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.


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):


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.


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.


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:


And of course NPCs now are individually described:


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.


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 2)
on Oct 22, 2011

I am just happy we have rivers to critique. What will tactical maps look like if one attacks an army on a river tile? 

on Oct 22, 2011

This journal entry is the most important i have read so far about FE and i know now that i will buy this game. I always felt that the greatest problem in Stardock games was the total lack of flavor. Galactic Civilizations 2 with its expansions was really a beautiful game but i couldn't enjoy it fully because technology, races, improvement description were so bad and bland that i couldn't find its atmosphere immersive. It's really nice to know that Stardock is trying to improve this aspect in their games.

on Oct 22, 2011

I know what you mean. I went through made unique flavor texts for every vanilla and modded race. Took so much time...

on Oct 22, 2011

Serpent's Pact was mine c: This made my day just a little happier.

Will the collection of assorted writings be made available at any point? I'd like to know more of the lore in the world, and since WoM was rather sparse in that department...well, more lore is good lore, no?

Also, if I can be so bold...would it be at all possible to get a lore tidbit in-game for leaders more akin to Leadanna's lore? That is, a sort of personal blurb about the person. For choosing a sovereign what there already is seems great, since we'll need just a quick dossier, but when I'm in game I'd like to be able to take a gander at more of the other sovereign's personality. For example, with Leadanna I get the impression that she's well-bred, someone who is smart and skilled with numbers, as well as someone who is concerned about her name, Merdici, falling into obscurity. So as a whole, from reading that blurb I get the impression that she was once a noblewoman or at least someone of import, and I'm actually interested, now, in hunting her down in Fallen Enchantress so I can personally see to the continuity of her name. can't get married...I'll need to fix that.

As to everything that we have, I am really looking forward to Fallen Enchantress. I fully plan to spend my winter break sitting behind my computer and beta-ing away. Elemental wasn't bad, but it wasn't great either - I'm itching to play FE, and carve out my own story in the world. As always, I look forward to Stardock's next big creation.

Now to go re-read Destiny's Embers...


on Oct 22, 2011
I'm glad that when rock spiders go stalking, their prey is camouflaged against the backdrop of the wastelands  with a horrifying efficiency.  All kidding aside, I like this development.  A little bit of fiction goes a long way, and if the author reads a little like Lovecraft, that's even better. The writting here matches well the style of the Elemental timeline we got some time ago.  I rather like Elemental's theme of fantasy overlaid on top of a sci fi setting, kind of like Dying Earth, and if we get more of it Elemental will be a better game. I was one of those who said to drop the random name generator and replace it with a list of faction specific names, who knows I might have been among the first who posted it , but I never wanted to see it gotten rid of completely. The random name generator had it's own charm, sometimes. It was good for a laugh here and there. Keep it optional!
on Oct 23, 2011

rofl......., uhmm..........., I know you don't want to give us all the info on the games details, but I pray you help me with this one.... What is Leadanna's third trait on the top left (the red one) for I'm affraid to continue guessing after I thought of what the effect might be: "smells of rotten clams" -7 to charisma as she seems to be at least a 13 charisma to me


ps I tried to keep this appropriate as much as possible, hopefully only those with the same mind frame will understand

I think the trait is "Frail", which perhaps means she heals slower. But yours was funnier.

Flavor text is so important, it is a very good move to add more of it I think. I remember the first AoW had a lot of unit descriptions written by a real writer, and when AoW2 came there were no descriptions at all and it felt empty.

on Oct 23, 2011

Yes, with a game world, the more it feels like a "world" rather than a "game" the better.

Best regards,

on Oct 23, 2011

Some of this stuff has made me wish for a feature in the 2nd expansion.


I kinda want these creatures/critters spare parts to be usable in Dredmor-style alchemy, with levels learnable with tech, to make armor.  This would have to be balanced out though.  For example, something like skath hide+ rock spider armor= an adventurer's armor that would be the equivalent of light plate but slightly better.


on Oct 23, 2011

Wow, this is really awesome!

The best part is that Leadanna's history is in first person. It sort of feels likes she spoke to me, I really makes her come alive.


But then again, I'm afraid this game, and Leadanna, gives me aids.

on Oct 23, 2011

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

But seriously, great work

on Oct 23, 2011

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

If a Rock Spider came up to me and "asked" me to do something I would do it.....

on Oct 23, 2011

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.





on Oct 23, 2011

The bad part about doing custom painted portraits is when you upgrade them with new gear or buff them with sparkly effects, it doesn't show. I'm with you that painted portraits generally look better, but in a game like Elemental where separate pieces of gear is much more common-place, I prefer it to be real 3d models. I want to see my character evolve, just like I would in a real RPG, and not just see some numbers go up like I would in an older fantasy strategy game. Nothing is more immersion-breaking than when I put on my wizarding hat and robe and staff, and when I get into combat I'm suddenly wearing a plate helmet, a shield and a mace.

on Oct 23, 2011

Together the backstory flavor text for sovereigns, champions and creatures, the race specific name generator and the addition of racial specific traits moves this game from the B league to the A League. Great work, Stardock.

on Oct 23, 2011

I would write more if I though the possibility of 2D static unit cards was something anyone at Stardock was going to go for, but suffice to say, no thank you.