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 3)
on Oct 20, 2011

Great news, but what and when the hell is Thanksgiving? Not all the people on the world are US dudes (and in Canada it's different date anyway, I think)

on Oct 20, 2011

Use the Wiki, Luke.

It's funny because you're nickname is almost Vader.

on Oct 20, 2011

I know, I know. I'm just in picky mood

on Oct 20, 2011

KPAC77
Will it not be available through impulse?  It seems that you will be creating another store through which we will obtain Fallen Enchantress.

I'd imagine the release version will be, since that's where everybody got WoM. Beta probably isn't because putting out beta builds would now require going through Gamestop instead of walking down the hall.

on Oct 20, 2011

KPAC77
Will it not be available through impulse?  It seems that you will be creating another store through which we will obtain Fallen Enchantress.

 

It will be on Impulse.  The beta might not be though.

on Oct 20, 2011

If you folks do release the beta near turkey day, could you try to do it by the wednesday before? I will have a long break from graduate school so i could have a nice sit down with it.

on Oct 20, 2011
Already planned some time off for those dates for my wife's birthday ! I guess I won't be spending muc time with her ! Lol Just kidding, I hope she won't read this =/ I had hoped to get more info about the spells ! I Can't stop playing mom lately and I see all those fantastic spells... I hope FE won't disappoint me ! I am pleased to see fire wall on cities but how will it look like in battles ? The city battle system not being ameliorated worries me ! I want to be impressed by the game and I am but I also am sceptical concerning a lot of aspects ! I really need to see this for myself ! I was so disapointed in WoM And I agree, even with the latest patch, even it makes the game way better, it's still not what I am expecting from a fantasy 4x. Wait and see... But I have confidence in the devs
on Oct 20, 2011

I'm already enjoying EWOM 1.4 + Heavenfall's mods, but looking at the descriptions of this game...I....I....just crapped myself with glee!

on Oct 20, 2011

 

This is all sounding very sweet - can't wait to try it

on Oct 20, 2011

I believe I know the disease we are all going to get from this game...addiction!

It looks and sounds great team, I can't wait!

 

on Oct 20, 2011

"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."

 

Thank you so much, this is what I live for in a game like this (sit back & watch the chaos with minor intervention)

 

"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. "

 

great unless I pay them to protect my land or at least leave me alone or go against my enemies instead yes? ---

("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.")

 

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

 

I think if the cancer is great enough, then this will work wonderfully

 

& this is really looking good so far, makes me think the 2nd expansion is really goin to be something special (Aow:sm is the only version I played of that game & think that it took every bit of what it had to offer ta catch me the way it did)

 

 

 

on Oct 21, 2011

AI Question - will the XML AI allow one to write the general strategy for a specific fraction's AI strategy and support linked research, production, diplomacy anbd soveriegn trait selection strategies?

Example:

Mancers - Fewer Larger Cities with Diplomacy Strategy 1, Production Strategy 2, Research Stragegy 3, Champion Level Up Priorities 4 (i.e. Magic Focused traits) and Conquest Strategy 7 (Capture Cities)

Trogs - Lost of Cities with Diplomacy Strategy 1, Production Strategy 5, Research Strategy 4, Sovereign Level Up Priorities 2 (i.e. Combat Focused traits) and Conquest Strategy 2 (Raze Captured Cities)

on Oct 21, 2011

Great update! We have a beta timeline to shoot for, cool news screens, further details on known features, and new details on new features!

 

I'm especially excited to see details on the new options for diplomacy.

 

One month or so until beta...can't wait to dig in and get to work / play.

on Oct 21, 2011

All this sounds awesome. I like how you put in a real tech tree. I kind of consider myself a part of that one as I was saying you should put that in all the time in my bashes on E:WoM

 

Anyways, it does look like we will get a disease from FE, the non-sleeping one

on Oct 21, 2011

I'll be writing up a lengthy AI XML piece soon.  It's pretty boring and frankly, I don't want to give away too much but it is important to us that each faction play differently.

In WOM, by end game, every faction played pretty much the same way (bunch of guys with lord hammers).  That was obviously not be design but rather due to the AI calculating what the "best" weapon/armor combo was and becoming predictable about it.

Best, as we all know, is subjective.  And so, with that in mind, best becomes the pervue of the AI designer via XML.  Much of the FE AI design philosophy got pulled in from another game project in development that has a lot of AI design behind it.