We have many ‘Negative’ Lists...Let’s Start a Rollicking Roll Call of what you guys Enjoy in Elemental
Published on October 25, 2010 By ScottTykoski In Elemental Dev Journals

One of the things people like about our office is the hallway-long whiteboard wall that the games team uses for a variety of purposes. Right now there are several to-do lists for 1.1 and beyond, a rundown of sales for our various titles, and a HUGE ‘wish list’ of Elemental features/tweaks players and press have requested. In fact, we’ve switched from writing the suggestions down and now simply print out feedback lists and tape them to the wall.

My request today is in a similar vein, but with focus turned on the parts of Elemental that you LIKE. With Derek and Toby joining the team to be our ‘eyes in the sky’, various areas of the design are going to be heavily scrutinized, and I want to make sure we focus on the real problem areas and simply polish any features that you guys are already enjoying. I foresee several spots where the baby could easily be thrown out with the bathwater, and to combat this I’d like to print a healthy list of ‘what you like’.

So, if you could make a note of any feature/gameplay situation/etc that you truly enjoy, along with one suggestion on how to polish that up, we’d be most grateful!

And here’s a sassy, preemtive ‘zerbert’ emoticon for anyone that wants to post “I like nothing about the game redo it ALLLLL!1!!1!!”

Thanks! The floor is yours! 


Comments (Page 1)
on Oct 25, 2010

I love how environment spreads out and reinvigorates the land. It can create cool-looking borders between nations as well.

I would love to see more variations of these used in-game. Right now there's only Kingdom and Empire, but you could easily extend it to have some nations spread an arctic environment, or a desert.

Another improvement to this would be that environment doesn't spread quite so fast within your influence. Right now, it spreads within a turn or so. If it would "fade over" within a couple of turns, that would be pretty cool-looking, I think. Theoretically, this could affect the bonus/debuff that you get from walking on the environment as well - the more "completely turned" the environment is, the stronger the effect is.

on Oct 25, 2010

This space has been leased.  I am going to put some thought into it and post it up.

 

Be back in a couple of hours with more info.

 

(several days later)

 

Okay.

 

1) The dynasty feature.  It needs to be fleshed out and givne some love, but I love it even as it is now.

2) The way the town looks and funcstions. I love how it grows and takes up physical space.  I love the animated people in the towns, it makes the place look alive.  It does need ot have randoms peeps just walking around and looking busy as well as some that are just hanging out.

3) I love the world itself.  The story, the ability to play in a true sandbox fashion.

4) I love the customization of every aspect of the game.  That is incredibly important to me.

 

That's it for now.  More to follow later!

on Oct 25, 2010

I like how cities are spread out over multiple tiles. Even though it's a shame that the actual layout of your city doesn't influence it's performance in any way.

I like how you can design your own units (though the UI could do with some improvement).

But there isn't a single aspect (as far as i can remember) that i would consider perfect.

on Oct 25, 2010

I agree about environment spreading out, and also that having more than just life or death environments would be cool. Like a frosten race that spreads cold, for example.

I like the unit customisation but it needs more content, variety and choice.

I like mounts but want flying mounts.

I like the way cities grow, taking up many squares. But want more variety of buildings. (Crystal, organic, rounded).

More may follow ...

on Oct 25, 2010

The graphics style is a big plus for me, don't change that (though I don't imagine you would at this stage) I like the unit editor certainly keep custom units, this could be enhanced obviously bu balancing weapons /armour, etc and allowing players an option to turn of predesigned units if they like designing their own (it can be a pain deleting pre designed units).

I would also say the unit editor could be enhanced by allowing the player to choose facial features and hair as they can in the soverign editor. But generally custom designed units are one of the best features of the game, so don't even consider getting rid of those.

I also like the city growing across the map concept so don't drop that cities that take up more map tiles as they grow where an inspired idea and help set elemental apart.

 1.1 - I'd also like to add how much I like the Global Mana pool idea in 1.1 that will be a major improvement and I hope no one will decide to revert to something like the current system of individual mana as that is one part of the game that really doesn't currently work but it sounds like 1.1 will fix that in spades.

on Oct 25, 2010

As much as you guys talked about 'teething problems' with your new game engine, I would say that its a darn good engine. I think the engine and the art style were always very good. (could use some more color though) There's nothing engine-wise that would prevent a true classic fantasy game being made. The only problem was that you took the game design portion of the project for granted, when really it's the hard part. Brad even said game production is '90% technical and %10 percent game design'. Now that you guys have Kael coming along, it really shows a commitment to getting that right.

I think that the way the map looks is an excellent start. Large maps have good performance. It's very cool that you give the map makers access to the height map. There is a huge amount of potential here, moreso than Civ5 even. I would like to see more kinds of terrain art, and I would like to see map squares actually serve a purpose in the game far beyond simply as the 'space' between points of interest. Land is valueable! find a use for it! Right now its too much like Galciv, as if resources and stuff were floating in space.

on Oct 25, 2010

I really love the setting, story and the look of the game.

I love creating my soverreign. But at the moment i dont feel great differences between the talents and the professions. Playing always feels the same. The stats should be more important and more useful/logical.

I enjoy city building. Its really cool at early/midgame, but in the end its boring. (waitung, researche new building, build in every town, waiting).

I love to have tactical battles. But at the moment they are boring for many reasons.

 

I have to say about almost all parts of elemetal: wow "I love it, but....." . I dont want to see, that any part is taking out. But i love to see that any part will be improved or useful changed. 

 

 

 

 

on Oct 25, 2010

1) I like the art style. It is fairly unique for a 4X, and gives Elemental an independent, original look.

 

2) I like having tactical combat. This was a big step forward from Gal Civ II, and I really, really want you guys to sustain and improve it in Elemental and future Gal Civ games. I love Civ, and I think Civ V has some good ideas, but I think they made a mistake making tactical combat occur on the strategic level. They should have just taken the plunge and made a separate tactical combat engine for army vs. army. Elemental already has that, and thus has several points over Civ V in my view.

 

3) I like that there are multiple ways to approach the game. You can focus on peaceful development, warfare, magic, adventure, whatever. This gives the game wonderful breadth. Now we just need the various aspects of that breadth to have some depth.

 

4) I like that resources are important and something to fight for. This helps drive conflict, and I would like to see this gain even more depth by giving players more reasons to seek out special resources, quests, etc. Anything that helps build conflict, story, etc. will be great.

on Oct 25, 2010

I may have misread the opening post, so forgive me if I take it in the wrong way.

  • I absolutely love the CONCEPT of cities that grow and expand. I used to play WoW and Everquest 2 and LotRO, and one of the biggest loves I had for those games was being able to walk into an absolutely massive city and think, "Wow. Yeah, I can believe that this is where things happen." Now, don't get me wrong - I really like how cities grow and take up more land, and I never much cared for how it was done in Age of Wonders (where cities still took up the same sized space) and in more than one game I've had the pleasure of looking at my settlement on the shores grow until it covers a nice, large area. However, cities look way too similar between the 'sides' (that is, one Kingdom city = another. But this should be changed in 1.1, so yay!)
  • I love the CONCEPT of unit design. I'd absolutely love for it to have more depth, however. Something, anything, to make my units stand out and be different. For example, I'm the kind of player who likes to make elite divisions of units - for example, in my last game, I made the Starstriders, a group of rangers, and the Blackguard, the royal guard. Much as I loved them having unique names, they were almost identical to every other soldier I had. Special skills or unique things that can be made at creation (like D&D prestige classes, that sort of thing) would really spice up unit creation and make my Blackguard a force to be reckoned with, rather than a handful of soldiers who are identical to my shock troopers, and my elite Starstriders be unique from my rank-and-file archers.
  • I like how the lands change. That is, Kingdom influence spreads life and invigorates the land. It'd be nice if I could create, say, a desert nation or a nation that thrives in the snow, or another that thrives in hills and mountains - and see the land reflect that.
  • EDIT: I love the art style, like looking at a painting rather than zooming in to see my soldiers. Actually makes me think of myself as sitting in a tower directing troops from afar, rather than simply ordering each one individually, if that makes sense...hm...

Now...my biggest personal issue, barring magic (which I found to be weak, but will wait and see what the global mana pool does to this), is the world itself. I hate how the world is such a boring, static thing. In GalCiv, for example, there would be raids by Peacekeeper forces, the Dread Lords might return, a prison planet might rebel, stupid adventurers might uncover various things...that sort of thing. Not to mention the numerous events that guided our morality and planetary benefits.

The jist of it...in GalCiv, things happened. Minor factions were important, for one, and actually could (and, at least for me, did) influence play by a great margin. In Elemental, however, the world never changes. Adventurers who don't actually exist in the game world trigger things that are obviously done by a script that has been fulfilled, which is a smack in the face of immersion. I'm not saying that you should include more random events, but instead that it should be possible for game-altering events to occur in the game without relying on a script that triggers. Let there be real adventuring parties players can interact with - and let THEM go off and do things. Perhaps you do have a bandit problem, so you put a bounty on the bandits, a team of adventurers wander by and take him out...but then the bandit lord unleashes a powerful spell that brings long-lost beings back the world. It isn't done because a script said it, but because it naturally was fulfilled.

For example, perhaps the bandit problem arose because trade between two cities was bringing in a great deal of money. Maybe an adventuring party comes across a Titan graveyard of some sort, and unleash an ancient Titan lich who begins to raise the dead to his service, a sort of necromancer mini-faction that you can ally with (he'll naturally prefer Empires over Kingdoms) or strive to destroy, in return for getting access to the graveyard (a special resource) and perhaps knowledge of necromantic spells. Perhaps you come across the lair of an imprisoned demon-lord, and are given the option to free him to wreak havoc across the world...or struggle to keep him chained.

On that same vein, cities are bland resource-manipulating locations. There are no noble houses to give me problems or advice, no powerful guilds who demand I do things in their way or face the consequences, no threat of rebellion or civil war...each city is ultimately the same as every other city. There's nothing to make me like one over another.

-N

on Oct 25, 2010

I like the idea of dynasties, but I don't like that they practically play not role at all. I'd like to see them play a strong diplomatic purpose, as they used to do in real medieval past. Have a marriage be a necessity for alliances.

I enjoy the city building and the way the sprawl over the landscape

I like spells that modify the world. I don't like that at the moment they're so few and not really that useful.

I like that you can build your own units and customize their looks and abilities. I don't like that there are very few differences in both looks and abilities at the moment.

on Oct 25, 2010

I love the custom unit creation/equipping aspect.  It's really remarkable that you build that into the game. I just wish the supporting gameplay provided a bit more meaning and variety to the choices made there beyond "higher attack and defense is better".

on Oct 25, 2010

Second what Bingjack just said.  Dressing up my little dudes and making them run around and kill stuff is awesome.

The growing size of cities on the main map is great. 

I love the idea of monster lairs and quests scattered throughout the kingdom. (implementation on where they are and why I cant do X could use some help tho)

the visible caravans are nice too.

on Oct 25, 2010

Sticking with the environment theme from some of the posts above; I like how the map looks completely desolate at the start of the game, and you slowly restore it to life. My suggestion would bethe opposite of Heavenfall's; have the restored land spread more quickly, and beyond borders. The 'restore land' spell is a powerful one-shot spell that restores life to an area, and life wants to spread. It seems a bit silly that it would wait for your political sphere of influence to expand before it does. And from a less hippieand more gameplay point of view; having restored land spread beyond your borders could (should) influence which direction you expand to, as viable towns can only be build on restored land. I wouldn't want the whole map to be quickly restored by a single casting, so perhaps distance to the 'epicentre' of the spell should have some influence on the speed of expansion. It would also be great if terrain features had some influence on its expansion; restored land should spread fast along rivers, normal speed over grasslands and plains, slower over hills and through forests, and glacially slow over mountains, desserts and seas. This would drive the expansion of your faction, and if you want to expand somewhere that hasn't been restored yet you might have to wait a long while, or maybe cast restore land again in that area.

This would geography matter more, which is a nice tie-in to cephalo's point; although the resource producing plots prevent civ4-like city spamming that makes use of every tile, Elemental has gone to much in the other direction by having only a handful of valuable tiles, and the other tiles completely useless. I don't have an idea how to fix this without promoting city spam, but it is worth looking into.

on Oct 25, 2010

I am pretty new to the game but here are the things i like the most (in no particular order)

 

1:- The graphic style overall.. It is unique to this genre (AFAIK), and it makes Elemental instantly recognizable. It some how seems to fit better with a fantasy style game than photo realistic terrain.

 

2:- The renewing of the map within the Sphere of influence. I think this is universally seen as a good thing. It makes expanding seem all the more worth while.

 

3:- Unit Design. Yes it may actually be more style than substance, but it is still much more fun having your own army, rather than a generic one designed for you.

 

4:- The open nature of the game. I love the fact that you can play each game in a completely different way, one game go all out conquest,. another game go all out adventure etc.

 

5:- The way the world feels alive. Yes it is barren, and i do sometimes wonder what the un-recruited heroes are doing when they are wandering around, but i like the variety of monsters to be found. I like the way the brigands and thieves insult you as they charge in to your undefended city (yes i really need to learn this isn't Civ 5, and actually start worrying about unguarded cities)

 

There are many more things i like. In fact i love just about every idea in the game, just some of it needs better implementing. Dynasties for example would be even better if they meant more (i.e sovereign dying is replaced by the next in line, no next in line? then it is game over). Cities sprawling is great, but would again be better if it influenced more. In all honesty i feel this has the potential to go down as one of the benchmark games when it is finally adjusted.

on Oct 25, 2010

I like the basic feature list, although the implementation needs work.  To be more specific, I like:

Sovereign design

Dynasties

Differentiated spellbooks allowing for different approaches to the game

Incentives for fewer, larger cities

Quests

Alternative approaches to victory - magic, tech, diplomacy (diplomatic capital was a stroke of genius), etc.

Tactical combat

City design / growth

Goodie huts

Again, I have quibbles with the implementation on each of these features, but I would be disappointed if the features themselves vanished.

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