FE: Promises, promises

By on November 5, 2011 6:09:54 PM from JoeUser Forums JoeUser Forums

Frogboy

Join Date 03/2001
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For those of you new to Stardock’s games, let me say, welcome! We’re glad you’re here!

For those of you who are veterans, thanks for hanging out with us.

I want to make sure users are fully aware, because it comes up sometimes, that we have intentions/plans for many things and on the other hand we have promises/requirements/obligations.

The former means, we intend to do something but it is not a guarantee. The latter means, yes, it’ll be in there.

Let’s start for the promises for FE:

  1. It won’t be released until we are happy with it.  Now, truth be told, I was pretty happy with WOM.  I was, as many may recall, working 100+ hours per week for the entire Summer before it was released.  With Derek in charge, I can go back to my traditional Executive producer role (ala GalCiv and Sins of a Solar Empire and to a lesser extent Demigod) which usually involves me pooping on the game for months prior to release and telling everyone internally how terrible the game is. I much prefer to distribute the insults rather than aborb them.
  2. The campaign will be good and engaging.
  3. The randomly generated maps will include randomly generated continents. WOM had randomly generated maps on pre-built continents.
  4. There will be a lot of spells. I don’t know what the final count will be. But they will be interesting, important, and exciting.
  5. There will be a lot of soul to the game. The players will talk to you in interesting ways. There is a lot of backstory for pretty much everything.
  6. There will be a lot more quests. There’s a ton of quests in FE. And unlike in WOM, where the quests were virtually all written by me in the middle of the night in the final several weeks (don’t ask me why I had to write these…) these quests are a collaboration between fantasy author David Stern and Toby (associate producer).
  7. Tactical Battles are totally different than WOM. It’s all initiative based now. No more “rounds”. Eliminates a ton of potential cheese and makes magic and tactics matter more.
  8. EVERYONE who bought Elemental: War of Magic in 2010 will get FE for free. Automatically.

Now, let’s talk about intentions for FE:

  1. We intend for there to be spells with a casting time that can then be countered.  This is almost certain to make it in but we have not made it a “Requirement”.  It’ll be based on how “fun” they play out.
  2. We intend there to be multiplayer of up to 16 people. However, it is not a requirement. If it would result in a lot of resources being siphoned off from the single player experience or would, on its own, result in delaying the release, it’ll get cut.
  3. We intend to have vastly more modding abilities in than any game we’ve ever made.  Actually, this is more close to a promise because the game is almost exclusively XML driven because of the project management system (coders don’t implement game design, the producers do and it’s XML driven via spread sheets and such). The AI makes heavy use of this. 
  4. We intend to have a almost completely new sound track. This isn’t a promise. We’ve gotten a lot of new music and effects in and have put them in but we wouldn’t delay the game over making sure all the music and sound is new.
  5. We intend to have Fallen Enchantress at retail. But because we won’t commit to a release date, we can’t promise this.
  6. We intend to have significant faction differentiation. In War of Magic, the Empires all shared the same tech tree and the Kingdoms had their own. Other than that, each faction only had minor differences.  Now, all of the factions are humanoids (we don’t have a spider race, for instance) but we intend for each faction to look and play very differently. How successful we are on this will be in the eye of the beholder.  But we will be making a best effort here to make them as different as we can as budget allows (i.e. we’re not willing to push the date back so that we can have an insectoid race.
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November 6, 2011 1:46:21 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

 "I just want to say thanks for not pulling out the tired elf and dwarf schtick. It takes far more creativity, and reaps far more benefits, when you can create truly unique, imaginative factions that don't rely on the cliches we've come to expect from a lot of fantasy worlds"

 

I would like to see the  'cliches we've come to expect' as minor factions at some point for they have 'come to be expected' - perhaps since the 2nd book isn't written yet these could be implemented in with just a couple of mentions so that it wouldn't continue to go against the lore of the game.  I'm not against creativity, in fact I"m all far it, but a spiritual successer to MoM I would think would try to not only have the races in MoM but add in numerous others (If the game was liked so much, then what did it have, ok then lets build on it). 

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November 6, 2011 2:05:20 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting ,

  The campaign will be good and engaging.

I think this is cool. Campaign + sandbox = two games in one.

EVERYONE who bought Elemental: War of Magic in 2010 will get FE for free. Automatically.

I agree with the others, it feels wrong somehow. Initially when I was frustrated with WoM I was like "Hell yeah I deserve free gamez!!1". But now, after following you guys through all the hard work, it feels like I'm stealing it... Make sure you add some DLC.

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November 6, 2011 2:10:39 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I'd buy dlc - if the game's going to be a classic then the more content the merrier

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November 6, 2011 2:15:28 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Meh, I have no problems taking a free game after E:wom. Giving FE away for free isn't just about how E:wom turned out in the end, it's about how it was handled from the start.


The next game, however... that might feel a bit wrong to take for free (for those of us who pre-ordered E:wom). We will see after FE, eh. Maybe there won't be a third game.

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November 6, 2011 2:29:34 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Having imported the game and paid a rather unwelcome import fee any feelings of guilt over getting it free has evaporated somewhat. Getting a game for free is almost unheard of though, so kudos to Stardock for trying to renew faith in their products.

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November 6, 2011 2:38:56 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Import fee? Do you mean you had to pay to use impulse? I've never had anyone say that before. Or do you mean that your country has restrictions on imports that you have to pay for a physical copy? Hardly Stardock's fault.

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November 6, 2011 2:57:10 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Heavenfall,
Import fee? Do you mean you had to pay to use impulse? I've never had anyone say that before. Or do you mean that your country has restrictions on imports that you have to pay for a physical copy? Hardly Stardock's fault.

The latter. I don't recall saying it was Stardock's fault, but the fact WoM was about as fun as a spreadsheet and not worth the amount I paid for it most certainly was.

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November 6, 2011 3:01:41 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

And now you're hating on spreadsheets?!.... just kidding

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November 6, 2011 3:18:43 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting TorinReborn,
Well, I hope that all features that don't make it into FE get into the 2nd FREE expansion that was promised to E:WoM buyers

Things like factions being not all humanoid but like in Master of Magic

I never intended to have non-humanoid major factions.  

That would be like complaining that the factions in Game of Thrones are all humans or that all the races in Lord of the Rings are humanoids.

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November 6, 2011 3:24:12 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Magog_AoW,


I agree with the others, it feels wrong somehow. Initially when I was frustrated with WoM I was like "Hell yeah I deserve free gamez!!1". But now, after following you guys through all the hard work, it feels like I'm stealing it... Make sure you add some DLC.

 

Thanks for your kind words.  

That said, I think it's important that FE be free to those who bought WOM early on because Stardock, from its earliest days when it was just me coding games from my dorm room, lived or died based on people pre-ordering our things.  

Let me give you a specific example and it might help make more sense why we're doing this:

Stardock used to be an OS/2 developer. This was back in the 90s when it wasn't obvious yet whether the world would go to Windows (which was inferior) or OS/2 (which was superior but horribly marketed).  

When the world went to Windows, we had to migrate to Windows in a hurry but we didn't have the resources to fully develop our main product - Object Desktop - for Windows.  So we had an extended beta where our customers who had migrated from OS/2 to Windows pre-ordered Object Desktop for Windows -- sight unseen -- because they had faith in us.  Without that faith, there'd be no Stardock today.

With WOM, we really didn't intentionally release a pile of crap. As has happened to many developers before us, we mixed up the enjoyment we had making the game with the enjoyment of playing the game and having our QA process completely biased for older systems while assuming (wrongly) that if it works on crappy old computers, it would work great on newer computers (hence the memory problems we ran into -- the more onboard memory your video card had, the worse off you were [Pixel Shader 2 keeps a copy of anything on the video card in main memory, something I was ignorant of.

The point being, it is important to us that people who buy a Stardock product know we will take care of them.

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November 6, 2011 3:24:44 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

You can mod in your own elves and dwarves. They are so old hat they predate the term. I like the current races, and the expanded factions. The real difference I am looking for will be in the architecture. How many new props will we see in this one I wonder?

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November 6, 2011 4:30:02 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

1. Totally happy with humaniod races only. As much as i appreciate Heavenfalls work (After war mod is a must have for WoM to have fun), the races in the expanded faction mod do not fit in the world. (Just my opinion) It feels like they are only there to have something different. I think there is no need for that, if we have differentiation between the existing nations.  

 

2. I´m happy to get FE for free. Never look a gift horse in the mouth.  To say thank you for that i will preorder your next game. Believe it or not, but these are my thoughts for months now. (Not only because i read Brads post about preorder is important for SD.)

 

But i forgot....what was this next game exactly frogboy? I heard that Jon Shafer is working on that project. 

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November 6, 2011 4:59:08 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

The expanded factions are supposed to be different. The Drota, the Golems and the Living stone (imho) could be seen as fitting into the world, but the others... no. They're there for the people who wanted more traditional fantasy races in a fantasy game, for people who might have felt that the original races lacked variety (both visual and game mechanics).

While I'm sure the variety of mechanics between factions will improve in FE, the expanded factions mod will still be "ported" so that the option of "high fantasy" races is available. Some people, me included, just prefer fighting goblins, angels and ice giants instead of a red fallen, a grey fallen, and a slightly more grey fallen.

And that's where the game benefits from being moddable. It can cover more ground.

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November 6, 2011 5:03:35 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Heavenfall,
Meh, I have no problems taking a free game after E:wom. Giving FE away for free isn't just about how E:wom turned out in the end, it's about how it was handled from the start.


The next game, however... that might feel a bit wrong to take for free (for those of us who pre-ordered E:wom). We will see after FE, eh. Maybe there won't be a third game.

This!

I've been hanging around Stardock games since Galciv 2 and E:WOM wasn't my first beta. When I saw them at PAX Prime I was eager to pre-order and the early parts of beta 1 made it look like the best game ever to be developed. Then things started going horribly wrong even back early in beta 1 and it was just a train wreck.

The development for E:FE sounds a lot like the plan for E:WOM scaled down a little to be more realistic. So for me this is hopefully just getting that game I wanted in the first place and is the sole reason I didn't ask for a refund shortly after release.

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November 6, 2011 6:02:25 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I think of FE more as a late Christmas gift. Why do we pay for games in the first place? They should be provided by the government as part of the worker's paradise. 

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November 6, 2011 10:29:12 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I personally don't like DLC. It either splits the community or is not really worth the money. Look at CivV, why would I pay for each civilization or a few wonders? Also I don't like purchasing things online. What would the DLC even be? You can design your own new content or factions using in game tools or modding pretty easy. No stick to expansions that expand the entire game. Content is for modding.

I can easily see Elemental having the potential to go beyond even the second expansion, even if it is just through a community expansion pack. The world and gameplay just seem to me to have practically unlimited ability to grow and build upon itself. Elemental is the kind of game that ages very well, and it's not like a sequel is in the works at all.

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November 7, 2011 2:03:05 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Thormodr,
I'd rather that there was a fantastic single player experience first and foremost. Multiplayer can come at a later date. That is my preference anyway.

Just going to throw some support for this.

I would rather the game ship with no multiplayer, and the time and effort thrown into the single player to make it all that it can possibly be, and then add in the multiplayer stuff post-launch.  Just my 2 Cents.

P.s) Can you please use your Frog powers to get us a '2 Cent' emoticon?  That'd be really swell.  Haha, I used swell in a sentence in 2011.

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November 7, 2011 2:14:03 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Expansion packs that are only sold online are effectively the same thing as DLC. 

 

The real question with FE is whether folks who got burned by WOM are going to give Stardock a 2nd chance.  The existing fanbase that has been there since GCII, I think most off us have stuck around, we know what you guys do- we're giving you a 2nd chance.  It's the guys who don't know what Stardock did in the past.


Let's put it this way: SOTS II issues have been compared with Elemental in terms of being a debacle. 

 

Word-of-mouth is going to do wonders for restoring SD's reputation.  For those of us who get it free, if Stardock provides us a good game, I think the best way to repay Stardock is to put out some good word-of-mouth, so others might buy it and get a positive impression.

 

 



 

 

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November 7, 2011 2:57:19 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I'm one of those people who buy DLC... Yes, I bought the Koreans and all those other civilizations...
The way I see it, I spend so much money on non game related crap daily, so spending a few $ on something that is actually entertaining is totally worth it.

DLC for FE could be a new campaign, for example.

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November 7, 2011 3:26:14 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Sounds "promising" for sure!

The only thing I would not put resources into is Multiplayer. We all have good multiplayer games on our machines, we are looking for some good SP action with that famous Stardock AI. I can imagine that making multiplayer work with tactical battles is a real hassle.

Quoting DsRaider,

Ya I feel a little cheap when I hear I will get FE for free.

But it's NOT free. We all paid $50 for it way back in the day when we preordered WoM. WoM did not deliver, and so we are getting a substitute product.

Brad is cleverly calling it "free", but NOTHING is free. Brad is reallocating resources. He is taking a small short-term cut in liquid cash income for an increase in long-term customer post-sales binding. It's probably a smart business move by him. Like almost all economic decision-making, which is closely related to game theory decision-making, you could probably see this as a game -- even as something in the WoM world if you like. Brad is spending a few gildar and increasing his prestige. A good move? Time will tell. I think so. But it is not "free", any more than those banners anywhere in the internet offering you "free" content for anything is "free".

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November 7, 2011 3:52:04 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

It's well known that Brad does the pro-consumer things he does, because he thinks its good business.  There is nothing wrong with that, in fact, there is everything right with that.

 

If anything, we should be encouraging visions like this- capitalism is supposed to exist for the benefit of society.   We'd be in better shape as a country if more businesses took longer-term approaches, instead of trying to squeeze everything out for the short-term dollar.  That is what put the world in the bind it's in now.

 

(about to get too political so nipping it in the bud: Mods, if you think that last paragraph is too much feel free to delete)

 

 

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November 7, 2011 3:55:03 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Just like "no interest EVA" doesn't mean you aren't being charged more.  Just because you are not paying interest, doesn't mean you are not paying more.  The price you pay is just higher because you are not paying "interest".  What is more important, that you are not paying interest, or you are just paying a price that has been increased by the amount of interest you have paid?

Still, I don't think Frogboy's "free/replacement" product should be totally written off as a business move.  I mean, how many companies provide ANY replacement product if the original game/product was not good.  They would mostly keep the money and run.

Best regards,
Steven.

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November 7, 2011 4:24:37 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I know EA won't be sending me C&C5 for free. Not that I would even play it. 

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November 7, 2011 4:39:48 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I don't think giving FE free should be considered a business move. I take it as a genuine thank you for us, and as such appreciate it a lot more. I wouldn't have any problem buying FE, but the symbolic value of how Stardock has handled all this is very big for me.

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November 7, 2011 5:40:08 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Of course it's a business move... he wants to restore faith to the Stardock name. That said, obviously Frogboy accepts personal responsibility for E:wom, and I have no doubt that affected his decision. But in the end, no way would we be getting FE for free if it wasn't also a business move.

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