Thank you for the detailed reply Brad.
GalCiv was always inspired by Civilization. Literally Civilization in space. I wouldn't do nodes in GalCiv because I already had a favorite game that did it well - Master of Orion.
Certainly, though even early iterations of Civ had bounds on the open movement system. Mountains, oceans, ZOCs. Early age you could only move one or two squares at a time as well. I suppose the open space design could still have worked if not for the extreme speeds fleets could reach.
Sins of a Solar Empire is node-based and is 4X.
It is, though I should have been more specific about TBS. I have no interest in RTS, no matter how pausable it is, unless it is a SotS or TW design. Or MoO3 for that matter.
The core problems with Elemental are in my view: Magic, Infinite Force Projection, and tactical battles.
The Magic was limited because of the game engine. Infinite Force Projection was due to a poor design compromise by me to try to work around the magic system problems. Tactical battles were problematic because I had to gimp the design after the continuous turns system turned out to be a disaster.
Well I think you have it right then, and I'm hopeful you get the systems changed to be more interesting. Would it be possible to see a dev journal on the teams ideas for correcting tac battles and magic?
In both cases, the engine dictated the design. Not originally of course. The original design of Elemental was essentially MOM but as budget, scope, and internal capability began to come to the fore (and this is why developing so many new engine systems at once is a bad idea) the design was altered.
Well it sounds as though some of us may wind up waiting for Elemental 2 to be really happy then. Unless you decide a new engine is required Unless the expansions are able to address these issues.
Writing the original design document for Elemental wasn't terribly difficult. Take Master of Magic, add quests and goodie huts and NPCs, and unit design make tactical battles continuous turns so that you can have really HUGE armies battling it out and voila, game of the year.
See how easy that is to design? When I see someone say "Why didn't they copy MOM more" my only response to that is "Well, duh."
Well yes, though my thought was more along the lines of having a crisp and clean tac combat model in mind *before* starting the engine. Same for magic, same for the goodie huts (well MoM had those anyway) same for quests, ... I don't know how detailed the DD was, I don't know how ambitious it was, I don't know if the engine was underway before or during the DD process. I do know from my experience with DDs is that you cannot start building until you've finished the DD. Of course you have to be able to adjust and adapt as time/money concerns come into play. This isn't a criticism of your process as I don't know what the process was other than following the beta. I just feel that the main elements of the game which people agree are lacking, were not given enough attention at a very early point such that once the ball started rolling the dreams of how to implement them were shattered and going back to redesign the engine was not an option. You say you've learned a lot from this project, I hope this was one of the lessons.
The hard part is when you don't have an engine that can do any of that and you have to develop it at the same time. You find out some things are harder to do in 2010 than others and begin to make compromises to your design. Add months of growing exhaustion and fatigue and pretty soon you start thinking "Hey, yea, enchantment slots and local mana, great idea! I'll buy that for a dollar!"
I hear you, and sympathize. I do have faith that the game will rise its ashes (perhaps that's too dramatic?) though.