Dangerous amounts of fun

Published on Saturday, July 10, 2010 By Brad Wardell In Elemental Dev Journals


Oh how I love this part of the beta.

First off, you guys are doing a wonderful job getting us great feedback. There have been several crashes that even our internal QA team hadn’t found yet. The net effect of the public beta team is that it effectively adds engineering hours available to us because we’re able to find and eliminate bugs quicker than we had originally projected.

Jesse and I were debugging through the ridiculously slow movement issue when you have an army. A N^2 number of calls were being made to update the army list creation which of course is just crazy.

A rather nasty crash that was occurring very regularly was found and eliminated today as well and a hard to find but nasty memory leak was found.

Balance, Polish, Game Play

We’ve gotten so much good feedback in the past week you guys that by the time the game comes out, it’ll seem like a very different (and much better) game than it would have otherwise been.

Let me outline some of the crucial things you guys have helped us consider and re-evaluate:

  1. Pacing Pacing Pacing.  This is always a tough thing but it just takes too long to do cool stuff.  We’re going to eliminate the requirement to build a special building in order to train units.  This was a holdover from Galactic Civilizations (it required a shipyard) and Sins of a Solar Empire (shipyard) that really has no purpose in Elemental other than act as a needless speed bump.
  2. Acquiring resources. Similarly, forcing a player to snake out to build a resource (OR be forced to spam cities) in order to make use of various resources IS NOT FUN. Instead, players will be able to simply select a resource and choose build if the resource is in their territory.  This not only “gets things moving” but also makes your area of influence matter more (since bigger cities generate a LOT more of it). 
  3. Custom Factions.  This is something that I think people will like a lot more in practice than they will like on paper.  Simply put, we want to let people do a lot more customization on RACE creation and faction creation than can realistically be done in the setup of a game. We’d like to see race creation and subsequently, faction creation to be something much more involved and interesting than it currently is.  As a result, we’re moving it to the Workshop area (modding aera).  Thus, you won’t have to create factions in the middle of setting up your game but rather can create them at your own pace outside the game and then use them as you see fit.  This also allows us to make the race creation a lot more custom and less cosmetic (i.e. we can have Elves and Orcs and other templates in the modding that players can then create their own custom technology trees for and their own custom tiles for, etc.).
  4. MAGIC. A lot of our time is being focused on streamling the magic system and making things more fun and interesting here.  Basically we want to make sure players can do a lot of magic stuff early on that’s fun and interesting. 
  5. Tactical Battles. You guys haven’t gotten to see this part yet but you will this week.  Let me set expectations here: Our tactical battles are very much like Master of Magic except that units have morale and there are terrain bonuses. So if you don’t like Master of Magic, you probably won’t like Elemental’s tactical battles (then again, if you don’t like MoM you probably won’t like Elemental in general).
  6. UI UI UI. Too many clicks. As outdated concepts start to go away, we can massively clean up the UI and start making better use of the empire tree and other systems in place to let the game be the focus.

Anyway, I hope some of you are enjoying the beta process as much as we like having you part of it.  If you’ve never been part of a real beta program before, this has probably been quite a trip so far.  You guys are truly part of our team.

Have a good weekend!