Welcome to agony: AKA a Stardock BETA!

By on August 14, 2009 7:04:13 PM from JoeUser Forums JoeUser Forums

Frogboy

Join Date 03/2001
+1477

image For those of you who have been in a Stardock BETA, none of what I mention is going to be a surprise. But for everyone else, stand back!

See the screenshot? If you’re in the Elemental BETA, you won’t see anything remotely resembling that for MONTHS.  That’s because BETA 1 of Elemental will exist only with the strategic map (aka the cloth map).  Imagine playing Galactic Civilizations or Supreme Commander or Sins of a Solar Empire purely from the zoomed out strategic map.

Why are we doing this? Because we’re evil? Well, that probably does contribute. But the main reason is because if the game is good, it should be fun to play even with the crappiest graphics.

So BETA 1 will be fun then right? NO. It’s going to be HORRIBLE actually. At least, for the first month and a half it’ll be represent such a dense level of crapitude that it actually has its own detectable level of gravity.

The alpha testers could attest to this right now except they’ve all lost consciousness (the smart ones anyway) due to passing out from it.

Originally, I had argued internally that BETA 1 would be only X’s and O’s played at CGA resolution with 4 colors but the team made the case that we’d end up having to throw out that code so we settled on the strategic map (cloth map) since at least, if we did that, a player could actually play the game on a netbook or some really ancient laptop in pure cloth map mode.

Why Stardock? Why are you so cruel? Is it because chicks wouldn’t go out with you in highschool?

Sure, that’s a contributing, even possibly a majority factor, but a big part of the reason we do it this way, and again, GalCiv and Sins players can attest, is that it allows players to have a lot more input into the game.

A Stardock BETA isn’t a typical beta. It’s really not a beta by typical industry terms. Rather, it’s more of a prototype. GalCiv players, not us, came up with starbases.  Hard to believe that isn’t it? But it’s true.  For BETA 1, we’re not really looking for “bug” reports. We want to hear people telling us what they’d like to see, how they’d like the game work.  And we’ll debate, discuss, argue, and have a lot of fun putting it all together over the next several months because, well, for us, the BETA process is a key part of the game’s (as opposed to the coding) evolution.

If we do things right, Elemental will be a game that will be evolving and improving and modded by players years from now.  Everything from its game mechanics to its flexible graphics engine is being designed so that a person will be able to fire up the game 10 years from now and it’ll still seem like a “modern” game that is fun to play and has continued to evolve.

Case study: Master of Magic

Imagine if Master of Magic had been developed as a 3D based game instead of sprite based. That means, no fixed screen resolution. Now, imagine if all the assets in the game were designed to be potentially replaced using very well known, open standards and that a lot of the game specific coding was available in Python?

The result would have been a game where the graphics and other visual “assets” could slowly be updated and replaced with ever higher polygon and higher texture versions. The AI and the game mechanics could slowly evolve over time as players came up with interesting ideas and they could pick  and choose which parts they wanted.

That’s one of our biggest goals with Elemental.  We want to make a game that will keep getting better over time.  So we have an engine with no practical limit on texture size or polygon limit. It can get both visually and programmatically better for years to come with our without our involvement.

But in the betas, well, they’re still going to be HOOOORRRIBLE!

Locked Post 87 Replies +1
Search this post
Subscription Options


Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
August 14, 2009 7:20:38 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

EF YA!

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
August 14, 2009 7:21:03 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

so are the dumb players still conscious, or did they let themselves overdose and are now dead?

 

no poly limit?   good idea, but dangerous words (is having nightmares of unreasonably high poly models that don't actually look very good.  All because they used the curve tool in maya.)

woah, I love those clouds.  is that fog of war?  or just natural ambiance?

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
August 14, 2009 7:24:20 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I don't care what you say, I am totally looking forward to the beta I am counting down the days to PAX...

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
August 14, 2009 7:26:12 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Will the beta allow us to view some of the used python scripting so we can start getting a feel for how it is implemented and evolves throughout the beta? If not, at what point would it become available?


Being able to look at and have time to digest it now could save us that learning time when there is actual modding to be done. Though it'd be even better if we could screw around with random python scripts during beta for when we lose all will to torture ourselves with whatever content is given.

On another note, if certain settings were moddable during beta it might give you some extra data.


Example: Someone thinks upkeep for something is too high so they tweak the amount or change the formula and are then able to report its effects in various situations.

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
August 14, 2009 7:27:40 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

You can't scare me, Brad! I jump at the chance to mess around with your game as opposed to bughunting!

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
August 14, 2009 7:27:50 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Imagine playing Galactic Civilizations or Supreme Commander or Sins of a Solar Empire purely from the zoomed out strategic map.

I do that by choice.

It’s going to be HORRIBLE actually. At least, for the first month and a half it’ll be represent such a dense level of crapitude that it actually has its own detectable level of gravity.

Liar. Sins beta 1 was fun. Sure it was endless cap spam with no discernable tactics but it was still fun.

But in the betas, well, they’re still going to be HOOOORRRIBLE!

LIAR!!!!!! HERETIC!!!! Just don't, say, make swords unavailable in beta 1 and it'll be plenty of fun anyway. I still have no idea how you can manage to convince yourself that the betas aren't fun. I think I'll need some examples of the hyperfun you seem to consider normal fun.

 

Anyway, other than that, what kind of streamlining will you be doing to the mechanics for beta 1? Will there be anything as drastic as the lack of combat frigates in sins beta 1?

 

Being able to look at and have time to digest it now could save us that learning time when there is actual modding to be done. Though it'd be even better if we could screw around with random python scripts during beta for when we lose all will to torture ourselves with whatever content is given.

I would presume so, modding was entirely feasible in sins betas 2-4, and I believe it was possible in beta 1 as well. Granted we had to puzzle out the file formats with custom tools for meshes, but the actual code stuff would be very hard to keep closed now and open on release. Just get an editor and play with what you want in the beta, it should work.

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
August 14, 2009 7:33:20 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Frogboy, even though you speak the truth about the Stardock betas - good lord, man, you're scaring the children! Won't somebody please think of the children?

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
August 14, 2009 7:33:27 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting ,

  Imagine playing Galactic Civilizations or Supreme Commander or Sins of a Solar Empire purely from the zoomed out strategic map.

I'm still trying to figure out how not to play Sins from the strategic map. Just can't seem to get into that game....

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
August 14, 2009 7:37:50 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Brad,

 

This post was so full of win that all I can do is stand here and stare in awe

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
August 14, 2009 7:38:27 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Frogboy, even though you speak the truth about the Stardock betas - good lord, man, you're scaring the children! Won't somebody please think of the children?

I remember something about there being man-nipples in this game?   Shame on you.   There can't be children around that sort of thing.  Its like an automatic M rating.  Why would you even think about them when making an M rated game?

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
August 14, 2009 7:43:08 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Hairy man-nipples, even!

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
August 14, 2009 7:43:14 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Ha! You won't scare us away so easily mister. Do your worst with the beta!

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
August 14, 2009 7:49:17 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

The game really should be at least somewhat fun in the beta I assume but I hope the current testers are up to the task.

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
August 14, 2009 7:51:12 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting ,


The alpha testers could attest to this right now except they’ve all lost consciousness (the smart ones anyway) due to passing out from it.

Only reason they can't? You mean you are freeing them of the NDA??

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
August 14, 2009 8:01:52 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Aside from how weird the hills look, that's a great screenshot. 

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
August 14, 2009 8:08:15 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

The important takeaway point from this: Stardock betas are not demos. They're actually betas. The game is nowhere near done, and your feedback can lead to real changes in where the game goes.

 

That said, looking forward to playing!

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
August 14, 2009 8:08:19 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

The alpha testers could attest to this right now except they’ve all lost consciousness (the smart ones anyway) due to passing out from it.

ROFL; I love it!

 

Now, give us a beta ETA... pretty please with sugar on top?! 

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
August 14, 2009 8:09:07 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Heh, they might be horrible but it will be worse for you tryig to fix the bugs and, especially, trying to implement some of the crazy (yet promising) ideas given here.

In any case, that screen looks a-w-e-s-o-m-e. If the power source of my comp hadn't died some hours ago, surely it would die now from the impact and beauty of it. Moar! Moar!

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
August 14, 2009 8:32:19 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Now, give us a beta ETA... pretty please with sugar on top?!

I thought they already did? Sometime during or very shortly after PAX '09, September 4-6

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
August 14, 2009 8:34:28 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

The tower in the background of that screenshot looks great. Is that Mordor?

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
August 14, 2009 8:46:00 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Tridus,
The important takeaway point from this: Stardock betas are not demos. They're actually betas. The game is nowhere near done, and your feedback can lead to real changes in where the game goes.

Wouldn't be the first time, for me. My very first beta test was for a fantasy RTS made by a bunch of well-knowns in the Starcraft community. My tricky early-game cheese tactics resulted in not one, but two important gameplay tweaks! Then there was the blinding-white main menu screen, the horrendous pathfinding, and the hour-plus session with one of the devs where we tried to figure out why my replay wasn't working properly. Turned out a fairy wandered outside the map boundary about five minutes into the game, causing one of the buildings to be built a few seconds late and throwing off the timing of everything that happened afterwards. Boy, did we feel stupid when we found that one!

So, yeah, I'm not scared of your warnings, Brad.

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
August 14, 2009 8:55:07 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Amazing! absolutely amazing... calling it now, this game's going down in history!

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
August 14, 2009 9:33:57 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I can't wait. this will rock solid!!!!

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
August 14, 2009 9:49:21 PM from Demigod Forums Demigod Forums

 Can't wait

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
August 14, 2009 9:55:57 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

The screenshot is actually pretty nice.

And ive done beta for paradox interactives Rome. That game has been out for months and it still is broken beyond comprehension... the Beta1 left me needing counseling . this sounds awesome though!

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
Stardock Forums v1.0.0.0    #108432  walnut2   Server Load Time: 00:00:00.0000641   Page Render Time: