I made a reply to Frogboy's rethinking factions post earlier today, but I thought that I might as well set out my thoughts here too.
The article referenced in IGN’s Feature on Elemental Modding states that modding custom factions will be handled in the xml files, which leads me to assume that we will no longer be able to create our own factions in game. Here's the quote:
"As soon as it gets complex, we hand it over into XML so that a different class of modder will go in," says Wardell. "For instance, during the beta, we let users create their own custom factions right in the game setup. But each subsequent beta, the create faction screen got more and more complex since you were creating faction bonuses, choosing what race they would be, applying racial bonuses, choosing what people in the faction would look like and on and on and we realize that sort of functionality should not be part of the "I just want to play the bloody game" setup and moved that into the realm of mods where people could really go to town and make their own elves or orcs or whatever races they want to have in."
I'd like to have that feature back in the game; here's my reasoning:
1. Many people enjoy creating and playing with their own faction. Refer to the poll (My favorite faction is) at the top of the journal page for evidence. Right now it stands at 76% voting for "The one I created myself" with Pariden in a distant second with 8%. Presumably most people responded during the beta period where it was possible to create your own faction.
2. Now a big assumption: Most players won't mess around with the xml files. I think its a pretty reasonable assumption.
That combo alone means that a large number of players will miss out on a feature that they enjoyed.
3. Balance. So, assuming you learned your xml, found all the right files and bits and pieces and put it all together, what about your numbers? You could throw in any number of bonuses and advantages. The sovereign customization system gives you a list of stats/bonuses and makes you buy them using a limited number of points. That useful information (which bonus is worth how much, and how many of each type you can have) would be lacking in a purely xml customization.
4. Multiplayer. If you make your own faction, you want to play with it, yes? Maybe even against other people? I'm not sure exactly how the multiplayer servers will work, but I would theorize that you will not be able to take your custom faction (I'm assuming it'll be treated like a mod) onto the official servers, and you'll have to share yours around with everyone if you're playing on a custom server. Unless you can make a custom faction in-game, in which case everyone can bring their own.
4.5 The balance issue crops up with multiplayer again. With out some rules and boundaries, coordinating with your fellow players on a server about acceptable modifications to custom races would be tedious and aggravating. That kind of structure isn't provided when each individual player has to go into the xml files and code/copy-paste their own faction.
I can understand that the factions have too many features to go through the process of creating a faction every time you wish to "play the bloody game." However, I'm not asking that we get enough tools to make things drastically different, i.e. "elves or orcs or whatever," just enough to be able to make a faction to call our own. Like the sovereign customization system.
So... those are my somewhat scattered thoughts about faction customization/creation. I'd miss the feature, and I'm sure others would too, so please bring it back.