Labor Day notes

By on September 3, 2010 7:26:22 PM from JoeUser Forums JoeUser Forums

Frogboy

Join Date 03/2001
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It is great to be back to the land of high speed Internet connections. 

The team got v1.07 out this week which addresses some of the issues reported by players. There’s a lot more to do of course.  Here’s a few notes on what’s on our plate right now:

  • Enabling multiplayer. Why isn’t it up now? Because the same problems that would cause a user a problem in single player would happen in MP too except now there are now multiple human beings involved which increases the frustration.  I’m going to look at the response to v1.07 this weekend and see where things stand.
  • Improving the AI Part 1. There is a little (lot) of confusion on the AI.  Minor factions aren’t supposed to build. They’re just there.  I think we’ll have to change that to either make it more obvious that they don’t do anything (like change the style of city to be more obvious) or have them behave more like major factions. 
  • Improving the AI Part 2. I am hoping to be able to get my AI updates into v1.08 (next week) to make the major faction AI substantially more capable. The basic problem with the AI is that a lot of data changes were made very late in development (values for weapons and armor and how much various improvements do) that heavily altered the AI’s evaluation of what was “worth” constructing or how much it needed to protect its sovereign and such. This is the kind of thing that will have to be addressed – for starters.
  • Game Mechanic Changes. There are going to be quite a few game mechanic changes based on our own experience and reading on the forums.  Keep posting your suggestions. 
  • Magic System Changes. This is an area that’s going to get a lot of changes. For instance, Essence will become a boolean (true or false). Your mana will come from a global pool of mana that is from the shards. The elemental spell books (earth, air, fire, water) will get moved out of character creation and into the tech tree so that players can determine what spell books they want.  Various spells will gain a mana “maint” rather than using “enchantment slots”. This all brings us to the next part
  • General UI. There are some outstanding posts on the forums with suggestions about the UI that we’re looking at. But generally speaking, we want to eliminate a lot of what I’d say (with the benefit of hindsight) gratuitous complexity (enchantment slots, tile limitations on cities, obscured game mechanics, etc.).  We’ll get very specific with the community as we start to put these in.
  • Performance, Compatibility, Memory.  These three things remain the most troubling and frankly, heart breaking issues.  On a personal note, nothing pains us more than when someone accuses us of “rushing” the game.  The phrase “works on my machine” is not an acceptable excuse. We just blew it on so many levels that it will require a detailed post-mortem (which I do plan to provide so players, customers, and others can learn from our mistakes in general and my personal mistakes in particular).  When I read the check-in logs, I wince at how specific each “crash” is (“Crash caused by user having 8X AGP card in 4X AGP motherboard with soft lighting turned off when in the unit design window”).  There’s a reason most games license their engines (Civilization and Fallout 3 use Gambryo for instance, other games use Unreal, and so on).   We use our own home grown one “Kumquat” which is proving to have serious teething issues that we are most definitely suffering the consequences for.

There’s a ton more to add here but these are a few of the things on our mind. It’s been, as you can imagine, a horrible horrible couple of weeks.  We’re doing out best to make sure Elemental lives up to its potential which brings me to the final part.

Elemental’s original release schedule was to have the first release (War of Magic – Book 1: Relias) and 2 expansion packs (Book 2: Cerena and Book 3: Magesta). 

What we’re going to do is that for users who own the game by a certain date will get (at least) the first expansion pack for free as a token of our appreciation for hanging in there with us.  As some long-time Stardock gamers can tell you, our expansion packs aren’t minor things. 

Have a good weekend!

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September 3, 2010 7:29:30 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Good to have you back boss

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September 3, 2010 7:34:51 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Welcome back to civilization F-boy thanks for the heads up in where we stand and what to expect.

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September 3, 2010 7:34:59 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

As I think I've mentioned before, the single map that comprises the current "campaign" is not what most people would consider a campaign. It was an evenings play. I do hope that you aren't thinking that that was reasonable, and that the next books, whether they're free or not, will be significantly more substantial.

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September 3, 2010 7:40:42 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I appreciate your good intentions in this, and I'm looking forward to seeing how the game changes from hereon in.

Quoting ,


Elemental’s original release schedule was to have the first release (War of Magic – Book 1: Relias) and 2 expansion packs (Book 2: Cerena and Book 3: Magesta). 
What we’re going to do is that for users who own the game by a certain date will get (at least) the first expansion pack for free as a token of our appreciation for hanging in there with us.  As some long-time Stardock gamers can tell you, our expansion packs aren’t minor things. 
Have a good weekend!

 

As I think I've mentioned before, the single map that comprises the current "campaign" is not what most people would consider a campaign. It was an evenings play. In other similar games, a "campaign" would be a long series of such scripted maps. I do hope that you aren't thinking that that was reasonable, and that the next books, whether they're free or not, will be significantly more substantial.

Remember, we were promised a "Rich, story-driven campaign developed by Random House’s Del Rey." and that's still in the feature list on the website.

 

Edit: Ack! Doublepost! Somehow. Not quite sure how I managed that.

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September 3, 2010 7:41:42 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

The magic system changes sound quite interesting.  If you also manage to make the spellbooks a little more diverse, I think you are the right track to fixing that whole system.

The AI is another area that needs work and you plan to tackle it.  I'm sure this will be ongoing, but it good to have you back in town to look into it.

Game Mechanic changes is kind of a vague goal, but I'm sure you've read the feedback from the many well educated posters that are a part of this forum.  I hope the tactical battles will get some love here. 

I'm glad to see that you have decided to reward those of us who have resisted returning the product for our loyalty and trust in Stardock.  Thank you for being a customer service oriented company.  There are far too few of those in the world.  You guys fell on your face and got some dirt kicked into it for good measure.  Now it's time to pick yourself up, clean yourself off, and fix what you started. 

 

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September 3, 2010 7:42:53 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

you guys are doing an excellent job.  i can't wait for the AI updates.  the fact that you are giving those of us who have stuck with you through this a FREE expansion(20 dollar value normally) just shows that you really value our loyalty.  this makes me a very proud stardock customer.  thanks again!

a bit of advice:  going to a global pool of mana is a HUGE gameplay change.  this is something i hope you will go into much detail about and take our debates about it into consideration.

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September 3, 2010 7:44:54 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

 

Welcome back

 

Quoting ,
Magic System Changes. This is an area that’s going to get a lot of changes. For instance, Essence will become a boolean (true or false). Your mana will come from a global pool of mana that is from the shards. The elemental spell books (earth, air, fire, water) will get moved out of character creation and into the tech tree so that players can determine what spell books they want.  Various spells will gain a mana “maint” rather than using “enchantment slots”.

 

Awesome!  This gives me a lot of what I was hoping for.  One thing that was probably just an oversight in your description: you still plan to have a per-turn, per-caster limiter on how much mana can be used, I hope?  Upping that capability should be either a strategic or tactical choice.  Thanks!

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September 3, 2010 7:45:58 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

The elemental spell books (earth, air, fire, water) will get moved out of character creation and into the tech tree so that players can determine what spell books they want.

This sounds not so great... I can already determine which spell books I want. The problem is that there is little to no trade off for picking them and not enough difference between the books. Moving the spell books into the tech tree only makes things worse. Rather than having to spend a (what could be) valuable resource in the form of sovereign points to access a book instead I just wait 5ish turns to research it. All sovereign will still have access to all books for little to no cost.

 

Everything else, awesome.

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September 3, 2010 7:46:02 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

*cough* and tactical battles enabled in multiplayer *cough*

 

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September 3, 2010 7:46:04 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

As some long-time Stardock gamers can tell you, our expansion packs aren’t minor things.

Admittedly, I'm one of the rather frustrated crowd of long-time Stardock game customers. But I haven't given up on the project overall, and I'm actually spending more time with the vexing-yet-interesting game than I am with the forums just now.

You should have taken more time off. I'm sure your beloveds want more quality time with you, and your view of the game might benefit most from you spending a bit more time not thinking about it before you dig in again.

For folks new to Stardock games, I have solid credentials as a not-fanboy and I found both of the expansion packs for GalCiv2 to be as worth-the-money as most full games I purchased before I gave up on the industry at large because it had become an industry with a 'real-time' obsession.

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September 3, 2010 7:51:35 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I'm not sure what the point of having a minor faction that doesn't build is.  Have them build, just have them build much more slowly.

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September 3, 2010 7:51:52 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Will the Destiny's Embers bonus packs still be on schedule?

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September 3, 2010 7:52:25 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I would prefer to see the minor's behave more like majors, and the memory leaks FIXED, back in b4 one of my computers was able to play 250 turns to oom , but in 1.07.25 only got 130 turns to OOM on the same map and number of empires/kingdoms with the same view map cheat.

harpo

 

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September 3, 2010 7:52:28 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Great to hear that these issues are being addressed.

As for the AI, I know you plan to release some Python bindings in the future, but have you considered going the Civ 4 route and moving the AI out into a dll and just releasing the C++ code? Actually Civ 4 comes with the entire game code, which is awesome for total conversion mods and fixing core game bugs. The reason the BTS expansion was so good was because the community had significantly overhauled the AI in vanilla, in the Better AI mod, and this got incorporated into BTS. The AI since then has been brutal even when it's not getting bonuses.

Python bindings are good, but it would still limit the improvements the community can make... it would be restricted to whatever interface the developers have exposed. I'm sure if the underlying code was available there'd be some pretty brutal AIs running around very quickly.

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September 3, 2010 7:52:55 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Minor Factions

Please make them act more like regular factions instead of hammering them into deeper triviality.

Spell Books

Right now there is little holding you back from picking ALL the books. The point cost is trivial. This combined with the generic spell lines make Sovereign design pretty vanilla. Changing the spell lines in each school will do little to alleviate this unless the book costs are increased to make choosing one school or multiple school a real decision. Adding it to the tech tree will definitely eliminate the decision and the chance for Sovereign differentiation completely. 

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September 3, 2010 7:57:00 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Excellent.  Thanks Brad. 

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September 3, 2010 7:59:21 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

As a customer who joined in with Stardock for GalCiv2 I have to say that the goodwill you gained with that game is strong enough to outlast these minor (in the long run) issues with Elemental.  I am not just certain you will fix the current issues, I am sure you will pull out of this game all of the potential that it holds.

As so many others have said, I appreciate the open communication that you have with your players.  It shows a level of respect that is often missing in developers/publishers... especially those as successful as you guys are.  The fact is you could have just said "screw it" and moved on to the next project, but that is not how you operate.

Looking forward to the evolution of this game and others to come!

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September 3, 2010 8:03:20 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

i think the minors should just never be able to expand by creating pioneers.  they are stuck with a single city unless they can attack and take another city.

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September 3, 2010 8:09:36 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Don't let the haters get you down. Loving 1.07.

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September 3, 2010 8:11:19 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

We use our own home grown one “Kumquat”

No offense, but if my parents named me this I'd be broken too.

 

 

JK =D Anyway Thanks for the updates you guys are doing great! even if you don't come up with the greatest names.... I really do enjoy this team and the fact your sticking to this project really inspires us all.

 

On a side note.- Now I know why this game was rated M.

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September 3, 2010 8:11:42 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I have to agree on the minor factions with most in this thread.. but I have a few points / ideas..

question I have only seen them with ogres and only empire can use that unit type, is there a kingdom equivalent that I have missed? if not then make it so both races can recruit them and call them half ogres instead..

If you want to limit them then limit them to level 3 cities but allow them to exapnd  again as was mentioned just more slowly.

finally I think many of us feel once we concur them we should be able to expand the cities to our limits with our techs..

 

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September 3, 2010 8:12:20 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I also started with Galciv 2 and you guys have earned a lot of credit with that game. I remember multiple times you saying that you would stay with this game no matter what happened at launch or review. to me that sounds like a labor of love and we as fans have grown to love your labor. I have no problem waiting for the teething issues to get resolved and waiting for a bit longer (I just started another ME 2 game) as others have said there are too few publishers/developers out there like you and I want you to keep making games for us, and I will do what i can to keep you guys feeding my gaming habbit. thank you and good luck!

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September 3, 2010 8:12:26 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

All sounds really great, I hope we will not have to wait long time, before game will feel more complete, well playable. You have made great piece of software, now, make it great game .

Hopefully we will also see similar revamp to combat as you are going to do to magic (sounds great btw) and champions. I would love to see more choices when leveling up. Like choosing abilites, special attack, or bonuses which scale with longer game and levels.

Performance is barable now, but still not great. Hope to see further improvements on this part as the times goes .

And please, throw in some random events, which will spice up the game a little bit, to make every game more unpredictable .

For a campaign, well I would call it more like a bad tutorial, then anything else. Hopefuly you will raise level a bit in next chapter .

For the AI, well its never good enough.

Keep it up guys.

 

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September 3, 2010 8:14:24 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

The elemental spell books (earth, air, fire, water) will get moved out of character creation and into the tech tree so that players can determine what spell books they want.

This sounds not so great... I can already determine which spell books I want. The problem is that there is little to no trade off for picking them and not enough difference between the books. Moving the spell books into the tech tree only makes things worse. Rather than having to spend a (what could be) valuable resource in the form of sovereign points to access a book instead I just wait 5ish turns to research it. All sovereign will still have access to all books for little to no cost.

I have to say I agree that I'm not so found of this change.  I want to see sovereigns (as well as other stuff) have more differences, not less.  Moving this to a researchable tech means that all sovereigns will have access to all books and especially later in the game will likely start to feel similar.

The rest sounds great though.

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September 3, 2010 8:17:03 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

welcome back mate... i've been having an absolutely blast with your labor of love, and i am now a full fledged "Stardock convert"...

whatever shortcomings the title may have (and we've all experienced our own struggles here), the fact that the team can be as transparent and open about current and future efforts makes my decision to stick with you guys all the more sound...

thanks for the recap, and have a great weekend yourself...

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