Iterating further on Elemental

By on October 21, 2013 1:58:21 PM from JoeUser Forums JoeUser Forums

Frogboy

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I was playing Galactic Civilizations II last night. I hadn’t played it in a very long time and was stunned by just how much…awesome it has in it.  That awesomeness didn’t come from the original design. It came from years and years of iteration and frankly, labors of love.

The problem I see with Legendary Heroes is that it’s really hard to do iteration like that.  After all, it’s technically Elemental: Fallen Enchantress – Legendary Heroes. It’s a mouth full.  No one calls GalCiv II “Twilight of the Arnor”. It’s just called GalCiv.

But Elemental got off to such a rocky start that for good or bad, we don’t really call it Elemental anymore.  If the quality and fandom that supports Legendary Heroes could somehow be applied to Elemental that would be great.  But it’s not. It’s barely applied to Fallen Enchantress.

Frankly, from a purely a branding perspective – i.e. the THING that people remember playing, we basically call it Legendary Heroes.  It’s just really hosed up.

Then you have the DLC situation.  The DLC for Legendary Heroes doesn’t just sell well. It sells insanely well. There’s a huge demand for it because the installed base of the game we call Legendary Heroes (but is really Elemental: Fallen Enchantress – Legendary Heroes) keeps growing.

I know some people don’t care about the name.  But the reality is, the single biggest thing holding LH back is the brand confusion.  I’ve seen people on various forums say that LH is probably the best fantasy 4X that is currently available (though Age of Wonders 3 is looking pretty awesome). 

So we have this great fantasy game that we have the budget to keep iterating on that is artificially held down because no one really knows what to call it.

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October 21, 2013 2:13:01 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

And here I thought this was going to be a post about some kind of mashup game between GalCiv and Elemental (or Legendary Heroes, whatever) with some kind of planar gateway instead of star travel...

Spoil sport

 

 

 

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October 21, 2013 2:22:17 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I'd say embrace it.  I'm one of the few who has only played the original Elemental, but everyone knows that sequels are different games.  I don't think the brand is so tarnished that many people would see a game called "Elemental: Origins" or "Elemental II" (the most stereotypical examples possible) and write it off without even reading any reviews.  And then by the time you get to Elemental III and IV the original rocky start of the first one is so far in the past that the brand is hardly affected by it at all.

The best way to recover the Elemental brand is to release a great game under that brand.

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October 21, 2013 2:30:10 PM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

First you say it's selling insanely well, then you say it's being held back. Sounds like contradictory statements.

So you're saying that people are getting confused because they don't know the connection between Elemental and LH?

The solution is, with the next big iteration, just completely rename it.

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October 21, 2013 2:30:54 PM from Little Tiny Frogs Forums Little Tiny Frogs Forums

Quoting Borg999,

First you say it's selling insanely well, then you say it's being held back. Sounds like contradictory statements.

So you're saying that people are getting confused because they don't know the connection between Elemental and LH?

The solution is, with the next big iteration, just completely rename it.

Selling very well is X.  Held back is Y.

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October 21, 2013 2:31:19 PM from Little Tiny Frogs Forums Little Tiny Frogs Forums

Quoting TrudeauTheJust,

I'd say embrace it.  I'm one of the few who has only played the original Elemental, but everyone knows that sequels are different games.  I don't think the brand is so tarnished that many people would see a game called "Elemental: Origins" or "Elemental II" (the most stereotypical examples possible) and write it off without even reading any reviews.  And then by the time you get to Elemental III and IV the original rocky start of the first one is so far in the past that the brand is hardly affected by it at all.

The best way to recover the Elemental brand is to release a great game under that brand.

What is the "it" in embrace?

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October 21, 2013 2:32:39 PM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

If the DLC for Fallen Enchantress: LH is selling insanely well then doesn't that mean FE/LH is the current recognized/desirable brand? Elemental as a brand name would best be abandoned entirely then imo and stick with FE as a brand. Re-introducing Elemental in the name of anything at this point would only create more confusion and bring nothing positive with it.

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October 21, 2013 2:46:52 PM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

I honestly think the issue with the elemental name is in your head (I'm not trying to be mean or snarky here). The ghost of it''s release is still haunting your dreams, when everyone else has moved on.

But we are all saying pretty positive things so far, and you keep pushing back.

So what was the point of you post?

Are you looking for a solution? Sympathy? Justifying in your head why it's not selling as well as you like. Forming an excuse to not focus on it anymore?

 

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October 21, 2013 2:57:04 PM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

I think most have moved from Elemental. I certainly have. As a long-time player of Stardock games, I was quite upset with Elemental and at the time vowed not to play any "version" based on it. I started playing LH a couple weeks ago, based on positive comments in other gaming forums. I haven't been disappointed - it is a very solid and enjoyable fantasy TB strategy game now - lots of depth, atmosphere, good tactical battle system.

I'm not surprised, but am very impressed that Stardock turned around and produced such a high quality game.

So calling it Legendary Heroes alone is good, it may look the same, but it doesn't play even remotely like Elemental.

Somewhat related, my son had a comment a few nights ago while seeing me play. He said - "Dad, some of those unit designs look like that old game you complained about a couple years ago." and then "Can I play this cool new game." That was his only recollection of Elemental - the unit design. But he saw LH as something very different.

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October 21, 2013 2:58:46 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I'd worry about this problem when/if you ever decide to make a sequel.  At this point you've done all you can do.  If you go with the FE name, Ceresa becomes the mascot of the game, just like the Drengin are kinda Stardock's mascot for GalCiv (and in general).

 

Also how do you know the name is holding it back?   I'm not sure it is.  It's a long name, but it's no Bravely Default Flying Fairy or even Kohan (what's a Kohan- I still don't know why I picked up that game randomly in a store)

 

You might have the problem handwaved away, if a certain upcoming game in a couple of years (you've shown screenshots) is as good as I think it could be.  You've learned plenty of lessons over the years, if those lessons are applied to the great concept that the game I'm talking about had originally, I could see it doing really, really well.

 

I do think part of the problem is many folks are just ready for something new.  Elemental's been around now for over 4 years.  

 

 

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October 21, 2013 3:00:34 PM from Galactic Civilizations III Forums Galactic Civilizations III Forums

Quoting Borg999,
The ghost of it''s release is still haunting your dreams, when everyone else has moved on.
 

People still complaining about Elemental release on GalCivIII forums disagree with that comment? Like if Fallen Enchantress and Fallen Enchantress: Legendary Heroes never happened in between that and GalCiv III.

Hey, stick to "Heroes" for iterations. Elemental Heroes. Fallen Heroes. Avenging Heroes. Trampling Heroes. Infuriating Heroes. Trolling Heroes. Bloody Heroes. Epic Heroes. Super Heroes. Mighty Heroes. See? A whole saga right there.

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October 21, 2013 3:02:24 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

This topic has come up from time to time and I still maintain that you stick with Elemental.  Getting all convoluted with E:FE:LH was a mistake.  LH should have just been Elemental: Legendary Heroes.

When people mention GalCiv, they're thinking of whatever flavor of GalCiv they most enjoyed.  Most of them are thinking of ToA, but probably not everyone.  But, as a brand, GalCiv encompasses the totality of what you've accomplished with the GalCiv franchise.  GC1, GC2 and all the attending expansions.  That's what GalCiv is.  Pull out some terms that go with the brand and you probably get phrases like excellent design, iteration on that design and amazing AI.  

Elemental is WOM, FE, and LH.  They serve as essentially three iterations on the franchise.  Part of what makes Elemental so spectacular is the story that it tells about Stardock.  Now, admittedly, part of that story is probably hard for you guys to hear, especially after it has been thrown in your face ad nauseum for years.  But that initial, horrendous starting point is essential to the brand and, more importantly, to what that brand conveys.  

Elemental stands for merging of genres, balance of tactical and strategic gameplay and fun heroes that can adventure in a big strategic world.  But it also stands for a commitment to customers.  What you guys did in response to WOM is the standard to which studios that produce failed games should be held.  It is arguably the single best response to a failed launch in the history of the industry.  

Embrace that.  Don't hide from your rocky start, because you're essentially lopping off the best part of the story.  You're voluntarily giving away a valuable piece of the brand.  Through commitment to your customers Elemental has gone from disaster to a game that has: 

Quoting ,


Then you have the DLC situation.  The DLC for Legendary Heroes doesn’t just sell well. It sells insanely well. There’s a huge demand for it because the installed base of the game we call Legendary Heroes (but is really Elemental: Fallen Enchantress – Legendary Heroes) keeps growing.

I know some people don’t care about the name.  But the reality is, the single biggest thing holding LH back is the brand confusion.  I’ve seen people on various forums say that LH is probably the best fantasy 4X that is currently available (though Age of Wonders 3 is looking pretty awesome). 


So we have this great fantasy game that we have the budget to keep iterating on that is artificially held down because no one really knows what to call it.

You've reclaimed the moniker from the scrap heap by way of the excellent LH and, if I had to guess, you've spent a small fortune doing it.  Dear god, don't waste that now.  The next iteration of the series should simply be Elemental: XYZ.  Drop all the intermediate crap in the name.  LH is the pinnacle of Elemental.  The next iteration should beat it and take Elemental to new heights.  

GalCiv may be where you guys made your name, but Elemental is where you showed your worth the loyalty so many of your customers feel.  

Besides, do you think if you call the next iteration of your fantasy TBS franchise Froggies: Now In The Ocean or some such that people would magically NOT bring up Elemental:WOM's disastrous launch?  Might as well meet the comparison head on and take ahold of the good story it tells at the same time.  

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October 21, 2013 3:03:59 PM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

Quoting Wintersong,



Quoting Borg999,
reply 7
The ghost of it''s release is still haunting your dreams, when everyone else has moved on.
 


People still complaining about Elemental release on GalCivIII forums disagree with that comment? Like if Fallen Enchantress and Fallen Enchantress: Legendary Heroes never happened in between that and GalCiv III.

Everyone who bought Elemental got 1 free game and a major iteration update. If some people are still complaining, there is no satisifying them.

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October 21, 2013 3:08:50 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Call it Derek Paxton's Elemental: XYZ. It will distinguish it from the former failure, without discarding the brand entirely, and it has a nice "Sid Meier's AC" ring to it. And it's also basically true Not to mention using the FFH renown.

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October 21, 2013 3:14:15 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting hedetet,

Call it Derek Paxton's Elemental: XYZ. It will distinguish it from the former failure, without discarding the brand entirely, and it has a nice "Sid Meier's AC" ring to it. And it's also basically true

Except this just adds another dimension to an already confused brand.  

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October 21, 2013 3:17:12 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums


Legendary Heroes : Elemental Reborn

Imo, come full circle. This is what Elemental was meant to be like and by restoring the brand to it's rightful place, you'll be telling a wonderful journey of adventure.

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October 21, 2013 3:37:50 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Borg999,

I honestly think the issue with the elemental name is in your head (I'm not trying to be mean or snarky here). The ghost of it''s release is still haunting your dreams, when everyone else has moved on.

But we are all saying pretty positive things so far, and you keep pushing back.

So what was the point of you post?

Are you looking for a solution? Sympathy? Justifying in your head why it's not selling as well as you like. Forming an excuse to not focus on it anymore?

 

I'm hoping someone will have some brilliant idea.

You can't call it Legendary Heroes. In fact, ther'es probably a game called that.

Fallen Enchantress is...ok but not great.

The default is to simply keep iterating Fallen Enchantress: Legendary Heroes for the foreseable future until it becomes outdated and it'll be a stand-alone game. No sequels.

 

 

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October 21, 2013 3:48:05 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

You could come up with totally new name like Anthros and keep the old names as versions so..

Anthros: Elemental
Anthros: Fallen Enchantress
Anthros: Legendary Heroes

Or even make it...

War of Magic: Elemental
War of Magic: Fallen Enchantress
War of Magic: Legendary Heroes

That would minimize the Elemental name but help clarify the relationship between the games. 

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October 21, 2013 3:55:46 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Frogboy,


You can't call it Legendary Heroes. In fact, ther'es probably a game called that.

 

 

http://www.legendaryheroesgame.com/

 

Interestingly, their current front page announcement is "The Shade Countess joins the battlefield".  Shade Countess? Is that you Ceresa??

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October 21, 2013 4:05:31 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Crastiloowa,

Quoting Frogboy, reply 16

You can't call it Legendary Heroes. In fact, ther'es probably a game called that.

 

 

http://www.legendaryheroesgame.com/

 

Interestingly, their current front page announcement is "The Shade Countess joins the battlefield".  Shade Countess? Is that you Ceresa??

 

Ceresa would never be caught dead wearing such attire

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October 21, 2013 4:10:29 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

It is - "Elemental: Legendary Heroes".  (at least in my mind)

You saved the Elemental brand by giving away FE & LH, don't make that a waste.  Payed-for marketing goes nowhere near as far as the natural publicity from philanthropy, especially righting admitted wrongs.  You've admirably stuck to your guns thus far, don't stop now.  While FE's sales may not have been as substantial as LH's, it's your work on Fallen Enchantress that solidified your status as a contributor of quality to the genre in the public's eyes.  Steam is probably more responsible for the increase in sales than anything else.

Plus, the title "Elemental" lends itself to a uniquely expanding universe and interesting game mechanics much more than "Fallen Enchantress"(1 faction), or "Legendary Heroes"(generic).  The intertwining of opposing natural forces as the foundation for kingdoms of warring mages is good stuff!  We already have "'Heroes' of Might and Magic".  Now that you've walked through the gates that Ubisoft left wide open, learn from their mistakes too, and take the reigns!

Age of Wonders is more of a multiplayer war game than a kingdom development sim.  Differentiate!

Elemental was a brilliantly designed game that contributed a lot of fresh ideas to the genre.  Just how much originality was cut still blows my mind.  All it needed was polish and refinement - the products of some good back 'n forth with lay play-testers, and additional staff/time.  You've shared that many of the lessons learned during the development of Elemental directed you to implement a more streamlined and professional workflow for the game development side of your business, <this was the solution to Elemental's problems, not cutting everything that made it stand out.  FE & LH are "Civ + HoMM", "Elemental" was a new contender in the genre.  Now that the underlying game has been refined appropriately for consumer consumption, (and selling accordingly), the opportunity to distinguish the brand as something special is presenting itself again!

The best way to increase consumer confusion is through re-branding, the best way to solve it is through marketed education.

Stick to your guns!

 

 

 

Or there's..

 

"Ancient Civilizations"

 

 

 

Edit: Great post Kantok, just saw it.

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October 21, 2013 4:14:47 PM from Galactic Civilizations III Forums Galactic Civilizations III Forums

Quoting Frogboy,



You can't call it Legendary Heroes. In fact, ther'es probably a game called that.
 

 Have you checked?  It might be worth finding out.  (FWIW, I've started calling it Legendary Heroes in everyday speak.) 

 



Quoting Frogboy,

The default is to simply keep iterating Fallen Enchantress: Legendary Heroes for the foreseable future until it becomes outdated and it'll be a stand-alone game. No sequels.
 

That's kinda what I figured would be the case.  I know FE:LH is a bit of a mouthful, but it might very well be the best that can be done for now.  Either that, or come up with an entirely new title for the next iteration (you'd obviously know better than I whether it'd be worth it). 

 

 

(By the by, I have to say Legendary Heroes is a fantastic game.  I think it's the first fantasy grand-strategy title I've truly enjoyed playing *and* has kept my attention since its release.  Kudos!) 

 

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October 21, 2013 4:47:34 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

If only you could just use the name legendary heroes, then you would be gold. It's a stand alone expansion, so no reason it can't stand entirely by itself.

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October 21, 2013 4:53:02 PM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums

You could call it Draginol's Tales: Legendary Heroes.

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October 21, 2013 4:57:01 PM from Galactic Civilizations III Forums Galactic Civilizations III Forums

From a sales standpoint I'd say to be playful with the name. What "damage" there may be has already been done.

Be all "aw shucks" with a goofy grin while bringing up the name and just keep throwing out those DLC's and continuing the awesomeness. I'd be incredibly surprised if us consumers cared even half as much 'bout the name. We're simply greedy and want more.

Has there ever even been any confusion with the name? Like has someone not understood what was being spoken of? My friends and I all call it something different, with Elemental being more commonly used with everyone. Then we differ between Fallen Enchantress and Legendary Heroes.

Now that I'm done tellin' my gram-gram how to suck eggs......when's the next damned DLC?!?

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October 21, 2013 5:07:28 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Elemental Prime.... (most games after all major expansions are out you add prime on the end....) ya thats all I got.   Arn't I useless... 

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