Concerns I am starting to have

By on March 28, 2009 2:02:04 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Denryu

Join Date 07/2006
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This is not meant to bring anyone down. I just hope some people will be able to point out some things that will alleviate some of my concerns that Elemental is not going to be "Master of Magicky" enough for me.

To me the thing that made MoM so great, was it had that "just one more turn!" magic that could have you awake at 3:00 in the morning, you to go to work if 4 hours AND YOU DIDN'T CARE.

Don't get me wrong - the two Stardock games I have played, GalCiV2 and SOASE are great games. And I don't even know how to quantify it, I don't know exactly what it is that gives a game "the magic". I really like a lot of what I am seeing. but a lot of what I am hearing such as no other races but Men and Fallen, and no disrespect to Total War, but it really seems like they are aiming for Total War with fireballs and dragons. And if that is the case, that will be a cool game that I enjoy. And I realize the game isn't even in really alpha yet, so I could be jumping the gun on getting my fears up. But here are some of the things that I am afraid will be missing from the game I hoped for:

1. The abililty to play as lots of different races and for it to be truly completely different. In MoM, playing as High Men, halflings, orcs, etc etc truly made each game a new experience. They didn't just say "every race has to have a light infantry, an archer, a heavy infantry, a catapult" and then give them different graphics. They really made each race it's own thing with unique strengths and weaknesses. It seems like just Men and Fallen is going to leave me wishing for more variety. Again I haven't seen anything so here is hoping when beta comes out I am wrong.

2. Another thing that made MoM almost infinitely replayable were the 30 or so options you could choose from at game start up. things like alchemy that would allow you to convert mana and gold into each other with no loss. Or starting on Myrror. O being a Warlord (combat bonus) and some of them had prerequisites, such as to be an Arch Mage (I think) you had to have at least one book of every school of magic. Then there was selecting the books of magic and preselecting your guaranteed spells. All of this combined with number 1 above really meant you had a universe of infinite possibilites.

3. MoM had a huge spellbook of over 100 spells. and again they were not just lame "ice bolt does 10 ICE damage and fire bolt does 10 FIRE damage" stupid essentially duplicate spells. Thre were some really well thought out and different spells that just seemed to fit the school that they came from. So far, it seems like the spell selection is going to be much less deep in Elemental.

 I hope these are all unfounded concerns. I was a huge Master of Orion 3 fanboi until the actually released the game. So maybe it is just once bitten, twice shy. And I am really looking forward to getting a look at this, it is just that so much that I have heard so far has given me some concerns it is not going to be the game I had hoped.

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March 28, 2009 4:35:57 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

 

Well I can understand your concern about elemental but personally I don’t have a problem with Elemental being comparable in terms of game play to the total war series key word being comparable. I don’t think however that Elemental would just be a lame rip of total war with dragons etc you can tell that just by what Brad has said thus far about the game. As for your three major concerns

 

I would say in regards to the first one having multiple races does not equal a large variety. I enjoy being technically correct in elemental there is only one race the human race with two variations being regular and fallen. We know there is going to be 6 factions for each variation and these have been stated as being very unique and not just mirror images of some master mold for men or fallen. The level of variety and complexity in these 12 factions will largely be based on how much time is spent developing each one and I believe (don’t quote me) that Brad said the military for faction X is largely under the control of the player and uniqueness would be totally dependant on the person playing and designing units while the Spell books for each faction is where Stardock plans to have the greatest amount of diversity and variety between the 12 factions.

 

As for your second concern the mere fact that Stardock is shooting for a hybrid RPG, Strategy/ RTS makes me think customizing your Channeler with unique attributes, skills, and abilities is implicitly stated. I mean when you talk about RPGs the player can typically do three things gain levels, complete quests, and choose types of augmentations be they adding points to stats or whatever.  

 

Your last concern is rather hard to address since we still don’t know exactly how the magic system in Elemental is going to work but I do believe players will be able to make their own spells so you can assume one of two realities playing out. A like the military spell book depth and variety is dependant on the player or B there are numerous spells already created that players can alter to be more in line with a particular idea they have for a spell. Till more info is given on the magic system in elemental we all will have to take a wait and see approach to this concern of yours but I would also point out with a game suffix like war of magic I would except the spell books to be very deep and well thought out. 

 

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March 28, 2009 6:53:53 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

While waiting for some hard facts revealed (in the beta or earlier) I couldn't agree more with the post.

The thing which is most difficult to understand is the limitation to only humans and Fallen in a Fantasy game. Weird choice in itself, but even weirder considering that Stardock has put a lot of emphasis on the "Spore-like" option of Elemental that should make it possible to create a ny number of worlds . But  if such variety and flexibility is to be a basis of the game, then why not  include at least about five different playable and official races from the beginning!? The modding will never be the same - take a look at GalCiv 2 and the modding is very nice but can't be compared with the races in the game, especially since the official races are really shared by all.

Now I know a lot of people will always speak up for what they believe is the most "realistic" (ie in effect non-fantasy) approach to a game, but personally I play fantasy in order to indulge not only in men and Fallen (BTW also men as far as I understand...) but also lizardmen, angel-descendants, elves, rakshasas, lycantropes or whatever nice races the creative Stardock team could come up with. Release your imagination and give us some real fantasy please - I already know the Historical empire building by heart since many years and don't need one with some magic added in as special effects. Hope the fantasy fans won't be disappointed with this game called "Elemental - War of Magic".

 

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March 28, 2009 8:01:51 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I agree with the lack of different races. I dont understand how you can have a game with dragons and magic but not have elves, faeries, orcs, dwarves, lizardmen etc. It's my only complaint thus  far. But not a game breaker for me...I'm sure everything will be modded in later on or come out in an expansion!  

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March 29, 2009 12:06:29 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

This is solveable by mods or expansions, if there will be a need.

I'm not worried too much.

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March 29, 2009 12:42:35 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Darkodinplus,


W[quote who="Darkodinplus" reply="1" id="2117198"]

...Stardock is shooting for a hybrid RPG, Strategy/ RTS... 

They're shooting to add RTS to it? That's the first I've heard of that. Instant no-sale if so. Take look at any software store and you probably see 20-30 RTS games on the shelf and maybe 1 TBS and that's only if Civ 4 is in stock...

Stardock has a great record and I'll see what comes with high hopes. RTS would completely kill it though.

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March 29, 2009 1:14:41 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Elves, dwarves and orcs as know them in the fantasy genre...to be honest, they've only been in active use since, well, Tolkien. The Arthurian legends are probably  some of the oldest sreries of fantasy... naturally nonhuman races weren't invited.

And then Warhammer and Dungeons & Dragons got into the mix and completly apted up the variety and importance of different races.

Don't get me wrong, I would love to see many different races with their own personalities and history. But I can also see a problem. If Stardock adds dwarves then they have to add elves (at least three different aspects of the fair folk). If the they include the orcs then they have to add goblins into the mix.  Reason being simple, people would whine and moan and say how "non-fantasy" the game is without a particular race. So instead of openning that can of worms Stardock has made a good choice that there will only be two official races (well one if you consider the Fallen are still technically human) and giving us the players the tools to make what race we want.

Want to create your typical high elf? go right ahead. Want to make elves oriented around a particular culture like, say, African or East Asian? Who'll stop ya? Maybe you want to create you own race that you build from the ground up and give personality. I for one would have fun making my own race.

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March 29, 2009 2:25:31 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

 

Quoting ckessel,

They're shooting to add RTS to it? That's the first I've heard of that. Instant no-sale if so. Take look at any software store and you probably see 20-30 RTS games on the shelf and maybe 1 TBS and that's only if Civ 4 is in stock...

Stardock has a great record and I'll see what comes with high hopes. RTS would completely kill it though.

 

Quoting Frogboy,

The idea is that you zoom in to a given battle and you see all your units there. From there, you can set the speed you want the action to take place (from “turns” to real time). 

 

I assume you realize I’m talking about the tactical battles when it comes to the hybrid RTS portion of the game. I personally love a good RTS and would be very happy with some core RTS elements in Elemental. I believe the RPG elements come from quests and channeler development, strategy elements come from both nation management and battles, and RTS elements I would assume would be totally or almost totally confined to the tactical battle area of Elemental. Now exactly how real-time Brad’s aforementioned “real-time” is going to be remains to be seen but I’m hoping more rather than less. I would like to see Stardock create a dedicated RTS game in the future (not counting Demigod since GPG is the developer) but that most definitely won’t be Elemental.  

 

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March 29, 2009 2:52:09 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

One of my biggest worries is that the combat will be overly strategic. The combat in Galciv 2 could be described as entirely strategic. You basically send your fleets against another fleet, hear some dice rolling in the background and then get told what happened the next day. The combat in Sins is a bit more tactical but everything happens at such a slow pace that "twitch" controls are not needed.

For the combat in elemental, I don't mind having to throw dice by hand. I just want the feedback to be a bit more than simple numbers.

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March 29, 2009 3:34:02 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Until the beta comes out, all we can do is conjecture.  Even so, that can be fun in itself.  So, I'll just give my trusty magic 8-ball a spin here and throw my best guesses into the fray:

Although the OP made several points, it seems to me that his key concern is about variety.  Variety of races, variety of spells and variety of special abilities.

One of GalCiv2's strengths was the differentiation between the races (whether you played as them or against them): There are individual tech trees (which may map to spells), AI playstyles (agressive, diplomatic, etc.) and super-abilities (which may become MoM-eque abilities like alchemy, etc.) for each race.  This isn't going to be a GalCiv2 clone of course but the point is that history tells us they are a company that values differentiation and variety.

My hunch is that the lack of different *races* will actually l lead to greater variety of *gameplay* as it allows for custom unit design.  As the early unit designer showed, you can mix and match armor and weapons.  The mechanics for this mean that they need consistent base model to parent the items to and work out the physics - in this case a biped/human.  Making many different base models multiplies the work significantly.  Also, working out the combinations of dynamic animation blending for melee combat when you have many different model types/sizes interacting gives me a headache.  Still, my point is that while units are all essentially human (and therefore as you noted not as different *looking*) they have the opportunity to *play* very differently as they should be highly customizable.  If I had to make a trade off between different prefab units or have custom unit design - I'd go for the custom design myself.

Also, it seems that adding different unit types (and once again I'm just pulling these theories out of my ass) is something that is perfect for an expansion once the base engine is designed.  Then they can devote the time required to that sort of content.  Perhaps they'll make the biped model (and armor) scaleable allowing other humaniods like elves/dwarves/orcs/etc.  Maybe quadrapeds/mounts will get some loving in another add-on.  Emphasis should be on engine design & flexibility first.  It will just make the possibility of adding additional content later that much easier.

Anyway, I understand your concerns (the Total War comparisons worry me too but I'll save that for another post).  The high hopes we all have for this game is a lot of pressure for the team.  You can't please everybody all the time and in fact trying to do so can often be much worse than sticking to your vision and seeing your design decisions through to the end.  Their wonderful beta program and customer communication policies give me faith that they are particularly attentive to our concerns.  So, it's good we voice them.  If our opinions are heard (regardless of the final outcome), what more can we ask for?

Cheers, -J.

 

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March 29, 2009 8:36:19 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I think my strongest concern when it comes to botching the "One more turn"-syndrome is too many sliders. I used to love it. Or rather, the idea of it.

It's just that when you're giving too much control, where everything has a real effect, there's an optimal style of play. You can choose not to touch slider X, and leave slider Y up to the AI - but then you know that every single turn, you're not playing your best. I just can't do that. Which means that I, as an alcoholic, just keeps on going even if I know it's hurting my game experience. I keep messing with every single slider every single turn. I check-and-re-check everything.

I really, really liked GalCiv2, but it had too much of that. Too much meaningful information, too much to keep track of, too much to double-check and too much have-to-touch-at-least-this-slider-once-a-turn. It had too much much. I get a lot more of the "just a few more turns" in Civ4/FfH2 than I get from GalCiv2, which is annoying the hell out of me since GalCiv2 has some extremely fine points.

I do hope that they continously take steps back, look at the whole picture and go "Do we need this? Does it really contribute something, or does it just add another layer of boggle-this-shit-down?" instead of "Hey, dudes, what if we can change the clothes of the peasants and give it a farmer bonus? If you give your farmers red clothes, they breed faster and if you give them brown, they fight other peasants for money."

I like strategical depth, but I do hate cavernous labyrinths.

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March 29, 2009 8:46:51 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I don't think Elemental in it's default version could possibly have the amount of different stuff that Master of Magic did, because it is a multiplayer game and so will need to be reasonably balanced. Master of Magic had a number of game-breaking strategies, and that was ok because it was a single-player game. They just threw the kitchen sink into the game. By contrast, everything that Stardock puts in will need careful testing and balancing because they are essentially making the canonical version of the game: the one most likely to be the definitive multiplayer experience.

Now the good news: there will be mods to cater for your tastes. Moreover, if the game is successful, I would expect future expansions to expand the content significantly. Consider Twilight of the Arnor compared to base Galciv 2.

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March 29, 2009 11:44:40 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Darkodinplus,
 

Frogboy

The idea is that you zoom in to a given battle and you see all your units there. From there, you can set the speed you want the action to take place (from “turns” to real time). 

I personally love a good RTS and would be very happy with some core RTS elements in Elemental.
 

Nice that you love RTS. There's freaking hundreds of RTS games and hybrids out there. RTS lovers have a gazillion choices. No need to go and ruin a turn based game with yet another RTS hybrid. And pausing an RTS periodically is nothing like turn based play. Most every RTS (single player anyway) has pause.

I bought Sins and I can appreciate what it does. I played about 5 games and set it aside though because I simply I hate RTS. I hate my ships using their powers in stupid ways. I hate having 2 battles going on at the same time and I either pause constantly or let one of them mostly control themselves. I despise everything about the way RTS makes reflexes and time a game "resource".

Hearing Elemental will have some sort of real time combat is just downright depressing. There's so little out there for TBS gamers and the idea of losing yet another promising game to the influence of RTS is horrible news.

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March 29, 2009 12:25:40 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting ckessel,
Nice that you love RTS. There's freaking hundreds of RTS games and hybrids out there. RTS lovers have a gazillion choices. No need to go and ruin a turn based game with yet another RTS hybrid. And pausing an RTS periodically is nothing like turn based play. Most every RTS (single player anyway) has pause.

[...]

Hearing Elemental will have some sort of real time combat is just downright depressing. There's so little out there for TBS gamers and the idea of losing yet another promising game to the influence of RTS is horrible news.
Word.

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March 29, 2009 12:34:34 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

personally, I've felt your concern as well.   But then I decided I'll wait until its release.   I have a lot of faith in Stardock at this point, and it may not be MoM.     But if the beta hits, and it isn't the above things, it will be your job (and everybody else) to provide feedback.

As pointed out, 12 factions is plenty.  So provided they 'feel' different, they really don't need to be different races per say.   I think that one should be the the least of our concerns.

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March 29, 2009 12:39:30 PM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

But then I decided I'll wait until its release. I have a lot of faith in Stardock at this point, and it may not be MoM. But if the beta hits, and it isn't the above things, it will be your job (and everybody else) to provide feedback.
Exactly my thoughts.  Long, community, betas makes SD games more then they might otherwise have been.

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March 29, 2009 12:46:24 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Yeah, I wouldn't worry too much about Elemental...with over 6 months of Beta-testing and player feedback, I have no doubt the final package will be up to par 

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March 29, 2009 12:55:00 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I’m an action oriented gamer so I enjoy having some level of stress or pressure present in games I play. I don’t have a huge problem with TBS games but I do hate the pauses they break the flow of the game for me. As for fighting multiple battles on multiple fronts I love that kind of tense do or die action in a strategy war game but I do vaguely recall a feeling of dislike when I was a kid playing RTS and getting attacked from multiple fronts. I’m use to it now and adjust my strategy as necessary during the course of the game. All that being said it sounds like Elemental’s tactical combat will have real-time combat for people like me and some semi time independent system for people like you.

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March 29, 2009 12:58:08 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I had a swell time right after I bought GalCiv1, but the game wore out for me pretty quickly because you could only play as Terrans. I was really excited to learn that GC2 would include multiple playable civs, but the implementation in the base game was a bit disappointing on account of being little more than variations in ability modifiers and different object libraries for ship designs. Then we got Super Abilities in the first expansion, and by then the steady AI tweaking had begun to make different civs act noticably different.

When TA added the civ-unique tech trees, it was as if a game I'd really liked put out a full rev for the price of an expansion. But, more importantly to me, it showed that Stardock are serious about buit-in variety for player experiences. I was also a bit taken aback to learn that the built-in civs will all be humans of one sort or another, but that doesn't sweat me nearly as much as wondering where in the game a Neutral aligment might fit. If it is always and everywhere just Good vs. Evil, that will seem like a needless limitation to me--it would leave no room for something like a faction of Ent-followers, for example. But mostly, I'm with landi in trying to reserve judgment until we have a few releases of the beta.

On the RTS front, I've said before and not yet been persuaded that I'm wrong: a pause button is no substitute for a true turn-based engagement that you could ignore at will and find exactly as you'd left it hours or days later.

On the multiplayer front, I'm just hoping that the original buzz about the heart of the game being the singleplayer experience is still true. I'm ready to try some multiplayer stuff, but replayability for me will almost certainly come down to points like the ones Denryu raises in the OP. Oversimplifying channeler setup, the magic system, pretty much anything in the name of multiplayer 'balance' could seriously disappoint.

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March 29, 2009 1:18:15 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting BoogieBac,
Yeah, I wouldn't worry too much about Elemental...with over 6 months of Beta-testing and player feedback, I have no doubt the final package will be up to par 

See, and here comes BoogieBac to show that they do look at the forums, they do care, and reitterate my point.

More and More developers are trying to get the fan communities involved in guiding the development process.  But Stardock actually is the one that makes me feel like we matter.  I wish there were more big AAA developers like Stardock.  * is punched by a disembodied fist screaming "If your not indie F**K YOU!" *

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March 29, 2009 4:09:25 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

You can have a good fantasy setting without the Tolkien races.   The MUD I play on at work to pass the time (Avendar) has an excellent setting, and no real traditional fantasy creatures.


MUDs aren't for everyone, and it's a good low-bandwidth time waster, which is why I play it (and GC2 sometimes) at work.

 

 

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March 29, 2009 4:59:24 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Elemental is a turn-based game. Not an RTS.  Even the tactical battles are turn-based, they're just continuous turns (ala The Corporate Machine).

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March 29, 2009 5:01:25 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

BTW, one thing to remember: It's not playing orcs or high elves that made MoM have each game feel different. It is that players had massive amounts of choices from.

An Orc and an elf and a dwarf are nothing more than a faction with different presets at the programmatic level.

The only reason we don't have 30 different "races" is because of the lore we want to work from.

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March 29, 2009 5:11:37 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Speaking of MoM the race you pick at the start didn't really affect the endgame because you could capture other cities and produce units from other races. There were a handful of things that picking races would affect but they were invisible and most players didn't even know they existed. For example the amount of unrest in conquered cities was measured against your original race. Everyone gets along with halflings but dark elves are hated by everyone. Klackons in particular are almost impossible to use because of unrest issues unless you start with them.

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March 29, 2009 6:38:45 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Frogboy,
Elemental is a turn-based game. Not an RTS.  Even the tactical battles are turn-based, they're just continuous turns (ala The Corporate Machine).

Thanks for the clarification. I haven't played The Corporate Machine, so I'm not sure what continuous turn based means. Sort of like the continuous mode in Baldur's Gate 2 where it actually did normal D&D rounds didn't stop between rounds? (well, you could set it to auto-stop between rounds, which is how I played).

 

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March 29, 2009 9:00:05 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Frogboy,
Elemental is a turn-based game. Not an RTS.  Even the tactical battles are turn-based, they're just continuous turns (ala The Corporate Machine).

I just downloaded the political machine and played a few games is that exactly how the tactical combat is going to work in Elemental? It seemed very slow to me, I had hoped for an option for something a bit more dynamic and fast paced.  

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