Fallen Enchantress–BETA 5 almost ready

By on September 10, 2012 10:59:54 PM from JoeUser Forums JoeUser Forums

Frogboy

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With any luck, we will have Beta 5 for Elemental: Fallen Enchantress ready to go out this week. We’re very excited to hear what you think of the changes as we move into balance/polish/bug fixing/AI refinement/content mode.

Kael will have a change log up as we get closer. Stay tuned!

Due date is currently September 20.

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September 11, 2012 5:37:03 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Werewindlefr,

Quoting Frogboy, reply 16

The counter, however, is that the Stranger's empire is brittle. If you're everywhere, you're very susceptible to a focused strike.
Why is it necessarily brittle? A bigger empire means more money and resources to pay for troops, and so more troops to defend a bigger frontier.

 

Because a lot of the time you're putting up outposts rather than cities, and having to protect those.  Which means you're relying upon the gildar-producing buildings in your cities to cover not just those cities, but everything else, as well.  I've long been a proponent of Strangle, since I play Pariden or a Pariden variant a lot, and it's made for the strategy.  Resource grabbing via arcane monoliths.  But there's a lot of exposed, under-protected outposts around, plus a lot more terrain to cover with your stacks when attacked.  The AI is more compact, closer in, and has to protect less.  You can get your ass handed to you on a magical platter, very easily, if you don't carefully manage things.  Plus, the occasional wandering troll group looking for a fun time on a Saturday night can just knock out one of your cities, and there goes even more of your thinly stretched financial base.

 

 

 

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September 11, 2012 5:53:05 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I guess i didn't make myself that clear, sorry for that.
Partly because of a certain language barrier please excuse that as well.

As this probably isn't the right thread for it so just in short:

With pioneer spam, yes i meant this rather hasty land grab at the beginning.
I love to explore the wilds and fight against monsters and do quests.
Granted, you still can do that when all the goodies lie in your territory but that rather feels like cleaning up the backyard of your empire.
And if the enemy plonks a city beside all the good stuff you can be dead sure they ask you to leave before you get to return to a questgiver or kill that giant thing guarding a treasure.
So yes, sometimes it feels a bit counterintuitive when players and AI alike desperately try to claim all available land right from the start.

And my population and guildar comment should read like, that population doesn't feel that special anymore..... in E:WOM or early FE betas i actively wanted to be cities as big as possible.
Now almost everything depends on buildings, sure higher level cities get their unique boni, but in most games i'm faring better with many smaller cities as long i build everything there to increase production, research, troop generation etc.
I just don't feel rewarded for nurturing few big cities in relation to the advantages REXING has to offer.
So maybe it really is a certain lack of incentives for vertical empires in comparison to horizontal empires that irks me.
Not that i want to enforce my favored playstyle on everyone, but i guess i just miss a rewarding decision how i'm building my empire, wide or tall.


Again, beta 4 has many cool concepts going but a few inconsistencies appear to lie rather deep within the mechanics, so hence my concern whether they still would be changed drastically (if neeeded) in the polish/balancing phase.


But true, as one poster pointed out, there also could a slight possibility that the latest CIV spoiled me a bit with it's very very appealing gameplay mechanics that make a vertical empire surprisingly competitive so the standard 4X REX isn't the only viable choice.
I guess i'll be contemplating about that for a while, thanks .

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September 11, 2012 7:29:28 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Werewindlefr,

Quoting Frogboy, reply 16

The counter, however, is that the Stranger's empire is brittle. If you're everywhere, you're very susceptible to a focused strike.
Why is it necessarily brittle? A bigger empire means more money and resources to pay for troops, and so more troops to defend a bigger frontier.

I know mathematics are only *part* of the balance, but still: from a purely arithmetic point of view, if you quadruple the area of your empire, you only double the size of the frontier (provided that it keeps the same shape, so there's some assumptions which are only partially verified in practice).

As a result, you have up to 4 times the troops for only twice as much frontier to defend. That's a simplistic model, I admit - the point is just that if each city can provide for its own defense by producing troops or funding fortress to produce troops, then more is always better. It's just a matter of being well-organized.

Even worse: more cities mean a LOT more research, if you build at least basic research buildings. So not only will you have more troops, but they'll be better, too.

 

I don't think there's enough of a trade-off for large empires/horizontal expansion when compared to smaller empires - especially since you don't have to choose between lots of cities and very "powerful" cities. There's very little downside to expanding a lot, and many advantages. You don't have to sacrifice quality for quantity. The main limiting mechanism used to be prestige, but growth is now mostly tied to buildings, making prestige mostly irrelevant. From my experience, your empire will always be a lot better if it's large.

Trojasmic is right:


So to be good at FE, you need to start your games by cranking out pioneers just like the AI does.

That's just how the game plays out, and that's how I crush hard+ AIs with moderate ease.

 

This is not so simple.

Lets assume the following, for easy scenario:

It takes 2 turns to build pioneer, 1 turn to build a troop, 1 turn to move 1 tile. Each city has a 6 (I believe) tile of free space and a you want extra outposts for resource grabbing your city spam is missing. There are a lot of resources you want. Resources take no time to use. 1 monster kills 1 troop and dies, always. A player has to deal with 3 monsters to build a new city. There are 40 tile range between both players, mission is to kill the sovereign.

Both players start the game in a flat world. Both build 4 troops and 2 pioneers. Turn 14 both players got a second city and a resource outpost between them.

Player A doubles his land every 14 turns, till he meets player B or he has no more room for effective expansion.

After  roughly 70 turns, player A has 32 cities.

Player B created 112 troops, and starts marching to player A. 100 or so are left from monsters. Will player A manage to stop the army player B sent?

Maybe, maybe not. In this case, mose likely. If troops were moving faster, probably not.

As you can see, investing in military can topple an expansion based strategy, which beat turtle based strategy, which beat the rush strategy. It all comes down to balance.

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September 11, 2012 7:42:12 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums
@el_phantasma: I think your concerns about pioneer spam and other balance issues are quite legitimate. Frogboy's comments lead me to believe the devs are aware of such concerns and will be actively working on them in beta 5. I think that's the whole point of beta 5. It's a polish / balance / bug-fixing phase. I also agree that we should not have to mod the game ourselves to fix balance issues. The release version of the game should be balanced enough to satisfy a majority of players. I think the point of seanw3's comments was simply to reassure you: if he can fix the issues himself with a mod, that means it is certainly feasible for the issues to be fixed within the limitations of existing game mechanics. Hence, there's no reason why the devs shouldn't be able to take care of it in beta 5. By the way, although I haven't tried playing with mods yet, I'm looking forward to it after release. Once the final game is out, I really want to try Heavenfall's Stormworld mod, as it looks like it will add some fantastic content to the game. And seanw3, aren't you working on a big summons mod? Will that be available from day 1, and will it be compatible with Stormworld? I'm quite interested in giving it a try.
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September 11, 2012 8:00:04 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Glazunov1,

Quoting Werewindlefr, reply 24
Quoting Frogboy, reply 16

The counter, however, is that the Stranger's empire is brittle. If you're everywhere, you're very susceptible to a focused strike.
Why is it necessarily brittle? A bigger empire means more money and resources to pay for troops, and so more troops to defend a bigger frontier.

 

Because a lot of the time you're putting up outposts rather than cities, and having to protect those.  Which means you're relying upon the gildar-producing buildings in your cities to cover not just those cities, but everything else, as well. 
 

 
If you have twice as much land, you can have twice as many outpost and twice as many cities to support them and twice as many units to defend them, not to mention that your troops will be better equiped.

 

But anyway - I'm speaking from experience; try it for yourself and compare between a small empire and a big one. In civilization 4, infinite-city-sprawl was a winning strategy, and that was *with* major limitations for large empires. Fallen Enchantress doesn't even have those. In practice, I've seen it to always be true: a large empire has so many resources it can just overwhelm small empires with no significant drawback. Expansion is a winning strategy, all the time.

And expansion opportunity cost is a valid concern, but right now it's not that big of a deal: a hero with 1 or 2 low level troops can escort a pioneer, which itself takes 3 turns to build. After turn 30-40, it's negligible.

I'm fine with Fallen Enchantress being all about the land grab and expansion, but I strongly disagree that small empires can compete with large ones, unless the large one is poorly managed. Remember GalCiv 2: was there any *significant* downside to expanding as much as possible? And FE didn't change much in that area, aside from the monsters.

 

 

There is, by the way, one disadvantage to large empires: tediousness, which can lead to a player not managing a large empire as well as a small one. But that shouldn't be a concern for the AI *or* a meticulous player.

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September 11, 2012 8:09:06 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Re: Gal Civ 2, yes there was a cost to expansion.  Financially.  Each new planet had a fixed cost of upkeep, but once you develop the place a bit/ gain some pop.  the place did pay for itself eventually.    Short term, yes there was.  Long term, no there wasn't a cost for expansion. 

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September 11, 2012 8:11:57 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Perhaps if pioneers doubles in price each time you made one (or went up by a percentage in price).

Then you can keep expanding but it gets more and more expensive and you have to trade off more.

Mike.

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September 11, 2012 8:51:09 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

The balance is atrocious currently.

 

Ive played about 4 games with the currently released build.I play conquest,with every kingdom,on large map.The results where the same in every single game.

I forget the kingdoms name offhand,because i stopped playing,but it was top kingdom in every game.Yes,the same kingdom was top dog in all the games i played under the current build.In all circa 4 games,the AI out researched me,out army produced me,and out city produced me.I played a custom kingdom,and was defeated every game.

Needless to say, i dont spam pioneers to build cities or outposts that are completely alone on the other side of the map.To me thats just innane gameplay.Im okay with losing.and this is likely one of the reasons why i do lose this game.It does tell me though, that this game as it stands isnt for me.

The AI always appeared broke actual money wise,but always had large amounts of cities and outposts,all spread out and in ridiculous places,and large to huge armies protecting  their cities.And never once, showed zero money or debt.

The flaws are tremendous in game design at this time.Easily one of the largest,is a city totally cut off from all the other cities of a given kingdom still fully produces and researchs etc... and gives all of that to the kingdom.There are NO lines of supply,NO logic at all required for city placement as far as this goes.

Its just damn silly.

And of course,i suspect the AI taxes to the high end ,if not the max, and since there is currently NO threat from the population to dampen this tactic....

Again,just damn silly.

Now perhaps we'll see unrest actually matter in the "next" patch....perhaps....BUT right now,the opening line of this post is dead accurate.And the examples given are just the bare surface.

 

 

 

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September 11, 2012 9:01:02 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Well, your current and OUR current are different things.

We've made a lot of changes since Beta 4 because, frankly, we agree with a lot of what has been said.

There's more to do. But balance != new features.  We don't need to come up with some new game mechanic in Beta 5 to address balance issues. It's not like we need create some new resource or invent some new type of cost.

For example, and the modders can back me up on this because they are already doing this right now:

I could completely alter the relationship between # of cities simply by modifying a few lines of XML so that a) city leveling is where the power is and the faction prestige is the main way you go up in levels. Voila. You could tilt it completely the other way by changing a couple lines in the XML.

Similarly, you could, in XML, make it so that every outpost costs 50 gold per turn. Or 1000. I don't recommend that but you get the idea.

And frankly, I would be highly disappointed if after release there aren't many different mods to let people play the game in drastically different ways.

I look at a major part of my job, post release, to involve myself with modders directly to make it easier for them to get their mods out there, to make it easier for users to install them, etc.

If people knew how moddable FE was, they'd freak out. We owe that to Kael and Shafer btw.  They started out as Civilization IV modders and brought that to Fallen Enchantress.

Kael made air elementals able to fly over mountains this week just by modifying their XML.  No code. How's that for insane?

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September 11, 2012 9:13:12 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Frogboy,
Well, your current and OUR current are different things.

We've made a lot of changes since Beta 4 because, frankly, we agree with a lot of what has been said.

There's more to do. But balance != new features.  We don't need to come up with some new game mechanic in Beta 5 to address balance issues. It's not like we need create some new resource or invent some new type of cost.

For example, and the modders can back me up on this because they are already doing this right now:

I could completely alter the relationship between # of cities simply by modifying a few lines of XML so that a) city leveling is where the power is and the faction prestige is the main way you go up in levels. Voila. You could tilt it completely the other way by changing a couple lines in the XML.

Similarly, you could, in XML, make it so that every outpost costs 50 gold per turn. Or 1000. I don't recommend that but you get the idea.

And frankly, I would be highly disappointed if after release there aren't many different mods to let people play the game in drastically different ways.

I look at a major part of my job, post release, to involve myself with modders directly to make it easier for them to get their mods out there, to make it easier for users to install them, etc.

If people knew how moddable FE was, they'd freak out. We owe that to Kael and Shafer btw.  They started out as Civilization IV modders and brought that to Fallen Enchantress.

Kael made air elementals able to fly over mountains this week just by modifying their XML.  No code. How's that for insane?

that's insane!  kael is a freak!

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September 11, 2012 9:18:14 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Frogboy,
I look at a major part of my job, post release, to involve myself with modders directly to make it easier for them to get their mods out there, to make it easier for users to install them, etc.

That is great to hear Brad. I see some people saying "I don't want to try mods, vanilla should be perfect in every way for everyone". I was like that until a few years ago, and since then I don't really play unmodded games. People should realize that they get so much more for their buck because of mods, and especially for FE, which is hugely moddable and people will be able to do pretty much anything. Pioneer spam, quests, items, small balance issues, these are so easily fixed. Perhaps Kael should better explain how he was able to do Fall from Heaven for Civilization IV, which isn't by as moddable as FE is. Maybe people would then realize what modding potential FE really has, and how mods can offer a totally different experience from vanilla, free of charge.

I think it's important that developers should now focus on things that require more expertise, such as AI behavior and strategies. I fully trust you Brad to work on the AI, because of GalCiv 2

Quoting Frogboy,
Kael made air elementals able to fly over mountains this week just by modifying their XML.  No code. How's that for insane?

This is awesome! Surely after release you guys should post some tutorials on what and how such awesome things can be done so the talented modders can fully take advantage of the engine.

EDIT: I would like to quote seanw3 regarding his modding of FE so far, just to give you an idea of what will probably follow after FE is released...

Quoting seanw3,
I have over 300 quest stories that I am adding to the game

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September 11, 2012 9:33:02 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I love how this game is being made with modding in mind and I'm really interested to see how the game evolves after 2 years of modding. Civ is one of my all-time favourite games and a major reason for that is mods and the replayability they provide.

This game is good now but it could become truly outstanding after a few years of modding

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September 11, 2012 9:49:37 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

BTW, I am planning to release those quests as serials. Each quest series will have an overarching plot and play much like an epic story. This is only possible because the devs listened to what WoM modders wanted for quests and added in twice what we asked for. The main thing I want to mod in is storytelling. It's kind of cool how well it fits into the game. One thing I am working on is a quest line that functions like a tech tree, unlocking abilities and items as you make choices and defeat enemies. You will have to work through the story and choose your path to ultimate power. Or you can sell your essence to the demon lord and raise hell on earth. Your choice. We haven't even touched the surface of questing yet in the vanilla.

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September 11, 2012 10:19:05 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums


Wow that's fast! I bet I am the only one that thinks it could use another month however. What's the hurry all of a sudden?

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September 11, 2012 10:19:59 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums


I'm excited to see beta 5 come out. At some point in the development of the game you have to move forward with what you have so you can finish the game, otherwise every game would just stay in beta. I'm excited to see the balance changes of this game and allow me to finally play with modding stuff (I didn't want to play with things that would eventually change).

I would like to know if we get to play with the map editor with the beta 5 release? I would like to try my hand at making a map or two.

Also, I am sure that if there appears to be some major issue still lingering in beta 5 that they will bite the bullet and move to beta 6 (I don't see this happening because I think this game is shaping up very VERY nicely).

Keep up the good work all you guys at Stardock. I'm very happy about how this game is turning out. I was not there with the release of WOM although i wanted to be (school got in the way), but I was happy to see that you didn't give up on the idea and that this result (from what everybody has been saying) is an improvement on the original.

I just want to see all the changes.

p.s.: When are you adding a hipogriff as a mount.

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September 11, 2012 10:21:31 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Similarly, you could, in XML, make it so that every outpost costs 50 gold per turn. Or 1000. I don't recommend that but you get the idea.

Yes but here's the problem: will the AI adapt? Will the AI understand that maintenance costs means it needs to choose where to put its outposts carefully and not put them at every resource, just on the one it needs?

I understand the game is very modable, and that's a really nice thing; however, the AI needs to be able to work with those modifications.

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September 11, 2012 10:32:54 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Frogboy,
Kael made air elementals able to fly over mountains this week just by modifying their XML.  No code. How's that for insane?

This sounds like a pick up line. I hope Derek isn't out there using it....    JK

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September 11, 2012 10:34:46 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Werewindlefr,
Yes but here's the problem: will the AI adapt? Will the AI understand that maintenance costs means it needs to choose where to put its outposts carefully and not put them at every resource, just on the one it needs?

Valid point.

I don't think the AI would give more thought about where to place outposts, but will adapt to keep its income in the green, in the sense that it will probably cut on spending.

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September 12, 2012 12:30:14 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting parrottmath,
                                                                        o  o  o

I would like to know if we get to play with the map editor with the beta 5 release? I would like to try my hand at making a map or two.
                                                                        o  o  o

or  10 ...  or  20 ...

I would dearly love to see the Map Editor made available in the Beta 5.  <--- I expect this is asking a lot ... and I really expect that access to the Map Editor will be postponed until the Retail Version is issued.  But if, by chance, it can be made available earlier, you'd really make my week!    

 

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September 12, 2012 11:49:39 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

The thread has been somewhat derailed, so I'll ask the question here: how moddable will FE be?

The thing that bugs me the most right now is (along with really bad balance, OP heroes, pussy monsters, pioneer spam and a lot more minor things) magic. In fact, I find its whole system terrible. Will it be possible to modify it, introduce some new mechanics, completely overhaul it?

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September 12, 2012 12:43:26 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting ,


With any luck, we will have Beta 5 for Elemental: Fallen Enchantress ready to go out this week. We’re very excited to hear what you think of the changes as we move into balance/polish/bug fixing/AI refinement/content mode.
Kael will have a change log up as we get closer. Stay tuned!

having specific tombs, caves, castles etc depending on quests and encounters is nice,something i've been lazily promoting for a while. of course having more complex battelfields with bonuses and tailor made tactics from the AI depending on what the tactical map is would be AWESOME. perhaps this would be more easily implemented into a campaign that resembles heroes of might and magic in structure, where there are more known parameters like what faction the player is playing and the resources available on the map.

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September 12, 2012 1:01:58 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Werewindlefr,

If you have twice as much land, you can have twice as many outpost and twice as many cities to support them and twice as many units to defend them, not to mention that your troops will be better equiped.

 

That would be true if all land in the game was fertile, and could support cities.  But in fact, very few good cities are possible, especially since you're also competing with other factions for city sites.  Plus, most resources are nowhere near fertile lands.  Inevitably a Strangle strategy comes down to having far more outposts so you can hog resources and restrict land access.


I'm fine with Fallen Enchantress being all about the land grab and expansion, but I strongly disagree that small empires can compete with large ones, unless the large one is poorly managed. Remember GalCiv 2: was there any *significant* downside to expanding as much as possible? And FE didn't change much in that area, aside from the monsters.

 

Large empires are great, but that's not the same thing as a Strangle strategy.  This leads me to wonder whether we're discussing quite the same thing.

 

There is, by the way, one disadvantage to large empires: tediousness, which can lead to a player not managing a large empire as well as a small one. But that shouldn't be a concern for the AI *or* a meticulous player.

 

I love micromanaging large empires--provided the choices I make are real, relevant ones.  This is one of many areas where in my opinion FE has it all over WoM.  Rules-based AIs, though, can have problems with this, because they deal with immediate issues rather than forming longterm, coherent strategies such as you and I would employ.  SeanW's doing some nice things in his balance mod to adjust the AI and make it more challenging.  Judging from your remarks, I think you'd enjoy that as much as I do.

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September 12, 2012 1:11:52 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

As someone who tends to prefer a slower paced game, I would like to see some sort of infrastructure tech that limits available cities.  For example Logistics 1 allows for 1 extra city, 2 allows 2 cities etc.  I like this structure because it still allows for a rush gameplay, but people have to invest their research if they want a sprawl so there is a bit more of a cost to early expansion.

 

Right now people are complaining that there is little incentive to build a smaller empire.  This would provide that.  By keeping the number of cities low at the start, players don't spend valuable research on infrastructure.  This investment would mean that they spend less research on the tech because by the time they want to expand their research abilities will be faster. 

 

Meanwhile the benefit to early expansion remains in early resources and choice land acquisition.

 

Obviously I have no delusions of this being put in the game, but I'm hoping it is something that could be modded in the future.

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September 12, 2012 1:16:06 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums


The Strangle vs. Brittle thing is also possibly broken by choke points. I generall am able to get very large and find a way to only have two or three entrances into my land. I would like to see the AI learn how to terraform their way to my backdoor and use boats for a surprise invasion.

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September 12, 2012 1:25:23 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Glazunov1,

 

Large empires are great, but that's not the same thing as a Strangle strategy.  This leads me to wonder whether we're discussing quite the same thing.

 

Fair enough. My point was that there was no "small empire vs. large empire" balance. The only valid strategy in FE - based on empirical evidence, not theorycraft -  is constant expansion; there is no incentive to keeping an empire lean.

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