I have good news and bad news. The bad news is that we’re going to have to delay v1.08 for a few days. The internal QA deadline for the test build was this morning and unfortunately it needed a few more hours before being submitted. Rather than even remotely risk something that is going to cause pain (for our players and us) I’m just pushing it until the next QA slot which is next Tuesday.
The good news is that it means that there will be substantially more game play improvements in v1.08 than originally intended because the team’s spell changes, tactical battle tweaks and such weren’t going to make it for v1.08 but will now look like they’re going to make it.
Our schedule to put up more modding support this week, however remains intact so no changes there.
Elemental: War of Magic - All News
Wednesday - August 17, 2011
Elemental: War of Magic - Status Report
A tweet of Stardock gave a reminder to the Status Report on Elemental they posted earlier.
So here is where we stand as we near the first anniversary of the release of the first Elemental title (War of Magic)
War of Magic v1.4
Last month we released War of Magic v1.3. We are currently working on v1.4 which we anticipate going into beta this month. v1.4 is scheduled to include AI updates, balance updates, and bug fixes.
Most of Stardock Entertainment’s resources are currently being put on the second Elemental title (Fallen Enchantress) which is a fairly radical departure from War of Magic (other than art resources). I can’t go into much detail regarding it other than to say it that it is much more similar to a Civilization/Master of Magic style strategy game versus a Galactic Civilizations/HOMM style strategy game (i.e. every tile of terrain matters i.e. building near rivers or forests or hills and that kind of thing will matter and there are things like unrest and tax rates and that kind of thing).
Of course, the decision to make Fallen Enchantress effectively a new game (other than art assets) has meant that its date is being pushed out to being more like a sequel’s release. That said, our plan is for the beta to come out this Fall still. However, bear in mind, that other than both existing in the Elemental universe, the gameplay of the two are very different.
More information to be had when you follow the link.
Friday - June 24, 2011
Elemental: War of Magic - Dev Journal: Armies
In this developer journal Derek Paxton takes a moment to explain how units have changed. Here are a few snippets:
Units matter. Fallen Enchantress comes with several base units already in the game, each designed to look unique and interesting for their faction. We want to make sure new players find units and see enemy units that look nice. We had some fun picking some starting traits for these base units, archers start with a trait that improves their accuracy. Defenders start with Ignore Pain, a trait that allows them to last longer in combat (all Tarth units get +10 to Defense when they are under 50% of their hit points, making their defenders even harder to take out), etc.
But that doesn’t mean we don’t support unit customization. Players can still design the armies they want to train. If you want to create archers faster, make a cheap version without the precision trait. Or make some elite units by loading up on your favorite armor and weapons. Just remember that units have an encumbrance limit based on their strength, so you have to make hard choices between massive shields, big weapons and heavy armor. Especially if you are playing one of the smaller races (each faction has different starting stats).
Tuesday - June 21, 2011
Elemental: War of Magic - News Roundup
We haven't posted anything on Elemental in awhile so I thought it's about time to do a roundup. For those of you still interested in seeing what can be done with Elemental here are a few news items you might be interested in:
War of Magic 1.2 Changelog - This was released back in May. It's much too long to post here, but here are a few changes:
Raze city no longer requires a tech and is available right off the bat for all of your cities.
Prestige penalty for multiple cities has been broken out in the Other category on the city screen (instead of being a part of the base prestige number).
In the city breakdown the amount of buildings is listed (so it will say Study x3 if you have 3 studies in that city).
Added a new game option to adjust Movie volume.
Removed the city idle dialog, replaced with a report item notification in the event list.
War of Magic 1.2a Changelog - Mini update to fix a few bugs and a crash.
Fallen Enchantress: Champions - Derek Praxton talks about the role of champions in the upcoming expansion:
Champions don’t run around as they did in War of Magic, they don’t come to you, you must go to them. There are no randomly generated champions in the game, each champion is specifically designed to be unique and interesting. Most are found in the world, but some unique champions can only be earned through quests.
RPS: I suppose that was one of the key issues with Elemental’s sandbox approach: there wasn’t quite enough to find, quite enough variety, for it to really feel like you were exploring and getting the most out of this world…
Paxton: Sure, and that’s a shame because the backstory and the lore really does support the creation of an interesting world. It just wasn’t reflected in the gameplay. We had large plains, and then hills, and then plains again. There’s not much to encounter out there, and so one of the pillars of Fallen Enchantress is making sure that the world is full of new and interesting things. Whenever a player starts a new game this time around, they will have something to discover.
RPS: Magic was a bit underwhelming the first time around, wasn’t it?
Paxton: Yes. We’ve gone through all the spells for Fallen Enchantress and looked what they did. We had a decent spell engine in War Of Magic, it could do a lot of things, but maybe not with as much as variety as we wanted. Many of the spells felt too similar. Some of them did the same thing with different numbers, so this time we are looking at each spell individually and we’re coding these spells specifically. That’ll give us unique effects from each of them, different reason why they are used. We also want larger impact spells in Fallen Enchantress. If you have 1000 mana stored then that’s a Civ player sitting on nuclear weapons. If you see someone creeping up on that, you might want to deal with them. Magic will be a significant part of this game, as it was in Master Of Magic.
Monday - May 23, 2011
Elemental: War of Magic - Interview @ Gamespot
Gamespot interviewed Derek Paxton, lead producer and designer on Elemtal: Fallen Enchantress. Here is a snippet from the interview:
GameSpot: War of Magic was a massive strategy game, but it sounds like you're scaling back this project to make it a more focused experience with a deeper story. Can you talk to us about some of the broad changes you're making in Fallen Enchantress?
Derek Paxton: Fallen Enchantress adds a lot of depth and options to some systems and reduces or removes others. The result is a more focused game. The systems that we determined were critical to the game have received a lot of designer and developer attention and love. Most notably these are the broad strokes:
First up, tactical combat. Units and enemies have more strategic abilities, strengths, and weaknesses. Every monster has been reviewed to be as strategically (and conceptually) interesting as possible. Elemental lords are huge multi-tile monsters that are devastating to all but the most powerful champions and armies. Some monsters are unique in the world, setting up boss-type battles that give the game a role-playing-game feel.
Second, the world. A lot of time is going into making the world as interesting as possible. It's a dangerous world; many of your early explorers will not make it back. But those who do will have resources, riches, and new recruits that make the risk worthwhile. As important as making the world worth exploring is [making it] interesting to explore. Though it's good to know that there are iron deposits in the next valley, we also want that valley to be filled with wilderness areas, sites, creatures, and opportunities for adventure that are new to even experienced players.
Third, magic. Magic should be as effective a path to victory as creating armies. A player that is sitting on a large supply of mana and has invested in magic should be able to change the course of the game, much as a player sitting on a nuclear weapon stockpile can in modern games. Magic should be available earlier, have a larger impact, and do more interesting things.
Other systems, such as population storage (aka housing) that used to require that the player find food to build houses to grow cities, have been simplified (less city micromanagement), and systems such as dynasties have been cut entirely. Technology research is a more elaborate system where the player can plan out his future goals and plans. Leveling up your champions and designing units both offer more options and, more importantly, more flavorful options.
Wednesday - January 26, 2011
Elemental: War of Magic - Dev Journal: Making Interesting Worlds
During the betas of War of Magic, we had rivers in the world. Unfortunately, they looked horrendous because they couldn’t easily change the way they looked based on the morphing terrain system.
For those of you not familiar with Elemental, in War of Magic, the terrain is totally morphable. It doesn’t just change shape but changes texture and such. We couldn’t get the rivers to look satisfying with this system and took them out. Unfortunately, this only made the world look even more uninteresting to players.
One thing we could/should have done was have paths and roads right from the start.
In Fallen Enchantress, a major effort is being put in to have truly randomized landmasses. In War of Magic, the worlds are randomly generated but the land masses are not. Part of this was an issue of how long it takes to generate land (anyone who’s ever coded fractal code knows what I mean). It’s certainly not undoable. Civilization does it and there are some freeware tools that can do it as well. It just takes time and optimization (i.e. budget) which has been allocated for Fallen Enchantress so that we can get our roads, rivers, and randomly generated land masses. For us, the challenge isn’t to create randomly generated maps (the editor does it already) but to make them fun and interesting and pretty (hence no rivers in War of Magic).
Tuesday - January 25, 2011
Elemental: War of Magic - Dev Journal: Baking a Cake
Derek Paxton discusses how making a game is like baking a cake. You can't mix together everyone's great ideas to make a great game. Mostly this journal entry is about how the next expansion won't be all things to all people:
At the end of the day Fallen Enchantress cannot be the exact game everyone imagines. There are too many different things that are hoped for. And it's not to say that all the things hoped for are bad.
Explorable dungeons are a good example. They would be cool to have, but they don't belong in Fallen Enchantress. It's not just a resource issue (though that's part of it, the more we do the less we do well), it's about where do we want the player spending his time. What is the actual game? Done well explorable dungeons would break from the main game and have the player play a "minigame" for 10/20/30 minutes after which he would be returned to the main game (assuming he remembered what he was doing there).
There are some players that would enjoy that. But the break would be a hurdle for most players. We would lose players who didn't enjoy the 4x game and players that didn't enjoy the dungeons game (unless we made the explorable dungeons optional, in which case the time spent developing them becomes even more questionable).
Wednesday - January 12, 2011
Elemental: War of Magic - Expansion & Paxton Dev Diary
Got a couple news items for you. The most important item is the official announcement for the expansion to Elemental. It will be called Fallen Enchantress. They're saying it will take Elemental in a new direction. It will be free to those who purchased the game in 2010 and for everyone else it will be sold at a reduced price. Here is part of the announcement:
PLYMOUTH, MI - January 11, 2011 Stardock released the details of the next chapter in its Elemental fantasy strategy game world. Elemental: Fallen Enchantress includes an all-new battle system, more sophisticated spell casting, an updated economic system, new game mechanics, more creatures, quests and much more.
Elemental: Fallen Enchantress will be released as a stand-alone game but will be free to all players who purchased Elemental: War of Magic in 2010 and will be heavily discounted for anyone who purchases Elemental: War of Magic prior to Fallen Enchantress’s anticipated Summer 2011 release.
Elemental is a strategy game in which players build a kingdom from the ground up in a shattered fantasy world. Players build cities, raise armies, research technologies, learn magical spells, go on quests, recruit heroes, negotiate treaties, learn spells, build a family dynasty and more.
In Fallen Enchantress players will be able to explore the world of Elemental and discover a wide range of unique locations, including dangerous wild lands that can’t be settled until they are conquered. There are areas like the Bhinadmi Fissure, a massive chasm that spawns demons and earth elementals, until a player goes to the edge and challenges the elemental lord that dwells within.
These undiscovered lands contain new characters and creatures: from the tragic Butchermen who wander the lands around Red Springs trying to pass their curse off to another victim, to Morian the Ruin of Summer, who was once a powerful nature elemental who has been driven mad by the Cataclysm and the destruction of his forests.
Derek Paxton, lead designer for Fallen Enchantress, said, “In Fallen Enchantress we wanted to focus on exploring the world outside your kingdom’s borders. The world isn’t empty and waiting to be settled, it is dangerous and needs to be conquered. There are unique locations with their own history and guardians; monsters settled in their lairs and vast wild land areas that offer their own challenges and rewards. There will be areas the player would do well to avoid for most of the game until he builds an army that is able to conquer them.”
To face these new challenges, Fallen Enchantress adds a host of spells and magical equipment. Sacrifice a champion to summon a powerful demon in battle, envelop an entire enemy kingdom in the icy grip of winter or open a gateway to a shadow world that dark creatures can come through. Players can also recruit champions who specialize in different types of magic and outfit them with magical equipment they create, recover from monster lairs or earn through quests.
The other item is Paxton talking about his design process. Here is a snippet:
I spent most of December working on design docs for the first expansion. I talked in an earlier Dev Journal about the phases of game development and how the high level design was created by the end of November. We had our stakeholders meeting and high level concepts were approved. December was spent turning those concepts into specific items and tasks.
I start by fleshing out the ideas in docs. Large lists get trimmed, ideas are improved, I try to make the most of every idea. After the list is down to the assets we want for the game they go into a spreadsheet. The spreadsheet serves 3 functions. First it is able to export the XML directly so we never need to touch XML files. Secondly it provides list boxes of all the common data types so we can’t mistype them (so if something requires a tech the listbox allows the designer to pick from all the current techs). And lastly it allows us to do some data modeling.
Sunday - January 09, 2011
Elemental: War of Magic - Brad Wardell Interview
First, you have stated that after Elemental's rocky launch in August, sales plummeted in September but have since gone up in October, November and December. Can you share any concrete unit sales for Elemental and also are you becoming more encouraged that the game will be able to be profitable in the long run?
Elemental's sales have closely followed the overall improvement in the game. At this point, Elemental has made a profit for us. However, in September, we made the decision that we would prefer to lose money on Elemental than betray the trust of our customers and decided to staff up and continue working on it for all of 2011 and into 2012 with a full team.
I anticipate that by the end of 2Q2011 Elemental will likely cross the line from being profitable to having lost money. But in the bigger picture, the value of PC gamers knowing that if they buy a game with the Stardock name on it means quality and support far outweighs the necessary loss of profitability on one title.
How did the hiring of Jon Shafer come about? Did he come to you or did you approach him?
Jon and I have known each other for some time. I was very impressed with not only some of his design decisions in Civilization V but even more so his background in being able to take game X and turn it into game Y using modding. We believe strongly that games themselves will become increasingly platforms unto themselves. We've already seen this in the 1st person shooter market and to a lesser extent with Never Winter Nights and the Blizzard engine (see DOTA). But our strategic objective is to make it so that the game system underneath Elemental can eventually be extensible enough that someone could take it and create entirely new games with it.
Wednesday - January 05, 2011
Elemental: War of Magic - Schafer, Stern Join Team
Whatever mistakes Stardock made with Elemental, they see, determimed to add some big names to the project as it goes forward. Various sites and the Stardock blog are reporting Jon Shafer, previously the lead designer on Civilisation V, has joined Stardock, as has author Dave Stern. Shafer will assist with the design efforts and Stern will oversee the creative writing. There's also an interview with Schafer at Shacknews:
Shack: With Derek Paxton leading continuing development on Elemental: War of Magic, what will your responsibilities be on the project?
Jon Shafer: I'll be playing the game a lot, providing design ideas and feedback to producer Derek Paxton and the rest of the team. The overarching vision for the game is already established, so I'll be doing my best to support that and make the game as good as it can be. A big focus for me will also be to evaluate the modding system and find ways to improve it. Stardock's goal has been to make Elemental a great platform that can be transformed into something very different, so I'll be lending my experience to that cause.
Wednesday - December 15, 2010
Elemental: War of Magic - v1.1 Live [Update]
Elemental v1.1 is now available. Log onto your Impulse account to update your version of Elemental. There's no official announcement yet, but my copy of Elemental was just updated an hour ago.
As Dhruin mentioned, you can go here to read the complete changelog.
PLYMOUTH, MICHIGAN - December 14, 2010 - Stardock is releasing a massive update to its fantasy strategy title, Elemental: War of Magic today. Fans will be able to download it via Impulse, the digital distribution platform (www.impulsedriven.com).
"The 1.1 patch for Elemental: War of Magic is an opportunity to enhance and refine the game. In a limited timeframe, the team was able to implement major features. As a result, the game has been rebalanced to remain fun and challenging throughout. It impacts nearly every aspect of gameplay, the interface and most significantly the role of Magic," said Derek Paxton, lead producer of Elemental: War of Magic.
Elemental: War of Magic is a PC strategy game set in a fantasy world that puts the player in command of a growing Kingdom or Empire bent on expanding their influence across the world. Players build cities, raise armies, research technologies, go on quests, recruit heroes, negotiate treaties, learn spells and much more in this epic strategy game.
The full change log can be found here: www.elementalgame.com and a summary of updates is below:
Global Mana System- Instead of having mana per unit, mana is a player resource. Players must balance between using their mana to enchant their cities and units, summoning creatures, attacking their enemies, or saving up for powerful late game spells.
New Spells- New spellbooks and spells have been added to make magic more unique and strategic. High level spells can wipe out cities, raise volcanoes and hit enemy armies with powerful tornados that scatter their units across the countryside.
Population as a resource- Players must consider how their population should be used. Population is the primary factor for the player's economy through taxes and each improvement and unit the player builds requires population. Players have to choose if they want to allocate people to a study researching techs, a workshop producing materials or as a scout to explore the world.
Dramatic update to the UI- Nearly every screen and interface has been improved to be more useful and intuitive for the player. Important information has been brought to the main interface, and greater detail is provided in the detail screens so the player can see exactly how his empire is running.
Rebalance of the game- The core stat mechanics were reworked and every unit, equipment and monster stat was reviewed and tweaked to make for a more balanced and even playing experience.
More monsters from the beginning- Exploring the early world is a dangerous prospect and bandits and animals roam the world looking for weak groups to pick off. Some creatures may form powerful armies and travel the wastes together looking for victims to kill and cities to raze.
Multithreaded AI- The AI now has a separate thread so it can plan its strategy while the player is taking their turn. This dramatically reduces the between turn wait time (the time a single threaded AI has to spend planning their turn) and improves the AI by allowing us to have it factor in more conditions that would slow the game in a single threaded model.
Players who purchase the game by December 31, 2010 are eligible to receive the first expansion pack free of charge. Elemental: War of Magic is available at most retail outlets or can be purchased and downloaded via Impulse at www.elementalgame.com.
Elemental: War of Magic - v1.1 Change Log
For those still playing Elemental, v1.1 is due to go live any time and the change log has already been posted.
Monday - November 29, 2010
Elemental: War of Magic - Highlights of AI Work in Pictures
Brad Wardell posts an update on his work with the AI. You'll have to go there to learn more since most of the post is pictures. Here are a few snippets that make some sense without the picutres:
I’ve spent the better part of last week working on the Elemental AI. Without going into too much detail, here are some notes of what has been done and what needs to be done still.
Starting out playing as Relias for the Altar.
One of the things I noticed when I was playing was that after awhile, the monsters become simply fodder for experience and gold. The low level ones just don’t keep up. So I made it so that intelligent monsters (like bandits) will tend to tame/combine up with other monsters into bigger and bigger groups as the game goes on (basically as they find each other).
This resulted in a problem in the game I’m having..
Monsters can and WILL attack and destroy settlements if they think they can do it and if they are lead by an intelligent monster.
Tuesday - November 23, 2010
Elemental: War of Magic - Dev Journal - AI Tricks
In this journal entry Brad Wardell talks a little bit about the changes in Elemental and his 5 step process to making a good AI. He is also looking for feedback from V1.1 Beta users. He asks them to post 3 (no fewer, no more) stupid AI tricks they have encountered and how they would fix it:
A 5 step process
The process I use to make good AI works roughly as follows:
Step #1: Make the AI multithreaded.
This is the most important thing because it allows the developers to focus on making the AI effective without worrying about time so much. Games with single-threaded AI have painful late games where you can wait a long time between turns.
This part was accomplished in the v1.1 beta. It still has to be debugged (90% of crashes are due to this) since you have to make sure the AI isn’t monkeying around with main game data.
Step #2: Play the game at a basic level
This is pretty obvious. Can the computer players do everything that the human can do? This is something that I’m working on this week. This can be effectively described as playing the game without worrying about opposing forces.
Step #3: Play the game at a competitive level
This is where it plays the game knowing that there are others trying to thwart it or destroy it.
Step #4: Play the game at the meta-game level
This is where it gets good at handling diplomacy, its dynasty, trade, and maximizing resources.
Step #5: Eliminate stupid AI tricks
Stupid AI tricks are simply little holes or little exploits that really need to be explicitly looked for and eliminated.
So for those of you who have v1.1, can you list THREE (no more, no fewer) things that you see the AI do that are either stupid or result in its destruction and what you would do if you were them?
Tuesday - November 16, 2010
Elemental: War of Magic - Development Update - AI Wars
Brad Wardell posts about the difficulties of creating the A.I. for v1.1. According to him the key to the problem is threads which hasn't been used in v1.0:
But there is another way: Threads. Threads allow you to have different things computing concurrently. Even on a single-core machine, threads can make a huge difference. Threads are the reason why Stardock games have historically had such a strong reputation for good AI. The AI can be calculating strategies while the player moves. There can even be background threads that do nothing but look at the game state and set various flags for the AI to act on when the time is right.
Threads are the reason why Galactic Civilizations II was able to have some of its most infamous diplomatic moments such as “So, I see you’re building up quite a fleet there, so let me guess, you’re going to mass up for an attack, take my planet and then sue for peace? Well, sorry but in the meantime, I’ve been putting ships around your ships..”
So why not threads?
Why do games (including Elemental v1.0 and other major strategy games of 2010) not use multithreaded AI? Debugging. If multiple things are touching bits of memory, modifying variables, creating or deleting objects it can be a real pain to coordinate. The bigger the team, ironically, the harder it is to do.
Now that we have Kael to take charge of production, Toby as design implementer and CariElf back as lead developer, I can do for Elemental what I do best: Multithreaded AI development.
Monday - November 15, 2010
Elemental: War of Magic - Upcoming 1.1 Patch
SveNitoR wrote in last week to point out an update on the Elemental forums about the upcoming v1.1 patch. Here's a partial snip from the lengthy post:
We have been hard at work on the 1.1 patch. Today we built an internal alpha which went to our testers and they began reporting issues, bugs, etc. Our feature list isn't completely implemented yet, there are still a few things to checkin but I expect that they will be all in by Monday. The team has been told to focus on bug fixes and polish between now and next Thursday (11/18/2010) which we are targeting as the date for the release of the public 1.1 beta.What is coming?Toby already posted about the two major changes coming in 1.1. Global Mana and Population as a resource (in that improvements consume population). Global mana is a significant change to the magic side of the game, and all the spells have been adjusted to account for it. Population to improvements is a significant change to the economic side of the game, forcing players to balance their population between economic, production and military goals.There are a lot of UI improvements, one of my favorites is the city idle popup. You now get warned when a city has nothing let in its queue, and you have the opportunity to jump right to it.
Friday - November 12, 2010
Elemental: War of Magic - Design a Spell Contest
Stardock is having a contest where you design a spell for Elemental. The first place prize is an ATI Radeon™ HD 5850 1GB graphics card and have your spell implemented into Elemental. To submit your spell for review just login, create a spell in 1,000 characters or less and hit submit. You have until December 13th to enter the contest:
Here's the contest details:
Have a spell that you think would be a cool addition to Elemental: War of Magic? Tell us your best spell creation to have a chance to win one of many great prizes:
First Place: ATI Radeon™ HD 5850 1GB graphics card AND have your spell implemented into Elemental: War of Magic!
Second Place: $50 Impulse Gift Card
Third Place: $25 Impulse Gift Card
Fourth Place: $25 Impulse Gift Card
Fifth Place: $25 Impulse Gift Card
Contest moderators will choose the top five most creative/implementable spells. The top five will be posted and you, the community, will choose the winner! Submissions must be received by December 13, 2010 at 12:01am ET.
Monday - November 01, 2010
Elemental: War of Magic - New Producer Interview
So let's get to the hard question. What's your take on the past, current, and future state of Elemental? How hard do you think it's going to be to turn around the perception of the game?
I love the concept of Elemental, I think it has the potential to be a great game. But I don't love the implementation. That's good news because if the concept was simply flawed it couldn't be improved. I believe Stardock has done a lot of work to improve the game since its initial release and Elemental is now stable and fun to play. But I don't think the job is done. Stardock is committed to making Elemental great, and we have everything we need to make that happen.
As for turning around the perception of the game, I believe that if you create a great game everything else will fall into place.
What are your first priorities when you start? What are some of the things you want to do long term?
My first step is to understand all the design decisions that have already happened. I've started getting feedback from the player community, next will be to interview the members of the Stardock team. Though I have a lot of ideas for the game I'm not a fan of suggesting changes unless you truly understand the system, so I need to listen before I speak.
But my initial focus is on improving the games pace and making the first 30 minutes more fun, because if players don't enjoy that then there is little chance they will check out the rest of the game.
Longer term goals will have to wait for later announcements.
Wednesday - October 27, 2010
Elemental - Free DLC For Early Buyers
Those who jumped in early on Elemental will get the first two expansions free. We've heard this before but Brad Wardell has a new blog entry on the topic, titled Onward!
You know how it goes.
Game company releases game. They put out a series of bug fix patches for a bit and then they move on until it’s time to get you to buy an expansion pack or two until it’s time to do a sequel. If the initial game gets panned or negative reviews, it’s typically abandoned.
And people wonder why gamers have gotten so cynical.
As people in our community know, that’s not how we do things here.
Those of you who hang out here have seen us discussing the upcoming version 1.1 of Elemental: War of Magic. This is a partial screenshot (right side of my screen) of some of the UI updates we’re doing.
For those of you who want to try v1.1 in beta, we plan to put out the first beta in about a week.
Until the end of THIS MONTH (October 31), anyone who purchase Elemental: War of Magic, will get the first two expansions for the game for free (as well as our normal long-term support for the game itself).
Source: Blues News
Wednesday - October 13, 2010
Elemental: War of Magic - New Producer Interview
First, for people who might not know you, can you give us a little about your background in gaming and mod making?
I'm a huge fan of turn based strategy games, so much so that I created the Fall from Heaven mod for Civilization IV. I was fortunate enough to gather a group of talented artists, writers and designers from the mod community to work on that game. Fall from Heaven is a dark fantasy strategy game and listed as #2 in PC Gamer Magazine's 'Top 200 Reasons to love PC gaming' (http://www.computerandvideogames.com/article.php?id=21399) and is the world's most popular mod for Civilization IV.
Tuesday - October 12, 2010
Elemental: War of Magic - Development Update
Brad Wardell gives us another update on the current state of affairs for Elemental. He will be stepping down as project manager now that, as he explains it, most of the technical issues have largely been resolved. Tomorrow he will be announcing who will be taking over as project manager. Brad hints that it's someone who is well known and respected within the PC gaming community and who has a great deal of project management experience:
After careful internal consideration, it was decided that we needed to bring in someone with a great deal of project management experience. This way, Elemental and our future games would have a dedicated, experienced, full-time Producer and I would be able to get back to running Stardock as a whole.
Tomorrow, we'll be announcing the new Producer for Elemental and, in all likelihood, Stardock's subsequent games that we develop. This is a person that is already well known and well respected in the PC gaming community and we're very excited to be able to hire someone with his talent, experience, and qualifications to succeed me as the Producer on Elemental.
We are going to have Elemental: War of Magic v1.1 be the transition between he and I. After that, we'll begin work on the first expansion pack for Elemental which will be given to all people who currently own Elemental: War of Magic. I won't go into any details on that expansion since our new Producer will be heavily involved in the specifics of the design.
Our goal for Elemental to become a worthy successor to classic games like Master of Magic has not changed and we will be continuing to endeavor to make that a reality. Stay tuned!
Thursday - September 30, 2010
Elemental: War of Magic - v1.09 Change Log
The next Elemental patch is imminent and Stardock has posted the change log. Here's a partial snip:
* Gameplay / Balance *
+ AI sovereigns take more care about where they are doing their attacking
+ Added code so that AIBasic is smarter about attacking units in cities
+ ‘Equipment Cache’ goodie hut now hands out cloth armor, instead of the patchwork armor that should not be in the game anymore
+ You can no longer train *groups* of Dragons, Catapults, or Giant Demons
+ New option: Players can choose not to have monsters spawn
+ New option: Players can disable minor factions
+ Loot given by monsters increased
+ Fixed bug where some AI-controlled caravans that had already established trade routes would wander off those routes while delivering their stuff at a city
+ Fixed a bug where caravan pathfinding through territory owned by anyone other than their owner would still have a penalty, even through caravans can always move freely through any territory
+ Changed dynasty kids to determine their essence based on the BASE essence of their parents (ignoring equipment, player ability bonuses, etc.) This should keep kids from double-dipping from things like player-wide essence bonuses and keep their max mana at more reasonable levels
+ fixed several armor and special ability xml issues (that were either pointed out on the forums or that I discovered while fixing others)
Wednesday - September 22, 2010
Elemental: War of Magic - Development Update
Producer BoogieBac writes an update on the Elemental forums. He covers the argument for a tutorial, "better-er graphics", multiplayer and lots of updates, plus says "there are A LOT of ideas being tossed around about how to improve gameplay, AI, and performance".
Saturday - September 18, 2010
Elemental: War of Magic - v1.08 Patch
Elemental v1.08 is released. There are a few interesting changes like an improved AI for enemy sovereigns, spells have been tweaked and some new sovereign abilities. There are too many to list. If you want to see all of the changes made in this version just click the v1.08 link. I haven't had time to try it out yet, but it sounds like they are fixing some of the more annoying bugs a lot faster than I anticipated.
Multiplayer has also been implemented, but it's been designated as "beta" because they disabled playing the AI in multiplayer mode until next week. You'll also have to set impulse to show pre-release version. I don't really care about the multiplayer version of this game, but if you do here is a snip on what they said about it:
For those who want to play v1.08 in multiplayer mode, you will need to set Impulse to show Pre-release versions:
We designated multiplayer as "beta" because we disabled playing against AI until next week. I had written a lot of AI code this week that is in the single player version but had not been adequately tested for MP. We didn't want to give players the impression that was considered the feature set in multiplayer as being all that's coming.
They plan on releasing v1.09 next week. They'll be focusing on enemy AI and MP for that one:
Next week we anticipate releasing v1.09 which will continue to address issues that were not found in the initial release, improve computer AI further and provide it and other new MP features. After that, we will begin focusing on v1.1 which will be the first post-release update that is designed specifically to extending game play.
Wednesday - September 15, 2010
Elemental: War of Magic - Development Update
Here's Brad Wardell's latest blog post, explaining the current situation. Interestingly, the imminent update will bring multiplayer but Brad says "while Elemental supports multiplayer, it is not a game designed for it", which I hadn't picked up previously:
They’re staging v1.08 tonight with the hopes for a general release tomorrow (no promises). The bulk of the team’s efforts have been on taking care of compatibility, performance, memory and stability both single player and multiplayer.
In the near term, multiplayer is on the box so this has to be delivered and we apologize for the delay. After the initial launch of Elemental: War of Magic, we went back and did a post-mortem on how things could be done better and through this has emerged an updated QA policy. This has in turn meant that the multiplayer launch, which was originally going to be just a flip of a switch has gone through considerable more QA (and will continue to go through more QA) to improve the general quality going forward.
That said, I want to emphasize that while Elemental supports multiplayer, it is not a game designed for it. It’s designed primarily to be played in a sandbox single player. We are interested in feedback though from the multiplayer community on things they’d like to see.
In terms of single player, we have made a number of changes to balance that should make things more enjoyable and make the computer players more challenging. The spells and such have gotten a work over to make sure they are behaving as we intend them to.
Also, we have a poll up for users based on what areas they’d like to see us enhance going into the future the most;
We don’t have a specific time for v1.08 tomorrow other than “sometime tomorrow, EST”. Stay tuned.
Thursday - September 09, 2010
Elemental: War of Magic - v1.008 Delayed
Brad's latest Elemental blog post:
Wednesday - September 08, 2010
Elemental: War of Magic - MP this week, Reviews
First, Brad Wardell previews Elemental v1.08, which includes multiplayer and they hope to release late this week.
On to a couple of reviews. Big Download reviewed the pre-release code and yet they still came up with a "must own" verdict:
Elemental is, as we have said, the best game Stardock has made so far. It really is a wonderful title, and despite some incredibly poor design decisions, it stands out in a tired genre. Post-launch support aims to elevate the game beyond the relatively simple status it is at now, and we welcome it with open arms. It's worth noting that this is the first time we've found ourselves sitting on the fence regarding buying or waiting, but in the end, buying wins out. There's plenty of game there for those that get it now, future updates will make it incredible, and the developer could definitely use the support.
IGN, on the other hand, says the game "still feels like a beta" and awarded a score of 6/10:
Sadly, even when the game was working there are some issues with the A.I. that make it pretty frustrating to play against. The A.I. often takes its Sovereign into battle in foreign lands, making it easy to kill – which in turn eliminates the empire from the map. But should the enemy empires be smart enough to avoid this, they'll usually amass amazingly large armies and march on you, even if the victory through conquest option has been disabled. In all the matches I played I never once saw the A.I. try to win by any other way than wiping out the other nations, making it so I had to focus on my military to a point where I could never effectively pursue the other victory conditions.
Monday - September 06, 2010
Elemental: War of Magic - Drama Cleansing thread
Yet another Brad Wardell post explaining what happened and answering other questions, including (apparently) emails that he kill himself and other idiocy. The intro:
On August 24th, Stardock released the long-anticipated PC strategy game Elemental on schedule…
Except, of course, that’s not quite what happened. Stardock released the game a couple days early to beta testers and pre-order customers – the same version reviewers were given (v1.0) and the results were painful in two basic ways:
1. The new engine that Stardock developed turned out to have a lot of compatibility problems resulting in crashing and out of memory errors for a significant percentage (I’d go as far as to say as many as 30% of users – which is a gigantic number – anything over 5% is considered unacceptable). It’s not commonly known but the engine in our previous games (GalCiv II, The Political Machine, etc.) was developed originally in 1997 and enhanced over the years. Nowadays, most companies just license their engine from Gamebryo (Civilization V, Oblivion, Fallout 3) or the Unreal engine. You are now seeing why they do.
2. The above ensured ruinous reviews but even without them, the game UI and some of the game mechanics just didn’t live up to people’s expectations, and AI issues.
The purpose of this blog is to help answer questions so that we can move forward.
So here are some of the questions / comments I’ve gotten in emails and private messages and on various forums that I’ll try to answer.
Source: Blues News
Sunday - September 05, 2010
Elemental: War of Magic - Reviews @ GameSpot, PC Games
Here are two reviews of Elemental with similar things to say but surprisingly different scores. GameSpot doesn't mince their words and the score is 4/10:
It's never fun to purchase a game you're excited to play, only to discover that it's an incomplete mess. Yet if you purchase Elemental: War of Magic, whether from a retail outlet or developer/publisher Stardock's own Impulse distribution service, that's exactly what you'll get. This strategy game boasts shades of SimTex's classic Master of Magic, but any goodwill this similarity inspires is dashed by a slew of disastrous bugs, uninspired art, AI problems, bad sound effects, non-working multiplayer, and a shoddy interface. When it works, Elemental possesses that "just one more turn" factor that can keep you invested in your civilization's advancement. But even if you somehow avoid the game's penchant for crashing--often over and over again--it's hard to get past the noticeable sloppiness that invades almost every element. At the time of this review, three patches have smoothed out the roughest edges, but it's going to take a long time before Elemental: War of Magic fulfills its potential. Maybe at that time, this product will be worth your money, but for now, even the most adventurous gamblers should keep their funds safely in their own pockets.
...while PC Gamer goes for a softer 70%. Here, the author sells his wife to buy some Hell Dogs:
Well, that settles it. A pleasure – an uneasy and slightly guilty pleasure – doing business with you guys. Enjoy the six to thirty-six hell dogs from hell that I can now afford to destroy you with.
The hell dogs are unstoppable, and I win the game a long but unchallenging while later. The whole experience is typical of Elemental: exciting possibilities, confusingly stupid decisions from the AI, masses of freedom to come up with killer combinations, and absolutely no resistance when you do so. The game has been released far, far too early, and what we’ve ended up with is a tantalising prototype for a phenomenal game that just doesn’t exist yet.
Source: Blues News
Elemental: War of Magic - Labor Day Notes
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!
Friday - September 03, 2010
Elemental: War of Magic - v1.07 Patch
The latest patch is out. It is mostly a maintanence update. There was hardly an AI improvement to be seen which would have been great. Once again the list is massive and too long to post, but head on over here for the complete change log.
Thursday - September 02, 2010
Elemental: War of Magic - Reviews @ GameShark, Out of Eight
A couple of reviews for Elemental. Strategy specialist Troy Goodfellow goes for a 'C' at GameShark:
A few hours with Elemental are enough to impress you. The world is generic, but the game map always seems alive. The continent is full of fantasy tropes like lost treasure and inns with mysterious quest givers as well as rival empires and dangerous random beasties. Then you advance your technology and uncover abandoned temples, dragon eggs, and new metals that make your soldiers the most deadly in the world. Stardock's turn based strategy game is one of the first to bring a fantasy novel backstory to life.
But a little learning is a dangerous thing and those first few hours are deceptive. By your second campaign you realize how many of these quests repeat from game to game, so fetching that dragon egg is not much of an adventure any more. The richness of the tech tree doesn't carry over to the magic system, which becomes repetitive and boring very quickly. By the end of the second few hours, you will have seen almost all Elemental has to show you.
Out of Eight says 5/8, which translates to 'C-':
As you might imagine, Elemental: War of Magic features magic. There are four main spellbooks: earth, air, fire, and water, plus summoning and enchantments and some advanced books that are unlocked with research. The spells come in tactical (for battles) and strategic (for the game world) flavors. Disappointing, most of the spell categories offer up the same types of spells: offensive weapons, attribute bonuses, and pets. I fail to see the difference between a throwing a fireball and throwing a boulder (so why have both?). Spellbooks fail to retain any source of individuality, save for a couple of high-level spells. Some of the spells are cool, though, especially those that alter the game world and inhibit enemy cities. Controlling a shard of a particular spellbook makes those spells more powerful, so there is some luck in that you find shards of the same type you set up your character with. I never found the need to specialize in more than two (and usually one would suffice) spellbooks, since each one has a number of tactical and strategic spells and there is significant overlap of spell abilities. Overall, I think the spells could use a lot more variety and individuality.
Saturday - August 28, 2010
RPGWatch Feature: Elemental Review
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.
Friday - August 27, 2010
Elemental: War of Magic - v1.06 Patch
Stardock has released a v1.06 patch for Elemental that aims to fix the tactical battles "white screen" and a bunch of other stuff. Word from our reviewer is the CTDs are much improved. The notes are too long to post, so head here for the full details.
Tuesday - August 24, 2010
Elemental: War of Magic - Day 0 Preview
But tomorrow (or later today as I write this) is the big one. The official day 0 update that the team and I have been working on since Beta 4 (the beta group can go into more detail on this but in brief: After beta 4, the game tree was split in two. One version went on to be the gold version which is what those people who have it early are playing. The other tree went on to become day 0. These two trees were merged today already and will be going up tomorrow.
So what can you expect?
Here’s a few highlights:
- The UI is updated to be somewhat more intuitive.
- The campaign is significantly updated (though only for those starting fresh).
- Resources are treated more like units. This is hard to explain but essentially the game will let you know of what resources you’re not using and how to make use of them.
- There’s a lot of performance improvements the day 0 build, particularly for those with lower end CPUs.
- The “day 0” AI is in it.
- There’s been a polish pass to the spell books and tactical battles.
- There’s been a general polish pass to the main game UI overall.
There’s been a lot of balancing to monsters, units, etc.
Elemental: War of Magic - Now Available
Elemental: War of Magic is now available for purchase. There are a few different versions to choose from. You can buy the Direct Download or the Direct Download + Standard Edition Box.
They also have a Limted Edition that has the download and comes with the following:
* 18"x26" Elemental Poster
* 18"x26" Cloth map of the Elemental world
* Lore Book: The Hiergamenon
* Elemental music CD
* Pewter Elemental dragon
Sunday - August 22, 2010
Elemental: War of Magic - Early Release?
Brad Wardell has posted on the Elemental forums that some retailers seem to gave broken the street date, so they may move the Impulse release forward:
We are getting reports that the street date for Elemental has been broken. This is one of the downsides of being an indie, we lack sufficient retail clout to get retailers to take our street dates seriously apparently (same thing happened for Demigod).
As a result, we plan to make Elemental available to beta testers TOMORROW (Sunday) as well to pre-order customers ASAP (either tomorrow or first thing Monday).
However, because I have to re-task the IT team to do this, I'm going to have to have us delay the multiplayer server availability until later this week - Tuesday - the original release date - or Wednesday in all likelihood). It won't affect the single player, campaign, or modding.
Saturday - August 21, 2010
Elemental: War of Magic - Demo in September
The Big Download says an Elemental demo is planned for September, according to a review guide that accompanied their copy:
Big Download just got an official reviewer's guide for Elemental: War of Magic, the upcoming fantasy turn-based strategy game from developer-publisher Stardock. In the reviewer's guide it makes mention that a demo for the game will indeed be released for folks who want to try out a free portion of the title. The demo is currently set for an early September release. No detail about what the demo will contain have been revealed.
Source: Blues News
Thursday - August 19, 2010
Elemental: War of Magic - Interviews, Video
Let's move on to diplomacy. It seems like the particular beta I’m playing in (beta 4) - and I’m sure that it's improved - that diplomacy is bare bones…
Oh it is. The diplomacy just got in. I write the AI for the game and the diplomacy was the part that I just really started getting into because I had to wait for a bunch of stuff. In the latest version you can gang up on players, trade items, trade champions back and forth, there's a lot more arranged marriages than what's in the version you're playing, etc. One of the things that's a lot more fun now is that they'll talk to you and say "let's gang up on so-and-so" or they'll gang up on you, or they'll message you and say we have to look out for "such-and-such" - and all of that is such a big part of the game experience.
...and a "stylish launch trailer", courtesy of RPS.
Tuesday - August 17, 2010
Elemental: War of Magic - Trailer, Interview, Forum Roundup
Omega sends in several Elemental items, so let's collect them here.
First, a trailer over at GameBanshee.
Next, an interview at FiringSquad:
FiringSquad: Do the individual races and factions have their own variations in gameplay
Brad Wardell: Each one plays a little different; they get their own special abilities, some of them have their own special units, some of them have special city improvements and that sort of thing, and they do look different, too. They play about as differently as, say, the Drengins and Arceans in Galactic Civilization or the Mongols and the British in Civilization, that kind of thing. If they have the same allegiance, if they’re both Kingdoms, they play fairly similarly, but they have different twists on them.
- Screens from the campaign.
- There's no DRM as expected but with regular patches/updates expected, Brad Wardell promises annual "archival" versions that will collect the base plus updates into one package.
- Brad also describes the different beta through Gold through Day 0 versions and timing.
Saturday - August 14, 2010
Elemental: War of Magic - Almost Done, Preview @ Joystiq
Brad Wardell has kicked up a short journal entry on Elemental saying they are wrapping up the Gold version and moving on to the Day 0 patch:
We’re wrapping up work on the gold version of Elemental. Then it’s on to the day 0 version which is largely about polish, balance and tweaking.
...and Joystiq has a new preview:
Elemental is involving, to say the least. There are five different basic resources to collect (and a host of secondary resources that affect those), each character has an in-game Magic-style card with six D&D-style stats and multiple spellbooks to build up, and cities and units create even more number relationships to deal with. Combat takes place on a completely different tactical screen, where you control individual units, each with their own spells and abilities. Every unit can be named separately, be given its own armor and weapons, and you can recruit various named heroes wandering around the game's landscape, and either use them to complete quests, build your own empire, or fight against any of the game's other ten factions (five of Men, five of a group called the Fallen, though as Wardell says, "there are no Elves and Dwarves in this game").
Friday - July 30, 2010
Elemental: War of Magic - Modding Guide
Elemental's mod tools have been made available with Beta 4 and Stardock has posted a guide if you'd like to familiarise yourself with the possibilities:
Starting with beta 4 of Elemental, the modding tools for the game have begun to be made available.
This article will serve as a very very basic primer on how modding works in Elemental.
During the beta process, the team will try as much as it can to help users learn what can and can’t be done with the existing modding tools. Those who need a lot of hand holding should probably wait until after release since the team will have very limited time available to document what is what until post-release.
Source: Blues News
Thursday - July 29, 2010
Elemental: War of Magic - Lore Excerpts @ Shacknews
Shacknews have an exclusive look at the lore book included in the limited edition of Elemental.
The book was written by Stardock CEO and Elemental lead designer Brad Wardell and Random House, which is also publishing the companion book Elemental: Destiny's Embers through Del Rey on August 24.
The game itself will also be released on August 24 at retail and digitally through Stardock's Impulse service. A beta is currently running for pre-order customers.
Saturday - July 03, 2010
Elemental: War of Magic - On DRM
PC Gamer has a grab from Brad Wardell on the DRM for Elemental, which is a subject I would have thought was already known. Anyway, he confirms they'll just be relying on the goodies in the Limited Edition:
It’ll contain a map, pewter dragon, a poster, and the Hiergemenon – the game’s encyclopedia, in book form. Brad calls it “Half D&D monster manual and half lore book.” It’s got maps and artwork, race profiles, short stories, and a detailed breakdown of the game’s universe.
Source: Blues News
Monday - June 14, 2010
Elemental: War of Magic - Beta 2
Brad Wardell has announced Beta 2 for Elemental, which you can apparently access if you have preordered. It's a limited beta with a lot of features disables/removed; here's the post:
We are pleased to announce that Elemental: War of Magic – BETA is now available.
To those who have pre-ordered the game and would like to subject themselves to misery, agony, famine, and grief, you may voluntarily take part in the buggy, unfun, imbalanced, flakey, psychologically damaging beta.
Here are two helpful links:
Be aware that Beta 2 is not representative of what the final game will be like. We do, however, invite beta testers to give any feedback they would like at this point even if they think it’s something we’re going already planning to address.
The anticipated release date of Elemental is August 24, 2010. We are currently running ahead of schedule so that date is looking pretty firm.
Source: Rock, Paper, Shotgun
Friday - June 04, 2010
Elemental: War of Magic - Release Date and News Roundup
A flurry of Elemental stuff is out there, including news from a new Brad Wardell FAQ forum post that the targeted release date is August 24th (and he gets bonus points for the Ultima joke included in the post).
- Screens at Blue's
- 12 minute developer walkthrough video via RPS
- Preview at Big Download
- Preview at GameSpot, and a snip:
Other additions to the game include the fleshed-out roles of independent hero characters. While you start the game with a single wizard character and can later sire children who can become heroes under your banner, you can also find neutral heroes that wander the world until either you or one of your rival nations hires them, at which point they may bolster your nation as one of your vassals, potentially adding a miscellaneous bonus of some sort--scholar characters, for instance, increase the rate of your technology research, while wizards increase your overall magic spell power. Stardock frontman Brad Wardell was quick to point out that recruiting these heroes will be crucial to victory, particularly in the early game, in which you'll start with nothing more than your wizard hero in a completely barren world.
Source: Blues News
Wednesday - June 02, 2010
Elemental: War of Magic - Impressions @ IGN
Some "updated" impressions of Stardock's strategy/RPG, Elemental, at IGN:
Once on the world map, which can be adjusted to be small or so large it'll require weeks of play to see all there is, you'll notice your sovereign isn't alone. Other NPCs run around the landscape who can be recruited, enemies perch in positions around the terrain waiting for someone to pass by, and ruins dot the ground that's been ravaged by war. You can wander around snatching up resources from various debris piles, but a good idea would be to cast a spell to rejuvenate a patch of land so a city can be founded. Initially it's just a meager camp with little going on, and you can zoom in and observe behavior. Ideally it'll grow over time, changing in visual appearance as it becomes a better place to live and you tack on workshops and defensive structures. To simplify this process, the game has only one resource type, so you don't need to worry about gathering wood and stone and a bunch of other things from the environment to build out population centers.
Tuesday - March 23, 2010
Elemental: War of Magic - Interview @ RPS
RPS interview Stardock CEO Brad Wardell revealing some lengthy campaign times, and customisation options for Elemental.
Stardock’s forthcoming strategy game, Elemental, is looking rather interesting. It kicks off with the player mooching about, alone in the world, and ends up with you directing a colossal dynastic 4X empire-building game with user-generated content and a hefty multiplayer offering. Last week we talked to Stardock CEO Brad Wardell to get a bit more information about the user-generated content, multiplayer sessions lasting six months, and the world-building collaboration with publisher, Random House.
Friday - March 12, 2010
Elemental: War of Magic - Impressions @ Gamespot
Gamespot has posted an impressions piece about Stardock's upcoming fantasy/strategy release inspired by the classic Master of Magic, Elemental: War of Magic. Also, the official site is now showing an approximate release date of September 1, 2010.
Here's a snip from the Gamespot article:
When you have a sovereign created, you'll then be able to explore the barren, largely uncivilized world. While the key to exploring the world and discovering key resources and other nations' holdings is to walk across as many tiles as possible, your sovereign can also perform "subtile" movements within a single tile to explore that tile's contents, which will come into play with the game's various quests. But your first order of business will be to expend part of your character's wizardly essence to create your first home city. Home cities can have up to five levels of development and will grow in size depending on each city's current population and available food. Elemental will have a built-in modifier that will multiply the benefits of any improvements you build in your city by your city's level...And since it turns out that every Elemental map will have a limited amount of food supplies (such as grain patches and fruit orchards that must be discovered by exploration), the limited food and high-level bonuses of developed cities mean that you'll be better served by having fewer, more well-tended cities, rather than a whole bunch of low-level villages.
Thursday - March 04, 2010
Elemental: War of Magic - Limited Edition
Stardock Entertainment reveal the Limited Edition of Elemental: War of Magic.
Limited Edition Extras:
- 18"x26" Elemental poster
- Extended print manual, with extra information on the world of Elemental, the in-game editors and more
- Elemental music CD
- 18"x26" Cloth map of the Elemental campaign world
- Pewter Elemental dragon
Source: Voodoo Extreme
Tuesday - February 23, 2010
Elemental: War of Magic - Journal Updates
Updates to the Elemental site are flowing quickly, with new updates pointing out the first beta stage starts this week, Thoughts on Chancellors, Cities, Snaking and Secession, making sure instant resolves work and modding.
Friday - February 19, 2010
Elemental: War of Magic - Updated Q & A @ GameSpot & Latest Dev Diaries
It's been awhile since we did an update on Stardock's strategy/rpg in development, Elemental: War of Magic, and in the interim Brad Wardell has done an interview over at GameSpot, while the devs have started up a Lore thread that gives some information on and depth to the game world, along with their regular journal entries.
From the Q&A:
GameSpot: Give us a brief update on the game's status. What parts of the game are currently being worked on?
Brad Wardell: We're nearing the end of the first beta of the game. Our focus has been to work through the game mechanics to make sure what seems fun on paper will translate to fun in-game. Specifically, we have been working on the battle system, quests, and the player's dynasty. The dynasty system has proven to be far more interesting than we had realized. In Elemental, the player exists in the game as a specific unit (the sovereign). The sovereign can have children who appear in the game as champions with various powers. These units can be married off to other kingdoms to secure alliances and gain other political advantage. In turn, they can have children. We have a genetic algorithm for producing the children, which has had some interesting visual results. In one game, I married my beautiful daughter to a trog monster. I will require many months of therapy to recover after seeing their child.
The Lore page is a work in progress, but has some general information on the world of Elemental, as well as concept art like this bestiary. The journals are basically a discussion of various game elements, like this particular entry about city building comparisons between Elemental and Master of Magic and Civ.
Wednesday - January 13, 2010
Elemental: War of Magic - Third Quarter 2010 Release Planned
Big Download has a bit of an update on the estimated release date of Stardock's turn-based strategy title, Elemental: War of Magic.
While the game's pre-order listing on the Impulse web site shows a February 15 release date, Big Download has confirmed with Stardock's PR rep that the game won't make that date. Instead the game is now set for a release sometime in the third quarter of 2010 (between July and September).
Third quarter of 2010 sounds realistic given that in their December update, the devs mentioned that the beta process still had several iterations to go. For those interested in more information on how multiplayer will be handled, there's a recent developer post on the official forums with videos and explanations, as well as a look at the tribulations of the beta testers.
Source: Blues News
Thursday - December 24, 2009
Elemental: War of Magic - December Status Update @ Official Site
The official site for Elemental, Stardock's turn-based strategy offering loosely based on the classic Master of Magic, has a developer update posted on the current status of the game, dealing mostly with the results from beta testing:
As we reach the end of the year, we can take stock of where we are and where we’re going next.
…our story so far…
About 3 months ago, we released the first “beta” of Elemental. Designed to let players help us mold the game mechanics, the beta has been going very well so far.
Through beta feedback, the economic system for the game has been changed a great deal, streamlined and generally put into place something that will be fun, deep but should also keep players from getting bogged down.
Also thanks to beta feedback, we came up with a different technology system that is, ironically, quite similar to what was in Master of Orion 1. This is an area that is proving a wealth of future fun for us as we prepare to create different technology pools for the different factions.
In addition, again thanks to the beta players, the diplomacy system has been heavily modified...
…lessons and trends…
If I were pressed to list what the biggest trend in the beta feedback has been so far it is this: Make sure the game has a soul.
Nearly all of our changes in Elemental thus far have been to increase the opportunity to inject story and life into the game play...
Friday - November 27, 2009
Elemental: War of Magic - Misc. Links and Tidbits
Since we had some users' requests for coverage of this non-rpg, turn-based fantasy strategy game being developed by Stardock and inspired by Master of Magic, here are a few links to create a frame of reference and give some background on the game as well as to take a look at its current state.
Gamasutra has also done a piece interviewing Brad Wardell on the modding engine used in Elemental and Rock Paper Shotgun has an interview as well.
Also available from the forums at the official site is a link to a short impressions piece over at Colony of Gamers forums, and a couple of user videos from Pax 2009, showing Wardell informally discussing the game and the demo previewed there. [Warning: quality is not high; it's obviously amateur with a lot of noise and shake, but there's some interesting background on the informal ties to Master of Magic and also some specifics on the actual game elements if you have the patience to sit through them.]
Finally, here are links to the older two part interview with Wardell over at Shack News in this newsbit we posted back in October.
Thursday - October 01, 2009
Elemental - Brad Wardell Interview @ Shacknews
I'm not sure if we'll cover Elemental in the long run but any time Star Control 2 gets a mention is worth a post, in my opinion. Brad Wardell talks about their fantasy turn-based strat game Elemental and then, for a bit of fun, slams Games for Windows Live in Part 2. Here's a sample:
Brad Wardell: Yeah, so games like X-Com, and Star Control 2, and of course Master of Magic, we love those games. And so we take bits and pieces, and we take our own ideas of things we wanted to see in games. I think the family tree feature of Elemental is pretty much something that we're bringing to the genre that's fairly unique.
Shack: Talk about that tree.
Brad Wardell: Well the idea is that, in these games, it's pretty normal to have heroes, and you can recruit heroes in this game as well. But we wanted the player to have more diplomatic tools than the usual treaties or tribute or whatever. And instead, while you are immortal, you can get married, have children, grow old and die. And you can actually arrange marriages and that kind of thing, and they'll have offspring that are a genetic blend of the two.
As an example, lets say I'm playing as the Altar, and we have an AI player, and their daughter is married to my son. She becomes a part of my family; I can control her, she's a unit in the game. Royalty in the game are actual units that you just get. Well, now she's my unit. Alright, I have her in my capitol city, and [she] just has babies or something. Or what do you know, she gives a 25% morale boost to any army she's in. Maybe I'll send her off with the army. Uh oh, she died. Well guess what, the other player's going to declare war on me because I killed their daughter.