Elemental: April FAQ

By on April 4, 2011 2:40:45 PM from JoeUser Forums JoeUser Forums

Frogboy

Join Date 03/2001
+1477

Greetings!

First, thank you everyone who in previous journal entries who have submitted questions to be answered. Anything that reduces my work load makes me happy. Frankly, eating and breathing on my own is a continuing resentment.

So let’s dive right in:

Q: Does the Gamestop acqusition of Impulse affect the free expansions to the Elemental universe customers of War of Magic were promised?

A: Not in the slightest. Stardock Entertainment is a separate business (Stardock Entertainment, Inc.) from Impulse (Impulse, Inc.).

Q: Where does War of Magic stand?

A: We’re still working on v1.2 of it. Without getting too technical, the memory issues that the game has boil down to what is called heap fragmentation. Sins of a Solar Empire pre-allocates its memory and then dishes it out from there.  Elemental: War of Magic grows and shrinks in real-time.  Over time, memory becomes fragmented and eventually a block can’t be allocated.  There are differences between Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7 on how this is handled as well as very different effects based on how much memory is on a given video card and the driver model in question.  Suffice to say, that’s why v1.2 is taking awhile is that we really want to do it right.

Q: What happens to War of Magic after v1.2?

A: v1.3 is being developed concurrently with v1.2.  That’s because v1.3 is pure features so v1.2’s delays don’t affect that.  It just means that v1.3 will come out a lot closer after v1.2 than originally planned.

Q: If Fallen Enchantress is in development, why continue with War of Magic?

A: There’s a lot of mundane reasons. But when the beta program for Fallen Enchantress starts, users are going to quickly realize that Fallen Enchantress isn’t an expansion pack. It’s like like Dark Avatar was to GalCiv II.  It’s radically different.  The second reason is that War of Magic has a lot of potential to continue into the future on its own track. The third reason is just because we like working on it. Our games are labors of love. Smile

Q: When will Fallen Enchantress be done?

A: We don’t have a set complete time.  The full team is working on FE right now other than myself and my mini team which is working on v1.2/v1.3.  We are not going to have an early public beta of Fallen Enchantress.  Its beta will come out largely feature complete. So right now, it’s likely to be a Fall 2011 thing but it could be later.  The requirement for Fallen Enchantress is it won’t be released until we are certain it be an overwhelmingly positive experience for our customers. To that end, we have eliminated as many conflicts to that objective such as sacrificing a retail date for it.

Q: Are the hardware requirements for Fallen Enchantress going to be the same as War of Magic?

A: Fallen Enchantress will use Pixel Shader 3 instead of Pixel Shader 2. One of the reasons for this is because Pixel Shader 2 drastically restricted the amount of environmental texturing we could do (i.e. brown brown brown) in Elemental: War of Magic.  In Fallen Enchantress, we want the world to be visually much more enchanting and interesting and not be restricted by a hardware requirement (the current pixel shader version is v5.0 to put things in perspective).  DirectX 9c is still the standard used here.

Q: Any news on the modding front?

A: Yes.  Jon Shafer and I have been working on the mini-campaigns for Elemental: Destiny’s Embers. And so as we work on those we uncover weaknesses in the modding tools that we have been trying to get addressed which in turn should make modding even easier in the future.

Locked Post 118 Replies
Search this post
Subscription Options


Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
April 4, 2011 2:44:50 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Sounds good Froggy.

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
April 4, 2011 2:54:21 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

One question re: Gamestop and Impulse.

 

Will you still have control over when you patch?  So if you wanted to patch the game at 2am like you did one time, or on a Saturday or Sunday, would you still be able to do that?

 

 

 

 

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
April 4, 2011 3:07:09 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Cool, thanks for the update.

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
April 4, 2011 3:07:18 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Question: how or will you ensure that Gamespot continues in the spirit that Impulse was created and provide a DRM free and customer focused experience?

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
April 4, 2011 3:10:23 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I can't help it, but I start to get excited for FE again.

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
April 4, 2011 3:21:40 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Alstein,
One question re: Gamestop and Impulse. 

Will you still have control over when you patch?  So if you wanted to patch the game at 2am like you did one time, or on a Saturday or Sunday, would you still be able to do that?

I don't have an official answer, but putting up updates at 2 AM or on weekends is generally not desired behavior.  We're trying to avoid situations that necessitate that sort of thing.

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
April 4, 2011 3:23:26 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Take your time with FE... no rush... Fall 2011 sounds just fine.

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
April 4, 2011 3:31:42 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Yea, don't fuck up the launch of FE, becasue then we might not get more Elemental games, and I want more.

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
April 4, 2011 4:11:13 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Glad to have frequent updates again, although I'm sure it's rough on you guys.

 

Everything sounds good, keep it up!

 

Still sad that Impulse is going to GameStop, but glad to know Elemental will march on unhindered.

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
April 4, 2011 4:19:17 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Ballsy move selling Impulse. Seems odd that someone who was previously a champion of the conglomerate model has rejected it so thoroughly. 

I mean, you've said a million times that you derived significant advantages from having multiple income streams (desktop apps, publishing, retail, games). Why the sudden urge to dump one of the fastest growing segments? I suppose not wanting to run a big company makes sense, but there's no reason you couldn't have pulled a founder fadeback like the Twitter guy did and hire a biz guy to CEO while you focus on the fun stuff (and own the joint). And why a sale rather than spinning the company off as an independent entity or firewalling it from the development company (which presumably was already in effect, since Impulse Inc exists)? 

 

Pots of money is a damned good reason, but it doesn't seem like that's the driving force here when you're out and out saying that being huge isn't appealing. Anyway, Impulse was presumably generating pots of money all on its own, so that's doubly implausible. 

 

And that Joystiq interview did not ask any interesting questions. 

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
April 4, 2011 5:04:26 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I knew this series of games was going for the long haul. I commend you guys and await patiently. Very cool!

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
April 4, 2011 5:07:19 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Alstein,
One question re: Gamestop and Impulse.

 
Will you still have control over when you patch?  So if you wanted to patch the game at 2am like you did one time, or on a Saturday or Sunday, would you still be able to do that?

 

 

Yep. SDE will continue to be able to bypass the normal release system to put up updates as often as needed. 

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
April 4, 2011 5:14:02 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting TheProgress,
Question: how or will you ensure that Gamespot continues in the spirit that Impulse was created and provide a DRM free and customer focused experience?

I've read a lot of demonizing of Gamestop which is really a bit of a bummer because when you're talking about an $8 billion company there's a lot of different "parts".

Gamestop was interested in Impulse IMO because of the way we treat our customers.  Gamestop went out and brought in gamers to run the thing (Steve Nix and David Adams are the ones running the show and they're from our industry as opposed to say retail or business).

While there are no guarantees in life, my impression has been that they plan to win by providing a more consumer friendly service than the competition.  For example, they were very interested in adopting Impulse::Reactor's GOO (which is a very friendly DRM system).  

Not to put too fine a point on it but we had a *lot* of choices. For the past year and a half we've been getting offers on Impulse pretty regularly. We went with Gamestop because they had the team and plan most congruent with what we wanted to do. 

But let's put all that aside.  Gamestop was able to sell their vision to the Impulse employees. Keep in mind, they were able to get the Impulse employees to agree to move across the country for this. And for those of you not familiar with the Stardock culture, we're zealots. We're not in this for the money. We like to do cool stuff and that includes the Impulse team.  They even got Zoomba to go and some of you should know what he's like after all these years. 

 

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
April 4, 2011 5:17:05 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Lord Xia,
Yea, don't fuck up the launch of FE, becasue then we might not get more Elemental games, and I want more.

LOL.  Well, it's safe to say that FE will have had a ridiculous amount of energy and time put into it.  From a "metacritic" point of view, anything less than an 90 will be considered a disappointment by me.  That's how high the threshold has been set on that.

We all know the things about WOM that didn't go right. I don't think there's much disagreement in that either.  That's one reason why I want to still spend *my* time on WOM. 

Some people don't understand. I want WOM to redeem itself. I know FE will be excellent. But I want WOM to get a lot better too. And it really can too. 

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
April 4, 2011 5:27:10 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Aeon221,
Ballsy move selling Impulse. Seems odd that someone who was previously a champion of the conglomerate model has rejected it so thoroughly. 

I mean, you've said a million times that you derived significant advantages from having multiple income streams (desktop apps, publishing, retail, games). Why the sudden urge to dump one of the fastest growing segments? I suppose not wanting to run a big company makes sense, but there's no reason you couldn't have pulled a founder fadeback like the Twitter guy did and hire a biz guy to CEO while you focus on the fun stuff (and own the joint). And why a sale rather than spinning the company off as an independent entity or firewalling it from the development company (which presumably was already in effect, since Impulse Inc exists)? 

 

Pots of money is a damned good reason, but it doesn't seem like that's the driving force here when you're out and out saying that being huge isn't appealing. Anyway, Impulse was presumably generating pots of money all on its own, so that's doubly implausible. 

 

And that Joystiq interview did not ask any interesting questions. 

I guess the quick answer is to ask everyone here a question: How many different things can you focus on at once?

Let's look at War of Magic as one example.  Why did it suck at launch? Lack of money? Nope. We could have delayed it.  Lack of time? Nope, it had 3 years of development.  So you tell me, why did War of Magic suck at release?

To answer that you need to really make sure you're not looking at Stardock as "a company" but rather a collection of individuals.  People matter.

On GalCiv II and Sins of a Solar Empire, myself, Brian Clair (former editor of Avault) and countless others were focused ONLY on those games. That's it.  

By the time Demigod rolled around, we were spending huge amounts of time on Impulse instead. Why? Because it was making a ton of money.

People are always saying how they would reject empire building their company and instead focus on making excellent things. But they reject the premise that others would do that too.  I don't want to put too fine a point on this but I'm already rich and have been for a long time.  But even I got tempted to focus on Impulse because it's so successful.

You know what is key to making great stuff? People. It's not the money. You have to have really talented people and if you spread them too thin, well, you've seen the results.

You know what I go to do this weekend? I got to spend it evaluating hash table fragmentation.  For me, that's wonderful. I haven't got to spend time debugging anything in a long time. Normally, I'd be approving contracts for new publishers or looking over proposed Impulse Weekend promotions.  

Then you have the people who say "Why not just hire out for that?" We're in Michigan. I haven't even been able to find a qualified lead game developer for Stardock. Barring relocating to Dallas, Boston, Seattle, San Fran or LA, we knew what we'd need to do.

Sorry to ramble but hopefully this helps. 

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
April 4, 2011 5:30:48 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Frogboy,
LOL. Well, it's safe to say that FE will have had a ridiculous amount of energy and time put into it. From a "metacritic" point of view, anything less than an 90 will be considered a disappointment by me. That's how high the threshold has been set on that.

So, Total War and Civilization territory.

No pressure on Derek then.

Quoting Frogboy,
Some people don't understand. I want WOM to redeem itself. I know FE will be excellent. But I want WOM to get a lot better too. And it really can too.

I'm curious what all you'll add.

 

Edit: And as usual, thanks for the insights in your company's life. Your openess is still refreshing.

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
April 4, 2011 5:43:26 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

If I only chose another path in life I could have programmed games instead of doing boring accounting crap!

On a serious note, thanks for sharing your thoughts. Totally agree with Vandenburg. I even looked up what hash table fragmentation means online. You learn something new every day.

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
April 4, 2011 5:51:17 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Heres to Elementals redemption.

 

Now I want to know... with this Gamestop deal you just made, will Stardock open up additional studios?  Very curious.

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
April 4, 2011 5:56:29 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting ,
We are not going to have an early public beta of Fallen Enchantress.  Its beta will come out largely feature complete.

How does one join the lucky crew of private beta testers?

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
April 4, 2011 6:00:52 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Hi,

I hope someone can answer my question regarding Elemental FE. I believe I get FE for free, since I got E: WOM before December 31st of 2010 correct? So my question is will there be a way for costumers to have a boxed retail copy or a CD version sent to them if they are unable to download the game upon release using impulse. I have a slow internet service, that doesn't really like it when you use lots of constant bandwidth since it uses Wifi and it's not a direct hook up.  I mean I probably could if I had to, but I would rather not... so I was wondering if that option would be available to us as I imagine that FE will be pretty big in size. I apologize if this has been answered somewhere before.

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
April 4, 2011 6:31:21 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting AlLanMandragoran,

quoting postWe are not going to have an early public beta of Fallen Enchantress.  Its beta will come out largely feature complete.
How does one join the lucky crew of private beta testers?

Indeed. I hunger for some beta.

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
April 4, 2011 6:32:13 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

It is possible that there will not even be a boxed version, although I am only guessingd. I seem to remember that FE would completely skip the retail stores.

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
April 4, 2011 9:08:07 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Well, Brad, it's sure that regarding Gamestop about everyone here have experience with them. From what I've read, most of them have bad experience. I didn't even know that EB game was a Gamestop shop. In Quebec, I always had a really good service in EB game store. I'll go with the flow and wait to see what will happen. For me, it's the DRM that will matter. I really love the way you put your game: very to no DRm. For me, it mean we trust you about your purchase, and since you've bough our product, you'll be able to download and install it as much as you want. I'm not a fan of you can only install this game 5 time, after you'll have to buy it again. Well, I'll trust your judgement and see what Impulse will become.

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
April 4, 2011 9:24:53 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Now that Gamestop has bought Impulse, a boxed version of the game might be very viable ... and with a 300 page manual ... YES! Lord Xia would even dance the Hookie Pookie. I would even kiss everyone, except no one respects an affectionate wizard.

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
April 4, 2011 10:04:46 PM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

Quoting Frogboy,
Sorry to ramble but hopefully this helps.

It does. Thank you.

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
Stardock Forums v1.0.0.0    #101114  walnut1   Server Load Time: 00:00:00.0000844   Page Render Time: