Elemental: July FAQ

By on July 23, 2009 8:53:43 PM from JoeUser Forums JoeUser Forums

Frogboy

Join Date 03/2001
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July is almost over and that means it’s time for another FAQ answer list!

Q: What are channelers and how do they work?

A: Channelers are beings who can harness the magic locked inside the elemental shards that are scattered across the world. When your faction (or an ally) controls a shard, you gain access from its type of mana (which is either earth, air, fire, or water magic). Channelers also generate on their own either life magic or death magic depending on the path they’ve chosen.

The maximum amount of mana a channeler can accumulate is based on their essence. At the beginning of the game, a channeler currently starts out with 20 essence points by default (though this number will change during the beta and will depend on how you construct your faction).  When channelers gain levels, their essence increases.

However, channelers can also (and as a practical matter must also) imbue things with their essence.  For instance, at the start of the game, your channeler will have to imbue the land with life (or death) magic in order to allow you to build a city on it. That means taking away some of your essence. Once essence is used, it’s gone forever so it should be used sparingly. 

Over time, the life force (or death force) that a channeler initially imbued in the land will naturally spread so each founded town won’t usually require the sacrifice of essence to create. However, if the player wants to quickly spam out a bunch of cities (which is a typical strategy in 4X games) it will come at a very high cost.

Channelers can also imbue their minions with some of their essence to make them far more powerful.

To learn more on this concept, see the Wikipedia entry of Morgoth.

Q:How is good and evil handled?

A: Rather than using the terms good and evil we have elected to go with factions that either align themselves with life magic or death  magic.  The Empires make use of death magic and the Kingdoms make use of light magic.

Q: Tactical battles, are they real-time?

A: They make use of continuous turns. This makes the battles play out much like a real time strategy game but without feeling a rush. The Corporate Machine was one of the early games to make use of continuous turns.  Some have said that Sins of a Solar Empire plays like a continuous turn game.

The idea is that winning tactical battles has nothing to do with speed or reflexes but strictly strategy and tactics. Players can control the rate in which time units pass, pause while giving commands, etc.

Q: How advanced is the mundane technology tree?

A: Players always stay within a medieval setting. There will be no space dragons or something.   What we see instead is the continual refinement of existing technologies. Weapons get better and better. Farms become more and more productive.  We are currently not intending for a tech tree to have any practical end though beta testers will have the final word.

Q: Is there going to be a lore book?

A: There will be announcements on this in the next couple months.

Q: Will there be priests?

A:  We do not include pre-built units.  What players choose to call their units is up to them. However, a channeler can choose to imbue a unit with essence that makes him or her able to cast spells.  However, players won’t simply be building armies of priests and clerics.  Those who cast spells are rare and special and lethal.

Q: Will there be summoned units?

A: A magical caster can summon elementals and other beings of magic.

Q: Is there a distinction between the sovereign and a channeler?

A: Yes. The sovereign is a channeler and can imbue units with the power to channel magic who in turn can pass on their essence to others.

Example:

The sovereign starts out with say 20 essence points. Each time he levels up, he gets 5 more essence points.

The channeler might choose to imbue a hero with 5 essence points to make him into a channeler. Now, that hero goes up N essence points per level too and could in turn imbue other units with essence points.

Similarly, since Elemental takes place on a fantasy world, a party of adventurers may have in their ranks a “wizard” or a “cleric”.  These channelers might choose to join your group and thus not have to sacrifice any essence to make them into channelers.

Q: How powerful can individual units get?

A: They can become astonishingly powerful.  Ever see the beginning of Lord of the Rings where Sauron is whacking elves left and right? Sauron was only a Maia.  Not well known but in Middle Earth, there were elves and man so powerful that they could take on Sauron in single combat.

Q: How does modding work in Elemental? How can I make my own creatures?

A: In most game projects, art assets are checked in through source control (CVS, PerForce, SVN, etc.).  In Elemental, we are moving our artists to checking in those assets as if they were modders using the built in UI.

We will have two types of assets in Elemental: Canon and non-canon.  Canon assets are ones we created. Non-canon ones are ones that players have created. Players will be able to pick and choose what assets they want in their games.

We won’t be putting elves into Elemental for instance. No unicorns. No fairies. No gnomes. No orcs. But if someone else wants to use Maya or 3D Studio and export it into the format we’re using (we’re using a standard 3D model format, forgot which one) you can put it into the game and then share it, within the game, for others to use.

Q: How was the economy settled?

A: We have taken the path of keeping it as simple and open as possible and leave it to the beta testers to play through.  One of the things we realized is that when discussing it online, people fixate only on the economy and thus tended to want to have it extremely sophisticated. But when playing the actual game, they might discover it’s better to have it simple.

That said, the key to winning (militarily anyway) will be controlling resources. Having an iron mine is good. Controlling 4 is much better, however.  How much you produce is dependent on how many resources you control.

Q: How will dungeons work?

A: We are still playing around with dungeons.  Realistically, we’ll probably keep them simple and then do an expansion pack later on that will make them what Scott (project lead) wants them to be (where players can literally explore a dungeon). 

Q: Will there be mega events?

A: Optionally. We are planning on vastly more types of events, quests, etc. than we’ve ever done before.  For example, on your 20th game you might come across a great tower that you can’t answer. The tower’s magical door sends you on a quest to get the key. Once you have the key, you can enter the tower which provides you with some strategic advantage.

image

Unlike in GalCiv where we had to hard code special events, Elemental has an entire class dedicated to it so that we can add as many of these events as we want.

Q: Will there be mounts?

A: Yes. Researching Animal husbandry will take you to various types of animals you can ride from horses to wargs to bears. Researching those types of animal husbandries will then cause herds of that animal to appear on the map. If players control that resource (building a stable or what have you on that tile) their kingdom then has access to it.

When players design units, they can then “equip” their unit with a horse or what have you.  However, like any other resource, the length of time to build that unit will depend on how many of those resources you have. 

Q: Where does the game stand now?

A: It’s still pretty rough.  Right now we’re putting in the technology tree but there’s a lot of usability issues, cosmetic issues, etc. It’s definitely an alpha.

image

There’s a lot of really basic cosmetic stuff that we need to resolve before a public alpha. I know it’s silly but it does matter (it is a video game). 

Magic spells aren’t in the current build nor are tactical battles (they won’t go in until Fall anyway).  The AI is still being API’d up for Python 3. Map generation still needs work.

But given how much time we have left and how much time we lost due to Demigod I’d say things are going well. Progress is swift.  I’ll be a lot happier once the beta is out (PAX).

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July 23, 2009 9:05:45 PM from Demigod Forums Demigod Forums

Thanks FB for showimg me a preview of my gaming version of Home Town Buffet  I'm a bit worried about the "Continuous Turns"; I won't mind them too much, but I have a couple friends that live & die to play turn based games/combat.  I think they may be put off by the CT part of the game, since they totally love the TB combat in Age of Wonders, all the Homms; Civ4, ect.  But all the rest sounds so great, I can't wait.

And a question I KNOW one of my gaming friends will ask: Dragons? Dragon mounts?

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July 23, 2009 9:09:27 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Nice Frogboy saves the day yet again.

 

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July 23, 2009 9:12:07 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Nice post. Lots of good info.

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July 23, 2009 9:16:12 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

OOOOOOhhhhhhhh!!!!!!! So many tidbits:

The maximum amount of mana a channeler can accumulate is based on their essence. At the beginning of the game, a channeler currently starts out with 20 essence points by default (though this number will change during the beta and will depend on how you construct your faction). When channelers gain levels, their essence increases.

However, channelers can also (and as a practical matter must also) imbue things with their essence. For instance, at the start of the game, your channeler will have to imbue the land with life (or death) magic in order to allow you to build a city on it. That means taking away some of your essence. Once essence is used, it’s gone forever so it should be used sparingly.

This saddens me. I was really hoping for there to be some sort of limited recovery system. Please tell me that level reqs will be linearly arrainged, as opposed to exponentially......

Q: Tactical battles, are they real-time?

A: They make use of continuous turns. This makes the battles play out much like a real time strategy game but without feeling a rush. The Corporate Machine was one of the early games to make use of continuous turns. Some have said that Sins of a Solar Empire plays like a continuous turn game.

The idea is that winning tactical battles has nothing to do with speed or reflexes but strictly strategy and tactics. Players can control the rate in which time units pass, pause while giving commands, etc.
Just as long as there is a useful pause, Froggy...... and just so it doesn't play like Sins.

A: Players always stay within a medieval setting. There will be no space dragons or something. What we see instead is the continual refinement of existing technologies. Weapons get better and better. Farms become more and more productive. We are currently not intending for a tech tree to have any practical end though beta testers will have the final word.
I'll have to see it. This could be very fun, or very unpleasant.

When your faction (or an ally) controls a shard, you gain access from its type of mana (which is either earth, air, fire, or water magic). Channelers also generate on their own either life magic or death magic depending on the path they’ve chosen.

IN YO' FACE, GW! I guess you've learned your lesson, now haven't you.....

Q: Will there be priests?

A: We do not include pre-built units. What players choose to call their units is up to them. However, a channeler can choose to imbue a unit with essence that makes him or her able to cast spells. However, players won’t simply be building armies of priests and clerics. Those who cast spells are rare and special and lethal.

Q: Will there be summoned units?

A: A magical caster can summon elementals and other beings of magic.

That will make a lot of the "old gaurd" happy, although I personally do not care either way.

Q: Will there be mega events?

A: Optionally. We are planning on vastly more types of events, quests, etc. than we’ve ever done before. For example, on your 20th game you might come across a great tower that you can’t answer. The tower’s magical door sends you on a quest to get the key. Once you have the key, you can enter the tower which provides you with some strategic advantage.
Unlike in GalCiv where we had to hard code special events, Elemental has an entire class dedicated to it so that we can add as many of these events as we want.

Good news for us non-coders, but not wholly unexpected.

Q: Will there be mounts?

A: Yes. Researching Animal husbandry will take you to various types of animals you can ride from horses to wargs to bears. Researching those types of animal husbandries will then cause herds of that animal to appear on the map. If players control that resource (building a stable or what have you on that tile) their kingdom then has access to it.

When players design units, they can then “equip” their unit with a horse or what have you. However, like any other resource, the length of time to build that unit will depend on how many of those resources you have.

Ugh..... bears..... well, at least we both get to gloat...... mark my words, the time will come......

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July 23, 2009 9:16:31 PM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

Aww... none of my incredibly complicated questions got answered

Thanks for this though, lots of good info!

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July 23, 2009 9:18:16 PM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

That's an awesome FAQ. Many interesting questions answered! Thanks much.

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July 23, 2009 9:32:29 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Yay! The real July FAQ! So is the aplha still on for August 6th?

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July 23, 2009 9:33:04 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

So there are six types of mana each relating to a specific type of magic. I would guess it is impossible for a life magic user to channel death magic during the course of a game.

 

I am wondering however in the answer to how powerful can individual units get are you including Channelers in that equation or are we talking about purely recruitable men that have had extraordinary amounts of training and equipped with legendary imbued items?

 

Finally it is nice to know we have different kinds of mounts (even bears) but can the Channeler himself have a mount? This data requires further analysis.

 

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July 23, 2009 9:37:39 PM from Demigod Forums Demigod Forums

Damn it, these posts are seriously making me question my stance of 'No Pre-Orders'!

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July 23, 2009 9:40:33 PM from Demigod Forums Demigod Forums

Tell you what Zeh, I'll let you pre-order it on my account, if that will help your conscience 

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July 23, 2009 9:50:41 PM from Demigod Forums Demigod Forums

Hahaha, I see no possible way that could go wrong for me...
..
wait ...

 

No, I don't pre-order games because too often does a game look amazing, sounds incredible and has all the halmarks of something I'd love. And then I get the game is released, and it's smashed by both critics and the public and when I eventually play it, it's horrible. SPORE, of course, being the single largest disappointment I've ever had in gaming.

It's just... Elemental sounds amazing and I really, really want to play it!

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July 23, 2009 9:50:33 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

On the subject of adding and removing techs from the queue, wouldn't it be fair to just right click to remove them?   Unless you plan to have the info card come from right click, but it seems more reasonable to assume that would occur if you just hold your mouse over the tech.

In many games (and software), left click ands, right click removes.  So I'd vote that to be fairly intuitive wait of managing it.

In terms of the highlights and tabs, I appriciate white text vs. black background because of the high contrast (and colorblind don't seem to have a problem with that) but I figure a texture of some sort would better it.  I'm not sure if that is what you mean, or if you're just looking for an alternative to orange.

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July 23, 2009 10:01:15 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Alot of good new info! Thanks Frogboy!

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July 23, 2009 10:03:47 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

YES! YES! YEEEEEEEEES!
*gasms*

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July 23, 2009 10:26:28 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

AWESOME FAQ!!!!

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July 23, 2009 11:06:51 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

This is an awesome FAQ! I'd say it's the best one yet, but that's probably because you answer mostly gameplay-related questions (which you usually seem to avoid - understandably).


A: Rather than using the terms good and evil we have elected to go with factions that either align themselves with life magic or death  magic.  The Empires make use of death magic and the Kingdoms make use of light magic.

I do like the departure of blatant good vs. evil, but I'm a bit skeptical that it'll be anything but a cosmetic difference... If life channelers (humans) end up with lush green lands, life-giving spells and death channelers (fallen) end up with barren lava wastelands and withering spells, then life/death just becomes good/evil.

Probably too late to make it into the game now, but I would love to see good/evil in addition to life/death. The type of land you get when you revive cataclysm-wracked lands could then either depend on only alignment, or there could be good/evil versions for life and death - or you could choose what kind of revived land you get independently from alignment or channeler type... I just know that if playing fallen means always having a lava wasteland, I will end up playing humans 95% of the time.

They make use of continuous turns. This makes the battles play out much like a real time strategy game but without feeling a rush. The Corporate Machine was one of the early games to make use of continuous turns.  Some have said that Sins of a Solar Empire plays like a continuous turn game.

The idea is that winning tactical battles has nothing to do with speed or reflexes but strictly strategy and tactics. Players can control the rate in which time units pass, pause while giving commands, etc.

This is what I've been waiting to hear! I think I'll love this kind of combat.

Players always stay within a medieval setting. There will be no space dragons or something.   What we see instead is the continual refinement of existing technologies. Weapons get better and better. Farms become more and more productive.  We are currently not intending for a tech tree to have any practical end though beta testers will have the final word.

This also sounds great to me, especially if there will be more complexity in the magic side of research. Having the mundane tech tree (and the magic tree, too) have no practical end I think would be great and would also go a long way towards making the game scale well with map size. Another thing I like is that I tend to turtle up until I pretty much research everything, and then go on a rampage. With no practical end I think I'll be more active earlier on, and I think I'd like that.

The sovereign starts out with say 20 essence points. Each time he levels up, he gets 5 more essence points.
The channeler might choose to imbue a hero with 5 essence points to make him into a channeler. Now, that hero goes up N essence points per level too and could in turn imbue other units with essence points.

Whoa. I definitely didn't see that coming! I love that... So by imbuing others with essence, they themselves can become channelers and gain their own essence... So you could end up with an insanely powerful non-sovereign channeler. I wonder if that means each magic-wielding person will share one big spell-book...

We have taken the path of keeping it as simple and open as possible and leave it to the beta testers to play through.  One of the things we realized is that when discussing it online, people fixate only on the economy and thus tended to want to have it extremely sophisticated. But when playing the actual game, they might discover it’s better to have it simple.
That said, the key to winning (militarily anyway) will be controlling resources. Having an iron mine is good. Controlling 4 is much better, however.  How much you produce is dependent on how many resources you control.

Aww . I hope that at least full-blown caravans make it into the game. I think the concept of having to physically transport goods on the map would be an amazing step up and open up sooo many options, features, risks and strategies. And I really hope that you don't go with global storage...

We are still playing around with dungeons.  Realistically, we’ll probably keep them simple and then do an expansion pack later on that will make them what Scott (project lead) wants them to be (where players can literally explore a dungeon). 

...

Optionally. We are planning on vastly more types of events, quests, etc. than we’ve ever done before.  For example, on your 20th game you might come across a great tower that you can’t answer. The tower’s magical door sends you on a quest to get the key. Once you have the key, you can enter the tower which provides you with some strategic advantage.

Sweet. A little sad that full-blown dungeons might not make it into release, but if there are plans to try to work them into an expansion then I'll survive The info about events is very heartening, though - I'm really excited for that.

Yes. Researching Animal husbandry will take you to various types of animals you can ride from horses to wargs to bears.

YAY!  

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July 23, 2009 11:17:35 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

They make use of continuous turns. This makes the battles play out much like a real time strategy game but without feeling a rush. The Corporate Machine was one of the early games to make use of continuous turns. Some have said that Sins of a Solar Empire plays like a continuous turn game.

The idea is that winning tactical battles has nothing to do with speed or reflexes but strictly strategy and tactics. Players can control the rate in which time units pass, pause while giving commands, etc.

This is what I've been waiting to hear! I think I'll love this kind of combat.

Agreed. It sounds awesome!

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July 23, 2009 11:23:23 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

congratulations to the bear cavalry crowd!

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July 24, 2009 12:46:29 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I like the direction that Elemental is heading in! Keep up the good work guys!

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July 24, 2009 1:22:51 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Well we have some questions answered... I feel bad that some people in the community asked questions which were previously answered and/or just plain stupid.   So let's review:


Q: What are channelers and how do they work?  

This was a good question and provided great insight into the channeller and the usage of essence.


Q:How is good and evil handled?

This was an okay question.


Q: Tactical battles, are they real-time?

This was a question which has been already answered by Stardock on the forums... it should have not been asked again.

Q: How advanced is the mundane technology tree?

Well we haven't received much information on the technology tree, so this was a good question.

Q: Is there going to be a lore book?


This was an okay question... not sure why Stardock would answer a question without saying anything other than wait 3 months.  Certainly several other questions were more worthy of being answered.


Q: Will there be priests?

This was actually a good question considering priests might have been non-existant the same as all fantasy races.


Q: Will there be summoned units?
 

This is probably one of the worst questions... it would have been like asking, "Will there be towns?" .  Also the question was previously answered.


Q: Is there a distinction between the sovereign and a channeler?

Probably one of the best questions and we received a great detailed response.


Q: How powerful can individual units get?

An interesting question, but the answer we were provided was already given on the forum.  We were only given a little extra history lesson on Tolkien history which many of us already know.



Q: How does modding work in Elemental? How can I make my own creatures?

One of the best questions and definitely something many are eagerly waiting to hear more details.


Q: How was the economy settled?

A good question... with a good answer.

Q: How will dungeons work?

A good question... hopefully the expansion will be more than just dungeon exploration.  That is unless Stardock is planning a more diversified selection of expansions available for purchase... where combination packages can be selected. 

Q: Will there be mega events?


While the question itself was weak... Frogboy did an excellent job in providing an example of "How will mega events work?"   Great answer.

Q: Will there be mounts?

Another weak question where Frogboy did an excellent job in providing details of "How will mountable units work?"  Great answer Frogboy!!


Q: Where does the game stand now?

A good general question.

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July 24, 2009 1:46:42 AM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

Great FAQ. This game keeps sounding better and better.

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July 24, 2009 2:08:43 AM from Demigod Forums Demigod Forums

Same here Zeh; Spore, second only to MOO3 in hype vs flushability.  And the Spore that was released was not even anything that was shown/hyped in the previews/demos (anyone see the Robin Williams promo?).

I think with SD & FB, the very worst that can happen if you pre-buy Elemental is that you'll only play it 6 months before you stop smiling. . . 

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July 24, 2009 2:18:04 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Thanks for the new info Frogboy... Can't wait to get my greedy hands on this game...

If life channelers (humans) end up with lush green lands, life-giving spells and death channelers (fallen) end up with barren lava wastelands and withering spells, then life/death just becomes good/evil.

Maybe I understood it wrong, but as I understand it, the Life / Death divide isn't the same as the Human / Fallen divide. In other words, I think (hope) it will be possible to have a human civilization using death magic and a fallen one using life magic.

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July 24, 2009 2:30:17 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting PurplePaladin,
Same here Zeh; Spore, second only to MOO3 in hype vs flushability.  And the Spore that was released was not even anything that was shown/hyped in the previews/demos (anyone see the Robin Williams promo?).

YESSSS. You have no idea how much I agree with that. MOO3 was absolutely unplayable...even if you cheated like a bi*ch it wasn't worth anthing because the game was so broken.

-and Don't get me started on Spore...That had the potential to be one of the best games ever made, and then EA got involved and muched up the whole thing..."Lets strip everthing so we can add it back in later as expansions"....I really hate those gready people.

--To get back on topic, I'm pretty interested to see how the reaserch works out. I really like the idea posted above. What will make it or break it I think though is how well the AI is able to focus on techs that are the most benificial to it's particular situation. IMO, I think this will add some customization to the game ---Do I want to have awesome weapons, a Robust Economy, or Efficient infostructure...or a balance!!! Though depending on how the unique tech trees are worked you may be "forced" onto a certain pach depending on the faction you play.

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July 24, 2009 4:21:59 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Q: What are channelers and how do they work?

A: Over time, the life force (or death force) that a channeler initially imbued in the land will naturally spread so each founded town won’t usually require the sacrifice of essence to create. However, if the player wants to quickly spam out a bunch of cities (which is a typical strategy in 4X games) it will come at a very high cost.

C: Love it.

Q: How advanced is the mundane technology tree?

A: Players always stay within a medieval setting. There will be no space dragons or something.

C: There go my hoplites. I'm going to spend as much time modding as playing (which isn't bad).

Q: Is there a distinction between the sovereign and a channeler?

A: Yes. The sovereign is a channeler and can imbue units with the power to channel magic who in turn can pass on their essence to others.

Example:

The sovereign starts out with say 20 essence points. Each time he levels up, he gets 5 more essence points.

The channeler might choose to imbue a hero with 5 essence points to make him into a channeler. Now, that hero goes up N essence points per level too and could in turn imbue other units with essence points.

C: A m a z i n g. Really nice.

Q: How does modding work in Elemental? How can I make my own creatures?

A: We will have two types of assets in Elemental: Canon and non-canon.  Canon assets are ones we created. Non-canon ones are ones that players have created. Players will be able to pick and choose what assets they want in their games.

We won’t be putting elves into Elemental for instance. No unicorns. No fairies. No gnomes. No orcs. But if someone else wants to use Maya or 3D Studio and export it into the format we’re using (we’re using a standard 3D model format, forgot which one) you can put it into the game and then share it, within the game, for others to use.

C: Always talking with mods and expansion packS in mind, does that forbid canon elves/orcs/triceratops from being released at some point? Altough I respect the work of modders of any kind, I'm always biased toward canon content over non-canon one. And when I mention creatures I also mean art, props... Tematic expansion packs could be very nice.

Q: How was the economy settled?

A: We have taken the path of keeping it as simple and open as possible and leave it to the beta testers to play through.  One of the things we realized is that when discussing it online, people fixate only on the economy and thus tended to want to have it extremely sophisticated. But when playing the actual game, they might discover it’s better to have it simple.

C: Ripple Effect? Because I already fear the population as resource problem (if it really is).

Q: How will dungeons work?

A: We are still playing around with dungeons.  Realistically, we’ll probably keep them simple and then do an expansion pack later on that will make them what Scott (project lead) wants them to be (where players can literally explore a dungeon). 

C: That would/could mean extra planes... right?

Q: Will there be mounts?

A: Yes. Researching Animal husbandry will take you to various types of animals you can ride from horses to wargs to bears. Researching those types of animal husbandries will then cause herds of that animal to appear on the map. If players control that resource (building a stable or what have you on that tile) their kingdom then has access to it.

C: Does that confirm horse + warg + bear models in the game?

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