With all the talk of 'Epic' lately, it got me thinking (ruh roh...). Was Elemental intended to be 'Epic'? If so, is it?
First, what's 'Epic'? Lord of the Rings is Epic, right? Civ4 or MoM games aren't, at least not compared to the Epicness of LOTR.
I think Elemental is supposed to be Epic. Civ4 and MoM didn't have lore as Elemental does. Evidence for Epic includes:
-Those nasty Titans screwed up things and putting them in their place broke the world (note -- I'm not much for lore so I may have some of this wrong), and we gotta fix things back up. That qualifies as Epic.
-We have the factions -- empires vs kingdoms. Empires vs Kingdoms isn't good vs. evil, but they're supposedly antagonistic beyond the normal competition between leaders/civs such as Lincoln vs. Montezuma vs. etc.
So, assuming the above isn't too far off-base, how well has Epicness been achieved so far?
Fixin' the broken world
We found cities and attract people out of the 'wilderness' and re-invent civilization. Problems:
-population pretty much only affects city leveling, which in itself seems under-utilized. Pop is supposed to be subtracted for recruiting, but I haven't ever had a difficult 'recruit and lose pop or build pop and risk not enough troops' decision.
-the game not only allows city spamming but rewards it. Hard to get the feeling we're struggling to bring back civilization when you can't hardly swing a dead cat without hitting a bunch of cities.
-food for pop isn't that hard to come by, and global resources makes it a no-brainer once the +food resources are built.
-essence started off being very important for revitalizing the land, but now it's seemingly not even related. Folks who weren't in early beta probably don't even realize any essence-revitalization link.
The above are Epic-less features. I can't think of any +Epic features, so the net grade for fixin' the world is Not Epic.
Kingdoms vs. Empires
Are the conflicts between K vs. E any different from the conflicts between the Sovs within each? I don't see any. Am I missing something? Assuming I'm not, then Not Epic.
How to make Elemental Epic
Regarding fixin' the broken world -- there needs to be a feeling of a struggle here. Founding cities and successfully growing them needs to be a challenge. Attracting and feeding the pop -- challenge. There needs to be a feeling that, without smart game play this could go south pretty easily.
-Essence needs to be part of the revitalization equation -- real trade-offs between revitalization and sov power.
-Sovs need to really compete for pop -- a 'zero-sum game' where the pop I get is pop another sov loses out on. And pop would be a diminishing resource that gets progressively harder to acquire. This makes an 'early pop rush' a viable strategy because it only gets harder later on as the global pop pool decreases.
-maybe the Titans aren't really completely gone and they could return if some things don't/do happen.
Regarding teh K vs. E thing
I think a chance was missed here to make something kinda Epic. Kingdom lands look pretty (like Trammel), Empire lands look ravished (like Felucca) like the non-revitalized lands. Essence is supposed to be needed to revitilize. Why aren't Empires the 'anti-Essence' faction (anti-essence ~= death)? Maybe E sovs get their power from absorbing essence (which ravishes the land), much like the Kingdom folks get their power from 'freeing' essence (which revitalizes the land). This would explain why Kingdom land looks revitalized and Empire land looks ravished (is there an explanation for this currently?).
Ks and Es can fight over the shards (making shards more important) -- the Ks to free the essence for their power, and the Es to suck out the essence for their power.
This makes the struggle between K and E sovs more than just a struggle amongst K sovs and amongst E sovs, and it adds Epicness -- does the world end up revitalized or stay ravished feel to the game?
And maybe the E sovs are trying to bring back the Titans who'd re-inslave the world, or at least possibly break the world again defeating them.
Maybe there's a better way, and/or additional ways, to add Epicness (heck, maybe no one wants Epicness...). I'm not the sharpest knife in the drawer and I'm sure there's better ideas out there to make Elemental (more) Epic.