A Small Update as I Regain my Bearings
Published on September 21, 2010 By ScottTykoski In Elemental Dev Journals


For those who didn’t know (and I don’t know if anyone cares) I’ve actually been out for the last two weeks, ‘expanding my dynasty’, so to speak (baby #2). It was a nice dose of reality coming off a pretty rough month - but you guys have been around the forums, so I wont churn that bucket of woes.

Instead, I’d like to take a fresh look at where we stand right now. While my time away didn’t provide the rest I would have liked, it did get me out into a state of mind where I could reflect on Elemental with a slightly clearer head...plus I played some ‘Legend of Zelda’ to get back to my roots

1. Tutorial
Elemental is a big game. I feel bad that we shrugged off a tutorial, but that’s what happens when you’re so close to a project. “How could someone NOT know what what 16x16 button does...” What can I say...we’re dumb. There are A LOT of ideas being tossed around about how to improve gameplay, AI, and performance, but no matter what we change, it’s obvious that a tutorial made now has a 100% chance of being obsolete once the major patches roll out. So opposed to putting in yet another feature that will need reworked, we’re putting that effort into feature implementation and bug fixes...so no tutorial yet. But it’s coming.

Zelda Sidenote: Speaking of games that need better hand-holding, why would the ‘Meat’, necessary to traverse the 7th dungeon, be sold in a store hidden in a tree that you have to burn down half way across the world?!  WHY?!?!?! At least now I have the internet, instead of bribing the kid at school who had ‘Nintendo Power’

2. Better-er Graphics
By giving the player full camera control, we’ve sacrificed the ability to ensure the game looks good at all times. In marketing terms, it’s WAY too easy to make a crappy looking screenshot in Elemental...but you get the right angle, the proper objects and a nice zoom and it looks pretty slick (IMHO). We have some ideas for v1.1 that will keep the full camera control that we love, but also ensure the game makes for an interesting composition a higher percentage of the time.

Zelda Sidenote: I really love the retro-graphics movement going on right now in the indie/casual gaming scene. Obviously we have our work cut out on getting Elemental up to speed, but I would love to do a simple, retro-themed Elemental game done in the style of those old Beta intros. Perhaps in a year I can revisit that idea

3. Multiplayer
We’ve seen a few folks jump into the internal-tests we’ve been running....we’re normally playing in the afternoon, so feel free to search us out. It tends to be the art team, and they tend to be a bit ‘smack-talk’ happy, but a good time to be had none-the-less.

Zelda Sidenote: Anyone play Secret of Mana for the SNES? A Zelda style dungeon crawler that allowed up to 3 friends to play co-op? Old-school multiplayer at it’s best.

4. Updates, Updates, and More Updates!
We’ve been served a healthy slice of humble pie with Elemental’s release, but now we’re lucky enough to have a chance to redeem our ‘baby’ (I’m glad actually babies don’t get a metacritic score). If you’re reading this, then you’re keeping tabs on Elemental as we continue to improve it post-release, and for your support and continued feedback we’re immensely grateful. Hopefully all the great ideas we’ve received will be digested, organized, implemented, and accumulate into several groundbreaking updates that reach the potential mentioned throughout the reviews.

Anyways, I just saw the newest poll, and couldn't agree more on how the numbers are falling. Magic and combat are high on our priority lists, so I’ll be excited as these get hammered out.

Time to head home and help out with baby...then it’s back to Hyrule for further ‘inspiration’

Comments (Page 5)
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on Sep 23, 2010

Why aren't tutorials like scenarios? You want to learn about city creation and first steps in city building? An scenario for that. Want a  more advanced tutorial about it? (pioneers) Then another scenario just for that. Something like that would also make it easier to update the "tutorial" as new things are added/tweaked.

Graphics are fine but be my guest and improve!

About multiplayer, these days I don't even have time for singleplayer... but as I paid for the feature, improve! Improve! One day I may use it afterall.

on Sep 23, 2010

Congrats on the baby.  Ive played video games for a long time.  I liked master of magic.  For a retro style game you could make the map simplier like the Master of Magic game. Your mountains were brown, deserts yellow, and everything was flat with a little texture.  I like some color in the game, not alot.  Not going to strictly use cloth map mode.  But for all the detail you trying to throw in I could care less.  I played Starcraft, and Starcraft II the fact they did next to nothing to upgrade their graphics I am perfectly fine with.  I do not want my strategy games to be about how pretty the game looks, the reality side I real pretty game your going to need one good graphics card.  If you made a first person game I would want solid graphics but this is not that type of game.  I like the oblivion games for first person type role playing I am fine with that.  My computer has a ton of pictures on it from real life stuff, not from video game stuff. 

on Sep 23, 2010

my 2 cents - the Saturday before EWoM came out my computer died.... I do not mean virus - I mean mother board busted.... anyway - I have been lurking on the forums since release and have already acquired my copy but have been waiting until i can replace my computer to play. i thought the reviews were very disheartening but i maintain my confidence that Stardock will patch and fix any problems and i am looking forward to getting a new computer and playing in the next few months (Christmas?)..... thank you for all your hard work and congratulations on the new baby...

on Sep 23, 2010

Well, one thing I can say- the technical issues that plagued Elemental, and were the main cause of the terrible scores- those have been largely eliminated.  The QA/engine fixing folks have really done a great job.


What you'll find right now is a mediocre game with a lot of potential, which could shine with a good bit of the proper polish.  In order words, about where GC2 1.00 was at, and that game after all its polish and shine turned out to be a near-classic.  I spun it around a bit yesterday and it was still fun.  Hopefully Stardock can do the same job on this as they did with GC2, though Elemental will be a much harder game to get right due to its ambition.



on Sep 23, 2010

BoogieBac, man, how cool was Secret of Mana? It was the most awesome game experience I had as a kid after SNES's Legend of Zelda (and maybe Mega Man X..). And this is actually the first time I realize that it was also my first adventure in the world of grinding for XP. Did you spend time in the woods next to the snow town, killing tons of wolves to gain XP for weapons & spells? I remember looping the woods for quite a few times with a friend of mine to get all the most awesome special attacks.


That game was soo cool.

on Sep 23, 2010

Hehe ... having 3 kids enables more interesting diplomatic decisions though

I mean, having just 2 gives more chances for a direct rivalry ... while having 3 kids gives a natural diplomatic buffer for confrontation diffusion.


Also, with 3 kids you can have shifting alliances, as opposed to static rivalry ... which makes reconciliation both less likely and less necessary, as new things will always pop up.

Meanwhile, if you have 2 kids, reconciliation is more likely because of the "lack of peer pressure" ... however if you don't have reconciliation its just awful.

// part of why having 3 kids works as confrontation diffusion, because shifts in allegiance can mitigate previous crimes


on Sep 23, 2010

Great post!
Congrats on the little one to!

Also Secret Of Mana... so awesome.... loved that game (:


Keep the updates coming! I love Elemental! Also the tips from Civ5 that you talked about, would work very well in Elementals. I dont really need em personally btu for alot of friends of mine who dont understand much of this game it would be very good!

Keep all the updates coming!

on Sep 23, 2010

Yes congratulations on the baby, with luck me and my wife will be having one ourselves in less than a month all going according to plan.

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