From around the net I've gotten a lot of questions regarding Elemental. Here are some of the questions and answers that have come up:
I understand if some stuff is being kept internal, but here are the things Im wondering about:
1. Are there non-military victory conditions?
2. Does the game include a campaign? If so do you think the story of the campaign will attract gamers?
3. How are you addressing the steamroller issue of TBS games (ie: spending the first half of the game building a massive army and the last half rolling it over all opponents as a repeatable strategy to every game)?
1. Yes. Most of the victory conditions are non-military. Some of the previews may cover this so I won't say anything until after the previews hit.
2. Yes. I think the story is compelling but I'm highly biased.
3. The mechanics in Elemental are a bit different than the typical 4X game because even in terms of warfare, there are very different paths. For instance, Player A may have a huge army ready to steamroll but Player B may have an incredibly powerful sovereign who can wipe out vast armies and Player C may have built up an incredible well of mana that can be used to decimate vast swaths of the world and all three of these things could come together at once based on which path players take and of course all 3 could lose to Player D who wins through the quest victory condition if they're not careful.
Can we build walls? Us turtelers need to know.
Yes. One of the key game mechanics of Elemental is how cities are built. In Elemental, when a city grows, it gains a new tile which can be placed where the player wants it to go (as long as it's adjacent to an existing tile). So cities are a multi-tile affair in the game. Now, how you choose to build up your city heavily determines how defensible or productive, or rich it is. Cities are only conquered when the keep tile is taken which could be in the utter center of the city or could be at the end of a peninsula.
It will always be Not Master of Magic for me
I have some questions, if there is something that can be answered at this moment, thanks in advance.
How many single players modes it will have? You mention at the webpage a campaign telling the story of Elemental, but will you offer non story driven campaign too?
There will be single-player skirmishes ala GalCiv or Civ4.
What are the objectives for the creation part? how many aspects will be able to be manipulated? will it be part of the game or you have to work on that on a separated editor (one of the many things I loved from MoM was the ability to forge items that were mine, created by me as part of my campaign and war effort).
There will be pre-made maps and randomly generated maps in which players can insert a large number of variables in deciding what kind of world they want.
I guess it will have random maps, what is the target for sizes?
From tiny to ridiculously large. We are also making a 64-bit native edition to support even larger worlds.
What type of feedback are you looking for the beta process?
Everything. The beta process starts about 9 months before release so that beta testers can seriously mold the game.
On a personal note, for me the beta process is the whole point of making the game as that's what helped get me into game development in the first place.
I was one of those Usenet guys on comp.sys.ibm.pc.games.strategic hanging out talking about games and picked up Teach yourself C in 21 days to start writing (this is obviously a long time ago now). So hanging out with other gamers to tweak and add to the game is the best part.
Any extra payment for the MMO part? what is the general idea of this?
No. It's not really an MMO part as much as Impulse hosting the game on the cloud to make it much easier for people to interact with their "world" with their friends.
How will you organize the generated content and make it work as part of a balanced strategy experience? What limits can we expect from the creation side?
What users submit we moderate and categorize. Players can then choose what kinds of user created content they want to make use of.
The "Pollination" works like Spore?, where I start a single player campaign and I don't know exactly what I'm going to find?
It's somewhat different than Spore. The idea is that the worlds you get will slowly evolve based on what players make. New races, new types of buildings, new technologies, new spells, new units, etc. will alowly find their way into the game if users choose to the option to allow user submitted content.
The moderation will categorize it and rate it on quality and then users can choose what kinds of content (and of what quality threshold) they want. We do this to a large degree today with WindowBlinds and our other non-game stuff.
What about diplomacy? will you try to improve the achivements of GalCiv on that? Will you be able to be influential to other civilizations, develop trade routes or work in resources?
We plan to overhaul the diplomacy engine we had in GalCiv so that there's a lot more options in Elemental. The beta testers will have a lot of influence on this part.
What type of players are you looking the most for the beta process? 4x experienced players? people who played MoM and AoW:SW? What is the type of things you need more intensive testing?
People who would buy this type of game.
Brad - will there be any way to quick-resolve combat? Playing out tactical combat is fun when the sides are at all matched, but it's just a drag on my patience when you're going to steamroll the other side or whatever. And sometimes you just want to get combat over with because you're focusing on the bigger picture or a "technology win" or something.
Totally. There's instant-resolve (i.e. two armies meet, one dies), there's auto-resolve where the game zooms in and shows a tactical battle but it's all handled by the AI (ala GalCiv II fleet battles) and then there's full tactical battles where both sides play.
One thing I should mention about the tactical battles that isn't clear in the screenshots is that they're continuous turns. They're not like HOMM. The player tells where they want their units and uses the space bar to pause the action to give new directions. That way, we can get much more interesting battles.
What's your combat system going to be built around? Master of Magic-style tactical combat, or Civilization-style randomized abstraction? Or will both be options?
It's tactical but it can be made to play like Civ if you have instant-resolve enabled.
I will likely play with auto-resolve as I'm not a huge fan of playing out tactical battles but I enjoy seeing the carnage.
If anyone has ever seen Fellowship of the Ring where Sauron is whacking out tons of elves and men around, that's the look we're going for.
Though, in Elemental, the creatures are much more powerful than a lone Maiar up agonst a bunch of punks. Dragons in Elemental are incredibly powerful and each of the channelers are equivalent (by late game) to Valar. Enough Tolkien geedkom.
The few available screenshots look great. Hopefully we'll get a look at the spells soon.
The spells are going to be intentionally de-balancing in late game. I.e. by late game, you'll be able to do Populous level damage to the world. A lot of the reason we had to create a new engine was because we needed one where the world could be truly wrecked.
64-bit native edition?
Exactly how large a world are we talking here, Brad?
Yea, certainly most people will be playing it 32-bit but the 64-bit version lets us have much larger maps because we aren't fighting with the 2 gig limit of 32-bit.
We've had a number of years to think about the game mechanics and learn from GalCiv. What we want is a game where the "winner" isn't decided early on with the rest being just mopping up.
The key to that is to have distinct paths to victory that are truly unique (far more so than in GalCiv) that are action-driven (and by action I mean the player is doing "stuff" on the map and not just making treaties or whatever).
By doing that, you can then open the way to have extremely large maps in which players are viable for a long period of time with different paths to victory.