WARNING - LOTS OF TEXT
I think a lot of the reasoning behind the "hate" in the forums is actually due to a select group of fanboys from the other side of the coin.
Those that have read my (very few) posts will know that I am unhappy with the game. I am unhappy on many different levels:
- Unhappy because I do not feel it currently lives up to its promised potential (this may change - it will get better - but I spent the last year or so hearing about how this would be the "spiritual successor to MoM" and now read that isn't supposed to be the case)
- Unhappy because I have an i7 PC with 9 gigs of Ram and the game turns into a slideshow every game I play after about 2 hours
- Unhappy because the game crashes - both randomly, as well as "Out of Memory" several times during a play session
- Unhappy because functions of the game that are required for a game of this sort to be smooth, and "fun" do not work as intended (Diplomacy, the entire tactical battle system, the AI, Magic, Shards)
- Unhappy because of balance issues - Heroes feeling worthless after turn 15 unless you imbue them and make them batteries for summons, and more
- Unhappy because of the botched release + gamer bill of rights + snarky CEO comments made me, as a consumer, feel betrayed
I could go on, with more little nitpicks about the game (I have expressed some in other posts where they were more on topic).
... but what REALLY infuriates me, is when I'm in a thread reading about legitimate complaints (usually in the ones about framerate slowdowns on PCs like my own - I'm there trying to find out if its being addressed, and/or if anyone has any temporary fixes) - and rabid fanboys rush in, usually the same 4-6 names - it is sad I can recognize them after a few days, isn't it? - and start shouting about how the game is perfect, there are no problems, people with problems are just stupid/not 4x game fans/extra stupid/liars/"haters"/etc.
There is a large community for this game, and I'm sure Stardock wants to keep growing that community - more customers makes them happy. A good portion of that community is unhappy with the game (the one poll was close to a 50/50 split of disappointment and "like", although I felt the poll was flawed as those are not mutually exclusive - honestly, the people/things we LIKE are the people/things that can disappoint us easiest), and Stardock, for not only my short list above but countless of their own reasons due to Elemental and the release of the game.
The problem seems to arise because whenever a legitimate thread appears discussing game problems, a crack group (or group on crack?) of fanboys rushes in and starts wailing on the beehive of upset customers with a stick. This draws in the true "haters", and the threads devolve into shouting matches and insults that only fuel the 10% crazy/a-hole people on either side of the equation.
Meanwhile, people like myself .. who wanted to like the game .. and want to read about good ideas to fix it, and especially want to read about fixes and patches and balanced issues (all my "I'm unhappy" from above) is going to be fixed ... we see others with our concerns getting punched in the face and screamed at by a group of insane people who either have low standards for a good game and what makes a 4x game "fun" or got a different game from their digital download that actually works and have functioning features.
I'll express my own inner workings on this and imagine yourself in my shoes:
I looked forward to this game. I was excited by the advertisements in gaming magazines. I told my friends who like MoM & Civ about the games. I have sense gone back and told each of those friends to not purchase this game, as it is not what I was lead to believe it would be and is not "done" to the point where any of us would be happy with it. Friends who purchased it (all dislike it as much, and a couple more so, than I do), I felt the need to apologize to, because they had the same complaints I did ... and I while I may personally feel stupid wasting $50 on a game that is not up to my standards, my standards are high and carry weight amongst my friends. Suggesting Elemental was a mistake, I should have waited a few months ... I got caught up in the hype.
I am not a rabid Stardock fan - in fact, since I do not care for "space" based tactical games, I knew very little about Stardock before Elemental came out. I therefore had no opinion on them before this, other than I have some friends that liked the "Sins" game so they knew who Stardock was.
I go through a lot of games looking for "the good ones" and play those on-and-off for years. I played Elemental more than many people have since release (I spent the last week off from any outside commitments and figured I'd give the game I was excited to get a solid playing over, and I wanted to try and get a complete feel for the features and come give my thoughts/suggestions on the forum to fix issues). I do not find it "fun" in its current state - it "fills time" for me ... I do not feel "one more turn" ... I click it while watching television, or chatting to friends - I do not feel the game has depth at all after the initial "oh this is new" wears off - and I know admitting that makes me at odds with the company CEO himself and an army of crazed people here in the forum.
I have pretty much shelved Elemental, and while I know I'll drag it back out later and hope it "got better" it has already done enough damage to my opinion that I don't think I'll buy another Stardock product, and I definitely won't suggest one to others (quite the opposite actually - they're joining the list in my mind with Cryptic to avoid) unless they can wow me with something really groundbreaking and actually fun down the line.
I plan to stick around the forums, reading and leaving comments in the hopes that a patch reworks the entire game in a way that it becomes as enjoyable to me as other 4x games. I actually borrowed Age of Wonders: Shadow Magic from a friend to try it out and am having a hundred times more fun with it just in the tutorial (wow an actual tutorial!) than I did in the 4 days of 8+hours of having Elemental run on my PC (when it wasn't crashing).