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In what order should I do things?

God of Humility

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So, I've read a lot ot tutorials and managed to be able to do a lot of simple things by myself like Events, text editing, Nightmare, FEditor, inserting graphics, maps, etc. and now I think I might want to bring it all together to make a more elaborate hack. The thing is, I have no idea where to start so I want some advice from people with experience in hacking. Is it easier to make the maps first and then the events, or start with Nightmare, or insert graphics? I thought about starting with maps and events since those are the "skeleton" of the hack, but with so much to do, I'm a bit lost as to how to make it all work together.

Also, is it simpler to write the new chapters over the old ones and trying not to go beyond the original chapter's space in the ROM or to simply ignore the originals and use free space (though I don't think there is enough, how big can you expand a ROM anyway?)? I think the most efficient solution would be to write over the original data and then repoint, but that seems like a bit of trouble. Is there an easy way to do this? (I don't think so).

Also, since this will be for FE7, how does the mechanic between Lyn and Eliwood modes work exactly? I know I should replace units with the _t beside their name to use in Lyn mode if they are to reappear in the other mode, but is there anything specific I need to do to make it work? What exactly determines when the Lyn mode ends? Would it be possible to simply delete all units and load others to simulate the change or is it possible to use the built-in mechanics for better effect?

Thanks for any answers and advice. Anything else I should know that is important for a more elaborate hack?

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I'm newish, but seems fairly obvious you make your map first. Though don't do it blindly. Think carefully on strategic reasoning or how the map will play out. Then place your units based on that. Then the events, dialogue etc. Really just do things in order as you come across them. I prefer to use Tiled tile editor because it also makes large tile changes very easy to use and visualize

Though before maps I usually do pre-emptive work if I'm making serious changes like new classes, systems or such. Portraits for me I edit either when I come across the need for them or when I just feel like doodling some portraits.

For Lyn vs Eliwood mode. I know there's a patch to just change the game to Eliwood mode that's what I did. Made things simpler. But this would only really apply if your completely changing the game itself. New story and such I imagine. Besides that I don't know the difference as I'm not reworking FE7 I'm just doing one from scratch.

Oh yeah and don't rewrite over old chapters that's a one way ticket to a ton of issues. 0xD00000 to 0xE00000 is free, use it. Rom can go up to about 32 MB without issue. Don't go past that. But I wouldn't expand it right away. once again use the freespace listed above first. If your using FEditor it will expand the rom as it needs I believe for dialogue and such.

Edited by JFierce
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You can go to Eliwood's mode from Lyn's mode via an ASM hack or calling the Lyn's Ending event; mode is independent of chapter.

Regarding free space, you'll almost definitely need some. First, do a little research and see if there are any patches etc. you want to use on your hack. For instance, ASM patches/hacks, utility hacks (e.g. the all-instrument hack), etc.--IMO this is one of the first things that should be done since often times they can break the game if you try to do them later.

Once you've got a ROM you want to hack and some project ideas, my suggested order to do things is

- Organize your ROM and hacking folders--organization increases efficiency and makes it easy to get back into the swing of things if you end up taking breaks etc., and doing so will save you lots of time.

- Set up basic information about your hack. Portraits, songs, other graphics, other sounds, any general charcacter, background, and plot information, and even make lists of characters, joining times, classes, etc.--all these things can help quite a bit.

- IMO not as important, but making custom Nightmare lists for your modules can help you quite a bit. After all, trying to remember which character replaces who all the time can become... rather tedious, to say the least. This is also useful with items, classes, and song lists, though investing time into renaming things all the time can also be time-consuming, so be careful.

Start with Nightmare edits. Deciding who will replace who and the such. Don't go too far though, because you don't want to edit Nightmare data for like, the final boss, when you're not even close to reaching that point of your hack, since it'll likely be a waste of effort.

Then, I suggest going for making your map. The map is the core of any chapter. Keep in mind though that cutscenes will usually use different maps, meaning it's good to think ahead of time as to what maps you might want to have built beforehand. e.g. in TLP, the last normal chapter map (chapter 27) was made very early on because it actually appears in the Prologue--it's also shown in several chapters afterward because the world would feel even more narrow/simple than it does if we only ever saw what's happening at where our characters/protagonists were at.

With the map in hand, do your events, making all the necessary nightmare changes as they come about. Use text ID's but don't replace the text for now; just leave it as a filler and note which text should cover which. Granted, having a skeleton of the dialog might also be a good idea. (You may want to do the entire script first, but it depends on your intentions a hacker--I usually have a good idea of what I want to happen, but fill in the details afterwards, since I don't particularly care a ton for writing the plot/dialog, but other people have their own goals etc.)

Naturally, you'll want to insert portraits as needed with FEditor Adv, and insert the text using that as well. Once things are looking up, you can finally head to music and then other graphics, e.g. menu graphics, palettes, custom animations, etc.--usually I tackle menu graphics either at the beginning or the end of a hack, more likely the end, because it wouldn't really be a game if it were just pictures, so I like to tackle the actual gameplay first. I rarely do it in the middle since it's sort of distracting and I find it easier to tackle certain aspects of the game at once, instead of "multi-tasking" and constantly switching between various hacking tasks (which can lead to stuff like having one program overwrite the changes of another, too).

As for why I said music first, I find music to be important because well, to me, a video game involves 3 of your senses--sight, hearing, and touch, and "touch" is very limited to pretty much only pressing buttons with the GBA Fire Emblems, leaving only sight and hearing, and sight is affected by things such as maps, portraits, etc., but the only things that affect hearing are music and sound effects, so I like to tackle those too before doing all the miscellaneous menu and background graphics that people will eventually get bored of anyway (since a person slowly begins to pay less and less attention to them unless they are constantly changing--whereas music, well I like to change the music up constantly, so...).

I have to go now but keep in mind this is all just one person's way of doing things and that you should find the way that you like the best/suits you best. Good luck.

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Thanks a lot to both of you, that kind of advice makes me more confident that I can do this.

What I'm planning on doing is separating my hack into 2 parts, so I hope to be able to use the modes mechanic already implemented for FE7. Would it be possible to simply let the first chapters be interpreted as Lyn mode by the game and then, some chapter later, call up the LYN_END event to make the next chapter begin the other mode? I suppose so, but I need to be sure. Will the units be removed from the player's team automatically, or is there something special that needs to be done?

Just for personal information, how much free space can I get away with for extra chapters? Is there any format you would recommend for storing the data (like having empty space between chapters as separators, storing events and maps separatly or together, etc.) to make my life easier?

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Seems a lot of people have enough freespace in the slot I listed above for a full hack. If your making a complete revamp there's plenty of space once expanded, don't go past 32 MB though once again. Check out Burnings hack above (The last promise) if you want an idea of what you can do. He made one from scratch and changed just about everything you can.

Edited by JFierce
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