As reported elsewhere, Elemental will not be released next month but is tentatively scheduled for 3rd quarter 2010. Those of you who have been reading these journals of course have known that since last Fall but we had neglected to change the update on the store page.
So that we can refer to this journal entry later, we are not committing to any particular date. “When it’s done” is basically our time schedule. That doesn’t mean we’ll wait until every feature we can possibly imagine is stuffed in there before we release it but it does mean that we aren’t going to let an arbitrary date determine when it’s done either. This is our baby. It’s your baby. It’s something we’ve all been waiting for for a very long time and it won’t be rushed.
So what are the basic things we feel have to be nailed down? I.e. what are things that we absolutely essential? These are the things that would cause us to delay the game if we aren’t satisfied with them:
- A rich world. The world the player plays in feels almost as rich and interesting as a pre-made fantasy world in an RPG despite being randomly generated.
- A fun and interesting story-driven campaign. I love sand box mode but I want to make sure the game comes with a campaign that tells the story of Elemental.
- An incredible single player experience. This kind of goes with #1 but what we mean is that when playing the game, the player feels like they are the center of a great epic story.
- 32 player multiplayer. This is a big one and will take a lot of work but it we are requiring that the game handle up to 32 players playing together. To make this work, it also means that games need to be automatically saved (to our servers regardless of whether it’s on a custom modded server or ours) so that stopping and starting games later is easy.
- Fun tactical battles. The tactical battles have to be enjoyable enough such that a person might just want to play a tactical battle as a stand alone game but be flexible enough so that players can control how long they take (i.e. everything from instant resolve to epic tactical battles).
- Fun civilization building. That means an economic system that is enjoyable to play by a wide range of player types which means a LOT of time to play test this once it’s mature to let us figure out what parts could be automated by users who don’t want to micro manage while letting other people micro manage if they want.
- Beautiful on the high end, playable on the low end. This means that on that latest greatest AMD/nVidia setup you’ll be able to see amazing things visually. But it also means that on low end systems (like Netbooks) a player could also play it in purely cloth map mode if they want. The goal is to present different ways to play the game rather than crippling the high or low end experience.
- Modding. Built in editors to let people create their own factions, maps, conversations, items, and other goodies as well as make sure more technical people can go hog wild on it. While I’m not promising the next part for release, my goal is to be able to take Elemental and create a Temple of Apshai game(a totally different game type) using Python.
- Crazy magic battles. Rather than the late game being about mopping up, it’ll be about great powers doing insane things with magical spells. World changing things (think Populous).
- Unique factions. Early on I made the stupid mistake of saying there are only two races in Elemental. There are lots of different races but they only come from two canon sources: Natural beings (like Men) and unnatural beings (The Fallen). The creature you see on this page would be a type of Fallen creature but is clearly not humanoid. While we won’t have elves, orcs, unicorns or fairies in the game, we intend to let people easily create their own (i.e. if you want your Half-men race complete with its own body, tech tree, magic spells, ability to farm faster, etc. you can do this). I imagine eventually players will have hundreds of different “races” (species) to play against.
That’s just 10 quick things right there.
The best way to know how things are going is to keep an eye on what public beta is out there. Use THIS POST to keep track. We won’t go to BETA 3 until we are happy with the game mechanics and general fun potential.
Note: This doesn’t mean all players will agree with us on what constitutes “fun”. I guarantee there will be posts that will point to this very entry claiming that we agreed to have “fun civ building” but we went back on that because “fun” to that person means mining ore, smelting it, sending it to a shop to be turned into a sword, having the sword shipped somewhere else stored in a warehouse and then equipped (hint: we don’t stockpile resources in Elemental). So we aren’t trying to be all things to all people. But the above should give you an outline of some of the things we think are very important.
If you think I left something out, post below and I’ll either answer YES. NO. Or some lame cryptic marketing answer.