My Review of Elemental so far

By on August 23, 2010 12:43:35 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Xan

Join Date 01/2003
+23

I greedily downloaded Elemental first thing this morning.

The Good

The modding tools are great

There are a lot of different strategies to employ

the computer players, so far, seem pretty good

The Bad

No edge scrolling on tactical battles

The camera angle is funky

I don't like some of the default camera positions

I had the game crash late game (recovered with the auto save)

The Ugly

It's not fun. Sorry.

The campaign is a little uninspired and has no real sense of urgency to it

This is not a game for people new to 4X. It does not hand hold you.

 

I've been playing Stardock's various games for a long time. I was the guy who sounded the warning alarm loudest about Demigod's multiplayer back when it was in beta only to be told to STFU by beta fanboys. 

Elemental beta 4 was very rough and a lot of people were understandably worried that the final version would be a nightmare. I am pleased to report that they really did finish the game and it's in pretty good shape. Unfortunately, it's not fun.

The million dollar question is, is Brad right? Is Elemental the best game Stardock's "ever produced"? No. He's wrong.

People often have memories of games they played in the past that don't fit reality. I loved Master of Magic but the game was worthless out of the box. Galactic Civilizations was so unpolished out of the box that unless you were really a hard core strategy gamer there was no way you were going to understand how to play it. Maybe they'll fix Elemental to be the game it could be. But it ain't there yet. Sorry.

 

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August 23, 2010 12:54:54 PM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

Ahhh another great post with the good and the bad and the ugly without being ugly about it. ) +1 Karma for you

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August 23, 2010 12:55:35 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Elemental beta 4 was very rough and a lot of people were understandably worried that the final version would be a nightmare. I am pleased to report that they really did finish the game and it's in pretty good shape.

I have to disagree with that statement. I think that a quite large number of people do not see the game's state as "good enough for release", including myself. I think it needs at least 2-3 months as it is. The base is very good, but it's totally unfinished, in my opinion. If you browse the forums, you'll see that quite a few posts criticize the lack of polish, content, and personality on many levels. 

We were worried about exactly what is happening now: a release in a "beta 6" state. That's at least 2 betas too early.

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August 23, 2010 1:03:01 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Werewindlefr,

Elemental beta 4 was very rough and a lot of people were understandably worried that the final version would be a nightmare. I am pleased to report that they really did finish the game and it's in pretty good shape.

I have to disagree with that statement. I think that a quite large number of people do not see the game's state as "good enough for release", including myself. I think it needs at least 2-3 months as it is. The base is very good, but it's totally unfinished, in my opinion. If you browse the forums, you'll see that quite a few posts criticize the lack of polish, content, and personality on many levels. 

We were worried about exactly what is happening now: a release in a "beta 6" state. That's at least 2 betas too early.

I agree with you, and my biggest concern is that reviewers are going to get thier hands on it and absolutley pan it for the bugs/ui issues, and total lack of documentation.

I want elemental to do well, and to review well, so that stardock can continue supporting it and continue making fantastic games. 

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August 23, 2010 1:06:09 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Werewindlefr,

Elemental beta 4 was very rough and a lot of people were understandably worried that the final version would be a nightmare. I am pleased to report that they really did finish the game and it's in pretty good shape.


I have to disagree with that statement. I think that a quite large number of people do not see the game's state as "good enough for release", including myself. I think it needs at least 2-3 months as it is. The base is very good, but it's totally unfinished, in my opinion. If you browse the forums, you'll see that quite a few posts criticize the lack of polish, content, and personality on many levels. 

We were worried about exactly what is happening now: a release in a "beta 6" state. That's at least 2 betas too early.

moreover, i don't feel the game offers anything new to the genre. it all feels too formulatic and very familiar. i was really looking forward to the tactical battles, but they feel so straightforward and unimpressive that it's almost depressing. i've been waiting for this game for almost a year, and it seems like a big disappointment to me so far.

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August 23, 2010 1:12:46 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

thanks xan... i appreciate the well-rounded review... its constructive feedback like this that can only help further refine the game...

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August 23, 2010 1:17:34 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Except the majority of those people have only played it for a few hours.  Give it time  - bad news travels faster than good news.

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August 23, 2010 1:18:54 PM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

Quoting Mobella,
thanks xan... i appreciate the well-rounded review... its constructive feedback like this that can only help further refine the game...

Agreed but then those other two had to show up and ruin it.

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August 23, 2010 1:20:14 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Giant mega-game studios like Blizzard with literally billions of dollars in cash can afford to sit on a game for a couple years and keep polishing (ahem Starcraft 2).

Indie studio like Stardock on the other hand have bills to pay and have to release on schedule, take their chances with the reviewers, and keep polishing and supporting their games for months and years after release (which incidently the big game corps don't bother to do since they already have your money and don't really care).

While Elemental 1.0 certainly has some issues (which I don't think people should really comment on since this is like a free preview and the real release is with the 1.1 patch tomorrow), the game is still fairly fun out of the box. A lot of the griping seems to have as much to with people's inflated expectations for perfection as it does with the legitimate technical or gameplay issues with this version. A strategy game like this is almost infinitely more complex to balance than, say a linear shooter type game. I've never know a strategy game ever to not have at the very least some major balance issues out of the box. The beta-testers are saying this version is much better than beta 4 and we're not even playing the release version yet.

Since I love strategy games, and since not many studios make them because most of the money is in point-and-shoot games that bore me to tears, I'm willing to give the developers a break and view Elemental as work in progress that's only going to get better and better as it ages.

 

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August 23, 2010 2:26:40 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting zarq42,
i've been waiting for this game for almost a year, and it seems like a big disappointment to me so far.

Isn't that usually how it goes?  The people who anticipate something the most are most often the ones disappointed for a number of reasons.  Part of it is that reality rarely lives up to the expectations that have been built up.  Speaking as a relative newcomer (I found out about Elemental a week ago), I'm able to see the game for what it is and not what I imagined it would be, and I think it's a pretty solid and fun game at the moment that just needs a few patches to iron out some minor technical issues (slowdown when looking at cities; tactical battles occasionally decreasing framerates to a crawl).

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August 23, 2010 2:43:46 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Thanks Xan...we'e working eagerly on the Day0 path still, so any good vibes we encounter are appreciated (as well as constructive feedback)!

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August 23, 2010 2:53:01 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

My crashing issues stopped when I disabled auto save. Don't know if that helps troubleshooting or not.

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August 23, 2010 2:58:17 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

My crashing issues stopped when I disabled auto save. Don't know if that helps troubleshooting or not.
Sure does...I've passed that clue onto the team. Thanks for the clue!

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August 23, 2010 3:11:21 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I have to say I am greatly impressed with the progress of the game. I admit that the campaign is lacking in a big way but I love the game itself.

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August 23, 2010 3:25:50 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Gnrl Tempest, and Tourresh

both of your Debug.err files say "last updated on: Tue Aug 17".  We actually put up an update to Elemental last night at 11pm.  So go to Impulse and grab that.  Then let us know if you still get crashes.


Fillthgrinder,

Turn autosaves back on and I'd like to see a debug.err from you if you get a crash.


Thanks guys,
~C

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August 23, 2010 3:28:12 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I have played about six hours. I've had three CTDs, two of which were in the campaign. While it isn't as polished as my last purchase (StarCraft 2), that is to be expected. That said, this is still, in my opinion, the best game Stardock have made, and I REALLY loved Sins (yeah I know, Ironclad but meh). This is the first turn-based 4X which has really gripped me, GalCiv was fine but I never got so involved with it. Elemental really is good, and will be amazing once they've ironed out the bugs.

 

Edit: About crashes - I looked at the debugs for all of them, saw that they were all immediately after saves, so also disabled autosaves. So far so good.

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August 23, 2010 3:29:12 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Have played a little bit now (unfortunatelly don't have much time to play) and I like what I see. Parts of the game are similar to other games, but the game as a whole is not similar to anything I have seen. The technical issues do exist, but they are not so terrible as some people say, and I am confident they will get solved.

All in all, good value for my money.

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August 23, 2010 3:35:31 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Personally the biggest most urgent problems with Elemental now are the crashes and the poor performance.  I posted on the support forum about this.  The fps that I'm getting right now is unacceptable and just as in the beta, it gets worse the longer you play.

As far as content goes, it definitely needs more content but I know that will come in time.  Its still a fun game as it is now.  Oh, and good job with the UI... I love it, and its miles better then beta 4.

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August 23, 2010 4:14:40 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting CrazyC0330,
Gnrl Tempest, and Tourresh

Fillthgrinder,

Turn autosaves back on and I'd like to see a debug.err from you if you get a crash.


Thanks guys,
~C

 

Eh, where and how do I get the debug.err?

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August 23, 2010 4:23:46 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Oh, sorry.  There is a sticky post on how to report a problem in the Support subsection of the forums.  Here's a link, so that you can be well versed in all the things you should know: http://forums.elementalgame.com/391297

 

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August 23, 2010 4:32:56 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting ,


People often have memories of games they played in the past that don't fit reality. I loved Master of Magic but the game was worthless out of the box. 
 

I disagree, it was great out of the box.  Its problems were due to DirectX and PnP were only ambitions at that time.  So the hardward-to-dos-to-bios-to-dos-to-game was much more difficult back then!

Don't trash talk my MoM!

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August 23, 2010 4:43:23 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Excellent game.

Overview
I have really been getting that one-more-turn feeling. My thoughts are that it is really good.

However, it is also a platform to build on. Now they have a working engine we need to browbeat them to ensure that the next three or four expansions add lots and lots and lots of content.

The Expansions and Patches Requests

Spells - Wants more spells. Interesting global enchantments please. Armageddon anyone? Eternal Darkness? Season of Light? Chaos Channels? Global Fertility? Battlefield spells - Prayer, Darkness, Mass Confusion, Rain of Fire etc. etc. The devs should basically rob the MoM, Dominions 3 and AoW 2 spellbooks.

Artefacts and Equipment - So much more. And more interesting swords, rings and amulets than just +1 - +5 please?

Equipment Abilities - To give more special ability options for regular troops? Bandage pack to give healing power - training component to give First Strike etc. etc.

Building Art Content - more and varied building components for the mod section (crystal buildings, spires like in AoW 1 & 2 for the elves, rounded domes and organic buildings like WarCraft 1 Orcs and organic structures like Zerg or something)

Creatures - Wants more monsters (not just humanoids).

Races - Non humanoid, maybe different gameplay mechanics?

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August 23, 2010 5:39:19 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Giant mega-game studios like Blizzard with literally billions of dollars in cash can afford to sit on a game for a couple years and keep polishing (ahem Starcraft 2).

Indie studio like Stardock on the other hand have bills

Mentioning Blizzard all the time is getting old.

Blizzard is practically unique.  They are so much more successful (with good reason, all their games kill) than anybody else that they are the ONLY game developer that can get away with sitting on games indefinitely.

Everybody else, including Firaxis (civ), who are pretty damned successful, have deadlines and publisher demands to meet.  And yet plenty of other companies manage to produce good games that are in a good state at release.  There's no lack of poor releases and unfinished games but those games get hammered by the press and fans alike.

It's tough to consider Stardock to be truly indie anymore - they've had plenty of success, get plenty of mainstream press, charge normal/full prices for their games, etc.  They might not be as big as some but they're not exactly indie anymore, IMO.

Anyways, I don't think anyone needs to make excuses for Stardock or compare them to anyone else.

I pre-ordered Elemental based on my love of GalCiv (and GC1) and the way Stardock does things, and I dabbled in beta thru the latest pre-release build just the other day, and Elemental just doesn't really grab me.  I'll keep trying it as the release builds hit and get patched, but my enthusiasm is pretty low at this point.  There seems to be some folks here who think the game is amazing and I'm not seeing it at all, so hopefully it's just me and I'm missing the boat thus far.

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