Kotaku: Elemental sets up dynasties

By on August 25, 2009 12:26:14 PM from JoeUser Forums JoeUser Forums

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image Kotaku’s AJ Glasser got a first hand look at Stardock’s upcoming turn-based strategy game, Elemental.

Developer Stardock has mentioned many inspirations for the game from Tolkien to George R.R. Martin.

Amongst the major strategic elements to the upcoming PC-only game is the new diplomacy system in which the player, who exists in the game as the immortal sovereign of their kingdom, can have children who in turn can have children and so forth and can thus build diplomatic relations with other factions by arranged marriages. These marriages have off-spring who may (or may not) be friendly to different factions based on their family ties. These off-spring also exist in the world as playable characters setting the stage of players having to choose whether to place a particularly gifted family member into a battle even if it risks the ire of related factions.

The demo focused strongly on the new 3D engine that has been developed by Stardock over the past 3 years that makes extensive use of level of detail to ensure that the game can look beautiful even on relatively low end hardware thanks to the object-oriented scenery which can intelligently pick when to display “eye candy” based on the hardware.

As a result, a user can zoom in all the way down on an individual building on the map and see citizens living out their lives or zoom all the way out in which the world becomes a cloth map but still completely playable.  It’s “strategic zoom” taken to the next level.

Elemental is scheduled to go into public beta this Summer. But be warned, the betas are intentionally being crippled early on to only play on the cloth map so that the focus of the early betas will be on the game mechanics. Later betas will enable the stunning 3D engine that will be on display at PAX in 2 weeks.

Modding has been integrated deeply in the game with players literally able to create their own worlds and design their own units, buildings, all from an in-game interface that can then be shared with other players from within the game.

To learn more, visit www.elementalgame.com .

Screenshots:

Elemental_TileEditor_ZoomedHarbor Elemental_City_BuildMode Elemental_EarthShard_Grassland

View full preview: Kotaku Elemental preview.

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August 26, 2009 9:58:55 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Elemental will be realeased in the USA, so I suggest to implement the setting of the gender (who is the rightfull heir). Otherwise you may have problems with feminists.

Like it or not, traditionally it has been the eldest male.  Rarely if there are no male children the guuuurls can inherit... but whether they like it or not, history is what history has always been.  And girls are, in general, weaker than men with regards to combat.  THey don't have the upper body strength, even if they are 'stronger' than males in other areas.

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August 26, 2009 10:39:15 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Ron Lugge,

Like it or not, traditionally it has been the eldest male.  Rarely if there are no male children the guuuurls can inherit... but whether they like it or not, history is what history has always been.  And girls are, in general, weaker than men with regards to combat.  THey don't have the upper body strength, even if they are 'stronger' than males in other areas.

 

Since this game is based in fantasy genre I don't think the historical accuracy of male succession needs to be upheld. Was there actual magic in the middle ages? No.

Setting your preference for succession adds a nice bit of complexity to the dynasty aspect of the diplomatic system in EMoW. While kingdoms could have default settings, it would be nice to see the customization opened up to players. Even if this customization was limited to only include three choices such as: the first born son, the first born daughter, or the first born overall.

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August 26, 2009 10:41:43 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting mrakomo,
Elemental will be realeased in the USA, so I suggest to implement the setting of the gender (who is the rightfull heir). Otherwise you may have problems with feminists.  

 

Even if we ignore them, it is true, that some societies prefer men while the other women. E.g. the king of the Amazons is an unthinkable thing. Or the pope is never a woman. Well that case happened, but....

 

Face it; there are almost no examples at all of societies where women where prefered as heirs. That kind of political correct thinking will do nothing to improve the game. It's a fantasy game, but I want it bit realistic in political and economical terms. Warfare is also a strong argument for the male heirs of course.

The only reason women became queens was when it was the last oppurtunity to keep the bloodline in power.

Magic and fantasy creatures are something completely different of course......

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August 26, 2009 11:00:11 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I'd like to see some sort of favor system going on in the background. Kids will get favor with their parents sort of randomly (since we wouldn't see family spats going on) but you can influence it. If you marry off a kid to a family their parents don't like, their going to lose favor. So whenever both parents die, the one who was liked the most would take their place. Kids would also have favor with other kids. Then his/her siblings would get jealous because they weren't chosen, so they could either sit in quiet anger or start some sort of rebellion or secret plot. Just look at Hamlet, it's not always Kids vs Parents, it can be Kids vs Kids or Kid vs Other relative. Basically Family vs Family works

 

Maybe you could give some bonus favor by selecting your favorite (which may not make them next in line if they're really hated by the current leaders). After all, the parents would listen to the immortal being from whom one of them was born

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August 26, 2009 11:21:38 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Face it; there are almost no examples at all of societies where women where prefered as heirs. That kind of political correct thinking will do nothing to improve the game. It's a fantasy game, but I want it bit realistic in political and economical terms.

Its accurate according to 'fantasy' as a genre, as opposed to 'fantasy' as reality with the addition of magic. For example, both the authors cited as influences use prominent female heiresses.

Also, if you want to look at it from a 'realistic' perspective, I think you underestimate the influence that fantastic elements (eg. magic) would have on traditional political and economic structures.

 

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August 26, 2009 1:11:47 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I don't understand the heir argument - It has not even been outlined that anyone is even designated as your heir. I still hope that when your chenneler dies, you lose. If you are talking about being heirs within the families, such as being the leader of a town etc. I see no reason to enforce any gender rules, or even primogeniture for that matter. For the purposes of the game your descendants are, fundamentally, trading chips to curry favor with other factions thru intermarriage. As far as inheritance, it should be completely within the channeler's control, enforcing some kind of penis requirement for succession (or even favoring males) while some MAY want to play that way, there is zero reason to have that as some kind of default. This is coming from someone as anti-political correctness as you could want. Women as warriors gets a big thumbs down from me (but again if it is available in the game to satisfy feminists or those that just want to have an amazon army, no big deal to me), but women I believe can be very capable rulers/leaders in real life and certainly in fantasy realms.

To summarize - designating the heir should be the job of the channeler, period. And who they designate can be based on whatever criteria they chose.

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August 26, 2009 1:20:33 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Honestly, I cannot wait for this game. I was rather hoping I could be distracted with other games, but instead I find myself coming back here again and again.

It's nice to know about the dynasties. That adds a depth to diplomacy I hadn't even hoped for. If we can set our own rules of succession, that would be awesome.

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August 26, 2009 1:37:19 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I don't understand the heir argument - It has not even been outlined that anyone is even designated as your heir. I still hope that when your chenneler dies, you lose.

I completely agree, and at no point was I refering to you dying and having your "heir" take over. You are immortal. If you die you lose. Though I am still wondering if imbueing your essence will make "heroes" live longer.

 

To summarize - designating the heir should be the job of the channeler, period. And who they designate can be based on whatever criteria they chose.

I am just wondering if this "rule" would be set up pre game. That way if you like male heirs and your ally likes female heirs you might loose favor with them if you choose male and favor with your own people if you chooose female. ....My original premise for this was based off the comment in the review:

by Kotaku,
he [Brad] wasn't quite sure yet how the succession of children from a vassal marriage would work. Like, if both parents die, does the oldest child automatically become head of the house, or will it pass to the firstborn son? These are questions that probably only interest me, Wardell and any Song of Ice and Fire fan who thinks Myrcella should get the Iron Throne instead of Tommen (incest notwithstanding).

 

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August 27, 2009 10:11:35 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

-Female rulers are just as viable. Sure, they may not have the physical strength of their male counterparts, but physical strength is nothing compared to a chaneller's magic, and who's to say they're any worse at that? Also, while fantasy humans are roughly the same as real-world humans, the Fallen are unknown.

-I'm wondering how much the family system will resemble the one found in Rome: Total War. In that game, Family members inherited traits from their parents, and also gained traits from their actions and situations (If you order your general to exterminate multiple towns, he may become "bloodthirsty" or if you made him the governor of some backwater town for a long time, he may become "disgruntled". These traits, in turn, had a chance of being passed on to the children)

-That building screenshot looks an awful lot like the Ship editor from GalCiv2. Does this mean we can design our own buildings in-game?

 

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August 27, 2009 11:23:52 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

They haven't came out and said if you can utilize the editors "in game." The only thing that has been confirmed is that you will be able use the editor tools from the main menu...spells, items, maps etc.

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August 27, 2009 12:55:21 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

On the inheritance question, I'd prefer to see the default mechanics map to the back story and I'd hope that the back story has enough variety among the canon factions to suit the tastes of both 'traditional patriarchal' types and folks who expect different gender ideas in a world where magic is more important than upper body strength.

But mainly, I'm really hoping that the lineage stuff will be in the first beta because I'm dying to see what that means for the timeframe of the game (how long is a turn, etc.). Maybe we really will be able to have the game calendar cover centuries for long games on large maps, and if not, I'd like to get my mild disappointment out of the way early. I'm pretty sure that the fun associated with dynastic politics will be a sufficient distraction from anything odd like having a child born 4 'days' after a wedding and whatnot.

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August 27, 2009 6:18:13 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

On the inheritance question, I'd prefer to see the default mechanics map to the back story and I'd hope that the back story has enough variety among the canon factions to suit the tastes of both 'traditional patriarchal' types and folks who expect different gender ideas in a world where magic is more important than upper body strength.
Good stuff, but you should of course be able to change your faction's heredity system to better fit your playstyle. Or at least have a custom faction you can use that can use lore from other factions (not like the GC2 custom race which remained "generic" unless you specifically modded it).

I'm pretty sure that the fun associated with dynastic politics will be a sufficient distraction from anything odd like having a child born 4 'days' after a wedding and whatnot.
Who says that's odd? Happens all the time up here in Ohio.

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August 27, 2009 6:43:58 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

More likely each turn will represent one year of game time. At the very least a month, but who wants to wait 200 turns before their heir becomes a usable entity?

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August 27, 2009 11:21:06 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I think it would be best if you could name your successor regardless of succession. If you pass over a first born then they should probably get angry.

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August 28, 2009 3:18:09 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

While I still hold true to the maxim that gameplay trumps graphics, I have to admit I was one of those who was less than impressed by some of the earlier screenshots.  However, that is no longer the case, I'm happy to say; those new screenies look frickin' cool.   

 

Even more interesting to me is the diplomacy system and how royal families and dynastic marriages will come into play.  This could add a whole new element (no pun intended); I can't wait to see how it works out! 

 

 

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August 28, 2009 5:44:50 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Same here, the game is on the right path for me graphics wise. But why does HDR/bloom have to make everything so blurry?
I'm curious to see the dynasty system in action. I only hope it wrong bring too much micromanagement to the game (ie managing family members retinues in RTW/MTW).

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August 28, 2009 9:11:13 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Scoutdog,
... you should of course be able to change your faction's heredity system to better fit your playstyle. Or at least have a custom faction you can use that can use lore from other factions (not like the GC2 custom race which remained "generic" unless you specifically modded it). ...

I'm all for choosing a lineage model as part of designing a custom faction, but I'm more interested in seeing the canon factions present a decent variety of models as their unalterable defaults.

I believe (hope?) that would be better in terms of keeping the AI development properly 'aware and agile,' at least as regards the dynastic aspects of the game. By RTM, I'd hope that the AIs able to deal with the idea that some factions favor eldest daughters, while others favor eldest sons, eldest children regardless of gender, or only formally-named heirs.

Quoting WIllythemailboy,
More likely each turn will represent one year of game time. At the very least a month, but who wants to wait 200 turns before their heir becomes a usable entity?

I'm not at all asking for anything like 200 turns to produce a "usable entity" by way of dynastic breeding. But the general topic definitely reminds me of just how grateful I was to see GC2 gain the option to show a turn counter instead of the game 'calendar.' GC2 population growth has never made sense to me in terms of its game calendar, with the possible exception of Terra itself, and I've never liked playing as Terrans.

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August 29, 2009 6:17:16 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Succesion should give conflict! If the siblings aren't friendly with each other!

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August 30, 2009 4:59:18 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

The heritage system could be interesting, although having it as an isolated "great thing" could easily lead to an overemphasis on it. I'm not saying it's not great, just that I hope that things surrounding it is equally innovative and engrossing.

That said, it opens up the issues of what I'm going to do with my God-Childs. This doesn't lend itself well to my idea of the Theocratic Magocracy at all. How will I claim godhood with children running all willy-nilly over the land?

Anyway, I'd like to shine some spotlight on another thing in the interview. It's been touched upon before, but now the system seems firmly in place with a solid idea of how it's going to work, instead of "we're thinking about doing this" or "that's a good idea".

In the long term, Wardell looks to the modding community to make Elemental a robust world of fantasy and strategy. He said Stardock learned from Sins of a Solar Empire that sometimes modders have a much better idea for how something should look, or are able to craft an item that changes the dynamics of a conflict in awesome ways. To encourage this kind of creativity, Elemental provides modding tool with the game and an upload system similar to Spore's Sporepedia creature library. Users can upload their player-made tuff as "non-canon" items for other users to download for their own games – and if the developer likes the item enough and it doesn't totally unbalance gameplay, they can promote the items to "canon."
What I'm reading here is "Do something good enough that fits into the world and you'll be a part of Elemental history". I think this is the perfect way to handle it and hope that it's not just down to some voting mechanism where the most popular mod becomes canon.

As a man who is picky about his mods into the fanatical extremes, I must say that I'm positively thrilled. For me to use a mod, it has to fit into the universe from top to bottom. I don't care how well-crafted those modded Altarian spaceships are and how cool they look on the cloth map - I don't want them.

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August 30, 2009 6:12:53 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

very nice, can't wait to have 20 children

also the game needs more yellow flowers.

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August 30, 2009 8:02:31 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

that sounds amazing.

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August 31, 2009 12:15:10 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

How will I claim godhood with children running all willy-nilly over the land?

Make sure that your children are the only ones you invest Essence into.

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August 31, 2009 4:15:21 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Ron Lugge,
Make sure that your children are the only ones you invest Essence into.
Oh, I have no problems keeping my own people in check. I was mostly thinking about other nations. What if they betray me?

I am now firmly in the camp of "If I give you essence, I can take it away! >=o". I need a leash..

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September 5, 2009 6:56:53 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

A X post, but the possibility of exiling/imprisoning/executing rebellious generals and/or family members would be a terrific gameplay element. The opportunities for political intrigue when deciding to exile that conniving younger prince would be exceptional.

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September 5, 2009 7:06:38 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting landisaurus,
Huh, he said he didn't get to see any of the modding stuff, but there I see a screenshot of what appears to be the in-game building editor.

Frogboy made this post silly. 

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