Brad Wardell's views about technology, politics, religion, world affairs, and all sorts of politically incorrect topics.

imageAugust 24th…HURRY UP!

First off, we’re so ready to not be dealing with the beta content. If I have to deal with “You got Gildar!” one more time I’m going to scream. If I go into a tactical battle able to cast a half dozen spells per turn with a single unit I think I’ll curl up. Dealing with the UI as it is in beta 4 makes me cringe.

But it’s more than that. A lot more than that.

What is Elemental? What can you expect? How can you explain it to other people?

I’ve been bedeviled with this issue for months when marketing wants me to explain what Elemental is.

Consider this, my friends: How often do you see new AAA franchises begun? It’s pretty rare. And for good reason. Those of you in the beta understand.  When you are building on a sequel, if there’s something not done, you can just point to the previous  version’s code. In Elemental, we had nothing.

Moreover, when was the last time a new strategy game was made from scratch using the computing resources of 2010 versus  being tied to decade old design decisions? I remember in GalCiv, every time I wanted to eliminate its awful painful economic system (5 sliders!) I’d get screamed at by the community.

So again: What is Elemental?

The released version of Elemental is 3 things:

1. It’s a strategic RPG game (The Campaign = Book 1: Relias).

2. It’s a stand-alone strategy game (The sand box, which is where the beta has been about).

3. It’s a platform (The modding tools). The campaign is made with the mod tools.

The Campaigns for Elemental: War of Magic are broken into at least 3 books. The first book comes with the game. Relias. It’s had its own development team dedicated to just it and you guys haven’t seen it.  Here’s some hints: There is NO technology tree in it. It’s where all the cut scenes and Random House work has been going into and it rocks. Future books will be released in the future.

The stand alone game changes dramatically from week to week based on your feedback. And that’s the way we like it. I’ll be sad when the beta ends only because I really like hearing your ideas and criticisms. We get so inspired by some of the great ideas that the community has come up with.

We will really need to sit back and take an inventory on just how much of a massive impact for good that the beta has had.  Consider just the economic and research systems and how much better they are from our original concept.

Now, I do regret that those of you playing beta 4 will not easily recognize the final game. I mean that literally. The final game will look quite a bit different in terms of UI and gameplay. There are good reasons to hold back on this stuff until as late as possible.

Then there’s the platform.  Originally, we were going to make it all Python driven. But then we realized just how much we could do with XML. Eventually, we’ll expose in-game APIs as Python so people can do even more. But I have to say, the XML data driving has been a real game changer (did I mention that the campaign was done purely in XML?) As an old C programmer, I find this stuff amazing. Seriously, look at some of the spell books. How did they do randomization in XML? I don’t know. But they did it. I take back all the mean things I’ve said about Web developers and XML developers.

Stardock: We’re an indie

It’s not readily known but Stardock is one of the oldest game companies in the industry. Our first released game came out in 1994.  We were an OS/2 developer until 2000 so it’s only been in the past 10 years that most people have heard of our games.  But because we’re an indie with our own platform (Impulse) we can do as many updates as we want as often as we want. 

Let’s talk about the post-release updates:

1. The reviews and sales do not affect this. Even if people hate it, we love it. And we’ll keep working on it long after release because we love Elemental. We’re dedicated to it. And Stardock’s existence isn’t predicated on Elemental’s success.

2. Our updates are OPTIONAL. If you buy the retail DVD, you don’t have to update (at least not initially, we may get to a point with the modding tools this Fall where we’ll need people to update so that they can partake but we’ll see).

3. The point about optional updates matters. Because we will continue to make substantial updates to the game as time goes on. If you like the game as-is, you don’t have to update (unless you play MP).  But the beta community and us are constantly coming up with new ideas and I’m sure release players will have their own ideas.  I’d still like to see dungeon crawls in.  If you’ve played with the map editor, you’ll see we already support making Dungeons. I.e. we’ve already spent a lot of $$$ making art assets so you can make your own dungeons. But the game itself doesn’t have them. Yet.

4. We’re here.  When you’re on the forums, you’re not talking to just some support people (they’re here too! Hi guys!). You get to talk to us directly. We’ll agree, disagree, or give feedback.

Where will the game be available?

Okay, so here’s the deal on that:

In North America, you’re set.  Walmart, Best Buy, Gamestop have all been in the beta (yes, their buyers do play the games before they pick them up). And they all plan to carry it.  Pretty much everyone who carries PC games in North America will be carrying it.

Australia. They’re all set too. It’ll be at retail in Australia.

Russia. Yep. They’re set up too believe it or not.

Europe…Well, not so much. There are currently no plans to have a retail presence in Europe. I don’t want to talk too much about this lest I get into trouble but let’s just say, our previous games have been available in retail in western Europe and as much as we like making a nickel per copy sold, we think we’ll pass this time. The retail situation in Europe is just insane and in the age of digital distribution, we’re just not willing to put up with it anymore. One world. One price.  If there’s anything that would make the lives of Europeans easier in terms of getting the game via Impulse, let us know. I know people.

The Collector’s Edition

The response from retailers on the Collector’s Edition has been unexpectedly strong.  Having lots of in-box stuff (the Elemental CE box is going to be fat) seems to have hit a note with retailers and so many of them are picking it up.  We plan to only do one manufacturing run because well, frankly, the profit margins on the collector’s edition isn’t as good as the standard edition but even still, if you can afford it, get it. Holy cow is it awesome. If you miss the golden age of PC games (included 150+ of reading material, figurines, cloth maps, posters, etc.) get the collector’s edition.  As someone who has gone to bed reading various Civilization manuals over the years (and who can forget Ultima IV!?) the CE version really does make the case IMO as to why it’s good to give customers more than merely a piece of digital media.

What’s going to be better than Beta 4? What isn’t changing?

I think it’s pretty well known I don’t like Beta 4. I’m not a troll. I’m the designer. I’ll bullet point my gripes:

  • Casters should not get to cast spells more than 1 per turn.
  • The UI makes me cry. Clickity click click click. What’s going on?
  • Goodie huts are boooring.
  • The spells are booooring.
  • Tactical combat is boooring.
  • The spell books are confusing and make me feel violated and I’ve already consulted my attorneys about the issue. (Sorry Stardock, it’s too late already)
  • The spells are all the same and boring.

These are the kinds of things people can expect to change by release.  Technical people can tell you that this stuff is pretty trivial. Making a game is a lot like writing a term player expect that we have to program the word processor prior to actually writing the term paper. After programming the word processor, writing the term paper doesn’t seem so bad.

So we’re all here. Ready to make gaming history! Only 24 days remaining! Of course, bear in mind that Beta 4 and Beta 3C were only 7 days apart. So what I’m saying is that Elemental 1.0 on August 24th is going to be a first person shooter. Enjoy.


Comments (Page 10)
on Aug 02, 2010

Hi you guys new here,

Made an account in response of the 'problems' with European retail. I am from Europe (Holland) and can't help but feel discriminated here. From a businesspoint of view i can understand Stardock's decision but it is really annoying. Like someone else pointed out earlier on not everyone in Europe/Holland has creditcards, in fact i don't know anyone who does! In the USA it may be the standard to have half a dozen different ones but here we don't!! I found this site after i heard of the steamissues CIV5 was having and was looking forward to playing a good game again. Really like the mix of tbs/rpg.

Now however it becomes rather hard for me to play this game. I clicked order the game from your site but the paymentmethods are not really available to me. I surely don't intent to get a creditcard just for this game!! As someone else pointed out earlier isn't it possible to buy this game by means of bankwiretransfer (or whatever it's called in english i just give like 52 euros or whatever the prize was directly from my bankaccount to the accountnumber provided by stardock and am sent the box with the game/ or download it)?? For me i never bought a game digitally, i don't care about multiplayerstuff either. Just want to pick up the game at the store go home and play (maybe lurk at a forum/ ask a couple questions when i get stuck). For me it's a major disappointment that it will be very hard to get this game. Now as to piracy i never downloaded a game really so i wouldn't know how to do that either (as opposed to tvseries but you have to wait a year to see those in holland and i buy the dvdboxes of the ones i really really like later...). Anyhow i do understand your choice of not retailing the game in europe but you have to make it easily understandable for us in europe how to acquire the game. I would very much prefer the box to be sent home but downloading via impulse (no idea how) is acceptable. The big problem however remains payment options. I would very much like to see an article as to how us europeans can get the game in a reasonable fashion!

 

on Aug 02, 2010

Try paypal? ok you may not be able to pre order it using paypal, but that does not matter much.

on Aug 02, 2010

Btw, the non-availability of the retail box in Europe reminds me of the god old times where I imported most of my games for the consoles or PC from US or Japan BUT, my hobby was far more expensive at that time - and I was considered as a Nerd .. yeah, yeah, good old days :.)

on Aug 02, 2010

Whats paypal?? Internetwallet?? Again don't like to acquire one of those just for this??

Basically i would need an account book some money over from my bank account and buy the game with that??

Seems a bit uhm... cumbersome (which is a google translation so that might make no sense)

on Aug 02, 2010

Tridus



Quoting Tormy-,
reply 63

1. Tactical Combat. The TC is way too simple right now, but lot of things will be improved, like special abilities will be added etc., so it should be ok for release. Also we need a more informative UI for tactical combat. [Damage types, armor resistances etc. should be listed as well!] The battle maps are extremely small. Even the smallest should be bigger, and the size of the maps should grow dynamically based on the total number of units/groups involved in a battle.


Yep. Also, we need terrain to matter. The most obvious one is city attacks. Cities that have walls built should have walls in TC when you try to attack them, allowing ranged units to sit on the walls and snipe while melee units block the doors.

I agree see AOW:SM for an example on this. I think MOM had this too but I don't remember.

on Aug 02, 2010

raduciu
Tridus dear, i am sure you want attention but please next time don't hust read and flame, how about read, think and flame?

Now can you please do that?

I am not the type to just quote and answer each paragraph separately so i will tell you once READ BOTH my posts and you have answers to all your flaming.

And just to make it clear, you say pirating, pirating, pirating, like a broken down puppy doll. Just because you can flame will not make it vanish. I am stating what will happen and no amount of hiding behind the finger will help.

Now we can both agree than in an ideal world it piracy would not exist and US and Europe will do business alike, it won't happen. If Stardock makes a deal with the major geme distribution companies in Europe they will get at least some European bucks and please keep in mind i did not say at any time RETAIL CHAINS.

Will saying it like it is get me banned? I hope not because i do want to buy Elemental.

P.S. Remember when Stardock was considering delaying the game until February because they might miss the retail date for US?

If DD was so great it that issue would not have appeared.

I read them. It's the same type of self-righteous BS I've seen numerous times. You're by your own admission pirating the game, and the rest of it is you trying to justify that. People like you are the problem with PC gaming.

The funny part is that you act suprised. You come to a developer's website and announce you're going to rip them off. If you were expecting a warm welcome for that, you're delusional.

 

And for the record, talking about a lack of retail will not get you banned. This part will:

Meanwhile i will probably use a pirated version.

If you don't like the terms something is put up for sale, the correct answer is to vote with your wallet and not purchase it. Pirating it makes you nothing more then a pirate, and everything else you said irrevelant.

on Aug 02, 2010

Indeed, still - to the uninformed:

"Ohai? Stardock sells to our arch enemies but not to us? OMG PIETRAIT TIME!" *Yoink*

 

It wont matter much though since stardock is going to see no money from europe anyway (apart from me and that guy in the tuxedo...).

on Aug 02, 2010

Look Tridus, i know the correct choice and it's way easier pointing at it than actually folowing it. You have convicted me before actually doing the deed. You do not read all i say but just take what you want to flame.

"Meanwhile i will probably use a pirated version."

Yea i said that, problem? Did you ever conceive i was trying to make a point here? (doubt it)

Do you see that i am not the only one as you put it whining about lack of a retail copy in Europe? 

Can you please just TRY (now i know it might be a mite hard fer ye) to think about why i am taking this position before you make me a liar thief and whatever else you are going to call me?

In my point of view i just gave Stardock a good way of actually still making some bucks here.

And since you obviously hate pirating so much mind telling me if availability of a software product in retail makes pirating that product more or less likely? 

 

 

 

on Aug 02, 2010

marlowwe



Quoting Aractain,
reply 92



What I dont understand is how your going to retail in Pirate Russia....? Former communists still like to share...



Tough words from a British Imperialist - shouldn't you be subjugating some backwater African nation?

So how are those Gulag's coming along?  How many died in those camps again?

Each nation has thier dark times and we can sit here all day arguing over them or we can talk about Elemental,  the choice is yours.

on Aug 02, 2010

sorry double post

on Aug 02, 2010

And since you obviously hate pirating so much mind telling me if availability of a software product in retail makes pirating that product more or less likely?

Things get pirated either way. If you actually work in software distribution as you claim to, that you'd even consider piracy is shameful.

on Aug 02, 2010

raduciu
Tridus dear, i am sure you want attention but please next time don't hust read and flame, how about read, think and flame?

Now can you please do that?

I am not the type to just quote and answer each paragraph separately so i will tell you once READ BOTH my posts and you have answers to all your flaming.

And just to make it clear, you say pirating, pirating, pirating, like a broken down puppy doll. Just because you can flame will not make it vanish. I am stating what will happen and no amount of hiding behind the finger will help.

Now we can both agree than in an ideal world it piracy would not exist and US and Europe will do business alike, it won't happen. If Stardock makes a deal with the major geme distribution companies in Europe they will get at least some European bucks and please keep in mind i did not say at any time RETAIL CHAINS.

Will saying it like it is get me banned? I hope not because i do want to buy Elemental.

P.S. Remember when Stardock was considering delaying the game until February because they might miss the retail date for US?

If DD was so great it that issue would not have appeared.
 

It doesn't matter what justifications you try to hide behind. Immoral and Illegal are Immoral and Illegal.

Oh and last I checked full European distribution was in some cases Unprofitable because of all the legalese... Now I don't know about you, but I certainly don't make things only to pay ppl to buy my work...

Put it this way... If Brad has to pay around 100k-200k per country for permits/legal, and he only makes 3.00 each copy, then he has to sell 70,000 unit per country for the PRIVILEGE of being allowed to break even.

That isn't good business sense kid.

on Aug 02, 2010

Let me just say in closing that as much as i love Stardock's work and as much as i am excited about elemental i am deeply disapointed about your marketing and distribution policy, and while you might feel it is an adequate move for you, i can say for certain that a serious publishing company would not even consider such.

Just consider for a minute what would have happened is Blizz decided no retail for Starcraft 2 for Europe.

Thought i'dd say it straight as it is, couse it's fairer and a friendly slap now and then can help a fella' grow.

Aaah, so ignorant to how the process actually works!  You do realize the blizzard already has founded and legalized its publishing in almost all EU nations, right? Now think... just how hard and expensive is it for blizzard to break into a new market.  Even Vivendi balks at that. We aren't talking 'Just pay someone and go', there is a lot more too it than that.

Oh, and you obviously aren't a software distributor/developer. So don't even try to pull that one over on people.

on Aug 02, 2010


Things get pirated either way. If you actually work in software distribution as you claim to, that you'd even consider piracy is shameful.

Kryo is dead on... Look at MW2... freaking near everywhere. And still they had to ban almost a million ppl for being pirates.  Availability means squat.  The only thing that influences pirating is an overblown sense of Entitlement.

on Aug 02, 2010

Oh, and Frogboy. Will we be getting previews of the new 'Candies' i.e. UI/Spells to drool over even if we haz to wait till 1.0 for them?

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