More discussion of Factions and Races (long)

By on April 27, 2010 5:19:04 PM from JoeUser Forums JoeUser Forums

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…In the beginning there were Men and Dragons…

When the Titans came, they saw the creatures of the world as building blocks and created many new creatures from them. These creatures are called (by men) “The Fallen”.  There are four known sentient races of The Fallen (see the Lore for more details).

In previous discussions, we have used analogies to Middle Earth.  In Middle Earth, Illuvatar created only two sentient races. The Elves and then Men.  All other sentient races were created “unnaturally” (the dwarves and Orcs being the best example. The origin of halflings is unknown). 

In Elemental, there are more factions than there are races. This is similar to Sins of a Solar Empire where there are many factions but only 3 races.

When we use the term “race” we really mean species in the specific sense that they cannot interbreed except for Channelers and their offspring.

...Fitting Lore into a Game...

SciFi/fantasy lore that evolved outside a game (as was the case with both Galactic Civilizations and Elemental) can be difficult to fit into a game universe.

In Galactic Civilizations, the universe -- its lore, was never published so I had a free hand to tweak all the civilizations to fit the needs of the game.

Elemental is a bit different because its lore is being presented in a book (Elemental: Destiny's Embers).  In the book, it's fairly straight forward. You've got two general aligments - The Kingdoms and the Empires.  The Empires are dominated by races of the Fallen and the Kingdoms are dominated by the races of Men. Simple right? Well... Read on to see the complexities and why we're brainstorming with you guys on other directions.

 

image….Pre-made Races vs. Player Created Races…

Yesterday we discussed what priority should custom art assets versus canon art assets should take. If we focus primarily on canon factions and their corresponding races, we can greatly expand their stories and the art assets for them.  However, if we focus less on the canon factions and more on providing assets we can let players create their own unique races and factions that are more rewarding visually and game play wise.

The question thus becomes which direction to take? 

…Understanding Game Development…

By the end of this journey, I suspect many of you will have a much better understanding of what game development is like.  The “game” itself is the tip of the iceberg. What you see in these betas is only a tiny piece of the whole “product”. Underneath the covers is the engine and art assets. The game itself we can monkey around with any dozens of ways based on player feedback.  The expensive part is building the engine (which isn’t even in the beta yet) and creating the art assets (only a bit are in the beta).

Thus, once we begin to commit to things that involve changing the game engine or the art assets, they’re pretty much set in stone. By contrast, changing research or economy or spells or what have you is largely just changing text in XML.

So we are reaching the point where we will have to make decisions on whether to focus more on canon assets or assets to be used by players to create their own world.  I.e. Dragon Age (canon centric) or Spore (non-canon centric).

We don’t have to go to either extreme.

…Fantasy Races…

In traditional high fantasy, you’ve got men, dwarves, elves, orcs, goblins. People have a pretty good idea the pros and cons of them because they appear in so many games.  In our world, we don’t have dwarves or elves or orcs.  We have the natural races and the races made by the Titans. They’re not good or evil based on their race but rather on their faction. The Krax are men but they’re real bastards. There are Fallen races out there that aren’t evil at all (but they don’t come into our particular tale right now, you’ll need to read the book).

…Complexity…

We don’t want to “dumb down” the game in any way but at the same time, we don’t want to have unnecessary complexity. The fact that we have Empires/Kingdoms and then Factions and then Races is pretty complicated as is.  It would be so much easier if the Empires were all Fallen and the Kingdoms were men but that would be simplistic and frankly, to me, distasteful. It’s bad enough that the unnatural sentients are called Fallen but that’s only because our tale is told from the point of view of man and thus can identify their bias on our own.

In our game, there are 5 true races (Men, Urxen, Trogs, Magnars, and Wraiths).  But even amongst these 5 there are sub-groups (The Ironeers if Gilden and the Krax are visually very distinctive but genetically compatible).

You can see how this gets complex in a hurry and why there is the urge to simplify to appeal to a wider audience. Will the fantasy strategy buying public be interested in learning the intricacies of the lore that’s been developed here over the past two decades? Or would they prefer us to simplify it into a couple of basic races (Men and Fallen) and let people get on to making their own races.  You would still have the same factions, they’d simply just be made up of two races (men and fallen) and then players could make their own races.

So that’s the discussion we have going on.  My bias is to focus on our own canon and introduce players to it. Players could still create their own races but they’re not going to be making any half-dragon half man races or Ents or what have you.  That’s my bias on it because that sort of thing can be added later in post-release if the game’s successful whereas we only get one opportunity to really explore the depths of the rift between say Kraxis and Capitar or the doom of Pariden and Procipinee.

…Implementation…

Here’s how races could be implemented:

image

First, when creating a faction you would have a new tab called “race”. The existing races would be there. 

You would choose a specific (easy to understand) ability that makes that race unique. Hard Workers might produce pioneers that get more out of resources. Fierce Warriors might get a combat speed boost. Good Traders might be the only ones who can reach paved roads. Fast Travelers go faster. Great Archers can shoot further (maybe attack on the strategic map from a tile away even).   The difference would be significant.

Then you pick the Appearance and that’s where we really hit the art asset budget. Skeletons are expensive because you then have the clothes and equipment to go on them (in Spore, you may have noticed nobody had clothes you could put on them).  The rest is fairly easy. But obviously no Centaurs or Quaddies.

image

Then in your cities, you would see next to the current owner of the city what race populates the city. A faction may conquer another city but the race in the city remains the same.  The part with enchantments you should ignore – you don’t know about that yet.

Now obviously, people can get into mixing (ala Civ IV and such) but there is so much going on in the world that we want to try to avoid having potentially 30+ different races making up a city (i.e. if we let players create their own races as well as factions, we have to be careful about how convoluted it gets).

Your thoughts

I hope you guys are enjoying these journals and their peak at the kinds of things that go on during game development. Marketing hates these journals because they expose the world to the “sausage factory” that is commercial game development.

Please feel free to share your thoughts.

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April 27, 2010 11:33:06 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

It appears that the developer(s)' presumption is that extra modding will increase the game's appeal to the casual gamers

I don't know where you got this presumption.

The opposite would be true.

 

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April 28, 2010 12:05:29 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

This game is going to be THE BEST GAME EVER!!!!!!!!!!!! It allready have a soul Just keep up the awsome work Stardock! Two thumbs up!!

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April 28, 2010 12:05:34 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I vote for focusing resources toward fully fleshed out canon factions and their corresponding races.

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April 28, 2010 12:35:25 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

 

 

Based on this post and the "People of Elemental" posts, I think that part of the confusion lies in the Five real Races and the Sub-races, with some of the Sub-races being Factions themselves, not to mention Alignment based on Faction (as you point out) instead of Race (Krax being human Empire).

 

In many strategy games, players see Race=Faction=Alignment. The Galactic Civ games bent this rule, but I think Elemental has the potential to go further.

Quoting ,

…Complexity…

We don’t want to “dumb down” the game in any way but at the same time, we don’t want to have unnecessary complexity. The fact that we have Empires/Kingdoms and then Factions and then Races is pretty complicated as is.  It would be so much easier if the Empires were all Fallen and the Kingdoms were men but that would be simplistic and frankly, to me, distasteful. It’s bad enough that the unnatural sentients are called Fallen but that’s only because our tale is told from the point of view of man and thus can identify their bias on our own.

In our game, there are 5 true races (Men, Urxen, Trogs, Magnars, and Wraiths).  But even amongst these 5 there are sub-groups (The Ironeers if Gilden and the Krax are visually very distinctive but genetically compatible).

You can see how this gets complex in a hurry and why there is the urge to simplify to appeal to a wider audience. Will the fantasy strategy buying public be interested in learning the intricacies of the lore that’s been developed here over the past two decades? Or would they prefer us to simplify it into a couple of basic races (Men and Fallen) and let people get on to making their own races.  You would still have the same factions, they’d simply just be made up of two races (men and fallen) and then players could make their own races.

So that’s the discussion we have going on.  My bias is to focus on our own canon and introduce players to it. Players could still create their own races but they’re not going to be making any half-dragon half man races or Ents or what have you.  That’s my bias on it because that sort of thing can be added later in post-release if the game’s successful whereas we only get one opportunity to really explore the depths of the rift between say Kraxis and Capitar or the doom of Pariden and Procipinee.

Yes, a thousand times yes. Keeping the game-canon races as close to the novelization-canon races is vital to having any cohesion in the Elemental-verse, and avoiding splitting the canon in two.

 

From a purely game-play point of view, should there really be a difference between Race and Faction? Are we really going to have "Fast Travelers"-Race as well as "Great Traders"-Faction traits on top of each other? Are all the Human Kingdoms/Empire and all the sub-races of Humans going to share one racial ability?

 

Taking the trail of Alignment-Race-Subrace-Faction seems like it is one step too far. In other words, is it necessary for the Guilden to be Kingdom-Human-Ironeer-Guilden? Is there any reason it is not Kingdom-Human-Guilden or Kingdom-Human-Ironeer? If Guilden are going to have 4 "steps", what about (for example) the Empire-Urxen-Umber? Does having a nation of Urxen give certain bonuses and then the Empire of Umber giving it's own bonuses on top of that?

 

If player customization is limited to bi-pedal and roughly human sized, then you cannot have things like Smurfs, Draconians, or Mer-men. This limits racial abilities to those appropriate to differences such as Urxen to Human. The question here becomes, do Ironeers get a bonus relative to mainline Humans? If so, non-human races (both custom and canon) should have access to sub-race bonuses. If not, then for what game-play purpose are Ironeer's distinct from Humans, especially considering the Guilden themselves will have their own set of Kingdom traits?

 

How about the possibility of races not having inherent traits? This way the Faction (again, both custom and canon) decides the capabilities of the player. Instead of all Humans having "great trading" or some such, why not let the various Kingdoms and Empires be the place where customization and diversity takes place. This would have the downside of making Race into a cosmetic option, but that in of itself is not a bad thing.

 

Another option to resolve the Faction/Race customization issue would be to indeed give racial abilities (such as Frogboy's examples), but have the system be zero-sum. This would let Humans be balanced without giving all 5 canon Human Factions a shared bonus.

 

Sub-races could be either eliminated from the system (not the story, Guilden would still be Ironeers but in-game their traits would be based on being Guilden and not being Ironeers), or added to every race by default. For example, there could be Human-Ironeer, Human-Amarian (covering all the other Kingdoms) and Human-Krax, leaving no Human faction without a sub-race. Fallen races would be Trog-Trog, Urxen-Urxen and Wraith-Wraith, but players could use the base Races as a template for their custom Sub-race.

 

This Sub-race focused approach would have the advantage of allowing Elemental to have distinct game-play differences between the Races, while allowing custom Sub-races the ability to work off of the existing Racial diversity. For example if a player wanted to create a custom "Dark Elf" race, they could take the Magnars, change the name to "Elf" and apply a Sub-race "Dark Elf". Similarly a player could take Urxen, change the name to "Orc" and then continue with Sub-race "Orc" as well.

 

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April 28, 2010 12:38:29 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I whole-heartedly vote on fully fleshed out Factions, no looking back, even if I'll have to wait years and years for any sort of complex custom-race maker.

Its better to do the best with something you can only do once, than to make room for something you can do a thousand times. (My $0.02)

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April 28, 2010 12:40:39 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Perhaps a compromise is in order.  What about leaving out or minimizing 2 canon races from the Kingdoms and 2 from the Empires?  They would remain in the lore, just not available in the game or they would be minor compared to the remaining factions.  That would free up resources for more custom art assets.  It could be explained that the factions are more prevalent in other parts of the world, just not where the player is currently.

Personally, I have yet to create a custom faction/race so I tend toward canon myself.

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April 28, 2010 1:28:14 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Ah, I see that I misunderstood your previous journal now. I thought you meant getting rid of current factions all-together, and replacing them with just two factions, corresponding to human and fallen races.

I am a little bit conflicted on this. On the one hand, it would be pretty awkward to have all the Fallen factions represented as a single race in the game, but as different races in the actual lore and book. Generating lore for a game and then contradicting that lore in the game itself doesn't seem like a good route to take.

In the end, I think I'd favor focusing on the canon factions/races, and either give us only minimal race-customization or postpone race customization for an expansion.

Alternatively, what about allowing us to create our own custom race by mixing the art assets of a stock race with racial bonuses/weaknesses? In the end the custom race would look just like a stock race, but would be functionally different which is the most important thing. Each canon race (including sub-races) would have preset racial bonuses/weaknesses/talents, and creating a custom race could just entail mixing a stock race's art assets with bonuses/weaknesses/talents chosen from that whole pool. Admittedly that could result in some weird mixes (fast-traveling ironeers, lol), but that's not really so terrible.

That doesn't seem like it would add a great deal of extra work, and would allow you to give us very well developed stock races, as well as a fairly powerful custom-race/faction builder. Anyone who wants to go the extra mile would have to make a genuine mod, and if it becomes popular enough then more involved race customization could be provided in an expansion.

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April 28, 2010 1:46:51 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Wow I take 2 days away from these forums and threads like this show up... Dammit, that will teach me.

My take on this issue will use the example of MoO 2.

Races vs Factions.

 From my point of veiw Races make it easier to tell at a glance the strengths and weaknesses of your opponents and tend to make them more memorable from a game point veiw for me. Like with MoO I know if I see the Psilons I am up against a tech savvy race, where as if I see the Darloks I know they are going to be ripping me off left and right.  Unfortunately for me all the lore (Which I do love in my games by the way) is not going to help me remember which subset of humans is the spying guys, and which set is the technophiles.

Honestly I still can't tell who is supposed to be who in the Kingdom races right now (and mabey I have been a bad beta tester there) but I really can't care either. They are all human I expect them to act like humans and do human like things which as we all know covers a huge set of behaviors but still human.

That being said from a gameplay point of veiw, the races in MoO 2 are just pictures to me that gives me an idea of what to expect when the show up on the map. How many times I went "Oh Crap the Sakkra are in the game" I don't know lol.

What really matters to me while playing is the way I can build my race, and if I can use the other races to my advantage by capturing or genocide if not.

Now Master of Magic gave a great example of how to make other races valuable, special units for each race. And probably is the only game where I didn't annihalate all other races out of hand because their bonuses weren't my bonuses therfore they were of no use to me. Where as in MoO 2 everyone died but my race. But if they are all a subset of 2 races (Human/Fallen) then there will probably be no subset specific units to make them worth keeping around, and therfore they won't survive the purge. I will raze every city to the ground and rebuild. The bonuses that truly matter to me and will affect the way I play and win that particular game will be incorporated into my subset already.

 

On Customization.

  Personally I really don't care if my humans have to look human or I can make them look like Avatars. I don't know how many games I have started without even tweaking the looks of my guys. My sovereign yes, my peons no. Gimme 5 stock races and I will be happy. What I do care about is what goes under the hood of that race. There I want options, more options, and when I have that.. throw in a few more options just to be safe. And I want meaningful and balanced options.

MoO 2's Custom race options are a great example of the highs and lows. It had a fantastic amount of varied choices that really really impacted how you played. And enough of them to throw the entire spectrum of choices in what degree each factored in. Having not only a food bonus but how big or small. diplomatic, combative, production, cash, growth. yadda yadda.

Where this game could do one better would be the balancing and more offsetting penalty choices. anyone who has played MoO knows how overpowered a Tolerant / Lithovore race can be. (For the unenlightened that is a race that neither has to feed it's population or suffer loss of production from pollution.) Either seperately is powerful, combined it is insanely powerful. Also the lack of offsetting penalties always hurt. 30 bonuses mabey 12 penalties to pay for the with.

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April 28, 2010 1:48:16 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I won't rehash what I have already said from the last thread, but here is my thoughts on the priorties here and what I would like to see in the Faction / Race system, in #48 in case anyone is interested:

http://forums.elementalgame.com/381206/page/2/#2604905

If it comes down to it, my first priority is to have a good solid game out of the box. If we can have a deep game with multiple fully developed Factions, Races, and Sovereigns, with many of the gameplay features that so many people seem to want (detailed cities with multiracial populations, multiracial armies, etc.), then I am 100% for saving further customization for an expansion pack. If Elemental has the level of customization seen in Gal Civ II + Expansions out of the box along with the deep gameplay features I and many others are hoping for, then I don't see anything to complain about. I will have a great time playing with the cool, developed factions, races, etc. in the base game, and when the 'customize' expansion hits, it will be a chance to have tons of new things to explore in a game that I am already familiar with.  

If the gameplay is deep and has lots of meaningful options built in as part of the game (ie: do I enslave the population of this city to make slave soldiers out of the pathetic human citizens, or do I exterminate them and take everything over with my superior Fallen population? Do I build up as a military powerhouse or a peaceful pacifist community?), then there will be plenty of options and customization inherent in the gameplay.

1st Priority: A great game out of the box that anyone can pick up and play with deep gameplay systems that force meaningful choices and reward strategy, with fully developed factions and lore with meaningful gameeplay impact.

2nd Priority: Full customization of everything fully supported  within the game, including custom factions, races, sovereigns, etc.

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April 28, 2010 2:05:18 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

This is where I'll chime in and just say that I absolutely hate the way you've divided it up into "Kingdoms" and "Empires", instead of more iconic, individual, descriptive names, regardless if they belong to the western or eastern bloc and their race(s).

There. I said it.

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April 28, 2010 2:37:47 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Luckmann,
This is where I'll chime in and just say that I absolutely hate the way you've divided it up into "Kingdoms" and "Empires", instead of more iconic, individual, descriptive names, regardless if they belong to the western or eastern bloc and their race(s).

There. I said it.

I won't go that far, but there is a lot to be said for, say, Lords of Magic's faction names - Life, Death, Chaos, Earth, Air, Fire, etc.  They may all have been men, but when I fought air, I knew I had to deal with flying opponents, Air Giants, and lots of storm spells.  And when it was Death's turn, my heart skipped a beat.

Now, take a look at the Civ series.  Sure, you may only have a few little differences between playable nations, but because we have mental images of China, Russia, and the Aztec Empire, we didn't need too much extra stuff on top.

That having been said, I really like the concepts behind the Elemental backstory, and am looking forward to the book.  And after that, the factions should all click into place.

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April 28, 2010 2:49:28 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I vote wholeheartedly for more stock races with full lore. One of the main reasons for my interest in this game is the lore, and although I realize going with custom races won't hurt the overall lore I would still prefer to have the races match the lore to flesh it out as much as possible. In my opinion it is also the wiser decision to chose this option the only chance you have than to forgo it to add an option now that can be integrated later.

 

Furthermore, I think some people are forgetting that there is already a faction editor. You can already change what your group's abilities are as well as their strengths and weaknesses; we don't need a race editor to do that. All that I see the race editor doing is adding more cosmetic customization, and I say more because our current ability to customize the clothing of a faction already adds cosmetic customization. Also don't forget that we can still choose from a selection of races, you won't be locked into one; the UI is there even if there isn't another race to select currently.

 

As for the people that want to customize their experience: If you want to make all custom opponents you can already do that with the faction editor, and if you want them to look different you can either use some of the stock models or download the models that someone else makes; I'm sure there will be plenty of elves, orcs, dwarfs, dragon men, bird men, etc. to chose from (seriously, even if you don't have faith in the modding community let it be known that I would be extremely shocked if these didn't show up with minimal effort on the modder's part; I've seen amazing things come from modders). Also, If I correctly understand the way modding will work then adding these races to your game would likely be as easy as moving the files to a folder, maybe easier if it is integrated into the online component.

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April 28, 2010 4:10:44 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

The question is what level of complexity should be introduced. Do we have Factions AND Races that are distinct or do we simplify and simply talk about factions.

I think you should have both. Having races allows to define common apparence, bonus or weakness between factions. It can also help to set a starting point for relation between factions, as well as a starting point for handling conquered cities and associated unrest.

For example, if someone decide to mod a race of sentient spiders, and set that the men race distrust fully this new race, all men based factions will have this distrust WITHOUT having to specify the comportement of each faction.

And generally, one distrusts someone who is too different (too alien).

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April 28, 2010 6:06:16 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Lore and background of races and the mood/atmosphere that accompanies each race is pretty important, and while I understand many peoples need to see them fleshed out, I think when I compare to games like Master of Magic it doesnt neccesarily have to be that detailed. MoM was filled to the brim with atmosphere and the races were distinct and unique. This wasnt due to any kind of lore, really, but more to the feel of each race, and the differences in unit types, cities and basic art direction of each race.

Right now, as someone else mentioned in another post, you look at the stats screen when choosing a race to see what kind of race you want to play. Thats not good, since it means that basically you have no empathy with each race. I guess one of the reasons is that the art isnt very diversified yet, but also that its mostly "men" that is in all races, and thus we have no real feel for what makes a faction unique.  Create a unique feel for each race through simple statements and art direction, and the rest doesnt matter. We dont need tons of text to be introduced, just basic stuff, and some sense of what each different faction wants out of life, the world and its basic way of living.

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April 28, 2010 6:06:52 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

For the TL;DR people, this post is not for you. Move along.

Don't simplify just to satisfy part of the playerbase.

Exactly. Don't dumb down modding for some people not interested in its possibilities. (What? If you use a double edged sword...)

I think you are overestimating Players are willing to go through the trouble of modding, especially immeadiately once the game is released. The galciv 2 mod community wasn't very vibrant and seemed to die around the release to TOA.

I don't think that the modding capabilities of Gal Civ 2 could ever compare to those of Elemental. Not even in dreams. Maybe most won't care. Many will wait for others to create the mod they want to play. And a few, from the vast number of players, will be wasting their precious life time creating content for others, to enhance their experience of the game if they desire to do so (or mod for fun as I do).

And not all modding suppose to code thousands of lines, retexturing, creating new models... One of the modding part that Elemental is to have is using simple in game tools to create new content (new items, new sovereigns, new maps...). As far as I understand all this whole debate, this is the kind of modding we are actually talking about: i.e. go to your race editor and create a kenku. (things like flying, modding the model because you want to polish it... those are details that go beyond that)

The first question that really determines where to go from here, is will armor pieces be able to "mold" themselves to various shaped torsos, or are they relatively fixed 3-D objects that get laid over the model?

Huge question.

This is a very good point. Chosing a faction/race or whatever should mean you are mainly using their units, strengths and weaknesses. Allowing you to use all the strengths of a conquered people tends to make all the games feel similar which isn't a good direction to go in. I also become less interested in playing other factions if I felt I already experienced what they have to offer in another game.

Choosing a faction only means who you are at the beginning, not what you could potentially achieve during the game. That said, playing without restriction/penalties the other races, especially those "opposed", would seem silly and not just because you could feel that have already experienced everything.

I think it's wrong to assume people will use mods. Many don't.

I think it's correct to assume people will use mods. Many don't.

But others do. Hell, some people only buy some games for their mods. That's a fact. Oh, they are not so many but they do exist. The same as the people who will only buy the game because it has multiplayer.

I'd rather have a fleshed out base game. I've learned never to underestimate modders- they'll find a way to do what they want to do, especially if things are open and documented. You can always improve modding via patch/expansion later on. It's harder to improve the base canon post-release.

Although I agree with you, I must say that because modders are supposed to exist it doesn't mean that some initial help/encouragement shouldn't be given to them. That includes people who isn't modder but that potentially could be (without being some kind of pro, just enough to tweak the game a bit if they feel like it).

John Doe that wanted elves in his game and doesn't want to bother online except for official patches from Impulse, isn't going to like that he isn't getting any in base Elemental. And even if there were 1,045,304 elven model mods out there, he may not want to use mods for different reasons (like the models not being visually the same style as the canon game). So for him to find that using the easy tools from the game, he can create elves because there are alrady some art assests for such task, would result in a happy John Doe.

It's not asking (at least not I) that in the base game we get assests for draconians, tarrasques, Na'vi, displacer beasts,... But some base adding the potentially more known and similar races would be a nice touch. Elves, dwarves, orcs, goblins... They could be easy to add (supposing that the canon faction provide similar models that require not too much tweaking), not as canon factions but as art assests easy to use by players in the editors. Or I think so as I'm speaking from the ignorance. The rest, the bulk of serious race modding can be done in expansion packs.

We are not the squeaky wheels that so many modders seem to be, so it is easy to overlook us. This should NOT be considered an attack on modders. I am simply stating that there is a group of gamers who want to make a purchase and play the game as is, and it would be nice to have a game to really dig into.

We are not the squeaky wheels that so many non modders seem to be, so it is easy to overlook us. This should NOT be considered an attack on non modders. I am simply stating that there is a group of gamers who want to make a purchase and play the game [as is AND/OR tweaked], and it would be nice to have a game to really dig into.

Yes. It's all or nothing. The game will not ship with any lore at all. In fact, we're going to dispense with factions and simply refer to them as numerical codes.

Codes? Barcodes? Barcode battler?

Do we have Factions AND Races that are distinct or do we simplify and simply talk about factions.

Previously, on Lost...

I agree entirely. If late game everyone has all their front line troops as Orcs, their ranged troops as Elves, their spellcasters as Humans, etc to max out the appropriate bonuses then that is boring and removes many interested factors from the game.

I like how in games like HoMM you got penalties in your army if you were to mix too different types. I'd hope for something similar in Elemental to happen.

It appears that the developer(s)' presumption is that extra modding will increase the game's appeal to the casual gamers.

It'll increase longevity of the game. It'll allow players to "fix" things even if Stardock went "Puff!" any time after release. If you have skills, it allows you to create a game of different genre if you must really do that.

It doesn't obligue you to mod. It gives you the chance of adding things or change the ones you don't want. The level of skill required and tools would then depend on your interests.

As for the people that want to customize their experience: If you want to make all custom opponents you can already do that with the faction editor, and if you want them to look different you can either use some of the stock models or download the models that someone else makes; I'm sure there will be plenty of elves, orcs, dwarfs, dragon men, bird men, etc. to chose from (seriously, even if you don't have faith in the modding community let it be known that I would be extremely shocked if these didn't show up with minimal effort on the modder's part; I've seen amazing things come from modders). Also, If I correctly understand the way modding will work then adding these races to your game would likely be as easy as moving the files to a folder, maybe easier if it is integrated into the online component.

It's soooooooo easy to say: "you can either use some of the stock models or download the models that someone else makes". Really. If Stardock doesn't offer Marilith models, you cannot use them. And that attitude of hoping to find a random modeler to fix your needs is a totally weak excuse. At best. I'll concede that modelling human models by Stardock to create elves would be at least "easy" due to similarities. As long as you get into some serious modding and modeling (because it's not like we are getting Spore's creature creator in Elemental... so it's not just change some text in a XML).

Yes, there will be modders. Yes, that will include modelers. Yes, eventually you will get all type of content and get elves, dwarves, orcs, goblins, gnolls, draconians, bugbears, owlbears, little green men, na'vi, smurfs, slaan,... Let modders be the ones who expose code to Phyton too instead of wasting time/resources from Stardock during a whole beta phase.

Don't get me wrong. I trust Stardock and their ability to offer great products (and improve them later). I know that I'm going to be happy no matter what decide about this or anything else (and modding potential makes sure than anything that I don't like could be potentially removed if I'm in for the effort). From that point of view, unlike most of you, I'm lucky.

But if Stardock uses (and they do) modding as something very important to the game (not core, mind you, but yes important) so players can create spells, weapons, races... Well, they need to back those claims. And considering how many people already cries wolf because there are only "humans and fallen" (some don't even care if they play totally different, go figure), it's not crazy to suppose that not offering some non-human/non-fallen art assests (i.e. the cliché elves) so players can recreate with a few clicks their stardard expectations in fantasy (the easiest at least.. save things for expansion packs anyway), would be bad. Jus tease them and don't leave them waiting for modders to have to add things from the get go. Sounds like "Day 0 patching" but by fans.

Don't get me wrong. I'm all for lore and solid races/factions, just in case any of you got the wrong idea. But unless Stardock convices me otherwise (money is by itself argument enough, you know, but it always is), I think that some seeds and basic support to what is supposed to be modding material would be nice and somehow a must have. Up to which point? Haha, lucky me that I don't work in the "Sausage factory" and don't have even to speculate about that. I throw the stone and... miss! (damn low Dex)

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April 28, 2010 6:07:52 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Personally, I'd rather have a good set of diverse canon races/factions with extensive lore behind them - like the ones in SoTS for example, where each race has its own unique background and its own unique playstyle due to its individual propulsion system.

So perhaps if you added faction/race specific techs, spells or some kind of unique but fairly powerful ability to each of the base factions it would help players to distingush between them while also making each faction more appealing in comparison to a custom one.

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April 28, 2010 6:15:40 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

As you Frogboy stated, you get to do the built-in races only once but you can add customization options with expansions. I would love having both. However, even with the new customizable stuff, I would prefer having some sort of a backstory tied in to the lore. This backs up your idea of releasing the added customization options later on with expansions, giving you time to write additional lore for them.


Some criticism on the lore of the game though. To describe myself, I'm not that familiar with the lore, but I've been around and read a lot of the journal entries and read the lore page. I think in my current state I would go pretty closely as a relatively casual game playing the game. As that, I'm completely at a loss of how the race/faction/empire system works. I don't really understand which level is higher and which lower. Are there Empires within Factions of Factions within Empires? Do Empires consist of one Race or are there a couple of factions for each race and race is the topmost determinant? In other words, the hierarchy of your system is very confusing. I hope it is somehow much clearer in the actual game than it is on paper.


Having a really cool and varied 'new race' system seems like endless fun, and casual gamers and hardcore players alike love spending time on the character customization screen. But these custom races need to somehow feel like they fit in the Elemental world. With your current lore there doesn't seem that much room for Ents and Elves and whatnot, so creating one that battles 7 opponents of men/fallen actually feels quite out of place.

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April 28, 2010 7:13:32 AM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

So, Im still wondering what art would be needed to expand the races/factons. Are we talking styles of armour/weapons/slight body type diffrences becasue your concept art was basically the same but thin/fat - tall/short - sexy/still would.

Lots/of/Slashes.

 

Mods are important to me, but its important to get the base game amazing without them, clearly the numerical code option is the best. No wait... The one with the expanded factions - although I think it will be more impressive you players if they ACT like they should rather than just look different and all act the same. Art is not a crutch but I think Brad knows that - somehow.

I just hope modders can expand on those other races etc without compromise i.e. preexisting skeletons and animations reused from other creatures with easy 'attachment' systems like in galciv/building editors etc. (Why does my mind go into the gutter everytime I say that?)

 

Wintersong: Long post! So you want a furryscape mod basically?

Sounds good.

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April 28, 2010 7:15:07 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Just so there's more than one Stardockian posting in this thread, I'm throwing my hat in the ring as being 87% in favor of putting our efforts towards polishing up the current factions and adding the extra customization later.

Most of my thinking actually comes from an old penny arcade post (http://www.penny-arcade.com/2009/3/13/) where Tycho rearks on the Fall from Heaven 2 mod, and the ejoyment he got out of just reading the manual. If we can pack in the cool faction lore that our writers have been working on, and combine it with truly unique ways to have the game play out, I think that will get us more milelage than additional customization, IMHO.

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April 28, 2010 7:40:36 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

First, when creating a faction you would have a new tab called “race”. The existing races would be there.

You would choose a specific (easy to understand) ability that makes that race unique. Hard Workers might produce pioneers that get more out of resources. Fierce Warriors might get a combat speed boost. Good Traders might be the only ones who can reach paved roads. Fast Travelers go faster. Great Archers can shoot further (maybe attack on the strategic map from a tile away even). The difference would be significant.

Then you pick the Appearance and that’s where we really hit the art asset budget. Skeletons are expensive because you then have the clothes and equipment to go on them (in Spore, you may have noticed nobody had clothes you could put on them). The rest is fairly easy. But obviously no Centaurs or Quaddies.

If I understand correctly, the question of the OP is more about: can you create a custom race from within the game or can you only custom your faction based on the available races.

After rereading the post about the "Rough sketch of the races of Men"  http://forums.elementalgame.com/379637 I think there is a problem with races and faction as we tend generally to use the same meaning for race and species.

We have really 3 levels :

- the species (men, Trogs, Urxen) defining the general appearance. Generally, there is no possible interbreed between species . In a middle Earth mod, this level should includ elves, dwarves, orc ...

- the kind (mancers, ironners)  allowing to split a given specy in various categorization (skin color, height ...). In a middle Earth mod we would have various kind of elves based on first Age mythologies

- the faction (altarians, capitar, thart, parinden, gilden), defining the political and cultural level. In a middle Earth mod, we would have the various elven kingdoms/allegiance

I think we should be able to customize the kind and the faction but not the specy.

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April 28, 2010 7:43:12 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Aractain,
Wintersong: Long post! So you want a furryscape mod basically?

I would be just happy with Stardock releasing Elemental with only humans (as long as they are culturally, and somehow physically, different). I don't need Fallen, Risen, elves, proto-elves, dwarves with fake scottish accent... No matter if they are given by Stardock or modders. That doesn't mean that I wouldn't like to sometimes throw some "alien" into the game. Flying draconians, from the flying mechanic point of view, could be one... adding wings to humans could serve too though, as angels are more cool than anything else. In the end, many of the "alien" game mechanics can be replicated with just mutant humans and/or evolved humans.

But I'm just myself and if you read some of the threads here, you will get a good sample of what it's to come in player reactions. Elemental being already really restrictive in it's setting doesn't help (mod for death of Sovereign not being game over and using a succession system in 3... 2... 1...). Not offering some extra art assests in race department seems like a bad idea as race/faction (man, lost again) is the thing that will attrack more (making new spells and such not so much).

And yeah, I'd like some kind of tiger-like race somewhere just because I love the tiger skin. Maybe a tribe of tattooed humans would do it.

Maybe I should bother reading the Fall from Heaven 2 manual. Surely the mod is high quality but I prefer lots more the vanilla game. Nothing can compete with my Isabella kicking ass of anyone who dares to cross her path. (in Civ IV engine)

 

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April 28, 2010 7:46:03 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

You know, the more I think about it, I think the current approarch should be scrapped completely.

I mean, Turn-based strategy games were great fun back in the day, as can be attested to the huge interest people have in the re-release of Master of Orion over at GOG, but that was then. This is now! Current gamers have shorter attention-span, and really just want to let out some steam once in a while. I suggest  Stardock go the safe route, as other companies do with old IPs, and reinvent the game. Make Elemental a First-Person-Shooter with some basic city management, where you control your hero, roam around the world and have a small party with you you can hire, or some heroes, and do the dungeon-delving yourself in glorious 3D!!! You dont need much of a story then, just a cool intro setting the theme. The various races and factions are the ones you meet around the world and smash to bits!!

Elemental - Magic Killers of pain : Reloaded

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April 28, 2010 7:59:50 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Frogboy,

The question is what level of complexity should be introduced. Do we have Factions AND Races that are distinct or do we simplify and simply talk about factions. 

Needless to say, I vote for distinct and well developed factions and races. => Diversity should be important in a game like this Froggie.

Quoting BoogieBac,
Just so there's more than one Stardockian posting in this thread, I'm throwing my hat in the ring as being 87% in favor of putting our efforts towards polishing up the current factions and adding the extra customization later.
If we can pack in the cool faction lore that our writers have been working on, and combine it with truly unique ways to have the game play out, I think that will get us more milelage than additional customization, IMHO.

Agreed Boogie. Basically this is what I was talking about as well in my reply yesterday.

---------

Off-topic, but..... ->

Quoting Wintersong,

The first question that really determines where to go from here, is will armor pieces be able to "mold" themselves to various shaped torsos, or are they relatively fixed 3-D objects that get laid over the model?


Huge question.

Indeed, this is a huge question. It would be good to know the answer.  Let's hope that they will "mold", else we will have to create new armor models for the new races as well.....now that means: TONS of work.

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April 28, 2010 9:14:48 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I would like to see both factions and races fleshed out more.  Races are more important than factions to me.  I like genetic diversity, not boring humans with different sob stories.

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April 28, 2010 9:23:49 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

First a proposal, followed by some more lengthy comments (wall of text ):

Compromise solution:

First of all, please use well fleshed-out, unique factions respecting the lore of E. (If it’s possible without going against the lore, these could even be simplified into only 2 races, in 10 factions).

But at the same time, add several fully fleshed out factions built on several fleshed out races, which are officially outside the canon Elemental lore. So no, they would not be in the Campaign, but they would be there for sandbox mode, and not the least, as basis for player customization for their own games and campaigns (and mods). (There would of course also still be a really good customization engine for the player.)

This would mean you are not going against the lore and the Elemental novel, but you can still present E as THE new fantasy strategy game, inheriting the Crown from MM. I’m not anymore sure you could do that if you stick only to the canon E lore. With such a compromise solution you would have: unique factions giving the game a soul and drawing any player in, also the casual ones. But also: unique races that a lot of players will love to play with in sandbox, and as basis for their own games later on when you have already played the Campaign. You could make the canon game as simple and easy to understand as you want (within the lore), and add complexity and variety as a bonus for those players who crave it. 

It seems such a solution is the only realistic way to give the player a decent option of creating his own races. Ticking in some plusses and minuses and changing a colour will not be enough. In /re/-creating a race, I think you will need to choose one of the by SD fully developed races/factions as basis (the one which is closest to the new race you are trying to /re/create), and then work from that. Starting with just a general template will be too little, too unspecific. I cannot underline this fact strongly enough. It will not be enough to add and subtract in a list of abilities, however long. The only way is to have a wide variety of unique races and factions as basis, professionally done by SD. Then you can start messing around and have fun.

In expansions, it would then also be easy for SD to add any number of races and factions, some within the official lore, others outside the official Elemental novel lore, for sandbox and as basis for further player customization. A win-win situation.

I don’t think most players would find such a division shocking or confusing. Because the division between Official Elemental-world canon material and extra factions is very clear-cut. If you’re a new player without much knowledge I think you would start with the Campaign (incl. tutorial if there will be one) and only then start to mess around with your own stuff, once you know the game. And for those who want to make everything up themselves and won’t even play the campaign, they will easily be able to use the factions and races proposed as basis, canon or not.

In fact, I think today’s problem and complexity rather comes from the E lore itself. The divisions within the current lore (Empires and Kingdoms, special definition of what race mean, who can be good and evil, life magic and death magic, all mixed up with different factions …) are not easy to understand. I must admit that even after years on the forum I still must make an effort to really “grasp” this complex structure. And it doesn’t sound immediately appealing as presented (but could be brilliant once we know it in detail, and in action, still to be seen).

The reason behind including non-lore factions is that I feel we are running a risk with Elemental as it has been conceived. I don’t want to complain on the present factions or on the quality of the Lore, because we haven’t been introduced to it yet. But that is also the problem and the big risk. The way the game has been conceived, by doing the lore first and then trying to make the best possible game using that lore, is risky in the sense that if the players won’t like that Lore the whole game will suffer (badly). On the other hand, there is no way to do the game without a strong dose of lore at its core.

For me, I don’t know anymore if I like the direction the game is taking, because it will all depend on whether we will love the Lore or not. If I find the canon factions bland and boring, then this would be a huge, huge letdown. By including non-canon races and factions, the game would still be saved. And if the lore is brilliant, all the better. Extra races and factions outside the official lore will not ruin the gaming experience for those who hate lizardmen, elves or dwarves. But it will save the game for those who love lizardmen and also for those who might happen not to love (or even care about) the lore proposed.   

For example, if you like the lore and play the Campaign and also sandbox with only the canon factions, I don’t see why you would mind there being also a lizardmen faction included in the game as an option for sandbox. Yes, it takes some resources to programme, but hey, I think we all want a successful game that is liked by as many as possible.   

It will take some more work for SD, yes, but I believe this is the most crucial issue discussed yet on the forum for how the game will be perceived. And for how long it will be interesting and fun to play it, years from now.

Let’s go back one small step towards the roots of MM and AoW, while still including all the new and hopefully exciting Elemental lore at the core of the game.

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