The longest part of my day is waking up to early to head into the Stardock office. I'm anxious to get back to work. What a great job.
I spent yesterday helping to make the spells more exciting, but so far my focus has been on process. We will create a consistent design, we will document that design, we will march toward implementing that design. Flexibility is important in creating games, if something isn't working it has to go, but we aren't going to simply "try things". There is a great game in Elemental, we have to bring it out.
It's worth saying that the great game in Elemental isn't Fall from Heaven (for those hoping or worried that I'm going to try to make Elemental into FfH). That doesn't mean there aren't ideas in FfH that are valuable here, such as faction differentiation, but this is a very different game. This is about exploring a shattered world, engaging in great tactical combat and building a fantasy empire. Master of Magic is the inspiration here, not FfH.
There is great background lore in Elemental, but we need to bring it into the game. There are great opportunities, but we need to make them more fun. There are some problematic mechanics that we need to get out of the way.
My main focus is really on the post 1.1 work, but I've been able to help on the 1.1 side. Tighten the feature list, make sure everything is moving toward the next steps, help with ideas and flavor. There is a great team here, I'm honored to be able to work with them.
We will be starting a community design contest soon. I appreciate all the great ideas everyone provides, and we are going to have some fun with it (we were just going to use my ideas but then we realized we wanted the game to be good). Watch the boards, the full details will be announced next week.
My emphasis on the text is in red.
When I read this post I can't help but notice that this game isn't complete, still, and isn't likely to be complete for the foreseeable future.
The first bit of red text says that "there is a great game in Elemental, we have to bring it out[,]" and yet I am wondering that if a great game has to be brought out what has been going on from the beginning of design through to now. If the game was not released in the state it was and if it was in some real way 'retail complete' at this point I wouldn't have a leg to stand on here, yet it's been months and the latent potential that is in this game still has yet to come out? How long does Stardock need to make good on making Elemental, well, good?
The second bit of red text says two important things. One of which is that there is great lore in Elemental but, if I may emphasise a bit more, it isn't appreciably present in the game. This is true. The game's lore is rather interesting but it just isn't present in any real way in the game. Granted, it is a large sandbox but there isn't a compelling reason that I should play with one toy over any other or explore a different sort of play for any reason other than mere whim. The story is there and is suppressed, I don't get it. The other thing is that "[t]here are some problematic mechanics that we need to get out of the way." There are still problematic mechanics? Why? Granted, there is only so much that a team can do but why are there still problematic game mechanics? Is it because the design is yet to be consistent, seeing the first bit of red text, or is it something more much serious?
The third bit of red text seems to me to answer the last question in the above paragraph, namely that the team just doesn't have enough ideas or any real, strong direction for Elemental. I want to stress the word 'seems' here because I can't be sure and it may be reading too much into the current state of the game, but when I look back on what the game was on launch day and what it seems to still be I can't help but think that the Stardock team really doesn't know what to do and is reaching to their playerbase. This is a good thing in one way, as it definitely appreciates the playerbase and is genuinely interested in the ideas that come from that base. Unfortunately, this is more of a bad thing in that it doesn't seem that there are any real ideas coming out of Stardock in respect to this game. If the game was solid and Stardock was asking what ideas players had that would be one thing, it would be Stardock saying, 'hey, we've got a great thing here and we want to make it better, we have some ideas but we want to hear what our players have to say.' Instead, Stardock seems to be saying, 'hey, we're really at a loss here. There's a lot that needs doing and we really don't know what direction to go or how far to go in any direction. Now, we can't pay you for your ideas but we'd really appreciate them and they will help us finish the game.'
I want to be positive about this game but the more I read the more it looks like Stardock doesn't know what to do with Elemental. I don't think that Stardock should give up but I do think that Stardock needs to figure out what Stardock needs to do about Elemental. Various players will have various ideas, some stellar and some pretty bad, but ultimately Stardock is both the Publisher and Developer of the game and if the ideas that make Elemental Elemental cannot come from within Stardock there is really no hope for it. Stardock, please tone down the flow of insubstantial information and please stop asking the players to do what you should be doing. Sit down and figure out where this game needs to go, come back to us in a few weeks telling us exactly where the game is going to go -even throw registered players a survey in their e-mail so they can comment on aspects of the game to give you feedback you can easily analyse- and only after that start to tell us what is happening as it happens. Please, please, do your jobs and stop asking the community to do it for you.