While a lot of Stardock’s development team has been interfacing with Gas Powered Games to continue to improve Demigod, the Elemental team continues forward.
Now a couple of things about Elemental that should be made clear:
- Elemental will be a single-player focused game. It will have multiplayer but most of the development time will be spent on single player.
- Elemental will have a story-based campaign. While Sins of a Solar Empire and Demigod do not have story-based campaigns, it’s important to bear in mind that Stardock doesn’t develop those games. Galactic Civilizations II and its expansions all have story based campaigns.
- I don’t like traditional story-based campaigns. I.e. we are not going to do a scripted campaign but instead tell the story through the campaign game that will play a little bit like Defender of the Crown (incidentally, designed by my friend Kellyn Beeck, VP of BizDev at Gas Powered Games).
Now, with those 3 points out of the way, let’s talk about modding.
In Elemental, we are building an engine that we are then “modding” into Elemental. The idea is that if we approach the game in that way, the game will, over time, become flexible enough so that players can mod it into all kinds of different land-based, turn-based games. If we get our way, a modder could take Elemental and make RISK, or a Lords of Conquest game or all kinds of other things like that.
For those of you not familiar with modding let’s break this down into its elemental (no pun intended) parts:
- You have asset creation. That is, the ability to make things you can see in the game.
- You have item creation. That would be spells, armor, weapons, etc.
- You have resource creation. That would be everything from iron ore to magical gems to wood.
- You have gameplay scripting. We are using Python and that is where the rules of the game itself are modded.
- You have the AI scripting. Again, using Python, that is where the AI behavior is modded.
For items 1, 2, and 3 you will have the built in modding tools (early version pictured above). What you see above is where the modder can create a particular tile in the game. Maybe it’s a dungeon. Maybe it’s a going to be a city improvement. Maybe it’s ruins on the map. Who knows.
The plan is that players will be able to save these creations and post them to share with other players. When these creations are saved, they can choose what “mod” they go with. Elemental (for instance) would be the default choice that your creation could be used with. But if someone made a different game mod, they could save it there as well. That way, a mod could continue to be improved over time by the community. Players would continue to use the bestiary (you’ll see that late Summer) to choose which mods they want to make available for themselves.
For items 4 and 5, how flexible this will be will largely depend on time. Since I code the AI in Stardock games, I’ll have to be careful to make C++ APIs in the game that are fairly generic that I can then call from python scripts. I don’t know Python right now so there will be a learning curve. Users will be able to mod the scripts as they see fit for single player. In multiplayer, the scripts will come from our servers in order to make sure everyone is playing the same game (it avoids all that desync pain you see in games when someone has modded something and forgotten).
So that’s the direction we’re going. Now, bear in mind here, what I’m outlining here is what are goal is. These aren’t “promises” because as with anything, economic reality may come into play. But so far, things are going pretty well.