It is great to be back to the land of high speed Internet connections.
The team got v1.07 out this week which addresses some of the issues reported by players. There’s a lot more to do of course. Here’s a few notes on what’s on our plate right now:
- Enabling multiplayer. Why isn’t it up now? Because the same problems that would cause a user a problem in single player would happen in MP too except now there are now multiple human beings involved which increases the frustration. I’m going to look at the response to v1.07 this weekend and see where things stand.
- Improving the AI Part 1. There is a little (lot) of confusion on the AI. Minor factions aren’t supposed to build. They’re just there. I think we’ll have to change that to either make it more obvious that they don’t do anything (like change the style of city to be more obvious) or have them behave more like major factions.
- Improving the AI Part 2. I am hoping to be able to get my AI updates into v1.08 (next week) to make the major faction AI substantially more capable. The basic problem with the AI is that a lot of data changes were made very late in development (values for weapons and armor and how much various improvements do) that heavily altered the AI’s evaluation of what was “worth” constructing or how much it needed to protect its sovereign and such. This is the kind of thing that will have to be addressed – for starters.
- Game Mechanic Changes. There are going to be quite a few game mechanic changes based on our own experience and reading on the forums. Keep posting your suggestions.
- Magic System Changes. This is an area that’s going to get a lot of changes. For instance, Essence will become a boolean (true or false). Your mana will come from a global pool of mana that is from the shards. The elemental spell books (earth, air, fire, water) will get moved out of character creation and into the tech tree so that players can determine what spell books they want. Various spells will gain a mana “maint” rather than using “enchantment slots”. This all brings us to the next part
- General UI. There are some outstanding posts on the forums with suggestions about the UI that we’re looking at. But generally speaking, we want to eliminate a lot of what I’d say (with the benefit of hindsight) gratuitous complexity (enchantment slots, tile limitations on cities, obscured game mechanics, etc.). We’ll get very specific with the community as we start to put these in.
- Performance, Compatibility, Memory. These three things remain the most troubling and frankly, heart breaking issues. On a personal note, nothing pains us more than when someone accuses us of “rushing” the game. The phrase “works on my machine” is not an acceptable excuse. We just blew it on so many levels that it will require a detailed post-mortem (which I do plan to provide so players, customers, and others can learn from our mistakes in general and my personal mistakes in particular). When I read the check-in logs, I wince at how specific each “crash” is (“Crash caused by user having 8X AGP card in 4X AGP motherboard with soft lighting turned off when in the unit design window”). There’s a reason most games license their engines (Civilization and Fallout 3 use Gambryo for instance, other games use Unreal, and so on). We use our own home grown one “Kumquat” which is proving to have serious teething issues that we are most definitely suffering the consequences for.
There’s a ton more to add here but these are a few of the things on our mind. It’s been, as you can imagine, a horrible horrible couple of weeks. We’re doing out best to make sure Elemental lives up to its potential which brings me to the final part.
Elemental’s original release schedule was to have the first release (War of Magic – Book 1: Relias) and 2 expansion packs (Book 2: Cerena and Book 3: Magesta).
What we’re going to do is that for users who own the game by a certain date will get (at least) the first expansion pack for free as a token of our appreciation for hanging in there with us. As some long-time Stardock gamers can tell you, our expansion packs aren’t minor things.
Have a good weekend!