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Optimal Order of Operations for Creating a Fan game

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I just started creating a GBA fan hack and i was wondering if any fan hack veterans have their optimal order of operations when creating their game. I'm currently just making a general map layout, and then editing units and what not as I need them. I'm wondering if doing it in a different order is more time efficient.

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"Optimal" depends on the person.

I find it easier to plan out what each chapter needs, then work accordingly (maps, event editing, then items/units).  IMO it's better to end a hack with a completed chapter, rather than walking away with a bunch of things half-done.

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I'm making an SRPG Studio game and not a hack, but I think the same principles apply.

I got all my class, character, and weapon/item balancing and whatnot for Sanctaea Chronicles sorted out in Excel/Google spreadsheets before I even did any work with the software.  I also had some rough map design sketches done in MS Paint as a guide for when I started making the actual maps.  I even had early story scripts written for each chapter.  That's about all I can remember for now.

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Having started an FE romhack with limited knowledge, my approach was as follows.

1. Come up with a concept/story that I liked, and map it out chapter by chapter in terms of events, the type of battle, and the cast/characters - all quite loose and high level to see if things make sense.

2. Draft up enough of the script to see if this is actually worth pursuing and if you're enjoying it.

3. Lay out how you want to do the classes, weapons, skills, etc. - all the nuts and bolts needed so that assembling the rest won't require back and forth - get everything set up first so that it's easy to make when you're in that mode.

4. Create a chapter, test it. Repeat. Only focus on gameplay to start. Once gameplay is good, then add in the dialogue from the script.

5. Repeat until game is complete (or at a point where you want to make a release) then go back and add flourish / improvements. 

This is largely what I've done over the past few months and its been a helpful approach for me.

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In terms of what's "optimal"... well, that kind of depends on the person doing the planning. What I have found through my own ongoing experiments with FEBuilder is that it's always best to start with a story already mapped out... that way, you'll already have a general idea of what you need to do, and you won't have to waste time going back and changing a lot of things if you find that something you were trying to do won't work.

Another thing to keep in mind is not to wait until you've already started up an editor to decide what you want to do. In the NWN Modding community, we call this "Designing as you go", and it's something you definitely don't want to do, because it can easily snowball and cause your entire story to be disjointed, and observant players will definitely pick up on this.

In general, as long as you're organized and don't wait until the last second to plan things out, you'll probably do fine.

Edited by GamerX51

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