[note: This game play example is being run inside the debugger so that if bugs are found during play they can be looked into on the fly].
Game Play Examples
If you’re not familiar with Stardock games, we like to play through them before release to the game flows. Does each sandbox game create a unique story? What kinds of things can we do to help players build on their own unique epic and which thing should we leave for the player to envision? Below is a random sand box game of Elemental: Fallen Enchantress alpha build 0.42.
The Rise of Kir-Frogbard
Kir-Frogbard [custom sovereign] founded the Tasari Confederation [custom faction] after years of having acted as hired mercenaries for other lordlings in the wastes.
The Tasari, like many peoples out of the West, have aligned themselves with the principles of the Kingdoms of Elemental.
The Tasari are aware that out there, somewhere are 11 other opponents looking to spread their rule across the world.
The Winter of 162 AC
The wilds and former bandit accomplices have either been converted to the Tasari way of life or destroyed.
Kir has recruited UIfnir, an old and rough man.
He has the unusual trait of Enmity which means he really really hates the creatures of the wild and has a particular relish for killing them.
The other companion Kir met is Bannon Heighsley. This is an irony since Heighsley was the old governor of the town that got overrun by the Butchermen a full years back. A man of integrity and a keen eye for governance, he has great administration capabilities. But for now, he will need his strength with a sword to make the countryside safe for his adopted people.
Heighsley takes us to a hut he remembers where an old Fallen furrier lives.
Heighsley buys one for himself and returns to Kir.
Kir thought there was something amusing of seeing the old governor wearing a cloak made from the white timber wolves.
Heighsley reminds Kir that the old Krax bastard, Rostya still lives out in the nearby woods. He is holed up in his fortified farm house. Soon enough, Kir and his party arrive.
Rostya has cast his lot with the Empires.
His compound is surrounded by the bones of..things. It is a tough battle but with him removed, the countryside is safer.
UIFnir hained valuable experience from the encounter.
Kir was unnerved at how tough Rostya turned out to be. With that in mind, he looks through the book of spells he uncovered long ago when he first discovered he was one of the fabled Channelers, able to cast magic.
They don’t have armor but they have a magical alternative.
It was also decided that it was time to divide up the loot.
After exploring a bit, they come across the Legend of Tandis, a tomb long thought lost and worth a great deal of experience. With it, Kir learns two new spells, Aura of Vitality and Heal.
The tale of Myrella
If the lands near the Tasari are tamer than the rumored Wild lands of the wastes, one can thank Myrella, the famed Mistress of the Mace who fought with the Azure Knights. She has great magical knowledge but, like all non-channelers, cannot use that magic without being imbued or aided by an artifact.
Unfortunately, she is not interested in joining the Tasari at this point. She quests for her brother and does not see you as a means to her ends without learning more about recruiting.
The Return of Magnar
In the North there is Magnar. Deadly enemy of the Kingdoms, Kir and his group accidentally step near his domain.
The lands that Magnar…liberated emptied the native inhabitantts who formed a refugee camp.
There was little Kir could do for them being this close to Magnar. It was a sorry sight.
The Arachnid Desert
If Magnar controlled the north, what about the south? The answer, the Arachnids. Monstrous spiders who would keep their distance from a mighty group like Kir’s but would stalk and slay any weakly armed group that passed near their perilous lairs.
As powerful as Kir and his group were, they were still no where near lethal enough to tackle the lairs. Their off-spring on the other hand could be dealt with and Kir-Frogbard grew stronger as a result.
Beyond the Desert
In the deep south is the Kingdom of Altar.
Ruled by Relias, the Altar are a potential friend. Going any further south would require their permission.
Passing through the lands of Altar Kir came across an interesting scene.
A confrontation between Yithril and Ariena [a previous custom faction led by a previously made custom sovereign]. Watching curiously was a band of Darklings who would likely pick off the survivor.
Foolishly, Xander’s army went into the wild lands. No one survives the wild lands.
As previously observed, the desert lands to the south were too dangerous to be traveled lightly. The minute pioneers tried to traverse it, the Arachnids pounced.
Kir cursed himself for traveling so far.
Not that the twilight between the Kingdoms and the Wild Lands was exactly safe. Neverthless, Kir began to journey home.
He decided to try to cut through part of the Wild Lands.
The Pioneers, however, had a different idea. They would plead their case with Myrella to protect them. The Tasari had learned much on recruiting during this time. It was hoped that now she might be persuaded that the Tasari were viable enough to join.
With Myrella now lending her might to the Tasari, an outpost was constructed near a vital Air shard (and then promptly destroyed by them once she left..)
It wasn’t until the Summer of 177 AC that Kir and his friends returned to the Tasari Confederation. Along the way they had many adventures and gained valuable experience but that is for a different tale. It was clear now that Kir would have to destroy the Desert fiends if the south were going to become open.
Kir and his friends first had pioneers construct an outpost near the Air Shard (again). Then they guarded it and waited.
It wouldn’t take long.
Spiders, however, weren’t the only fiends in the south…
Kir’s old nemesis, Tar-Wardell, long thought dead, had managed to find refuge with the Addaraa.
Myrella puts her famous Mace into action.
With the south cleared, Kir began to negotiate treaties with the other factions. It was a big world and with 8 years having passed, he was only familiar with a quarter of the continent.
Kir began to consider another opportunity. With the Tasari wealth, perhaps they could be…convinced to go to war on the other Empires. If the Empires could devour themselves that would leave only the Kingdoms who could perhaps be persuaded to agree to Tasari hegemony.
The world of 185 AC was tense. The Empire of Yithril was on the border, powerful and preparing for war.
Kir-Frogbard, however, had been busy. Having found the legendary Obsidian shield of the Shrills, he and his high council were now amongst the most powerful beings in the world.
It was time to bolster relations.
Kir looked at the map, war with Yithril was inevitable.
Warlord Verga was not the kind of being who one lived in harmony with. He was already at war with Magnar in the north. This was the time to move.
Verga, apparently, felt the same:
To say Verga was powerful was an understatement:
A powerful sorcerer and a fierce warrior, he was lethal on his own.
Luckily, he was an idiot (which means a pause as I fix code…)
You see, Verga believed himself so mighty that he would leave his city to challenge Kir and his army in single combat. This decision was foolish on a number of levels…code-fixing levels that is.
First, he left his city lightly defended.
Second, Kir wasn’t sure that even the mighty Verga could destroy them.
I’m not sure I was right about his city not being well defended.
The battle for Allhain-al-Assan
“Yes, it was arrogant presumption for Verga to march out and assume we would take his challenge rather than his city.”
Verga, however had different ideas…
Verga would carve out a path of death and destruction within Kir’s territory. If Kir wouldn’t meet him on the field of battle, he would lay waste to the country side.
Not the shard shrines!
Sigh. Yes. The Shard shrines.
Now, it was time for Kir to look at the collected loot during their brief campaign thus far.
UIfnir graciously traded up his axe to a magical burning axe.
With Verga’s empire crumbling due to his poor decision making, it was time to hunt down Verga himself.
Kir was surprised to find Verga coming to them. Verga had gone out and around while Kir and his party were away.
Kir had left the mistress of the Mace, lady Myrella in charge of the city while the rest of Kir’s army hunted the countryside for Verga. Verga had done an end around the army looked to reclaim his city.
(one might argue that it’s ridiculous for a strategy game to let players zoom in this close to units but it’s still cool to see all the customization they’ve done to one another).
Ultimately, Myrella was no match for Verga.
The city was his.
Myrella was able to escape thanks to her loyal servants. But she would ever remember the wounds she encountered (a permanent hit to her constitution).
Kir would take on Verga. But not alone.
Normally, Kir knew he was no match for Verga. But Myrella had wounded him. He was not at full strength. This was the opportunity to take the city and destroy Verga.
This could be Verga’s last stand.
Good god is Verga powerful. He took down the Earth Elemental in one critical hit.
Kir tried to summon another earth elemental but Verga cast a counter spell. Now it would be a battle just between the two of them.
Victory. Just barely. If Verga hadn’t already been badly injured he would have succeeded in his scheme.
The War with Arienenue
It was a time of rebirth for the Tasari. The ravaged countryside gradually returned to where it was. The only concern came from the rising power of nearby Ariienue led by Xander (ironically, a faction and character I made for a previous game).
They were sickeningly powerful. But they had the Wildlands between them and us. Mostly.
Meanwhile, Kir’s scouts reported that Magnar was questing in the Wildlands. Who knows what sorts of treasure he might find.
And Xander’s men had found a way through the lakes and swamps. This was unexpected. The war between Ariineue and the Tasari had just gotten hot.
The western part of the kingdom was defended only by Myrella. Her knowledge of magic had grown over the years, it was time to imbue her so that she could gain access to the shards through the Channeler Kir.
First, with her earth magic, she began building a fence to slow Xander down down. By cutting Xander’s armies off from reinforcements, they could be taken out piece meal.
But the southern desert would never be the same…
Unnatural mountains now acted as a fence. Unless Xander had an Earth Master, he would not be able to easily bring down that fence.
Now, Kir sent Myrella on the offensive.
(I really can’t wait until all the new art assets get in…so…much…brown).
Anyway, Xander’s cavalry would be a problem.
Surrounded, she still had one trick up her sleeve…her escape spell.
Xander would not be as easy to conquer as Verga (not to mention the game had been recompiled and reloaded to fix the errors Verga made – each time I play, I fix AI mistakes).
Escape would not be easy, Xander would track her down.
And surround her again with no hope of escape. Even the Eastern swamps would be no refuge. Kir sensed Myrella was in trouble and sent a relief force to intercept.
Just as they were about to close in, Kir’s group caught up. Heavily outnumbered, it would be a question of magical might vs. mundane might.
Kir and his apprentice versus a well armed, well equipped army. But an army without magic.
[note, balance issue we’re still working on: spell damage vs. mundane damage, this will be one of the focuses of the public beta].
Ultimately, a well equipped, medium sized army is now match for two high level magical users.
But it was just a diversion. Having drawn Kir and his force out to save Myrella, the main body of Xander’s army struck from behind (I actually didn’t see this coming).
In the battle, Ulfnir is defeated and fordced to retreat. Luckily, a few lost teeth don’t have any stat effect.
Having pursued Xander in vengeance, Kir strikes a victory for the Tasari but at great cost – Myrella is killed.
Now, Kir is isolated from his kingdom. His champion killed. His army wiped out and the cities between conquered.
And according to the map [I’m not sure if we should get to see this], Xander is training Archers.
Some notes about large maps…
They’re big. As you can see after many hours of play, I’ve only explored part of it.
One of the unfortunate things about playing a beta is that I can’t continue this particular game. Too much has changed in the underlying game to keep my muti-day game going.