Just want to keep people's expectations in line.
We are talking about a beta so let me walk you through some of the pain you can expect:
There will be crashes
The team has been working hard on making FE the most stable beta release we’ve done before. However, it will crash as this is the first build that will get widely tested in “release” mode as opposed to “debug” mode.
(1) Loading games within games.
(2) Starting a new game within a game.
I spent today recoding parts of this and it “works on my machine” but accounting won’t let me ship my machine with the game.
Balance Balance Balance
We have a long list of balance changes that still need to be made. And let’s face it, a little balance change can change the game dramatically.
Anyone coming from War of Magic will be happy but we still have a lot of areas to go. If you want to maximize your performance, you’ll want to turn off pedestrians (the little people in the cities) and disable outlines. Those two cosmetics eat up a lot of frames. However, if you have the horsepower, you’ll be good. Make sure you update your video drivers just to be safe.
Anti-aliasing will definitely also slow things down horrendously depending on your config and resolution. The game is going to default to your desktop resolution. So if you’re like me at 2560x1440, think twice about turning on 8x anti aliasing.
Anyone who has bought a PC game in the past few months knows this is an issue that has gotten a lot worse in recent times. Until we all jettison DirectX 9 (this is likely going to be our last DirectX 9 game, sorry XP users) you’re going to have a lot of people with unusual issues that we hope we’ll nail down with this beta as opposed to with WOM when the first “release” mode distribution was the release version (the beta versions all had debugging code which covered up various issues). With FE, the betas are going to all be release mode distributions which means it’ll be like you just got the “real” version. It’ll be harder for us to debug but we’ll manage.
This is a tough one but we really want to keep an eye on memory use. If you can keep task manager up and look at committed memory in the process list, we want to make sure it stays under 2GB so that people running Windows XP don’t have problems (if you’re running 64-bit the game will use 4GB). The game is large address aware.
DO NOT judge the final game based on the content of the beta. New spells, monsters, goodie huts and quests get added in every day.
However: We absolutely want to reduce the number of city improvements in the game. Fewer, more interesting city improvements is the goal so feel free to suggest how we can consolidate what we have to improve on city differentiation.
The tech trees are pretty similar between different factions. As modders can tell you, this is a content issue, not a game issue. Right now, the objective of the base game is to keep both sides reasonably balanced and let modders go nuts if they want. However, we do plan to provide more tech tree differentiation as long as it makes sense (i.e. no different for the same of different). This has been one of Derek’s battle cries that he has convinced me on over the months.
The AI plays the game 100X better than say what it did in WOM. But I’ve barely touched the tactical battle code (which is still enough to make the tactical battles 10X better than in WOM since they were totally horrible in that game imo).
What we’ll need help on is strategies you’d like to see each player take. Like in GalCiv, each player in FE has its own strategy. We’ll be talking a lot about how to make it so Altar plays differently than Pariden in a way that players will easily observe. If armies end up similar on all sides, we did something wrong and will have to work at it.
There will be NO multiplayer
While internally we have multiplayer, we’ve turned it off. The release game won’t have it either. The reason is that tactical battles would have to be rewritten to support it (MP code needs to be message based but the tactical battles all call directly to internal variables which makes it easier to have greater performance but it means no MP). We decided it would be better to have no MP than gimpy MP for FE. Don’t bother arguing this point as it’s already been hashed out endlessly internally and it’s decided. We may bring it back in some future expansion but no promises because rewriting tactical is a non-trivial endeavor.
Lots of UI stuff is not in still
We have a victory screen still to go in that’s a pretty big deal. There’s a bunch of other stuff that will go in but by all means, if you have a UI request, post.
Modding and Campaigns are disabled
The beta is a sandbox beta. You will have to have an Internet connection to play the beta because we plan to be updating the XML data online so that players don’t have to download an update to the game just to get a balance tweak. It is not copy protection or anything like that. It’s for our convenience. The end result though is that modding won’t work because it’ll be using our online data.
Beta Reporting will be provided
We will be providing how to report problems here: http://forums.elementalgame.com/forum/1010
There is no NDA
The fate of the game is in your hands in the most literal sense. Because Elemental: War of Magic got such a bad rap (fairly or unfairly is irrelevant), we realistically cannot do a lot of marketing because every article is going to start with “After the ‘disastrous’ Elemental: War of Magic, Stardock hopes to make up lost ground, is it too late?” type stuff followed by comments like “Elemental? Stardock should just give up and make GalCiv III!” The only hope FE has is for people who actually have the game to spread the word IF THE GAME IS GOOD.
There’s no NDA so you can do whatever video you want or post about it or whatever. Do with it what you will.
Now, gotta get back to trying to figure out why particle effects are showing up in the FOW.
See you Thursday!