Fallen Enchantress - March BETA FAQ

By on March 6, 2012 3:26:40 PM from JoeUser Forums JoeUser Forums

Frogboy

Join Date 03/2001
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Greetings!  We haven’t done a FAQ in awhile so here we go:

S_DestinysGift_PaintingQ: Is Elemental: Fallen Enchantress an expansion pack to Elemental: War of Magic?

A: No.  Elemental: Fallen Enchantress is a stand-alone game. It exists in the same world and is a 4X strategy game, but beyond that, they are very different.

Q: How much does Elemental: Fallen Enchantress cost?

A: It’s $39.95.  You can pre-order it now and join the BETA. We plan to provide some additional goodies for those who own a copy of it prior to release.

Q: What kind of goodies?

A: Additional quests, monsters, and items.

Q: I have Elemental: War of Magic already, is there a discount for Fallen Enchantress?

A: Yes, if you registered War of Magic in 2010, you get Fallen Enchantress for free.  If you bought it in 2011, there is a discount.

Q: When will Fallen Enchantress be released?

A: When it’s done.

Q: No, seriously, I hate when people say that. Do you have any sort of time line?

A: This Spring we plan to release a BETA 3, in Summer we expect to release BETA 4. During Beta 4 we’ll evaluate where things stand.  But we still view the game as being in a good place but still months away from release.

Q: How much will the final game be different from the current game?

A: Probably quite a bit. We get into a lot of debates on this subject with beta testers because there is often a disconnect between what is part of Fallen Enchantress’s design principles versus what a user thinks “needs” to be in the game.

Q: Ok, that was pretty vague. What do you mean by design principles?

A: This would require a separate journal entry but broadly speaking, we mean that Derek Paxton (Kael) has a specific vision for Elemental: Fallen Enchantress which falls under a number of broad design principles. A common request is that the tactical battles be much more complex than they currently are. But one of the design principles of FE is that tactical battles should not decide the outcome of the strategic game. That is, no matter how good someone has mastered the tactical part of the game, it shouldn’t enable them to turn what would normally be a loss strategically into a win.  This is an intentionally vague concept since we want tactical battles to be meaningful but we don’t want someone to be able to win against 10 to 1 odds because they’ve mastered that aspect of the game.

Q: Does this mean tactical battles won’t be changing?

A: We have a number of changes planned. We just can’t commit to anything specific until we’ve had time to play through it via iteration.

Q: What areas of the game do you consider furthest along?

A: The general flow of the game is fairly far along in terms of having a solid core.  It’s not any particular feature. We are in BETA 2 presently, Beta 1 was to make sure the game was compatible (hardware wise). Beta 2 is designed to allow us to create a very tight core from which we can expand upon.

S_Domination_PaintingQ: What areas should we expect to see the game expand on?

A: Our recent poll confirmed that our beta group seems to be on the same page as us.  Making each faction be very different matters a lot to us.  Secondly, the city management is an area with a great deal of work ahead for it.  Not on the poll but diplomacy is an area we want to expand on.

Q: What is the future of multiplayer and why isn’t it planned for initial release?

A: 90% of the multiplayer features are in.  The issue is that we don’t want to split our resources between supporting multiplayer (from a bug testing / stability point of view) while also trying to do the same for the single player game.

Q: What can you tell us about the campaign?

A: It’s been designed and created by Jon Shafer (designer of Civilization V as well as having worked on the Beyond the Sword expansion for Civilization IV) and written by fantasy author, Dave Stern. Voice overs are being done by some of the people involved with Fall From Heaven and music provided by a team up musicians who worked on Civilization V and Galactic Civilizations II.

Q: I have heard that Fallen Enchantress is a different development team than War of Magic?

A: Yes. After the sale of Impulse, developers who had previously worked on Galactic Civilizations II were brought back from the Impulse team to the Games group to work on Fallen Enchantress. It is led by Derek Paxton (Kael) who had previously worked on the Civilization IV mod, Fall from Heaven and as previously mentioned the campaign was designed by Jon Shafer formerly of Civilization V fame.

Q: What is your role on Fallen Enchantress vs. War of Magic?

A: On both projects I am the Executive Producer.  I wrote some of the strategic AI for War of Magic.  In Fallen Enchantress I am the lead developer and am writing both the strategic and tactical AI. This is only possible because we sold Impulse so I have more time to devote to our individual projects.  Kael has the final word on design. It’s his baby.

Q: When will we see a trailer?

A: It’s being worked on.  Since Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion is coming out sooner, its trailer got the art team’s attention first. Now they’re onto the Elemental related work.

Update #1:

Q: How much will tactical battles change between now and release?

A: It’s too early to say. We have the broad requirement that someone should not be able to turn a clear strategic defeat into victory through “massive skillz” at tactical battles. But there are a lot of areas we are looking to expand on and enhance. We’re more inclined to find ways to make them more fun without them becoming more complex. Think MOO or MOM for what we’re looking for.

Q: Do you plan to use Steamworks in FE?

A: There are no plans to use Steamworks with Fallen Enchantress.

Q: When is the next beta?

A: We expect to release Beta 2-B this month.

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March 6, 2012 10:36:22 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

My big problem with tactical battles is how Auto-battle plays out.  Brad is kind of confusing me.  he doesn't want the tactical battles to decide the game.  I get it.  So, can we make the auto-battle work more intelligently?  I don't mean my soldiers act brilliantly on their own, but simply the auto-battle follows some basic rules, like putting ranged characters in the back and having them less likely to be attacked.  Right now, the autobattle doesn't take into consideration a number of things, it seems.  So it becomes unsafe to send lightly armored mage units or champions and archers into an autobattle as all the attacks focus on them, and one at a time until killed, even though it's not likely in a real tactical battle for the ranged units to be targeted first.  

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March 6, 2012 11:44:14 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I agree with Lord Xia, play a battle in AutoResolve and you lose, play it out turn by turn and you win. 

As for the AI in battle - why does a lone Champion insist on continually casting slow (Slow, Slow, Slow, then move to attack) when being hit by archers at range. Better to close and eliminate the archers that suffer deaf from many piercing arrows. 

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March 6, 2012 11:54:21 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

AFAIK this game is going to be excellent.

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March 6, 2012 12:13:27 PM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

I've said it many times before and I will say it again, getting updates from management on a product is quite fun and getting the Presidents view on it is just WOW.

 

Thank you for all the updates and on your personal views. I just love it.

 

Now for the meat...

 

Tactical battles atre a must. I do not think we should flip out because of the comments on this thread. I remember how the battles were when we first started the Beta test and now they are even better. I think Frogboy means that this is not a game about tactical battles it's a strategy game. I have a feeling the tactical battles will be lotsd of fun without being the center of attention. I find them quite interesting already and he confirmed that they are going to get more love. I do not see what all the fuss is about. They will be interesting just not the #1 thing. As it should IMO.

 

I think you guys are on the right track. Keep up the good work.

 

All hail

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March 6, 2012 12:17:55 PM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

Quoting seanw3,
AFAIK this game is going to be excellent.

 

I second that!!

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March 6, 2012 12:28:13 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Can I ask what role, if any, does the dynasty system play in the future of FE? Surely it would be in the bottom of the list (if it is there!) but I'd enjoy reading what the team has to say about it (be it good, bad or "Dynasty system?What's that?").

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March 6, 2012 1:11:14 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Edwin99,
I agree with Lord Xia, play a battle in AutoResolve and you lose, play it out turn by turn and you win. 

As for the AI in battle - why does a lone Champion insist on continually casting slow (Slow, Slow, Slow, then move to attack) when being hit by archers at range. Better to close and eliminate the archers that suffer deaf from many piercing arrows. 

#1 - Tried to autoresolve a battle with my Sov & a champion against a weak AI army that had archers.  I lost.  Rebooted & played it out & had no problem winning.  Magic vs archers seems to = lose in current Autoresolve formula.

#2 - Same thing happens when my Sov is casting FlameDart.  Enemy caster just stands there getting pounded while casting buff & debuff spells.  If AI doesn't have any combat spells it needs to at least attempt to melee.

 

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March 6, 2012 2:32:06 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I'm not one for getting "bigger" tactical combats and complexities that allow a genius strategist to swing the odds of battle - but I'm keen on getting more options and variations in tactical combat that increase the fun rating. Tactical combat *is* enjoyable, no doubt - but it becomes much-of-sameness after a while. This is in part resolved by having more units types in the game, but also having more abilities on units that affect combat.

But, even the average militia without any special faction traits should have a bit more options in combat. Right now it is "stand still", "move" and "attack". Just by adding some more basic commands to the standard unit options, there would already be a whole new dimension to tactical combat that could go a long distance for making tactical combat more enjoyable. Some examples: "charge" - reduce dodge to 0 but get +1 movement for the turn; "retreat" - first time the unit is attacked it takes no damage and instead retreats to a random square away from the attacker (if possible).

 

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March 6, 2012 2:33:16 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I agree with the dev's stance on tactical battles.  This is a 4x strategy game, not Total War. The majority of the players focus should be on empire management and not tactical battles.  A fun, well designed and structured simple tactical battle mechanic can be fun, as other 4x games have shown (MOO 1&2, MOM, HOMM, etc.). I think this is the right track. It may not be there yet, but from the sounds of it, that's the direction it's heading.

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March 6, 2012 3:03:42 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

When can we expect Beta 3, then? April? May?

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March 6, 2012 3:05:59 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Also, I'm going to echo the agreement with the dev's stance on tactical battles. I want there to be strategy involved, but I want MOST of that strategy involved BEFORE I ever get to those battles. Really excited to see where Beta 3 takes us. I'm hoping for faction differentiation that's well implemented. And a better city management system....

 

Love how open you are, FrogBrad. 

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March 6, 2012 3:12:56 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Wintersong,
Can I ask what role, if any, does the dynasty system play in the future of FE? Surely it would be in the bottom of the list (if it is there!) but I'd enjoy reading what the team has to say about it (be it good, bad or "Dynasty system?What's that?").

None that I know of.

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March 6, 2012 3:19:01 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Frogboy,

Quoting Wintersong, reply 31Can I ask what role, if any, does the dynasty system play in the future of FE? Surely it would be in the bottom of the list (if it is there!) but I'd enjoy reading what the team has to say about it (be it good, bad or "Dynasty system?What's that?").

None that I know of.

Boo. I had sort of figured this already, but the Dynasty system as described was pretty fantastic. I honestly don't even recall now if it made it into WoM or not, but I recall being quite taken with it.

Still, even without, FE is shaping up to be pretty great so far. So hearing that there are two further betas to go is pretty interesting.

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March 6, 2012 3:19:32 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Frogboy,
None that I know of.

Re-reading my question, I think I should have detailed more than I don't talk about FE stand-alone, but Fe + possible patchs/expansions. At least we can "mod it" on.

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March 6, 2012 3:20:21 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

  If the goal is to make the tactical battles so basic that they don't affect the outcome vs. automatically resolving, don't include them. I would much rather deal with Civ style auto resolve as the only option, than knowing there is this 'tactical' system tacked on for no other reason than to include it in the feature list.

That's a pretty unfair assertion. Tactical battles are pretty fun. They're designed such that a player has the ability to affect a close outcome.  They're not intended to allow someone who is clearly strategically defeated to pull out a victory.

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March 6, 2012 3:22:59 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Naidrev,
How much are you willing to play with the lore, now that you have hired fantasy writers? I was one of the people that feel the races need to be more distinct and different. But honestly, that goes beyond abilities. The races, especially for the kingdoms, all look the same. It is boring and difficult to tell them apart. I wish you would strongly consider redo all of their art, giving them things like different height (dwarves, gnomes, halfings), pointed ears (elves), tails, body types, and whatever you can dream up. This could also extend to race specific clothes. For example, the Ironeers, as master smiths, may have armor that looks different from Precipine's faction.

 

I realize this may be difficult, since you have already published books about this world. But I think making a good game is more important. Is this a change that could be considered within the scope of your "design principles"?

It's not a lore issue, it's a memory issue.

The factions --the races behind them -- are very different from one another.  Unfortunately, it's impossible to have several different sets of armor, clothing, models, textures because we'd run out of memory.  Even as is, we are constantly fighting the memory limitations of 32-bit users.

 

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March 6, 2012 3:24:19 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Frogboy,
Tactical battles are pretty fun. They're designed such that a player has the ability to affect a close outcome.  They're not intended to allow someone who is clearly strategically defeated to pull out a victory.

 

Exactly. If you really want overly complex battles, you can wait for a mod. I want to be able to play every battle in tactical without the whole day being shot. 

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March 6, 2012 3:52:09 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Frogboy,

  If the goal is to make the tactical battles so basic that they don't affect the outcome vs. automatically resolving, don't include them. I would much rather deal with Civ style auto resolve as the only option, than knowing there is this 'tactical' system tacked on for no other reason than to include it in the feature list.

That's a pretty unfair assertion. Tactical battles are pretty fun. They're designed such that a player has the ability to affect a close outcome.  They're not intended to allow someone who is clearly strategically defeated to pull out a victory.
Tactical battles, as they currently are, become repetitive rather quickly for me; they are fun the first couple hours, or one in a while. But I don't know if they're really all that much fun in the long term. Part of it is a balance issue (non-damage spells being outclassed by fire damage spells to the point of being useless, low hit points). Part of it is the current lack of content -swords and axes feel pretty much the same, special abilities for units are really poor for now, and heroes' leveling system needs (a lot of) fleshing out. Part of it is that the system doesn't allow for a lot of tactics.

If the latter is this way by design, then fine - I can understand. I just find it weird, paradoxically, that so many resources have been spent on things that connect to tactical battles, such as the large number of tactical spells or unit animations. From the outside, it seems like the majority of the differences between FE and WoM concern things with strong ties to the tactical battles.

The reasons why I was requesting "flanking", or "tactical terrain bonuses" or whatever else was to try and add a relatively simple change (by that I mean: easy-ish to implement) with strong consequences on how battles are played. Suddenly, the enemy cannot ignore those moderate damage units anymore. Sure, they're not directly a threat, but they give tactical advantage to other units. Suddenly, the light cavalry becomes a lot more meaningful, capable of going around the enemy frontline in a pincer maneuver and break it.

A very good game released recently, European Escalation, shows that units do not need hundreds of stats for compelling, strategically rich gameplay. Instead, if the battlefield itself (as well as the combat mechanics) is rich enough, the game will have lots of interesting tactical options.

Anyway, I understand the reasons why these things won't be implemented in the game. But I also remember that Derek and you mentioned that a lot of possibilities and modding tags were implemented without being actually used, because while the things they allowed wouldn't feature in the core game, you wanted to let modders add these things in their creations if they wanted. If it's not too costly in terms of time or resources, would it be possible to implement a 'flanking' condition for abilities, as well as - maybe - a 'flanked' one? (the first applies to units that ARE doing the flanking, the second to the flanked unit)

After all, there are several people interested in seeing such mechanics implemented. If it doesn't fit into the core design concept of FE, then maybe it could fit the core design concept of mods...

(Subliminal message: also, please implement XML tags auras-type abilities. They would make for awesome spells and abilities for mods. )

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March 6, 2012 3:53:03 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Frogboy,

  If the goal is to make the tactical battles so basic that they don't affect the outcome vs. automatically resolving, don't include them. I would much rather deal with Civ style auto resolve as the only option, than knowing there is this 'tactical' system tacked on for no other reason than to include it in the feature list.

That's a pretty unfair assertion. Tactical battles are pretty fun. They're designed such that a player has the ability to affect a close outcome.  They're not intended to allow someone who is clearly strategically defeated to pull out a victory.

I have to respectfully disagree and say that they're not particularly fun as they stand. At least, not over the long term. Yes, they can affect close outcomes -- and some not so close too, but it's hard to say without knowing what you guys consider close as well -- and that is why they're worth doing, but they become chore relatively quickly simply because they are so necessary except in cases of absolutely overwhelming odds in your favour, while at the same time still being rather bland.

You have however said that more changes are on the table. That they're not going to remain static as they are is good news. That the design goals are reluctant to add (any? much?) complexity still concerns me. I just really do hope we're able to see -- or even just hear about! -- some of these soon.

 

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March 6, 2012 6:28:03 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums


I personally do not understand why one would limit tactical battles on purpose.It a player does not enjoy them just auto battle.If a player wants tactical combat it should be fully fleshed out.At is stands tactical combat is not very good.

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March 6, 2012 7:09:19 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

The thing is, that I want good and deep tactical when the battles matter and well done auto-battle when the fights are not important or very one sided.  But when the shit is Battle of Badon Hill, god damn it I want to play a deep tactical battle.

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March 6, 2012 7:17:13 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Cruxador,

quoting postA common request is that the tactical battles be much more complex than they currently are. But one of the design principles of FE is that tactical battles should not decide the outcome of the strategic game.So Kael is committed to making sure that tactical battles are never interesting or important? That's not exactly new information but it's still very disheartening to hear said outright.

Holy twisting of words

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March 6, 2012 7:23:02 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Lord Xia,
But when the shit is Battle of Badon Hill, god damn it I want to play a deep tactical battle.

I have to say, I agree with this completely. And I've never understood this response:

Quoting Frogboy,
They're not intended to allow someone who is clearly strategically defeated to pull out a victory.

Because isn't this primarily an AI issue? But, then again, there are lots of things that I don't understand, so...

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March 6, 2012 7:59:31 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

If memory is the only issue for adding more clothing options and such, I suggest making a dlc after the game launches for $5 that adds a bunch of this stuff with a disclaimer that it only works for x64 with 4+ GB of ram.

 

I often use texture packs and such for games like Skyrim, and while hopefully modders will pick up FE and add some stuff I wouldn't count on that so having Stardock make it would be nice. 

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March 6, 2012 8:03:58 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Frogboy,

  If the goal is to make the tactical battles so basic that they don't affect the outcome vs. automatically resolving, don't include them. I would much rather deal with Civ style auto resolve as the only option, than knowing there is this 'tactical' system tacked on for no other reason than to include it in the feature list.

That's a pretty unfair assertion. Tactical battles are pretty fun. They're designed such that a player has the ability to affect a close outcome.  They're not intended to allow someone who is clearly strategically defeated to pull out a victory.

OK, I understand the design concept that you're trying to pull across. For instance, in Age of Wonders I would consistently pull off amazing tactical maneuvers that would allow me to decimate two stacks of eight orc warlords with just a tiny handful of summoned units (these moments I remember fondly); however, I would also defend my cities with placeholder ranged units and fend off huge raiding parties that should have easily crushed my small defending force (these... I remember less fondly...). You are trying to reduce/eliminate these moments if possible. Gotcha. I am ok with this.

 

Still, I do not believe that the current tactical system is "fun" yet. It was fun the first couple of times in my first game, but the novelty wore off quickly. Rewarding unit diversity (a strategic concept) and astute usage of a small smattering of passive abilities/active abilities (a tactical concept) would improve the current system greatly! Right now? I roll around with one stack of melee units and mostly archers. I also throw in a champion/my sovereign in order to cast some spells to break up the tedium. There are tactical considerations in the current system, but they are limited to melee zone of control (a good concept and one that should be kept), initiative (which is in need of some major tweaking) and spells (the current selection of which could use a little "beefing up"). 

 

I would sacrifice deep strategic tactical combat (a la Age of Wonders) for a fun, flavorful system. Not easily, mind you, but I would support that decision. Still, it needs to be more varied! Variety, variety, variety!

 

I would also like to second the notion of a previous poster in this thread: Please let us (the beta testers) know what you would like us to focus on. I am hopefully not speaking just about myself here, but I want to help you guys succeed with this game. 

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