So I finished my first Elemental game...

By on January 15, 2011 7:41:37 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

PaxTerminus

Join Date 03/2006
+2

Oh, what is the world comming to...? Where are the games like Master of Magic, or Master of Orion II, or even Alpha Centauri? I do not know if anyone rememebrs my review of Civilization V... I was bitching so much that some people accused me of being a Stardock employee...

 

OK, now to Elemental. I finished my first game... It was a normal game with a small world, but my quad core with 4GB or RAM was still overwhelmend by the time of the end game with my 11 cities on the map producing 1400 points of tech per turn...

So, my impressions of the game (some of this stuff will probably echo earlier concerns):

* The way to win the game is only to focus on tech research. Everything else is pointless... You cannot forward your cause by researching magic spells, or focusing on adventuring: you research tech and forget everything else and you win.

* Adventuring does not produce anything useful. You HAVE to have some unique artifacts or heros to be available through questing. Otherwise, what's the point? The stuff you get form goodie huts is about useless by the time I get my civilization tech to level 40 - and that is very fast...

* The game falls apart in the advanced stage: nothing matters anymore... You cannot find anything cool through quests... Magic spells are laughable considering the stats of your units - the only useful stuff throughout the entire game is Teleport, and Erode Land and Make Land/Ocean...

* Advanced military units have WAY not enough life considering their attack/armor. Come on... A unit with 44 attach / 20 defence and 12 life??? The life stat should go in line with the advancement of the unit. All units should have anough life to last more than a single blow from a similar unit...

This is what to do to fix it:

* Unique items to equip for heroes and the sovereign available through quests or magic spells...

* Magic spells should match the level of game progress. If a hearo can have 60 attack, 50 defense and 120 life, I want a spell that takes 40 life away, or a sword that is +10 better than a regular one or a ring that gives you +8 to attack, but can be equipped by a levle 12 hero only... You get the point...

* Military units should last more than a single blow. The attack, defense thing should be balance with life points so you can have some tactics going on, not that the first guy who hits always wins...

* Make the world progressively dangerous, no matter your Adventure research level. There should be level 5 and 6 and 7 and 8 and 9 and 10 locations and monsters. You should feel compelled to research your adventure tech, so you do not fall behind your enemies, who get cool stuf from those towers and monsters that should get nastier every 100 turns or so...

* Limit a number of heroes one can hire - tie it to Charisma or something... With an army of 20 heroes who needs military units at all??? Also, I never used my kids and grandkinds for anything, because I could have heroes galore since the beginning of the game. If you are limited to 6 hires, or one per 4 Charisma, having family suddenly maters. Having Charisma becomes important too. For now - TOTALLY useless stat...

 

Enough said...

 

 

Locked Post 21 Replies
Search this post
Subscription Options


Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
January 15, 2011 7:55:28 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Oh, in all that I gorgot add some good stuff...

 

The game engine is great... It did feel like playing Master of Magic, or Galactic Civilizations - in other words, like good old days... All the issies I see are not with the idea of the game, but rather with math - stats balancing...

Some may need extra code: like algorithmic, progressively more difficult and rewarding quests... You know: Now I really want my adventuring to get to level 20 so I can go into this dangeon and get this 28 + 8 attach sword with + 2 to mobility...

Other than that all the elements are there, just need to get finished and re-balanced...

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
January 15, 2011 10:59:39 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Very good review with some very helpful suggestions.

Thanks for helping make the game better.

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
January 16, 2011 4:31:10 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Yeah, now I truly know why people say that the game has a lot of potential... It is a good game, with just some things to change in the stat XML files...

Also I think they need a WAY better manual and less starting difficulty options. It is kind of hard to figure out what you gonna get from what option... Too many choices... And the "world difficulty" is misleading. It should be more "world boredom level" from easy = nothing happens to hard = some cool monsters to kill....

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
January 16, 2011 4:41:32 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting PaxTerminus,
Yeah, now I truly know why people say that the game has a lot of potential... It is a good game, with just some things to change in the stat XML files...

Also I think they need a WAY better manual and less starting difficulty options. It is kind of hard to figure out what you gonna get from what option... Too many choices... And the "world difficulty" is misleading. It should be more "world boredom level" from easy = nothing happens to hard = some cool monsters to kill....

I don't think less difficulty options are going to help much at all. How about you play a game on normal, if you don't like it you adjust it to be harder or easier. That sounds like a way better idea then just reducing the number of options, that is just going to make people go on the forums and bitch about making the fewer difficulties the way they like them.

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
January 16, 2011 5:16:05 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Yaca,
... I don't think less difficulty options are going to help much at all. How about you play a game on normal, if you don't like it you adjust it to be harder or easier. That sounds like a way better idea then just reducing the number of options, that is just going to make people go on the forums and bitch about making the fewer difficulties the way they like them.

For some unknown share of us who are still hoping to love this game, stripping setup options would hurt seriously. I still feel teased by some early dev banter about setup options being very numerous. Can't quickly recall who, but someone recently suggested a toggle between basic and advanced setup options, which in theory could help satisfy a very broad ranger of player tastes.

The difficulty setting is much simpler thing to me, boiling down to how and how much do computer players get to 'cheat.' I like the implementation in GC2 very much, and from what I gather the Elemental approach is much the same--limit computer player bonuses to modifiers on a few major variables and provide AI code that can play the game pretty decently without gimmicks like free units and whatnot.

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
January 16, 2011 6:00:30 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I could not disagree outright with any points of the OP!

 

Personally i suspect that most of what holds Elemental back is Stardocks overzealous dedication to crushing exploits and game balance.

 

This is certainly a consequence of listening to player feedback! But you know, the fact is, crushing exploits and worshiping game balance to such a degree results in a brilliant game being far more bland, weak and boring than it should be!

 

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
January 16, 2011 7:12:40 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

"This is certainly a consequence of listening to player feedback! But you know, the fact is, crushing exploits and worshiping game balance to such a degree results in a brilliant game being far more bland, weak and boring than it should be!"

I personally don't mind being able to develop to a level when one of my units can wipe out the entire kingdom of an enemy - the thing is you should have to work hard for such achievement - well maybe not hard-hard, but at least for a long time... That was my issue with Civilization V - it was too limited and too balanced so you could not have a larger-than-life empire...

The thing with Elemental is that some of the balancing issues are not those little scale tipping tricks for Casparov-level chess players, but major problems, that invalidate the game very early on... Meaning you cannot lose even if you wanted to...

I just started my next game with world on Difficult and all players on Normal. Well, I have 6 towns now, I am early enough in the game so even the first of my towns is level 4 and I am already indestructable. I don't have to continue the game, I can just go forth and wipe out all my enemies with my sovereign...

Why?

Because the most powerful magical weapons are very easy to research... It takes only 5 levels of Magic research with 0 arcane labs present to be completelly and utterly undefeatable. I have a Sovereign with that 800 gildar magical sword, I need to wait only another 20 turns to get 1200 gildar for the armor and even 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 enemy soldiers would not be able to stop me as is the current tech level of my enemies... My armor would be 20 and their best attack is 18...

So why even have any soldiers at all???

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
January 16, 2011 7:27:04 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

My solution to the indestructible soldier would be that the actual damage is calculated something along the lines of:

Damage = Attack * ( Attack / (Attack + Defense))

This way if my unit is 50 attack and 78 defense (real stats from my last game) an enemy unit with attack 14 could: cause 14 * (14 / (14 + 78)) = 2 damage. Considering that my sovereign had 168 life the unit would be dead meat after 1 chop (that 12 life for a unit needs to be fixed too), but at least I would not be able to take on 10 enemy armies 12 units each with zero damage... 

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
January 16, 2011 7:40:57 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Yaca,



Quoting PaxTerminus,
reply 3
Yeah, now I truly know why people say that the game has a lot of potential... It is a good game, with just some things to change in the stat XML files...

Also I think they need a WAY better manual and less starting difficulty options. It is kind of hard to figure out what you gonna get from what option... Too many choices... And the "world difficulty" is misleading. It should be more "world boredom level" from easy = nothing happens to hard = some cool monsters to kill....


I don't think less difficulty options are going to help much at all. How about you play a game on normal, if you don't like it you adjust it to be harder or easier. That sounds like a way better idea then just reducing the number of options, that is just going to make people go on the forums and bitch about making the fewer difficulties the way they like them.

I think what I really meant was for the difficulty settings to be more clear as to what they really do... And some master options would not hurt... With my first game the world was barren and utterly uninteresting but I did not know that the world difficulty level is something different form the game difficulty. And that is really not a difficulty level but rather a "richness" level.

Also I do not know whe is a faction difficulty - are they smarter that way, or just more hostile towards you? Both? Also, in all of my 2 games so far Gildar seems to wipe out all other factions and come on top as my main enemy... Is it just my luck or their combination of abilities makes them better?

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
January 16, 2011 7:50:01 PM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums
Totally agreed on the damage point. And mostly everything from the first post. I do love this game already. I really do. But i cant recommend it to friends yet because they are not into that kind of games without it beeing really really really polished and multiplayer friendly.
Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
January 16, 2011 7:52:25 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting PaxTerminus,
"This is certainly a consequence of listening to player feedback! But you know, the fact is, crushing exploits and worshiping game balance to such a degree results in a brilliant game being far more bland, weak and boring than it should be!"

I personally don't mind being able to develop to a level when one of my units can wipe out the entire kingdom of an enemy - the thing is you should have to work hard for such achievement - well maybe not hard-hard, but at least for a long time... That was my issue with Civilization V - it was too limited and too balanced so you could not have a larger-than-life empire...

The thing with Elemental is that some of the balancing issues are not those little scale tipping tricks for Casparov-level chess players, but major problems, that invalidate the game very early on... Meaning you cannot lose even if you wanted to...

I just started my next game with world on Difficult and all players on Normal. Well, I have 6 towns now, I am early enough in the game so even the first of my towns is level 4 and I am already indestructable. I don't have to continue the game, I can just go forth and wipe out all my enemies with my sovereign...

Why?

Because the most powerful magical weapons are very easy to research... It takes only 5 levels of Magic research with 0 arcane labs present to be completelly and utterly undefeatable. I have a Sovereign with that 800 gildar magical sword, I need to wait only another 20 turns to get 1200 gildar for the armor and even 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 enemy soldiers would not be able to stop me as is the current tech level of my enemies... My armor would be 20 and their best attack is 18...

So why even have any soldiers at all???

 

Not even sure i follow too well? I think it is true for most games that an experienced player can smash an AI if that is what the player chooses to do. But that doesn't bother me at all, I'm the kind of player who is happy to 'nurture' AI opponents until they are worthy of a good fight. However, i have not yet managed to set up a good battle with an AI in Elemental so far, mainly because i haven't got around to it yet. Typically when my games get that advanced, the out of memory error intensifies to such a degree that i simply give up and start again.

Another issue is that the less complex the game, the easier it is to tweak the AI! But this is all part of game balance too.... as such your not going to like things that the player can do but the AI cannot. This also contributes allot to the game becoming too bland and boring.

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
January 16, 2011 8:57:42 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting PaxTerminus,
My solution to the indestructible soldier would be that the actual damage is calculated something along the lines of:

Damage = Attack * ( Attack / (Attack + Defense))

This way if my unit is 50 attack and 78 defense (real stats from my last game) an enemy unit with attack 14 could: cause 14 * (14 / (14 + 78)) = 2 damage. Considering that my sovereign had 168 life the unit would be dead meat after 1 chop (that 12 life for a unit needs to be fixed too), but at least I would not be able to take on 10 enemy armies 12 units each with zero damage... 

That formula makes sense, and you get karma for this. However, this should be max damage, since it's better to have some random-based variance.

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
January 17, 2011 8:01:54 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Yes, you are right. And there should be a 0 damage available as well - that being blocked... That way for my example possible damages would be 0, 1, 2 - that meaning that about 1/3 of all attacks would be blocked. Of course with a unit with smaller defense - let's say 14 - the max damage would be 7 and the chance of block would be 1/8 or 12.5%...

The formula is a classic weight where the coefficient = 0 cause the value to stay the same (so Defense = 0 -> max Damage = Attack), but at the same time with coefficient going to infinity the result never drops below 0. I think that when max damage drops below 1 it should stay at 1 and then you get 50% chance of block and 50% of 1 point damage.

Again, that would help make the game more reasonable in the "1 unit with modest stats defeats all 4 enemy factions" department. And that would mean that having life points is also important - not just defense higher than attack of all other units in the game... 

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
January 18, 2011 3:45:22 PM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

Quoting PaxTerminus,

Damage = Attack * ( Attack / (Attack + Defense))

Love the simple elegance of this compared to some of the long-winded, convoluted posts I've seen about calculating damage.  Notebooks out, Stardock!

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
January 18, 2011 6:50:35 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Mystikmind,
Not even sure i follow too well? I think it is true for most games that an experienced player can smash an AI if that is what the player chooses to do. But that doesn't bother me at all, I'm the kind of player who is happy to 'nurture' AI opponents until they are worthy of a good fight. However, i have not yet managed to set up a good battle with an AI in Elemental so far, mainly because i haven't got around to it yet. Typically when my games get that advanced, the out of memory error intensifies to such a degree that i simply give up and start again.

Another issue is that the less complex the game, the easier it is to tweak the AI! But this is all part of game balance too.... as such your not going to like things that the player can do but the AI cannot. This also contributes allot to the game becoming too bland and boring.

Not to put words into the OP's mouth, but the point I think he's bringing up isn't about the AI - it's about having balanced choices for the player, different but viable ways you can play the game. If 5 techs into magic research your sovereign is suddenly all but invincible to normal units and can smash nearly limitless armies single-handedly, it means there's no point in researching or training anything else, it effectively limits your options. Sure there are other ways you could play the game, but why would you? There's only one good way to play, unless you're going for some kind of self-imposed hardmode where you deliberately avoid the overpowered strategy (and even then, there's probably a second-most-overpowered strategy that makes everything else look bad, are you going to ignore that too? pretty soon you run out of strategies..). This is equally true whether you're trying to conquer a human or an AI, or just slaying monsters and questing and ignoring other players - certain options available to you are just way too powerful compared to everything else.

I should note that, in general, balance problems aren't just problems for min/maxing metagamers trying to win as quickly as possible (though I realize the above paragraph may make it sound that way). Even if you're not aware of the one true strategy that beats all others, even if you're (for example) treating the game more like an RPG and doing whatever makes sense to you in-character, the moment you stumble across that one true strategy by chance the game suddenly becomes trivially easy - and if your opponents are balanced with that strategy in mind and actually challenging for a guy using it, the game is unreasonably difficult if you're playing some other way. Better balance is good for everyone, it's just that people playing to win notice the problems with it faster.

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
January 18, 2011 7:19:11 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting ,

Oh, what is the world comming to...? Where are the games like Master of Magic, or Master of Orion II, or even Alpha Centauri? I do not know if anyone rememebrs my review of Civilization V... I was bitching so much that some people accused me of being a Stardock employee...
 

Not that I disagree with the rest of your (unquoted) comments, because I think they're generally on target, but I absolutely love every time I see some sentiment like this posted.

Where, oh where, are the games like... three of the best games of all time?  Hell, you could make a reasonable case for any one of those three being the best PC game of all time.  

That's like saying where are my winning $300,000,000 power ball tickets or where are the baseball teams as dominant as the 1927 Yankees.  

It makes me chuckle.  

 

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
January 19, 2011 12:20:42 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Austinvn,
... I should note that, in general, balance problems aren't just problems for min/maxing metagamers trying to win as quickly as possible (though I realize the above paragraph may make it sound that way). Even if you're not aware of the one true strategy that beats all others, even if you're (for example) treating the game more like an RPG and doing whatever makes sense to you in-character, the moment you stumble across that one true strategy by chance the game suddenly becomes trivially easy - and if your opponents are balanced with that strategy in mind and actually challenging for a guy using it, the game is unreasonably difficult if you're playing some other way. Better balance is good for everyone, it's just that people playing to win notice the problems with it faster.

Well gawwwwlee. I've been a 'balance-schmalance' person for ages, and here you go offering a very good explanation of why I shouldn't automatically ignore balance talk. Balance stuff done right should actually support the variety of viable play styles I want in a TBS.

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
January 19, 2011 4:22:01 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting GW Swicord,

Quoting Austinvn, reply 15... I should note that, in general, balance problems aren't just problems for min/maxing metagamers trying to win as quickly as possible (though I realize the above paragraph may make it sound that way). Even if you're not aware of the one true strategy that beats all others, even if you're (for example) treating the game more like an RPG and doing whatever makes sense to you in-character, the moment you stumble across that one true strategy by chance the game suddenly becomes trivially easy - and if your opponents are balanced with that strategy in mind and actually challenging for a guy using it, the game is unreasonably difficult if you're playing some other way. Better balance is good for everyone, it's just that people playing to win notice the problems with it faster.


Well gawwwwlee. I've been a 'balance-schmalance' person for ages, and here you go offering a very good explanation of why I shouldn't automatically ignore balance talk. Balance stuff done right should actually support the variety of viable play styles I want in a TBS.

Thanks, love to know someone is listening! I really do appreciate all aspects of a good game, from balanced choices to variable playstyles to immersive lore to competitive multiplayer - it's just that it's harder (for me at least) to appreciate the latter three when the first is glaringly off. I may seem to focus on balance exclusively sometimes, but it's not just balance for its own sake; I see it as the foundation for all the other things that make a game fun to play.

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
January 19, 2011 4:48:46 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Austinvn,

Thanks, love to know someone is listening! I really do appreciate all aspects of a good game, from balanced choices to variable playstyles to immersive lore to competitive multiplayer - it's just that it's harder (for me at least) to appreciate the latter three when the first is glaringly off. I may seem to focus on balance exclusively sometimes, but it's not just balance for its own sake; I see it as the foundation for all the other things that make a game fun to play.

 

From my experience, focusing on good game balance always seems to make games less fun? Civ4 is a prime example of this, because you can tell they have put allot of focus on game balance and they even had to pretend artillery/battleships are not a ranged units!! Obviously in reality they are, but apparently game balance trumps basic combat realism.

Anyhow, i cannot really say civ4 is not a good game, all i can say is that it is not one of those games i ever go back and play every so often like galciv, alpha Centauri, civ2, or Total anihilation. I would even play civ3 before playing civ4..... and i can definitely feel in my bones that what is stopping me from dusting off the disk for civ4 is due mostly to it's overindulgence on game balance. Also just knowing the priority given to game balance has stopped me from even bothering to buy civ5 at all! I am tired of game balance, i really am!

As for a game like civ2, well, you could not say it is so well balanced! But somehow it is addictive, it just has 'IT' and i am not even sure what 'IT' is? But any games that focus too much on game balance, always loose their 'IT' without fail! I dunno if this makes any sense to anyone??

 

 

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
January 19, 2011 5:23:33 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Austinvn,
... Thanks, love to know someone is listening! I really do appreciate all aspects of a good game, from balanced choices to variable playstyles to immersive lore to competitive multiplayer - it's just that it's harder (for me at least) to appreciate the latter three when the first is glaringly off. I may seem to focus on balance exclusively sometimes, but it's not just balance for its own sake; I see it as the foundation for all the other things that make a game fun to play.

Austin, I didn't follow Brad's thread from last November that was about the 'masses of people' problem for multiplayer games, so I don't know if you posted in it, but I'm interested in what how you weight competitive multiplayer in your trio of gaming values.

Brad's old post points out the basic problem of hordes of the score-obsessed being able to find 'exploits' easily thanks to the gawl-danged inter-tubes. We're a very long way from real AI despite how much game designers love to claim the term, and no computer player can hope to match the power of individual fuzzy logic problem-solving aggregated through cheat/strat boards when it comes to cracking the math of a given game. If all I care about in a TBS is playstyle variety and immersiveness, why should my idea of 'good' balance include multiplayer concerns?

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
January 23, 2011 6:54:03 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

OK, from what I was able to find on this forum Stardock have already addressed the indestructable soldier problem with 1.19 version. The impact of that will be HUGE - it suddenly matters to have armies.

In fact until this point it was all about who has the best defence: if it was the AI who managed to have a best unit - you were dead no matter what. There was not a single brilliant thing you could do in the game to survive. If you were the one who get the best shield, or armor, or whatever - you could mop up the entire game with your Sov without loosing a single life point.

I know I repeat myself again, but I got a sence that not everybody fully understood how one-dimensional the game was because of this. I am not some hard-core strategy gamer. I love games but I have a total of about two weeks time per year to play games. It took me 7 months to finish Dragon Age and I really commited myslef to it. I am playing Fallout 3 for 2 years now...

The bottom line is if the gameplay forced me into finding a game-braking exploit in the game mechanics half-way through my very first game of Elemental - that was bad.

I am glad they will fix this. Sometimes it is cool to have an indestructible unit in the game - but it is fun only if you had to work long and hard for it - not 50 game turns / 1 hour. Otherwise the Laser Man from Age of Empires thing gets old very fast...

Big thank you for Brad and his team for fixing this!!! Love you guys! In the manly best-buddy-let's-go-and-have-a-beer-way-that-is...

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
Stardock Forums v1.0.0.0    #101114  walnut1   Server Load Time: 00:00:00.0000281   Page Render Time: