Fallen Enchantress–March Status

By on March 1, 2012 7:07:50 PM from JoeUser Forums JoeUser Forums

Frogboy

Join Date 03/2001
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Greetings!

March is here! If you’re not in the Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion beta, which starts this week, then you might be interested in what is happening in the world of Elemental. So here is where things stand.

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The Beast Lord has the power to recruit certain monsters in battle

We plan to release the next build in the beta 2 series within the next week or two.  I can’t tell you what will be in it yet. There’s a lot of things that are being worked on at once. Derek and his team have all kinds of diabolical stuff in the works.  A lot of Fall From Heaven players have noticed his influence on the Elemental universe and he’s just getting warmed up.

What I can talk about are the things we’re concentrating on here.

Stability

For most people, stability hasn’t been a major issue. But the game will crash occasionally at some point regardless of how stable it is for you. I can assure you, it will crash some % of the time in Beta 2.  That is because of the migration to a much more heavily threaded architecture.

Most of you have played War of Magic. So you know how much faster and smoother Fallen Enchantress is even on the same hardware. Why? Threading. Lots of them. The more cores you have, the better it gets. And even if you have only 2 cores, it’s still a lot better.

Even as the AI has gotten smarter, the world more complex, the time between turns and performance has improved. This is because of all the threads happening in the background.  But the challenge is making sure those threads are messing with each other’s data at the same time. 

We’ve made great strides here as we’ve nearly finished our migration to the threaded engine update.  We hope this will become apparent in Beta 2-B. However, that said, Beta 2-B will not be rock solid. I’m just warning you now.  It’ll be better than Beta 2 but as we fix problems, we add new ones. It’s for a good cause. Memory optimization is necessary but painful. 

If you’re running a 64-bit version of Windows, you’re already set because Fallen Enchantress will use 4 gigs of memory if it can. So that lets us have more monsters, more players, more everything. But Windows XP users can only see 2 gigs which is why we have to focus on optimization. It’s good to be lean and mean (though my Amiga could do crazy things with 512K of memory).

Balance

Other than making sure the game is reliable for people, balance is our top priority.  Balance can include everything from tweaking numbers to adding new assets.  Making sure that higher level weapons and armor matter a lot more has a huge game play effect.  For example, spears do less damage than they did before and as a result, they’re still good weapons early on or in mass but they’ll get slaughtered by knights. Right now: You can beat the AI by creating cheese spearmen (throw in a few negative traits, get squads and go to town – that’s how I do it anyway).

Similarly, lots of new magic spells are being added to the game which help us make sure that the different paths to victory are distinct, fun, and meaningful.

Diplomacy

This probably won’t make it into the beta 2 series.  But diplomacy is going to get a lot more attention for Beta 3. For example, we are considering an option to let players surrender to you where their sovereign becomes your vassal (they get a negative trait called “broken spirit” that keeps them from being too powerful – last thing we need is players being able to spring Verga on their enemies).  The idea of snooty Procipinee doing my bidding has some appeal.

The Diplomacy screen is likely to change quite a bit from what you see now to provide more information and more opportunities for interesting exchanges between you and your opponents.

Unique Factions & Champions

The champions have been getting a lot of attention. The idea is that each of them should have a fairly unique ability. This way, as you come to know the world, you know that if you get, say Adant Verris, that you’ll be getting Chain Lightning.

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The same goes with factions as we start to incorporate different equipment, traits and such into each of them.  If one faction is largely impervious to archery and you’ve decided to focus having massive archer armies, that may affect your strategy for dealing with them.

We are still playing around with different ideas here.  Unlike with Galactic Civilizations where players (ironically) intuitively understood that shields were effective against beam weapons and armor was a good defense against mass drivers, most people aren’t that familiar with medieval level armor. We’ve grown up thinking that plate male is always the best and you should just toss that on to everything.

The modders…well, the modders are going to go to town on this game.   There was some joking earlier internally about how long it would take someone to make an Alpha Centauri total conversion with this stuff.  Even the “look” of the game is, ultimately, just PNG’s and DDS files.

Art, Music, Animation

Making the world of Elemental a living world is the goal here.

At some level, knowing you will never see this world again is part of the appeal. Randomly generated worlds mean you don’t know what’s going to happen. 

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Don’t judge me. So yea, I name my monsters.

Keyboard

Maybe I’m just old but I want to be able to navigate more with the keyboard.  This is an area we’re starting to put more attention to. Not just in terms of hot keys but just general navigation through the game.  Fallen Enchantress is a game that you “might” play 10 hours straight. So less forced mouse moving = better as far as we’re concerned.

AI

This is something we will constantly be improving on. Every day I play the game, I find something.

For example, today I was able to find out why the AI wasn’t taking over monster lairs. They’re “goodie huts” but they’re a special kind which the AI couldn’t “see”.  Another little thing I found was that once the AI merged armies into army groups, it wasn’t treating nearby units as anything worth considering. So you could walk by a bunch of enemy armies safely because it didn’t think it was worth bothering with something so little – as you then went and conquered its city. 

Then in tactical battles we fixed a problem where some of the more powerful spells weren’t used because they’re classified differently so again, the AI couldn’t “see” those spells.

Plus, there’s no substitute for play testing and refining.

The next beta will probably lower the default AI difficulty to easy instead of normal because if you’re just learning the game, normal now will destroy the average player.

What’s next

We really hope you guys are enjoying the beta as much as we are having making it.

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March 1, 2012 7:16:28 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

People are back in the cities!

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March 1, 2012 7:18:12 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I have to say it is worlds past WoM in terms of (re)playability and I like all the directions you are considering taking the game that you mentioned above.

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March 1, 2012 7:30:52 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Keyboard

Maybe I’m just old but I want to be able to navigate more with the keyboard. This is an area we’re starting to put more attention to. Not just in terms of hot keys but just general navigation through the game. Fallen Enchantress is a game that you “might” play 10 hours straight. So less forced mouse moving = better as far as we’re concerned.

Bless y'all. 

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March 1, 2012 7:40:06 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I know you said this somewhere before Brad, but at what difficulty level is the full AI enabled? Perhaps providing some simple settings for tweaking bonuses / intelligence for AI players would be nice.

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March 1, 2012 7:42:33 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Thanks for this Frogboy!

When I've looked at the second screenshot I remembered this. I know these kind of stuff must have low priority level, but they bug me a little.

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March 1, 2012 7:44:10 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

This game keeps getting awesomer and awesomer....

 

EDIT: I'm guessing the urxen guy gets beastlord now instead of warlord?

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March 1, 2012 7:55:20 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

But Windows XP users can only see 2 gigs

3.

Don't leave us only 2

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March 1, 2012 8:08:00 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Sounds good carry on guys. Already noticed that NPC factions weren't taking over monster lairs, good that it's fixed. Let's see when I can get to thoroughly testing this Beta and maybe the next.

Keep it going!

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March 1, 2012 8:24:21 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Love logging into the forum to find an update. Must be my compulsive addictive personality  

I love the sound of the diplomacy, especially the broken spirit concept. The heroes with personality sounds great too. Can't wait to receive next update....

Now a weather bomb is due to hit us tomorrow great excuse to sit indoors and play FE.

 

 

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March 1, 2012 8:27:34 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Balance

Would be crazy changing spears from "Ignore tons of armour" to "counter attack"? Or lower the % of armour ignored for basic spears?

What about some healing beyond Regeneration (Tac/Str) and Heal (Tac)? Give me a Heal of range 1 but that I can use in Strategic map!

 

Diplomacy

I liked how in Gal Civ we got to see how the enemy would have a chance of give all their ships and planets to the player that they liked more. It was sweet. Having vassals is even better.  

Hope to get the ability to ask for the AI's lunch money as they do to me. I also want to beg for having the AI tweaked. I hate to have Relias parked in MY territory with a big army turn after turn and having him complaining from time to time about my armies being too close to his frontier because I park a defensive army near him.


Unique Factions & Champions

Good news that Champions get personalized treatment. I still think that the recruitment of Champions needs tweaking (add some "followers" to the enemies that you try to kill, add alternate ways of getting champions like random events based on prestige...) but the more reasons to recruit/kill champions, the better.

Factions getting more different meat from each other before an expansion pack? Even better! I was reading my copy of the HIergamenon today to check the default factions' background and what they currently have match in the general sense but more meat is needed. Like Capitar getting to recruit mercenaries (some kind of trait and/or special building), Tarth having access to veteran gladiators, Procipinee getting bad reputation with other kingdoms but access to lots of magical bling,...

 

AI

The AI insisnt on pilling in the same tile lots of stacks. Really annoying. Especially when many of those stacks are full of pioneers (yeah, they don't attack yet there they are! At least I can heal my army in a single turn thanks to them as long as I'm patient with the Regeneration). It's fine having a pioneer around while you "explore" with your main army but it's really ridiculous having Verga attacking me with an army of 6, 3 of which are pioneers. Seriously.

Also, the AI still has WoM flashbacks. The enemy Sovereign attacking alone a well defended city? Check (not common but I have seen it). The same check can be found for armies of 1 or 2 units that must be thiking that they are spartans when attacking my well defended cities (or strong armies in the wild).

Champions are fixated in casting spell after spell while my Battle/Wasp Maidens use them as target practice. It's worse in the case of those lonely champions of the opposite alliegance still unrecruited.

"The next beta will probably lower the default AI difficulty to easy instead of normal because if you’re just learning the game, normal now will destroy the average player."

Dude, this must be the first time that I'm not average at something.

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March 1, 2012 8:40:04 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Thank You,

lots of new magic spells are being added to the game which help us make sure that the different paths to victory are distinct, fun, and meaningful.

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March 1, 2012 8:48:23 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums


 Game's gonna be insane. Love the multi-threading aspect. I can see myself  playing this one exclusively for a long long time. Simply amazing. Frogboy, you are one determined character. You got knocked on your butt and came back swinging. Quite the talented group you have assembled there at Stardock.

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March 1, 2012 8:55:43 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Neborya,

But Windows XP users can only see 2 gigs

3.

Don't leave us only 2

 

Most 32-bit games only let you use 2 gigs.  3 GB is possible but there are probably good reasons why its not enabled.

http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windows/desktop/ee418798(v=vs.85).aspx

 

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March 1, 2012 9:04:56 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums


Sounds like things are going in a good direction with the game.  I do have one comment on the Champions however.  With the change in EXP being devided between the Sovereign and any champiions he's stack with, I've found I know longer have any use for the champions except as guards for city's or to spirit rip for their talents.  The reason for this being that if I have to decide between getting my sovereign leveled up quickly or slowly so I bring some champions up in level then sorry but the champions are out of luck and no longer usefull.

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March 1, 2012 9:10:19 PM from JoeUser Forums JoeUser Forums

Quoting Neborya,

But Windows XP users can only see 2 gigs

3.

Don't leave us only 2

Well if you put the setting in your registry or whatever you'll get 3.

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March 1, 2012 9:16:17 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

At last an update ! Ok, I know I'm impatient but this game is making me drool so much... as well as SOASE Rebellion... I've been REALLY REALLY DISAPOINTED lately with Syndicate and The Darkness 2 which were two sadly failed games, poorly made ! Thanks for destroying great licenses !

I've been happy though with a Valley without wind and FE and SOASE, I think I'm never going to turn towards a big game developper ever again ! Even Blizzard is greatly disapointing me with Heart of the Swarm... they make a stupid game out of it and don't listen much to the community... instead they create something new that would "kind of like what the player ask but still new" ! Which is a total failure for me ! They are removing the greatest units of the game, the ones that made Starcraft's history ! They are getting lazy ! Even Diablo 3 doesn't impress me much because they only think about those coreans players who get into huge competition ! And Competition is not fun, it's not a game anymore, a game for me is suppose to give you a great deal of fun and not make you stress and think about competition and force you to "play" to get to the top ! Blah !

All of this to tell you that you guys are great and I trust you, thank you for listening to us !

That said,even if not going to happen, I still want to see city battles with walls and city enchantement that modifies the outcome of battle and buildings that if destroyed by the rampage of battle handicap the city for a couple turns, time to rebuild them. And as I said in another post would be a great strategy for defending and attacking players... for example a defending player who is sure to lose the city could start destroying his own city in order to give a really weak and useless city to the attacking player. A defender goal in general would be to defend the city from being destroyed and the attacker could use a strategy of destroying building little by little to weaken the player.

More earth devastating spells like earth walls, earth hole(s) would immobilize unit, grasping hand from the ground immobilizing target unit(s), well, just stuff to give earth only players to have the possibiltiy to change the battlefield. Earth walls to create a wall instead of a mountain, etc... I know I repeat myself but I'm not sure poeple see my post sometimes ?

Lastly, I got an idea about the differenciation of races... why not giving them creatures and mounts specific to their race with diferrent attributes / advantages from the start.

For the armor, there isn't only plate mail... I mean there's other materials in the world that must be better than just metal ? What about ebony ? Gold ? etc. and full armor, half plate, chain mail, etc. well, some diversity in look and material. Just thinking about elderscrolls armors, so many different look.

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March 1, 2012 9:35:43 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Looks like real good additions.  Keep it up.

 

 

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March 1, 2012 9:47:18 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Can't wait for beta 2 update and the eventual beta 3!

 

I especially look forward to fac differences and later on, MOAR diplomacy. The game is shaping to be billions of times better then WoM and its still just getting pieced together.

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March 1, 2012 9:47:23 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

We’ve grown up thinking that plate male is always the best and you should just toss that on to everything.
 

Is plate male weaker than plate female? 

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March 1, 2012 10:02:22 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Roar!

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March 1, 2012 10:08:04 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Takao21,

We’ve grown up thinking that plate male is always the best and you should just toss that on to everything.  

Is plate male weaker than plate female? 

 

I believe this is what you call a can 'o worms...

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March 1, 2012 10:15:33 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Takao21,
Is plate male weaker than plate female?

Plate female has curves that help deflect arrows.  Other than that, female armor sucks.

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March 1, 2012 10:20:21 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Why is the game so demanding on the CPU? Shouldnt the majority of calculating/thinking occur only during the end turn phase? I've picked up HOMM4 and its very similar but i doubt anyone is going to suggest its a cpu hog..

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March 1, 2012 10:22:50 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

AFAIK, the AI is calculating moves at the same time the player is having their move, so it's not just during the end turn phase.

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March 1, 2012 10:33:29 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting ,
We’ve grown up thinking that plate male is always the best and you should just toss that on to everything.
But... That's pretty much true, assuming you can afford it. Like, the benefit of putting full armor on an archer is pretty small because you don't want your archers in combat. But that doesn't mean that full plate (with the historically accurate padding underneath) isn't still the best option for him if you have the good steel and smiths to outfit him with it, it just means that he should be your last priority for good armor. Does Stardock Games have a historical consultant? If so you should make use of him. If not, you might want to find somebody who at least knows the basics of historical arms and armor (not the shit made up a couple centuries ago that conflicts with period accounts and period examples), or research it personally, or both.

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