I'm hoping like hell that we have only been given a small glimpse of the racial diversity of Elemental during the beta.
If it ends up that dwarves are indeed the Ironeers of the beta and to be honest I can't even differentiate which of the races is supposed to represent elves, and that the moddability of the game doesn't allow us to get where we should be as far as races are concerned, then I for one will be extremely disappointed.
During the beta phase of the game the racial aspects added practically zero flavour to the game in terms of diplomacy, mood, surprises, or immersion. All they did was provide two separate building trees and give a few racial bonuses before the game starts. The broad brush approach of only allowing races to fall into categories of Men and Fallen is akin to simply segmenting life on Earth into Land-dwellers and Sea-dwellers. Such a broad-brush approach for the final game will leave the game very flat I think if that is indeed where it will end up.
This has been a real problem for me ever since the beta started but I've latched onto two saving graces:
i. we've been told that the beta is a drastically dumbed down version of the final game.
ii. the mod tools will be powerful enough to allow the changes that will be required to provide strong racial flavour.
Basically, changing hair colour on a model and providing a starting bonus doesn't constitute a new race. It should really have:
- unique models
- unique model attachments (armour, clothing etc)
- unique weaponry
- unique sound
- unique tech tree
- unique buildings
- unique bonuses and penalties
- unique diplomatic approaches
- even unique play-style bonuses (eg, troll race gets a bonus for number of kills etc)
Now if the beta has been drastically dumbed down racially, and the races of Men and Fallen are simply examples of two races with subtle factional diversities, and that there will be a bunch of real races when the game launches, then I'll be very happy.
I'm even OK if the game will allow us to build races fully and mod them into the game properly over time.
But if it ends up that we have to classify any new races into the two beta categories and work them in that way, where we can change the basic look but not the basic functionality, then I'll probably just keep on playing Age of Wonders in the long term.
We haven't really been given any definite feedback on what is likely to be in the final game. I fully understand that this is only a beta but the feedback from the devs to us of, "Yeah, beta sucks, but wait till you see the final game. You'll love it." does require a lot of faith from the we beta-testers that the game will deliver when we've not really seen much of the polish yet.
As I said at the start of my rant, I'm hoping like hell that we get racial diversity...