FE Release this fall? Discussion

By on September 24, 2012 8:45:56 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

OneLion

Join Date 06/2010
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Hi there,

yesterday I got up again and played 6 hours of Fallen Enchantress... and I must say I'm a bit shocked about the state of the game. Yes I know this is still Beta, but the final Beta. I'll try to keep this short... but I really hope that the launch gets postponed. I've been here ever since I've heard of the original Element as it's kind of my dream game... so I really want this game to succeed.

Glitches everywhere

It's been the same story for me since the first Fallen Enchantress beta, glitches are everywhere. It got better, but still. At least I gotta comment on the stability, not a single crash for me on 8 hours of running Fallen Enchantress. But there is just too much of the little things: I can't read whole descriptions on traits when creating a new faction, I can't select multiple weaknesses, other factions just greet me turns after meeting them, some weird movement, still can't change the map color in the faction creation screen....

That's the little stuff, some of it can probably be fixed within less than an hour by an engineer. But there's also the more hardcore stuff. Often some improvements or buildings just aren't shown on the 3D map just to magically reappear a few turns later and in my last game I couldn't go on any quest more difficult than weak despite having researched all thos technologies. Oh and balancing. Don't get me started on balancing.

I filed issues for most of those problems just as I did in the past but somehow it doesn't seem to get much better which leads me to...

Questioning the engineering culture at Stardock

I'm seriously at the point where I start to question the engineering culture at Stardock. I mean what I've seen from patch notes and the game as a whole is that so many glitches made it in the game that should have never been there in the first place... like AI not being able to see goodie huts. What the hell? Seriously. I really don't think Test Driven Development (TDD) is practiced at Stardock, which right now is regarded as being unprofessional by many people. I know that it's hard with all the multi-threading and the graphics/GUI. But at least the game logic should be properly tested and TDD'ed from my point of view. Then again, I'm not a C++ guy myself but I know that tools for this exist and work.

It doesn't stop there... I mean essence is cool, I love random events and all the other new stuff. But from Beta release to Beta release I feel like the team is just like "Oh we got all those great new features! Check it out! Nahhhh those bugs everywhere... we'll fix them later." As the software grows larger it only gets more difficult to fix bugs. Imo fixing bugs should be the first thing on the agenda, only if those are reasonably clear new features should be added. That significantly reduces the amount of rework and also customer happiness. I mean seriously people, I like the new concepts, but I could have done without them. I would rather have a bug-free and more polished game.

Speaking of polish, truly great games (like Blizzard games or Guild Wars 2), those that get the aimed for metacritic score of 90+, feel like a finished product in their final beta. Fallen Enchantress is far from that. Too many little and bigger glitches, that turn people off.

Dude you're so negative!

Maybe I am. I just want FE to succeed. The Elemental franchise and Stardock can't take another blow like WOM. Conceptually this is a great game and a game concept I always wanted to have and play with. It's like Civilization and Heroes of Might and Magic had a baby. Although all these glitches I had a wonderful time playing FE until I was way too powerful again and the quests didn't work. I just hope that the team recognizes that this isn't ready for launch this fall and imo not this year. Yes I know how GalCiv 2 worked out but it can't be like this every time. Take extra care with FE. Please.

TL;DR

I love FE, but it is way too unfinished and unpolished to even consider a release this fall.

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September 24, 2012 8:54:08 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Beta 5 is meant to be the polish phase where all those last bugs get ironed out. Which is why it is important that we keep talking about them. If you have any more, please do post them.

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September 24, 2012 9:14:12 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Heavenfall,
Beta 5 is meant to be the polish phase where all those last bugs get ironed out. Which is why it is important that we keep talking about them. If you have any more, please do post them.

I know. But seeing the amount of new bugs in every release I still say we need a Beta 6. I post as many as I can, but really my game of FE is already ruined for me again since without quests it's no fun and my sovereign is strong enough to easily take down elemental lords all by himself...

But yeah I haven't lost hope.. from my perspective it just looks like FE needs at least another 6 months.

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September 24, 2012 9:20:54 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

well as features im quite satisfied with FE

we had reworked cities, events, races, a lot of differentiation and this was basically what the game needed

 

still like you said the game is not totally stable and with many bugs and glitches and  A LOT of balance/tweaking to do (and ai to improve )

dunno if the time is enough to do this but surelly is way better than WOM, also the game doesnt make me say "id reallly love to have... mutant turtles/robots/puzzle games/a fps tactical battle", it seems to me the basic content is what it should be, just improved in some aspect

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September 24, 2012 9:38:02 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I just want FE to succeed. The Elemental franchise and Stardock can't take another blow like WOM.

This.

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September 24, 2012 9:38:09 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

We have to stay in there and keep reporting. I will not criticize Stardock at this stage, cause Beta 5 will be about balancing and fixing bugs. I have put in two set of bug reports today (the bugs of Altar and the bugs of Shadow world). I will be a pretty angry puppy if this is not fixed before release, but for now we should report, report and then report errors. 

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September 24, 2012 9:41:49 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums


I was definetly upset with the most recent beta. You could easily crash the game up until now by starting a new game hitting ctrl-u then repeatedly hitting ctrl-n, it was just a matter of 10 or so map regenerations, that number went down to about 2 - 4 with the latest patch. There are some pretty hardore memory leaks in the engine. I am wondering if there are debug flags that are on in this build. I do , like you, hope they really clean up all the little cosmetic stuff, its really really important, but that being said they also really need to look at whats causing those memory leaks cause it will crop up in the form of slow turn times and late game crashes.

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September 24, 2012 9:44:58 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I'm not sure the people here understand how Beta5 works. Beta5 is locked down so that all these bugs will get fixed. They have stopped adding new content so that they can fix all the bugs without having to worry about adding new ones. Beta5 could last a long time, like months, and still be Beta5. There is no reason to have a Beta6 because since they are in lock down they won't be adding anything new. Length of time doesn't determine the Beta number, each series has a specific purpose. Unless they decide to add a whole bunch of new content there is absolutely no need for a Beta6.

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September 24, 2012 10:38:55 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums


My entire view of beta 5 is clashing with Stardock at the moment...

Stardock says that beta 5 is all about balance and bugs; that this wraps up the game for release.

I still see the need for a tonne more content, features and UI in addition to those balance and bugs...

Never the less, I'm not the one doing the designing, so I'll have to put my faith in Stardocks ability...

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September 24, 2012 10:41:59 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

So the devs here should have spent the last months fixing bugs as they found them in old features that are no longer present in order that they might enter the bugfix beta without bugs to fix?

 

The previous betas were to test major features and general functionality against the wants/needs of the community, rather than making a game nobody wants to play work really well.

 

I agree that I want the game to succeed and it will definitely depend on what they are able to achieve as far as bugfixing and balancing here in this last stretch, but they shouldn't waste a year fixing and balancing features that don't make it in the final version.

 

I am just surprised that here in beta 5 they have features that a large swath of the community seems to be agreed on and satisfied with. That is an achievement. To quote ddd888 above:

 

well as features im quite satisfied with FE

we had reworked cities, events, races, a lot of differentiation and this was basically what the game needed

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September 24, 2012 10:46:25 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Just gonna point this out, GW2 has so many bugs in it that I wouldn't consider it "polished". 

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September 24, 2012 10:54:51 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I think FE has plenty of content, I think with good balance and polish, it could hit near a 90 metacritic.  I think the pacing is a bit slow, and I don't like the fragile cities that fall to ruin to monsters that then salt the earth, and I haven't yet seen how balanced late game is, but I like what I see so far. 

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September 24, 2012 11:46:15 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting DsRaider,
I'm not sure the people here understand how Beta5 works. Beta5 is locked down so that all these bugs will get fixed. They have stopped adding new content so that they can fix all the bugs without having to worry about adding new ones. Beta5 could last a long time, like months, and still be Beta5. There is no reason to have a Beta6 because since they are in lock down they won't be adding anything new. Length of time doesn't determine the Beta number, each series has a specific purpose. Unless they decide to add a whole bunch of new content there is absolutely no need for a Beta6.

This.

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September 24, 2012 12:07:31 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I think too many aspects of the game have been rectified (or improved) through an excessively painful process. Too many things that should have been implemented differently from the get go had to be "force-changed" by the sheer force of negative feedback, like many UI "features" which started out so wrong that fixing them must have cost triple the pain.

This "longer than ideal road" has had its impact on the company, I guess. Maybe they're somewhat tired too (I could even understand them). We did notice an acceleration towards Beta 5 that took us by surprise... who knows, maybe pre-orders didn't go so well and they need to wrap it up faster.

I think that, if the game won't be significantly changed from here to release, reception does risk to be a "WoM-lite" kind of thing. Not in magnitude nor in tone of course (Stardock should get a lot of good credit for what they did for their customers in any case) but at least in the sense that the game feels again like a mixture of really good or even great ideas put together without ideal integration. 

To me, I'll say it again, the magic system seems the biggest proof of this. Becoming a "mage" in FE is an erratic, weird and ultimately random business, which is not a good thing to say about the "main" aspect of the game. 

Modding will help a lot I'm sure but we can't expect the few (if exceptional) modders here to produce the equivalent of the Skyrim modding community. But then again, maybe they will

 

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September 24, 2012 12:29:44 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Beta 5 has been crashier than any beta since Beta 1 for me, but I suspect most of the crashes are things more easily fixed, as they made a lot of XML changes.

 

If beta 5B comes and I"m still crashing outside of once in a blue moon, I'm going to complain hard.

 

The problem with a long beta is folks gets used to the glitches, and just accept them as part of the deal when they shouldn't. 

 

Mostly the whole player and enemy in the same square bug which happens, there needs to be code to check for that and force a battle.  It happens too much.

 

 Assuming the crash bugs get fixed, in its current state, I'd give the game a B.  Improve the AI/balance and it goes to B+/A-


For comparison's sake: GalCiv II TA is my definition of an A- game.

 

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September 24, 2012 12:52:26 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Well, this would be the point in the beta where we see if the game can succeed. Beta 5 started out kind of rough, but as long as it is an indefinite cycle, I am not too concerned. I don't think anyone at Stardockia thinks the game is ready for release. But let's jump on them it if they do. Don't want it out in its current state.

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September 24, 2012 1:01:49 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I think with what happened with EWOM we should probably get a Release Canidate from them before they release. I am in no way implying that should be standard practice but in this case for this game I think its warranted that we get an RC.

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September 24, 2012 1:23:41 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting seanw3,
Well, this would be the point in the beta where we see if the game can succeed. Beta 5 started out kind of rough, but as long as it is an indefinite cycle, I am not too concerned. I don't think anyone at Stardockia thinks the game is ready for release. But let's jump on them it if they do. Don't want it out in its current state.

Brad said in another post there would be two more major public releases.  Who knows if that will be enough?  I guess we'll find out.  We're all just speculating right now.  I know I've been impressed with the strides taken every release.  Just when I think they'll never get there, they get a little bit closer! 

BUT I ALSO THINK THEY ARE PROBABLY GETTING BURNED OUT BY NOW AND WANT TO RELEASE THIS BAD BOY SO THEY CAN DO SOMETHING ELSE (emphasis added).  After all, they've been listening to us nag for 4+ years now.  FE v1.0 will not get the 90 meta-critic rating (it won't even get the 85 meta-critic rating they're hoping for), but after Brad makes a few after releases patches, updates, etc., it might get them close enough and I'm pretty much enjoying the game for what it is.  I feel like my $49 EWOM money was finally well spent.

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September 24, 2012 1:44:38 PM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

AI STILL not looting goodie huts is...weird.

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September 24, 2012 1:56:39 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Trojasmic,

BUT I ALSO THINK THEY ARE PROBABLY GETTING BURNED OUT BY NOW AND WANT TO RELEASE THIS BAD BOY SO THEY CAN DO SOMETHING ELSE (emphasis added).  After all, they've been listening to us nag for 4+ years now. 

True but it's not our fault. It's not even that we like to bitch and moan whatever we get.

Take for instance the release of Legend of Grimrock. I have nothing but praise for that game. People just buy it and immediately it plays smoothly, the graphics are killer, the UI does its job perfectly, the balance is great unless you want to split hairs, the game's progress also shows a great mastery of the design phase. Most of all, the developers of LoG show without doubt that they deeply understand what the potential buyers could be looking for in a game like that. Net result: everybody's happy and on the first try. 

On the other hand, if you get every single thing wrong the first time, and you have to wait for player's feedback in order to realize it (and sometimes not even that is enough) it's no wonder things won't go as smoothly.

Of course FE is a more daring and complicated game, that's one of the redeeming aspects (of which there are many anyway) 

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September 24, 2012 2:19:15 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

However well intentioned, I think OneLion's Original Post, here, is a little too critical and too negative.  OneLion did repeat "our mantra" that he really wants to see Fallen Enchantress succeed .  I agree whole-heartedly with that; but by now, I pretty much take it as a matter of course, that the self-selected (and serious) Beta testers want E:FE to succeed.  A major success in this realm would incentivize Stardock (and hopefully some other companies) to create more new 4X, TBS, RAD (resource allocation decision), and hybrid games, to be released.  Who, on these forums doesn't want that ?!?

Furthermore, OneLion does make a couple fair points, about the persistence of bugs, UI polishing, etc,  But I really think his despair is un-warranted.  The UI has been significantly polished.  It is not perfect; but it has gotten markedly better, and should continue to.  Of course, every time new content is added, and mechanics are modified, bugs are introduced.  I share some frustration over the fact that Stardock has not spared as much effort as I would have preferred, in continuous bug-fixing, but I do expect them to do more now.  DsRaider's point (Reply #8) is dead on, in that regard.  That's what the Beta 5 is for!  Furthermore, there will almost certainly be several more updates, including an official Beta 5a, and perhaps a Beta 5b.  Stardock simply has already invested far too much work (Great Work, at that) to fail, to finish it right. 

This brings me to OneLion's worst observation.  Questioning the culture at Stardock is pointless, self-indulgent, and vaguely insulting.  It simply does not advance his points, or the progress of this effort.  Again, Joasoze hits the right tone, here: when he says that we have to hang in there, keep reporting bugs and issues, and reserve (at least some measure of) judgement, for the time being. 

I certainly don't totally object to a Discussion Thread of this type.  A  Good Discussion  is always worth having; and some of the Replies here are already advancing that discussion.  But a cry of "Monday-morning-despair" is  NOT  so helpful ... things always look worse on Monday mornings ...        

On other thought: seanw3 observed in another thread that one of Stardock's most significant accomplishments to date, with E:FE, was in creating a gaming engine that was unusually open to modding (for details, game-play, and content), and for future customization.  Frogboy has said something similar; along with his intention to make this Elemental Universe, as open and accessible as possible.  E:FE (forget E:WoM) is the  real start  of a  major franchise, that could carry us into the next decade. 

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September 24, 2012 2:21:54 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Trojasmic,

Brad said in another post there would be two more major public releases.  Who knows if that will be enough?  I guess we'll find out.  We're all just speculating right now.  I know I've been impressed with the strides taken every release.  Just when I think they'll never get there, they get a little bit closer! 

He said AT LEAST two more beta releases.  

Quoting Alstein,

The problem with a long beta is folks gets used to the glitches, and just accept them as part of the deal when they shouldn't. 
 

I disagree.  I think the problem with long betas is that people assume that because a bug has existed in the beta for a long time that it means the team is destined for failure.  You can't possibly count the number of times forum people have posted "Bug XXXXX still exists!  You guys are incompetent.  You clearly don't understand Software Development Technique 917.b or you would have fixed this bug seven months ago!"  

My point is that either we think they have conducted a quality beta or they have not.  Supposition about the mental state of the developers is just asininity.  If you like their design concept and think they have conducted a good beta, then have faith in the end product.  If you think either the design or the beta process are flawed then you probably won't like the end product.     

Overall I think this thread is full of people who fail to understand betas (and Brad's explanation of Beta 5 in particular).  

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September 24, 2012 2:53:48 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Kantok,


Quoting Alstein, reply 15

The problem with a long beta is folks gets used to the glitches, and just accept them as part of the deal when they shouldn't. 
 


I disagree.  I think the problem with long betas is that people assume that because a bug has existed in the beta for a long time that it means the team is destined for failure.  You can't possibly count the number of times forum people have posted "Bug XXXXX still exists!  You guys are incompetent.  You clearly don't understand Software Development Technique 917.b or you would have fixed this bug seven months ago!"  

My point is that either we think they have conducted a quality beta or they have not.  Supposition about the mental state of the developers is just asininity.  If you like their design concept and think they have conducted a good beta, then have faith in the end product.  If you think either the design or the beta process are flawed then you probably won't like the end product.     

Overall I think this thread is full of people who fail to understand betas (and Brad's explanation of Beta 5 in particular).  

Um yeah, I just wanted to say if those incompetent, don't understand software development, destined for failure, mentally asinine developers would have fixed the same bugs we reported seven months ago, then we would have nothing to report.  Just kidding.

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September 24, 2012 2:59:45 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting DsRaider,
I'm not sure the people here understand how Beta5 works. Beta5 is locked down so that all these bugs will get fixed. They have stopped adding new content so that they can fix all the bugs without having to worry about adding new ones. Beta5 could last a long time, like months, and still be Beta5. There is no reason to have a Beta6 because since they are in lock down they won't be adding anything new. Length of time doesn't determine the Beta number, each series has a specific purpose. Unless they decide to add a whole bunch of new content there is absolutely no need for a Beta6.

Seeing the amount of new spells, new quests and new abilities (like flying units) we are far from feature freeze (and we are still yet to see modding tools, campaign, that wasn't betatested and hell more).

Like the OP wrote, each new item, creates new bugs possibilites, we do need half a year of development specially in the AI department since the game (or more actually Frogboy) need to teach the AI's to use that new content, and then to debug the AI code. (with thing like stacking buring blades or outposts standing one against each other or two dozen of leather armor pieces)

I don't really care if it is called beta 6 or beta 5z, just give this game more time.

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September 24, 2012 3:09:05 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting seanw3,
Well, this would be the point in the beta where we see if the game can succeed. Beta 5 started out kind of rough, but as long as it is an indefinite cycle, I am not too concerned. I don't think anyone at Stardockia thinks the game is ready for release. But let's jump on them it if they do. Don't want it out in its current state.

Haven't seen that hard written anywhere, but my gut feeling is that the aim is to get the game in november to hit christmas sales. This is one month away, and it would be a disaster. disaster by failing to meet the expectation, and delivery of almost fun niche game, whereas it could be a classic. 

 

What is needed is a quarter at least UI focused, with AI development on second trail. 

Oh, and I think we need a lot more content as well (spells, events, quests, abilities)

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September 24, 2012 3:33:55 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting OrionM42,

On other thought: seanw3 observed in another thread that one of Stardock's most significant accomplishments to date, with E:FE, was in creating a gaming engine that was unusually open to modding (for details, game-play, and content), and for future customization.  Frogboy has said something similar; along with his intention to make this Elemental Universe, as open and accessible as possible.  E:FE (forget E:Wom) is the  real start  of a  major franchise, that could carry us into the next decade. 

 

With all due respect to the modders. This beta is about the unmodded game. The modding tools aren't really released yet, and what they do is more hacking than modding. They can only affect balance, and there is a lot more than that.

There is concern about quality of the game, lack of insight on what is being planned/known in terms of bugs found, small steps of improvements but no breakthroughs in most painful areas (heroes/units balance, monsters ignoring AI, AI competency, slowdowns, crashes, ui glitches) - there is no single aspect of the game that we could at this stage tick off as COMPLETED, tested, accepted. 

UI - glitches, lack of information, overlays, inventory management, army management

stability - crashes, slowdowns, missing heads and 3d models

balance - no comment

AI - basic

design features - still added (flying, events, 

content - missing

campaing - never seen off

tactical combat - still missing unit placement, autoresolve givng different results than autoplay, arrows shooting form the side of the screen, no tactical walls, towers - city combat), slowdowns, bugs in abilities, items, ui

diplomacy - AI requesting thousands of gildars, attacking out of blue moon, askign for money when beggin for peace

magic - core to the game and yet ... lacking, for no other words, oh and AI can't use it even so

nothing is completed, nothing... oops sorry, we got game intro finished

 

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