Elemental: A General Status Report

By on August 14, 2011 8:12:13 PM from JoeUser Forums JoeUser Forums

Frogboy

Join Date 03/2001
+1105

This will eventually get stickied somewhere.

So here is where we stand as we near the first anniversary of the release of the first Elemental title (War of Magic)

War of Magic v1.4

Last month we released War of Magic v1.3.  We are currently working on v1.4 which we anticipate going into beta this month.  v1.4 is scheduled to include AI updates, balance updates, and bug fixes.

Fallen Enchantress

Most of Stardock Entertainment’s resources are currently being put on the second Elemental title (Fallen Enchantress) which is a fairly radical departure from War of Magic (other than art resources).  I can’t go into much detail regarding it other than to say it that it is much more similar to a Civilization/Master of Magic style strategy game versus a Galactic Civilizations/HOMM style strategy game (i.e. every tile of terrain matters i.e. building near rivers or forests or hills and that kind of thing will matter and there are things like unrest and tax rates and that kind of thing).

Of course, the decision to make Fallen Enchantress effectively a new game (other than art assets) has meant that its date is being pushed out to being more like a sequel’s release.  That said, our plan is for the beta to come out this Fall still. However, bear in mind, that other than both existing in the Elemental universe, the gameplay of the two are very different.

Staffing

For those of you who follow/are interested in this sort of thing, the staffing on Fallen Enchantress is similar to War of Magic. 

  • I am the executive producer of both. 
  • Cari and Jesse have been the senior engine developers. 
  • The big changes have been that Scott has moved from being Producer to being senior Animator. 
  • We also were able to re-hire (call back from last year’s lay offs) Auri who was the lead animator on WOM who is back on animating all the new monsters. 
  • Derek Paxton (Civilization: Fall from Heaven fame) has taken over from Scott as Producer.
  • Derek has also taken over as lead developer (as opposed to the quasi “design by committee” led by myself with WOM). 
  • Jon Shafer (Civilization V lead designer) has designed the single player campaigns for Fallen Enchantress.

In addition, several new artists/developers have been hired over the past year with the result being that the FE team is larger than the WOM team was.

Who gets what

Everyone who bought War of Magic in 2010 gets Fallen Enchantress for free. The betas will one day simply “show up” in your Impulse account. You don’t have to do anything to get access to it.  People who bought War of Magic in 2011 up to its release will be able to get Fallen Enchantress for a discounted price. The full price for Fallen Enchantress is likely going to be $39.95 and it’s a stand alone game (and in fact, we may sunset War of Magic entirely – i.e. no longer sell it new after FE is released – however we may continue to release updates to WOM after FE comes out regardless to satisfy ourselves and our fans who like its game mechanics).

Objectives

As some of you know, my “day job” is CEO of Stardock overall of which Stardock Entertainment is one business unit of with the Elemental franchise being one game series of.  To make a long story short, I’ve given Derek cart blanche to do what is necessary to make sure Fallen Enchantress awesome – even if it means spending more money or taking more time. As a result, while I am fairly certain the betas of it will come out this Fall, I can’t promise when the final version will come out.

Multiplayer

Since I don’t want that dangling out there, multiplayer matters to me personally but we know the hard statistics on the % of people who play turn-based strategy games MP (and I mean industry wide). The word tiny comes to mind.  That said, Elemental will be receiving multiplayer love anyway.

Lastly

Yes, we do read the forums religiously. But we don’t typically respond. 

93 Replies
Search this post
Subscription Options


Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
August 14, 2011 8:31:37 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Thanks for the update Frogboy. A few cool new hints about new features in FE. Much appreciated.

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
August 14, 2011 8:47:00 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Sounds terrific, Brad.

One question: have there been any discussions internally about the Beta process, and how to handle feedback?  WoM's Beta's forum was filled with threads about things that are still being addressed today, such as AI.  At the time, we were told it was all Ok in the developer's build, however the release version still housed a few issues.
Has there been any talk about how better to address feedback within the context of the Beta?

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
August 14, 2011 9:28:48 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting ZehDon,
Sounds terrific, Brad.

One question: have there been any discussions internally about the Beta process, and how to handle feedback?  WoM's Beta's forum was filled with threads about things that are still being addressed today, such as AI.  At the time, we were told it was all Ok in the developer's build, however the release version still housed a few issues.
Has there been any talk about how better to address feedback within the context of the Beta?

Here's a stupid solution, but I think in this case it should be mandatory: a bug list/thread. There should be 1 post with all major/minor bugs in the beta and every day/week it should be updated with new or fixed bugs. I asked about this a long time ago and was told by a dev that it wouldn't be updated or checked. But I think a stickied bug list is necessary for a beta.

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
August 14, 2011 9:47:18 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Damn Frogboy, it's Sunday night.  Don't you ever take a break?

 

Anyway, my $.02.

 

During the Beta, have a simple poll on the forum.

 

"Is this game fun?"  Perhaps version it at each update?

 

If (isFun < 75% )

launchGame = FALSE

 

Don't assume you will work out the fun after the release. 

Bug fixes, sure. 

Fun.  No.

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
August 14, 2011 10:26:29 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

(i.e. every tile of terrain matters i.e. building near rivers or forests or hills and that kind of thing will matter and there are things like unrest and tax rates and that kind of thing).

Wow, I think that this probably the most exciting info about FE yet. I can't wait for some details.

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
August 15, 2011 1:18:43 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

sounds good to me.

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
August 15, 2011 1:47:51 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

And, LightofAbraxas, that means there will also be rivers!

Best regards,
Steven.

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
August 15, 2011 1:56:49 AM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

Most of this sounds good, and I like the potential of "every tile matters."

But I am a bit bummed to hear that WoM might get pulled. While that may be in the best interest of the company (to prevent confusion), I do see it making it more likely that updates will stop. I mean, perhaps 1.4 solves all the AI problems and a 1.5 polishes it nicely, but I doubt we'll get that lucky.

Still, I like hearing that you're giving the team the "make it great" order without focusing on costs. I keep telling my workers what my expectations are and all they need to do is propose a plan/budget to get it done, and so long as the expectations are met, I'll spend the money. Sometimes I get blank looks in return. Hopefully your team doesn't respond the same way!

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
August 15, 2011 2:25:33 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Awesome froggy. From what I've read Derek is kicking butt with your money. Keep it up!

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
August 15, 2011 4:25:50 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Sounds good too. I hope that "every tile matters" means not just in your settlement, but in your zone of control (your empire or kingdom). Any hint on that?

Because Elemental sounded really good too, but its main problem seemed to be the feedback loop during beta as in July 2010 things seemed to fall apart: your beta testers were complaining about many serious issues, but there was little time to re-integrate this feedback before release -- will beta be handled differently this time?

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
August 15, 2011 6:48:36 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Thanks for the update!

 

I'm looking forward to hearing more about those strategic aspects, and hope we get a dev journal on it soon.

 

As far as FE beta, I agree that we need a better system for making sure that our feedback is being addressed. However, I think FE won't have the same issues because as they have said, one of the main problems with WoM was that the design and the engine didn't mesh, leading to problems with major design elements all the way to the present day. FE is being designed with those lessons learned (I hope) and should thus be a more well designed game. By the time we see the beta, it should be feature and content complete, with only balance and bugs to work out. If we get a beta that still has major design elements that need hammering out, we will know we are in trouble again. I'm confident that Stardock won't make that mistake twice.

 

Thanks again!

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
August 15, 2011 6:49:46 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Every tile matters you say? Well, that opens up a whole can of worms(giant ones that can devour a man whole) when it comes to finding new ways to screw with the enemy without actually engaging in hostile combat. Oh the griefing, the ever loving griefing.  

I'm sorry, were you using that ore deposit as a mine? Too bad, it's now a snake pit. Oh, that river bed gave you trading bonuses? Well someone drank all the water. Is that forest giving you any sort of bonus, now it's in flames, flaaaaaames, muahahahahah!

 

I may be exaggerating a bit, but that's generally how I play. I narrate that stuff to myself. 

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
August 15, 2011 6:58:21 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I'd like to have a better system for reporting beta bugs too. Like a form where you can upload images and debug files... It's such a pain to post screenshots and files on the forum.

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
August 15, 2011 7:00:11 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Sounds like you're really on top of it now. Look forward to reading about it more in the months ahead.

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
August 15, 2011 7:19:36 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Thanks for the update, Brad.

Second the call for a better beta bug system for FE. The current ad-hoc post to the forums is not really 2011 - more like 2001. Although Derek's pre-bug list posts were great.

I am looking forward to trying Fallen Enchantress but there is also an equal measure of trepidation. Please let us experience the whole game this time in beta rather than just focusing on isolated elements. I think that if the beta testers for WoM had been able to trial the actual game before release the feedback would have been more forceful and hence more valuable.

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
August 15, 2011 7:26:29 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Magog_AoW,
I'd like to have a better system for reporting beta bugs too. Like a form where you can upload images and debug files... It's such a pain to post screenshots and files on the forum.

We allowed everyone to submit to the bug tracker during the WoM beta, but there was too much spam and it had to be closed to the public.

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
August 15, 2011 7:31:35 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

That's unfortunate. How about giving a few enthusiastic community volunteers access to the bug tracker, who can filter out the valid bug reports from spam?

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
August 15, 2011 7:51:37 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

If we can't have access to the bug tracker, you need to think of some other way to do it. We reported a multitude of bugs in 1.3 from early on to late in the beta process and many went completely ignored. Spam is not an option, I can understand that. But neither is ignoring our reports.

For example, all these bugs were reported and went unadressed in the 1.3 beta: http://forums.elementalgame.com/410743 

It seems to me that 1.4 will contain mainly what should have been in 1.3. You said there would be AI improvements, both tactical and strategic. And balancing and bug fixes? Come on! It's just 1.3 polished to a real release state.

1.3 was extremely disappointing to me, it was the first release patch that I felt sincerely made the game worse in many aspects. Others were greatly improved! Let's not forget the good parts, simultaneous damage, events, 4-man minimum units. But still, 1.3 as a whole actually made me stop playing the game.

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
August 15, 2011 7:57:12 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting ,

Multiplayer
Since I don’t want that dangling out there, multiplayer matters to me personally but we know the hard statistics on the % of people who play turn-based strategy games MP (and I mean industry wide). The word tiny comes to mind.  That said, Elemental will be receiving multiplayer love anyway.

By "Elemental" do you mean FE or WoM? And by "love" do you mean feature parity? If we can play MP FE and do everything you can do in SP FE, then people will be happy.

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
August 15, 2011 8:11:38 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting kryo,

Quoting Magog_AoW, reply 13I'd like to have a better system for reporting beta bugs too. Like a form where you can upload images and debug files... It's such a pain to post screenshots and files on the forum.

We allowed everyone to submit to the bug tracker during the WoM beta, but there was too much spam and it had to be closed to the public.
WHAT bug tracker, I was IN the wom beta from beta 2 and did not know of any bug tracker, all I could do WAS the post a thread, after uploading files/pictures to dropbox.

harpo

 

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
August 15, 2011 8:32:02 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Thanks for the headsup, Frogboy.

One thing in particular dazzled me in WoM which haven't been addressed in journals much: The amount of hardcoded, unmodable stuff in game. WoM, especially when released had a lot of hardcoded routines such as the map generator generating stuff while ignoring the XML. I would really like if that will not be the case with FE.

Also, as I haven't checked about mods lately, are wizard tools expected to be up for modders for testing?

 

Besides these 2 points, FE sounds like it's full of potential to be a very good fantasy game. Good luck!

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
August 15, 2011 9:28:01 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Thanks for the update.

 

Cheers!

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
August 15, 2011 10:13:22 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I agree with Heavenfall. I've been playing WOM since release and had to stop playing with 1.3 because of the prestige "bug" or mechanic. The bug reports were completely ignored. I was going to downgrade the beta to 1.2 release so I could have fun again but the 1.3 release came out, so I downloaded that. Only to find out that was the same as the beta. As Heavenfall said, this is the first release that makes me not want to play the game. Very disappointed in the 1.3 release and the fact that the player feedback was not heeded.

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
August 15, 2011 10:44:54 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Oh, Stardock, how do you keep doing this to me?  After Demigod and Elemental, I had decided that I was done with pre-orders and would wait for reviews of any new games before I allowed myself to get excited.

But now a new game is teased, and I'm getting excited again.  Damnit.  I think it's really cool that any of us that got on the WoM bandwagon early are getting this one for free.  Hopefully, past mistakes will have been learned from and this game with be flat-out awesome.  Looking forward to it.

 

Now, about GalCivIII...

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
August 15, 2011 11:00:03 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Thanks for the update---looking forward to Fallen Enchantress

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
Stardock Forums v1.0.0.0    #108433  walnut3   Server Load Time: 00:00:00.0000687   Page Render Time: