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RPGWatch Forums » Comments » News Comments » Elemental: War of Magic - Labor Day Notes

Default Elemental: War of Magic - Labor Day Notes

September 5th, 2010, 09:06
Brad Wardell has posted about future plans on the official forums. Here's the entire post:
The team got v1.07 out this week which addresses some of the issues reported by players. There’s a lot more to do of course. Here’s a few notes on what’s on our plate right now:
  • Enabling multiplayer. Why isn’t it up now? Because the same problems that would cause a user a problem in single player would happen in MP too except now there are now multiple human beings involved which increases the frustration. I’m going to look at the response to v1.07 this weekend and see where things stand.
  • Improving the AI Part 1. There is a little (lot) of confusion on the AI. Minor factions aren’t supposed to build. They’re just there. I think we’ll have to change that to either make it more obvious that they don’t do anything (like change the style of city to be more obvious) or have them behave more like major factions.
  • Improving the AI Part 2. I am hoping to be able to get my AI updates into v1.08 (next week) to make the major faction AI substantially more capable. The basic problem with the AI is that a lot of data changes were made very late in development (values for weapons and armor and how much various improvements do) that heavily altered the AI’s evaluation of what was “worth” constructing or how much it needed to protect its sovereign and such. This is the kind of thing that will have to be addressed – for starters.
  • Game Mechanic Changes. There are going to be quite a few game mechanic changes based on our own experience and reading on the forums. Keep posting your suggestions.
  • Magic System Changes. This is an area that’s going to get a lot of changes. For instance, Essence will become a boolean (true or false). Your mana will come from a global pool of mana that is from the shards. The elemental spell books (earth, air, fire, water) will get moved out of character creation and into the tech tree so that players can determine what spell books they want. Various spells will gain a mana “maint” rather than using “enchantment slots”. This all brings us to the next part
  • General UI. There are some outstanding posts on the forums with suggestions about the UI that we’re looking at. But generally speaking, we want to eliminate a lot of what I’d say (with the benefit of hindsight) gratuitous complexity (enchantment slots, tile limitations on cities, obscured game mechanics, etc.). We’ll get very specific with the community as we start to put these in.
  • Performance, Compatibility, Memory. These three things remain the most troubling and frankly, heart breaking issues. On a personal note, nothing pains us more than when someone accuses us of “rushing” the game. The phrase “works on my machine” is not an acceptable excuse. We just blew it on so many levels that it will require a detailed post-mortem (which I do plan to provide so players, customers, and others can learn from our mistakes in general and my personal mistakes in particular). When I read the check-in logs, I wince at how specific each “crash” is (“Crash caused by user having 8X AGP card in 4X AGP motherboard with soft lighting turned off when in the unit design window”). There’s a reason most games license their engines (Civilization and Fallout 3 use Gambryo for instance, other games use Unreal, and so on). We use our own home grown one “Kumquat” which is proving to have serious teething issues that we are most definitely suffering the consequences for.
There’s a ton more to add here but these are a few of the things on our mind. It’s been, as you can imagine, a horrible horrible couple of weeks. We’re doing out best to make sure Elemental lives up to its potential which brings me to the final part.
Elemental’s original release schedule was to have the first release (War of Magic – Book 1: Relias) and 2 expansion packs (Book 2: Cerena and Book 3: Magesta).
What we’re going to do is that for users who own the game by a certain date will get (at least) the first expansion pack for free as a token of our appreciation for hanging in there with us. As some long-time Stardock gamers can tell you, our expansion packs aren’t minor things.
Have a good weekend!
Thanks, ikbenrichard!
More information.
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September 5th, 2010, 09:06
Seems its going the right way. Perhaps if the reviews mentioned above where made while using patch 1.08++ the grades would be alot higher.
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September 5th, 2010, 11:24
Way to man up Brad. He takes responsibility for the state of the game, then tells the fans the plan for fixing the problems. If all developers and publishers acted this way, the world would be a better place.

(And my blood pressure would be a lot lower.)
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September 5th, 2010, 12:27
I'd love this game to work someday. Thankfully I didn't buy it yet.
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September 5th, 2010, 13:49
Yeah, me too. I have all previous Stardock titles, including both expansions for GalCiv2, and I always liked their support (though I think they left one slider-related flaw in). Hope they can get out of it.
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September 6th, 2010, 00:42
Gareth has an interesting view on all this. Check it out here.

If God said it, then that settles it!!

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September 6th, 2010, 05:15
Originally Posted by Corwin View Post
Gareth has an interesting view on all this. Check it out here.
Hmmm. That's an interesting read.

Now I'm never going to believe anybody ever again.
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September 6th, 2010, 06:53
Originally Posted by Corwin View Post
Gareth has an interesting view on all this. Check it out here.
And it's completely in line with postings from a number of beta testers on the forums. Including at least one who claims to have been banned for pushing Elemental's general state of unreadiness.
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September 6th, 2010, 08:48
You guys are underestimating the power of denial.

Besides, the blog in question, AFAIK, was from one of the designers - not Brad himself.
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September 6th, 2010, 09:25
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
You guys are underestimating the power of denial.

Besides, the blog in question, AFAIK, was from one of the designers - not Brad himself.
How do you figure that? Brad uses two handles - draginol from home and frogboy from work.

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September 6th, 2010, 09:52
Originally Posted by Dhruin View Post
How do you figure that? Brad uses two handles - draginol from home and frogboy from work.
Because I read a post from Frogboy that commented on not knowing for sure what the writer of the blog meant by boring magic system - even if the guy in question was "Lead Designer". He said something about not being entirely sure of what to do, and felt they had "fixed" the magic system for the release version.

That said, I could have read it wrong - and if that's the case, then it's extra weird.

If he IS Draginol - then I'm really confused.

I apologize if I mixed them up.
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September 6th, 2010, 11:10
"Our choices were to launch on August 24th or push the game back to February of next year. Pushing back would have had disastrous consequences for Stardock because of the partnerships we had made and the forfeiture of our retail space."

http://www.viridiangames.com/blog/about-elemental

(a blog of a programmer who was laid off from Stardock)

so, either the guy is lying (having been just laid off), which wouldn't be classy, or — which some of us considered — releasing Elemental as unfinished and broken was a fully conscious decision. Shame.
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September 6th, 2010, 12:22
Interesting this, especially this part :

How does something like this happen?

At last, you have asked a truly salient question (although I’m sure you intended it to be rhetorical.)

“This” happened because it was the lesser evil. Stardock simply does not have the clout to release a retail game during Christmas. Our choices were to launch on August 24th or push the game back to February of next year. Pushing back would have had disastrous consequences for Stardock because of the partnerships we had made and the forfeiture of our retail space.

I’m sure you’re thinking, “Well, releasing an incomplete, buggy game is also going to have disastrous consequences!” And thus you’ve hit the crux. We were in a bind, and chose the lesser evil – to release on time and then work like the dickens to get the game to the state we and the players want (instead of, you know, sleeping like most people who have just shipped a game do). Yes, a lot of people have already had a negative initial reaction to the game. There’s nothing we can do about that. But Stardock has a reputation for continually improving their games over the months and years after its release, and we’re continuing that tradition by improving Elemental as quickly as we can and turning it into the game it deserves to be.

-Rollory
This reminds me indeed of JoWood and so many others :

There's a FIXED DATE people must adhere to. No fiddling around.

So … A game is released AT THIS FIXED DATE regardlerss. This is what happens far too often, imho. I think Divinity had a similar problem.

Now, who sets this date ?

I fear that this date might be implicitely set - by the "big boys" in the industry : EA for example might very well (and they do ! ) use their overwhelming marketing power to crush ANYTHING that's also being sold during Christmas Time !

Which leaves only the times with lesser "shopping periods" as "time windows" for smaller developers. Because otherwise simply no-one would see them. EA's marketing power would overwhelm them all. And maybe this happened with Drakensang 2 vs. Dragon Age, too.

So … If this is true, it would mean that the "big boys" are driving the whole industry. And that perhaps even literally. That they are willing to do so is clearly being shown with moving away from the Games Convention (GC) of Leipzig, Germany, into founding their own "Games Com" in Cologne, Germany.

They're - either explicitely or implicitely driving them (literally !) like shepherds - or more cynically put as wolves - in comparison to the rest of the indistry, which are sheep.

And the "big boys" tend to be mong themselves, too. No-one of them would ever dare to support an Indie in any way.

“ Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage – to move in the opposite direction.“ (E.F.Schumacher, Economist, Source)
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September 6th, 2010, 12:42
I only object to your statement driving them like shepherds. Shepherds don't 'drive', they lead and the sheep follow!! I could send you a sermon or two on the topic if you're REALLY interested!!

If God said it, then that settles it!!

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September 6th, 2010, 12:49
Okay, I was rathing having the picture of a shepherd hound in my head, which goes around a flock of sheep, barking and literally "driving" them to a place the shepherd wants them to be at.

I should have been more clear. really should have used the term "shepherd hound". Because that was rather what I was thinking about.

“ Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage – to move in the opposite direction.“ (E.F.Schumacher, Economist, Source)
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September 6th, 2010, 20:12
I am fully in agreement with Gareth's article on this one. As much as I'd like to be naive and believe that M. Wardell's passion for his game "blinded" him to its true readiness, it just doesn't make sense if you've been following some of his posts prior to the release.

I don't consider myself a particularly cynic girl (at least not when it comes to games), but I, too, believe that he was fully aware of the shoddy state of Elemental, when he decided to release it regardless.

That, of course, is the real disappointment.
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