Elemental & Multiplayer - an essay

Published on Thursday, August 19, 2010 By Brad Wardell In WOM Multiplayer

I speak to you now as a gamer. A person giving his own personal opinion of Elemental's multiplayer experience.

I don't find Elemental's multiplayer in 1.0 to be fun in general. Elemental was designed as a single player game that happens to have MP. And this has come through in the final version. 

There is one exception: Playing 2 people as part of a team vs. AI players is fairly fun. But playing against random players is just an exercise in frustration. This is a game that requires a significant amount of time investment and too many random games will end in dissatisfaction in my opinion.

I do think the game has potential with a group of friends playing together. But I don't think it's there  yet. I think it'll take more time and more thought to do this.  

Here is what Stardock will need to do, and plans to do, in order to make MP more enjoyable:

#1 Local Servers.

On day 0, all MP games will get their data from dedicated servers that Stardock has put in place around the world. We are doing this to eliminate connectivity issues. Connectivity marred the launch of Demigod and it is my opinion that if we had had dedicated servers in the first place, Demigod would have had a much better experience. (as opposed to having a particular individual host a game).

However, in the mid-term to long-term, Stardock WILL be providing custom servers so that people can mod up their own games and put them on their own networks to host games.  The priority this is given will depend on the demand of course but regardless, it is something I will be insisting be done because I really think that the best long term success path for Elemental is in letting users take Elemental and do cool and interesting things to it.

#2 More Multiplayer Game Options.

I would like to see the tactical battles take on a life of their own.  The day 0 multiplayer does not have tactical battles in them. We took them out. Yes, in an ideal world we could have made this an option, but anyone who has been on a forum for any amount of time knows that you'd still have people flaming us who found tactical battles boring because while the other guy was fighting some drawn out battle, they were stuck watching it.

I don't have any ready ideas on how to make this better except to say that I would like to see tactical battles made into a seperate game mode where players pick their units before the game and then go up against other players with those units.

This is an idea we'll have to think about more and see when or if it can be implemented at a reasonable cost.

#3 LOTS more game play styles

I don't really have any good ideas on this as I don't generally play TBS games in multiplayer (even with friends). We play a lot of Settlers of Katan here and Twilight Imperium as board games but I think we will have to look at more game modes (and these can be made available in SP as well) to help make MP more fun.

My advice would be this: If you are buying Elemental primarily for MP, don't. It has it. It works. But IMO, it's not worth $50 to play the game MP primarily.  If you like MP in ADDITION to having a fantastic single player game (and make no mistake, Elemental, as a single player game, is awesome in its release form) then absolutely, get it.

So there's my 2 cents.