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August 28th, 2010, 14:27
VoxClamant brings us an early review of Stardock's Elemental. We've already had to revise this article with the release of v1.06, and while there's no doubt there are more patches to come, here's how we see it at the moment. An excerpt:
At the risk of horrendous oversimplification, this is Civilization-lite, a stripped down version of the Civilization series. And that is its strength. It centers on the fun, central parts of an empire-building, warfare, strategy game without adding the many additional layers of complexity that push some away from huge empire strategy games. You have interesting tech trees, empire development, exploration and warfare. What Elemental strips out in terms of complexity, it adds back in terms of quests, hero customization, tactical battles, and use of magic by your leader.
Read it all here.
More information.
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August 28th, 2010, 14:27
It's a shame that the game was released in this state, because I saw how buggy the game currently is on a friend's computer (I don't have the game myself yet, I'm waiting for the demo to see if the game runs decently on my laptop). However, with a company like StarDock behind I'm pretty sure the game will be more than playable within a few weeks.
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August 28th, 2010, 14:28
A good read, thnx for writing it.
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August 28th, 2010, 14:38
I appreciate the effort to write a review this in-depth, but unfortunately the comments regarding things like the magic system/spells, is a clear sign of not having played the game enough. The same goes for the hollow faction/racial differences, the pointless unit customization, and things of that nature.

It takes a while to see how void of design this game is, currently, but I can recommend the official forums and the thread on QT3 forums, where people have played the game a bit more extensively.

I only played ~20 hours or so, but I definitely recognized deeply set flaws in the design, within the first few hours. The only conclusion I can think of, is that they basically just made the engine functional, and it doesn't seem like they've spent any time at all, actually thinking about the implementation of the various features they've taken from other games in the genre. Then again, Brad once said that 95% of the time to develop a game, is spent on the engine and coding. Well, that's what they obviously did here - and the few percent spent on game design, should probably have been done with an actual game designer.

So, my advice is to take this review with a grain of salt - as I think it's way too optimistic.
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August 28th, 2010, 15:00
This game does need work and is far from finished. But having said that I am still having fun playing and can't seem to stop playing it. I think it is about 2months away from being a real gem.

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August 28th, 2010, 16:03
Please update the Review then the game actual turn in to a "gem". Even that I actual liked Disciples 3, I just can't play through a bug ridden game again so soon.

(Sorry fore the gramma, are Danish)
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August 28th, 2010, 17:28
Originally Posted by Phonix View Post
Please update the Review then the game actual turn in to a "gem".
Excellent advice, Phonix. I plan to follow up on this. Because of the appeal and interest to many RPGwatchers a review/warning seemed warrented before the bugs were all fixed. I believe that this was the hardest review to write for me in the past 10-12 years. Trying to find the balance between fairness and objectivity was very hard.

The original version of this review written before the latest patch was a lot more harsh. As of 1.06 there were enough strides that a major rewrite to the piece was needed, and Dhruin graciously pulled the original review (after hours of wasted prep work by him) just before it was to be posted here so I could have the time to make changes.

Where I might end up looking like a fool (again!) is if my GUESS (I emphasize that word, guess) that SD will quickly make good on their promise of fixes. I base too much of that view on the comments of others in the SD forums and upon SD history of patches — and too little on having any facts or inside knowledge to support my claim that "… fixes are a-coming."

(BTW — I must emphasize that since 1.06 I have found the sandbox mode to be a lot of fun, and am playing it now.)

I am "assuming the position" for receiving dope slaps from the RPGwatch readers if in about two weeks I turn out to be wrong! :-)
Last edited by Voxclamant; August 28th, 2010 at 17:30. Reason: line dropped
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August 28th, 2010, 18:06
Originally Posted by Voxclamant View Post
(BTW — I must emphasize that since 1.06 I have found the sandbox mode to be a lot of fun, and am playing it now.)

I am "assuming the position" for receiving dope slaps from the RPGwatch readers if in about two weeks I turn out to be wrong! :-)
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August 28th, 2010, 18:16
I love the potential of this game.
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August 28th, 2010, 19:26
Too much spreadsheet, not enough fun.
Not enough diversity from game to game, 4x on rails.
SD fanboism among the highest I have seen.
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August 28th, 2010, 19:28
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
It takes a while to see how void of design this game is, currently, but I can recommend the official forums and the thread on QT3 forums, where people have played the game a bit more extensively.
I can barely stomach the fanboism going on the official boards, but I agree with everything you have pointed out about basic design flaws with this game here on the watch.
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August 28th, 2010, 19:38
Currently I'd rate Elements as a Flawed Gem , the AI needs drastic improvement and some of the Units need better balancing, I still runs better than any of the Betas (Beta 3 was the worse- that is where the memory leaks started) and is a lot of fun in sandbox mode.
I was also thinking of doing a review but wanted to wait until the game was out a month.
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August 28th, 2010, 19:40
Well, I for one am really tired of, release now, patch later mentality.. Honestly I hope this falls flat on its face because of that.

I work for a software company, and we do the same thing.. Barely finished product is rushed out the door to meet corporate contract and objectives.. Really hurting us, and perhaps will someday finish us.

Sure, you can argue everyone does this, and to some degree I would agree with you.. But when key features are terribly unusable and downright broken, there should have been no release..

Will I buy this game? Well that depends.. If patch version 90.99 eventually turns this into a gem and they repackage it.. Then sure.. But there's no way I can continue to support this type of behavior in the software industry.

To each one's own.. But I think there are far better titles out there to play.. Part of Blizzard's success is it's 'release when done' mentallity that I wish others could afford more..

I 'want' this game to be good and finished.. I really do.. Maybe in 2 years..
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August 28th, 2010, 19:43
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
I appreciate the effort to write a review this in-depth, but unfortunately the comments regarding things like the magic system/spells, is a clear sign of not having played the game enough. The same goes for the hollow faction/racial differences, the pointless unit customization, and things of that nature.

It takes a while to see how void of design this game is, currently, but I can recommend the official forums and the thread on QT3 forums, where people have played the game a bit more extensively.

I only played ~20 hours or so, but I definitely recognized deeply set flaws in the design, within the first few hours. The only conclusion I can think of, is that they basically just made the engine functional, and it doesn't seem like they've spent any time at all, actually thinking about the implementation of the various features they've taken from other games in the genre. Then again, Brad once said that 95% of the time to develop a game, is spent on the engine and coding. Well, that's what they obviously did here - and the few percent spent on game design, should probably have been done with an actual game designer.

So, my advice is to take this review with a grain of salt - as I think it's way too optimistic.
I just wonder one thing.

If the game is moddable (as they claim it is) how soon will we see some kind of total redesign mod ?
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August 28th, 2010, 21:34
A good review, but I have to add, Elemental, while being a good game, was released half a year too early. Not only the bugs, but glaring imbalance issues, sometimes being too easy, sometimes being overwhelmed with mobs, the total weakness of magic as compared to melee asf.
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August 28th, 2010, 21:49
Originally Posted by Twotricks View Post
I just wonder one thing.

If the game is moddable (as they claim it is) how soon will we see some kind of total redesign mod ?
A "redesign" mod will all but certainly suffer the same kind of problems as the game itself. Such a mod is always a work-in-progress, and though there are many talented modders out there, it's nearly unheard of to have a fully functional "redesign" mod for a game like this, within a year of release. That said, I'll bet we'll see the beginning of this within a few months.

But I'm tired of getting excited about mods and "game-changers". I don't appreciate this trend of putting the paying customers in the designer seat. I don't pay 50 bucks just to build upon a hollow core, so the developers can grow fat on their shell of a game, along with tools to fix it.

The game is so much an empty barrel of half-implemented features, that any kind of consistent and thorough game experience will take months and months of work, from both modders and Stardock themselves.

It will be a while until we get anything like MoM out of it, that's for sure…
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August 28th, 2010, 22:46
It's sad to see this got rushed. I'm pretty sure Stardock WILL fix it, given their history with GalCiv2 and Sins. There's no reason to buy it until it does get finished, though, and by that time Civilization 5 will be out.

Player reviews I've seen are really all over the map. This seems to be one of those love-it-or-hate-it games.
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August 28th, 2010, 23:01
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
A "redesign" mod will all but certainly suffer the same kind of problems as the game itself. Such a mod is always a work-in-progress, and though there are many talented modders out there, it's nearly unheard of to have a fully functional "redesign" mod for a game like this, within a year of release. That said, I'll bet we'll see the beginning of this within a few months.

But I'm tired of getting excited about mods and "game-changers". I don't appreciate this trend of putting the paying customers in the designer seat. I don't pay 50 bucks just to build upon a hollow core, so the developers can grow fat on their shell of a game, along with tools to fix it.

The game is so much an empty barrel of half-implemented features, that any kind of consistent and thorough game experience will take months and months of work, from both modders and Stardock themselves.

It will be a while until we get anything like MoM out of it, that's for sure…
The game was designed to be heavily moddable…that is one of the basic parts of the game, hell it has all the tools to do it in the game. So modding has to be talked about when you discuss the game. You take the road of a half empty glas instead of a half full one. Yes alot of the ideas need fleshing out more, which the devs have talked about on the forums already. The basic mechanic are there, the spells can be added(quite easily actually) and every unit in the game can be adjusted an modified due to the way the game is desigbed, I'm not even sure there is anything that is hardcoded to the point it can't be changed.

There is a thread on the main forums where a person decided he did not like their fire animations, so he took the in game tools and made new ones, and they look great.

http://forums.elementalgame.com/393503

All in all I agree with the review here, which must have been hard because in justa short week the game has become so much better. I'm wondering if that fast fix they put out on monday caused them more problems then it helped. Oh well, I for one look forward to the future with this one, as it is it is highly playable at least for me.

PS: The fanboy comments look incredibly childish and shallow.

PPS: Stop bringing up blizzard, no other game company has the financial backing to do what they do, WoW is their gold mine.
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August 28th, 2010, 23:19
Originally Posted by EvilKoala View Post
It's a shame that the game was released in this state
Brad has been a bit too busy with his Elemental book maybe.. (which seems pretty awful, btw: http://www.unamommer.com/?p=109 )
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August 28th, 2010, 23:19
Originally Posted by rune_74 View Post
The game was designed to be heavily moddable…that is one of the basic parts of the game, hell it has all the tools to do it in the game. So modding has to be talked about when you discuss the game. You take the road of a half empty glas instead of a half full one. Yes alot of the ideas need fleshing out more, which the devs have talked about on the forums already. The basic mechanic are there, the spells can be added(quite easily actually) and every unit in the game can be adjusted an modified due to the way the game is desigbed, I'm not even sure there is anything that is hardcoded to the point it can't be changed..
Did you miss the part where I stated I think the game will eventually be modded into decency?

I know about the tools, which I also happened to make very clear in my post.

My point isn't about whether or not it will eventually become a good game. My point is what it is, right now, and what Brad has been saying in public for years.

You might think it's perfectly fine to release a hollow shell, and expect paying customers to actually create all the good stuff - but I don't.

Is it bound to happen? Sure.

But it will take MUCH longer than you seem to think. You don't just put out content until you get a great thing going. You have to test things, and you have to actually know what you're doing, when adding features.

You don't add spells "easily" - because it's not about tweaking numbers. It's about creating diverse spells, that have specific and unique abilities. The vast majority of spells in the game, as is, are completely generic and feel like duplicates of each other, with different names and not much else.

You think that just because they've provided tools, it will be easy to create MoM-like spells?

No, it takes a lot of work from the right people - and then it needs testing from the community. If it was just about the magic system, then maybe we'd see something in a few months. But we're talking about pretty much every subsystem in the game, except perhaps city building - which I think is OK.

At least 6 months until this gets anywhere near MoM 1.31.

That's not glass half empty. That's eyes wide open.
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