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 2)
on Jul 31, 2010


So what I’m saying is that Elemental 1.0 on August 24th is going to be a first person shooter. Enjoy.

I Lol'ed.

I too miss the fat manuals that used to come with games (and I'm not even old!) - it almost makes me wish that I had waited to get the game in a physical copy.

on Jul 31, 2010

I remember the Golden Age of PC Gaming (GAPG? GAPCG?) and its manuals. I remember the massive X-Com Apocalypse one, still see it from time to time, since it's laying around in my bedroom. But the manuals I miss most are Blizzard's, they were not as big, but the art in them was absolutely beautiful. I just bought Starcraft 2, and the absence of a unit list in the manual made me quite nostalgic for the olden days.

on Jul 31, 2010

How is the retail market in Japan and Korea?

I would of thought there might have been an Asian market ...

on Jul 31, 2010

I miss all the extra goodies that came with games too I remember NES games came with lots of stuff, like maps, unit charts and all sort of cool things that would get me to open the box more than just to get the game out. Ogre Battle for the SNES also has some fond memories as it brought a bunch of stuff, like the unit charts and upgrade paths. Omg I could spend so much time looking at it lol.

Great job so far, I really am looking forward to seeing the campaign already and the finished UI cuz yeah, the current UI makes our eyes bleed

on Jul 31, 2010

 I haven't been involved in the beta process because I want to be "surprised" by the final product but the closer to release date the more exited I have become. I have been waiting for a TBS game in the fantasy realm for a long time now. I am looking forward to the Aug. 24th release date with great anticipation. Thanks for all the effort Stardock

on Jul 31, 2010

The gold box games had some great manuals.
Microprose games always had some good stuff.
I don't know if I would call Apocalypse the golden age but it did have a big manual for some reason, as did Homeworld, Baldur's Gate, Icewind Dale... 

Although I think that the golden age probably covers a wide period of time and means something different to each person.  For me it was walking into Babbages or Electronics Boutique and seeing nothing but four walls covered in boxes turned sideways.  Most of them for c64 but a growing section for IBM or MS-DOS and a small section for AppleII (with a little shelf reserved for Macintosh).  That changed a bit over time as Commodore died out and Dos/PC took over.  Still - the stores at that time were essentially an open room - no shelving cluttering up the middle of the store even.  (Somewhere in there I picked up my favorite joystick of all time - the Epyx 500xj.  I still have both of them downstairs packed away with my 2600).

on Jul 31, 2010

Ouch, Europe

 

But i've pre-ordered the CE weeks ago. I just wonder if they are sent before release date, so that I won't have to wait too long after the release. If I could get it before September, that would be nice.

on Jul 31, 2010

Tasunke
How is the retail market in Japan and Korea?

I would of thought there might have been an Asian market ...

SC2 :/

on Jul 31, 2010

Omg, guys, this is crazy. I still remember the first time I found out about stardock. I was standing in best buy. 14 yrs old, deciding which pc game I should buy with money I had earned. It came down to two choices: master of orion 2, and the original galciv. Still can't remember my reasonings but I picked galactic civilizations and never looked back. Ended up staying up all night destroyin Drengin.

I can remember the original Galciv2 website coming online, and even stranger than that, I remember hearing of Elemental back then while surfing those forums. I knew about this game before it had a public name and it's crazy that release is almost here.

This has been one hell of a ride. I've seen the sausage factory. I've seen what it looks like behind the scenes. And determined that I probably dont have the patience for the business  I do wonder how different this game would be if we had all had our own say, and maybe with modding we will see that come into fruition. 

And, as a side note, I'm really glad to hear of the CE, as I was one of those people who read the entire civ III and alpha centauri manuals for fun. 

on Jul 31, 2010



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

 

 

Hmm i just checked http://www.ebgames.com.au/ and i can't seem to find it! (Tryin to pre-order it)

on Jul 31, 2010

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.

Awww, I iz troll?

But I can definitely agree on those points, and have made myself a nuisance on them before.

Also, remember to make quests award xp at least, would make them a shade less dull.

on Jul 31, 2010

i agree with some others about the magic.  you should give spells COMBAT SPEED.  if it takes 1 and you have 2 AP then you can cast 2.  if it takes 3 then well you need more combat speed.  you should let us build our characters how we want to play them.  we already can give them combat speed when we level our champs.

on Jul 31, 2010

Stmorpheus
i agree with some others about the magic.  you should give spells COMBAT SPEED.  if it takes 1 and you have 2 AP then you can cast 2.  if it takes 3 then well you need more combat speed.  you should let us build our characters how we want to play them.  we already can give them combat speed when we level our champs.

 

I like this idea.

It would also open the door to spells that take multiple rounds to cast. Say, like my sovereign has 3.something speed now. If she cast a spell that required 6 speed, she'd have to do it over 2 rounds. If my embued champion did that same spell, it would take her 3 rounds (she has 2 speed).

on Jul 31, 2010

LOL on the FPS. But seriously, they took XCOM and are releasing that as a FPS, sacrilege!

on Jul 31, 2010

Spells a Casting Time?

Definitely something we can look at but it'll be a post release update. Not enough time to implement and balance.

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