Game Mechanics: The Ultimate Balancing Act

Published on Wednesday, July 21, 2010 By Brad Wardell In Elemental Dev Journals


Loosely speaking, here are the 5 different technology paths and what you’re supposed to accomplish with them.  Our challenge is to make sure each of these 5 paths are meaningful on their own as well as can be mixed and match to create an endless combination of strategies.

During the betas, we have been turning on and off different trees in order to get a sense of how effective any given path is.

The purpose of this journal entry is to discuss with you guys things you think would be interesting in these 5 areas that have not been present in existing betas.  Some of these ideas will make it into the RTM version, others will make it into the release (day 0) version and some may make it into the future.

First, let’s recap the 4 victory conditions since ultimately all objectives lead to one of the 4 conditions:

  1. Conquest. You killed everyone.
  2. Spell of Making. You cast the spell to bring in a new Forge of the Overlord (you win).
  3. Quest of Mastery. You find and put back together the old Forge of the Overlord (you win).
  4. Diplomacy. You get everyone to ally with you.


The world has resources. And your territory expands as your influence grows to make use of these resources. This tree allows you to increase your utilization of these resources. The most important resource here is Gildar (gold).


There were a lot of resources before everything blew up. More than that, there was a lot of really powerful stuff out there that’s now gone. The purpose of adventure is to give players access to increasingly powerful items and resources that will aid them in their pursuit of one of the 4 objectives. Also leads to the Master Quest. What you are looking to do here is to build a band of powerful champions armed with magical items you have collected.


Other factions have resources and stuff you want. Take it from them by building armies of increasingly lethal weaponry and defenses of your design. The most important resource here is metal. You need it. Others may have it. Might makes right.


Besides giving players access to the Spell of Making eventually, the spells you learn can help you achieve any of the 4 objectives when used right. The key resources here are Arcane Knowledge (how fast you learn new spells) and Essence (the maximum amount of mana your casters can hold).


Sometimes you don’t have the stuff you want and you don’t want to have to conquer everyone. Diplomacy lets you do this.  Diplomatic Capital is the resource here. The more of you get get, the more people love you. Trade others to get more of it and they’ll like you even more or trade it away to get other resources or get others to attack each other so that they’re too busy to get after you.


So there you have the basic game mechanics of Elemental. And on the surface, it’s a pretty straight forward game.  Of course, actually accomplishing your goals in the game is another thing.  And over the course of the next several years, the depth beneath the surface here will increase.