A quick note from Brad on Elemental

Edge...network...painful..

By on August 29, 2010 4:45:29 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Frogboy

Join Date 03/2001
+1116

Greetings!

I'm pretty far from a good net connection so I'll keep this brief  

Let me say that I'm glad that most people seem to like the game.  This message, however, is for those who are disappointed with Elemental so far.

Stardock is not just a game studio but it is also a publisher.  What does this mean?  Well, historically, the way it works is a game is released and if people don't like it, they're supposed to buy some expansion pack for it that "fixes" things that people thought should be in the original version. 

We don't have to do that because we're both the studio and the publisher.

That means we can release free "expansion packs" for Elemental until such a high percentage of players love the game that only then can we discuss sequels or paid expansions.

Having had the opportunity to finally get out of the office for the first time in months has let me look at the game (and ahem, play the game for crazy amounts) of time from a new perspective.

I should also say that regardless of sales or reviews, our commitment to Elemental will not be affected. As some of you know, most of our company's revenue doesn't come from developing games. Even if the game didn't sell another copy, we would still continue our update schedule. 

So what will be the concrete results of this?

1. In September we will release v1.1 which will be the first major revision to the game that takes into account the feedback we're getting from players. This will be a  pretty substantial change. In particular, character creation, magic (think, shared mana pools), 

2. We are going to go ahead and make a more traditional tutorial. I'm not a fan of tutorials but some of my grognard friends have had trouble figuring out the mechanics which means to me that we have to do something about that.

3. We are going to move Book 2: Magesa out of a future expansion pack and into the base game in a future "mega" update, likely late Fall.

4. As mentioned on the forums back in July-ish, we plan to make a new DVD gold master available to those with limited Internet connections later this Fall.

5. As discussed (I think) last Winter, I will be taking a sabbatical this Fall specifically so I can dedicate time to AI and modding so that others, long after me, can use the Elemental engine to create other things (you will need to know Python to really go crazy with it).

6. I will NOT be ceasing my postings on other forums.  The guys on Qt3 and Octopus Overlords and elsewhere are my friends. I'm no more going to stop posting there then I would stop going out with my friends to movies and other "public places" where, heaven forbid, someone datamining my comments might find a "gotcha moment". Those people are my friends both on the forums and outside the forums. Interacting with you guys is a major reason I like making games in the first place.

7. To those reviewing the game: I would urge you to review the game prior to v1.1. I say this because v1.05 (the release day version) is the version of the game that was originally released and if that version of the game is considered flawed then my view is that Stardock should suffer the consequences for that. We appreciate the kindness and patience many people have shown.  I just think game studios, including Stardock, need to be conscious of what they release and not expect to "patch themselves out of trouble". I do believe Elemental is, by far, the best game we've ever made but I also agree with most of the criticisms I've read too. The state of PC entertainment has changed since 2006 (when we released GalCiv II) and it is our responsibility to stay with the times. 

In short, we love this game. And we love this community.  We're not going to be leaving this game to work on some other game.  We're with it and you guys for the long haul. 

I won't be around to answer questions until next week so I hope this answers some questions.

 

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August 29, 2010 4:51:55 PM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

Looking forward to the changes, but I love the game regardless. The game IMHO was no buggier than any other games released with better reviews and as such I will continue to support Stardock and their stance on Copy Protection and their dedication to the gaming community. Keep up the good work guys and gals.

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August 29, 2010 4:54:26 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I for one appreciate the note, and am reassured that my investment in your latest product will pay off down the road.  I particularly appreciate your sentiment that game features will be added free of charge until the majority of the community feels we have a finished product that we're willing to re-invest in with a paid expansion.

I hope that you will also consider expanding the mod tools so the community can help with additional mechanics and fixes.

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August 29, 2010 4:56:38 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Awesome.

Point #7 is why I have a great deal of respect for you and your company.

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August 29, 2010 4:58:58 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I wasn't worried, Stardock always delivers. I am loving the game, and it's also fun to watch it "transform".

Shared mana pools? Hell no, please! I fail to see how that could make an improvement! I can understand shared if you are using that spell that allows champions to also cast magic, but not shared as a regular gameplay.

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August 29, 2010 5:02:38 PM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

Thank you for the update! Always great to hear.

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August 29, 2010 5:02:47 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Nice to read about the coming updates and the general state of the development's goin on.

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August 29, 2010 5:03:36 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

This is why I love Stardock.  You actually take time to speak with the gamers playing your games.

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August 29, 2010 5:06:26 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Point #7 is a little of a hot potato for me. I respect what he's saying but I feel the 1.0 version is the one that should be reviewed. Why? Because that's what shipped to retail. Somebody buying off the shelf and not knowing anything about 1.05 or not having internet access is going to be stuck with 1.0. That's the version that should be reviewed not 1.05 or later. I do respect Brad for saying they should take their lumps but I don't think he goes far enough. You can't just assume that people have internet access to get 1.05 so that's what should be reviewed. You have to review what shipped.

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August 29, 2010 5:06:47 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Thanks Brad!

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August 29, 2010 5:07:16 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Thanks for the update. Its good to hear we can expect some major revisions as soon as September. I never doubted you guys would continue to work on and improve this game, but its good to see that you are openly acknowledging the problems and shortcomings in the game, and very good to see you commit to fixing at least the major issues before trying to release another paid expansion. As of yet this game is still unplayable for me, but I hope to be enjoying it soon.

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August 29, 2010 5:12:05 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Stardock is a gamer friendly company. Which is why I'll never hesitate to buy your products.

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August 29, 2010 5:12:06 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Tutorial would be nice my 14yo daughter wants to play and gets frustrated with having to ask dad every 10 minutes for help.....dad is getting frustrated too

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August 29, 2010 5:12:46 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

That's about as good of a designer post as I can imagine regarding Elemental's release and future.  That's a bit of respect won back, at least in my eyes.  Good words.  Looking forward to the actions that follow.

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August 29, 2010 5:13:01 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting tevans6220,
Point #7 is a little of a hot potato for me. I respect what he's saying but I feel the 1.0 version is the one that should be reviewed. Why? Because that's what shipped to retail. Somebody buying off the shelf and not knowing anything about 1.05 or not having internet access is going to be stuck with 1.0. That's the version that should be reviewed not 1.05 or later. I do respect Brad for saying they should take their lumps but I don't think he goes far enough. You can't just assume that people have internet access to get 1.05 so that's what should be reviewed. You have to review what shipped.

So how would these people without Internet read the web reviews of the game in the first place?

Are you saying they have enough Internet access to read a web review but not enough to update the game? 

I disagree with both you and Brad. They should review whatever version of the game they have at the time they do the review. 

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August 29, 2010 5:14:24 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting tevans6220,
Point #7 is a little of a hot potato for me. I respect what he's saying but I feel the 1.0 version is the one that should be reviewed.

And that's exactly what Frogboy actually said.

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August 29, 2010 5:14:28 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Works for me.  Although I didn't expect anything less. 

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August 29, 2010 5:29:37 PM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

this is why i like stardock so much. Communication with fans and dedication to their games. There are few companies that can match this. Finally im enjoying elemental very much. Keep it up

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August 29, 2010 5:32:12 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I thought that 1.05 was the launch day version because v1.0 was the gold ++ because of the early launch, if memory serves me right. On another note, I think it says a lot about a company/ individual/ CEO+PRESIDENT of an entire company, that he is willing to fill us in and be apart of the community and not sit aside on his thrown and talk down to us. He really helps to put a face on Stardock and as part of a niche genre of a PC only game I for one am very grateful. When people talk crap about PC gaming, my ace in the hole is that no console gamer has a Brad Wardell to stick up for them. Brad Wardell for president!  what a fandoi!

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August 29, 2010 5:58:20 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting ,
...I would urge you to review the game prior to v1.1. I say this because v1.05 (the release day version) is the version of the game that was originally released and if that version of the game is considered flawed...
"...if..."?!?!

Are you saying you think 1.05 is in an acceptable state for release and isn't flawed?

I just think game studios, including Stardock, need to be conscious of what they release and not expect to "patch themselves out of trouble".
Strongly agree.  You claimed you wouldn't release before it's ready, and I believed you.  Shame on me for getting fooled (again).

I do believe Elemental is, by far, the best game we've ever made but I also agree with most of the criticisms I've read too.
Strongly agree to both -- Elemental has great potential, unfortunately it was released a few months too early.

The state of PC entertainment has changed since 2006 (when we released GalCiv II) and it is our responsibility to stay with the times.
It sounds like you're trying to claim that somehow things have changed since 2006 and that had you done then what you did now it'd have been ok in 2006.

If so, Nuts to that.

It's never been acceptable to release before a game is ready (stability/balance/UI/AI/etc.-wise).

There were 2 John Wayne personas in the movies -- one would never admit a mistake, the other was man enough to.  I respect the second.  Maybe all the mistakes I've made in the past 50+ years have humbled me to the point of being biased in that way...

 

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August 29, 2010 6:11:47 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Some good news Brad, keep up the good work.

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August 29, 2010 6:11:51 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

As a small-time modder, I have a very important question to you, Frogboy: will there be significant changes to the combat mechanics? (I'm thinking unit groups, but not only). I've spent some time working on balance, but if the combat mechanics are redesigned (which I really, really hope they will, as a wargamer), I will save my time and wait until the patch is released instead (and mod something else).

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August 29, 2010 6:19:46 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Nick, do you ever get tired of being a dick? Seriously? Every post by you screams "sad sack".  Shame on you for constantly wasting our time having to read your drivelings. Go away.  

A lot of us love the game as-is. New features and updates are exciting. Quit shoving your gdamn pretentious crap into every thread, nick. 

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August 29, 2010 6:20:26 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

   This candor on a public forum is what separates Stardock from other publishers who would rather hide their head in the sand when it comes to complaints (both valid and trolls).  I've enjoyed Elemental in spite of the bugs and I'm sure I'll like it even more when they are gone.  

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August 29, 2010 6:23:33 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Does your wife know you're writing this? I can see it now:

"Honey I'm just going to get a beer."

*Sneaks on Internet*

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August 29, 2010 6:24:29 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Thanks for the update Brad, but with all respect no-one from Stardock has ever commented or addressed what many have been saying since the beta versions that the races are boring and one-dimensional. You have listed the easier XML fixes (magic and research etc) but the whole concept of essentially just having a single model with coloured skin that players can dress up with items just doesn't cut it, sorry.

In fantasy games I think players are not looking for traditional real-life races, rather they expect the fantasy races to be distinct species. And some of the races comprising more than just a single species.

It would be preferable to simply have lots of different race-specific buildings to create the armies where you select skeleton archers, bone wizards, vampires etc than the paper-doll approach we have now - which is terribly limiting. It seems like the design objective to allow people to build their own soldiers through paper-doll is a limit on the possibilities rather than a benefit.

And having all of one 'faction' sharing the ability to build on the special sites like Darklings, or spiders, isn't enough of a differentiation. Each race should have its own unique units.

Another thing, the whole taxonomy is very limiting. Instead of:

Faction --> Race
(where the unique buildings are tied to factions.)

it should be:

Alignment --> Race (Species) --> Faction
(where there are unique buildings in all three levels.)

There is so much to like about the direction this game is heading but if the races aren't addressed it is ultimately just going to be the "same-ol' same-ol'" time after time.


The other major issue is the way tactical battles are fought. If sharp vs blunt weaponry don't actually mean diddly-squat in terms of choosing armour and fighting battles then why have them in the research tree?

Ideally the choices made with weaponry etc should have a 'paper - rock- scissors' effect in battles.

And as others have mentioned, there should be many different defensive factors. Defence vs magic should not just be based on your dexterity and armour, as an example.


Finally, I really believe in you guys and if it was any-one else I would have put the game away and gone on to something else. I know it will take time to really get this game humming but if making the races different is too hard to address properly I'd like to know so I don't raise my expectations of what the game could be.

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