June 11 2023

Hey guys it's your favorite webmaster back at it again with a new blog post! I don't know why I made that sound like the intro to a YouTube video. But anyway, today's post is about a project that's been in the works for a few years now: my Fire Emblem fangame Fire Emblem: Cycle of Remorse. It's a fangame in the style of the GBA Fire Emblem games (FE6 Binding Blade, FE7 Blazing Sword, and FE8 Sacred Stones). You can read more about it here! Currently, its first Act of three planned Acts is done! It needs a lot of work balance-wise, but it's playable, at least! Its download link can be found in that previous link.

What Took So Long to Get Here?

I started working on this years ago. I wanna say around 2017 or 2018? I took year-long breaks from then 'til now mostly because the engine I was working with was quite finicky back in the day. Most Fire Emblem fangames come in the form of hacked versions of ROMs of official games, mostly the GBA games. Then one day, someone made a Python-based FE game engine called Lex Talionis which gave the flavor of the GBA games but allowed game mechanics from other Fire Emblem games to be implemented. I discovered the engine very early on its development. I found it when it didn't even have its user-friendly executable yet! ... Which basically explains all the year-long breaks I took. I had some knowledge in Python, so I could work with engine somewhat, but there were some mechanics that were hard to implement such as breakable walls or unlockable doors. Skip to today and now all of that is implented in my game and more!

Humble (and Crude) Beginnings

Early on in development, I did not take the plot of the game seriously at all. It was supposed to be a drawn out set up to a sex joke. And not even a good sex joke. If you were around during the early days of this website, you might remember Ocean Crest and the Piercing Blade listed somewhere in the OCs and Lore section. Yup, that was the early incarnation of this game and you can also probably guess what its terrible punchline was going to involve. But, as the years went by, the game's plot has matured as I've matured. By which I mean there are still sex jokes but those aren't the focus anymore. I'm just a sucker for crude sexual humor. I can understand that sort of thing not being everyone's cup of tea, so I completely understand if that brand of humor turns you off from it. Heh, turns you off. But no seriously, if you wanna have a taste of the game's tone, check out my friend's VOD of his livestream of his playthrough of Act 1. I would also recommend giving a look at the Support Conversations I wrote for the game as well. Though, those can get into spoiler territory, so proceed with caution!

My OCs and Worldbuilding

Writing for this game has been fun but difficult. I wanted to get a good amount of my OCs in it, but some aspects of my OCs made fitting them into the world naturally kinda hard. Aqua, for example, can't exactly be a Slime in this universe lol. I actually tried to tap into her non-human aspect by making her a Manakete (a dragon-shifter, for those not in the know), but I scrapped that idea as development went on. Some characters even had some personality changes from their original incarnations. Kai in my (currently unpublished) story With Souls Intertwined had a stoic mentor role. In Cycle of Remorse, he's a lot more laid back, but has a vast knowledge about current happenings in Yondo. We don't really see this in Act 1, but he's got a lot going on in terms of backstory which will be explored a lot more in Act 2. Let's just say he's not as carefree as one might think. ... Now that I think about it, since With Souls Intertwined isn't published, but Cycle of Remorse is, would that make the CoR versions of my OCs the actual canon depictions in people's eyes? Even though I conceptualized their With Souls Intertwined versions first? What a conundrum.

Inspirations and What to Expect in Acts 2 and 3

While Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade and Fire Emblem: Sacred Stones were huge influences in terms of gameplay and plot, Cycle of Remorse has drawn influence from a lot of other media I've grown to love as well. On a subconcious level, I highly suspect Homestuck and The Adventure Zone: Balance influenced CoR's tone and writing. I'm a sucker for stories that start off light, punch you with some drama, then reveal that the silly stuff was actually feeding into the dramatic elements all along. So, uh, don't write off Krista's kidnapping fetish as JUST a sex joke, is what I'm saying.

Music in general has also helped with conceptualizing plot points, character arcs, and Support conversations as well. When I was starting to think about picking up production of the game again earlier this year, Voices of Svaahaa by Kikuo and Honey I'm Home by GHOST were great sources of inspiration for the game's religious themes and conflicts. While religion was barely touched upon in Act 1, it will be a major theme going forward. I'm not a religious person and writing for a culture that is highly religious is a bit of a challenge, but I don't mind going out of my comfort zone for this one. Related to that, one major theme I wanted to explore was the conflict of ideals and theologies between groups, so that's gonna be fun to write for. With how simple Act 1's plot is, it may be hard to see some of these things come to light, but I'm hoping that once Act 2 comes out, these plot elements will start to flesh out more.

Back to music as an inspiration, I actually have a playlist on YouTube of songs that has been of some influence in one way or another. Some songs have spoiler-y reasons for being there, so I can't talk about them just yet lol. I am willing to talk about a select few, though. Stupid with Love from the Mean Girls Broadway musical and Konbini by Cokesi were inspirations for how Anna and Jake started their relationship. I would like to explore their past a bit more in Support conversations involving them. Though, you do see hints of Jake being a huge dork in his Support conversation with Forrest. Speaking of character dynamics, Role-Playing Game by Soraru, MafuMafu, Uratanuki, and Aho no Sakata is a song I like to put on when I want to be in the mood to write for Krista, Forrest, Kai, and Trevor collectively. Before you ask, yes, I was listening to it while writing that one Base Conversation in Chapter 8 lol.

Closing Remarks and Future Plans

Right now, I'm taking a break from working on the game. Hmmm, scratch that. I'm prepping stuff for Act 2, actually. I can never take a full break from this project. I'm currently working on a balance patch that will release alongside Act 2 at the moment. I'm also working on making a trailer for this year's Fire Emblem E3 which is an annual showcase of what the FE hack/fangame community has been working on. Once that trailer's done, I'm gonna take a complete break then start doing actual work on Act 2. I'll probably also onboard some people to help with the project because holy hell I cannot do this all on my own i will die. But anyway, it's been a fun experience working on a Fire Emblem fangame on and off for the past handful of years, and I'm hoping this project will be completed in good time!