Elemental & Multiplayer - an essay

By on August 19, 2010 6:20:28 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Frogboy

Join Date 03/2001
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I speak to you now as a gamer. A person giving his own personal opinion of Elemental's multiplayer experience.

I don't find Elemental's multiplayer in 1.0 to be fun in general. Elemental was designed as a single player game that happens to have MP. And this has come through in the final version. 

There is one exception: Playing 2 people as part of a team vs. AI players is fairly fun. But playing against random players is just an exercise in frustration. This is a game that requires a significant amount of time investment and too many random games will end in dissatisfaction in my opinion.

I do think the game has potential with a group of friends playing together. But I don't think it's there  yet. I think it'll take more time and more thought to do this.  

Here is what Stardock will need to do, and plans to do, in order to make MP more enjoyable:

#1 Local Servers.

On day 0, all MP games will get their data from dedicated servers that Stardock has put in place around the world. We are doing this to eliminate connectivity issues. Connectivity marred the launch of Demigod and it is my opinion that if we had had dedicated servers in the first place, Demigod would have had a much better experience. (as opposed to having a particular individual host a game).

However, in the mid-term to long-term, Stardock WILL be providing custom servers so that people can mod up their own games and put them on their own networks to host games.  The priority this is given will depend on the demand of course but regardless, it is something I will be insisting be done because I really think that the best long term success path for Elemental is in letting users take Elemental and do cool and interesting things to it.

#2 More Multiplayer Game Options.

I would like to see the tactical battles take on a life of their own.  The day 0 multiplayer does not have tactical battles in them. We took them out. Yes, in an ideal world we could have made this an option, but anyone who has been on a forum for any amount of time knows that you'd still have people flaming us who found tactical battles boring because while the other guy was fighting some drawn out battle, they were stuck watching it.

I don't have any ready ideas on how to make this better except to say that I would like to see tactical battles made into a seperate game mode where players pick their units before the game and then go up against other players with those units.

This is an idea we'll have to think about more and see when or if it can be implemented at a reasonable cost.

#3 LOTS more game play styles

I don't really have any good ideas on this as I don't generally play TBS games in multiplayer (even with friends). We play a lot of Settlers of Katan here and Twilight Imperium as board games but I think we will have to look at more game modes (and these can be made available in SP as well) to help make MP more fun.

My advice would be this: If you are buying Elemental primarily for MP, don't. It has it. It works. But IMO, it's not worth $50 to play the game MP primarily.  If you like MP in ADDITION to having a fantastic single player game (and make no mistake, Elemental, as a single player game, is awesome in its release form) then absolutely, get it.

So there's my 2 cents.

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August 19, 2010 6:26:58 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Tactical battles:

If multiplayer games have simultaneous turns, then two opposing armies could fight a tactical battle while the other players continued to manage their civilizations from the global map.

Not an ideal situation but that, along with the option for tactical battles when creating a game, is better than just removing them entirely.

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August 19, 2010 6:28:25 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Frogboy,

 

Thanks for addressing some of the issues concerning Elemental multiplayer. The main thing I wanted to comment on here is the lack of tactical battles. I was going to buy a few copies of this game for my home but now that I hear this there is no way I can do that. I mostly intend to play Elemental on LAN. I may jump online every now and then but I'll be primarily playing with people I know in the same room. We've played a good amount of HOMM 3 so we know what we like. I have no problem waiting for other players as we can chat during someone else's turn or just alt-tab and browse the internet. I don't mean to sound negative but I think this is a really bad decision and I won't be playing multiplayer until tactical battles are in.

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August 19, 2010 6:32:48 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Isn't Frogboy the CEO and Draginol the user?

Anyway, that advice about multiplayer is very good but I hope that you have already planned to spread it around the webs to reduce the amounts of "Hey, this is not the multiplayer that I was expecting!" and similars.

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August 19, 2010 6:39:26 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting ,

I would like to see the tactical battles take on a life of their own.  The day 0 multiplayer does not have tactical battles in them. We took them out. Yes, in an ideal world we could have made this an option, but anyone who has been on a forum for any amount of time knows that you'd still have people flaming us who found tactical battles boring because while the other guy was fighting some drawn out battle, they were stuck watching it.

Hopefully you'll make this something which can easily modded back in?

Why do people have to be "stuck watching it"?  Can't you allow the other player(s) the ability to manage their empire while someone else is in a tactical battle?

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August 19, 2010 7:00:09 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

What's up with the "Myth meets X-Com" multiplayer mode? I was kinda hoping for a "Wizard duel" mode too In the future of course.

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August 19, 2010 7:00:31 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I still haven't understood exactly how the multiplayer works. Okey, tactical battles are out for now, which im not saying i approve of but i know in AoW:SM for example were drawn out conflicts could get quite tiresome to watch and as long as the auto-resolve is working in a balanced fashion i can live with that.

What im curious/worried about is what i've seen other people on the forum call "dumbed down" or with a nicer word "streamlined" multiplayer. Is this a fact that there is no option to play a singleplayer setup game with multiple human players? (I've read about randomly generated maps not being availible though)

I'll definately be playing this game a lot in singleplayer so that is not the problem but when i turn to a TBS-game for multiplayer im looking for the really epic gigantic maps which takes days or weeks to finish. Anytime i've played any game resembling Elemental(a little) where they've "streamlined" the multiplayer (King Arthur, any Total War-game) i've been finished with the MP-part in a few hours. It just doesnt last all that long. The games with the fully fleshed multiplayer however(Victoria, Hearts of Iron, AoW2) has been a delight to play even though you have to wait for your opponent/friend every now and then. I'd at least make it optional to setup the game in such a way..

Another thing i wonder is about the "dedicated server" part. I know that you dont have a retail presence in Europe but there will still be people from here who will buy the game. Im from Sweden so if i end up playing multiplayer and does so through your servers, will i be facing latency issues and stuff?

Last but not least as i've seen other people discussing. The average casual gamer will not play Elemental and the likelyhood that they'll play it in multiplayer is even smaller. As for me, if i want quick action im just going to play Starcraft 2(Which i've read that frogboy likes as well ).

To end on a highnote i can tell you that im immensely psyched for some long singleplayer games of Elemental next week(Which i happen to have off)

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August 19, 2010 7:04:27 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

First off, thanks much for taking the time to talk about your decisions and reasons for making them for those of us with multiplayer questions and concerns.

Consider this another vote for the option for tactical battles (not that we get a vote). I think as many different options as you can feasibly make available - be they tactical battles, random maps, full tech tree or whatever other things that might be fun - the better, in that different people want different things here, and the more the choices there are, the more happy players there will be.

 

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August 19, 2010 7:14:09 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Thank you for taking the time to address some of the issues that have been brought up and giving us your honest opinion. I fear MP may never have much to it as I don't know how much demand there will be when MP players primarily seek games elsewhere, but we'll see. Regardless, thank you.

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August 19, 2010 7:18:57 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I am buying this game purly for SP, i had planned to try MP out aswell as it is there but no tactical battles takes half the fun out of the game for me so i'll be sticking to SP.

However i hope this can be resolved sometime in the near future for the sake of gamers who want to create and play multiplayer mods with tactical battles. No one is going to want to invest time into new models, spells etc for a multiplayer mod if they are not even going to get to see them in tac battles. Of course there is SP but some modders will no doubt want to focus on multiplayer mods.

I wouldnt mind watching battles or managing my empire while battle between other players/A.I rage if this is possible.

The tactical battle mode sounds like a very good idea that i think you should most definatly put into action, i can also see this being something gamers and modders would take great intrest in.

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August 19, 2010 7:32:11 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

 

2 players VS 8 teamed AI on a modded map to let the players turtle up

 

Could be fun

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August 19, 2010 8:04:40 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

The games with the fully fleshed multiplayer however(Victoria, Hearts of Iron, AoW2)

 

Are entirely not-comparable because they're not turn based. It's really easy to make something like Vicky, HoI, EU3, or any of the other continuous time Paradoxian games, or an RTS like AoW multiplayer, because the game translates with little change since the time continuously flows.

 

TBS is an entirely different monster altogether.

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August 19, 2010 8:07:10 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Raven X,
What's up with the "Myth meets X-Com" multiplayer mode? I was kinda hoping for a "Wizard duel" mode too In the future of course.

That's what I'm thinking too.  

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August 19, 2010 8:08:59 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

My general view is that just as single player shouldn't get shafted for MP, I don't like the idea of MP getting shafted for single player. I think that MP should get special attention over time.

I think there's a lot of potential for this over time that we should (and will) visit. I like the idea of wizard duels more and more.

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August 19, 2010 8:15:14 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

You must be joking right? Why the hell you have removed tactical battles from the multiplayer? I hope, this is the case only for your official servers. But I do not really like, how you force people to play the game, the way you want. I have absolutely different opinion then yours. And I do not mind waiting for tacticals battles to end in MP. As I enjoy playing with my friends. I have never had such an issue in HOMM and tactical battles took quiete long time there, or in Age of Wonders. If it would be an option, then fine, but this way? sorry... 

You have screwed everything you could about MP. It was one thing I was most looking forward to and now, its all gone... It seems like you have not read all those topics about MP on the forum at all. Most of the people which actualy care about MP wanted full experience which they can customize as they fit.

Now you have provided limited experience, and forced all of us, to your simplified vision of MP. 

I really love elemental, its ideas, future, promises... but this is really huge blow for me . If I knew that year ago, I would never bother to pre order your game. Seriously. MP was the main reason why I was looking forward to play this game.

I do not want to play some duels. I want full game in MP, and I want to play it as I like. And I do not want nobody telling me, what is fun !! if you want to make MP in your way, feel free to do it.... But give us at least option, to play it as we like.

You failed hard in one thing. You want to make MP fast, accesible, balanced and competetive. I think, you took too much from SC2. I never want 4x game to be like that. This is not some kind of common RTS. 4x should never be this way. 

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August 19, 2010 8:16:52 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

How about a special Co-Op mode - all human players against all teamed AI - and tactical battles occur which are watched by all team members, and chat can occur during the tactical battles about what decisions to make.  And then later on, when  more than one allied player can take part in a single tactical battle, it would be even more fun!   I honestly think the greatest fun in Elemental multiplayer would be co-op against a number of allied AI opponents, with players being able to take part in tactical battles initiated by another player and with chat capability built-in so the players can share tips and strategies while they work together against the AI.   However, I think it would be well worth putting tactical battles in regular MP games, and have things for the other players to do (such as watch the battle (or certain battles) or prepare their moves for the next turn) while the battle takes place.  I think this would provide the best of both worlds.  I don't see the MP component as fixed - the way I see it, Frogboy and team will put tactical battles into MP, if players want this option (and it does seem that a majority want this).  Frogboy, is this correct?

What do other people think about co-op multiplay and competitive multiplay, and the ideas here?

Best regards,
Steven. 

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August 19, 2010 8:50:43 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Thanks for the information/clarification regarding MP, much appreciated!

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August 19, 2010 8:51:27 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Frogboy,

Without meaning to seem rude or entitled, I do think that we multiplayer fans are far more interested in options like tactical battles and full tech trees than we are in stuff like wizard duels.

Multiplayer fans LIKE our games big, messy and klugy - even if you don't.

 

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August 19, 2010 8:52:33 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Frogboy,



Quoting Raven X,
reply 5
What's up with the "Myth meets X-Com" multiplayer mode? I was kinda hoping for a "Wizard duel" mode too In the future of course.


That's what I'm thinking too.  

I said it before...and I'm gonna say it again (and probably some time in the future again too)...

You're the Man, chief!!

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August 19, 2010 9:01:05 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I agree with SteveAus about Co-Op, I think that Co-Op mode is far too often over looked in games now days. Especially in consul games where everything seems to be death match this and capture the flag that. I for one and a huge fan of the Co-Op game. My son and daughter are 11 and 13 and we love to play games where we can be on the same team against the AI. Sure at the end there "can be only one" but those games tend to left unfinished. So I would like to add my voice to Steve and other that have suggested Co-Op. What a great MOD that would make where two or more players were required to team up to defeat a very strong AI...

Tactical battles certianly should be added back as an option for the players to decided if they want to run the MP session with or without.

Harper

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August 19, 2010 9:03:56 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I agree with maxlongstreet,  I think a large portion of the TBS MP crowd simply want the Single Player experience except with players filling in for some of the AI.

Sure, some people might not appreciate the longer games that are caused by tactical battles, and maybe some of those same people might not realize that turning on the tactical battle option is what is making the game "unfun" for them and thus they will rage on the forums, but is the number of those people greater than the number of people that would like to be able to decide for themselves whether or not to have tactical battles?

Edit: I too will apologize if this or anything I've said sounds like entitlement.  Really it's more of a desperate plea that you change your mind on this position, if not by day 0, then hopefully sometime down the road.

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August 19, 2010 9:08:56 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Can't wait for the games release.  Saddened that tactical is out for multiplayer. 4-5 of us had planned on some group gaming but as nearly all of them are control freaks, autocalc wont cut the mustard!  We can skill up on single player though! hopefully it wont be permanently disabled. Maybe you can put it into a hotseat version.  

Best would be to toggle it on and off at the start.  On if you have patience, and like crushing your friends, off if you dont.  

I would wager most people playing this in multi-player would be having fun with friends or family and the time issue wouldnt matter so much.  People wanting fast multi-player action are most likely on a different game or perhaps they toggle tactical battles off in their next match.

 

 

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August 19, 2010 9:18:46 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Omnax,
You must be joking right? Why the hell you have removed tactical battles from the multiplayer? I hope, this is the case only for your official servers. But I do not really like, how you force people to play the game, the way you want. I have absolutely different opinion then yours. And I do not mind waiting for tacticals battles to end in MP. As I enjoy playing with my friends. I have never had such an issue in HOMM and tactical battles took quiete long time there, or in Age of Wonders. If it would be an option, then fine, but this way? sorry... 

You have screwed everything you could about MP. It was one thing I was most looking forward to and now, its all gone... It seems like you have not read all those topics about MP on the forum at all. Most of the people which actualy care about MP wanted full experience which they can customize as they fit.

Now you have provided limited experience, and forced all of us, to your simplified vision of MP. 

I really love elemental, its ideas, future, promises... but this is really huge blow for me . If I knew that year ago, I would never bother to pre order your game. Seriously. MP was the main reason why I was looking forward to play this game.

I do not want to play some duels. I want full game in MP, and I want to play it as I like. And I do not want nobody telling me, what is fun !! if you want to make MP in your way, feel free to do it.... But give us at least option, to play it as we like.

You failed hard in one thing. You want to make MP fast, accesible, balanced and competetive. I think, you took too much from SC2. I never want 4x game to be like that. This is not some kind of common RTS. 4x should never be this way. 

 

Hahaha, this was a really funny post.  Boo hoo, what the hell?  It is what it is and he said he was looking at ways to make it better later.  But man, yous oudn liked a spoiled little brat...plus it was very hard to read all that meltdown.

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August 19, 2010 9:28:54 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Well I posted this over the 'Please reconsider this aspect of MP' post, but no harm in reposting it here just for record's sake:

 

Oh well. That pretty well explains what the day 0 release will entail.

Having said that I'm still quietly optimistic about what the future may bring. As others have said I don't mind watching tactical battles, but if people don't want them then fine! Surely an option can be implemented that simply auto resolves each conflict as it occurs? However I also fully appreciate that Brad and all the good folk at Stardock are focussing on one hell of a Single Player experience, and that's fine by me too.

Right now the seeds have been sown so that, in the future at least, there's the potential for custom servers, modes and whatever else. I must admit it bugs me a little that Brad pretty much wants to ignore MP simply because he doesn't like it himself, but I also respect his preferences.

I suppose I'll leave it like this: Stardock? If at any time in the future you enable Custom servers, for games between friends or whatever else, please give us the option to play the game as we'll choose to. Play testing aside, as Max put it, I enjoy a hairball of a gaming experience. I enjoy matching wits with, and against, people with the full spectrum of options enabled. Civ is a prime example of this! I don't 'think' this is asking too much, since all this stuff is there already... As far as I'm aware it just needs to be enabled. And if that's the case, great! If not you're still the most awesome game developers out there and keep up the great work.

Cheers!

 

And just as an aside:

Quoting Frogboy,
My general view is that just as single player shouldn't get shafted for MP, I don't like the idea of MP getting shafted for single player. I think that MP should get special attention over time.

I think there's a lot of potential for this over time that we should (and will) visit. I like the idea of wizard duels more and more.

Reading this just put an optimistic grin on my face. Thanks Brad! I'll look forward to seeing what you guys can cook up 

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August 19, 2010 9:55:58 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting maxlongstreet,
Frogboy,

Without meaning to seem rude or entitled, I do think that we multiplayer fans are far more interested in options like tactical battles and full tech trees than we are in stuff like wizard duels.

Multiplayer fans LIKE our games big, messy and klugy - even if you don't.

 

Yeah I don't know what a wizard duel would entail, but I am not interested in some sort of short combat 1 vs 1 match. I would love to play in the SP world alongside friends. That's what I am looking for.

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August 19, 2010 10:32:13 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I am in agreement with everyone here. Ultimately, I think the best course of action is to set aside some development time and resources, and wait a few months for players to see what Elemental MP feels like in its current incarnation. During this time the players can share their ideas of how Stardock can make MP work.

 

 

 

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