Elemental featured in today's Penny Arcade newspost

10/15/2010

By on October 15, 2010 10:34:43 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums External Link

Ishantil

Join Date 03/2003
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Tycho posted his thoughts on Elemental today.

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October 15, 2010 3:43:17 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Yeah, I thought he was pretty fair about the whole thing, seems to give Stardock the benefit of the doubt regarding their track record of support.

 

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October 15, 2010 5:00:50 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

As much as I hate to say it, he does make another valid point: SD can't afford to put out broken releases forever, if they don't want to be stuck with a permanent reputation of "never buy these games until a bunch of patches in" which is already common for some developers (Total War games is one I hear a lot of "always wait for a patches"). We've had Demigod and Elemental with pretty bad launches, I think the next one needs to go real well before the perception forms. Being known for providing good support to a good game is better than being known for at least fixing a bad game

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October 15, 2010 5:47:00 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I won't go into Demigod's launch because it's something of a sore topic around here to this day. Suffice to say, the two situations only seem similar on the surface but behind the scenes the only thing they have in common is that the word Stardock was on both boxes.

With Elemental and future releases, as a practical matter, it's a relatively moot issue because in another year, digital will surpass retail in terms of sales. Our plan going forward is going to be to essentially keep games in beta for much longer amounts of time until not only do we think they're done but that they're basically way beyond a "1.0" version.

This is what we do with our non games already.  For instance, we released ObjectDock v2 this week. This is a program that will likely generate in its various forms millions of dollars in revenue.  But there's no drama in its launch because, realistically, the program was "done" in "beta" last Spring but we simply kept it out in beta months later until we felt it most advantageous for us to release.

By contrast, on games, we had to pick between August and February because our schedules have to meet the needs of retailers and those were our two dates. And while we thought Elemental was ready for the August date, that decision also meant that the beta closed. If we had had a public beta 5, it would have been obvious that our QA had missed some key things and it would have been no biggie to just push the date back. 

Hence, what would happen with Elemental under the new system is that we would have had a beta 5 and it would likely have gotten released in say November with it not becoming available at retail until February still.

For all the grief we have gotten on Elemental, I think some people need to take a step back and realize that not many developers are making new games anymore for the PC and ask themselves why.

Since Elemental's release I've seen people assert that we're either incompetent, greedy, dishonest, or uncaring (or all of the above). I have a hard time respecting anyone who takes such a facile position.  The answer is, making a brand new game for the PC in 2010 is a significant engineering challenge.  Just something to think about when you're buying <Game franchise> <sequel number>: <sub-sequel title> <sub-sequel number>.

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October 15, 2010 6:11:37 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

 

His description of Elemental as "raw and strange" is pretty spot on.

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October 15, 2010 6:14:29 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Frogboy, might I suggest that you could be well-served by sending a friendly email like that to tycho@penny-arcade.com?

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October 15, 2010 6:52:32 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I disagree with Tycho that the best strategy at this point is just dive into Elemental 2, and it's pretty clear Frogboy does too. Left 4 Dead pulled the same routine (only with a more successful launch) and it sort of woke people up to the fact Valve isn't a tiny dev house anymore and they make real, sometimes infuriating, business decisions. And just look at the puppet dance that is Valve trying to update L4D and L4D2 concurrently, to try and keep the graces of gamers they annoyed.

Pushing toward an Elemental sequel, after the release Elemental had, would be suicide. Getting to a decent selling game from a rocky launch has worked for SD in the past, there's no reason it won't work now....unless their profit expectations way outstrip the quality of the game. Which at this point, I kinda doubt they do.

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October 15, 2010 7:30:01 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

With Elemental and future releases, as a practical matter, it's a relatively moot issue because in another year, digital will surpass retail in terms of sales. Our plan going forward is going to be to essentially keep games in beta for much longer amounts of time until not only do we think they're done but that they're basically way beyond a "1.0" version.

 

I think this is good plan, but I will keep supporting you guys for as long as you stay DRM free. I will even buy if you just shit in the box just to make a point how much I hate DRM.

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October 15, 2010 7:39:50 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I won't go into Demigod's launch because it's something of a sore topic around here to this day. Suffice to say, the two situations only seem similar on the surface but behind the scenes the only thing they have in common is that the word Stardock was on both boxes.

This is true. But, for the vast majority of the gamers, this is the only thing that matters. Most people don't go on forums, they don't read dev journals. All they will remember is "Demigod was bashed at launch", "Elemental was bashed at launch", etc. So regardless of the circumstances surrounding these launches, over the long term it is inevitable for them to be clumped together.

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October 15, 2010 8:11:05 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I think of 1.1 as a sequel of sorts.  After all, magic is changing, and we've had a lot of changes since 1.0 (not just fixes).  By my logic, Stardock will be putting an 'expansion' out within 3 months of the original, just in time for Holiday shopping (assuming November for 1.1).  Let's see other companies do that!

With that, I guess it's time to get this out of the way:

Hi, my forum name is tjashen, and I am an unabashed Stardock fanboy!

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October 15, 2010 10:54:19 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Annatar11,

I won't go into Demigod's launch because it's something of a sore topic around here to this day. Suffice to say, the two situations only seem similar on the surface but behind the scenes the only thing they have in common is that the word Stardock was on both boxes.

This is true. But, for the vast majority of the gamers, this is the only thing that matters. Most people don't go on forums, they don't read dev journals. All they will remember is "Demigod was bashed at launch", "Elemental was bashed at launch", etc. So regardless of the circumstances surrounding these launches, over the long term it is inevitable for them to be clumped together.

Well, personally, I generally don't buy games until there's a demo unless I'm trying to send a signal to the developer that I want a particular type of game.

My hope on Elemental was that people pre-ordered it not so much to support Stardock (I don't really like the idea of people supporting corporations but that's a personal thing) but rather to demonstrate a confirmed interest in turn-based fantasy strategy games.

A lot of us old timers are used to being told that the market is dead or that PC games don't sell because of piracy or that no one plays turn based games. Hence, the only time I pre-order something is to send a message. Otherwise, I just wait for the demo.

My answer to those who think Stardock should "give up on Elemental" because it'll "never recover" is this: Nuts. I'd have us work on Elemental even if it never sold another copy because people have faith in us to do what's right. Period.  People paid 50 bucks for this game. The reason we're giving the expansion pack away to those who purchased it already is because we know the price will inevitably get dropped and those people who bought early shouldn't be penalized for having had faith in us.

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October 15, 2010 11:13:27 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Nice WWII quote there   Well I personally preordered to support SD and support the games growth, it was a way to be part of something special, as I know Elemental will one day become.

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October 16, 2010 12:23:47 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

My own thoughts on the matter:

 

I'm glad Elemental is getting worked on, I've said I'll stay the course on it.  That said, I think there will be a tail of sales- but any standalone expansion is going to need real polish before being sold.

 

That said, Tycho's right.  When you guys do GalCiv III in 2012 or 2013, that's what is going to determine Stardock's future.  I have a really good feeling about that game- one thing about Elemental, it really does feel like many of the ideas in Elemental would have worked better in a GalCiv game.   That may have been a good part of the actual problem with Elemental, and why Kael was a really good idea.

 

I can see 1.0x-Style  city building and research really helping out GCIII, with some slight modifications, for example.

 

BTW: my reason for pre-ordering: Stardock had a good rep with me from GalCiv I and especially II.  I also know your budgets are based on pre-orders, and the beta for Twilight was actually fun, so I figured Elemental would be like that.    Will I pre-order GalCiv III- yes, but if that doesn't meet expectations at launch- I'll be very unlikely to pre-order a Stardock game in the future.

 

On Corporate Support- I do tend to "support" Impulse, due to fearing a Steam monopoly.  It's the one thing I actually fear the most with PC gaming's future- it would have a ton of negative effects for consumers and smaller developers.  This is also the reason I passed on Civ V- I won't support non-Valve games that mandate Steamworks.

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October 16, 2010 8:54:24 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Frogboy,

My answer to those who think Stardock should "give up on Elemental" because it'll "never recover" is this: Nuts. I'd have us work on Elemental even if it never sold another copy because people have faith in us to do what's right. Period.  People paid 50 bucks for this game. The reason we're giving the expansion pack away to those who purchased it already is because we know the price will inevitably get dropped and those people who bought early shouldn't be penalized for having had faith in us.

 

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October 16, 2010 2:20:33 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

How much of the "press' out there is "influenced' by other companies,  developers?  Just curious what people think about that.

I purchased EWoM because I feel PC based games are fan modifiable.  And because so few turn based g4 x games are out there. I recently got Warband.  Looks awesome.  I even put up with steam so i can play.  As good as the game is, its worthless to me.  Why?  Because, no matter how smart i am, I cannot move the mouse and keyboard combos FAST enough to survive beyond level 3.  I can't go anywhere with my band with out getting killed. Same with Sins of a Solar Empire.  RTS is pointless for me.  I still don't understand why games like that don't have a speed/response slider so people like me, who aren't at the peak of physical (hand-eye-move) perfection, can s... l... o... w... down the speed, and so enjoy the games. 

So, turn based is all that's left - and I support them with my greenbacks.  Hey, just thought of something.  Are there any modders out there who might make a mod-patch to slow down those rts games?

 

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October 16, 2010 2:24:49 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Majesty 2 the fantasy kingdom had some excellent easy-to-reach options that slowed down a game significantly. I think the slowest was 0.1 normal speed (0.5 also existed, and of course "1"). I always thought it was a great idea to include that in an RTS.

Some rts games also support being paused.

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October 16, 2010 2:57:55 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

ElanaAhova- what's really needed, though it will never happen in a reasonable timeframe- is for Stardock to make the spiritual successor to Kohan.

 

That game was the RTS for slower folks.  There was some micro, but you generally were only controlling 7 units in the mid-game on average so it wasn't too hectic.

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October 16, 2010 5:05:50 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Heavenfall,
Majesty 2 the fantasy kingdom had some excellent easy-to-reach options that slowed down a game significantly. I think the slowest was 0.1 normal speed (0.5 also existed, and of course "1"). I always thought it was a great idea to include that in an RTS.

Some rts games also support being paused.
Yeah, the first Majesty had that too. That's not uncommon in sim games. The reason you don't see it in most strategy is that it causes problems in other ways with regards to balance, presumably. Strategy speed-ups tend to work not by accelerating time, but by changing a bunch of numbers in how the game works. If you could do that on the fly there'd be all sorts of complications. And most RTSs are multiplayer oriented these days, probably because of Starcraft. In multiplayer that capability would have to be disabled, so designers don't want to invest too much time in it.

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October 16, 2010 5:25:49 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums
Alstein wrote>>  October 16, 2010 2:57:55 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

ElanaAhova- what's really needed, though it will never happen in a reasonable timeframe- is for Stardock to make the spiritual successor to Kohan.

 

That game was the RTS for slower folks.  There was some micro, but you generally were only controlling 7 units in the mid-game on average so it wasn't too hectic.

 

 

Are you calling me "slow,"  WELL....   (SMILE).   Actually, Alstein, its not just the number of items needing constant "attention"  like in World of Warcraft, its the actual speed of the interface, the required response time.  Take Warband, for example (the game that currently frustrates me to no end).  The player only controls one unit, the "player" avatar.  But in a melee combat with an opponent, my actual speed with the keyboard and mouse is a bottleneck I cannot get past.  No matter how smart I am in tactics, planning and giving orders to  my soldiers, training units, getting companions, etc., as soon as a melee comes up, I am dead (taken prisoner, no exp points, etc.).  Sure, when playing against live opponents, the speed needs to be equal. That's fair. And sure, in a points competition with other human players, speed needs to be equal across the board.  But in totally solo play, why should anyone else care?  If you find a way to prevent aging, go for it!

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October 16, 2010 6:28:37 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Frogboy,


My hope on Elemental was that people pre-ordered it not so much to support Stardock (I don't really like the idea of people supporting corporations but that's a personal thing) but rather to demonstrate a confirmed interest in turn-based fantasy strategy games.

I disagree.  But I think we may be thinking about two different things.

I think it vitally important that people support companies who do_things_right.  I believe that the only real representative vote I have in this country, is how I spend my money.   I don't support destructive logging practices so I buy lumber harvested through sustainable forestry.  I don't support the rape, pillage, and murder practices of outfits like chiquita (formerly known as the united fruit company and still doing the same heinous crap!).  So I buy Fair Trade certified products.  I don't like the societal and environmental consequences of Americas corporate farming, so most of my produce purchase comes from local markets versus mainstream market.  etc.    

It seems increasingly difficult to avoid blood diamond purchases.  It appears that outfits who do things proper are few and far between.  So it has become very important to me to understand the consequences of my consumption.  To buy from outfits who do not use the proceeds to finance fucked up things.  The purchase of a blood diamond, would make me just as culpable in the crime of genocide, as those who actually pull the triggers and swing the machetes. 

Now of course, voting with my wallet against invasive DRM schemes, rates pretty low as compared to voting against chiquitas funding of terrorist organizations; or the bribing of Colombian officials to take military action for a corporate land grab.   But it's the same paradigm.  I don't like how take-two and 2k games handled Civ5's DRM so I didn't buy the game despite my love for the Civ franchise.  I do however support Stardocks view on DRM so I took a look at Elemental and decided thats where I would put my money.  It goes beyond the game though.  I value Stardocks post sale support.  I value their openess.  I appreciate that they are an independant company free from share holder motivations.  ++  I am inclined to support Stardock products because I generally like how they do business.  In a market full of outfits doing things poorly; the ones who do it right stand out to me.  I am tired of dealing with things done wrong.  I want to empower those who do it right.  I want to help them to grow into the new fat cats.  I want the others to be driven to follow suit or die... shrivel up and wither on the vine for lack of watering.   

On the other side of the scale...  The basic politics and deeds of a companies CEO does not impact my purchase decisions.  I don't care who you voted for president, what your political stance on topic X is, where you shop, how you spend your time... what baseball team you root for if any.  That tabloid BS that you are subjected has no impact on my purchase decisions.  From the tabloid perspective I can understand why you "don't really like the idea of people supporting corporations" (vs supporting a product).  The other stuff I talked about is a different matter.  I think it very important that people become aware of the consequences of their consumption.  Supporting wholesome business practices while boycotting parasitic profiteering; is a very different thing than supporting corporations based on a company officials moral, political, or social ideals.

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October 16, 2010 7:21:49 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Excellent post, WhiteElk.

Best regards,
Steven.

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