My ignorance embarrasses me

Published on Saturday, May 15, 2010 By Brad Wardell In Elemental Dev Journals

If Stardock were a real company, a guy like me wouldn’t be allowed to put up dirty laundry like I’m about to put up.

For those of you who know me, I’m a bean counter.  It’s probably why I love strategy games so much because tactics are for amateurs, logistics is for experts.

So one of my ongoing angst with the Elemental budget overall is just how large a percentage of the budget thus far has gone into “modder tools”.

Don’t get me wrong, I love modding. But in my day, modding meant opening up LUA or Python scripts or creating your own “stuff” using tools like After Effects or Maya or 3D Studio. THAT is modding.

Now, I have seen and known about the Workshop tools in Elemental for a long time. I’ve discussed them. The Map Editor I understand. Being able to make maps is important for modding. The tile designer is important too for people who want to create their own custom environments.   However, the particle editor I didn’t “get” and I had, on more than one occasion, brought up the $$$ spent on building it.

Well, on Friday I finally got to see why it’s there and what it does.  The internal build on Friday added in the spell effects (i.e. when you revive land or cast fireballs or whatever).  I had assumed that each spell effect was being created in Maya and exported to be used.  I was shocked to learn that no, all of the spell effects were made with the built in effect editor. 

The spell that really shocked me was whirlwind.  In the game, we’re in a battle and there’s lots of units fighting it out when they show me the Sovereign casting whirlwind on a group of units. A tornado shows up and wreaks havoc.  My first inclination was “Great job! That looks great” and wondered what they used in Maya to do that.  That’s when I learned that no, none of the spell effects were made in Maya. They were all done with the built in effects editor – in less than 5 minutes. That’s why it cost so much to make. It allows for crazy amounts of spells to be made and visually implemented by us and modders alike.

What’s really sad, and this is the really embarassing part, when I’ve demoed Elemental to the media and showed them the workshop, I didn’t show the effects editor because I didn’t think it was a big deal.  Turns out, it’s a very big deal.

In another couple months, you guys will be able to play around with this too. I can only imagine the kinds of crazy stuff people will make and share with this.