A little bit about me (for what it's worth)

By on September 28, 2010 6:54:47 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Frogboy

Join Date 03/2001
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I was chatting with a friend of mine yesterday about what we like to do.  He likes to design games and make mods and such.

For me, I'm in it for the community. To be honest, I'm in it for you guys.  The only coding part I enjoy is the AI. I don't like designing games really. I write design documents and such for our games but I don't enjoy it. It's a chore.  I'm mainly interested in participating on the forums and talking to other gamers.

Elemental's initial release was, as we all know, something of a disaster. It wasn't intentional. We thought it was ready. People really have no idea how crazy it is to release a brand new game in 2010 onto the PC -- especially if you're making your own engine. So much of my original design for Elemental had to be modified to deal with engine limitations and the like. It almost makes me miss DOS. (who remembers monkeying around with QEMM386?).  

But we're with you guys for years to come.  We're not a publicly traded company.  I'm the only stockholder. I'm glad we've been able to start bringing back people we laid off. The Elemental team is actually larger right now than it was during peak development.  But why? It's because of you guys. Elemental: War of Magic will never make big bucks. That original PC Gamer UK article killed us commercially - before a single review hit. But it doesn't matter. 

Even as I type this, the whole team is working on all kinds of interesting things. Cloud saving for multiplayer games. New modding features for cloud uploads. I spent the day monkeying around with the AI (I found out an interesting thing for other developers reading this - edit and continue in visual studio does not work if you're running it on an external drive). 

What got me into writing software in the first place was the community aspects. I like making stuff with other people. Our most popular consumer product, WindowBlinds, is all about making stuff with the community.  Over the next several years, I'm excited to see how various versions of Elemental grow and change. I'd like to see the game broken up into DLLs so that people can mod not just with Python but with C++ too (Civ V's SDK can do this btw).  

For those of you not into game development, you'd be surprised how close knit our industry is.  That's why we get upset when people rip on Civilization V.  These are our friends. It hurts us when people criticize Civilization V. You might as well be ripping on us directly. The distinction between Civ V or AOW or FFH 2 or Elemental -- to us -- is very blurred.  Many of you would be shocked about how close we all are. I think people often mistake the PC TBS game industry for other "big" industries. It's not like that. It's a handful of people across the board. Behind the scenes, all of us hang out in the virtual sense. Yes, Jon, Kael, Soren, etc. We're all friends in varying degrees in real life.

Anyway, my main point is that our primary motivation on these games is you guys. Not your money (though we need it obviously to keep making stuff) but your comradery. If I had my way, I'd make a game based on a Wiki page from the community. People who know me can tell you that I really have no ego to bruise. I have a lot of OTHER failings (I'm ridiculously obtuse) but there's no idea, big or small, that I'm not interested in. I think of the community as part of our team.

Too much of our industry, IMO, is based on "cranking out the game" and moving on.  But not all of us are this way.  I pushed back a future GalCiv sequel to make sure we do right by you guys. It's not about the money. It's the principle. It's the community. It's you guys.

 

 

 

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September 28, 2010 7:02:05 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Thanks for the honesty, Frogboy. Personally, i enjoy the game as a sort of coding play ground and like most people firmly believe you mean what you say. I am excited to see what the future hold for Stardock and elemental. I am sure it going to be alot of fun.

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September 28, 2010 7:02:48 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Elemental: War of Magic will never make big bucks. That original PC Gamer UK article killed us commercially - before a single review hit. But it doesn't matter.

I wouldn't write Elemental off in this sense just yet. Look at the original XCOM. It took quite a while after it's release before someone discovered it's charm and spread the news. I'm sure that if you stay at it, and improve it to the level of fun original Master of magic had but in new shiny 3d engine(which i love btw, i'm allways trying to tilt the camera to see all my empire at once in civ5 ) the game will achieve classic status.

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September 28, 2010 7:15:22 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Personally, I think a large scale expansion pack produced after the game has stabilized could easily revive the game, in the same way that Warlords or Beyond the Sword revitalized Civ 4. I think giving reviewers a new "title" to review at that time could really make the game a huge success.

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September 28, 2010 7:19:09 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

You guys should just get mad-dog crazy with Elemental.  Everytime you hit a milestone and there is a concensus that it has improved the game, jack the price up by $5.  And never, ever put it on sale.  If it is on fire, you might as well have some fun with it.

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September 28, 2010 7:25:53 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting ,
not just with Python but with C++ too.

YES!!!

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September 28, 2010 7:40:39 PM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

Quoting ,

....It almost makes me miss DOS. (who remembers monkeying around with QEMM386?)....

I do! And I miss DOS, although I wouldn't want to have a steady diet of it nowadays.

Thanks for sharing, Frogboy. I appreciate what you wrote.

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September 28, 2010 7:55:20 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I'm quite the opposite, I'm more of a writer/designer when it comes to games (probably comes from my D&D days when I was younger). I could sit there for hours and hours just cranking out ideas, designs, and lore. But, I do understand the whole close-knit mentality, it's similar to my old field (engineering - at least before the recession hit).

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September 28, 2010 8:10:06 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Well, you see, you have the Japanese mentality: Customer first, after employee and after profit . The entreprise should always put customers and employee before profit. The reason is, when you do that, you make a quality product and the people will want to buy it, so the profit will come in the long run. I'm really glad that you think that way. By the way, I almost buy everything over Impulse because of it's DRM free policy and the "No CD" that come with Impulse. I know that other "downloader" have the "same" policy for CD, but not for the DRM. Continu on that road.

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September 28, 2010 8:11:46 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I remember QEMM386, I even worked with an Ex Quarterdeck employee in a Previous Job. I still have a copy of QEMM386 somewhere.

Looking forward to what happens to Elemental next.

 

Cheers

Shaf

p.s. Love the Book just started Chapter 51. I really like Xander, Gen, and Calis.

 

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September 28, 2010 8:23:14 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Mr. Wardell,

Thank you.  To me, your statements are worth a lot.  I have posted a few times here, but everytime I do I tend to have a "I have faith in Stardock" mentality.

I have been playing games since pong (yes, we had and I played it as a kid, scary part was that I thought it was cool), so it's about 37 years or so (maybe a little less, maybe a little more), but I can honestly say that you and your companies dedication are the best I've ever encountered.  I would like it to be in a bit better state (mostly crashes are driving me crazy), but once I get up into the 100 or 150+ of turns I have really liked this game.  Before that, it does proceed a bit slowly for me.  The artwork is ABSOLUTELY TREMENDOUS.  I also have no doubt that you guys will continue to repair/patch/improve this game until it is where the "community" feels comfortable about it.

I have stopped pre-ordering games for the most part.  I used to buy Lucas Arts games long before they came out, but with the Phantom Menace game, they took a SEVERE nosedive (they might've been #2 for in a trust level for games after you guys, even though that was in the '90s) and I just stopped because I felt like I was paying a lot for inferior games.  Not just from Lucas Arts, but from most game makers (what you mentioned about produce game>move on), so there was a period where I stopped buying games unless I could try a demo first and thought it would be worthwhile.  I still do that to an extent, but I also do buy things sometimes without having tried them (Dragon Age and Fallout New Vegas jump to mind).

I think it was Sid Meier's that I read saying, "Hey, we are gamers, and we make games for gamers, but mostly we want to play them ourselves so we want them to be good."  That is the impression I get from you.   You want people to be pleased with the product you produce, and you want to continue to support it.  For me, that is obvious.  I bought Elemental a long time ago.  For me it was easy.  My thought process was basically:  New game>makers of GalCiv II>excellent support>great post-release improvements/fixes>fantasy/dragoney/high socercery-ey/warriors(-ey)/monstery game (which is my favorite...the sci-fantasy theme) = BUY THE GAME NOW!  So I did!

I hope you do read through these replies, because the one thing about GalCiv II (and the expansions), it was so obvious how much fun you were having making the experience better, and there was not a doubt in my mind that your number one concern was about "the community."  For that, I say thank you, and although there are some companies I feel way good about (Firaxis, Bethesda, BioWare, Obsidian), in some 37 (or so) years of gaming, I have never felt so trusting of a company to "do the right thing" as I have of yours.  It really does come across that way, so keep caring, keep up the excellent work (the art style in this game...WOW), and I really look forward to the future patches and expansions for this game.

Ps-  I, personally, am really sorry that the one review pretty much crushed commercial success for this game.  I never understood software piracy, because if you like a game you should be happy to pay for it so the makers of the game can then have money to make better games.  Makes me really sad that this game won't get critical/financial success (especially caused from "one" view), I would have loved to see an ELEMENTAL II down the line.  I love Stardock games, I love GalCiv II, I like Elemental a lot (and expect to even more...I am getting addicted) and I think your company is great, and I think that last one is a reflection of your personal dedication. (Wow, long Ps, huh?)  Great job, and keep it going!!!

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September 28, 2010 8:41:46 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

That philosophy is why I've stuck with you guys, and why you've earned my trust in a way no other company has. 

 

It's your philosophy that has spoiled me when it comes to other companies though.  Maybe ironically, that's why I chose not to support Civ V.

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September 28, 2010 8:47:38 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

thanks for the insight brad... as always, your candor is most appreciated...

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September 28, 2010 8:49:47 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting ,
 I pushed back a future GalCiv sequel to make sure we do right by you guys. 

 

 

Seriously, though. My brother is in the industry (works at intel now but was employed at insomniac) i always bothered him about developer mentality and how i felt they were out of touch sometimes. He had to explain how at certain points during the development process the devs put on blinders just so they can finish it.

I can see how the mistakes made in Elemental were very honest. I have the utmost respect for any game developer, they really do a thankless job. I actually cannot stand those figurehead devs who are more talk then work (no i do not consider you one of those Frogboy) like Cliffy B. or Peter Molyneux.

I tried making a design document, spent about 8 months on it and then just kind of let it stagnate. I am not sure how you get beyond certain roadblocks and finish one Frogboy, but i can relate to how boring, and difficult it can be.

Anyhow, i guess i am just rambling here, i just really want to say your honesty and openess mean alot to the community, don't ever forget this.

Thank you.

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September 28, 2010 8:52:26 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

As someone who likes to play games and doesn't know squat about programming them, thank you very much. I mean good lord, I've sunk probably 60-100 hours into Elemental ALREADY, crashes and all. That's as much if not more gameplay than I get out of most titles, so it has definitely been worth the money. Anticipating how it will improve just makes it all the better. Even though my long history with Master of Magic predisposed me to this game, if it were total junk I wouldn't be playing it.

This is a niche market to begin with, you've known that ever since you first floated the idea of a MoM homage back on the GalCiv 1 boards. So even though the initial reviews were negative (and justly so), it isn't like it was ever going to become a nationwide sensation in the first year. But we all know that within a year or two this can be the new standard for turn-based strategy. So keep those patches coming and keep up the hard work!

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September 28, 2010 8:53:46 PM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

Quoting Goldmos,
Well, you see, you have the Japanese mentality: Customer first, after employee and after profit . The entreprise should always put customers and employee before profit. The reason is, when you do that, you make a quality product and the people will want to buy it, so the profit will come in the long run. I'm really glad that you think that way. By the way, I almost buy everything over Impulse because of it's DRM free policy and the "No CD" that come with Impulse. I know that other "downloader" have the "same" policy for CD, but not for the DRM. Continu on that road.

My time in Japan, actually living there, suggests that this is just a crazy stereotype countries across the ocean think happens there.

Anyway, if the game actually gets fixed and lives up to even a fraction of the potential we thought it would be, I know the TBS community, not just the ones that praise Stardock as all that is holy here, will certainly give it another look and stick around for years.

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September 28, 2010 9:15:27 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting ,
I'm glad we've been able to start bringing back people we laid off.

Good to hear!

 

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September 28, 2010 9:19:07 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

And thats why Stardock can have my money... Always a good game and investment (even when they stumble its still all good)... Haters... suck it.

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September 28, 2010 9:22:37 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I dont think it would take that much to make the game really good.  Some AI tweaks, UI changes, fix bugs and balance some things out and it would be a really good game.  Sure, I have a thread where I am posting all my frustrations with the game, but it comes from loving it and already putting more than a hundred hours into it.  The equipment and clothing clipping Brad, please tell me thats on the to do list to fix, it drives me crazy.

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September 28, 2010 9:47:31 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Thank you for this post Brad.  I have to say that in an era where PR and non accountability seems to be the norm, you are stepping up to the plate admirably. 

 

Some feedback for future games (because I love playing Stardock games for the fun facter), would be to get some one in who could write a manual for the game that match's the Civ IV manual in quality.  Now I realise that this easier said than done, (although I have to say the Gal Civ 2 manual was the best Stardock game manual that I've read for a Stardock game (and yes I own most if not all of your games ).  But for me the Civ IV manual sets the bar.  It explains the game concepts in a non technical manner that everyone (game geek or not) can understand using everyday english, and it is structured in such a way that the gamer is encouraged to play the game and come back to the manual to digger deeper when they need explanation on advanced game concepts.

 

One of the problems I have with Elemental is struggling with understanding the UI. Things that should be intutative (such as bunch of units from a city as a group rather then as individual units) aren't in Elemental.  Sure they can be figured out, but it adds to the frustration of the player.  I've only just now figured out how to cast strategic spells on the main map for instance.

 

All in all, Elemental is a fun game to play.  I spent most of last night playing a 1000 turn game, so I can't complain that the game doesn't hold my attention. It just has some issues that need to fixed, and it can also be confusing to the player at times.

 

Cheers,


Raven

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September 28, 2010 9:48:18 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Thanks for your transparency.  It is refreshing.  I sent you a private message a while back when things were really bad.  You haven't read it, so I'll just post it here.

Brad,

I just wanted to sent you a short note because you are busy ... even though there are more issues that I would like with Elemental, I am having fun with the game.  It has been really stable on my machine and I have enjoyed learning about all of its aspects.

Anyway, I hope this note encourages you and your team.  I loved GC and GC2 and I can't wait to see what you guys do with Elemental!

Thanks!

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September 28, 2010 10:09:08 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

(for what it's worth)

 

$1,000,000,000,000,000

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September 28, 2010 10:16:43 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

As for pushing back that GalCiv sequel, as long as that's what comes after Elemental, I can wait until late 2012/early 2013 for it.  I'll need a game to justify my next laptop purchase.    Besides, the experience with improving Elemental should improve GalCiv- I see a lot of things in Elemental that I think could improve GalCiv concepts if implemented correctly- so I'm really looking forward to it, though Elemental's got a lot of room to grow and looking forward to that as well.

 

 

 

 

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September 28, 2010 10:21:43 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I am not a programmer but I am enjoying the game.  Thanks for the post

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September 28, 2010 10:41:26 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Just curious Brad, which game do you like more, Elemental or Civilization 5? (Now be honest).

 

 

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September 28, 2010 11:23:03 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I purchased Elemental without even thinking of the bad reviews. I have faith in you and your company's culture, and your track record with your previous games (GalCiv, etc)

 

Keep up the good work!

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