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

In every Stardock game ever, from 1993 on, the “flavor text” was done by whoever had a moment to throw something in there.

Often times, it meant I did it since I type 120wpm and could crank out a lot of stuff.  The GalCiv technology descriptions are notorious for this.

In War of Magic, we decided that we would keep the tongue in cheek text to a minimum which in reality just made it dry and boring.

Since we didn’t enjoy doing it and our fans really wanted to see our games start having some “soul” to them, we hired Sci-Fi writer, Dave Stern full time. He’s been with us since January and the results will be pretty obvious in Fallen Enchantress.

Screenshots:

I’m not a marketing person so these screenshot are taken by me in the debugger so keep that in mind (i.e. all graphical enhancements are turned to min for max performance in the debugger):

image

So Dave would write up a lengthy story along with something short for the in-game part. We would then be inspired to come up with game mechanics around it.

For example, in WOM, the Urxen were described as “Like Trogs but less warlike but more productive”.

In FE, Dave wrote a story about the history of the Urxen and their lives under Lady Umber. This in turn allowed us to come up with some unique traits that simply didn’t exist in WOM like Wanderlust and Serpent’s pack. Wanderlust lets players have Exploration technology early and Serpent’s pack lets them recruit a special type of unit in game.

image

Goodbye…”Random” name generator

I am sure people will miss our random name generator.  Instead, Dave Stern wrote up hundreds of different names that made sense based on which faction they were for and whether they were male or female.

image

The creatures of Elemental have also gotten their lore updated.

So for example, Rock Spiders are no longer described as “big tough spiders” but rather:

image

And of course NPCs now are individually described:

image

Now, is all this necessary?

We think so because each game plays out very differently and these familiar creatures and characters will provide a general continuity.

image

Turn 1.

A big objective is for the world to seem alive and interesting worth exploring. Each tile should mean something. Every expansion to your empire a victory. Every character important and valuable.

Will it be worth it?  That’s hard to say.  We think it’s worth it. Our primary objective with Elemental has been to create a brand-new PC fantasy strategy franchise.  We learned a lot with War of Magic and have applied those lessons to Fallen Enchantress. And one key lesson was imbuing the world with lore to bring the player to the world and make it theirs.


Comments (Page 4)
on Oct 24, 2011

I have an idea.

SD has an awesome 2D artist. Let him draw a "painting" of each sov, a painting that shows the sov in the way he/she wants to be remembered (like the classic Henry VIII portrait). When you look at a sovs details, you see him in 3D with all gear, watching the 2D portrait in his castle. The portrait can also be hanging on the wall behind the sov in the diplomacy screens.

on Oct 24, 2011

I have seen no evidence from any of the devs that character portraits are even under consideration for change. I don't really understand why this issue is popping up a month before beta as all other things they are changing were discussed in detail a year ago. My feeling is that there is nothing wrong with the current portraits, so let's focus our energy on making sure the things that are being changed get some useful feedback. 

If you are of the opinion that static 2D is going to give you the immersion you felt in previous games, it would likely be a simple mod to add your own art. You can even set everything up using WoM and then just transfer it over once the game is out this winter. 

The artist they have doing the current 2D art is pretty awesome. I have to say I am counting the days until I get my hands on the Gfx file. 

on Oct 25, 2011

Mortenart

I second this..  There need to be more penalties for the best weapons and armour, or everyone will be using them.  I know that Stardock have gone some way to remedying this, and I will wait for the Beta before I make any further judgement.

Having penalties for armour other than initiative might go some way to remedy this, maybe-

Chain/plate armour- vulnerable to lightening spells +30% damage to wearer.

Leather armour- Vulnerable to rot/decomposition spells; causes -2 defence until battle end (in addition to spell effects).

Fur-trimmed armour- Gives bonus to cold resistance, fire magic does +30% to wearer.

Dragon-scale armour- Dragons get +25% damage to wearer (they don't take kindly to having their kin's skin used in this way).

on Oct 25, 2011

Sir_Linque
Regarding portraits, I don't think anyone would disagree that 2D painted portraits look a lot better, but I believe it would simply be too resource intensive to execute properly. I wish it would be feasible to make the 3D portraits slightly better looking, but I guess it's not going to happen. It does hurt the immersion a bit, but since it's not going to change I'm fine with it.

About Random House, Goontrooper, you haven't read the journal entries about Brad's book? They helped quite a lot with the book.

 

I'm ok with the current system, and changing portraits certainly isn't a high priority. However, I would like to see this sort of thing improved down the road. I just wouldn't want resources devoted to that instead of areas that are more critical.

 

As for Random House, here is the quote we have had on the front page since as far back, AFAIK, as the WoM beta:

 

"With a vast storage of lore developed in collaboration with publishing giant Random House, Elemental ensures that every game is a completely new experience."

 

That is what has always bugged me. This is one of the few things on the front page. Prime real-estate, and great emphasis, given to something that simply was not in WoM. At all.

on Oct 25, 2011

Even if they only make the option of having a 2D-image associated at mod-level. That is fine too - the game proper would ship with the existing 3D animated portrait; then they don't need to spend resources - and some modder can make/pilfer nice imagery and override with great stills.

 

on Oct 25, 2011
I think portraits are fine. This game is intended to be moded with additional sovereigns and it would clash that some have 2d artwork and others use portraits from the 3d models.
on Oct 25, 2011

Will the flavor text of diplomacy exchanges be affected by race?

Example of the more polite Kingdom diplomacy text vs the brutish Empire text.

  • Mancer Sovereign: Will your Kingdom with us in an alliance against the Wraith?
  • Altairs: I accept your proposal.

-----------------------------------------------------------

  • Trog: Join us to plunder the empire of the Mancers.
  • Uxen: Yes, let us crush the Mancers and enslave its people.

Will flavor text of Diplomacy be affected by the relative strengths of the two fractions?

  • Weak Altair: Please, I ask for your help against the Wraith. If not, my people will be enslaved.
  • Strong Altair: Join us in an alliance against the Wraith. Together we can defeat them.
on Oct 25, 2011

New dev post about portraits. 

on Oct 26, 2011

leeboy26



Quoting Mortenart,
reply 41

I second this..  There need to be more penalties for the best weapons and armour, or everyone will be using them.  I know that Stardock have gone some way to remedying this, and I will wait for the Beta before I make any further judgement.



Having penalties for armour other than initiative might go some way to remedy this, maybe-

Chain/plate armour- vulnerable to lightening spells +30% damage to wearer.

Leather armour- Vulnerable to rot/decomposition spells; causes -2 defence until battle end (in addition to spell effects).

Fur-trimmed armour- Gives bonus to cold resistance, fire magic does +30% to wearer.

Dragon-scale armour- Dragons get +25% damage to wearer (they don't take kindly to having their kin's skin used in this way).

 

Brilliant - this is exactly the kind of thing needed, I think..

 

 

on Oct 26, 2011

Ben Yeoh
Can anything also be done to give the sovereign/NPC portraits more "awesomeness"?

The flavor text is interesting and adds much to the immersion, but then when I look at the character portraits they don't measure up to the epic-ness at all. The rock spider one is okay but the sovereign/NPC portraits honestly look silly.

This has been my impression for some time actually but the contrast now between the dorky looking portraits and the high-fantasy drama of the game lore and flavor texts is starting to become too jarring.

I know using different 3D models for the hairstyle/face/eyes/clothing etc saves a bit of production time and it allows some user customization, but then if it can't be made to look decent at the end, perhaps it's better to just have a skilled concept artist paint cool looking 2D portraits instead. Something closer to the quality (not necessarily the style) of the illustrations on Magic The Gathering cards for example.

 

 

 

 

Well the art style in Elemental is not very good so unfortunatly the Heros and Soverign pictures are not going to improve because they will not change the style. But for some reason some like the style. It use to be real distracting for me in WOM because I just hate the way the game looks. But if FE turns out to have good game play then this will always trumphs ugly art styl/graphics

 

on Oct 27, 2011

SofusBorg
Love that Rock Spiders have higher charisma then the leaders and champions. ^^

But seriously, great work

 

Man, have you ever met a Rock Spider?  I met one at a bar a couple weeks ago... Lets just say in the morning the next day my only regret wasn't buying a set of Ginsu knives from him. Helluva salesman that spider

on Oct 27, 2011

You need charisma when you look like that. I hate spiders. 

on Oct 27, 2011

Remember the Rock Spider has levelled to Level 4, and the Sovereigns are only Level 1 atm.

Best regards,
Steven.

on Oct 27, 2011

Flavor Background:

In WOM all the diplomacy appears to rake place in the same castle.

It would add to the game's flavor if the diplomacy background for some of the sovereigns was different. Perhaps the Tarthans have a meeting room of logs while the Wraiths one with iron maidens in the background.

on Nov 01, 2011

Question - Will modders be able to write custom diplomacy text for each fraction? So that if the Mancers approach the Altairs the flavor of the response will be different from that of the Tarthans?

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