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 2)
on Oct 19, 2011

Definitely sounds like it is on the right track.  Elemental had so much unrealized potential.  FE sounds like it is finally going to tap into that potential and give us the epic 4X fantasy sandbox game we all wanted from the get-go. 

on Oct 19, 2011

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

What's the other one?

on Oct 19, 2011

Trojasmic

Quoting Alstein, reply 14Thanksgiving could be special- with two games that were very disappointing getting sequels that are super-promising.

What's the other one?

 

SNK is putting out the King of Fighters XIII on the 22nd

 

XII was a disaster, XIII looks like it's the old SNK back.

 

 

on Oct 19, 2011

Awesome! Can't wait to get my hands on the Beta. The game looks wonderful.

on Oct 19, 2011



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


Then I don't see why you can't give us more info about the game. You blamed some PR or marketing people for it, but since you're not going to market it, who cares?!

on Oct 19, 2011

 

Look promising. The only thing I do not like so far is that I won't be able to play FE since I have not purchased WoM.

I LOVE the breakdown panels that allow to understand the detail of every stat in the game.

I'd rather get no disease... someone wants two?

on Oct 19, 2011

Magog_AoW

quoting post

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




Then I don't see why you can't give us more info about the game. You blamed some PR or marketing people for it, but since you're not going to market it, who cares?!

Remember how lots of talk worked out for E:wom?

on Oct 19, 2011

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.

Does this mean we'll be able to negotiate about things like war strategies? In Alpha Centauri it was possible to ask, bribe, or force your allies to attack specific targets. I haven't seen this done in any other game since then. It could be expanded upon as well, allowing the discussion of strategy (going for conquest, or raiding only, or stay on the defence if necessary).

 

on Oct 19, 2011

Heavenfall

Remember how lots of talk worked out for E:wom?

I'm not saying they should hype it, I just want information about game mechanics. And just because you accidentally hyped a crappy game, does that mean you have to release the next (awesome) one in secret saying it will give you cancer? There is no logic really. Both strategies are equally stupid.

Oh well never mind, I'll just grab a and wait for the beta.

on Oct 19, 2011

Even to this day, there is a gross mismatch between player expectation and development intentions with E:wom. So they chose another approach for FE, which is to "do, not tell".

on Oct 19, 2011

Magog_AoW

Quoting Heavenfall, reply 22
Remember how lots of talk worked out for E:wom?

I'm not saying they should hype it, I just want information about game mechanics. And just because you accidentally hyped a crappy game, does that mean you have to release the next (awesome) one in secret saying it will give you cancer? There is no logic really. Both strategies are equally stupid.

Oh well never mind, I'll just grab a and wait for the beta.

 

If this is good, we'll be the ones hyping this.  That should be sufficient.

 

 

on Oct 19, 2011

Will it not be available through impulse?  It seems that you will be creating another store through which we will obtain Fallen Enchantress.

on Oct 19, 2011

FE might give me a disease: permanent erectile dysfunction. Who needs Viagra? Schwing!

on Oct 19, 2011

New distribution platform is tentatively called "Stardock Central?     How close is that to the Stardock Central I still have on my computer from before I had Impulse ??

Anyway, like the name.

on Oct 20, 2011

Thanks for the AI XML