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 3)
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on Oct 25, 2010

More indepth storyline! Both for campaign and sandbox!

on Oct 25, 2010

Interesting the common threads here, and I agree with a lot of them.

(edit: I have no idea why the links appear in the following paragraphs - I didn't intend it and can't seem to turn them off!)

The Dynasty system is a cool idea, but should matter more, particularly with small maps (and thus shorter games). Perhaps the speed at which children age should be related to the size of the map (or optionally so). I really like the idea bboybutzemann put forward of influencing the child as they grow in some way. bboybutzemann suggested buildings, but some way to enchant your growing child (or the city they grow up in) would be really cool. Perhaps even a spell that would allow them to reach maturity faster. Perhaps the offspring might also have some preference as to who they marry and if you force them to marry someone they don't like, it doesn't strengthen the bond between countries as much as otherwise.

I second the comments about the unit designer: it's a cool feature, but there needs to be more special abilities available to make units more unique. Linking some of these to rare resources or controlling shards would also force different strategies depending upon what's around you, which would be cool (I like the idea of not being able to count on my favored strategy always being the best one for the situation). For example, there could be a flaming sword only available if you control a fire shard and it does extra damage depending upon how many fire shards you control. I think most special abilities should not just be extra damage/defense, if possible. More ranged combat options would be good, too. Perhaps some relatively cheap one-shot thrown weapons, like a javelin or net or perhaps being able to teach a soldier one very specific spell.

I love the idea of being able to interact in more different ways with wandering monsters. For example, there could be magic to sneak by them or enrage them and send them at your enemies or control them and add them to your army or kill them and turn their hides into armor.

I agree with the majority of the posts so far on the (mostly) good and some deficient aspects of the art style/cloth map/tactical battles/city sprawl, but don't have much to add at this point on those topics.

on Oct 25, 2010

I like unit customization, but it's bare, severely.  Simple things like a feudal army are purely impossible to replicate.  I can't pick colors, I can't wear the bleeding clothing that has the colors on it anyway because armor 0 units suck monkey nuts and wouldn't serve any purpose.


We need a tactical combat system deep enough that crappy units can actually serve a purpose, so that armies can actually vary.

Faction colors should just be a default, if I want a hot pink and lime green regiment in my blue and gray army, why the hell not?

An option to hide armor models and replace them with clothing.  This isn't an RTS, I don't need to be able to instantly recognize my opponent by it's appearance.  Being able to replace my chain mail suit with that nice two tone surcoat would would go a long way.  If I had a few hundred armor models to choose from I'd be less picky, but the numbers are downright disappointing considering the depth the system would otherwise have.


I can make anything, but I typically just end up with armies that all look the same.


Ditto on the dynasty and terrain commentary.

on Oct 25, 2010

I like the way new things to fight and new quests appear as one researches adventuring. Although I didnt find it was very intuitive for the empires, as opposed to the kingdoms. Possibly the tech's needed better discriptions.


I also realy liked getting some new sort of monster with a different special ability that affected what you could do in tactical combat. Although this didnt happen that much.


on Oct 25, 2010

I like the rendered art style from the engine.

I like the cloth-map approach.

I like the potential of the game in so many diverse areas.

I like the accessibility of the devs on the forum.

on Oct 25, 2010

Things I like about the game, either wholly, or I like the direction and just want expansion on the idea.


I like how it interacts with Impulse.  I haven't seen that done better in any other game.


I like the building side of the game, though I think the 1.1 system will be a big improvement there.


I like how the RPG elements interact with the game, though I think improvements can be made there.  (Namely, not benefitting from others adventure research unless an improvement is built on it)


I like the cloth map.


I like the human-centric and mundane-centric nature of the game.  (I suspect others don't though).  I also like that this is an original fantasy world largely.


I like dressing up my units- though I want more interesting outfits.  (You guys should provide more ample fanservice- use Soul Calibur 4 as an inspiration)


Despite the intial problems, I like the way the engine is shaping up.  I can see it being a very good engine for future games.


Since you've largely done a fantastic job shoring up the technical side of the game, are in great shape for someone like a Kael to come along and design gameplay.  One thing I've always liked about Stardock is that I've always felt you were among the most competent programmers in gaming, which is why 1.00 Elemental was such a shock.    By 1.09 you shored most of it up, I don't think any other game company could fix things that rapidly.


on Oct 25, 2010

Im going with the customization theme love tweaking my heroes and units and the promise of a huge city and long lineage line of royalty . Oh and the promise of going toe to toe with a angry son or daughter thats wants my king's head

on Oct 25, 2010

I like building my sovereign, and also building the other heroes that I recruited.

It would be great if killing monsters would yield equipment that my heroes can use! You could even have unique items in that way, for which only one exists on the game, but which you can steal by killing the opponent heroes.

on Oct 25, 2010

The problem with the game is it's hard actually with saying 'but'.  However, I will try, these are things I like whilst leaving the buts out.  And there are some.


1) The Dynasty System.


2) The ability to run the game from the cloth map allowing me to play on my old laptop whilst I'm waiting on getting my new laptop.


3) Designing your own sovereign.


4) Designing your own faction.


5) Adventuring.


6) Constant monsters at the edge of your territory giving you a reason to maintain armies even during a quiet period and giving you 'stuff to do'.

"Prince Berwin, the Spiders are acting up in the mountains again..."  "Ready my horse..."


7) City development.





on Oct 25, 2010

underlying concepts such as dynasty, city building, etc are good.


the execution is less so - eg.. offspring on the whole is bugged. they need to be more randomised. just because a father is a weed doesn't mean the son can't be hercules!


ever tried the ghengis khan 4 game or royal blood 2 from koei?


the 1st is basically a strategy game just like romance of 3 kingdom/ambition of nobunaga. though one of the more interesting bit is culture/dynasty. well.. you get your wives genghis khan style and I think you can select the sort of culture the kid will be brought up in. (eg.. a mongol khan grabbed a european princess and the kid can be european or mongol in worldview).. been quite a few years since i touched it, but i think if the old ruler dies, you pick whoever succeeds him and the empire might fracture differently (just like in history).



the 2nd is a bit like elemental insofar as it's basically the same engine as genghis khan 4.. but it's fantasy based and there are dungeon explorations, etc.. again, can't remember details. don't think they came out in english though.



in both games, you improve the core city stat by building related buildings.. fields for plant related food, workshops for craft, etc. caravans trade will increase the city stats i think (eg.. high craft city trading with high shipbuilding city will gain shipbuilding stats or some such)


the idea of faction/race/allegiance is ok.. but implementation is incomplete as i've mentioned a few times already elsewhere.


lvling up is good. but need more options. might want to consider a class system for heroes. though not sure how that ties in with books, etc.


regarding the land aura. life/death is ok without adding more.. but it doesn't do anything, does it? you would think fighting on dead lands would benefit the empire factions, etc


you can say the trend applies to just about every big ideas of the game.

on Oct 25, 2010

here are some issues that get me the most and need some serious rethinking:

1) "awesome" talents that give you +1 gold per turn. imho talents should be really game deciding and a talent or skill tree for heroes and the sovereign would also be appreciated. just take a look at heroes III, IV or V or any RPG / ARGP for good talents/skills.


2) the races are not nearly distinct enough, the racial traits needs to be much more diverse and have a higher impact on the game. on that note i would like to see more then just the two techtrees for kingdoms and empires


3) magic and combat abilities, i think you already know that most spells are boring and unimaginative. you also told us during the development phase that items would grant you combat abilities: where are they? for example if you make a unit with a shield it should have a shieldwall ability


then there are some minor things like:

1) city walls have no gates, the roads just go straight through the walls

2) there are no real sieges in tactical combat like in AoW2:SM or other 4x fantasy games

4) the quest popups are too much distracting because they are right in your face.

5) monsters spawn from thin air instead of lairs that need to be cleared and grant an reward on doing so

6) no real random maps

7)  goody huts and quest locations that pop up when researching technologies. imho they should be placed from the start of the game, but then quest should be rarer, longer and have an much better reward. adventuring technologies just allow you to start those quests in the first place instead of creating the locations. you can also give quest lines multiple rewards as you progress in them so you might start a tier 1 quest that gives you an reward but continues through later tiers and on every stepping stone of the quest you get a reward.

8) more weapons, spells, armor and magical items especially for quest rewards


9) the combat system need an revamp, but you are already working on it (initiative based)


i could go on, but i think those were the most important points to me that need improvement.

on Oct 25, 2010

This is a tentative list; there's a lot of stuff I like about the game, but since I haven't played it for a few weeks now, I can't remember everything.And I know some of this will sound mean, but it's not meant to be. I wouldn't be here trying to help if I didn't care.

I like the resources in the game, and I think they work fine for the most part, but I think this can be improved on. I think it would be better if there's more resources, even if they're weaker, so the world map doesn't seem as barren (think Master of Magic style, where every tile gives a benefit). Maybe even have it so that when you "restore the land" (i.e. a city's influence zone) new resources are revealed instantly, without the need for a tech.


I like the graphics in the game, like the cloth map and the ability to zoom in and out. I would just say make this a bit smoother with improved performance and the ability to zoom in farther like it showed on some of the preview videos.


Sovereign customization is good, but it feels a bit shallow. Better  and more useful options would help make your sovereign stand out and be more powerful.


I have to admit, I didn't like the fact that the tech tree was split into so many options, but now I do understand and like it the way it is; it makes sense and is useful. I like that I can just focus on adventuring if I want more heroes or more resources.


Ways to improve it: a lot of the techs you can unlock are pretty worthless, to be honest, and don't unlock almost anything. I would see about consolidating some of the technologies so they are more worthwhile. And another thing I noticed about the resource techs (in adventuring) is that if you research them early, you will not be retroactive (i.e. there should be many new resources in a map area that hasn't been explored if I have researched the resource tech early in the game). I'm noticing that currently if I research it early, only the area that I have explored will get any benefit. Any area that is still hidden will be just as barren as before.

Improvement: I was under the impression that the RARE techs were not going to show up very often at all, and would be insanely powerful. It's true they don't show up all the time but I am seeing them often. But, to be honest, they're pretty worthless right now. As it stands, I would not choose many of the rare techs if they were available, and would change tech trees instead if I had no other option. Make many more rare techs, and have them be very powerful with a significant benefit. Make them more expensive if you must, but they should "turn the tide" in a game.


I like the goodie huts, I like the quests. They are a good starting point for this game, and I'm sure they will be improved on as more patches come out. Improvements: MORE QUESTS AND ITEMS. I can't stress this enough. One of the things I can't stand about a game is seeing the same thing again and again. So, when I'm playing elemental, it's always the same quest, and it's always the same items I get: escort this person, kill those rats, you found a midnight stone, or an item to give you 1 essence (c'mon!). Think AoW: Shadow Magic or MoM style. You won't see the same items unless you play a few games. You need many more quests available at low level and high level, and with more variation. You need TONS more magical items in the game. Right now, there's the basic items and a few magical ones, that's it. Again (and I hate to keep bringing up MoM, but they did a good job with this) in MoM they have tons of items, some very powerful, some incredibly weak (which is good). In Elemental, where you can put items into so many different slots, why not have tons of magical items to go with it? It should not be easy to get them, of course. You should have to do a big fight, or a hard quest to get a good reward, but they should be there and there should be a big selection (randomized) of what you will see in a particular game.


That's all for now.

on Oct 25, 2010

I would concur with those who said the art-style and the graphics are really good.

I also like the background music, and how it doesn't stick in your head and drive you insane like MoM. Daa daa da-da-da-daa da-da da-da-da-da-daaaaa.

Having said that, I don't think it precludes having something more epic, inspiring and memorable thrown into the mix.

on Oct 25, 2010

Just a quick answer:


I like dynasties.

Improvement : allow my sovereign to die and its children to take over


Possibly also children separating from my empire and becoming enemies, but don't sweat it if that's too much work.

I like designing units. More looks/type of mounts etc would be great.


I like how the tech tree, but I have some trouble to see what I get researching in one of the categories. I know it's random and it doesn't bother me. The issue is more that the technology names don't mean anything. Specially for the adventure tree, I fail totally to see how I gain adventurer's level.


That's it (obviously, balance has to be better ).

Thanks for asking btw


on Oct 25, 2010

I love the customizable unit aspect of the game, but I'd like to see it improved. I think sovereigns, champions and even later game units should have access to special abilities and traits (elemental attacks, rage, round attack, multi-shot, etc.) that can be gained either through experience or magical items.

I also would like to see the Dynasty and Diplomacy Systems improved to give the game more depth. 


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