What's next?

By on February 6, 2012 10:02:08 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Derek Paxton

Join Date 03/2003
+118

 

First off, thanks to everyone who has played the beta and provided feedback.  You are probably wondering what we are going to do next.

From a high level there are several types of gamers, different experience levels, different amounts of hours that they will spend with FE.  Someone playing their first game will appreciate and need different things than someone playing their 10th.  We need to appeal to both groups.  Because of that we will spend resources improving things that don't matter much to the sorts of hard core players that do things like read this post.

For example we are cleaning up the choose sovereign screen and making the sovereigns more archetypical.  Procipinee is clearly designated as a summoner, her summons start at higher level and she gets a free spell that puts that ability to use.  The sovereign backstory isn’t on the screen anymore to make room for more art and a general open clean feel instead of the prior lists of stats.

Imbuement has been removed from the game.  I loved the flavor of it, but players didnt realize they could be casting spells with their champions.  And it makes the champions less unique if the thing that distinguishes them most (their access to spells) is missed.  It was a bit of complexity that could be dropped without losing any good gameplay.  Most notably since all the champions can cast from the start when you find enemy champions in the wilds they start lobbing spells at you.  For those of us that are accustomed to attacking lone champions in the wild, seeing them starting combat by throwing fireballs at us is a bit of a shock.

So one of our focuses right now is in making the game more approachable.

But we have some asset and balance work to do too.  Not game changers, we aren’t throwing out any systems.  We have a good system in place, we need to focus on the sections that are weak and take advantage of the sections that are working well.

For example, I like the ability to recruit monsters.  But it’s too hard to get and not rewarding enough when you do.  So the Bonding Ceremony and Mercenaries techs are gone.  Instead the ability to create those improvements comes on other techs that were already worth getting (higher level improvements that allow you to recruit things like dragons and ogres are still special techs).  Most importantly when you train a monster like a Drake or Troll in your cities they will start at the normal level for that monster type, not level 1.  So your drake will start as a level 6 drake and capable of doing some damage.

The magic tree had some exciting things hidden in it but it needed some work to bring it out.  So we created a few new craftable items like magical staves, enchanted robes, etc.  Along with this came 30 new unit’s designs, 3 for each faction.  These include trainable Mages (units with magical staves that shoot fire or ice), mid-level warriors with magical weapons and end game units that have the best enchanted weapons, armor, traits and mounts the game has to offer.  If you see these marching over from the AI player you may be in trouble.

Champions aren't being nerfed as much as things are being balanced around them.  The most significant direct change to champions is that injuries matter more.  If you have a champion with 6-7 injuries on him he will be severely handicapped, it may be time to hand his equipment over to a promising newcomer without the battle scars.  XP is divided by the members of group to make it less rewarding to steamroll the map with your stack of super heroes.

But the big changes are in dramatically decreasing the tech costs.  There were always good units to make, but if your champions were level 7-8 by the time you got to them then it didn't matter.  Now your trained units are better, come earlier and mean more.

Quests are another area that need some attention.  Specifically we want more interesting rewards on them.  If you give the potion of restoration to the butcherman he will join you.  If you take the noblemans daughter back to his estate you will get a choice of rewards to pick from.  And of course any quests with bugs need to be fixed.

Add that in with a bundle of stability and performance improvements, bug fixes, new art and sounds and you have our hit list for the next patch.  I will release more details as it gets closer, we have lots to do and I'm excited to see what you guys think when you have a chance to play it.

 

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February 6, 2012 10:03:58 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Any chance quests will get new trigger types? 

 

Either way, the game seems headed in the right direction. Might also want to mention the bit about encumbrance for the people that only read dev journals.

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February 6, 2012 10:08:49 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Wow!

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February 6, 2012 10:13:12 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

There are some interesting ideas there:

better non hero units earlier

Magic non hero units!

Easier monster recruiting!

Sounds great.    I can't wait for .78.

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February 6, 2012 10:13:29 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I can hardly wait to try it out.

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February 6, 2012 10:42:31 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums


I'm glad the Nobleman's Daughter quest is being fixed. It was too easy to just hand her over to the bandits for some quick cash.  Even if I was playing a 'good guy' I would still hand her over because there was no backdraw and 200 gold is handy early on.

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February 6, 2012 10:53:34 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Sounds like good progress, looking forward to the next beta version.

 

EDIT:  Really looking forward to the craftable magic items, reduced tech costs, mage ranged units, and useful recruited monsters in particular.

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February 6, 2012 10:57:01 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums


All good.

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February 6, 2012 11:06:31 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Will damage spells be resistable, or magic resistance reduce the damage of damage spells?

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February 6, 2012 11:07:19 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

This all sounds promising, especially the bit about wands and staves!

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February 6, 2012 11:21:34 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Sounds exciting. Whoever James009D is, I would like to thank you deeply for your let's play. I still have about 6 episodes left but it is so exciting and I love watching it because it takes away some of the pessimism I have about the game. 

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February 6, 2012 11:27:38 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

So glad to hear Imbuement is going away.  

Thanks for the update and it sounds like you guys are listening to feedback but not letting it drive the design.  FE looks to be really shaping up.

 

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February 6, 2012 11:55:47 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Very cool. It sounds like we are going to get much more diversity in the troops we can build next patch.

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February 7, 2012 12:03:36 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting ,
Champions aren't being nerfed as much as things are being balanced around them.  The most significant direct change to champions is that injuries matter more.  If you have a champion with 6-7 injuries on him he will be severely handicapped, it may be time to hand his equipment over to a promising newcomer without the battle scars.  XP is divided by the members of group to make it less rewarding to steamroll the map with your stack of super heroes.

But the big changes are in dramatically decreasing the tech costs.  There were always good units to make, but if your champions were level 7-8 by the time you got to them then it didn't matter.  Now your trained units are better, come earlier and mean more.

That sounds great, but i hope the injuries are not too strong, because they will reduce the power of the AI and the player will simply load. I guess the training time could be reduced, too.

Splitting the XP will only nerf stacks of heroes, but what do you do to reduce the power of a single hero with movement 6+ and a bow, a fireball or a blizzard?

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February 7, 2012 12:24:42 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

With a bow? You just laugh at him. But yes, Tactical movement speed does need reducing or capping for those without mounts.

 

Anyways there are a lot of "Yays!" in this post. Shall I skip to the criticism?

Don't take the story out of the sovereigns. I REALLY like the way it is presented now and actually wish there were more splash screens rather than less. It really adds to the EPIC feel of the game. People who don't want to read it will just click past it, like a quest wall of text in WoW.

I am glad Imbuement is gone, but maybe it could come back in a different form?

As for the rest of it, bring it on! I look forward to it.

 

 

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February 7, 2012 12:33:29 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Thanks Derek

Quoting ,

Imbuement has been removed from the game.


If everyone is using magic it may become a little too much. I guess this will be re-balanced in following patches.


For example, I like the ability to recruit monsters.  But it’s too hard to get and not rewarding enough when you do.


If this leads to early-game varied stacks then sounds great.


The magic tree had some exciting things hidden in it but it needed some work to bring it out.  So we created a few new craftable items like magical staves, enchanted robes, etc.  Along with this came 30 new unit’s designs, 3 for each faction.  These include trainable Mages (units with magical staves that shoot fire or ice), mid-level warriors with magical weapons and end game units that have the best enchanted weapons, armor, traits and mounts the game has to offer.


Sounds cool - although I never bothered crafting any items so far and I can't remember reading that anyone else has focussed much on this aspect either.


The most significant direct change to champions is that injuries matter more.  If you have a champion with 6-7 injuries on him he will be severely handicapped, it may be time to hand his equipment over to a promising newcomer without the battle scars.

I wasn't unhappy where you took Heroes after the last patch. I think the problem is there wasn't any good way to build an army until the mid game and by then the hero stack was too powerful to bother about troops.


XP is divided by the members of group to make it less rewarding to steamroll the map with your stack of super heroes.


Sounds good. Would like to also see nerfing of XP if there are too many heroes in a stack to try and encourage splitting heroes up a bit.


But the big changes are in dramatically decreasing the tech costs.  There were always good units to make, but if your champions were level 7-8 by the time you got to them then it didn't matter.  Now your trained units are better, come earlier and mean more.


I hope you mean that some of the war techs are available from the start (or when you research Standing Army) rather than mean that all tech has now been made much easier to gain.

If we are getting new tech every couple of turns it won't mean anything.

I think that having basic swords, bows, leather armour, spears etc available with Standing Army would be good if they can't be provided at the start of the game - and then reduce the maintenance cost of troops - or allow buildings like Barracks to support say 5 troops at no maintenance. Also perhaps starting with 3 or 4 parties at the start of the game may help a bit.


Add that in with a bundle of stability and performance improvements, bug fixes, new art and sounds and you have our hit list for the next patch.


The thing that is really annoying me now with the game is that the UI doesn't prompt me in a meaningful way when I finish building something in a city. That and the caravan micromanagement. Hope these will be on the cards soon.

The problem with the UI is that you have prompts at either side of the screen so you tend to miss both. If there is a setting to not auto-finish turns then prompts should be positioned near the End Turn button - but ideally they will pop-up as a reminder before allowing the turn to finish.

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February 7, 2012 12:51:04 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums


Good things to know! Looking forward to the next few patches!

Quoting ,
  
For example we are cleaning up the choose sovereign screen and making the sovereigns more archetypical.  Procipinee is clearly designated as a summoner, her summons start at higher level and she gets a free spell that puts that ability to use.  The sovereign backstory isn’t on the screen anymore to make room for more art and a general open clean feel instead of the prior lists of stats.
 

While this is an excellent change -I like that soveriegns will have their own playstyle- it kind of buggers me that custom sovereigns cannot replicate the bonuses of designed factions. Is this ability going to be linked to a profession, or otherwise selectable in character traits? Are 'archetypal' champion designs going to be available to sovereigns?

Say if for example I want to design a warrior can I select that option and start with str/con comparable to verga? Likewise if I pick the 'swift' faction, can I start with units that have stats similar to krax?

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February 7, 2012 1:06:40 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

On the champions:

 

I think if you're taking this route, two things need to be done eventually

1) There needs to be a use no magic in auto-resolve option for AI and human.  Right now this is a big annoyance early game.  I'm pretty sure this is coming though.

2) I think the champions themselves will have to be balanced and diversified in regards to magic.  Right now very few champions lack magic capability, those guys should get other buffs.  Some of the higher level champions should get higher level magic, and maybe start with enchantments such as evade and such.

 

The XP change, I have some concerns about it over-nerfing heroes, but with the imbue change it may not be as bad.   I can see wildlands being much tougher due to this change though, and they're already hard.  I'm wondering if one super-champion would be superior to a bunch of mediocre ones right now.   You might also need to look at the trait that gives a sovereign 10% of their champion's XP- it may need to be adjusted upwards.

 

Also, I think high level scrolls may have to be makable via the magic tech tree.  I see this champion change making high-level mages pretty rare, so to get the killer spells out it may have to be done via late-game magic tech at a cost of crystals (and maybe a mana cost as well and a prerequisite number of shards of a certain type)

 

One last idea/suggestion based on your announcements:  I think shards should be able to influence the magic staffs/weapons:

life/death: maybe have them do bonus damage versus those influenced by the opposite magic?  Maybe champion/unholy champion spells should be added (borrowing from AOW)

fire: flaming weapons

ice: freezing weapons

air: shocking weapons

earth: shaping weapons (do extra damage/accuracy) and armor (better defense).

 

 

Overall, these changes are very interesting,   Just what this game needs to be freshened up. 

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February 7, 2012 1:56:46 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting CdrRogdan,
Say if for example I want to design a warrior can I select that option and start with str/con comparable to verga? Likewise if I pick the 'swift' faction, can I start with units that have stats similar to krax?
Stat lines are associated with race. Verga's strong because he's a Trog. You can be a Trog too if you want that stat line. Same situation with Krax. This information should be made more apparent in the faction creation screen, though.

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February 7, 2012 2:06:41 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

If you have a champion with 6-7 injuries on him he will be severely handicapped, it may be time to hand his equipment over to a promising newcomer without the battle scars.

 

While I like the realism of this scenario, I would find it annoying that my old experienced and battle hardened veterans might become completely obsolete. What do you think about an ability for champions to "retire" into a city? Simply add an option that when a champion is in a city you can dismiss them, and they join the city as a leading figure, giving some small bonus, depending on their level at the time of retirement. So thus a level 2 champion retiring might give something ephemeral (say, a slight increasy in growth) while a level 10 champion that has ended up being too wounded to be useful in combat, might give something more significant, perhaps depending on their stats. So, for example someone with a lot of Strength, might give trained units in that city +3 STR to account for them being trained by the champion.

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February 7, 2012 2:07:40 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Imbuement has been removed from the game.  I loved the flavor of it, but players didnt realize they could be casting spells with their champions.

That is a bit sad. Not that the simple imbuement mechanic was anything special or fun, but it added flavor and made the souvereign kind of special.

Wouldn't it be a nice tone to have a split screen triggered on recruiting like when you found your first city? Whenever a hero joins, you could show us our souvereign (or a generic picture that suggests to be him/her) in a pose of mighty magic and tell us something like "[HeroName], who is a magic user, joined the [Empire/Kingdom of...]. With the might of a souvereign, [Sovs Name] imbued [him/her] in an ancient ritual and from now on [he/she] will ...blabla... shared mana source.. faith... service... death."

Now I am no native speaker, but you hired a writer to put such things in place and I think it would fit into the lore (not lolz!).

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February 7, 2012 2:18:10 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I would like to add my support for not making technologies too cheap.  The problem was not that all techs were too expensive, it was that you needed to research certain techs in a certain order at the start of the game to be at all competitive, and that later techs, even with much increased research, required something like four times the research turns that early techs required with much less research.  Research is something you can't really hurry - buildings and units can be rushed with gold, and units can be bought with mana, but research has to go at its own pace.

Quoting Das123,
I think that having basic swords, bows, leather armour, spears etc available with Standing Army would be good if they can't be provided at the start of the game - and then reduce the maintenance cost of troops - or allow buildings like Barracks to support say 5 troops at no maintenance. Also perhaps starting with 3 or 4 parties at the start of the game may help a bit.

I like these ideas.  Also I think it would be good to pace research so that there is a decent time in between techs and (except for starting techs) take much the same number of turns between important techs throughout the game, taking into account the likely extra research a side would have at various stages of the game.  If techs are too cheap, it cheapens the whole game.  If early techs are required, it forces the same start each time.  If later techs are still four times the research time even with much increased research, people won't bother with them.  I think most people would agree you need to find the right balance and have all other techs (other than starting techs like Standing Army and Shard Harvesting) come at a roughly equivalent rate the whole game, with later techs obviously adjusted for greater research ability of later game empires.

PS: I also agree with puntarenas' idea for the special screen for all champions that start with spell school abilities.

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February 7, 2012 2:29:42 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Das123,
The thing that is really annoying me now with the game is that the UI doesn't prompt me in a meaningful way when I finish building something in a city. That and the caravan micromanagement. Hope these will be on the cards soon.

The problem with the UI is that you have prompts at either side of the screen so you tend to miss both. If there is a setting to not auto-finish turns then prompts should be positioned near the End Turn button - but ideally they will pop-up as a reminder before allowing the turn to finish.

 

Here's a topic I started on the issue. http://forums.elementalgame.com/416884 If you wanted to bump it, that'd be great.

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February 7, 2012 2:50:58 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Cruxador,
Stat lines are associated with race. Verga's strong because he's a Trog. You can be a Trog too if you want that stat line. Same situation with Krax. This information should be made more apparent in the faction creation screen, though.

This isn't true. The high str bonus that verga gains cannot be replicated by choosing his faction, nor can the high intelligence bonus of procipinee be replicated by choosing her faction. In addition the 'custom' factions have traits associated with them that are not readily apparent, nor mutable from one faction to the next. For example if I want high str regular units I have to be trog (even without the strong trait they are still stronger than normal)

Even if the faction said what the bonuses were, it still would be more sensible to have the bonuses/penalties associated with the faction be listed as a zero cost selection choice upon faction creation.

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February 7, 2012 2:54:37 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Re: Quests - I would like to see some that give you access to a unique spell or open up a new branch of magical research. I would also like to see quests that gives you access to a champion monster (i.e. monster that advances in levels) or a mystic mage.  Let some questions be timed:

Example (Kingdom Quest): And the old man; a mage of mystic arts, says "Before the end of the fourth season (12 turns) bring me a vile of spider poison and the head of a troll. Then I will serve you for one year."

Example (Empire Quest): And the warrior says; "Accept the quest and prove yourself a King by razing the capital of a Kingdom within the year (12 turns). Then I will join you to fight at your side. Fail, and I will offer my services to your most hated enemy within the Empire."

Example: The demon guards a book of ancient magic, slay the demon and recover the book of dragon summoning (with four summoning spells for giant reptiles where each summons costs lots of mana) or sell the book for lots of gold.

Re: Champions - I would like to see champions have more flavor. Perhaps some are more skilled with a sword than a spear or bow and others favor the bow. If you have a wraith in your service and you raze a wraith city then let their be a chance for champions leave your service to join another. Likewise an Ironeer champion may be inclined to leave your service if you raze an Ironeer city. Basically, I want the champions to be differents. Perhaps a trait such as Sword Master (+1 initiaitve, +2 attack with Sword), Spear Master (+1 initiaitive, +2 attack with spear). Perhaps some champions give soldiers in their army access to new tactical combat commands; i.e. withdraw, prepare to withdraw (50% first attacker misses), (i.e. 50% strikes first if attacked), Charge (+1 movement, -50% defense, used once per battle).

If you don't give a champion any new weapons or armor (or perhaps a bonus) perhaps he leaves your service for that of another sovereign. Perhaps Empire champions are more likely to be greedy than Kingdom Champions.

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February 7, 2012 3:05:41 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Sounds good. Looking forward to the next patch!

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