A Quick Journal before we sleep for 48 hours straight...
Published on August 27, 2010 By ScottTykoski In Elemental Dev Journals

So launch week has come and gone. It’s certainly been...exciting?  Anxiety producing? Wonderful? Crazy exausting? All the above? 

Brad is currently taking some much deserved time off with his family, and, with v1.06 out the door, the team is about to do the same. We’ll be back Monday, but before then, I wanted to bring everyone up to speed on what we’re working on....


1. The Mega Feedback List
We love feedback . Good, bad, ugly, whatever...this is as much your game as it is ours, so it’s with great excitement that we visit countless forums, lurking in the shadows as Elemental is discussed. Hear a muffled cough as you discuss the magic system on forums.penny-arcade.com? Just us   No reason to be afraid.

As suggestions/complaints/bugs are posted, anywhere, they get cobbled into a master feedback spreadsheet with a column called “Count”. The more an Issue is complained or talked about about, the higher it climb on the list, giving a better view on how the entire WORLD feels about the game..it makes me feel very Adrian Veidt.

Current major issues being addressed internally...
- Magic System Numbers (currently rolling 0-x, meaning high level spells missing)
- City management screen
- Cursor/Selection Funkiness in Tactical Battles
- More informative UI across the board
- More Maps
- Overall balance (overpowered late game units, overpowered peasants, etc)

2. Performance Issues
People with awesome rigs are getting crummy performance. This is the next major ‘bug’ on our list, and we’ve made some major headway. Most of the issue lies with the LOD on zoom technology that fades things out as a zoom percentage is reached. As overall zoom range, specific LOD levels, and new tile diesigns are tweaked and added, the game seems to be displaying many objects, in general, when zoomed out. Code is being tweaked to make batching faster and tile designs are being tweaked to simplify better as the user zooms out...

Debug Message:  *** TD Details: F_Town_02 ***
Total Objects:97

The fallen Town, for instance, clocks in at 97 objects, many of these being dupes that get batched together. Unfortunately, we don’t start fading out objects until the ‘Mid’ zoom level...right before the cloth map is enabled (at its default value), so even zoomed out pretty far we’re still displaying all 97 objects when we could probably get away with 40-50.

So while there’s no ‘silver bullet’, improvements across these areas of the LOD system should help performance issues considerably.

Oh, wait, Jesse just fixed some code and is now seeing a 10-20 fps boost...so apparently there WAS a silver bullet...and apparently he’s saving the details for his own change log    But good news, regardless! (jesse: so hovering over a city that used to give me 25fps now gives me 42-43)

3. AI Prep
Brad may be off the grid, but I can only imagine the AI plans he’ll come back with. To that end, we’re going to be cleaning code to make it easier for him to access specific circumstances that the AI can intelligently react to (how many times have you gone back on peace treaties, how many wars have you started, how many wars have you successfully fought back against, etc).

4. Playing the Game and Brainstorming for the Future
This is what I’m most looking forward to. We’ve been in 100% ‘make the game’ mode, giving us no time to enjoy our creation (I’ve snuck in a few hours, but always feel guilty about it). Now that we have time to play, we also have time to brainstorm what WE want to put into the game. Many times this will synch up with what you guys want, but it’s amazing what the team will do, even in their free-time, to make the game better (my ‘wouldn’t it be cool’ feature is a spell that locks escape routes, making a given T.Battle a fight to the finish).


So that’s where we are, three days after release. There are other issues being addressed - we’re on the lookout for future Win7 64bit ATI issues, and balance/pacing will remain high on our priority lists, but more than anything, we look forward to hearing what you guys have to say about the game....for good or ill...in the weeks and months to come!

Now, seriously, time for bed.

Comments (Page 3)
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on Aug 27, 2010

The 'wouldn't it be cool' idea sounds like it might be essential!

on Aug 27, 2010

MAGIC TECH TREE: Magic Tech tree is kinda barren. I feel like I get all the spells anyways so why research into magic?

Why not have the majority of spells only unlockable through research?? Then you would definately feel motivated to research Magic.

And what if you could focus on different schools of magic, fire, ice, wind etc within the research tree. The more you researched the more latent effects each spell could have - slow, DoT, miss turns, longer duration, increase in power etc...

As it stands I can just research spells independently from the research tree while the magic research tree only gives us shard usage it seems.


WAYPOINTS/TURNS: Need to see a waypoint line from your unit to the destination on the map and how many turns it will take. 

Sometimes it takes several tries to select a unit and give him a destination by clicking on the map. Overall clicking is somewhat unresponsive and somehow my unit always become unselected. Just clunky.


UNIT DESIGN: Need a reason to design your own units. As of right now there are none. Need to have advantages and weakness for armor and weapon types. Therefore choosing the right type unit to design will be important. Def vs slashing, blunts, piercing, etc. 


TACTICAL BATTLES: Need to be faster. Speed up the animation to make the battles quicker and snappier. Why does the entire army move at once? Have individual moves instead?


CHAMPIONS: Scale them to the late game, and balance cost to equip and purchase. Give them more viability within the gameplay.


ITEMS: Give items more umpf. Make some weapons have first strike or can attack twice, some attack slower but more dmg, bleed effects, or additional effects. As of right now you just chose items with the highest dmg. No choice no fun. Give us a reason for what we chose.


CITY BUILDING: Basically with each new city I just click every building I can build and plant it in my city. I don't even care. Cause there is no reason too. Everything needs to be built so I just build it as fast as I can. If this is the case why not just make building cities cost more and bypass placing buildings in the first place if everything will eventually be built? No fun. Give buildings more reason or choice. Right now I just feel like a monkey placing everything down. Since I can only place one of each building - least that is what it seems - maybe some buildings we should be able to duplicate? So we can specialize cities?


DIPLOMACY:  Dead tree... let's plant a new one...


PACING: The overall pacing of the game actually seems too fast. I feel like I speed through research, and learning magical spells. At turn 200-300 the game is kinda won for me. I have everything I need - up to like lvl 6 magic. Could change once the AI gets off its butt.





on Aug 27, 2010

Loving the game already, even with the odd crash.

Have great hopes it gets even better in the future.

on Aug 27, 2010

First, let me say that the release is a pretty good one (and I am one of those who has single digit FPS over cities)


A brand new engine, a brand new game, and overall it went smoother than say HOI3 (yes a Paradox fan too).


Here is my condensed list:


1.  Create rollovers everywhere.  If I hover over a weapon in research menu, I want to see its stats.

2.  Show resources with income.  i.e. 10(+2)

3.  Show all icons in the Icon menu.  Expand the outer container if need be.  Too many clicks now

4.  Condense (merge) some techs.  More content isn't always a good thing.

5.  Option for faster animations in Tactical combat.  Currently walking/casting/shooting takes forever

6.  Warning when you press End Turn and there are still armies that can be moved

7.  Merge the quantity/size setting for unit training into a single scale.  Current design is overkill.

8.  Tab/Next Unit shouldn't select caravans

9.  Graphical indicator showing the projected path the unit will take to its destination.

10.  Tactical Combat:  Odds and potential damage of action when hovering action over target (i.e. if selected Fireball and hovering over target it should say 2-7 damage, 10% resistance chance or whatever).  Also, in same rollover display bonuses/maluses in effect (i.e. if archers have a malus due to range)

11.  Strategic Resources ala GalCiv:  something that isn't a resource but augments some aspect of your Empire.

12.  Flanking logic!  Units should have reduced defense from sides/rear

13.  Unit levels should be clearly marked and accessible in Strategic and Tactical views.  Preferable denoted by some icon (i.e. a number of stars) with a rollover explaining what this level of experience actually does for the unit (i.e. +1 HP, +1 ATT, +2 DEF)


I agree except for 4 and 7.  Love complex tech trees and the UI for unit size is OK by me.

on Aug 27, 2010

The good news: the last few days have seen significant improvements, and 1.06 shows how great Elemental will someday be.

The not-good not-bad news: lots of balancing is still needed (gameplay, UI, making essential Elemental features like essence and shards truly shine, showing why Elemental isn't just a rehash of MoM/etc. but is a significant step beyond).  I won't list specifics as we've been doing that during beta and there's tons of threads/posts/good ideas already suggested.

The bad news: what we have now is a public paid beta.  All of what's been done since release and for the next few weeks (if not month or 2) should have been done before release.  That the game doesn't crash for some, or that other games are also released before they're ready, or similar excuses do not excuse/justify this too early release.  The only excuse/justification for this release is that you painted yourself into a 'Feb or Aug' corner, with Feb being too late and Aug being too early.  I can't say you chose wrongly between the 2, but can say getting yourself into a position where those were your only choices was a big mistake and one I hope you can avoid in the future.

I want to re-iterate the good news: Elemental 1.06 shows how great a game it will be -- a classic of this genre -- and how dedicated you SDers are in making that come true.

Get some rest and take some time off -- you've earned it and this isn't a race, it's a marathon.  We can wait (ignore the men/women behind the impatient curtain...  ).

on Aug 27, 2010

Awesome! Get some much deserved rest!

The game is fantastic as is, even with the bugs.

Keep up the great work and I cant wait to see what you and the community have in the future for this wonderful game!

Once the late game slowdown is fixed I will be a very very happy camper hehe.

This is the most fun ive had on a videogame in years, thank you stardock

on Aug 27, 2010

While I acknowledge my topic being not the most critical at the moment: https://forums.elementalgame.com/393581 <- features huge design change suggestions.

on Aug 27, 2010

The game is already good and is getting better with each update. One thing that frustrates me though, is the ultra slow and unchangeable mana regeneration rate, sigh.

Fear not, this is on the tweak list.


Excellent feedback on all points, gang. Thank you so much! We'll be taking a hard look at everything that's been mentioned for future updates.

on Aug 27, 2010

Thanks for the round up and I look forward to seeing what your own opinions on what you want improved/added in the future are! 

on Aug 27, 2010

Great to hear!

on Aug 27, 2010

For ultra low-level rigs such as my Core2Duo 2GHz laptop with Intel 945 graphics chip, would it be possible to have tactical battles in Cloth Map mode as well?

One odd bug BTW, is that after svaing the game, when hitting Back to game, it doesn't return to Cloth Map, instead it goes to some odd in-between 3D mode.

on Aug 27, 2010

Guys please check out master of magic and the wide range of units in tac. battles. Notice how they all have all kinds of different abillities, strengths, weaknesses and things that set them apart. First strike, flying, made of ice... stuff like that

on Aug 27, 2010

Happy to hear that... I'll give the game a few days before I jump in hardcore and start working on my review. The schedule we publish on is more informal than magazines/sites so that should help get a better feel for how this game is going to play.

on Aug 27, 2010

There should be a base spell that costs NO mana. That represents a standard ball of damaging magic the caster can use, every round. It's something that was learned in D&D (took until 4th edition)...

Emphasis added:

Don't forget about the Warlock from 3.5.

on Aug 27, 2010

The list sounds great. Thanks for all your hard work. Enjoy your well-deserved time off!

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