Elemental: War of Magic


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+Starry

I played a bunch of it and I enjoyed it, but I need more content to really get into it.

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scaramonga

http://forums.elementalgame.com/394855/page/2/#2753014

Brad Wardell wrote:

September 2, 2010 3:45:07 PM

(I'm up north on vacation typing on an extremely slow connection so bear with me)

I don't think people yet fully realize the completeness of Stardock's fail on Elementa's launch.

I'm going to write more about this but not only did we think v1.05 was ready for everyone but we felt v1.0 was too. That's the level of disconnect/poor judgment on our part we're talking about.

If the game had come out in February, it would still have been a disastrous launch because lack of time wasn't the issue. It was blindness, sheer blindness. We felt the game was finished. And I speak of v1.0, not v1.05. Blindness.

There will be massive consequences for Stardock's game studio. I'll be talking more about this when I get back. But the game wasn't released early. The game was released poorly. Head in the sand syndrome imo. I've read the reviews as much as possible given my hideous internet access up here and I agree with them. We just didn't see what they were talking about. We thought any complaints would be about polish points or something.

The point is, the issue here is far far worse than many of you think it is. I wish it was an issue of the game being released too early. That's an easy thing for a company to "fix". Elemental's launch is the result of catastrophic poor judgment on my part.

EVERY competent software developer knows that the programmer must never be the one deciding whether the program is done. Yet, my love of Elemental broke my self discipline and I began coding on the game itself in vast amounts and lost any sense of objectivity on where the game's state was. I normally only program the AI on our games so I can keep a level of distance from the game itself to determine whether it's "Ready". On Elemental, I was in love with the world and the game and lost my impartiality.

We'll do better.

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Buio

:laugh:

Yeye, but I don't like beta testing, and this game feels to be somewhere in early beta at the moment. I've worked as a software tester some time ago, but I did get payed quite a lot for that.

Oh, and they released a new patch just recently.

Elemental v1.07 changelog:

http://forums.elementalgame.com/394934

* Performance *

+ Major improvement to rendering system, especially when over cities.

+ Condensed scene rendering process from 3 passes through scene into a single pass

+ Bunch of fixes to the issues behind "DX Error: Invalid Call", particularly when Alt-Tab'ing. This will continue to be worked on.

..... (and a bunch more) .....

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scaramonga

Move drivel from Brad......

Stop Stop Stop. And I'm not just saying that because it takes like half a minute to load up a page from here.

There is a phrase they use in the movie industry "Kill your darlings".

The person green lighting a production should NEVER EVER be the one working on said production. Writing AI on GalCiv or helping design the game mechanics on Sins of a Solar Empire kept me at a reasonable distance from the actual GAME.

The problem with Elemental was that I am in love with it. To me, it's not just a game. It's a whole world that we can expand and build on. During the months of July and August, when I was working on the game non-stop, I literally had a hard time distinguishing the difference between the GAME, the MODS and the future. It all merged into one fuzzy centrality.

Stardock will be working on Elemental for years to come. Literally. Let me be specific: Stardock will NOT release a new game next year. It'll all be Elemental related. Releasing it in August wasn't a financial decision. Hell, Stardock's games aren't funded by PC game revenue. I wanted you guys to get the game ASAP.

I think most people would agree that Elemental has tremendous potential. The reason it was released when it was was because we thought it had reached that level ready to be shipped. When you're living, breathing and eating something 24/7, your perspective changes.

From a personal pride point of view, it would be much easier to say "Whohaah, my jet fuel requires Elemental to ship in August!". To give you guys an idea of how certain I was that the game was ready for everyone to ship, I didn't just give copies to reviewers, I sent copies to my friends who used to be reviewers (long story but the gaming media has changed a lot in the past 18 months) because I was dying for them to see this masterpiece.

Tom Francis's debiliating PC Gamer preview only was possible was because I personally compiled a version for him (of v1.0) for him to see because the v1.0 version doesn't work outside North America (region checking). In other words, that negative PC Gamer UK preview was only possible because I was so confident in Elemental's readiness that I bypassed Stardock's PR people to get a friend of mine in Europe a copy.

I don't think there should be much disagreement that Stardock absolutely blew it with the launch. Holy cow that should be obvious by now. In my mind, anything less than "game of the year" (in a year with Starcraft 2 and Civ V in it) means we totally screwed up.

The real question, and the question I think every single person who shelled out $50+ for this game should ask is this: What is Stardock going to do to make me whole?

And the answer, I hope, is in the coming months because, like I said, most of Stardock's revenue doesn't come from making PC games.

Having my idiocy shown on a global stage is humbling but probably very constructive for PC gamers. I think most people would agree that Elemental is a fantastic game -- once you get past the idiotic UI decisions, balance, etc.

We are very fortunate to be in a position to make the situation right. We're our own publisher. We don't have the same financial constraints as other companies so we can spend months or even years if necessary to do right by you guys.

Hopefully, this message will make it up to the forums, (because it was long) but if it does, please take it as it is meant. I failed you. I failed you because I love what we're doing and out of sheer hubris -- that the basic law of programmer != guy who decides if it is done somehow didn't apply to me. The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Elemental is getting pasted in reviews and deserves that pasting. I'm glad many people are having fun but our eyes have been opened. Like I said before, I'll be writing a lot more about this when I get back to an Internet connection that measures bandwidth with an M instead of a K.

I don't think Elemental's shortcomings can be fixed with tweaks or small patches. I think there are core game mechanics and AI that will have to be revisited. I think there are things that would normally be reserved for sequels that will have to be put in.

I think I mentioned this earlier but we employ multiple former editors of major review sites who were part of the process. When you're working a long time on a project it's easy to get way way way too close to it and soon, its foibles and flaws become simply part of the fabric.

When I get home, with the benefit of being away for a bit, I'll be able to outline some specific and in hindsight, obvious game mechanic things that will need to be addressed for Elemental to begin to reach its potential.

As an AI coder, the biggest disappointment to me is that I allowed the design to allow so many N^2 variables (I'll talk about this later). So don't think i'm thinking that we can just tweak around the edges to make Elemental what it needs to be. That would be just another version of denial of the problem -- as if we could just tweak it and suddenly it goes from a 3 out of 5 to a 5 out of 5 and no, that's not the case. Not even close.

The upcoming version they're working on, v1.07 is still about working on all the crazy compatibility issues that our engine has to deal with (that deserves a separate discussion but I've been looking at the check-ins and they're depressing to me. I see a lot of "Fix allocation that causes a crash on nVidia driver 1/10/2010" type stuff which makes me wince).

The kinds of changes Elemental will require to meet is potential are pretty big things IMO. Things that we (and myself in particular) were just blind to. Let me give you a couple of concrete examples so you can see what I'm getting at (and this post BETTER post, this is like being back in 1994): My friend Mark Asher on a post on a forum talked about how boring our spells were. I took that to be about the spell names. But it wasn't just the spell names, it was about the spells themselves and how they worked. The way resources are managed and handled is very limiting when it comes to the way the AI has to deal with them (N^2 variables).

Anyway, the point is, we fell in love with a vision of the game that was largely in our minds rather than in reality. The difference here is that Stardock has the luxury of being able to address it. Even if Elemental didn't sell a single new copy, we would still be able to address it.

I truly wish I could ascribe Elemental's launch to cynical greed or something. Cynical greed beats out pathetic incompetence any day.

Original thread: http://forums.elementalgame.com/394855/page/5/#replies

Glad I never took the plunge and bought it :)

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Xilo

They might as well just rewrite from scratch if there are so many problems.

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Buio

Find it funny when they say

+ Major improvement to rendering system, especially when over cities.

and I noticed very little to no improvement in speed. I even turned off outlines as someone said it gave a boost on ATI cards, but didn't change (at least not much). Well going from 4fps to 6 fps is 50% boost, but it's still 6fps (that framerate is a guess, but it sure looks to be below 10 in a big game I have with lots of towns etc).

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Andre S.

I would buy it for its "potential" if I could pay with "potential" money. :p

On a more serious note... a bad PC game with a lot of unrealized potential is sad news for anyone. Luckily this year has no shortage of good strategy games (SC2, Civ5, as mentioned), but still I was awaiting Elemental with some genuine curiosity. Always thought the graphics looked uninteresting, but I sure wasn't expecting a failure of such proportions.

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+Starry

On a more serious note... a bad PC game with a lot of unrealized potential is sad news for anyone. Luckily this year has no shortage of good strategy games (SC2, Civ5, as mentioned), but still I was awaiting Elemental with some genuine curiosity. Always thought the graphics looked uninteresting, but I sure wasn't expecting a failure of such proportions.

I guess I can't quite see it that way. It is an entertaining game that needed a longer QA run and more content. They'll give us more content and the crash bugs are mostly gone.

Maybe it was bad as a preorder, but it's a good game.

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Andre S.

To be honest I didn't try it, but I'm taking Brad Wardell's word for it: the game deserves the poor scores it got in reviews, and its shortcomings will not be addressed with a few patches and tweaks. In other words it's broken. Now, I might try the demo to see this with my own eyes but something tells me that a 57 metacritic score + Stardock's CEO saying it's a failure kinda speaks for itself.

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+Starry

It certainly launched broken. Hell, I and many others could barely play the game when the preorder version went live.

It certainly needs work. Can't deny that. No idea how Stardock missed that pre-launch...

However, the game will get far more than a few patches and tweaks. I've already loaded it up enough times to consider it worth my time once they get more content and better AI in.

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nubs

I can see how they believed the game was finished. You have to think that these guys were originally trying to remake Master of Magic and for the most part, this game does what Master of Magic did functionally. However it missed a lot of the in depth nuances made MoM timeless.

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