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

Derek and his team have been busy working on the sequel to Elemental: Fallen Enchantress, the sequel to last year’s War of Magic.The final release date for Fallen Enchantress hasn’t been set yet but we do expect to go into beta around Thanksgiving.

Beta and Release

The initial beta will only be available to those who already have War of Magic. A later beta will be available to anyone who wants to pre-order it.  The beta will be available via Stardock’s new digital store. We plan to run the beta exclusively via our digital updater (tentatively called Stardock Central) though the final version will be available through multiple channels.

Where things stand right now

In many respects, Fallen Enchantress is a lot closer to what we had initially envisioned for the first Elemental strategy game. Specifically:

  1. Terrain matters for city placement
  2. More differentiation between factions
  3. Much better economic system
  4. Much better magic system
  5. Much better tactical battle system
  6. Cleaner, more compelling tech tree.

Before the beta hits, we’ll be releasing some videos along with some AI vs. AI battles to show players how the new game plays.

A few highlights

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There are more technologies in Fallen Enchantress for players to research.  However, we’ve consolidated them into three distinct trees – Civilization, Warfare, Magic (The Empires have their own equivalent). 

The display has been changed such that you can easily tell what each tech gives you. You can also choose a technology that has multiple steps to get to and it will take you through the intermediary techs automatically.

 

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When your city levels up, it now gets to choose from a random assortment of special city improvements that it can build. The higher the city, the more powerful the selection becomes.

 

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We have cleaned up the way armies are handled. At first, your armies will only be able to support 4 to 5 units (depending on your faction). Of course, each “unit” can be made up of many guys but the point being that researching the logistics to support larger army sizes becomes one of those strategic choices rather than a “must” to win.

 

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This is a small thing but for grognards (like myself) every tooltip has been redone such that you get an instant display of where a given stat is derived from.

The Gameplay

While some artwork and music survived from War of Magic, not much else has.  So your skills at War of Magic aren’t really going to carry over here.  While Elemental: War of Magic did eventually become a fairly decent TBS game,  we were never satisfied with its underlying game mechanics. Specifically, the way production, research, farming, etc. worked. Rather than tweak it, we decided to take a different path.

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In addition, the way heroes were handled was something that felt too much like luck.  Instead, you will find champions being powers unto themselves. They’re typically living in their fortress, keep, dungeon, or what have you. The more powerful they are, the better your recruiting skill will need to be to recruit them. 

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In Fallen Enchantress you are also encouraged to kill off champions that are allied with the other side to prevent them from becoming allied with an opponent. 

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The land is a dangerous place. Virtually all the prime spots are surrounded by serious dangers. The good news is, they won’t just run out and attack you normally. The bad news is, as soon as a city’s sphere of influence spreads to one of their enclaves, they will be all over that city.

Tactical Battles

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Players have the choice to either instantly resolve a battle or go to a tactical battle screen. Once there, they can either watch the battle resolve turn by turn, fight it out themselves or just resolve it.

My personal preference right now is to handle the first few turns and then turn it over the the auto play and watch the gory results.

Fallen Enchantress combat works based on initiative. There are no “rounds”. The faster a unit is, the more turns they get. There’s no counter-attack (unless that unit has it as a special ability).

Some spells take time to cast and that spell will appear in the film strip on the left so that players know what’s coming up and can see if there’s time to counter it.

Some units are more effective than others. Mounted warriors are harder to hit via archers and thus a very effective counter.

There’s a lot of combat in Fallen Enchantress and the battles tend to be fairly quick.  They visually look a lot better as well (since every fighter in a given unit will take part in a given action rather than simply the lead one as was the case in WOM).

The most obvious difference in Fallen Enchantress, imo, is that nearly every unit has some sort of special ability. You can even design them into your soldiers if you have researched the appropriate techs.

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Rewards after battle tend to be more meaningful.

 

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Now that so much of the game has been put into XML, we and modders can throw in basically as many abilities and such into the game as our imagination comes up with.

Diplomacy

This is an area that is getting a lot of attention. With each faction playing in very different ways, we needed to make sure those ways were sufficiently apparent to players. That meant having players who were effective with diplomacy and giving diplomacy more teeth. That means more treaties, more opportunity for manipulation, more tools to play the puppet master.

AI

The AI challenges in Fallen Enchantress are significant. This is the area of the game I’m focused on.  I’ve written elsewhere on this but the AI is much more XML driven than anything I’ve done in the past. The less I hard-code, the more broad strokes I can take with regards to deciding what spells to cast, what special abilities to pick and use, what improvements to construct, what technologies to research.

Unlike a typical Stardock beta cycle, the first beta of Fallen Enchantress will have the first AI pass in (normally our first betas have no AI in it). So players will be able to quickly discern how we’re doing in this area.

Marketing

There will be no real marketing effort for Fallen Enchantress in 2011. Basically, the betas are going to have to speak for themselves.

In the meantime, assume it’s going to suck and give you a disease. Smile


Comments (Page 1)
on Oct 19, 2011
Nice post. Looking forward to giving the beta a go.
on Oct 19, 2011

I have a question regarding terrain - With the random terrain generator that was fan-made, I'm expecting someone to do something similar for Fallen Enchantress. One of the issues they ran into was forced hills around mountains which prevented terrain from being made in the way they were hoping. Are you planning on changing how terrain generates in FE? - i.e. making mountains more of a heightmap/angle issue than a seperate terrain type?

For example say your height map ranges from -50 to 100, 0 being sealevel - Land 0-20 would be lowlands, 20-40 would be highlands, 40-60 low hills, 60-80 large hills/small mountains, and 80-100 would be large mountains. Then make it to where the range of change is what determines passability - So anywhere that you had more than a 10 point change in a very small space (i.e. hairline) or a much larger change in a slightly larger area would become impassable, or perhaps merely take extra turns. This way you could have canyons where units can travel through but not across easily, impassable mountains (Perhaps make anything above 90 impassable by all but individual heroes/special units), and hidden passes in mountains where the landscape was just slightly appropriate for invading armies.

I took an energy pill, so sorry if this is rambling. I just haven't been to the forums in a while and this question popped into my head.

Also, you may have answered this already, but with terrain being more important now, would buildable improvements like fortresses, towers, and walls be constructable? i.e. build a wall that counts as an impassable cliffside across a valley, with towers that allow ranged units to cause damage to enemies within a certain range as they pass by, and fortress locations where armies can hole up without having to build a city - Fewer cities means I won't be building cities as my chokepoint defenses so I'd like to be able to build other fortifications. Then you'd have more reason to have siege in armies - Perhaps make it so that depending on the siege equipment available an army takes x number of turns to penetrate a wall, which means the better the wall built across terrain, the longer the army sits in range of archers in a tower spot.

Again, sorry for the ramblingness, but I thought they sounded good in my head.

on Oct 19, 2011

Looking good!

And now Fallen Enchantress will only give us a random disease, instead of cancer, so we are getting better!

Just a question, how different will FE be compared to WoM in pc specs? Will it be not that bigger, or we start buying new computers?

 

Hold on... Derek and his team are already working on FE's sequel!? WOW, that's fast!

on Oct 19, 2011

Supergulo

And now Fallen Enchantress will only give us a random disease, instead of cancer, so we are getting better!
 

RDG, Random Disease Generator. 

Anyway. I like the look of the tiny units in combat. Very MoM'ish. It will be interesting to see what TC is like to play... I hope there's at least some tiny advantage if you choose to play the turns yourself instead of auto.

on Oct 19, 2011

I too noticed an upgrade from cancer to "disease." Ooh I hope I get that leprosy that makes your skin look younger. 

 

Holy awesome game Batman!   

 

Also, when is Thanksgiving?

on Oct 19, 2011
I'm in a hurry to try the beta but once again, the game seems awesome but it looks like they largely overlooked magic... Again... The spell list given not so long ago seems like it was a real flop to me and many players... Lots of complaints and no new journal about a possible change *sigh* I know the devs are checking the forums and Pleasing the players accordingly but nothing new ever came about the spell list... I hope something has been done !!! The way magic works seems like it would be, as of right now, the only thing that could prevent it from being a noble MoM like game ! I also hope city fights and flying units will come one of these day in a dlc or Patch... Wishing the best for this game and that it will better than warlock Edit: this year I think thanksgiving should be the 25 or 26 of november
on Oct 19, 2011

Thanks for the status overview. I really appreciate the time and effort you are putting in communicating with us lot. I am finding the development of the game fascinating - I cannot wait to get my hands on it

on Oct 19, 2011

I would just like to point out that cancer is generally considered diseases. So it's not off the table completely.

Personally I am hoping for something less than fatal, I would settle for chronic. Actually, this whole analogy is rather dark.

on Oct 19, 2011

Thanksgiving is Nov 24 in the U.S.  Brad couldn't help himself.  Now he's starting to tout his own game by saying we're only going to get a disease.  Don't do it Brad!  Don't give in to the hype.  This game will suck and we will get cancer from it.

on Oct 19, 2011

You must have missed it, but Derek said that spell list was not the end of spells. Those were just the spells that were already done for WoM, rehashed to be the base of the new game. They have mentioned several spells that are not on that list in the past few months. 

on Oct 19, 2011

Thanks for more info!  Great stuff.

on Oct 19, 2011

Brad I want diseases before finals so that's good to know. Besides the turkey will make me feel better. 

 

Thanks for the updates!

on Oct 19, 2011

Looks good.

on Oct 19, 2011

Thanksgiving could be special- with two games that were very disappointing getting sequels that are super-promising.

on Oct 19, 2011

This is sounding better and better. I was vastly disappointed with E:WoM even up to the most recent update/patch. However this is looking like something I would recommend highly to my friends. I'll try the beta and then the final product first of course, but its very promising. Only thing I currently can think of to suggest is to change the name, its kind of blah. But I guess its too late to change it.

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