Elemental: Launch-Week Status Report

A Quick Journal before we sleep for 48 hours straight...

By on August 27, 2010 7:34:38 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

ScottTykoski

Join Date 03/2001
+109

So launch week has come and gone. It’s certainly been...exciting?  Anxiety producing? Wonderful? Crazy exausting? All the above? 

Brad is currently taking some much deserved time off with his family, and, with v1.06 out the door, the team is about to do the same. We’ll be back Monday, but before then, I wanted to bring everyone up to speed on what we’re working on....

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1. The Mega Feedback List
We love feedback . Good, bad, ugly, whatever...this is as much your game as it is ours, so it’s with great excitement that we visit countless forums, lurking in the shadows as Elemental is discussed. Hear a muffled cough as you discuss the magic system on forums.penny-arcade.com? Just us   No reason to be afraid.

As suggestions/complaints/bugs are posted, anywhere, they get cobbled into a master feedback spreadsheet with a column called “Count”. The more an Issue is complained or talked about about, the higher it climb on the list, giving a better view on how the entire WORLD feels about the game..it makes me feel very Adrian Veidt.

Current major issues being addressed internally...
- Magic System Numbers (currently rolling 0-x, meaning high level spells missing)
- City management screen
- Cursor/Selection Funkiness in Tactical Battles
- More informative UI across the board
- More Maps
- Overall balance (overpowered late game units, overpowered peasants, etc)

2. Performance Issues
People with awesome rigs are getting crummy performance. This is the next major ‘bug’ on our list, and we’ve made some major headway. Most of the issue lies with the LOD on zoom technology that fades things out as a zoom percentage is reached. As overall zoom range, specific LOD levels, and new tile diesigns are tweaked and added, the game seems to be displaying many objects, in general, when zoomed out. Code is being tweaked to make batching faster and tile designs are being tweaked to simplify better as the user zooms out...

Debug Message:  *** TD Details: F_Town_02 ***
Closest:0
Closer:0
Close:19
Mid:44
Far:14
Farther:3
Farthest:17
Total Objects:97

The fallen Town, for instance, clocks in at 97 objects, many of these being dupes that get batched together. Unfortunately, we don’t start fading out objects until the ‘Mid’ zoom level...right before the cloth map is enabled (at its default value), so even zoomed out pretty far we’re still displaying all 97 objects when we could probably get away with 40-50.

So while there’s no ‘silver bullet’, improvements across these areas of the LOD system should help performance issues considerably.

Oh, wait, Jesse just fixed some code and is now seeing a 10-20 fps boost...so apparently there WAS a silver bullet...and apparently he’s saving the details for his own change log    But good news, regardless! (jesse: so hovering over a city that used to give me 25fps now gives me 42-43)


3. AI Prep
Brad may be off the grid, but I can only imagine the AI plans he’ll come back with. To that end, we’re going to be cleaning code to make it easier for him to access specific circumstances that the AI can intelligently react to (how many times have you gone back on peace treaties, how many wars have you started, how many wars have you successfully fought back against, etc).


4. Playing the Game and Brainstorming for the Future
This is what I’m most looking forward to. We’ve been in 100% ‘make the game’ mode, giving us no time to enjoy our creation (I’ve snuck in a few hours, but always feel guilty about it). Now that we have time to play, we also have time to brainstorm what WE want to put into the game. Many times this will synch up with what you guys want, but it’s amazing what the team will do, even in their free-time, to make the game better (my ‘wouldn’t it be cool’ feature is a spell that locks escape routes, making a given T.Battle a fight to the finish).


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So that’s where we are, three days after release. There are other issues being addressed - we’re on the lookout for future Win7 64bit ATI issues, and balance/pacing will remain high on our priority lists, but more than anything, we look forward to hearing what you guys have to say about the game....for good or ill...in the weeks and months to come!

Now, seriously, time for bed.

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August 27, 2010 7:36:37 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

it will get better

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August 27, 2010 7:40:59 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Pantasd,
it will get better

I have no doubt on that.

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August 27, 2010 7:43:16 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Truthfuly the only only thing i really would like to see is the unit creator for monsters and such. Armor plated dragons and deamon wielding swords would be myth and legend. Maybe research how to make them in spell, proper facilities in war, materials in conquest, and of course diplomacy is the creature themself.

Ir be able to... be other 'races' but i know thats more of a mod. Being dragon hehe. drake offspring...

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August 27, 2010 7:47:18 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting ,
As suggestions/complaints/bugs are posted, anywhere, they get cobbled into a master feedback spreadsheet with a column called “Count”. The more an Issue is complained or talked about about, the higher it climb on the list, giving a better view on how the entire WORLD feels about the game..it makes me feel very Adrian Veidt.
There you go, giving some people reasons to spam.

 

 

Have a nice (and relaxed) weekend!

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August 27, 2010 7:52:35 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Excellent update, I am one who will be making my purchase very soon

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August 27, 2010 7:54:18 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting ,

.... but it’s amazing what the team will do, even in their free-time, to make the game better (my ‘wouldn’t it be cool’ feature is a spell that locks escape routes, making a given T.Battle a fight to the finish).

That's gotta be a spell called Thunderdome

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August 27, 2010 7:54:28 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Thanks for the update, Boogie-san Get some rest this weekend, you guys have done awesome with patches this week!

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August 27, 2010 7:54:41 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

It's good to see that the team is constantly working on making this better; because to be honest, it needs a lot of work (i.e. game breaking bugs that are still affecting me). I think it's good you're putting bugs and such first on your list, but with the constant overarching complaints about fundamental game issues, this should never be far from your minds. There's key issues in the magic, tactical battles, overall fun factor in the game that need to be addressed. But I have faith that with time you guys will make this a solid game worthy of being on every strategy fan's list of games to play.

Also I think it's pretty amazing that THIS much work has already been put into this game in 3 days; that's pretty outstanding for support after release.

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August 27, 2010 8:01:00 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

THIS is the kind of post I love from Stardock!!!

WTG guys! Can't wait!! (Make it quick, eh? lol)

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August 27, 2010 8:07:27 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Is multi-player going to be available next week?

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August 27, 2010 8:07:40 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Thank you for keeping us up to date! Get some sleep.  Look forward to seeing what next week brings.

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August 27, 2010 8:19:47 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Thanks for the update.

There is one thing that I hope you guys keep in mind while making changes to the game (this was brought up by a poster in a thread about unit customization being 'toothless'). There needs to be an overarching game plan to Elemental. Right now the game is simply a collection of neat features that don't really interact with one another.

What I suggest you do is take a sheet of paper and just write about the game. Write a guide on how a player is supposed to 'win' a match. Define the early game, middle game and late game. List and describe what kind of things a player should be doing at each stage. What technologies should a player focus on in the early game? What about a bit later? What should prompt a player to switch from researching the civilization techs to adventure /military/magic/diplomacy techs? When should a player start making forward observers instead of regular observers? When does a player need to build a harbor? When should a player be making their second city? What strategic opportunities is the player presented with by taking a second/third/etc... city earlier than his opponent? When should the player research the military armour and weapon techs as opposed to the magic weapon techs?

 

When you are thinking of and answering these questions try to have a vision, or direction for the game. Do not make it 'open-ended', it just makes it harder for you to balance things and defeats the whole purpose of this exercise.

 

Good luck.

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August 27, 2010 8:21:28 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

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August 27, 2010 8:25:20 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

@ marlowwe

If I had to take a guess (and my psyche won't let me go without making one), I would say those questions will get asked and answered naturally as the AI starts to come "alive" in the post release updates.

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August 27, 2010 8:30:28 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

 

 

SD, thank you for making open ended games that have more than one  strategy, and more than one way to win, other than one certain way with a specific time to build harbors, and the choice to pursue conquest or diplomacy or technology, with complete control over your empire and units. Please continue to add more options for diversification and continue to refine the viability of multiple strategies and abilities, allowing for effective open endedness, like you did in Gal Civ 2.

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August 27, 2010 8:32:35 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

You know, I was dead set on not buying the game considering how much I've read on various problems. Gamespot today just announced that they're going the "Wait and see" approach before delving into a full review. That worried me. But, what I've noticed here is the transparency to design and customer support. You keep us well informed on the changes happening now and you release patches very quickly to get the game up to speed. It's nice seeing a company so involved with the customers and are actually listening to them! That means a lot to me and I'm sure many other as well. I'll be getting this game soon, now that I know this game is in very capable hands.

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August 27, 2010 8:41:34 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

um...multiplayer ?

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August 27, 2010 8:46:48 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Dear Stardock,

 

The game is already good and is getting better with each update. One thing that frustrates me though, is the ultra slow and unchangeable mana regeneration rate, sigh.

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August 27, 2010 8:47:58 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting ,

  (my ‘wouldn’t it be cool’ feature is a spell that locks escape routes, making a given T.Battle a fight to the finish).

 

There is, it's called "auto-resolve" - just kill the baddies that can hurt you, then hit the auto-resolve button and your dudes will automatically wipe out all the peons, wives, and the like that are running too fast for the exits for you to catch them.

 

Yes, this is probably a [bug] btw, auto-resolve probably should not force-fight people who are running away.

 

-tid242

 

ps: the auto-resolve "spell" also uses 0 MP as well!, so you can do it every-battle and not have to worry about running out of mana!

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August 27, 2010 9:06:10 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I think post like this help everyone feel more confident... how about next week different devs post on different days a quick done list/to-do list just so we can see how different areas are going? maybe have jessie explain the fps trick?

also hope that "Magic System Numbers" is followed closely by other combat numbers... general to-hit rolls, defence rolls, action points, individuals vs groups, low health and such... I like the MoM mechanics although I look forward to something even better than that in time. (some mom mechanics here figures 20+ in the strategy guide)

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August 27, 2010 9:07:50 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Yeah, Multiplayer too...I'm just a bit removed from that part, but definatly coming soon.

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August 27, 2010 9:12:29 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Enjoy your weekend off.

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August 27, 2010 9:16:53 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Biggest gameplay problems after many hours

1: The biggest, most baddest AI on an 8AI small map suicided at my door by sending in his king with pitiful backup.  (on easy)

2: Magic doesn't feel terribly magic-y.  I want giant spells that have a chance to backfire (rain fire across a wide area on the cloth map, but if I'm not strong enough the storm could go haywire and spawn above him instead).  Or a spell that *could* double or even triple the output of a mine, yet it could also open it to endless caverns of monsters.  Aka : Turns mine into portal for monsters. 

3: Elemental Shards don't' feel very powerful.  I'm never in a rush (even on a 8AI smallest map) to get them.  Throw in a few abilities that require a shard or more.  If a channeler is on top of a shard he should get a tremendous bonus. 

4: Cities feel more or less the same.  I rarely have felt a decision between 2 structures, other than which one should come first.  A city build for my front line isn't any different than one in the safest of locations aside from the fort.

5: I created a maphack ingame.  Or in a better description, I spent $500 on $10 rings to grant me +50 eyesight when all equipped.  Unequipping and the vision is still there..

 

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August 27, 2010 9:18:01 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Agreed that "to-do" lists are very encouraging, reassures us that you're aware of and working on the things we keep complaining about Which is especially important for the new customers I imagine, who may not share the confidence us longterm fans have, considering that most companies don't listen to feedback and actively support games post-release like Stardock does.

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August 27, 2010 9:24:07 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

You guys did a great job during these last few days. You certainly deserve a few days break

 

But don't keep us waiting too long for more updates

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