Why is everyone upset the game came out "early"?!?

By on September 2, 2010 11:44:49 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

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Sorry for the dissertation, but if you are bored while waiting for Elemental to get fixed and want to contemplate the silliness of the human psyche....

I must admit I don't understand all the anger/people saying Stardock should have delayed releasing Elemental until February 2011.  It seems to me that EVERYONE is better off with the game released and in players' hands, rather than having Stardock work on it internally for another 6 months before release:

1.) Stardock

Obvious - better off cause they have people's money, and can get players to do their "beta testing", find bugs, etc. without having to pay them...big win.

2.) Players who like the game

"Fanboys" or not, there are apparently a lot of people (50%-ish in the poll, and some positive comments in the forums) who are enjoying playing the game, even if they realize it is not perfect.  They are happy it is out now so they get 6 months more of enjoyment.  Plus the ability to make suggestions, which means the game will be better by Feb 2011 than it would be if it was just in Stardock's hands internally...let's face it, the official beta-testing process was not, and would not have been, as intense as what is happening now that the game is released - i.e. whenever the game got released players would have a lot of complaints/suggestions, and this way they are taken care of now, rather than 6 months from now.  So you get to have whatever fun you can have with the game now, PLUS have the game in better shape by next February than it would otherwise be...PLUS have Stardock feeling bad and more likely to give additional free content that they were planning on charging for going forward = big win for this group, as well.

3.) Players who hate/are frustrated by the game in current form

Okay, you hate the game.  Don't play it until next February, and you are in the same place you'd be if they didn't release it until then.  Only you are even BETTER off, becasue of the reasons outlined above....you at least have the chance to make suggestions, and/or have other people climbing all over the game and improving it, so it will be better this way by February 2011 than it would have been if they didn't release it until then.  Plus more Stardock effort/free stuff, as above.  Okay, you had to put up your $50 now.  But since you were going to spend $50 next February, you didn't LOSE $50, you just lost the use of that $50 for 6 months.  Left in the bank, at the current .1% interest, that "costs" you $.025 in interest (pre-tax!).  That sucks, but only a little.  I would think if you were going to plop down $50 in 6 months anyways, plopping down, in effect, $50.025 now to get a more-robust, fully tested and vetted game in 6 months that you can mess around with now if you feel like it (and ignore if you don't), PLUS get Stardock's extra effort to make up the problem stuff, seems like a pretty good deal.  So ignore the game, come back in February, and have a better game due to the "early" release than you would have had otherwise.  If losing out on the $.025 interest on your money for 6 months really annoys you, get a refund and rebuy later - annoying, but not catastrophic, especially relative to the "free look" at maybe enjoying the game now and definelty enjoying the game more once it's been refined by the rest of the public.  Either way, the "pre-mature" release seems like a small win even for this group.

I understand if a company releases a game that's not ready, takes your money, and walks away...that REALLY sucks, and no one wants to support the trend of companies doing that.  But no one,  even those who hate the game in it's current form, appears to think Stardock is going to do that.

Feeling like you are going to get something great, and then having to wait, is annoying...but you'd have to wait if they delayed the release, too.  And buying something you thought you'd like, and having to go through the hassle of getting a refund cause you need the money to buy something else to amuse yourself, is also annoying.  But it also seems that the annoyance is small compared to the CHANCE to get a look at something early...you might like it..you might not like it but like the chance to help reshape it...you probably will like it more in 6 months than you would have if the release was delayed...it just seems to me that if you really THINK about it, we should ALL be glad Stardock released this game now rather than working on it internally until Febrauary of next year... Stardock wins; people who are enjoying the game now win, and even people who dislike the game in it's current format kinda win.  So why the hate?!?!

...if you truly believe that they will continue to improve the game as much as they would have if they kept it internal for 6 more months, the "early" release is a GREAT thing for EVERYONE (like how the capital letters make my points so much stronger.."look, it's in capitals..must be right!").  And it gets even better if you STOP writing how much you hate the game in the forums, and let other people help improve it for you without the distraction!!

Stardock - KEEP releasing games early, AS LONG AS YOU WORK HARD TO SUPPORT THEM AFTER RELEASE, we all win that way!!!!!!

 

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September 2, 2010 5:39:47 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Thanks Brad and Boogie for your posts.

I've been refraining from writing an actual review (with a mark) for Elemental despite being asked to, and the guy at the website who asked me also wondered whether we shouldn't wait for 1.1. I think the industry at large understands the game is unfinished and still has potential. Which is why it's a such a waste.

I also disagree with the fact that having waited wouldn't have resulted in a better launch.

There was ONE big problem with the BETA.

At no point, ever, in the beta was there a GAMEPLAY beta.

Never, ever. I was absolutely astounded at the ability of other players to make comments on stuff like what should go in city building when it was, actually, totally irrelevant to winning the game. I don't think I ever cast a single spell in the whole beta because there was no point to it. I just went to build a melee sovereign and slaughter everyone single-handedly and it worked everytime, but any kind of concern about it ended up with "balance isn't in yet, it'll be in the final version". Which means that, indeed, you hid the head in the sand when people said the game was unbalanced or unchallenging.

Had you given the beta testers the option to test the gameplay, things could have been very different. I can no longer find the beta forums, but the various betas were about hardware/stability first, then some core mechanics, then some features here and there, but hardly ever the whole thing together. There was never the option to check the game against an ai, nor against another human.

 

I'll repeat 2 things I said early in the beta, which I think both still stand true and could help make the game better;

1) Hotseat MP.

I can hear you: So what? Make the game better? Hardly anyone will play hotseat.

Hardly any player will. But hotseat is the best way to check game balance, mechanisms, by trying tactics against yourself. The alternative is ai, which is more work since it has to be adjusted to every gameplay change while the human brain doesn't need to.

2) Map scripting.

This one's a relatively minor feature, but the fact that players got unhappy about the lack of randomness of maps on day 1 means a lot. You could save yourselves lots of coding effort by just opening up the map format and scripting to python. All Civ IV map scripts could quite easily be ported to Elemental, with the matter of resources placement being the only one that need serious rewriting since ResourceTypes xml are a bit different from the civ equivalent, and you want food near start position.

 

What are the problems with Elemental right now?

-Stability. I'll painfully admit it's not the worst issue. Many PC games are unstable. People could live with this and just blame the PC industry, the variety of graphics card and whatnot. I can live with the game crashing every two hours. But on top of the rest, it's unbearable.

-Gameplay. No challenge for lack of AI. Pace is also too slow. Both of these would have needed the ai to be in before, and a gameplay beta would have helped.

-UI. Quite a few UI issues had been posted in the beta (f.e. look for those about the inventory management). I still found some of my ui mockups for army management on imageshack yesterday. There's a great post about UI shortcomings out there anyway. I wonder if your saying that the internal beta was different from the public one probably didn't harm. Basically, I think some comments were ditched, or people may have been less vocal in the beta, knowing that you kept saying the internal beta was so much better and didn't hurt your eyes as the public one did.

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September 2, 2010 5:46:21 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Frogboy,
(I'm up north on vacation typing on an extremely slow connection so bear with me)

I don't think people yet fully realize the completeness of Stardock's fail on Elementa's launch.

I'm going to write more about this but not only did we think v1.05 was ready for everyone but we felt v1.0 was too. That's the level of disconnect/poor judgment on our part we're talking about.

If the game had come out in February, it would still have been a disastrous launch because lack of time wasn't the issue. It was blindness, sheer blindness.  We felt the game was finished. And I speak of v1.0, not v1.05.  Blindness.

There will be massive consequences for Stardock's game studio.  I'll be talking more about this when I get back. But the game wasn't released early. The game was released poorly. Head in the sand syndrome imo.  I've read the reviews as much as possible given my hideous internet access up here and I agree with them. We just didn't see what they were talking about. We thought any complaints would be about polish points or something. 

The point is, the issue here is far far worse than many of you think it is. I wish it was an issue of the game being released too early. That's an easy thing for a company to "fix".  Elemental's launch is the result of catastrophic poor judgment on my part.

EVERY competent software developer knows that the programmer must never be the one deciding whether the program is done. Yet, my love of Elemental broke my self discipline and I began coding on the game itself in vast amounts and lost any sense of objectivity on where the game's state was. I normally only program the AI on our games so I can keep a level of distance from the game itself to determine whether it's "Ready". On Elemental, I was in love with the world and the game and lost my impartiality.

We'll do better. 

Thank you for this message Frogboy. With  the ongoing explosion on the forum since over a week now it is very valuable for us to have at least a first impression and clue of how you and Stardock think about what happened. 

Like was already expressed above, an additional stage in the beta could probably have given Elemental the reality check it evidently needed, if the players had had the chance to play the full game in beta. Since there are both crash/bugs issues and issues of mechanics and content, a few months could probably have been used to gather feedback and testing various new solutions. To make Elemental the shining, polished jewel we all want it to be. Maybe this is just the beginning of that jorney ... 

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September 2, 2010 6:00:58 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting LDiCesare,
There was ONE big problem with the BETA.

At no point, ever, in the beta was there a GAMEPLAY beta.

Never, ever. I was absolutely astounded at the ability of other players to make comments on stuff like what should go in city building when it was, actually, totally irrelevant to winning the game. I don't think I ever cast a single spell in the whole beta because there was no point to it. I just went to build a melee sovereign and slaughter everyone single-handedly and it worked everytime, but any kind of concern about it ended up with "balance isn't in yet, it'll be in the final version". Which means that, indeed, you hid the head in the sand when people said the game was unbalanced or unchallenging.

Had you given the beta testers the option to test the gameplay, things could have been very different. I can no longer find the beta forums, but the various betas were about hardware/stability first, then some core mechanics, then some features here and there, but hardly ever the whole thing together. There was never the option to check the game against an ai, nor against another human.

 

Yeah I agree with this totally, and it's been said a few times. The balancing issues that we have now simply never got tested in beta, because that phase didn't exist. Balance is hard. It takes time, and a lot of gaming. In that sense the beta SHOULD have been a huge help because there's a whole army of testers to collect data from rather then a smaller group internally. But we never got the chance.

 

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September 2, 2010 6:09:13 PM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

Quoting Sir_Linque,

1) Stardock gets a dent in their reputation, because the reviews bash this game. There's a lot of bad publicity already around Elemental. It will probably hurt sales in the long run.

2) The community might end up being smaller due to the game receiving bad publicity now, compared to being released in February 2011 and getting rave reviews.

3) While I have faith that the game will be a lot better in 6 months, I have doubts about how much Stardock can overhaul now that the game is released. When in beta state, it's more understandable that some features might be completely outed. I wish they have the courage to really rework a lot of the parts that are not working well at all (dynasties, tactical battles) instead of just patching them up.

1.  I'll never buy another Stardock game "early" after this.  They get our money for a beta?  No thanks.  I'm sure one day Stardock will make Elemental the game it should be, but next time I'll wait for more evidence that they aren't releasing a clunker that they'll fix AFTER they have the money...

2.  Word of mouth is a powerful thing in the game industry.

3.  Given the time, they can make it a good game.

 

 

 

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September 2, 2010 6:10:21 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Annatar11,

I don't really agree with this. Most mechanics are solid, just need a good balance and scaling pass. All the games you listed are purely subjective, too. I played AoW:SM, but I don't really think it's essential for Elemental to model anything from it. I played FFH2, and don't particularly think anything needs to be in Elemental from it, either. It's entirely possible to tweak Elemental's tactical battles to work with the current stat system and overall mechanics without throwing it out and re-designing it from scratch.

 

I was not telling them to take features from those games, I was telling them to play games with coherent systems, and realize that for a game to have staying power, it must be coherent.  I'm on the record as saying I don't even like AoW:SM, but I recognize that it was well conceived, the mechanics work, the victory conditions make sense, the balance between might and magic is there (or where they wanted it anyway).  FFH2 is much more civ like than perhaps anyone wants, but none the less, the balance, the concepts, everything ties together to make it very appealing (and consider that it's a huge mod, which now has huge modmods out for it...).  If the core game mechanics suck then even the modders will eventually get annoyed, or they will have to rewrite the game to fix broken pieces, like what happened with MoO3.

 

Now I probably overstated the 'all the mechanics are broken', but not by much if you take them all into consideration as they relate to each other.  Indeed, magic is utterly broken right now, it's useless compared to warefare.  In my opinion the tactical battles are broken because they simply do not model the combat in an interesting or fun way.  Sure, they 'work', but they are not good.  City building, teching, ... everything needs to go, be redesigned with the other pieces in mind, and then brought back to the table.  I don't think a piecemeal approach to fixing this game is going to work, because the relations between the different mechanics need to be examined and tuned with everything in mind, not just 'oh, magic isn't interesting?  lets do something about that' and then you find that now diplomacy is shafted because of some 'cool' feature you added to magic.

 

I don't think we've really even scratched the surface with what is 'wrong' with elemental, which is why I think that a completely new look at the design by SD is appropriate, since the sooner they address that the sooner we can all move forward.

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September 2, 2010 6:32:27 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Sorry Frogboy but I see your comments as "too little, too late". The genie is already out of the bottle. Please don't take this as a personal attack because that's not the intent. Most CEO's would not have gone on sabbatical or vacation with such a failed launch. It may have been planned and you absolutely have a right to time with your family but the timing was awful. It puts your company in a bad light. It gives the impression that you don't care or that you're the type to hide or fold under pressure. Forgive me if I'm wrong but that's the perception. And with the way the game released there's also the perception that your Gamer's Bill of Rights was nothing more than a sales pitch. I've been a Stardock customer for years and I've lost faith and trust due to this release. Trust is something that doesn't come easy. You have to earn it. Right now you have a huge mountain to climb to re-earn my trust. No matter how much I love Stardock I will always be a little leary about pre-ordering or buying from you without waiting several months after release.

My personal opinion on what to do with Elemental is take a "mulligan". For those not familiar with the term it basically means do over. Recall and refund the game. Work on it and re-release it in February. If that means no shelf space then just release through Impulse. Those who have blind faith in you should have no problem repurchasing. Others who aren't so sure are probably lost now anyway. I honestly don't see any other way because there's just too much broken. Look at it another way too. What better way to show you stand for something than by having the balls to do a recall and show the gaming industry that releasing an unfinished product or a product with major problems is unacceptable to you and to Stardock? All the bad will generated by this release would all be wiped away by taking such a stand. It would also show that your Gamer's Bill of Rights was not just a fancy salespitch and actually stands for something. Again forgive me if this seems like a personal attack. That was not my intent. One thing I've learned in 30 years of sales is that image is everything. You made some bad choices.

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September 2, 2010 6:49:20 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

It takes something to admit that one lost oneself in a dream, that seemed so dazzling that one was blinded by its perceived beauty. And for that you, the people at Stardock and especially Mr. Wardell as the essence of this dream, its dreamer, have my utmost respect.

I cannot deny, that Elemental bewitched me as well, fascinated by all its ideas and the prospect to finally find a spiritually heir to a great game of the past. But I also cannot deny, that I awoke from my own dream. Somewhat unpleasant, but also - as with every dream - thankful for it. How it was for you, the ones who tried to bring this dream to life, I can merely guess ...

But the more I'm happy for the fact, that you want to see this thing through and allow us to accompany you on your way. Elemental has its flaws, but it also has its moments. There a things that make your skin itch as well as moments that make you carve just the .. one ..more .. turn, that has become curse as well as wish and hallmark of this whole genre.

So lets make this game shine together. And if we customers get sometimes grumpy along the way [as I have certainly been over the last days and probably will be again], bear with it ... its probably just some unpleasant bump in the road, that disturbed the dream of this game, that we and you share.

So let me conclude again expressing that I'm deeply grateful for your explanation and apology and that I bow before the true human greatness in it. Something like that is not easy ...

Rabenhoff

 

 

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September 2, 2010 6:58:01 PM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

Some points:

1) Back in June a number of beta testers politely and respectfully expressed doubts the game would be release-ready in August, and the reception to that was frankly high-handed, imperious, and in one case downright rude.  There was definitely a 'we know better, and since you disagree with us obviously your judgment is flawed and will be ignored' attitude.  I acknowledge that not all beta testers and their comments are accurate or worth considering, but some of the doubts were from testers who by their behavior should have been given serious consideration (pigeonpigeon and tridus come to mind).

It's a common human tendency to ignore what we don't want to hear.  The leaders I respect seek out contrary opinions, and employees who will tell the boss something even when the employee knows the boss doesn't want to hear it.

2)the public beta was really a 'traditional alpha' -- testing parts of the game not the whole, and revisions/additions/removals of major parts of the game were occurring.   What we're seeing now since release is a 'traditional beta'.

3)I can't understand how 1.0 or 1.05 could be considered release-ready given:

-no MP -- which is a major part of the game.  It's not that it's incomplete/broken, it's not enabled.  MP is a promised, basic core feature.  I simply can't reconcile no MP and the belief that the game was ready.

-basic 'polish' is missing or incomplete, such as UI hotkeys -- just about everything should have a hotkey and they should be programmable.  Was it thought that this isn't necessary in a game these days?

-gameplay balance, for example: are all the spell lines equally viable?  I saw mention that some spells were removed as release approached due to redundancy, but they were redundant only if one took all the spell lines -- what about someone who want to try a 'fire-only' game?  Does each spell line have a decent of number of new spells each spell level?  If you get a new spell book that requires a certain level in adventuring, are the spells you get appropriate for that stage of the game (ie -- if you're into the middle game are the spells too low level to be of use)?  Are all the spells appropriate for when they're gotten?  Are the spell lines sufficiently different, does each have a basic theme?  Remember the game is "elemental" -- are the spell lines properly 'elemental'?

-the big picture: what makes Elemental special?  I'll argue it's the 'essence/shards' thing.  It's the 'reclaim the land after the fall' thing.  In early beta essence was important for more than merely casting spells.  It was truly a part of creating cities and reclaiming the land.  As beta progressed it got less and less important, and now at release a new player likely doesn't realize the essence-city/reclaiming link.

Similarly, shards were initially required to cast most spells.  This was removed, and now shards merely increase spell 'power'.  Shards lost most of their 'specialness'.

I think the big picture vision thing regarding just what makes Elemental special/unique/different was mostly lost.  Maybe I've misunderstood what Elemental is all about, and if so never mind.  I like what I thought Elemental was supposed to be and I'd like to see that in the game.

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September 2, 2010 6:58:13 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

When Demigod had it's fiasco launch, and Brad went all sincere about their errors, i felt really impressed.

now i just feel a deja vu.

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September 2, 2010 7:00:54 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Annatar11,

I don't really agree with this. Most mechanics are solid, just need a good balance and scaling pass.

Sorry but no, some things are just plain broken and need to be redone from the ground up.

 

Combat damage - 1DN is horrible and needs to go away, we need Gaussian distributions at the minimum. Preferably we at least reconsider the whole Attack - Defense = Damage concept with a look towards a ToHit vs. Defense and Damage vs. various Damage Resistance system. This cannot just be fixed by tweaking a couple of values.

Squads - This is just broken. The idea is that 1x 8 man is better than a 2x 4 man, but only marginally. Fine, I can handle that conceptually. The problem is that the current combat system and stats make 1x 8 man squad > 4x 4 man squads. Not to mention 1x 8 man is > 20 1x champions. It's not just a matter of changing multipliers or numbers it's a matter of changing how combat and stats fundamentally work.

Spells and Mana - There are whole spell concepts missing and the way mana regen works is plain bad (I'm aware they're looking at fixing it, but it needs more than just to scale with essence value is my point)

Spellbooks - The current spellbook system is not good. They're all nearly identical and there's no reason not to take them all, and paradoxically very little reason to take more than one since sovereign points are not very useful. We need to make spellbook choice a vital matter for gameplay. Something like the MoM system, making the books self sufficient and only allowing (or encouraging only) one pick, or limiting choices and having combinations of books allow things (ie. enchantment and earth are separate books and you only get stone skin if you have both). Lots of options, point is that what we have now needs a major overhaul.

 

Some stuff is just a matter of balance, some stuff is a matter of adding more content (lots more), but some stuff is a matter of taking what's there and completely redoing it.

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September 2, 2010 7:04:29 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I think it's all a matter of expectations.  A certain level of expectations were set, and they were not met.   Personally, my expectations were that this going was to fall about right in line with Demigod.  And unfortunately, it's looking like my expectations have been met.

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September 2, 2010 7:23:20 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Stop Stop Stop. And I'm not just saying that because it takes like half a minute to load up a page from here.

There is a phrase they use in the movie industry "Kill your darlings".

The person green lighting a production should NEVER EVER be the one working on said production.  Writing AI on GalCiv or helping design the game mechanics on Sins of a Solar Empire kept me at a reasonable distance from the actual GAME.  

The problem with Elemental was that I am in love with it. To me, it's not just a game. It's a whole world that we can expand and build on.  During the months of July and August, when I was working on the game non-stop, I literally had a hard time distinguishing the difference between the GAME, the MODS and the future. It all merged into one fuzzy centrality.

Stardock will be working on Elemental for years to come. Literally. Let me be specific: Stardock will NOT release a new game next year. It'll all be Elemental related.  Releasing it in August wasn't a financial decision. Hell, Stardock's games aren't funded by PC game revenue. I wanted you guys to get the game ASAP. 

I think most people would agree that Elemental has tremendous potential. The reason it was released when it was was because we thought it had reached that level ready to be shipped. When you're living, breathing and eating something 24/7, your perspective changes.

From a personal pride point of view, it would be much easier to say "Whohaah, my jet fuel requires Elemental to ship in August!".  To give you guys an idea of how certain I was that the game was ready for everyone to ship, I didn't just give copies to reviewers, I sent copies to my friends who used to be reviewers (long story but the gaming media has changed a lot in the past 18 months) because I was dying for them to see this masterpiece.

Tom Francis's debiliating PC Gamer preview only was possible was because I personally compiled a version for him (of v1.0) for him to see because the v1.0 version doesn't work outside North America (region checking).  In other words, that negative PC Gamer UK preview was only possible because I was so confident in Elemental's readiness that I bypassed Stardock's PR people to get a friend of mine in Europe a copy.

I don't think there should be much disagreement that Stardock absolutely blew it with the launch. Holy cow that should be obvious by now.  In my mind, anything less than "game of the year" (in a year with Starcraft 2 and Civ V in it) means we totally screwed up.

The real question, and the question I think every single person who shelled out $50+ for this game should ask is this: What is Stardock going to do to make me whole?

And the answer, I hope, is in the coming months because, like I said, most of Stardock's revenue doesn't come from making PC games.  

Having my idiocy shown on a global stage is humbling but probably very constructive for PC gamers.  I think most people would agree that Elemental is a fantastic game -- once you get past the idiotic UI decisions, balance, etc.  

We are very fortunate to be in a position to make the situation right. We're our own publisher. We don't have the same financial constraints as other companies so we can spend months or even years if necessary to do right by you guys.

Hopefully, this message will make it up to the forums, (because it was long) but if it does, please take it as it is meant. I failed you. I failed you because I love what we're doing and out of sheer hubris -- that the basic law of programmer != guy who decides if it is done somehow didn't apply to me.  The road to hell is paved with good intentions. 

Elemental is getting pasted in reviews and deserves that pasting. I'm glad many people are having fun but our eyes have been opened.  Like I said before, I'll be writing a lot more about this when I get back to an Internet connection that measures bandwidth with an M instead of a K.

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September 2, 2010 7:40:56 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Brad I wasn't sure until now but you're a standup guy. Takes a lot of balls to say what you just said. You're okay in my book.

One thing I would like to see however is the removal of the story about the glowing 9/10 review from Neoseeker. Your own admission of problems with the game refutes the review. Still showing it as news and providing a link to it sort of puts Stardock in a goofy situation. The CEO claiming the product just released is not up to par and yet providing a link to a 9/10 review. Just a little nitpick is all.

Again I just want to say outstanding response. If I can help in any way feel free to call on me. 

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September 2, 2010 7:43:18 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

 to Frogboy for honesty.

Quoting tetleytea,
I think it's all a matter of expectations.  A certain level of expectations were set, and they were not met.   Personally, my expectations were that this going was to fall about right in line with Demigod.  And unfortunately, it's looking like my expectations have been met.

I expected something comparable to MoM, and my expectations haven't been met so far, but if it's true that SD is going to work on it the entire next year, I still hope they will be.

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September 2, 2010 7:49:04 PM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

Quoting Frogboy,
(I'm up north on vacation typing on an extremely slow connection so bear with me)

I don't think people yet fully realize the completeness of Stardock's fail on Elementa's launch.

I'm going to write more about this but not only did we think v1.05 was ready for everyone but we felt v1.0 was too. That's the level of disconnect/poor judgment on our part we're talking about.

If the game had come out in February, it would still have been a disastrous launch because lack of time wasn't the issue. It was blindness, sheer blindness.  We felt the game was finished. And I speak of v1.0, not v1.05.  Blindness.

There will be massive consequences for Stardock's game studio.  I'll be talking more about this when I get back. But the game wasn't released early. The game was released poorly. Head in the sand syndrome imo.  I've read the reviews as much as possible given my hideous internet access up here and I agree with them. We just didn't see what they were talking about. We thought any complaints would be about polish points or something. 

The point is, the issue here is far far worse than many of you think it is. I wish it was an issue of the game being released too early. That's an easy thing for a company to "fix".  Elemental's launch is the result of catastrophic poor judgment on my part.

EVERY competent software developer knows that the programmer must never be the one deciding whether the program is done. Yet, my love of Elemental broke my self discipline and I began coding on the game itself in vast amounts and lost any sense of objectivity on where the game's state was. I normally only program the AI on our games so I can keep a level of distance from the game itself to determine whether it's "Ready". On Elemental, I was in love with the world and the game and lost my impartiality.

We'll do better. 

Brad, I'm very glad to see this post.  Now that you've admitted what us beta testers were telling you in droves, will you remove my post revocation on elementalgame.com domain?  (Note I'm posting this on one of the other Stardock domains).

I find it highly offensive that you placed an access mask on my account so I cannot post on the Elemental forums, for basically telling you what you've finally admitted to in your post.

Your game tanked.  I predicted it before release, you flamed me.  My predication came true and I referred to my predication, then you blocked my access to post on elementalgame.com domain.

Is that how the CEO of a software company should treat their beta-testers when they are open and honest and tell you what you don't want to hear?

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September 2, 2010 7:51:02 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Wintersong,

In any case, as I already said in another thread, I think that all this is good for Stardock. They learnt from Demigod and now from Elemental. It would have been better for the customers if the whole mess hadn't happened but it has and Stardock can learn a very valuable lesson that can impact possitively later developments.

 

The best person to work on something is someone who messed it up previously - because it won't happen again (at least not the same way!).  So I'm with you - hopefully this will (as Brad implied in his post) lead to leaps forward in on-release quality for future Stardock games.  I'm slightly worried that the lesson wasn't already learned from Demigod (now a great game, but hardly anyone plays), but maybe the problems were different enough not to apply here?

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September 2, 2010 7:53:13 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Alright. That's one hell of a mea culpa. You've done something that most game developers would never do, and that's admit not only were you wrong, you were really wrong. You've earned back a little bit of your rep with me. I wasn't going anywhere in the next year with regards to Elemental, and that's not changed, but I'll be here feeling better that you are going forward with your eyes open.

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September 2, 2010 7:56:48 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I think you misunderstood.  Not early, but unfinished, incomplete, buggy, etc.

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September 2, 2010 8:01:58 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Thanks for coming clean about the Elemental launch.  I really wish though that you would just admit though that the beta testers who kept advising you to delay the game were right.  I realize the whole retail shelf space thing but wouldnt it have been better just to wait the six months and in the mean time making Elemental the best it could be for release? Maybe you could have done an online only release in say November and release it to retail as an "enhanced edition" in Feb?  If money wasn't a concern then why not delay?  You could have "got it out to us" simply by releasing gameplay betas and I would love having six months to help refine gameplay and I'm sure most of the other beta testers would agree.

Thanks for admitting you screwed up, but please realize that there WAS an alternative that you simply refused to consider.

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September 2, 2010 8:04:48 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I think most people would agree that Elemental is a fantastic game -- once you get past the idiotic UI decisions, balance, etc.

 

I'm not sure if this is meant as a joke. Taken seriously... once you get past all the problems, you don't have much of a game left. It's a collection of ideas that don't work as a whole. That's the opposite of a fantastic game.

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September 2, 2010 8:09:54 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Don't be so harsh on the rest of your team, at least.  It's fixable, it's just a question of how much time it'll take to fix it.  Then again, I haven't played it, so...

My current state of mind is still "Wow, I'm really excited for when Elemental comes out!  Don't know when the release date is, yet.  Probably half a year to a year away."

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September 2, 2010 8:10:34 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I'd like to thank Frogboy for his posts on the matter.

 

as for having an enjoyable fantasy TBS ... I hope it happens (eventually) with Elemental, instead of waiting for a fantasy mod of Civ V or Elemental 2.

(and I probably won't buy Civ V till its around 10$ anyways )

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September 2, 2010 8:17:29 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Call me a sucker if you must, but my faith is restored. Can't WAIT to see where this journey takes us!

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September 2, 2010 8:21:54 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Jam Sandwich,

I think most people would agree that Elemental is a fantastic game -- once you get past the idiotic UI decisions, balance, etc.

 

I'm not sure if this is meant as a joke. Taken seriously... once you get past all the problems, you don't have much of a game left. It's a collection of ideas that don't work as a whole. That's the opposite of a fantastic game.

Obviously, if you don't like the game at its core, you probably won't ever like it.  My suggestion would be to read carefully the reviews of Tom Chick, Troy, and even Tom Francis's to get an idea of the level of fail here.

When I worked with Tom Chick on GalCiv II, he could give me feedback and it was to me. If he didn't like something it was no skin off my back because I wasn't coding it. I would just pass it on and make adjustments.  But on Elemental, because I was personally coding (i.e. personally spending 2am mornings coding) a "suggestion" carried a different emotional context.

It doesn't change the fact that I was an idiot or whether Stardock's games unit got filled with "group think". The issue is the *result*. At the end of the day, gamers shouldn't care WHY a launch failed. But rather what the heck the company that just charged you $50 for said game is gonna do about it.

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September 2, 2010 8:25:16 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

You had my support before Brad, and you have it now.  Just don't let us down!

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