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

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

cattess

Join Date 04/2009
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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 8:27:51 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Frogboy, your honesty about the problems is disarming, and makes it very hard to be angry with you. It does nothing to make me any less utterly flabbergasted and amazed though. It's hard to comprehend how anyone who enjoys strategy games could have thought that the current game systems are up to the task. The level of groupthink required to believe it must have been off the scale. On a human level, you and your team must feel shellshocked to suddenly have your paradigm change so much so quickly, and I hope that you're all OK.

Going forward, please hire a couple of troublemakers who are willing to disagree with you to your face. You don't seem to have any at the moment, and they're just about the most valuable thing a leader can have, provided you're willing to occasionally listen to them.

Now that the scales have fallen from the proverbial eyes, I look forward to seeing Elemental grow to meet up to the claims and expectations. The entire stats and combat system pretty much needs reworking from the ground up. While a little painful, I'm sure that can be achieved. It would help if those parts of the game were properly exposed to modders, rather than being hardcoded, so that if in the end we still disagree with design decisions, at least we can change them.

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September 2, 2010 8:31:41 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Brad,

I like the concept. But you have a set of mechanics that do not work with each other very well, a graphics engine that's causing a lot of people problems, a magic system that is underwhelming, and an AI that doesn't live up to the billing.

You take those away and what's left? Pretty much the setting and the concept. Troy's review makes much the same point.

Elemental is a fantastic idea. Is it a fantastic game when you look past the issues? I don't see how it can be - at least, not with by any definition I'm familiar with. I think it's going to be a herculean task to take all these ideas and batter them into a genuinely workable game. Your first post suggested you were fully aware of the scale of the work required, as does your reference to Tom and Troy's reviews, but when you make comments like the one I quoted it seems like you're viewing it from a completely different perspective.

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September 2, 2010 8:31:52 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Mmmh that's a lot of words to digest...

 

As a customer that starts his relationship with SD here, with elemental, my rational brain would have me asking for a refund. My cash is limited, my time is limited etc,etc...

But I guess I'll just follow my heart once more and wait you seem really serious about this.

 

I'll just add two cents, that will probably get lost in the thread but...

 

1) A Crisis can really be turned in an opportunity, our psiche, our world, the whole universe reacts by this principle. You JUST need to think differently (easy said)!

2) A follow up of the above, to turn a crisis into an opportunity you need to evaluate all from a different perspective. Find new ways to develop the game, get some inspiration around the net.

For example, look at what the community in civfanatics made with FFH, the game can suit your tastes or not, but that's a MASSIVE project, carried on by free-time amateurs and a loving community of peers.You have such a community, start thinking about some of them as "peers" (no, not me, I'm just the last one arrived).If you manage to understand how much a gamer that WANTS to play the game is committed, and listen to his/her gut feelings a lot can be accomplished.

When in doubt, go for flexibility. If you leave the room for modders to alter the fundamental of the game, nothing can be wrong. You can still give the game a "Vanilla" feeling that suits your tastes.

Ex, 1dN for combat rolls... Is just wrong. Not only because we have fragile heroes and such, but because of the TACTICAL combat itself.

To quote Sid Meier "A game, at the most basics, is just a serie of Interesting choices". Such math behind the game remove choices, because it makes so hard to evaluate risks vs benefits. This is Randomness. Good for a different (GC) combat system but not for what you want here. You still feel that is the way to go? Allow flexibility and one day someone will be able to make the perfect system out of it...

 

Well sorry, I wish I could say more, do'nt even know if you'll end reading this particular post, but here's my feeling.

Ride the tidal wave, do not let the water crush you and you'll find you have such a better view from the top.

 

Best Wishes!

 

Francesco

 

 

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September 2, 2010 8:31:52 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Releasing a game early is just a bad practice.  Yes, there are some that will understand and will continue to follow the game and may be rewarded one day with the best game ever but few are that patient.  If the initial impression is bad they will leave and never come back.  Not only that but the company gets a bad reputation that will effect sales of other games they release in the future.  It's even worse for Stardock because of the gaming bill of rights they released where one of the items says the game should be released in a finished state (or something to that effect).

My biggest disappointment with this situation is that Stardock really had no good reason for releasing the game early.  Brad said early in the beta that they make most of their money from non-game applications and were under no pressure to release the game.  If that is true why not wait until February and release a nice polished product?  Even though I feel the game is getting a worse wrap then it deserves it is obvious that it is very rough around the edges.  Nearly everything in the game feels underdeveloped.  That just isn't a good thing to do to your loyal customers.  Continuing to support your product after release is a great practice but it is no excuse for not releasing a finished, polished product in the first place.

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September 2, 2010 8:33:14 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Dale_,
...will you [Brad] remove my post revocation on elementalgame.com domain?
I'm still here after some pretty critical posts, and you're banned?

*boggled*

After reading your posts in the Civ5 thread, you'd be on my short list of folks to listen to.

Advice to SD on compiling a 'short list' of folks to listen to:

First, eliminate the folks who cheer everything you do.  They're the worst to listen to.   Worse than even the next group...

Next, eliminate the folks who criticize everything you do, the H8ers.

Next, find folks who argue well -- logically and factually.

Of those, find those who seriously consider well-expressed contrary views.

Of those, find those who are willing to be swayed by well-expressed contrary views.

Of those, find those who will tell you what they feel you need to hear, even when they know you don't want to hear it.

Next, change your mindset -- there should be nothing you don't wish to hear, as long as it's well-reasoned and well-argued.

You don't need to tell these folks you're listening, as there can be advantages in not doing so (being accepted into a group can have a 'funny' effect on some, sometimes giving them enough 'owenrship' that they lose some of the objectivity that made them valuable in the first place).

Then listen to them!

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September 2, 2010 8:36:23 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Instead, they’ve taken more than three years of work and kicked it out in a state that’s turned anticipation into outrage, community excitement to shared disappointment, and the goodwill of fanboys like me into total dismay.

As a game? It’s pretty good. As a decision? An utter disaster.

 

PC Gamer. You got a C+. [70]

 

Quoting Frogboy,


Obviously, if you don't like the game at its core, you probably won't ever like it.

 

Problem is, if you made MoM II, you'd have a) raked in the cash become a legend, a 21st Century Sid Meier, and c) had offers to sire my first born son. Strategy fantasy x4. Not...hard.

 

I'm still getting a massive cognitive dissonance here - how was any of this *not* foreseeable? Pity the poor code monkeys at Sigil, and that disaster, if you want to get into "woe is me and my 2am late nights", talk to some of them.

 

 

Speaking of which, I've a deadline, and its 2.36am. Yay.

 

 

Quoting edpfister,


My biggest disappointment with this situation is that Stardock really had no good reason for releasing the game early.  Brad said early in the beta that they make most of their money from non-game applications and were under no pressure to release the game.  If that is true why not wait until February and release a nice polished product?  Even though I feel the game is getting a worse wrap then it deserves it is obvious that it is very rough around the edges.  Nearly everything in the game feels underdeveloped.  That just isn't a good thing to do to your loyal customers.  Continuing to support your product after release is a great practice but it is no excuse for not releasing a finished, polished product in the first place.

 

That's the major problem with the real world, and those terrible things called "Legally binding contracts with penalty clauses". Once you've made the choice, the other parties will take you to the cleaners if you don't deliver. And.. well... Random House do have some decent lawyers.

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September 2, 2010 8:38:44 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Frogboy,

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.

All Elemental-related, as in...what?

Patches?

Expansion packs?

DLC's?

Some of the above?

All of the above?

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September 2, 2010 8:40:21 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

This game sucks.

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September 2, 2010 8:46:11 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I won't be playing this game for a while. I'm going to wait until things get patched up. By the time that I pick the game up again I'm sure that I would have been able to buy it for quite a bit less than the $50 that I paid.

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September 2, 2010 8:50:21 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Jam Sandwich,
Brad,

I like the concept. But you have a set of mechanics that do not work with each other very well, a graphics engine that's causing a lot of people problems, a magic system that is underwhelming, and an AI that doesn't live up to the billing.

You take those away and what's left? Pretty much the setting and the concept. Troy's review makes much the same point.

Elemental is a fantastic idea. Is it a fantastic game when you look past the issues? I don't see how it can be - at least, not with by any definition I'm familiar with. I think it's going to be a herculean task to take all these ideas and batter them into a genuinely workable game. Your first post suggested you were fully aware of the scale of the work required, as does your reference to Tom and Troy's reviews, but when you make comments like the one I quoted it seems like you're viewing it from a completely different perspective.

(bear in mind reading this forum right now is like reading off a 56k modem right now so my responses are based on reading pieces).

I don't think Elemental's shortcomings can be fixed with tweaks or small patches. I think there are core game mechanics and AI that will have to be revisited. I think there are things that would normally be reserved for sequels that will have to be put in.

I think I mentioned this earlier but we employ multiple former editors of major review sites who were part of the process. When you're working a long time on a project it's easy to get way way way too close to it and soon, its foibles and flaws become simply part of the fabric.

When I get home, with the benefit of being away for a bit, I'll be able to outline some specific and in hindsight, obvious game mechanic things that will need to be addressed for Elemental to begin to reach its potential.

As an AI coder, the biggest disappointment to me is that I allowed the design to allow so many N^2 variables (I'll talk about this later). So don't think i'm thinking that we can just tweak around the edges to make Elemental what it needs to be. That would be just another version of denial of the problem -- as if we could just tweak it and suddenly it goes from a 3 out of 5 to a 5 out of 5 and no, that's not the case. Not even close.

The upcoming version they're working on, v1.07 is still about working on all the crazy compatibility issues that our engine has to deal with (that deserves a separate discussion but I've been looking at the check-ins and they're depressing to me. I see a lot of "Fix allocation that causes a crash on nVidia driver 1/10/2010" type stuff which makes me wince).

The kinds of changes Elemental will require to meet is potential are pretty big things IMO. Things that we (and myself in particular) were just blind to.  Let me give you a couple of concrete examples so you can see what I'm getting at (and this post BETTER post, this is like being back in 1994): My friend Mark Asher on a post on a forum talked about how boring our spells were. I took that to be about the spell names. But it wasn't just the spell names, it was about the spells themselves and how they worked.  The way resources are managed and handled is very limiting when it comes to the way the AI has to deal with them (N^2 variables).  

Anyway, the point is, we fell in love with a vision of the game that was largely in our minds rather than in reality. The difference here is that Stardock has the luxury of being able to address it. Even if Elemental didn't sell a single new copy, we would still be able to address it.

I truly wish I could ascribe Elemental's launch to cynical greed or something. Cynical greed beats out pathetic incompetence any day.

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September 2, 2010 8:51:17 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting MysterD,

Quoting Frogboy, reply 87
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.

All Elemental-related, as in...what?

Patches?

Expansion packs?

DLC's?

Some of the above?

All of the above?

Mostly porn. Think Trog porn. 

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September 2, 2010 8:51:50 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Frogboy,

Quoting Jam Sandwich, reply 95
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.

 

I have only really read what you all (designers/programmers misc. staff) wrote and it's interesting.  Everyone is taking blame and accepting fault, that too is interesting.  What I don't see is what will be done about it. We will fix it isn't enough.  How will you fix it?

 

I am not asking for a refund, because I am enjoying the game for what it is.

 

 What I like about CIV, I expect to see here (variety, lots and lots of it).  Lots of replayability.  I love the art of Elemental.  I love the idea of Elemental.  I have the book in my next big order from amazon.  You've had my money from GC II, and I considered (still am) buying SoASE.  Please make this game work.  I am not impressed with Civ V, and I refuse to spend $1k+ upgrading a computer to play it.  Make this game special. 

 

Thank you.

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September 2, 2010 8:53:42 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Thanks for the posts Frogboy. Its obvious you really love this game and I can only imagine the care you will give it over the next several months.

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September 2, 2010 8:57:26 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

OK, Brad. It'll be interesting to see how you expand on this further when you're back home. I read the same post by Mark and co - I'm on QT3 myself

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September 2, 2010 8:58:18 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I think, for starters, the first expansion pack for Elemental - Book 2, will have to be given away for free to the people who already bought the game.

In my mind, that's a START. So, anyone who sticks with is going to get at least one free expansion pack out of it. And it won't be some piddly "look, it's a new campaign". Think Dark Avatar level expansion. 

 

 

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September 2, 2010 9:01:17 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Frogboy,



Quoting MysterD,
reply 107

Quoting Frogboy, reply 87
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.

All Elemental-related, as in...what?

Patches?

Expansion packs?

DLC's?

Some of the above?

All of the above?


Mostly porn. Think Trog porn. 

Does this mean the next skinpack I mod should be "Naked Races"?

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September 2, 2010 9:03:09 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Frogboy, you`re on vacation! Leave you`re work for a bit of time. You`re wife probably hate you for spending time on this forum instead of spending time with her.

We all have hope in this game. We are (almost, like 99,9(9)%) sure it will be superb. But first get a bit of vacation, clear you`re mind and come back with hands full of ideas for the game you love so much.
Btw. remember that we also have a lot of ideas and will are willing to use them .

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September 2, 2010 9:03:35 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Frogboy,
I think, for starters, the first expansion pack for Elemental - Book 2, will have to be given away for free to the people who already bought the game.

In my mind, that's a START. So, anyone who sticks with is going to get at least one free expansion pack out of it. And it won't be some piddly "look, it's a new campaign". Think Dark Avatar level expansion. 

 

 

Awesome , so you're keeping of track of who already has the game right?

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September 2, 2010 9:07:42 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Frogboy,


I think I mentioned this earlier but we employ multiple former editors of major review sites who were part of the process.

 

Am I missing something? Irony? Sarcasm? Is this actually serious?

 

And you pay them?

 

Employ professional game designers / content people, not pub-haunting pseudo-intellectuals who didn't do anything after university, even if they're your friends. No, really. I'm being serious. Even Yahtzee only racked up a couple of (fairly well written) basic adventures before hitting the limelight. Name me a single AA title the Keirons* of this world ever brought to light, and I'll be amazed. Because, simply, they haven't. Even when Braben & Bell ruled the roost, and Jetset Willy ruled the world: the writers of Zx Spectrum weren't making the damn things.

 

"Too many cooks spoil the broth: especially when they're not cooks, but editors of cookbooks".

 

 

 

 

*Yes, he's a wanker. Whose never produced a game in his life. Part of his public persona is *being* a wanker, that's part of his "hook". If you doubt me, the man posed as a mime on his website: http://www.cs.bath.ac.uk/~jwg/Gillen/ . 

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September 2, 2010 9:08:41 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Frogboy,
I think, for starters, the first expansion pack for Elemental - Book 2, will have to be given away for free to the people who already bought the game.

In my mind, that's a START. So, anyone who sticks with is going to get at least one free expansion pack out of it. And it won't be some piddly "look, it's a new campaign". Think Dark Avatar level expansion. 

 

 

 

I'd much rather a Twilight expansion.  Honestly, you've earned the right to  one disasterpiece- so I'm in it for the long haul also.

I'm also going to suggest that after this expansion, you make a re-release to try and win people back.

 

One crazy radical idea as a stunt: offer everyone a refund in one year's time, if they don't like how the game improved.  Unsure if that would ruin you financially or not though.

 

That said, I really don't think you have to throw everything out.  I think you got 3 of the 5 branches right: the civilization, adventure and diplomacy branches have the right idea behind them- the issues there may be depth of the branches (aka add more stuff) and AI

 

it's warfare branch (especially stats) and especially magic branch that need to be revamped. 

 

Also, I think the whole sovereign thing needs to be overhauled as well. 

 

Do those three things, and do it right, you can get a classic game.  I'm unsure what the best order of fixing is though.

 

That said, I do think it's important that you figure out what parts of the game we do like so far, or do consider good ideas.  I listed mine.

 

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September 2, 2010 9:09:48 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

this stuff is pretty weird

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September 2, 2010 9:11:29 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Frogboy,
I think, for starters, the first expansion pack for Elemental - Book 2, will have to be given away for free to the people who already bought the game.

In my mind, that's a START. So, anyone who sticks with is going to get at least one free expansion pack out of it. And it won't be some piddly "look, it's a new campaign". Think Dark Avatar level expansion. 

 

 

 

Strictly speaking, the current "campaign" is a single map that I completed on the first try in an evening. That's not a campaign, and I think it was extremely ill-advised for you to call it such.

I actually spent a fair bit of time thinking I'd hit some sort of bug that was preventing me from progressing to the next part, especially with the weird cut-scene at the end that talked about the Queen sending her daughter after me.

What's most likely to save Elemental now is making it as moddable as possible. As things stand, far too much is hardwired or inaccessable.

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September 2, 2010 9:11:43 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I so love private gaming companies... 

Brad is a cool frog.

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September 2, 2010 9:12:03 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Raven X,

 

Awesome , so you're keeping of track of who already has the game right?
Ooh Ooh, I have it, I have it!!

 

FWIW I like the basic mechanics but it could use some tweaking. Interestingly enough, many of the posters here have had some good ideas on how to make it work better and be more fun. GalCiv2 is one of my favorite games and I'm sure this will be one too.

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September 2, 2010 9:12:29 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Frogboy,
I think, for starters, the first expansion pack for Elemental - Book 2, will have to be given away for free to the people who already bought the game.

In my mind, that's a START. So, anyone who sticks with is going to get at least one free expansion pack out of it. And it won't be some piddly "look, it's a new campaign". Think Dark Avatar level expansion. 

 

 

 

Sold.

 

I'm easy. 

 

On edit: how will you track the people that bought it (pre-order from brick & mortar <--that's me by the way) vs. online?

 

 

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