Elemental Beta 2: Player Input #1

Published on Saturday, June 12, 2010 By Brad Wardell In Elemental Dev Journals


We’re glad to see the beta has gone out relatively painlessly. For those of you who have been with us since back in the GalCiv I betas, I think you will agree this one went off a lot smoother.  After a decade or so, you eventually start to get the hang of this.

That isn’t to say we are free of hicups. There’s people with video issues. There’s people who can’t even get the game to run. That will be our big priority next week.

Vorlons: Who are you? Shadows: What do you want?

Our favorite part of the development cycle began with Beta 2. This is where ridiculously rapid changes to the game start to occur.

Given the notoriously massive suckitude of Stardock betas, we now have the collective opportunity to roll up our sleeves and decrease the crappiness of the game from nightmarish to merely painful.

So let’s walk through the areas (in no particular order) in which you can flex your power:

#1 City Improvements

These are trivial for us to add. And we’ve only started touching the capabilities here.

  • We can have improvements that require adjacency. That is, we can have a farm and require a second improvement be adjacent to a farm tile.
  • We can have improvements in which you can build as many as you want per city, only 1 per faction, or one per city level.
  • Improvements can use either 1 tile or 4 tiles.
  • City tiles that meet a criteria can be merged. So if you built N of the same type of improvement in 4 tiles, we can visually merge them together. You won’t get to see it during the beta phase but you can make requests on this still.


  1. Maybe there should be an improvement that you can put next to a farm (or garden) that magnifies the output of the farm. You should be able to put as many as you want so long as they are adjacent to the farm tile.
  2. Same for Metal resources.
  3. Same for Crystal Resources.
  4. Same for Shard resources.

#2 Research

The research screen is still pretty rough. The tech tree button is disabled and there’s too little information on it.

Feel free to discuss different ideas on what information you’d like to see. How you would like to see it presented.  Bear in mind, we are not going to toss out the general research concept (the one in there came from the 9 month beta 1 cycle and we like it as a game mechanic).

#3 HUD options

Beta 3 will have a Head’s up Display toggle that will allow you to get information about your cities.

#4 NON-HUD Information

That said, we don’t users to have to use a HUD to get basic info at a glance.  Thus, feedback and suggestions of looking at a unit, city, etc. and telling if they are defended, how strong they are, the general output, etc. We have our own thoughts on this but we’d love to hear yours.

We do NOT, however, want to have units running around with flags or other things of the sort.  We want subtle (non-HUD) and hard core (HUD).

#5 Visual Distinctions between Factions.

The Beta 2 series will begin to show how factions are different from one another much better. However, we’d love to hear your thoughts on making different factions more distinct and interesting. Bear in mind, from a RAM point of view, it’s not practical for every faction to have a completely different building design setup (when we’re all 64-bit then we can talk about that).

#6 Other types of World Resources

The Beta 2 series will start to add horses as a global resource that is used to create mounted warriors. But we’d like to hear your thoughts on other resources that one might control – rarer ones.

We have plenty of ideas of things about a given kingdom that might be affected by this or that but we don’t want to bias the direction of suggestions. I will say, however, we want to stay away from the GalCiv “Approval/Happiness” concept.

The XML allows us to create any type of resource, define a graphic, a 3D tile, and what stats it changes and how much. The random generator will make use of it automatically (and this same thing will happen through modding no doubt). So it’s not a big deal to add more resources as long as they’re fun and not simply there for the sake of “complexity”.

Ideally, we can define resources that are all very rare and thus would only occasionally show up in a game (but yet every game would have a couple of these different rare resources).

What’s coming up next…

The Beta 2 series will start to re-enable the other technology trees. Right now, building up your kingdom has limited choices because you’re effectively a mundane. The Magic tech path takes the view that rather than building up your cities with improvements you can also do things to enchant them to do better. It’s just an alternative direction (or you can mix and match).

Next build will be next week.



One thing I've been reading on the forums has to do with weapons and defenses available. Right now, a lot of them aren't in (for instance, you only get daggers on melee weapons) because we still have to update the UI to handle the different types of damage and defense types.

For instance:

Code: c++
  1. //################# Damage and Defense Types #######################//
  2. #define UNITSTATTYPE_NAME_PIERCINGDAMAGE _T("UnitStat_PierceDamage")
  3. #define UNITSTATTYPE_NAME_CUTTINGDAMAGE _T("UnitStat_PierceDamage")
  4. #define UNITSTATTYPE_NAME_BLUNTDAMAGE _T("UnitStat_BluntDamage")
  5. #define UNITSTATTYPE_NAME_FIREDAMAGE _T("UnitStat_FireDamage")
  6. #define UNITSTATTYPE_NAME_ARCANEDAMAGE _T("UnitStat_ArcaneDamage")
  7. #define UNITSTATTYPE_NAME_ICEDAMAGE _T("UnitStat_IceDamage")
  8. #define UNITSTATTYPE_NAME_ELECTRICALDAMAGE _T("UnitStat_ElectricalDamage")
  9. #define UNITSTATTYPE_NAME_CRUSHINGDAMAGE _T("UnitStat_CrushingDamage")

So a club does blunt damage, a dagger does piercing damage, etc.  But we need to display this in a way that easy to understand for the user so that when they go into battle, these modifiers can be understood.



Great stuff in the comments area! Keep it up! Now you're getting into the spirit of the beta. We'll look at all of this and see which things make sense to put in, which things make sense to put in after release and which things make sense to put in some future update.