Review and suggestions (very long post)

By on January 30, 2012 11:17:32 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

moi-meme

Join Date 04/2003
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I have already played several games with the beta (0.75) and would like to share my overall opinion on the current product. Even though I will heavily criticize the current state of the game, I hope that this will be taken as a constructive criticism aimed at improving the game. I would not even bother to write this otherwise.

I'm not going to speak about bugs, which will certainly be reported by others, but on a general feeling of the game.

Read this as a preview.

In an attempt to make myself clear, I'll review separately different aspects of the game, then make an overall assessment. I will also refer to predecessors of Fallen Enchantress, and in particular Master of Magic (refered later to as MoM) which is the reference for those of us old enough to have played it and War of Magic (WoM) on which FE was built. Other games of reference could include Age of Wonder or Dominion, but my memory of these games is not as clear to reference them.

It must also be clear that I've never been able to get past season 350. I've always finished the game before that date, usually much before (as soon as 200 even on hard). This means that I have no knowledge of late techs and late buildings because they could never enter play, beeing too expensive to research. I have also not explored several parts of the game, such as strategic spells ; these were never needed, and considering their awfull cost, these were never cast... I don't know many spells ; I mostly used growth, shrink, fireball, blizzard, burning hands, flame arrow, but I've read all of them (at least those which I could put my hands on, which is likely all.) : I've played Kingdom, never Empire.


1) THE MAP

The graphics are not top notch but quite acceptable. FE creates interesting maps, with a feature not seen before : special areas (marshes, deserts...) where lots of adventures can happen to those who dare to go inside. The idea is quite good. Rivers make an appearance for interesting boosts (special buildings, more production.)

One thing that has carried over from WoM is the inability to control how roads are layed down and the fact that said roads are almost invisible on the map.

The map also features intriguing rifts, wich are seemingly yet unusued. I just hope that these will more or less be equivalent to the gates that were found in MoM which led to another realm ; the existence of that second realm in MoM was a great strategic addition, because it allowed fast travel (through enchanted roads) and as long as it was not tamed, it was a constant danger as armies could just pop out from one gate at any unexpected moment.

On the map, several features can be seen : treasures that can just be picked up, special locations for quests, heroes for hire etc.

I have a problem with those special quest locations which one cannot enter until some specific level of research has been reached. It just doesn't make sense. Either a specific area is somehow locked and some research has to be done to unlock that specific place ; or one can enter any place an face it's dangers. The current scheme where a specific tech level unlocks all special quest locations of a given level doesn't feel good ; going that path, it would be much better that such research could reveal secret quest locations, not previously shown on the map. That tech could be researched repetitively for new secret quest locations (the closest one would likely be discovered, in preference to those on the other side of the earth!) These secret quest locations could also regularly spit out monsters, and thus bring uncertainties to an otherwise apparently safe realm.

I have other problems with heroes, which are just waiting on the map. First, they also sufffer from the fact that they can only be convinced to join your ranks for money (so not one single hero comes for the good cause), and only when you have reached some specific tech level. That doesn't make sense at all. When my group of 6 level 15+ heroes reaches a lone level 5 hero who just refuses to join them, I want to laugh. I'll speak about that in the next paragraph.

There is one special feature on the map that's clearly unused : the seas! I've yet to find a way to build boats and travel the seas, but have found none.

Overall 0: +2 for the special areas, -1 for the lack of control on building roads, -1 for lack of sea travel.


2) HEROES

Heroes in FE are recruited from the map. They wait you in specific places and you have to have them money for them to serve you. While that's mostly okay, I have some remarks:

Some heroes should want to join for free. Just to stand on the side of their cause.

Tech level has nothing to do with a hero wanting or not to join your side ; as said before, when my level 20 sovereign is refused by a level 5 guy, I just think: doh! too bad for him. Recruitment should be done on the basis of the sovereign level. More money asked if the sovereign is of a too low level, less if he is high level. I'd say something like 150% * (hero level / sovereign level). This would prevent early hiring of high level heroes", but prevent ridiculous refusals later.

Heroes also only come as map features. Supposing you're not adventurous and want to build a powerfull but small kingdom, or more likely if the starting area is bad (locked between neighbours for exemple), you'll doomed to having but two or three of them. This doesn't feel okay. In WoM, heroes were plenty (you just did not know what to do with them) ; now, the reverse might happen. MoM dealt with that problem by using magic (you could call a hero) ; that did not come cheap, but it was very helpfull at times. Something of the like should exist. It might be done through research (you learn of some powerful individual), or if my suggestion of secret quest location were retained, some of them could also shelter a hero. Possibly, heroes could also come out of nowhere and offer their services.

Heroes in FE are much better done than in WoM ; still, there is much room for improvement.
First of all, heroes end up beeing more or less copies from each other. This is due to the fact that their paths are not separate enough and most of them start with some magic knowledge. This is also due to the unbalance that exists between might and magic ; I'll deal with that later.

I think that the current hero system would benefit from several improvements which can be derived from what currently exists. First of all, heroes should be stuck with but a max of two paths (I've had heroes with all five paths...) just so that the mages tend to stay mages and the fighters, well, fighters. No hero should start with any magic knowledge, except those with the magic path (3 schools if primary path, one if secondary path.) ; that's logical since magic is supposedly rare (but powerful) in the FE world.

  • There should be a separate Governor Path, with specific governor benefits (more money, more production, more research, improved city defenses, better troops produced by the city) ; one would want to have a governor in all cities (think Master of Orion for those who know that one.) These governors would not want to adventure and would gain significant experience by staying in the city, everytime the city produces something or successfully defends against an assault. Governors could gain a secondary path, likely as mage or general, unlikely as any other.
  • There should be a General Path, which doesn't yet exist (maybe that's the defender ? not sure) ; the idea is that a general leads and improves troops on the battlefield. I'm impressed as how little I want to use trained troops in this game (something that I'd not do in MoM.) ; on level up, he would give bonus to the whole army : attack, defense, initiative etc (two generals don't stack bonus.) This path could get any other path as secondary path. The idea is that a well led army can be quite deadly, even more than an army of heroes.
  • The current Fighter, Mage and Assassin paths are okay. The mage path should offer (rarely) new magic disciplines (which it currently doesn't.)


It should be clear for the player what the advantages of each paths are, and in particular which upgrades a hero could get from each one.

In combat, heroes who fall should be maimed (if their side is victorious), or killed (if their side loses) ; a maimed hero could be healed (life magic) ; a killed hero could be resurrected (life magic) or raised as undead (death magic) with undead advantantages and weaknesses.

I find that groups of heroes are too powerful in FE (they were too in WoM.) ; still, it's not unlikely to lose one in some fights, so the previous change might be all that is needed to keep such groups in check.

Then, somehow, it feels bad that a hero killing a unit gets 100xp and that 6 heroes killing the same unit each get 100xp. Meaning, the more units one stacks, the more overall XP one gets. Something has to be done on that side. However, handing XP on the basis of damage dealt is unfair to support units ; handing XP on the basis on death blow is unfair to the other units (and may yield unsavory end of battle tricks.) The best might be to simply share the XP (and maybe increase the overall amount of XP handed.) Still, this has drawbacks too (one will want to master solo combat to increase one unit XP.) Perhaps best is an hybrid : give XP to two heroes (if present) AND any armies with them (if you go with only heroes, you lose the free XP your armies could get) ; if more than two heroes, share 2xXP between the heroes.

Overall 1: +2 for the way heroes level up, -1 for the lack of specialisation.


3) MAGIC

Lets say it ; while all the elements are in place for a truly great experience, the binding is not there and the magic system is still a huge failure. The problems are manyfold and entwined, and difficult to plainly lay out.

My feeling is that magic is not artillery but that an army that fails to use magic will be significantly inferior to one that does. Outside combat, magic should be able to boost diverse aspects ; boost city production, growth or economy. Change and heal/blast the land.

a) Spells

Magic in FE has almost the same problems it had with WoM.

  • it is extraordinarily expensive
  • direct damage spells are extraordinarily powerful
  • other spells are usually both too expensive and not powerful enough

As it stands now, magic is both useless (in usual situations) and a game breaker (in large combats.)
That may be what the designer have in mind, but I believe that it doesn't yield the best possible experience.

Take Blizzard or Fireball ; provided you have a reasonable mage in your army, these spells will devastate an enemy army, except the most powerful opponents. This will cost you a reasonable amount of mana. On the other hand, a spell like regenerate will bring little to help you, at the cost of one precious mana per turn.

Furthermore, spells don't even now have to be individually researched (which led to choices), but they come "magically". This feature has the additional drawback that since the player doesn't individually pick the spells he researches, he doesn't really know them.

So what do I feel is missing ? Going back to MoM, what are the differences :

  • enchantments are a no-no in FE. Too expensive to maintain
  • tactical spells are a no in FE : Too expensive to cast
  • direct damage spells are a big yes in FE : Too effective
  • spell research is a no-no in FE : Doesn't exist
  • multischool spells (spells that require more than one school, not necessarily at equal level) is a no-no in FE : Doesn't exist


The result is that mages in FE are heavy artillery and nothing more. Not bad, but could be better.

b ) Mages

Mages suffer from a significant problem ; their main statistic (Intelligence) does'nt seem to have any significant effect. Compare this to a fighter, where you know why you want more strength... Actually, some of my mages have as little as 7 and are quite deadly... Why bother ?
Better have a "mage" which can cast fireball and also boost a strength of 25...

c) Mana

Mana comes at a very slow rate. Mana can also be spent at leasure which means that you can store all of it the relinquish it as much as needed in a difficult fight.

The first problem eventually prevents an enchant only tactic (which was viable in MoM) : you'll never be making enough mana to keep your enchantments.

The second problem means that any big fight can be won with magic (i.e. heroes) provided you have competent mages (which usually is the case.) ; furthermore, beeing able to cast whatever you need lowers the value of precast spells (enchantments.)

d) So what ?

I'd like mana to be rare at the start of the game ; but I'd like to be able to build improvements that increase the mana regen rate. I'd like casters to be limited in the amount of mana they can use during one combat. I'd like spells to be researched individually. I'd like mages to rely more on their stats. I'd like magic not to be artillery.

  • Give mages the ability to cast spells for up to (IQ-5) x 2 mana in a given combat. Mages with IQ 7 are out, as much as fighters with a strength of 7. The same limitation should apply for spells cast outside of combat (which means that strategic spells would usually take several seasons to be cast)
  • Give improvements to cities that can increase the mana regen rate. This could be temples etc. (as in MoM) ; it could be linked with the magic research tree (alchemy lab or whatever...) ; ultimately, a city by itself might be producing maybe 4 to 6 mana. There could also be several level of extraction of mana on mana nodes (at least 4 levels) depending on one's magic research level.
  • Give buildings (from the spell research tree) to cities that produce spell research. As long as you have no such building, you don't learn new spells and get stuck with the basic ones. This makes learning fireball and such a long shot. This also induces still more difficult choices on the game start.
  • One might even imagine a building that reduces the maintenance of enchantments of stationned troops, making enemy cities tougher nuts to crack and friendly cities easier to defend.
  • Reduce the effects of direct damage spells ; they currently wipe out entire armies...
  • Apply the casting reduction of direct spells to spell maintenance too (which supposes that we can be sure of which caster is casting an enchantment.)


e) Other problems

In MoM, magic nodes were what Shards are in FE ; but in MoM there were comparatively more nodes, and nodes had to be conquered. I do not see why this would not be the same in FE ; air nodes could be defended with loads of air creatures etc. An unconquered node is a liability, which regularly spills out armies of nasties. You want it in your territory, but as long as it is untamed, it is a danger and keeps you on your toes... It worked well in MoM. Why not in FE ? And more nodes would alleviate the problem of mana regen rate.

The +50% damage boost that mages can get on level up should be changed to a +50% efficiency on all spells, so that a life mage could cast powerfull heals, or that army boosts that increase dodge (for exemple) get a benefit too. The current benefit only increases the value of the mage as artillery.

BTW, I've never ever seen a life node, even though I've seen many death nodes...

Overall -2: +1 for a good variety of spells (but far from MoM), -3 for a generaly broken system


4) CITY BUILDING / ECONOMICS

I like the way cities are built in FE, although I'm ambivalent about the "snake" tactics by which one stretches cities along it's roads to shorten the time of travel between them. Still, I find this rather positive, if somewhat unreal. However, city improvements are bland in FE (they were too in WoM), in that they usually just stack new stats on the existing city.

To be clearer, I'll go back to MoM ; there, if you built a temple, you'd get access to a new unit called priests, with it's own set of abilities (in addition to the standard effects of the temple, namely more mana an reduced unrest). This would happen for many buildings. In FE, it doesn't even happen once... You can even build docks, but cannot build boats...

It disturbs me that the city that I just made and augmented with some producing buildings, not even commercially connected, can build the latest units I have researched ; some units should only be produced in the cities that can produce them considering it's buildings.

On the purely economic side, I have a problem with caravans (which cities am I still allowed to connect ?)
I also have a global problem with money ; well actually I don't (plying mostly with heroes), but I would if I did build real armies ; the upkeep cost is too steep, and with a full grown empire (10+ cities fully developped and caravans running), I can hardly keep more than 15 units without running in the red. The AI blatantly cheats there (at least on hard), seeing that it can keep full garrison in all of it's cities...

Then I have a problem with conquered cities. I can accept that when, as a kingdom, I conquer another kingdom city, I can keep it more or less easily. It goes one step beyond in my imagination that the conquest went without destructions (I keep all buildings.) It goes two steps beyond when I can do the same with an empire city, which seemingly converts easily to the joys of beeing kingdom...

Overall 0: +1 for the way cities level up, +1 for the way they expand, -1 for bland buildings, -1 for missing features (religion, economics, magic)


5) UNITS

Just like cities, standard units are mostly bland. We have classic archers, mounted troops, footmen. And that's pretty all. Granted I can customize them and build a great variety of human troops. But what is severely lacking is the fantasy side, except enchanted equipment which we have.

Coming back to MoM, I can have paladins (need a cathedral, get some special combat features and protections), archmages (need a magic academy, cast a spell then magic ranged attack similar to flame blast), griffin riders (don't remember requirements) and some others I forget. That's for the humans. But there are the orcs, elves, dark elves, draconians, dwarves etc... Each one coming with it's fantasy troop and each troop beeing quite unique (especially the highest tier) ; I remember nursing black elves (despite high unrest rate due to racial differences) just to get those pesky nightmares, fast flying mounted cavalry with nasty ranged magic attacks and good close combat ratings... Well, I just see nothing of the sort here (except for the specific military buildings which give generic military advantages)! Or if it is there, it is so well hidden that one doesn't see it.

So, while most of the mecanic is there, the flavor is not. I know that orcs, elves, dwarves etc have been overused. But what we have currently in FE doesn't really make for a worthwhile replacement and doesn't yet vividly capture a fantasy setting.

The game should consider going one step beyond piting humans vs humans. After all, we already have the dragons, the orgres and the trolls in the game... The rifts that we see in the map could have brought lots of other things, including non human races!

The game should also consider to include combat support unit, such as priests (for healing or buffs), or mages (for damage or bufs or debufs.) As of now, we only have various way for direct attacks.

As an aside, I also have a problem with the (large) amount of XP given by monster encounters as compared to human/heroes encounters. That may be on purpose (discourage fights between humans) but I'm unsure.

Overall 0: +3 for the customization, -1 for the failure to capture the fantastic side (races, magical units), -1 for the failure to have specific abilities attached to buildings, -1 for the lack of any support unit (beyond heroes)


6) COMBAT

When I compare this version of FE to the original WoM, there is no question that the cobat mecanism has seen a large overhaul. It mostly works well and I see little to say. Left without magic, heroes can even be in trouble to simple troops such as spearmen and archers.

Still, I believe that ranged units are too powerful and should account for some realities.
They should have a limited range (this doesn't seem to be the case, though I'm not quite sure) ; a good limit should be 3 for short bow and 4 for long bow. An alternative would be to severely decrease accuracy on the range (a unit at range 6+ should be effectively immune). This is important for two reasons:

  • prevent weak units from beeing easily destroyed when out of range (retreating damaged unit, weak hero)
  • force tactical movement to keep the ranged troop behind the frontline

In addition, ranged units firing behind a hill (there seem to be hills on the tactical map), friendly or enemy troops should get severe penalties. If positionned on a hill, it would not suffer these penalties and gain +1 range.

One other thing that has been missing even from WoM are flying units. These fantasy units bring a lot to tactical combat because a flying unit cannot be attacked unless by ranged attacks. However, bringing such units in the game has the incidence that a fight can end in a draw (if the flying unit refuses the fight), which I'm unsure the game supports now.

More generally, a lot of things are missing that could easily have been carried over from MoM, such as special combat abilities : flying, first strike, negate first strike, undead capabilities, uncorporeal opponents, shadow strikes, burrower, and I certainly miss others. All of these give a feel of rock/scisor/paper to the tactical action, whereas we are just stuck with the basic attack/defense/hit point combo. In FE, tactical combat is limited to I strike/you strike. Granted, initiative brings some interesting elements, which one can play with using spells such as haste or slow ; but so much is missing! I recall for exemple some fights which I would avoid against basic troops made of illusionnary warriors, even with seasonned heroes, just because these opponents had a bad habit of bypassing all normal defenses... Here, ranged combat saved the day.

Also, the lack of these elements also limits the magical system : abilities that exist in the tactical combat can be carried to a variety of spell. There is a symbiotic enrichment that is sorely missing.

Overall -1: +2 system working well, -3 limited tactical system


7) INTERFACE

The general interface of the game works well as long as one has few units/cities. At some point, the lists exceed the screen capacity and checking becomes tedious.

An easy improvement would be to be able to have some of the unit disappear from the list:

  • military units which are given a destination and who are not in view of an enemy unit.
  • cities which are building something.


In addition, the game should automatically prompt me for idle units/cities. More than once I have discovered a city building nothing or units patiently waiting that I gave them orders.

For cities, I feel I am lacking important information. Maybe I have it, but it doesn't clearly show up.

  • unrest (with effects on income and production)
  • base income (popup for details) / maintenance (popup for details) / balance
  • base production (popup for details) / maintenance (popup for details) / balance
  • base growth (popup for details)


Typically, what one can see in most games of this kind (icons showing the base output, big icons for tens, red icons for lost to unrest etc.) works well: it's visual and instantly captured, as opposed to reading figures in a list.

The same can be said for units : a graphic depiction of it's abilities (attack, hits etc) is visually more appealing than raw figures.

Overall -1 : +1 for immediate access to most information, -1 for big lists, -1 for city/unit info


8) RESUME

Even though many changes have been made, the game still has the look and feel of WoM. The best surprise I had was the special map areas : these give some personality to the game, and when I start a new game, I hope to be close to one of them. I also like how heroes evolve, even though there is room for improvement. The rest of the game still looks somewhat bland, and the magic system is still severely broken. The interface is adequate, no more. As it stands now, I would not recommend the game and do not yet consider it a worthy successor for Master of Magic.

Still, a lot of things are present in the game that only ask to be put and balanced together to make it a great experience.

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Guryon
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January 30, 2012 12:13:49 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I have a problem with those special quest locations which one cannot enter until some specific level of research has been reached. It just doesn't make sense. Either a specific area is somehow locked and some research has to be done to unlock that specific place ; or one can enter any place an face it's dangers.

....
I have other problems with heroes, which are just waiting on the map. First, they also sufffer from the fact that they can only be convinced to join your ranks for money (so not one single hero comes for the good cause), and only when you have reached some specific tech level. That doesn't make sense at all. When my group of 6 level 15+ heroes reaches a lone level 5 hero who just refuses to join them, I want to laugh. 

 

Thanx. 

Had to stop the read to thank you. Unlocking technologies just put there for the hell of it, when there's nothing to unlock, make no sense and kill half the flavour. I've been saying this since EWoM. Well, at least the "razing technology" is gone.... 

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January 30, 2012 12:25:51 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

If your SOV can hire any champion he is equal in lv too then leveling your SOV becomes the game. Why even bother with cities? Just quest for loot and gildar till you and your hero horde steamrolls the map.I realize that a adventruing tech is a little strange but just removing it would be totally unbalanced.

Archers are way underpowered vs champions and monsters, which are the only things that matter really.

 

I do agree that Mana needs reworked.

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January 30, 2012 12:48:33 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting ,

So what do I feel is missing ? Going back to MoM, what are the differences :

enchantments are a no-no in FE. Too expensive to maintain
tactical spells are a no in FE : Too expensive to cast
direct damage spells are a big yes in FE : Too effective
spell research is a no-no in FE : Doesn't exist

The result is that mages in FE are heavy artillery and nothing more. Not bad, but could be better.

b ) Mages

Mages suffer from a significant problem ; their main statistic (Intelligence) does'nt seem to have any significant effect. Compare this to a fighter, where you know why you want more strength... Actually, some of my mages have as little as 7 and are quite deadly... Why bother ?
Better have a "mage" which can cast fireball and also boost a strength of 25...

c) Mana

Mana comes at a very slow rate. Mana can also be spent at leasure which means that you can store all of it the relinquish it as much as needed in a difficult fight.

The first problem eventually prevents an enchant only tactic (which was viable in MoM) : you'll never be making enough mana to keep your enchantments.

The second problem means that any big fight can be won with magic (i.e. heroes) provided you have competent mages (which usually is the case.) ; furthermore, beeing able to cast whatever you need lowers the value of precast spells (enchantments.)

I think the magic in FE is either too weak or too powerful, because the randomness is too strong. If the player is lucky he can get enough shards and talents to increase the damage to overpowered levels (firestorm + 2 fire shards + evoker III + path of the mage + staff of souls = dead army). If the player is lucky again he can get enough shards, talents and the the mantel of ocean spell to reduce the mana cost of tactical spells to zero and increase the damage to overpowered levels (blizzard + 2 water shards + evoker III + path of the mage + staff of souls = dead army for zero mana).

Slow without any shards is nice, but not powerful, because the spell resistance can reduce the effect to zero. If the player has 2 water shards and the dragon fails the resistance check it gets a - 4 initiative penalty and is basically dead.

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January 30, 2012 12:50:10 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Frankly, the whole Adventuring Tech Tree seems just a left-over from EWoM, almost as if Derek couldn't summon the courage to ditch everything that was wrong in EWoM, in a [good-hearted] attempt to salvage at least some of the original concepts. Further proof of it is the fact that it collects elements that have little to do with each other.

Imho, to be an "adventurer" you don't fund research and scholars, you just go adventuring. That's the point of it. Of course, researching Magic and Spells makes plenty of sense, and that is what they should have kept. As it was done in MoM.

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January 30, 2012 12:51:43 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

double post

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January 30, 2012 1:04:33 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting mastroego,
Frankly, the whole Adventuring Tech Tree seems just a left-over from EWoM, almost as if Derek couldn't summon the courage to ditch everything that was wrong in EWoM, in a [good-hearted] attempt to salvage at least some of the original concepts. Further proof of it is the fact that it collects elements that have little to do with each other.

Imho, to be an "adventurer" you don't fund research and scholars, you just go adventuring. That's the point of it. Of course, researching Magic and Spells makes plenty of sense, and that is what they should have kept. As it was done in MoM.

 

Magic tech tree is still in the game. But I agree that it needs to be expanded.

-A early game tech for multidiscipline spells.

-Mid-Late game tech too unlock last two magic lv talents for champions. Archmage and whatever.

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January 30, 2012 1:40:05 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Wizard1200,

Magic tech tree is still in the game. But I agree that it needs to be expanded.
-A early game tech for multidiscipline spells.
-Mid-Late game tech too unlock last two magic lv talents for champions. Archmage and whatever.

I do not know what you mean by "multidiscipline", but it lets me think of something I had forgotten ; that is multischool spells, which a mage can only cast if he knows the requisite schools at the required level. Thus, beeing a mage with say earth and life could give you a spell to repair the land, where life only or earth only would not. That's also reminiscent of MoM... I'll add this in my post.

That wouldn't do to unlock mage and archmage through research ; you'd likely not not get any archmage that late in the game, with so few hero levels to gain. Or only the latest recruits would gain that status. This would lead to gamey behavior such as keeping a hero in the fridge waiting for late upgrade if possible... Better to keep archmage as is (and maybe give it some minor bonus such as -5% mana cost or something like that) and wait for that spell research to actually unlock the last tier of spells.

 

Yves

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January 30, 2012 1:44:18 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Stupidity10,
If your SOV can hire any champion he is equal in lv too then leveling your SOV becomes the game. Why even bother with cities? Just quest for loot and gildar till you and your hero horde steamrolls the map.

Unfortunately, that's the way the game unrolls now.

Yves

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January 30, 2012 1:48:25 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Good point with the archmage late game.

I meant Multi element/school spells which are in the game. I think theres only 1 per combo though.

Off top of head

Soulburning: Death Fire single target dmg

Obscuring Fog: Air Water army dodge boost

Contagion: Death Something

 

 

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January 30, 2012 1:54:32 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Excellent, well formulated points. I think especially some comparison with MoM - the units were varied, because they had tons of stats and specialties. Some had shields that provided cover against missiles only. Some had first strike, and some could negate it. Some were incorporeal, requiring magic weapons to fight them. Some used poison, others had petrifying gaze. Tons of combinations and posibilities. 

While I like the flavor text for monsters like Butchermen, they all differ just in attack, defense and number of hitpoints (mostly)

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January 30, 2012 2:12:26 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Thanks for writing this essay on the state of FE, haha. It discourages me though because it seems the game is only mediocre in it's current state and it seems that there are a lot of these that are saying the same thing. The only hope is that the devs will take these to heart and make the game better before release, otherwise it is going to be another WoM fiasco. 

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January 30, 2012 2:16:15 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Emperor_Nero,
Thanks for writing this essay on the state of FE, haha. It discourages me though because it seems the game is only mediocre in it's current state and it seems that there are a lot of these that are saying the same thing. The only hope is that the devs will take these to heart and make the game better before release, otherwise it is going to be another WoM fiasco. 

Well, to be fair, I don't think it has to be "fiasco", I can see it being an okay game, but it's hard to imagine it coming as a mind-blowing hit that will leave a lasting impression for years to come. For that, it's neither revolutionary, deep, nor polished and balanced enough... yet.

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January 30, 2012 2:18:43 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums


Good post.

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January 30, 2012 2:33:12 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Very good post. I hope the developers take this into account as I feel you have some very good insights. I am not very good at analysing games. However, I do have fun with FE.

Main things I find lacking (and you mention them all) is use for strategic magic, why bother.

The strength of offensive magic, I just roll on in with earthquake spells and storm and wipe out massive armies in seconds.

The cities are bland.

Researching higher levels is just not worth it as you can win the game quite early on.

Unlike WOM I have no reason to trade with other factions. I have enough metal and horses etc.

I would love to see special units, like you mention paladins and priests etc. Visually they should be obvious so that when you face an army you can feel you heart sink as you see the forces arrayed against you

 

Having said that I believe FE is big step up from WOM

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January 30, 2012 2:37:04 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Kamamura_CZ,

Quoting Emperor_Nero, reply 11Thanks for writing this essay on the state of FE, haha. It discourages me though because it seems the game is only mediocre in it's current state and it seems that there are a lot of these that are saying the same thing. The only hope is that the devs will take these to heart and make the game better before release, otherwise it is going to be another WoM fiasco. 

Well, to be fair, I don't think it has to be "fiasco", I can see it being an okay game, but it's hard to imagine it coming as a mind-blowing hit that will leave a lasting impression for years to come. For that, it's neither revolutionary, deep, nor polished and balanced enough... yet.

 

Fiasco and Heartbreaker

It was like the vague outline of a real game that someone lost focus on, fooled around with a little bit then wandered off, leaving the remains to collapse under the weight of its failed potential and broken promises

That FE could end up the same way fills me with existential Dread

Don't be fooled, FE isn't even close to being a great game yet it only has potential.

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January 30, 2012 2:46:44 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Have people heard of groupthink?  We humans are succeptible to it.  One person gets an opinion and then lots more follow the lead.  Pretty much all games start off with only potential - I don't think there are very many games that are great right off the bat, very first iteration.  And there are still up to 22 more versions of FE before the release v1.00.  However if we give up on it now, guess what?  The potential will almost certainly not be realised.  This game won't be released for months, so we can do a *lot* in that time - refining core concepts might be boring, but most of FE's core concepts are sound and do not need to be rewritten - just rebalanced.  And a lot more content added, which Frogboy has already said will happen.

Also?  Games were much easier to make in the old days (like music).  There is now much more competition (with all the stuff already made) and higher expectations too!

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January 30, 2012 3:04:22 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Give mages the ability to cast spells for up to (IQ-5) x 2 mana in a given combat. Mages with IQ 7 are out, as much as fighters with a strength of 7. The same limitation should apply for spells cast outside of combat (which means that strategic spells would usually take several seasons to be cast)

A lot of people don't have a problem with not having enough mana. You can also set the amount of shards on the map from the start screen.

The stance I have taken since global mana was first introduced in WoM is that it is a superior system but it could use some tweaks. I have said pretty much the same thing as you. They should bring back a small amount of personal mana or essence based on either intelligence or a new essence stat. This personal pool would allow casters to cast a small spell or two every once in a while without depleting their global pool. However if they were to implement this I would think they would actually have to decrease the amount of global mana you get and possibly nerf some spells.

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January 30, 2012 3:38:38 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting StevenAus,
I don't think there are very many games that are great right off the bat, very first iteration.

How true! MoM was a vast failure till patch 1.32 IIRC.

And there are still up to 22 more versions of FE before the release v1.00.  However if we give up on it now, guess what?  The potential will almost certainly not be realised.  This game won't be released for months, so we can do a *lot* in that time - refining core concepts might be boring, but most of FE's core concepts are sound and do not need to be rewritten - just rebalanced.  And a lot more content added, which Frogboy has already said will happen.

Yes, you're right. That's why I posted this as soon as I could.

I would not have spent hours writing and polishing this analysis if I did not have hopes of beeing listened to.

Also?  Games were much easier to make in the old days (like music).  There is now much more competition (with all the stuff already made) and higher expectations too!

I think that the bar is lower than you think! Just have the game as good as MoM was. Not terribly difficult ; all the elements are laid down ; they just need beeing polished, then improved. What I fear is that, out of vanity, the developpers will absolutely want the game not to look like MoM. Just as, somtimes, children just do everything they can not to look like their parents.

What the game has to shamelessly do is take all what was good in MoM, then add new innovations. The special map regions is one such gem which was missing in MoM. The cities layout is also a concept not seen before in this kind of game. They may find others.

 

Yves

 

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January 30, 2012 3:46:56 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting DsRaider,

The stance I have taken since global mana was first introduced in WoM is that it is a superior system but it could use some tweaks. I have said pretty much the same thing as you. They should bring back a small amount of personal mana or essence based on either intelligence or a new essence stat. This personal pool would allow casters to cast a small spell or two every once in a while without depleting their global pool. However if they were to implement this I would think they would actually have to decrease the amount of global mana you get and possibly nerf some spells.

Truth is : global mana pool has been copied from MoM, but as the poor man version.

In MoM, the player had to allocate the global mana income into three flows:

  • spell research
  • stored mana
  • spell casting ability

This was a fine balance, because too much in research and you learned very fast a lot of spells you could not cast because you'd not have either the ability or the mana ; too little in spell casting ability would mean that you could have lots of mana and know lots of spells, but only could cast very few every turn, maybe not even the expensive tactical ones. And of course, not storing enough mana meant you could not cast spells while storing too much meant you were losing on one or both of the other points.

I found myself regularly tweaking that balance ; which means it really was significant.

A lot of people don't have a problem with not having enough mana. You can also set the amount of shards on the map from the start screen.

Because nobody uses magic except as heavy artillery. Enchantments ? Strategic spells ?

But watch the AI : it badly lacks mana. Because it uses these spells.

 

Yves

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January 30, 2012 4:02:27 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

nice post. 

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January 30, 2012 4:40:49 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

So far, from what I conclude is that ever since Beta has opened up - many of the old WoM players have returned and have become much more critical of the product. This is a good thing, and I feel more people should do the same. Many of us are taking the time to provide very deep and detailed posts, and I feel that everything we share should really be addressed.

What discourages me is that the current build of FE is 0.77, yet I feel it should be: 0.077.

Though this game has been in development since 2009, this game has a long, long, long road ahead.

Elemental is an ambitious project, and I have a feeling that FE is finally getting into the concepts that Elemental should focus on.

Just I feel that the whole games needs to be re-built really, as it's clear the what we've got has been a very flawed product from the start. The end game especially should be the most enjoyable part, yet because of the constantly lag, the lack of engaging battles, massive micro-management, and nonsensical elements - the game becomes quite laughable really.

We all have opinions here, and mine believes that we should begin this game on the Tactical Battle ground and build outward. Tactical Battles need a total redesign, and that is where our testing should be focused.

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January 30, 2012 4:49:28 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting mastroego,
Imho, to be an "adventurer" you don't fund research and scholars, you just go adventuring. That's the point of it. Of course, researching Magic and Spells makes plenty of sense, and that is what they should have kept. As it was done in MoM.

Not entirely.  Questing party goes out adventuring, comes across a door with a big sign on it saying "Do not enter!  Extreme danger!  You WILL be mauled, mashed, eaten and pooped on by big nasty creatures".  They look at each other, grin, and say "Let's go", reach out to open the door, only to find that there is a magical binding spell on it preventing them from getting in.  "Bugger, does anyone know how to open this?", says One-eyed Jake.  Blank looks all round.  "Damn.  Well, I guess we'd better go talk with that crazy old scholar back in town - he's been researching binding spells.  Maybe he knows how to open it"

It's easy to justify needing research to allow certain quests, though I think there should be other factors involved as well.  There should be times when you need to know a certain spell to start the quest, or the quest-giver takes a look at you and doesn't "feel it" so doesn't open up to you - you need a different hero or stat/trait before they believe you can help them.

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January 30, 2012 5:05:55 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting OrleanKnight,
What discourages me is that the current build of FE is 0.77, yet I feel it should be: 0.077.

Though this game has been in development since 2009, this game has a long, long, long road ahead.

Elemental is an ambitious project, and I have a feeling that FE is finally getting into the concepts that Elemental should focus on.

Just I feel that the whole games needs to be re-built really, as it's clear the what we've got has been a very flawed product from the start. The end game especially should be the most enjoyable part, yet because of the constantly lag, the lack of engaging battles, massive micro-management, and nonsensical elements - the game becomes quite laughable really.

We all have opinions here, and mine believes that we should begin this game on the Tactical Battle ground and build outward. Tactical Battles need a total redesign, and that is where our testing should be focused.

Once again I agree with you OrleanKnight.

Right now i just skip as much of battles as I can because it's boring and too simple. Strategy is basically hit first and hard. The defender class sucks because defense is pointless in a game where I cross the screen and do 80dmg my first turn. 90% of Units are basically just X Init, X Hp and X Dmg with a face. Oh wait, if its got four legs then it'l move fast and if it's got eight then it's poisonous so WATCH OUT!

Every fight in the game so far:

Everyone runs to middle and a hit first because AI sucks and 99% are melee.

BAM BAM BAM

BAM BAM BAM

Fight Over

 

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January 30, 2012 6:28:34 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting StevenAus,
Have people heard of groupthink?  We humans are succeptible to it.  One person gets an opinion and then lots more follow the lead.  Pretty much all games start off with only potential - I don't think there are very many games that are great right off the bat, very first iteration.  And there are still up to 22 more versions of FE before the release v1.00.  However if we give up on it now, guess what?  The potential will almost certainly not be realised.  This game won't be released for months, so we can do a *lot* in that time - refining core concepts might be boring, but most of FE's core concepts are sound and do not need to be rewritten - just rebalanced.  And a lot more content added, which Frogboy has already said will happen.

Also?  Games were much easier to make in the old days (like music).  There is now much more competition (with all the stuff already made) and higher expectations too!

 

Thank you for the level headed post. Group think can indeed be dangerous. Keeping in mind that the game is a work in progress and supplying constructive criticism rather than doom and gloom/histrionics (It's going to be another WoM fiasco sort of idea) is the sensible thing to do.

 

As is the key to basically everything in life, balance is the key.

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January 31, 2012 1:04:33 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Thormodr,

Thank you for the level headed post. Group think can indeed be dangerous. Keeping in mind that the game is a work in progress and supplying constructive criticism rather than doom and gloom/histrionics (It's going to be another WoM fiasco sort of idea) is the sensible thing to do.

As is the key to basically everything in life, balance is the key.

You're right.

But as far as I can tell, the game concept has not much changed since the huge disappointment that was WoM and that is a bad sign.

Yves

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