No Multiplayer in Fallen Enchantress.

By on January 18, 2012 8:03:25 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

goodgimp

Join Date 12/2003
+20

I'll be blunt. I can understand the reasons for not including MP, based on time, budget, or a combination of the two. What is really, and I mean really rubbing me the wrong way is how the information regarding the complete removal of MP was just kind of dribbled out two days before beta. I would not have purchased Elemental without MP, and while that game was a bust I've been patiently waiting for a year as Stardock has stated they would like to make things right. It's not an issue of money for me, it's the fact that I feel that I've been strung along for years now.

If Fallen Enchantress was an attempt to "make things right" with the customer base, it has certainly had the opposite effect for me. I fully acknowledge that, as a TBS gamer who gets the most enjoyment from coop with friends, I'm in the minority. I get that. But I feel I've been lied to and strung along and it's left me more than a little pissed off.

I honestly and sincerely wish the people working on FE the utmost success, but I think I'm done with Stardock. I'm not going to do anything silly like a boycott, it's not that, it's just that I don't feel like I can trust a damn thing they say, so why bother following their game development? 

Anyway, this isn't some righteous crusade or anything, I just wanted to make my voice heard. Don't worry, I'll let myself out and make sure the door doesn't collide with my backside. For the majority of people who were only interested in single player, I hope FE turns out to be everything you hoped!

254 Replies
Search this post
Subscription Options


Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
January 18, 2012 8:12:54 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums


You sir are a gentleman.  That post expresses your disappoinment in an articulate and sincere manner without all the arm waving and name calling we so often see on these forums.   

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
January 18, 2012 9:09:22 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I am disappointed too.  I think the reason to ditch MP, even co-op MP, was for the wrong reasons.  I do hope at some time in the future SP-style MP is introduced, but it is perfectly okay if that is just too late for you.  But I definitely will be lobbying for co-op MP to be introduced as a significant feature in an expansion pack of FE.

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
January 18, 2012 9:28:09 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I wouldn't be surprised if FE eventually receives MP support in a patch if the game proves to be a success. Brad says it would be non-trivial to add, but not impossible. He's also said many times that Elemental is the game Stardock would be focusing on for years to come so if it is received well why not make the effort for MP?

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
January 18, 2012 9:41:35 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I wonder if those who are extremely displeased by the lack of MP, would be willing to accept tactical battles that were Auto-Resolve Only? I'm guessing that's where the biggest hangup is. But that one alone opens the door to more potential problems. For instance: Auto-Resolve Only, would impact the tech and magic trees. What things lose their relevance, what things must be cut, what needs special balancing, and more.

I think SD already has enough on their plate getting this new game to a releasable beta state within a single year. Then they've all the work of getting the game to a product release state, then comes more tweak balance and patch cycles. Civ3 was marketed as supporting MP. But that didn't happen. We had to purchase a later expansion pack to play MP. Civ3 was in development for years. E:FE has been in development for about one year. Civ3 doesn't have tactical battles, and customized units, and magic affects, and other tricky stuff. Then look at Civ4 with its broken MP at release. And all the time it took to make that doable. Yet still the OOS (Out of Sync) errors persist. And didn't Civ5 have some missing MP, and what was there was broken? Imagine the OOS potential of tactical battles and magic effects. I think SD has done well if they can get E:FE to a playable and enjoyable state within 1 year from start. The lack of MP increases those odds I'm sure of it.

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
January 18, 2012 10:12:28 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

As one of the people pretty disappointed that multiplayer isn't in the base game, I at least had the opportunity to participate (and ultimately approve) the rationale as to why multiplayer wouldn't be in FE.

A lot of the feedback we got was that if we weren't going to be able to have tactical battles have multiplayer support then the whole thing would be dissatisfying. So then the question was, how long would it take to rewrite the tactical battle system to support it and the answer was, months. 

So then it came down to a decision of whether the game should be delayed months (not including testing) in order to support multiplayer and given that we're already a year and a half out from when War of Magic was released, it we decided that the best course would be to get Fallen Enchantress out there and see the reaction to that and then decide from there what to do.

I definitely would not want to give the impression that multiplayer won't ever be in FE or some follow-on Elemental game.  A lot of time and money was spent on multiplayer.  It's just something that will not be part of the base game.  

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
January 18, 2012 10:18:00 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Hmmm, Frogboy, if I understand correctly, those who pre-ordered will get another expansion for free (or is that no longer the case?); so there is still a possibility that the people who preordered War of Magic for the multiplayer aspects will get multiplayer - and without spending another dollar - am I correct?

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
January 18, 2012 10:32:22 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

This is surprising and, indeed, unwelcomed news. Granted I would have mostly played the single-player game regardless, but it makes me worried about its competitiveness. However, I'm sure that if Stardock could make the single player experience it set out to make from the beginning, enough players will flock to the game to justify future development of multiplayer either in this game or in the series's future.

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
January 18, 2012 10:51:22 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Frogboy,
As one of the people pretty disappointed that multiplayer isn't in the base game, I at least had the opportunity to participate (and ultimately approve) the rationale as to why multiplayer wouldn't be in FE.

I'm glad you didn't delay E:FE. I was one who was vocally disappointed that your studio changed focus from WOM to FE. But I was a clear minority, and so accepted the communities desire to just get on with the new game. Since E:FE is partly about "making good" on E:WOM, it seems wise to make the hard choices which favor a production release before E:WOMs 2 year anniversary.  

Since I've vocalized disappointment in the past (rather venomously at times.. apologies for that), I want to say here and now that I absolutely feel you are making things right. From E:WOM v1.4, to Stardock Central, to E:FE.  I'm a harsh judge on product quality and service.. I think Stardock has provided exceptional service! Perhaps a bit bumpy at times and in ways, but you've delivered.  You been real with us, with all that entails. The gamestop thing tripped me up the most. But right as rain you took care of your customers/gamers/community. I'm sincerely grateful for that. And I still think it astounding that you give all early adopters of WOM, a free copy of FE. So a heartfelt thanks to you Brad, and a founded respect for your company. 

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
January 18, 2012 11:05:52 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Werewindlefr,
Hmmm, Frogboy, if I understand correctly, those who pre-ordered will get another expansion for free (or is that no longer the case?); so there is still a possibility that the people who preordered War of Magic for the multiplayer aspects will get multiplayer - and without spending another dollar - am I correct?

 

If you bought elemental before I think it was oct 31 of 2010 you getfallen enchantress free and the next expansion free. If you bought wom after oct31 and before 2011 rolled in then u just get fallen enchantress free.

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
January 19, 2012 7:14:39 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

This post is the first I heard of no MP.  I pre-ordered WoM back in very early beta.  I encouraged three friends and one family member to pre-order WoM.  I noisily banged the drum about the importance of a robust MP component to the game.  I was frankly embarrassed when the game released and that friends had pre-ordered on my say so. Not only did it have a wealth of problems, the multiplayer component was basically non-functional.

My bro got an email today about FE.  I have excitedly rushed here only to have the wind taken out of my sales before I leave the gate. What a disappointment.

It saddens me that certain members of this community and Stardock have so repeatedly downplayed the importance of and demand for multiplayer that I see here that they actually have the multiplayers themselves believing it!  I don't know how Stardock or certain members of this community have come to conclude and perpetuate this assertion.  I've seen nothing more than anecdotal evidence. Just take a look around ladies and gents, all the empirical evidence points to the opposite.  Multiplayer has never been more important in gaming and this genre is not an exception.  That has been true for over a decade. Remember Master of Magic, the title who's name has been repeatedly associated with this project and it's inspiration (although bears little more than a passing resemblance)?  That was single player but the demand for people to play together, gave rise to the multiplayer ghost shell, a third party fan created program to allow multiplayer.  That was in 1994 for petes sake.

I sincerely do not understand where the fallacy that MP is not in demand or important has birthed from other than a few empty vessels in the community who declare loudly, selfishly and repeatedly that *they* aren't interested but I assure you Stardock that your demographic is.  MP components can float or sink a game in todays market.  How can you be so obtuse?!

"Stardock's success in its nineteen years of existence has been because people know if they buy something with our name on it, it'll be excellent. With Elemental: War of Magic we failed that expectation."

I pre-ordered the game personally, and four more times by proxy on the weight of it containing multiplayer.  I invested my time for free testing it. Not only does this not absolve the failed expectation, the fact you tried again simply exacerbates it.

"Sorry the game you bought wasn't delivered to expectations, we're giving you another one free in order to help salvage our reputation in your eyes!"

"wow thanks..... wait it still doesn't have the features you listed on day zero"

"don't worry, players don't want that!"

"then who are we, Stardock?"

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
January 19, 2012 7:27:25 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting srw46,



I sincerely do not understand where the fallacy that MP is not in demand or important has birthed from other than a few empty vessels in the community who declare loudly, selfishly and repeatedly that *they* aren't interested but I assure you Stardock that your demographic is.


This is straight up a lie. Stardock's own numbers, and numbers from other games, show that the vast majority of people do NOT care for multiplayer in 4x tbs games.

The people who keep asking for multiplayer are in fact the "few empty vessels in the community who declare loudly, selfishly and repeatedly that *they*" ... are interested.

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
January 19, 2012 7:31:07 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Heavenfall,

Quoting srw46, reply 10


I sincerely do not understand where the fallacy that MP is not in demand or important has birthed from other than a few empty vessels in the community who declare loudly, selfishly and repeatedly that *they* aren't interested but I assure you Stardock that your demographic is.




This is straight up a lie. Stardock's own numbers, and numbers from other games, show that the vast majority of people do NOT care for multiplayer in 4x tbs games.

The people who keep asking for multiplayer are in fact the "few empty vessels in the community who declare loudly, selfishly and repeatedly that *they*" ... are interested.

Unless you provide me some empirical evidence to substantiate your claims then all you've done is post an assertion and call me a 'liar'. 

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
January 19, 2012 7:34:20 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

If I may be a bit more constructive, I can understand the disappointment even though I don't share it.

So, how about you folks that deeply care for multiplayer start a petition somewhere, and post a link on these forums? Or how about SD themselves put one up somewhere. Really, anything to give a more concrete number that shows how many actually think the game depends on multiplayer support.

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
January 19, 2012 7:39:13 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting srw46,



Unless you provide me some empirical evidence to substantiate your claims then all you've done is post an assertion and call me a 'liar'. 

 

Since you posted none, I didn't see a reason to. But, here's one example: only 23% of those who bought Demigod even TRIED to play multiplayer.

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
January 19, 2012 7:44:33 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I appreciate your understanding and I apologise if my post seems over vehement but I was invested in this game financially and emotionally and even gave my free time in a bid to help it succeed.

The question of demand may be a valid one but it is not the key issue for me.  You must understand that the key issue is I invested based on an advertised feature.  That feature was then waylaid and evidently scrapped altogether.  It's THAT that is not acceptable nor conductive of a good reputation for the studio. Demand or no. Nobody likes buying into a promise only to have it broken.

I didn't post any, no.  And my post is only assertions too but I did not come here to engage in discourse on the merits of multiplayer. I came here to express disappointment on behalf of myself and others, which I have done.

As for posts in the community, petitions, polls and the like, although I believe such a thing would be wholly inadequate in truly canvassing the issue, the last thing I'm about to do is invest any more time.

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
January 19, 2012 7:54:09 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Let  me preface this that I am one of the people here that wants MP in Elemental games. While I ultimately approved FE not having MP, it was with considerable consternation. If you guys knew what % of the WOM budget was put into MP you'd be shocked (>30%, mainly because of the dynamic, worldwide virtual machine server infrastructure that was developed -- every game is a "pit boss").  So I can assure you, it is literally impossible to be more disappointed than I am.

Now, that said, someone asked for some numbers. Here are some facts that help provide some context to the discussion.

77% of the Demigod user base after its first year had never attempted to play a single multiplayer game. And that was a game designed as a multiplayer centric game.  Chris Taylor and I double checked that number repeatedly because we were certain it had to be wrong. It wasn't.

Over 90% of the Sins of a Solar Empire user base at the time we were about to release Trinity had never attempted to play a single multiplayer game.

At GDC, friends of my from Firaxis told me that only around 4% of the Civilization IV user base had ever played a single MP game (not finished a game, simply tried it).

Fewer than 1% of the WOM user base attempted multiplayer. I don't mean played a game. I mean simply went to the MP lobby (it adds an active flag to your SD account if you simply went to the main MP screen).

Now, I want to emphasize that we have no problem developing features that only a fraction of the market is going to use. Heck, we used to make OS/2 software.  But at the end of the day, decisions have to be made and sometimes your options are all non-ideal.

But as my first paragraph should hopefully make clear, it is not something we're giving up on.

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
January 19, 2012 8:05:01 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

So... from those of us on the other side of this discussion: Thank you for not blowing 30% of the FE budget on a gamemode 1% tried in E:wom.

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
January 19, 2012 8:12:58 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting srw46,
I didn't post any, no.  And my post is only assertions too but I did not come here to engage in discourse on the merits of multiplayer. I came here to express disappointment on behalf of myself and others, which I have done.

Then don't use fictional arguments about the popularity of multiplayer in games to further your point.

I can say, that I am part of the most online-aware players and used to play games competitively, yet even I have played multiplayer in many of the 4X or RTS games just once or twice if ever. That is to further the point that Frogboy's numbers are people who never played even a *single* multiplayer game. Then when you look at how many multiplayer games the ones who tried multiplayer played in total, you end up with a fraction of the already niche group of players who actually play multiplayer even remotely regularly.

In short, I play a multiplayer game or two just to try it out with a few friends if multiplayer is in, but seldom play it more than that.

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
January 19, 2012 8:17:03 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Heavenfall,
So... from those of us on the other side of this discussion: Thank you for not blowing 30% of the FE budget on a gamemode 1% tried in E:wom.

Though E:WoM numbers are distorted as many people who bought it hardly even played it in single player mode that much. Well, that's at least the case for me.

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
January 19, 2012 8:21:29 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums


For me its all about single player.

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
January 19, 2012 8:37:59 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I personally am not disappointed by the decision to cut multiplayer. I am more dissapointed by the modern trend to slap it onto games where it does not make much sense, like Mass Effect 3. Multiplayer development takes a lot of time and debugging, there is a lot hidden under the hood that might not be apparent. You must design a suitable (application) network protocol, you must consider security and integrity issues for the transmitted data, take care for all the error states that may happen under various conditions, etc. If it would mean lowering the overall quality of the game (which it would), I am happy they decided to cut it.

 

Also, I think the only MP games that have a chance today are those where players can play simultaneously, and I am not sure it would be possible here. Also, tactical battles prolong turn time for those who do not take part in them. Imagine a 4 player game, where the other players each have 2-3 tactical battles to play in a round, so you would have to sit through 6-9 tactical battles that don't concern you. Even if time limit was set per move (some people can spend ages taking their turn), if one tactical battle took 5 minutes, you would play once 30 - 45 minutes, and if we include the time people spend on the strategic level, once per hour. Such a tempo is not feasible for me, even if it was 4 times faster. I am not young anymore, I have only a few hours in the late evening to play, when everyone is sleeping already - I want to make good use of them.

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
January 19, 2012 8:40:45 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Frogboy,
Let  me preface this that I am one of the people here that wants MP in Elemental games. While I ultimately approved FE not having MP, it was with considerable consternation. If you guys knew what % of the WOM budget was put into MP you'd be shocked (>30%, mainly because of the dynamic, worldwide virtual machine server infrastructure that was developed -- every game is a "pit boss").  So I can assure you, it is literally impossible to be more disappointed than I am.

Now, that said, someone asked for some numbers. Here are some facts that help provide some context to the discussion.

77% of the Demigod user base after its first year had never attempted to play a single multiplayer game. And that was a game designed as a multiplayer centric game.  Chris Taylor and I double checked that number repeatedly because we were certain it had to be wrong. It wasn't.

Over 90% of the Sins of a Solar Empire user base at the time we were about to release Trinity had never attempted to play a single multiplayer game.

At GDC, friends of my from Firaxis told me that only around 4% of the Civilization IV user base had ever played a single MP game (not finished a game, simply tried it).

Fewer than 1% of the WOM user base attempted multiplayer. I don't mean played a game. I mean simply went to the MP lobby (it adds an active flag to your SD account if you simply went to the main MP screen).

Now, I want to emphasize that we have no problem developing features that only a fraction of the market is going to use. Heck, we used to make OS/2 software.  But at the end of the day, decisions have to be made and sometimes your options are all non-ideal.

But as my first paragraph should hopefully make clear, it is not something we're giving up on.

Can we agree that quoting numbers from two of your own titles and one other 'that a friend told me' is a million miles from an exhaustive canvassing of the TBS playing demographic?

Can we also agree that without the methods of collecting being cited, the numbers are of very limited value?  I could say that 98% of players want MP based on my own data collection but without detailing how I collected it that figure is worthless (and absurd). I'm not accusing you of that, of course, I'm sure your indicators are fairly sensible but they can't really be evaluated otherwise.

Granted, clocking users as they come into the lobby is a seemingly viable way to measure such a thing but I have little faith in polling and the like.  Although even then, bear in mind that myself and my circle of friends are die-hard multiplayers and the reason that some or all of us never entered the lobby with WoM is because we already know that the multiplayer just wasn't there. Thus the figure is skewed and unreliable.  As impressive as your 1% sounds I think it says a lot more about the state of multiplayer in WoM than it does about demand. 

These concepts must be considered abstractly, too. It's fine to say, historically only a quarter of people played Demigod but then Demigod was a title of very varied reception.  Many people don't go beyond a review score. Why to assume that the multiplayer crowd were actually drawn enough to your title? Multiplayers are loyal beasts and rarely jump ship for anything less than the best. An MP-centric title with rave reviews has no trouble selling.  You present the Demi-god figure as evidence of the fractional demand of multiplayer but given that it's a multiplayer centric game could it not be presented equally as evidence for falling at it's central objective?

Also, most multiplayers will learn a game in singeplayer before they bring their game to the lobby.  Is there anything to disprove that 60% of users didn't buy Demigod with the intent of playing multiplayer, but didn't like it enough to continue beyond the 'campaign'? Only 23% of people entering the lobby does not actually prove conclusively that only 23% of people were interested in multiplayer. Would you not agree?

Furtermore, who is likely to be playing Demigod today?  The 77% who have rinsed single player or the multiplayer community?  How do you attribute the value of demand?  If 8/10 people play a game alone for 6 months and then shelf it but the remaining 2/10 play it for several years should the value be assessed on a 1 for 1 basis? Many older games still exist in the public mind on the weight of their multiplayer community alone.  Different genre I know, but where would SC1 be now with no MP component? The lesson is valid.

Demigod is also three years old. Do you not see a gaming world that hinges exponentially around multiplayer? Tell me if I'm insane because that's what I see.  Also, even for the sake of argument we allow for the fact that only one quarter (still a fairly large 'fraction') are historically interested in MP in a 4x TBS that statement completely ignores a dynamic and changing world. Who's to say the people buying 4x TBS games tomorrow entertain exactly the same breakdown?  In fact, all reason suggests the trend only has one way to go, does it not?

Soundbites are all well and good but in reality they barely scratch the surface.  That 77% means very little to me when it fails so spectacularly to reconcile with the world I see all around me every single day.

At the end of the day, to be clinical about it, you're here to shift boxes and I appreciate that.  There are also practical limitations to just how exhaustively such an issue can be explored and I understand that too.  But shifting boxes is well and good but the games that are years, even decades old but still have strong communities and lasting legacies and whose originating studios enjoy prolific status usually share two characteristics: A moddable aspect and a multiplayer aspect.

To say one final thing.  None of these figures seek to address the fact that the box said multiplayer and what was in it, didn't have multiplayer (in any functional state). A decision for no MP may disappoint.  Broken promises enflame.

 

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
January 19, 2012 8:51:54 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

We get it. You're disappointed. Life is full of them.

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
January 19, 2012 8:53:42 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Xan,
We get it. You're disappointed. Life is full of them.

Don't forget enflamed. Disappointed AND enflamed.

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
January 19, 2012 8:57:30 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I agree with a lot of your points, but the way I see it, nobody and no company is perfect.  Stardock has been trying to make the best replacement they can for the failed WoM and if that means that the initial release has to come without MP, I understand.  Especially since many are getting FE and possibly the next Elemental title for free/no additional cost.  And as you can see from Frogboy's responses, they have already put a lot of infrastructure into MP for FE, so I would be very surprised if at least a quality co-op component doesn't make it into an early expansion.  So maybe while it was technically a broken promise by timeframe (late and not really functional in WoM, and no MP in initial FE release), if you exclude the timeframe and see whether Elemental does in fact have a quality multiplayer component within the first two expansions of FE (and it might even make it in the first), then it is not as black and white.

Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
Stardock Forums v1.0.0.0    #108431  walnut1   Server Load Time: 00:00:00.0000547   Page Render Time: