Fallen Enchantress: BETA 2 Preview

By on February 17, 2012 3:55:15 PM from JoeUser Forums JoeUser Forums

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Join Date 03/2001
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Greetings!

It’s hard to believe it was just under a month ago that Fallen Enchantress went into public beta.  We’ve gotten a lot of great feedback, a lot of bug reports, crash reports, and suggestions.

Next Thursday, we plan to release BETA 2 which is intended to go out to everyone who purchased Elemental: War of Magic in 2010 plus anyone who has pre-ordered Fallen Enchantress.

Today, I’m going to walk you through some of the changes Derek and his team have implemented.  Those of you who were Fall From Heaven Fans or Galactic Civilizations fans will hopefully see the combination of the two really starting to show in beta 2.

Character Creation

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We have gotten a lot of feedback with regards to the “first impression” elements of Fallen Enchantress. Part of that goal is to make it clear to players what the distinctions are between each faction and each sovereign.

Visual Pass

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Across the board the art team has started to put in the Fallen Enchantress specific art assets.  This effectively means the world will look quite different.  More punch, less blah when it comes to the scenery.

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User Interface

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Beta 2 is our first pass with displaying the path of a selected unit.

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The main map UI has bee modified as well to place the often missed Govern button down with Spells and Turn in the bottom right.  In addition, important events now pop out for a turn from the side to inform players of events without interrupting the action.

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The new Kingdom Report screen helps players see where their kingdom stands as well as how far along they are towards achieving victory in one of the 4 victory conditions.

Music & Sound

Beta 2 includes the first set of new sound effects for Fallen Enchantress along with many new musical tracks to help bring the world to life.  I suspect the sound will be something that has amongst the biggest impact since FE beta 1 barely had any.

Balance Changes

Balance changes will be both subtle and obvious to players.  Fallen Enchantress provides 3 different technology paths to choose from.  Beta 2 is designed to give each technology tree its own path to world domination.

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The Warfare path is much the same as it was with Beta 1. The key resource for mundane warfare is metal, a resource that players pursuing this much live and die by.

The Civilization path has been altered to give more emphasis on building up your Empire through using diplomatic power. The resource of power here comes in the form of Diplomatic capital which is spent recruiting mercenaries, monsters and other factions to the war fighting for you.

The Magic path has gotten the most love.  Between raw mana power and magical equipment that uses crystal in lieu of metal, you can end up with a very powerful force of magical units.  Mages, Warlocks, and all manner of new units start to appear as the player goes up the magic tech tree.

Champions are automatically able to cast spells.  What makes the sovereign special – as a channeler – is they’re the ones with the ability to derive mana from the shards. All spell casters use the global pool supplied, ultimately, through your channeler.  The bottom line, lots more magic being thrown around.

Caravans are gone. They were a held over idea from GalCiv II that never made the sense in the Elemental universe. Roads now grow up somewhat more organically based on  your civilization techs with corresponding economic benefits.

Pacing

Beta 2 is our first pass at nailing down the three distinct acts of Fallen Enchantress.

Act I has the player exploring the world, building up their kingdom and trying to keep the world from ruining them. (Explore, Expand).

Act II begins when players determine the strategy they’re going to use to achieve victory. Maybe they’ll do it by building lots mundane units, maybe they’ll focus on a handful of champions, maybe they’ll recruit their armies, maybe they’ll build a force of powerful, magical armies or maybe they’ll amass enough mana and spells to bring ruin to their enemies and glory to their friends. (Exploit)

Act III is the end game, it’s the execution of their strategy. And this is where a lot of thought and effort has been put in.  Wrapping up the epic wars, quests, schemes, etc.  For me, personally, I enjoy being able to do very horrible things to my enemies with mana. If I have enough mana, I should be able to bring down the pain to those who oppose me while making my kingdom a land of gods.  This means expensive spells that can be stacked but don’t necessarily have upkeep. 

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In addition, the final quest and the spell of making are in the process of being made a lot more interesting and accessible.

AI

I would be remiss to not talk about the computer players. The tactical battle AI has been written from scratch for Beta 2. Late game, there will be no mistaking that this is a game with magic. Watching players and AI setting things up with their spells, countering each other spells, etc. is very enjoyable. I have come to the point where I end up watching the battles on auto play instead of using auto-resolve because it’s fun to watch ala GalCiv II battles. 

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The AI is much improved when dealing with custom created factions. In my game, I have created all my favorite Tolkien races and put them up against me. The AI will use the attributes that go with them to make them play differently. So my "Orcs” play quite differently from my “Elves”.  Modders, post-release will of course be able to take this to ridiculous level.

The AI is also much better strategically. It manages groups of armies now, this is something I never did get quite right in GalCiv II’s AI but the FE game engine makes it a snap for me to organize vast swaths of units and treat them as a single unit – and they don’t have to be on the same tile so it’s not some obnoxious death train. 

As a result of the AI improvements, the harder difficulty levels, where the AI gets special bonuses, have been drastically turned down.

The AI will raze cities and will surrender rather than dragging the game on endlessly. How they play depends pretty heavily on the faction. So don’t expect them to train or

Misc

I’m only scratching the surface here and I’m forgetting lots of small and large balance tweaks to the game ranging from cost of upgrading units (much cheaper) to the pacing of the tech tree to the cost and maint of units.  You’ll have have to wait and see for answers on all those things. 

I will say Champions are still very powerful but they will level up much slower if you try to just create a stack up them.  I had..ahem…a game last night where my “mega stack” of 5 champions got killed by a single AI champion because my stack was only level 5 and the AI champion was level 8 (and since the AI now makes great use of magic in tactical battles, it can do some horrific things to those who are unwary).  On the bright side, trained units don’t count against you in terms of experience sharing. So put that champion with lots of trained units, it’s what the AI does.

When will the final version be released?

We still see months of work ahead of us. We don’t have a specific “gold” date yet.  We intend to follow-up with a BETA 3 roughly a month from now. We’ll have a better idea where we are at that point to start thinking of release dates.

Cheers!

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February 17, 2012 3:55:43 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Nice!

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February 17, 2012 3:59:27 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Yay, fuck caravans!  Fuck them into non-existence.  I usually bitch when things are taken out of the game, but not this time.  So glad they are gone!

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February 17, 2012 4:03:44 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

So glad Caravans are gone- was the most annoying thing in Elemental.

 

I would suggest that economic treaties, and maybe other treatiers, allow roads to form between kingdoms/empires.  Or maybe just good relations should do it.

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February 17, 2012 4:17:34 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Looking forward to it!   There are are few incorrect words (the one I noticed was in the sentence "The key resource for mundane warfare is metal, a resource that players pursuing this much live and die by.") and missed words (after "So don’t expect them to train or ") in the OP though, so you might want to check and correct any errors or omissions.

Beta 2 looks good!

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February 17, 2012 4:24:38 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Sounds like some great developments! Excited to try them out.

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February 17, 2012 4:29:10 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting ,

Act I has the player exploring the world, building up their kingdom and trying to keep the world from ruining them. (Explore, Expand).
Act II begins when players determine the strategy they’re going to use to achieve victory. Maybe they’ll do it by building lots mundane units, maybe they’ll focus on a handful of champions, maybe they’ll recruit their armies, maybe they’ll build a force of powerful, magical armies or maybe they’ll amass enough mana and spells to bring ruin to their enemies and glory to their friends. (Exploit)
Act III is the end game, it’s the execution of their strategy. And this is where a lot of thought and effort has been put in.  Wrapping up the epic wars, quests, schemes, etc.  For me, personally, I enjoy being able to do very horrible things to my enemies with mana. If I have enough mana, I should be able to bring down the pain to those who oppose me while making my kingdom a land of gods.  This means expensive spells that can be stacked but don’t necessarily have upkeep. 

You forgot to say (Exterminate)! That's the best 'X'.

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February 17, 2012 4:33:14 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums
Big yay! The game has progressed with amazing speed and the changes look very good indeed. Glad to see caravans go, glad to hear of the tech changes, love the visible pathing and the experience splitting decision is both good and interesting. It makes regular units more viable, I think.
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February 17, 2012 4:36:34 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums


I too am glad to see caravans go and I like the part about the battles being fun to watch. 

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February 17, 2012 4:43:43 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

All those changes look great. Looking forward to the new AI, new spells, new look, new lots of stuff.

Caravans gone, booohooohooo, NOT!

 

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February 17, 2012 4:46:44 PM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

Nice touches. Thanks for the big preview! Glad to see caravans grow naturally when you have the right tech set up. +1 Alstein on your suggestion on trade and roads forming.

 

So all champions cast spells. Wondering if you would add a slider in game setup for say how many champions can have magic abilities in game ie some champs have magic and others don't. Also any news on Governor Champions?

 

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February 17, 2012 4:47:33 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

There were caravans?

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February 17, 2012 4:47:41 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Will the modding workshop be opened up in beta 2?

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February 17, 2012 5:31:58 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Any changes coming to city development?

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February 17, 2012 5:53:49 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

So, it's my birthday today.  Can I get this early?  I've spent the past week playing MoM instead of FE, it has more staying power (so far)... I could use the new version

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February 17, 2012 5:54:48 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Don't forget the best part of a new Beta -

Critiques, crashes, & bugs for all! WuHoo!

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February 17, 2012 5:55:23 PM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

I like what I'm seeing here and escpecially this"

"I will say Champions are still very powerful but they will level up much slower if you try to just create a stack up them.  I had..ahem…a game last night where my “mega stack” of 5 champions got killed by a single AI champion because my stack was only level 5 and the AI champion was level 8 (and since the AI now makes great use of magic in tactical battles, it can do some horrific things to those who are unwary).  On the bright side, trained units don’t count against you in terms of experience sharing. So put that champion with lots of trained units, it’s what the AI does."

 

That is how I normally play champions and Heros in these typs of games. I see tham as the commander of the stack of units. I'm glad this is style of play better.

And I'm glad that Caverns and the most irritating Embume is going out of the game. I would however like to be able to have a special unit build roads

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February 17, 2012 5:56:12 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

The black line around the dots on the movement path is inconsistent with the other visual elements. They should have a line so thin as to be almost nonexistent, with green glow permeating outwards, like the elements indicating the selected unit and the target tile. In addition to being inconsistent, their current aesthetic makes them appear as though they're intended to be visually discrete items rather than components of a line, so this is bad doubly over. Fixing that latter problem might necessitate placing the dots more densely along the line, but fix the former problem first because that will have a substantial effect on the visual unity of the dots as well and may well be sufficient on its own.

In the Kingdom Report, you ought to list your faction's race in the area where you have the traits. You could do it above the traits if you want to emphasize it highly, or position is such that its bottom is in line with the bottom of the faction's flag/coat of arms thing - that's where I'd put it. But based on what you've said about the intended importance of race, and based on the current mechanical importance of race, it shouldn't be entirely omitted.

Good to hear about Caravans. I'd imagine the new "organic" system is going to need a bit of polish before it's ready for the prime time, being new and all, but in general principle it's already a good step up. I reckon that refining this new system will need (and see) a good bit of discussion, as the potential possibilities for it already have.

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February 17, 2012 5:57:03 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Congratulations! Don't feel pressured or rushed to perfect FE; I've only experienced it "on the forums" up to now, but there's a palpable mojo building in it. Take your time, release Beta8 or Beta22 if you must - just make it awesome.

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February 17, 2012 5:58:22 PM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

Quoting StevenAus,
Looking forward to it!   There are are few incorrect words (the one I noticed was in the sentence "The key resource for mundane warfare is metal, a resource that players pursuing this much live and die by.") and missed words (after "So don’t expect them to train or ") in the OP though, so you might want to check and correct any errors or omissions.

Beta 2 looks good!

 

You sound like my third grade English teacher

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February 17, 2012 5:58:40 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting HenriHakl,
Congratulations! Don't feel pressured or rushed to perfect FE; I've only experienced it "on the forums" up to now, but there's a palpable mojo building in it. Take your time, release Beta8 or Beta22 if you must - just make it awesome.
Since I get to play the betas, I agree with this. And since everybody who preorders soon will get to as well, I don't see much reason not to follow this strategy. I'm pretty sure it's already the intended plan, though.

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February 17, 2012 5:59:50 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I predict, right now, that this is the phase in which the entire Elemental IP takes that last crucial turn around the corner.  All the new FE assets are really being implemented with this push and I love love love what I'm reading!  Magic based armies FTW!!  Warlocks unlocking to be combined with Elementals and Wizards.... this could get slapstick crazy! 

 

Not sure if adding in new concepts is being accepted at this point but an upgrade path to the base army units would go a long way for the people that feel more comfortable with riding the rails and following a set, logical path as well as maintaining a sense of uniformity amongst their entire empire/kingdom, while still leaving the design aspect in for those that like to have their fingerprints on all aspects of their kingdom. 

 

The last few weeks with the beta has been very refreshing.  Even this early beta version of FE was a great improvement over WoM, which, by the way, I enjoyed anyways.  It seems to me that these implementations are really the first sign, to me anyways, that this game is actually becoming more and more like MoM, what with the variety of viable game play options opening up, as opposed to TRYING to be like MoM.

 

I can safely say at this rather early point in the beta and this post regarding the near future, that FE has fully surpassed my expectations, and this has my quite excited.  Now to figure out a way to set aside all the time I'm going to need between this and all the other great games being released, as well as the current games I'm playing and my general laziness.... 

 

You know, now that I think about it, if I were left to my own devices and lived the way I really wanted to live, I'd probably be dead by now

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February 17, 2012 6:01:18 PM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

Will the Tech trees be completely seperate from each other? What I mean by this is if I want to reasearch the Wartech Worgs will I still have prereq's from the civ tree etc? I peronally hope they will be completely seperate.

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February 17, 2012 6:22:40 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Great read!  Looking forward to getting back into FE. 

One bit of pre-feedback based only on the screenshots (I know, it's annoying) is that with the new "path-to" system, it would be nice to show where the end-of-turn locations will be, maybe with a small circle with a number in it to show where the unit is planned to end each turn.

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February 17, 2012 6:31:47 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Nice. Looking forward to trying Beta 2.

 

Add me to the list of people who are glad to see caravans gone. I never used them.

They seemed like too much micromanagement for little entertainment value.

 

 

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February 17, 2012 6:46:06 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Beta 1 was a vast improvement over WOM and very fun to play - this sounds even cooler.  FE is quickly becoming a classic - keep plugging away at the improvements.

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