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 6)
on Aug 01, 2010

Blazerules
WAIT WAIT WAIT! NOT in Europe?WTF!?!? im in Western Europe and I NEVER buy digital copys :/ i just HATE them if it wont be in Cyprus by the 26th im just downloading it illegally off piratesbay or somethin I aint waiting till this is in my shity country russia yes europe no i should have stayed in russia i am SO fucking pissed coz this was the only game i am planning to buy in the past 2 years

... Wow... It is ppl like you that wonder why the videogame industry is having so many big DRM scares? 

Seriously, you saying that you hate Digital versions so much... that you are going to digital download it illegally?

Morons.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Anywho, will you be continuing to make us salivate with teasers/feature previews, Frogboy?

on Aug 01, 2010

Wintersong

Anyway, I still vote for an FX Interactive release in Spain and Italy of Elemental at a nice cost of 19.95€.  I'd certainly buy some extra copies.

I'm sure you would vote for that. Unfortunately Stardock wants to make more then $0.05 per copy. That's the reason why there's no European retail distribution right now: it's such a mess that there's just no profit in it for them.

on Aug 01, 2010

Tormy-

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.

on Aug 01, 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.

Most definitely on both points. More flavor options and impact.

 

on Aug 01, 2010

on Aug 01, 2010

I live in England, will I be able to download this via impulse still?

Yes, you'll be able to buy and download it anywhere.

 

Agreed. It's usually cheaper to get it from e-bay anyway if you need the box... Can't even remember the last time I bought a game in a store.

Just be extremely careful doing that if that's the way you go. E-bay tends to be rife with bootleggers.

 

You want £31.85 to pre-order Elemental.  Where did you get this number from? ... So the question is quite blunt; why isn't it cheaper?  I fully appreciate that Stardock should be well rewarded financially for their hard work, but why isn't your own game cheaper than RRP over your own content delivery platform?

The price is USD$49.95, converted to GBP. It's the same price everyone pays. We have always charged MSRP on first-party direct sales because we're the "M" and retailers don't like it when you try to compete with them on your own products.

Since the price you see is entirely based on the conversion from USD, it could be cheaper any given week as the rate fluctuates... though it's unlikely to get back down to 2008 levels (when GBP was worth double USD) where it seems your current local prices were pegged at anytime soon. The current rate is about what it's been for most of the past ten years.

 

WAIT WAIT WAIT! NOT in Europe?WTF!?!? im in Western Europe and I NEVER buy digital copys :/ i just HATE them if it wont be in Cyprus by the 26th im just downloading it illegally off piratesbay or somethin

If you don't like digital download, you can order a boxed copy to be shipped. Promising to steal our work is a quick ticket out of here, though.

 

on Aug 01, 2010

I'm from the Netherlands and wouldn't mind downloading the game. I don't need a box.

But I don't have a creditcard and would like to purchase te game with a normal bankcard. I know that WoW has a exception on buying extra playtime with a normal bankcard for the Netherlands. Like someone said on this forum before. Loads of people here don't have a creditcard. It would give you lots more customers if you made it easy on them to get the game with a bankcard!

I hope this will be possible

on Aug 01, 2010

I've never heard of a bank card in europe. Either it's a credit or a debit card. A credit card is where you get a bill at the end of the month and pay that, and a debit card is where the card is linked to your bank account and you pay instantly. I've got a debit card, and I had no problems purchasing the game.

on Aug 01, 2010

Heavenfall
I've never heard of a bank card in europe. Either it's a credit or a debit card. A credit card is where you get a bill at the end of the month and pay that, and a debit card is where the card is linked to your bank account and you pay instantly. I've got a debit card, and I had no problems purchasing the game.

A debit card it is then!

Well good to hear its not a problem to buy the game. Thank you for the reply.

on Aug 01, 2010

I've got a debit card, and I had no problems purchasing the game.

European debit cards tend to be pin-only rather than allowing them to be signed for as with a credit card (VISA check cards are fairly common here and generally offer both options). Currently we don't support pin-based transactions, AFAIK.

on Aug 01, 2010

Ah, my card was a VISA.

Actually now that I think about it, I paid through paypal I think. Edit: Nope, I used my card

on Aug 01, 2010

Ha ha here we go. I can't pre order with Paypal. Just tried. And would love to not having to use that Paypal anyway. With WoW there was a option to use my debit card and it was easy as hell. I love easy It was just a tip for Stardock for some extra dollars. I don'tknow much about how it all works but it might be an option to look at. I will have to use my mates credit card    

on Aug 01, 2010

Awesome..

Hope they have a manual like Darklands. Another more recent manual (ringed) is Dominions 3.

 

1st of August today.. not much longer! Go & DEVs!

on Aug 01, 2010

ThreeKings
Awesome..

Hope they have a manual like Darklands. Another more recent manual (ringed) is Dominions 3.

 

1st of August today.. not much longer! Go & DEVs!

Faster! Faster! Master of Disaster!

on Aug 01, 2010

Ha ha here we go. I can't pre order with Paypal. Just tried. And would love to not having to use that Paypal anyway. With WoW there was a option to use my debit card and it was easy as hell. I love easy It was just a tip for Stardock for some extra dollars. I don'tknow much about how it all works but it might be an option to look at. I will have to use my mates credit card    


Preorders don't work with paypal cause of how Stardock handles it - you pay when you get access to the beta. Paypal doesn't have such a function.

I've paid for other games on impulse through paypal before, when they were retail. I can only ASSUME that paying through paypal for a retail copy of elemental, closer to release, will work just fine.

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