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 12)
on Aug 03, 2010

I like the concept of # of spells you can cast to turn being tied to wisdom.

Wisdom is under utitlized I think and makes for an "interesting choice" at level up time.

on Aug 03, 2010

Frogboy, Any news on AU retail release ?

on Aug 03, 2010

The ability to only cast one spell per "turn" has been the bain of fantasty games (rpg and strategy) for all time IMO.  Only able to cast one spell leads to people being forced to cast the biggest AoE damage spell most the time.

Also, if I want a "physical" copy of the Collectors Edition of Elemental, how do I order it?  Or can I download that pewter dragon (talk about lag). . . ?

 

 

on Aug 03, 2010

Frogboy

You should be able to buy the boxed version in Europe online.  It's the stores (retail stores) in Europe that are the issue.
 

Oh really? Well that's great news. I never buy games from brick and mortar stores simply because most of them have a woeful selection of PC games to begin with.

I haven't been able to find it online though.  Last time I checked the usual places - Play.com, GAME.co.uk, Amazon UK - they didn't even have a mention of it.  If I could find it at an online retailer in the UK I'd be very happy.

on Aug 03, 2010

The ability to only cast one spell per "turn" has been the bain of fantasty games (rpg and strategy) for all time IMO. Only able to cast one spell leads to people being forced to cast the biggest AoE damage spell most the time.

There's a problem with multiple spells per turn : you start with 1 spell per turn, then you can cast 2 spells, your DPS is twice as much. But if you go from 2 to 3 your DPS was multiplied by 1,5. 3 to 4 spells ? DPS multiplied by  1,333.

It's a well-known problem in D&D about the number of attacks in a round :the 2nd attack you earn is more important than the 3rd or 4th one.

So what ? In D&D the 2nd attack is weaker, the 3rd too etc. So a player could choose to cast only one spell at full power, or 2 spells with less power. With a high wisdom you would get less of a penalty. For instance if you cast only one spell, it is at full power, the 2nd spell is at Wisdom / (Wisdom + 3), the 3rd spell is at WIS/(WIS+6) and you can only cast as many spells as your WIS div 4 (or 5)

Another thing would be casting time : You could always cast at least one spell per turn, then you could cast another "free" spell if the mana needed is under the wisdom, if you want to cast a more expensive spell, then the max you can use is remembered for the next turn where you'll be able to cast that second spell. Time needed would be dependant on your wisdom : a high wis will let you cast spells faster.

For instance : you have 13 wis. You cast "Firestorm" that  cost 15 mana. You can because it's your free spell. Then you want to cast it twice. You start banking mana for the next turn (because you can only save 13 mana for your next turn). At the next turn you cast anything you want then with 2 remaining mana (15 - 13) you can cast the firestorm and you have 11 (13 - the 2 mana used) mana for another "parallel" spell.

 

EDIT : maybe i'm not clear enough. I'll try to summarize it better : Each turn you have the "real" mana and you cast any spell you want with it, like now. But you have a second bank of mana (think concentration, aetherial mana or anything you want). That second bank of mana is as high as your wisdom each turn. And each turn you earn as many aetherial point as your wisdom.

So at first turn you have your 34/45 mana and 13 aetherial points (because you have 13 wisdom). You cast a spell that cost 10 mana and a spell that cost 5 aetherial point (the cost in amana and aetherial are the same). You have 24 mana and 8 aetherial at the end of the first turn

At the start of 2nd turn you get 13 (your WIS) more aetherial for a total of 21 aetherial.

etc.

So you could have huge spells that would cost 60 mana for instance and no spell caster could cast that in one turn, even a 20 WIS would let you cast it every 3 turns. The usual "Mana" would be more something for global spells and urgent spells on the battlefield.

on Aug 03, 2010

It might have gotten lost in the thread so I will ask again:

I pre-ordered the CE quite some time ago. I live in The Netherlands. How will it be shipped to me / when can I expect it

(i.e 2 weeks after release or ....)

 

Thx

on Aug 03, 2010

That's kind'a my question/worry too Mooiniet:  I want the CE, but the last two times I ordered a computer game via mail, it was in the stores for a week while I checked the mail every day (wishing I had just never ordered it).  It was about as fun as waiting in the dentist office lobby.

So I'm wondering if I order the CE, if I might, just might get it at the same time (or sooner) than just random store searching.

 

on Aug 03, 2010

luketan

Quoting kryo, reply 153
I'm from Singapore in Asia.

Can i buy the digital download???

So long as you have a valid payment method, you can buy it anywhere.
 

Okay let me rephrase. I can buy it anywhere, but can I use it? This impulse thing works anywhere also?

For this game it should, yeah.

on Aug 03, 2010

MooiNiet
It might have gotten lost in the thread so I will ask again:

I pre-ordered the CE quite some time ago. I live in The Netherlands. How will it be shipped to me / when can I expect it

(i.e 2 weeks after release or ....)

 
Thx

IIRC they're using UPS. Shipping to the UK usually takes between 3 - 7 days with the standard UPS delivery, I can't see it taking that much longer to reach you (I have in fact known UPS to deliver faster from the US to the UK than Royal Mail can deliver internally).

 

PurplePaladin

So I'm wondering if I order the CE, if I might, just might get it at the same time (or sooner) than just random store searching.
 

You'll be able to download the game as soon as it's released via Impulse, so it'd only be the goodies in the box you'd need to wait for. But I expect having the actual game to play might make the wait go quicker

on Aug 03, 2010

Heart Shaped Man
I haven't been able to find it online though.  Last time I checked the usual places - Play.com, GAME.co.uk, Amazon UK - they didn't even have a mention of it.  If I could find it at an online retailer in the UK I'd be very happy.

Same here have not been able to find any euro online shops listing it. Since quite a few areas seem to be unclear a list with the major shops worldwide carrying it would be great.

on Aug 03, 2010

Archonsod

IIRC they're using UPS. Shipping to the UK usually takes between 3 - 7 days with the standard UPS delivery, I can't see it taking that much longer to reach you (I have in fact known UPS to deliver faster from the US to the UK than Royal Mail can deliver internally).

Can you confirm that it's UPS? The stardock sales site for Elemental mention USPS International. USPS and UPS are different companies.

Not calling you out or anything, I just want some clarity

on Aug 03, 2010

Frogboy
I like the concept of # of spells you can cast to turn being tied to wisdom.

Wisdom is under utitlized I think and makes for an "interesting choice" at level up time.

Would be interesting way to do it to prioritize caster values differently than melee. Would also let you reduce the cost of Tactical spells, so that spell casting wasn't a 1 turn per costs downtime after battle limit.