I need a good hiding place…

By on March 19, 2012 8:08:00 PM from JoeUser Forums JoeUser Forums

Frogboy

Join Date 03/2001
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You want the good news or the bad news?

Oh, you want the good news right? Of course. You want that? You want that first anyway? I’m not brave enough to do it the other way.

Well, the good news is that next week, I’ll be traveling to California to visit with the gaming media to talk about Elemental: Fallen Enchantress and Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion.  So hopefully we’ll be able to get some coverage and I won’t lie to you, WE WILL NEED YOUR HELP.

I say that because if you’re reading this, you are familiar with the whole Internet thing.  Here’s how it goes:

Website X will write a preview of Fallen Enchantress.

FallenEnchantress_1331650367First comment will be “Elemental sucked, they should give up on it! I doubt this is going to make any difference”

Hopefully, you, reading this, have played the beta and hopefully you agree that, Fallen Enchantress is turning out to be very very good, especially when you consider our current estimated target release date is this Fall (think of where War of Magic was at this stage).  So we’re going to need all the help we can get to get the word out that Fallen Enchantress is turning out really well.

Because without positive confirmation from actual people playing the beta, it is, as GamersWithJobs’s podcast recently put it, “doomed”.

Now, the bad news…

There won’t be a beta update this week. The team is trying to get the build ready for Beta 3 which is what I’ll be showing next week.  When I get back, we’ll be putting it together for you guys. It’ll have the dramatically changed Quendar and Gilden factions. We think you’re really going to like what we’re doing with faction differentiation and can’t wait to get your feedback.

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March 20, 2012 2:16:40 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

When someone says basic "framework" I assume they mean like the structure of a home, meaning the real important parts everything else it built on.  Or is it like the frame of a picture?  Because what is listed are pretty minor things that would be more in line with the latter.  Not that I disagree with them as issues so much, but maybe the weight of their significance.

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March 20, 2012 2:20:18 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I would say 7.5 is about right. But the dev process is worlds away from what WoM had. That is the narrative I will be posting.

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March 20, 2012 2:28:24 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Frogboy,

Master of Orion 3 was a near 7/10.

I would call that a near Warren Buffet level of generosity for that particular game. It started out at about 4/10 and got worse with every replay.

 

I think your Episode 1 analogy is pretty apt, and as a vocal member of the extremely disappointed masses (in terms of E:WoM), I think that E:FE is about 6/10 as it currently stands. However, you are sitting on a rock solid foundation at Beta 2 (moderately fun, limited replayability) and based upon what we know of Beta 2.2 are going to resolve (or get close to resolving) three of the major gripes about the current build.

 

Take your time, try things out, and work on enriching the theme and choices of E:FE and I think you are going to have a pretty easy time getting 8.5-9.5/10. With the currently expressed changes (Beta 2.2), and a little bit of love in the city-building and magic directions and I know that I will be singing the praises of E:FE to anyone who cares enough to listen.

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March 20, 2012 2:33:04 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Are we still going to get a new beta release before beta 3 or do we have months to wait?

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March 20, 2012 2:33:09 PM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

When we come down to it,

 

The game needs:

 better AI

Better factions

Better stats effectivness.

Better combat AI

 

Those are but a few of the things that will make this game excellent. I think they have plenty fo time left to get it done. I can,T hazard a guess of a score up to now I simply have no idea. But I have a good feeling about this drop...  hehe

 

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March 20, 2012 2:37:04 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

If I see some threads about FE on other sites I'll make sure to big-up the game and highlight some of it's good points. Also, if I see some people talking crap about the game on those threads I'll make sure to challenge them too. I don't spend alot of time on threads but I think the game deserves recognition for the progress it's made

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March 20, 2012 2:48:51 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Brad, I am sure you know marketing better than most of us, definitely than me.  I'm just worried about the priorities.

Take the comparison of GalCivII to WoM.  The 'M' factor was certainly there for WoM, a real buzz, dare I say hype.  And YET you tell us it made less than 1/10th of the sales of GC2.  I think we all agree that this was because it did not end up being a good game.  (I would not be so harsh at to give it a 2 but below 5 definitely).  Something went very wrong with the priorities.  It should have been first get a good game (about 8 or better) and then work on marketing.  Otherwise all that M is bad rather than good.

Have you got FE above 8 already?  Maybe.  But not from what I have seen.  Should you just give up.  Maybe; once again I don't know enough to tell.  But on both counts I doubt it.  There are vast areas of the game (diplomacy, city building, economics) which are basically missing at the moment.  Not to mention things like faction differentiation and strategy/balance.  There are other chronic problems like movement/pathing which I do not even know if you are planning to address.  You certainly know a lot more than we do about how these things are shaping up. 

There are some elements of the game which are looking very good.  A bit of polishing and balancing could make them gems.  Monsters, loot, the questing system, even champions are getting there.  But for the overall game I don't feel like we know enough to go promoting it like you ask.  Of course others may (and do) differ.  Good on them.  I hope whatever efforts we all put in lead to FE becoming not only good, but a truly great game. 

If marketing in no way detracts from this then fine; however recent experience shows that it can cause problems of its own.  Given your 'narrative' situation it seems like a very big gamble to start on the M without knowing that you have (at least) a very solid game.

I'm hoping, but not expecting, that once I have played beta 3 I might come to agree with you.

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March 20, 2012 2:52:01 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I'd give it a 7.0.    It's competent, looks great, and the game is occasionally interesting.  The extra half-point to get it up to 7.5 connotes a game that has something more than mere competency.  0.86's just not slick enough to make up for the lack of drama and/or gravitas.  

Of course, we're only judging one half of the game.  With an interesting campaign and a decent story, the game might already be past the 8.0 mark.

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March 20, 2012 3:23:31 PM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

Also note that. Giving a Steam activation key at the game's release date for pre-purchasers from Stardock Store can boost the game's sales too. And if you will do that announcing it to the media also boost the sales too of course.

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March 20, 2012 3:29:39 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I don't want the beta on Steam until it is at 8.5/10. Those people are brutal and the Steam forums can ruin a game. But once the beta is ready, go for it!

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March 20, 2012 3:52:20 PM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

Quoting seanw3,
I don't want the beta on Steam until it is at 8.5/10. Those people are brutal and the Steam forums can ruin a game. But once the beta is ready, go for it!

I don't want beta on Steam and I didn't mean that. I just want and I hope Stardock will give a Steam Activation key at the release date of the game for pre-purchasers of the game from Stardock Store so we can activate the game on Steam if we want. This thing will boost the sales. I know a lot people purchased Sins Rebellion from Stardock Store because it is Steam Activatable.

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March 20, 2012 4:06:09 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I think this game would get somewhere between a 7 and an 8.  It's already a competent effort, and it's where I expected WOM 1.1 to be, but it needs a good bit of refinement and polish to reach its full potential- I see the potential, and when a patch comes out, I do play for a good while, but right now I feel perfectly fine waiting for the next patch before playing, so the game isn't where it needs to be yet. 

 

One criticism I don't think anyone has said yet:

 

This might be a little pricey (but should still run under $50k), but I think you really need to improve/change the voices.  Good voicework can bring out the souls of characters, and I think that's important.   Voicework plays a big role in what characters I pick.

 

Stuff like Warcraft 2's "do you touch all the other elves like this?" goes a long way.

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March 20, 2012 4:09:16 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Regardless I think FE is on the right path and at least your acknowledging the issues  that we are bringing up. Not only that but the fact that your actively encouraging modding is a great step and it will sway a certain type of people once they see your being "community focused".

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March 20, 2012 4:30:40 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

@feelotraveler, you can't start marketing after a game is done.  Games are typically announced years in advance and they don't have public betas like this.  

Whether we'll have public betas of our games in the future really depends on how this game turns out.  At some level, we have the hope that beta testers see where we are -- as a beta -- and can see a fairly clear pathway (i.e. items A, B, C, and D need to be done) to excellence.  That is our only expectation.

Most games don't have public betas because they're usually....terrible until the last few months before release. Take your favorite game, change a few variables (say things that affect pacing or performance) and you suddenly have a very different experience.

I can't tell you whether you will think the final game will be great or terrible.  What you do have, however, is the current build of the game and the knowledge that it is still many months ahead and that you, hopefully, find what's there pretty fun even as an early beta.

Moreover, this beta group is the same beta group from WOM.  WOM in 3/20/10 was still early cloth map at this stage and came out 5 months later.  I can tell you right now, FE won't ship before September at best. There's still that much more to put in.

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March 20, 2012 4:44:35 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

The one and only thing I find lacking in the current build of the beta is a more clear and concise tech tree.  The tech tree is the backbone of these kind of games and as of right now, I feel that the choices made from turn one on don't really have a particular effect.  By this I mean that it usually doesn't SEEM to matter which tech I start with nor which tech I choose to begin researching first overall.  I feel that after playing the beginning part of about 10-12 games, you start to get pushed in to the whole "research everything early on and branch off mid game".

 

Something to remedy this could be making each tech a bit more focused while becoming more dynamic.  Instead of just breaking the trees up in to their respective branches, why not make each tech in each branch play off one another, something more then just a prerequisite research to open something else up in another tree.  For more clarification I'll use the war tree's weapon techs.  Instead of opening up just a few weapons per tech while also having weapon techs in the magic tree, why not open the possibility for the lesser powered magic weapons to open up with the lesser powered mundane weapons and have the option of both the war and magic trees having access to these weapons?  If certain specific bonuses were then given depending on which tree this tech was opened up with I think it would be a more interesting choice then to say, ok around this time I'd like to have my first weapons tech researched from the war tree, then later I'll have these weapons opened up when going down the magic tree.

 

The current set up requires that you dabble in all trees early on unless you'd like to pour many turns in to reaching the next tier in a given tech tree (which I feel puts you behind, at least that what the scores indicated).  I don't mind this set up but I feel you get your research worth from some techs but others are just blah.

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March 20, 2012 4:47:20 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums


Recall that for a small percentage of us, the game isn't stable enough to play, as of yet. 

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March 20, 2012 4:48:39 PM from JoeUser Forums JoeUser Forums

For me, I have to ask myself "Would I play FE in it's current state for a long time?". The answer now is no. So then that begs the question, "Why not?". Others have answered this question and I won't ramble, but my shortlist:

*Too many UI annoyances; the game needs polish, graphic enhancements, and the myriad of misspellings to go away.

*Not enough strategic options; while there are many paths to take, few result in a win, mostly because of balancing issues, a need for more/varied content and diplomatic options, which leads to...

*No diplomacy really; this is being worked on, but feeling like the AI is making choices based around my actions, and hopefully vice-versa is pretty important.

*Better tech, building, and units. These need some balance and content.

*Bug elimination; there's bug squashing happening, but since features are still being added there are plenty of new discoveries.

*Specific areas- path-finding problems, tactical auto-resolve, tactical AI, etc.

So, it's a ways to go to be a long-lasting, fun game, but the trajectory is really positive, and SD knows what they need to fix. I just want to test our their latest creation and keep up the improvements!

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March 20, 2012 5:11:43 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Frogboy,
Moreover, this beta group is the same beta group from WOM. WOM in 3/20/10 was still early cloth map at this stage and came out 5 months later. I can tell you right now, FE won't ship before September at best. There's still that much more to put in.

 

I think you need new blood in a beta.  I overtempered my expectations some with WOM beta- because I had complete confidence that you couldn't make a bad game. 

 

In a way, I find open betas more entertaining then getting a game at release.  You get the game in chunks, and you get new things to play with- it keeps the game fresh for a long time.

 

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March 20, 2012 5:20:15 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting acare84,
Also note that. Giving a Steam activation key at the game's release date for pre-purchasers from Stardock Store can boost the game's sales too. And if you will do that announcing it to the media also boost the sales too of course.

I think that would be awesome as well because I use steam for most all of my games and it would be nice to have a steam key once the retail 1.0 version is released.

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March 20, 2012 5:27:47 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Frogboy,

As it stands now, FE is still a 6/10 or so experience.

When you put it together, just remember that WOM scored 5.3/10 overall. So the question I'd have to ask you is this: Are you saying that FE is only about 10% better than WOM?

Master of Orion 3 was a near 7/10.  When we give out numbers, I highly recommend http://www.metacritic.com/games. Not because I like Metacritic but only  because it provides an accepted point of reference.

For us, anything less than say an 8.5 out of 10 would be doom for it. We have a long way to get to that level.  The question boils down to whether FE is on track to make that objective. If the consensus is yes, then it justifies the effort we're putting into it.  If it's no, then we're wasting our time.

 

 

I wouldn't have given WOM a 5.3 at all. Much less. I would have (and did in some thread back then) said that the game had A LOT of potential. I saw the skeleton of what could have grown to be a classic. The same thing I see now with FE, only the skeleton has more meet in it.

If you ask me if I think FE is on the right track, I'd definitelly say YES. With the work being done to faction diferentiation, it'll get a lot better in terms of replayability and strategic depth. The AI already seems to be much better in 0.86, which is fundamental too. Only major thing remaninig (for me), would be making the tactical combat interesting and engaging. Then, IMHO, it's only a matter of polishing and refining what's already in there.

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March 20, 2012 6:18:47 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Frogboy,

As it stands now, FE is still a 6/10 or so experience.

When you put it together, just remember that WOM scored 5.3/10 overall. So the question I'd have to ask you is this: Are you saying that FE is only about 10% better than WOM?

Master of Orion 3 was a near 7/10.  When we give out numbers, I highly recommend http://www.metacritic.com/games. Not because I like Metacritic but only  because it provides an accepted point of reference.

For us, anything less than say an 8.5 out of 10 would be doom for it. We have a long way to get to that level.  The question boils down to whether FE is on track to make that objective. If the consensus is yes, then it justifies the effort we're putting into it.  If it's no, then we're wasting our time.

 

 

 I've enjoyed playing FE in its current form so I'm not trying to rip on it but anyone who is calling it a more than a 5 is drinking the same koolaid that gave Moo3 a 7. FE seems to have the start of a sound foundation under it and now just needs a robust infusion of content and character to move it from "just a game" to an "experience". I would warn against trying to "teach to the test"..figure out what people think belongs in a MoM progeny and give it to them with a clean UI and a few colorful explosions and whatnot. Dont reinvent the wheel..save any "artistic" needs to innovate on the MoM/Homm proven concepts for expansions. Dont aim for 8-10..The high numbers will come on their own if you make a solid product. 

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March 20, 2012 6:19:24 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I am completely unable to rate a beta like FE with a review score. The game is incomplete and has enough issues that I wouldn't play it in my free time if it were released as is.

WoM and MOO3 both have inflated review scores in my opinion.

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March 20, 2012 6:36:37 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I would currently give the game somewhere around 6.0- 6.5 based on the latest beta, but it is clearly on the right track. I think some of the comments above are too generous regarding the current state of the beta, as for me, I have put the beta on the shelf for now. There is clearly some content missing including:

Faction differentiation, diplomacy, proper hero paths, fixing the tactical battle wierdness (no distance penalty for ranged attacks, ai wierdness esp re spell casting, the regeneration exploit etc), more quest variation, heaps of UI improvements, path finding, random events, balance, balance, balance, making city building interesting; and very very importantly making the late game interesting (for replayability)

Fix this and I think you will have a 8.0-8.5 on your hands. The last point up to 9.0 will in my opinion be about strengthening the "wow" factor of the game in such a way that builds emotional engagement in the audience. I am certainly no expert at this, but it could be things to:

- improve the story told in each game (while somehow avoiding it being repetitive, which is very very difficult). This could be through more varied text, through giving more contextual references to previous game events in diplomacy: through naming areas of the map based on player/ai action (big  battles deserve to leave a name; so does the results of massive land altering spells); have quests with real far reaching dilemmas.  

- don't just make the factions different; make them memorable; make me hate, love or fear the sovereigns. Have important non-faction characters in the game (where is the evil necromancer in a tower or territorial dragon I can negotiate with?...most monsters are very one-dimensional.....where are the crazy characters that don't mind using the equivalents of Civ's nukes or Alpha Centauri's bio-weapons)

- increase the frequency of epic experiences in game (currently the main ones are taking down the wildland bosses)

Though a completely different genre, Mass Effect 3 did these things quite well (just don't mention the last 5 minutes of that game)

In closing, I'll just re-iterate that you guys are certainly on the right track. Good work and keep at it!

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March 20, 2012 6:41:12 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

As of .86, I would give FE a 55/100. 

The core mechanics are fairly sold.  Graphics are good.  There's a lot of balance that needs to be done.  UI is poor.  Music/sounds are poor.  Replayability (tech tree / city & empire management / tactical combat / character development / magic system / questing and story-driven elements) is poor. 

I really don't feel that FE in it's current public beta is all that much better than WoM 1.4.  Where is does surpass it's predecessor is in the core game, which is still largely untapped as of now.

Thinking that FE is currently a 7.5 is, imo, being overly optimistic about the current state of the game (again, as of .86.)

Or, perhaps due the dross we've been thrown from the AAA game market in recent years, our sensitivity to good old-fashioned RPG and strategy game fundamentals has been tossed out the back door like a drunken dwarf.

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March 20, 2012 6:43:20 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

It doesn't matter what people think review scores should be. It only matters what they are. Metacritic is the standard.

If someone is going to try to give useful feedback as to where they think the game stands and decides to use some sort of review score then they should adjust it based on what other games get. 

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