log.

Edited by Salvius

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Day 9 I really do love learning how to mod, however I am also realizing why projects don't do daily updates. Not everyday brings progress as my very inept log can testify. Perhaps i should have put more thought into this topic, it is after all a project and that means delays and time constraints and possibly periods of time where the project leader seems deceased like so many seem prone to do. I'm certainly not giving up, I'm just realizing that this isn't effective and I don't wish to post any more updates until I have actual progress and not walls of errors and problems. For now I will work to improve and hopefully soon I can report on the improvements.

In the meantime, please enjoy the Reelest of Big Fish this holiday.

This log is dedicated to Marcus now, why did you have too die in my FE 7 run, more importantly how could you die, you were Marcus!

https://gyazo.com/c0d84e7f794ddcc3dac19b523230c3d2

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