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 9)
on Aug 02, 2010

Frogboy

As backwards as it sounds, DD is always more expensive for the user (in the UK anyway) than retail.  You can get new PC releases from online retailers for as low as £18, but usually £25.

I'd imagine Amazon UK and such having it.

The main issue we have is with regards to continental European retail channels (storefronts). By the time everyone has touched it, we see virtually nothing (that's when we get paid at all).  

This has been an issue that has plagued us for over a decade. Each time, we've said "Well, next time we'll do it differently" and we still end up with the same result.

In the United States, if you buy the game at say Best Buy or Walmart or GameStop, we see about $30 of it which is pretty decent.  But in Europe, we might see $1.00 or a $1.50 (best case).

 

European business model is different from the US one, here's a friendly tip, leave the retailers and go for the reseller/distribution type companies. in most countries the game will end up on the shelf by itself.

For example as i mentioned i am involved in game distribution in Romania.... now i see Elemental at my supplier in UK( who incidentally selly for all Europe), so i say what the heck there must be more nerds like me, MR supplier cough me up 200/500/800 boxes (there are other companies that would probably do the same thing only with higher figures). Those babies end up in Romania instantly become available in e-tail and what do you know since we also supply some leet retail chains the game is on the shelf. Maybe one day after the release date since DHL sucks but if we did it for ST2 we can do it for Elemental.

Now is that a single case? Hell no, that's the way it works here where corporate conglomerates have yet to reach the peaks they reached in US.

And btw guys if those 1st tier game suppliers have Elemental you cover all europe's e-tail in one strike and you'll get around the same amount of coin u get from US businesses.

 

 

 

on Aug 02, 2010


the standard price in europe which is usually about £25


At the low end. Newer PC games in mainland Europe range anywhere from €30 to €50. Starcraft 2 is €60.

The simple fact of the matter is that the UK is enjoying price ranges right now that were set a couple of years ago when the pound was stronger. It's devalued considerably against most western currencies since 2008 so I wouldn't expect those cheap prices to last a lot longer.

It is €40 in germany mostly. Dont ever link Gamestop for german releases, they are overpriced here.

on Aug 02, 2010

raduciu
Just passing by to protest not releasing retail in Europe. I dislike DD from both price and value perspective. I am saying it straight as it is and i know i am not the only one feeling this way.

I would love to buy Elemental retail i did buy GC2 and i do buy about 7-8 games / year. if Elemental will not be available in retail i will not buy until i can find it as a box. Meanwhile i will probably use a pirated version.

..

 

If you don't like the way its being available for, dont play it. Full stop. Sorry, but there is no difference in the way you receive it!

I don't know where you have figurines and big manuals in a standard retail box nowadays, for most of the games there is no added value anymore between retail and DD beside having not to download 20gigs for a game (this is the only reason I would accept) - but if you could effort to d/l the pirated version, you can effort to d/l the DD version as well.

 

With regards to Froggy and Europe.. its really getting strange. I getting more and more doubts who is really eating the money. Just recently I was reading a report where they were telling that shops earn for new games around 1 - 5 Euros. So where all the Euros go if you as the developer see only 1 - 1.5€? Really strange. Nevertheless, whenever possible, I try to support the developer if you can purchase the game directly The only thing that I miss nowadays is that the amount to be paid for DD is equal to the retail version (where we learned that for the retail version normally you have higher costs)..

on Aug 02, 2010

Frogboy

As backwards as it sounds, DD is always more expensive for the user (in the UK anyway) than retail.  You can get new PC releases from online retailers for as low as £18, but usually £25.
I'd imagine Amazon UK and such having it.

The main issue we have is with regards to continental European retail channels (storefronts). By the time everyone has touched it, we see virtually nothing (that's when we get paid at all).  

This has been an issue that has plagued us for over a decade. Each time, we've said "Well, next time we'll do it differently" and we still end up with the same result.

In the United States, if you buy the game at say Best Buy or Walmart or GameStop, we see about $30 of it which is pretty decent.  But in Europe, we might see $1.00 or a $1.50 (best case).

It's an issue that publishers and developers talk about quite a bit but no one brings it out into the open.  European gamers get screwed and frankly, I'm not willing to be part of that process.  I don't want another one of our games sold where we get some pittance and the customer still ends up paying more than someone who bought it at a local retailer.

Australians don't have to put up with that crap. Canadians don't. Russians don't. But western Europeans do. It's ridiculous.

We've tried over the years to fish through how exactly something that is being sold to our friends in Europe for 50 eruos is only bringing us 1 to 2 euros and the answers are always incredibly discouraging and opaque.

 

 

So thats the reason I already pre-ordered the CE from you directly. Any word on how / when you guys are getting it to me here in europe?

(I dont mind downloadign the game through impulse to start playing...just wondering when I get that big chunky manual and everyhting...I have a manual fetish...MooiNiet dreams away thinking of the manual of Might and Magic III (yes i'm that old)

on Aug 02, 2010

TyLarson
Anyone remember that great "manual" for Darklands by Microprose? Loved that game and always wished they had the money and time to have made it into the entire world rather than just greater germany. If Stardock can bring back a NOT-MoM and later use part of that engine to make a NOT-Darklands I'd be in retro heaven.

Darklands ranks up there with one of my favorite games ever. Great manual too. Damn near impossible to find others to reminisce about it though. I feel like no one's ever played it.

To keep it on topic... I'm excited too! Can't believe how much Elemental has evolved over the past month or so. I hope you guys find some good ways to keep the different spellbooks feeling unique, maybe fire spells burn enemy units for damage per turn, ice reduces combat speed, lightning can bounce, acid reducing armor/damage, etc. I'm sure there's plenty of threads discussing this already.

on Aug 02, 2010

Ok, I pre-ordered a long time ago and have been active in the beta. I'm very interested in upgrading to the CE, unfortunately for me I live in Europe. Sweden to be precise. What is the best/cheapest way for me to get the CE? Shipping from the US is expensive as hell, not to mention the fact I'll most likely have to have pay around 25% toll as well. That gets real expensive real quick. I guess I can see Stardocks POW for not selling retail in Europe if they barely get paid when they do, but for me as a customer it sucks.

on Aug 02, 2010

Wylaryzel

Q

..

 

If you don't like the way its being available for, dont play it. Full stop. Sorry, but there is no difference in the way you receive it!

I don't know where you have figurines and big manuals in a standard retail box nowadays, for most of the games there is no added value anymore between retail and DD beside having not to download 20gigs for a game (this is the only reason I would accept) - but if you could effort to d/l the pirated version, you can effort to d/l the DD version as well.

 

With regards to Froggy and Europe.. its really getting strange. I getting more and more doubts who is really eating the money. Just recently I was reading a report where they were telling that shops earn for new games around 1 - 5 Euros. So where all the Euros go if you as the developer see only 1 - 1.5€? Really strange. Nevertheless, whenever possible, I try to support the developer if you can purchase the game directly The only thing that I miss nowadays is that the amount to be paid for DD is equal to the retail version (where we learned that for the retail version normally you have higher costs)..

 

So i suppose what is value to you is also value to me? I am sure i am not the only one feeling the way i do as i am sure there are plenty that feel like you do. Thing is you are not the standard, where i come from you are the exception.

Just look at all those guys interested in CE, i am sure they don't just want to pay more and are  interested in all the goodies inside the box...

 

on Aug 02, 2010

raduciu
Just passing by to protest not releasing retail in Europe. I dislike DD from both price and value perspective. I am saying it straight as it is and i know i am not the only one feeling this way.

I would love to buy Elemental retail i did buy GC2 and i do buy about 7-8 games / year. if Elemental will not be available in retail i will not buy until i can find it as a box. Meanwhile i will probably use a pirated version.

It's pretty outrageous how people feel so entitled to have anything they want that they'll come to the developers website and say flat out "I'm going to take your work and not pay you." Honestly, WTF is wrong with you people?



I believe you guys are so excited about this digital era impulse thingie that you forget a couple of things:

1. When i choose to buy or what to buy we buyers do not think about how much a thingie costs but if the afore mentioned thingie is what i want (not need but want) and if it is good value.

2. DD is BAD value it is a way to fullfill a desire, but then again so is pirating. As oposed retail is GOOD value. Got a box got a manual, got a book, got some action figurine.... it makes me feel good to have it. It is a phisical object that i can interact with that i can brag about etc.

3. Now i know people get all gooshy because some things have appeared and they are digital products (take facebook for example), but what are we forgeting now? 99% of those producs have deeply immersing ways to customise your experience.

DD tools like steam or impulse will never have.

 

Did you actually READ the original post before you went off on this righteous bullshit? The reason why it's not available at retail in Europe is because Stardock makes no money on retail copies. It's got nothing to do with the nonsense listed here and everything to do with simple business. (Which is why every other region is getting retail copies without much fuss.)

 

4. As any good sales book says i need a reason to buy to make the buying decision. In these cash troubled times a damn good reason. and tbh DD just won't do, it gives me no incentive to buy.

You mean other then playing the game, that is? Oh that's right, you're going to pirate that. So you're not willing to pay for a game, but you ARE willing to pay for a box?

You're lying. Like most pirates you're just coming up with lame excuses to try and justify that you're a cheapskate and want to get things without paying for them. If it wasn't this, it would be something else.

If you want to actually take a stand for a retail release, skip the game entirely. Don't play it. All you're doing is contributing to the "PC gamers are all pirates" problem.


5.Europe >France+UK+Germany+Italy, enter the Balkans and associated 3 world galore where even card payment can be an adventure. DD is like Star Trek here and guys I AM NOT joking, incidentaly i work for a company involved in games distribution in Romania so i know my numbers.

If you actually work for a game distribution company, why not go to the people in charge and tell them to get a deal done that results in the developer actually making some money on retail sales? Oh wait, it's easier to pirate and whine on forums. Sorry.

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.

As soon as you announce you're going to pirate the game, you have zero crediblity. Now enjoy your forum ban as soon as the moderators wake up.

on Aug 02, 2010

Remember physical release in Europe would cost a lot in money. It might be unfortunate but i think we can all accept this isn't exactly going to be SC2 in terms of mainstream popularity. Sadly the budget for marketing just isn't there. Also though it looks pretty the budget just isn't there to make it Quite like, say, Civ5. In general i definitely prefer physical release but, hey, these guys/gals are working pretty hard, i figure they deserve to earn some money from making a good game. I also want to play it .

on Aug 02, 2010

This looks so good. The final countdown has begun...

I'm sure that we one day will see ELEMENTAL: MODERN WAR OF MAGIC 2.. And hopefully, it's not a FPS.

Ps. Maybe i'll make a post future mod for elemental modern warfare of magic

on Aug 02, 2010

RisingLegend
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. 

You really should have picked up MOO2 that was an awsome game and did blow away GalCiv. Now GalCiv2 blows away MMO2.

on Aug 02, 2010


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

I love your post!

 

on Aug 02, 2010

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.

 

 

 

 

on Aug 02, 2010

Even without a retail release in europe, will there be different languages supported?

on Aug 02, 2010

Brad often says that retial counts for the vast majority of sales.

Its just that he REALLY hates europe.

Its just that he REALLY likes money. And europe offers him none, and hes having none of it! er... literaly.

 

 

(Also since someone mentioned Romania, send more females to the UK pls, less males.)

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