Hi all, I'm feeling the need to talk. Its been awhile since I did that around here.
I'm an old school Stardock fan and observer, going back to the day soon after Master of Orion 3 entered my possession and inside the box I found a flyer for a game called Galactic Civilisations. Moo3 had been one of my most anticipated releases ever, and turned out to be utter junk, and never redeemed itself. So I bought GalCiv, a much more modest game by a little indie dev team called Stardock. And it was good. I also began to follow the developers when I heard early news that GalCiv2 development was beginning.
I was with GalCiv2 all the way through its development, I played every beta, I read damn near every thread and I spent quite a bit of effort on the forums helping others get to know the game and find the info they needed to play and give good feedback. I'm proud to say that my name is on the credits for GC2. Yes, I am awesome. You may bow before me.
I have been following Elemental closely, reading the journals every few days and waiting in anticipation from those long ago days when Stardock were talking of thinking about thinking of doing a fantasy game. But I've been almost entirely silent here. I got a real job, and a girlfriend. And a few other things. So, I've not put the time into engaging with the beta as much as I'd have liked, and actually feel a little guilty for it. Which is weird to say when you're a paying customer!
The point I'm getting towards is that I feel a need to engage with both Stardock, the community, and which ever random player reads this. I think at this point we're all feeling a bit like we watched Star Wars The Phantom Menace. Its Star Wars...but it doesn't feel quite right. You want to like it more than you actually do, or something is nagging at you about the whole thing.
What I want to say to the community is this; we the customers know that Elemental is not the game it should be. And now Stardock, and Frogboy himself, are facing up to that too. They see it now, if they didn't get it before. There is no need to tell them that they screwed up any more. I keep thinking of the saying "There's no use in shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted."
In the last couple of days Brad has accepted that Elemental needs more than a bit of bug fixing (closing the door). This was a huge admission and I respect that. I wish more companies had the balls and the decency to be so forthright. It does not excuse Elemental's launch, but it does I hope mark a turning point.
To Brad. To all at Stardock. To my fellow community and anyone stumbling across this. What is done is now behind us, so let's go get our horse back.
Stardock develop their games based on feedback, I have witnessed this first hand over years now. And I know from my experience of GalCiv2's development, post-release updates and full blown expansions, that Stardock are able to make sweeping, game changing improvements to their games. So, let us focus on making Elemental into the game it should be.
I'm going to start talking about the actual game now, if you're still reading then you're a bit awesome btw.
I have recently been playing Stalker Call Of Pripyat. I am looking at it and Elemental in a similar way. I really like both, but I'm aware that both need work to make them all they could be. Both are by ambitious developers running their own game engines, and both push the envelope of development. I have been enjoying both but encounter some things I know could be better done.
Lets talk firepower. Stalker has weapons that don't feel meaty enough, Elemental has spells with the same problem. An ice bolt and a fire dart are the same damned thing. Exactly the same damned thing, a damage spell with the same stats.
Suggestion 1: Make the damage spells for each book at the same level deal a different amount of damage. Fire lvl 1 is better then the lvl 1 Air damage spell, but the lvl 2 Air damage spell is better than the fire equivalent. This would provide advantages/disadvantages at different points in the game.
Suggestion 2: Counter spells. Give earth the ability to reduce the effectiveness of air. Give water the ability to defend against fire damage. How about a spell that generates a protective zone around the caster that halves damage against an opposing element? My Air channeler casts a circle of protection above his army, shielding all within 2 squares around him from the worst of the earth channeler's rain of rocks.
There needs to be a reason for me to use more tactical spells than my direct damage on one unit or the area of effect damage spell. Thats all I have been using on the battlefield.
Suggestion 3: This well known already, but I need to be able to cast spells more frequently. In most battles I don't cast anything as I know I could win without it and may need to cast next battle. Mana is such a scarce commodity that I ration its use. In a game subtitled War of Magic!
Suggestion 4: Imbuing champions. My channeler typically has less than 15 essence. This is because imbuing champions is so expensive, and getting essence back is hard work. Every time my channeler levels up I spend it on getting more essence. If I didn't then I wouldn't have enough mana left to cast anything, or too few spell casters to do anything interesting. Many spells require more than 10 mana to cast, so far I don't research many of them as I know I lack the essence/mana to use them much or at all.
Lets talk mighty armies. I researched teams, so now I've got three guys built as one unit, and are exponentially more awesome than these three guys I trained earlier.
Suggestion 5: In GalCiv2 there is a fleet management screen that allows me to swap ships in and out of a fleet. Once formed, a fleet operates effectively like a single unit with combined stats. At first glance its like that team unit of three guys. Once I can train group formations, creating single man units is pointless, they are vastly inferior even if they are all in one army stack. So, what do I do with all these single guys? Introduce a function like GC2's fleet manager which lets me combine the single units together to form groups. Its that or I disband/lemming charge my old chaff units. Which doesn't make sense given that the team unit is made up the same thing as the single unit. I should just be able to add them together.
Suggestion 6: Maybe I need to play more/research something but I have yet to own a resource that gives me a mount. Where are all the horsies at?
I'll come back to this and add more as I think of it.
But remember, the horse is out there!