I started playing the beta just before the release, and v.1. Then, I put the game down for a while, and have recently picked it back up with the beta builds leading up to 1.1.
There are a lot of improvements, and I like the improvements – they do make it better. But the feeling I get now is how I felt after playing through version 1.0 the first two times – there’s nothing to look forward to, to entice "just one more turn."
In MoM, there were cool spells (I know, the spell book is being revamped). But there were also cool creatures – Sky Drakes, Archangels, Giant Spiders with their damn webs. I always looked forward to getting those beefy high end creatures – paladins, warlocks and the like. In HoMM there were Titans and Black Dragons. In MOO2 I got to build death stars. In Elemental, I get to look forward to Lord Hammers and Full Plate Armor – it’s less than thrilling.
In Civ4 with every tech advance I get to hear Leonard Nimoy recite a succinct yet profound bit of wisdom – and it’s thrilling even after hoards of games of Civ. In Alpha Centauri I always found the tech advance descriptions/movies interesting (even after playing it dozens of times over). In GalCiv there was always some goofy or nerdy reference in there (though I probably only read the techs every 5 or 10 games). Elemental doesn’t have much life in its tech advances – I find myself just crunching numbers to determine what boosts I need most right now.
In MOO2 I always loved getting those high level governors, and sending large fleets to destroy those massively powerful guardians (essential boss fights), and then colonizing and pumping up those beautiful planets they guarded. In MoM there were those nodes guarded by 8 Sky Drakes or Great Worms that were savagely difficult to win and had massively powerful goodies. In Civ4 I had my towns that slowly grew up over dozens of turns, that couldn’t simply be replaced if pillaged.
The battle animations are great. The detail of the town when zoomed in is great. The way borders expand, and how caravans build roads and travel back and forth, and how monsters and heroes band together over time – all great. But those are all aspects to be taken for granted. They’re the background of the game, and they make it gorgeous – they’re just nothing to look forward to. There’s no motive for “just one more turn.” There’s nothing to look forward to*.
*(Except, maybe, dragons – but they’re such a pain on the battlefield they’re more frustrating than fun).
*Edit – A short summary of this thread. I have by no means included all of the ideas, thoughts and opinions put forth in the 55 posts below (as of the time of this edit).
First – Much of this thread is a reply to Frogboy's comments in post 4 (it's short - scroll down a bit and read it).
I may be interpreting his comments wrong, but what his proposal seems to me is parallel to what Blizzard did with Starcraft. In TBS, 4X, we're all playing the same game - we research the same techs, build the same buildings and units, pursue the same resources. What changes from game to game is our strategy. What I read in the idea of streamlining to three tech trees is the creation of three wholly separate, but (eventually) balanced games (Compare Magic, Civilization and Adventure to Zerg, Protoss and Terran). Someone focused on rebuilding a shattered world through cities, kingdoms and empires would entirely different needs from someone seeking to rediscover lost magic, or treasure hunters looking to uncover pre-Cataclysmic ruins. In theory, it's an idea that would change 4X gaming entirely, similar to what Starcraft did with RTS. It's a fascinating idea. Or I'm just reading too much into it.
In post 19, Nonjin has offered a thoughtful commentary on how he feels about the state of the game.
In post 28, Tanafres puts forth an idea that I find very interesting. Summarized:
In post 31, Vinadil offers in the third paragraph a different perspective on why 4X games appeal to him/her.
In post 33, WhiteElk, a long time 4X player, offers a detailed explanation of why version 1.09e had greater “just one more turn” appeal, along with his/her thoughts on what makes 4X a great genre. The post is long, but is well formatted for skimming/scanning.
In the 40s posts – A discussion arises regarding monster lairs. This idea has been around since pre-release, and (I think) is still a pretty cool idea.
In post 53, quoting Sir_Linque “Yes there are special units you can research up to, but the total customization of human troops feels too much like a game of Excel.”
To reiterate, the above is NOT a comprehensive summary of this thread. It is just a quick synopsis of what caught my attention. *
*Edit 2 - 69 replies.
In the 60s, Several comments on lending a more RPG-esque nature to heroes, where the Adventuring tree would unlock more "Different weapons, armors and kits" for different types of classes (Rogues, Wizards, Clerics, Sword Saints etc...), and also abilities. It seems an interesting concept as it could effectively segregate the RPG elements, allowing the player to spice his 4X experience however he/she might choose (Perhaps taking a healthy dose of warmongering with a side of RPG, or vice versa).
Post 69, TarlSS asks for "an end to building spam," proposing instead that each building should have multiple levels. I say keep both the building spam as an option, but also allow for leveling up buildings. Some kings are messy, sprawling their nations across the wasteland; others are meticulous magekings building tidy enclaves.
[Digression - Having just played a game of Civ5 (new patch, large map), I was thrilled to win a game having only built three cities. My capital was able to produce higher research, culture and production than any other civilization.] *
I remember a big red dragon on a leash that wouldn't move too far from its city... what was that game again Derek?
I must admit that I am searching for something on the tech front. I didn't really like Gal Civ's tech tree - too much branching - not enough time to do anything - forcing into tech trading, but we need something a bit different to CIV 3 as well - there I liked the interconnectedness, and you could specailise in one path or another, but they came back together eventually. We also had the MOO tech with one option from 3 selected at random.
I do like the random tech idea in elemental (certain techs not always available) I am less keen on picking the precise tech after doing the research but that may be a necessary compromise for the random techs. I would like there to be more crossover between the techs (i.e. you need basic fire magic (magic tree) and sword making (warefare) before you can research Flame sword making (possibly either tree?). Perhaps techs could give a bonus to the chance of certain techs appearing - potentially leading to the potential for leapfrogging. (e.g. tech 2 has a 30% chance of appearing, but that increases to 100% if you have tech 1 - you might get lucky and get tech 2, if not you may pick tech 1 and get tech 2 next time)
What would be really cool is if you could skip sections of the tech tree by using others. e.g. you learn how to build wooden walls early. Some factions may choose to go down a magic route and build enchanted wooden walls, then enchanted wooden walls with crystal balls. Others will build stone walls, seige engines and look out turrets. Same basic function, different details, and vastly different flavour. Again this might be achieved with the random element, if you have lost of the related technology the chance of a similar tech appearing is better, it may even discourage "opposing" techs. (e.g. working with Iron technologies makes faerie magic less likely and vice versa).
By combining all of these the class of tech research could just change the probabilities of the techs available from one underlying tech tree (e.g. warefare means it is more likely to produce techs directly related to warefare, but may also provide associated techs (blacksmiths, armourers, fireswords)
To me the big thing hurting the 'one more turn' feeling really is the part about how units work in the game the OP talked about. Yes there are special units you can research up to, but the total customization of human troops feels too much like a game of Excel. In GalCiv, being able to completely customize spaceships fitted the concept well, but in a fantasy game I would like it to be a bit more restrictive.
There's nothing preventing the game from being a mix of both customization and exciting base units. Why couldn't there be buildings that allow you to train Paladins, or Priests, or Crusaders? Build a Cathedral and you can train priests, which have certain special abilities that no other base unit has. Priests could have a magic attack, bonus against demons or some such. Crusaders just really strong stats. Mix this with being able to tune the units with equipment you have researched to get in the customization part, too. With the right tech, you get metal armor access to all units and so forth. But the armor / weapon improvements should be a minor thing compared to the base units.
I want to look at my city and see the monumental cathedral that proclaims that this city is something demons should be afraid of. Meanwhile the big jousting arena in the other city lets everyone know that you can train mighty crusaders there. I want to feel the accomplishments of finishing such a building and finally being able to train those cool new units that I so far haven't been able to.
About the tech trees.
I would like a system more similar to Civ5 or Sins of the Solar empire (much bigger). A nice defined tech tree where what you research gives you specific bonuses or buildings. Also prerequisite techs just like in those two games so you cannot just rush ahead with one area.
At the moment there are techs which give you 2-3 things or those that give you nothing but are needed for the next one. Also unlike Civ5 and Sins there is no easy way to plan my research.
The way things are shown now is just bad. Next lvl of Magic or whatever just puts new options together with old ones and you have no clue what leads where. No, looking at a completely different screen for these things is not OK when the competition (and their previous game) do not ask you to do it as well.
More weapon specialization would be fun. Like specialize weapon research to weapon groups (after you make weapons different somehow), so you can go down blunt weapon research or bladed weapons or projectile weapons. Also in addition to weapons make it possible to research advanced training techniques for different weapon groups which would unlock either special attacks for troops carrying those weapons or give them bonuses (to accuracy or initiative once real initiative system is done for example)
Also, I have to agree that magic tech needs to be taken away from tech research and be put together with spells research. Removing bland and stupid spells like +1 prestige or +1 food will give more then enough room for these things.
As for looking forward to new stuff, we need new units as well as new equipment. We need to be able to train monsters as well, orcs, ogres, spider riders, minotaurs and then equip them as well. Equipment for them could be limited, like minotaurs cannot wear body armor, but only helmets and arm and leg paddings or you need to research special equipment for them.
I kind of like most of the techs as they are, civ war and magic seems to all have a purpose. Adventure is a bit uninteresting though because of the lack of interesting quests.
Diplomacy however is a bit silly. I have to research the ability to trade and make caravans? I have to research treaties? There's no reason that stuff can't be available from the start. It's like having to research how to eat and sleep...
Having to research everything does sorta make sense, but honestly, i wouldn't even put magic tree in the list of useful things. I get alchemy and just burn all my mana to gold, so i can mass huge armys and just conquer everything using auto-resolve. You really only need enough into civ to get your citys set up, then pour everything into military. All other trees besides military are just bells and whistles added on if you have spare time or are just screwing around.
Sir Linque, I had a similar idea a while back, but I don't think I posted it anywhere. The idea was that there would be different base units you could use for troop design. A few examples:
Peasant: Basicly what we have now. Not much special about these troops, they can use most normal weapons, armors, and equipment. Maybe they would have some difficulty using heavy weapons and armors. Their strength would be that they can be trained cheaply and quickly, so they would be used for your rank and file troops.
Heavy infantry: Stronger than your normal units, could have some bonuses using heavy armors (or not have the negative effects other units have, like reduction in combat speed). They would be more expensive, and be used as shock troops, the core of your army.
Horsemen: Bonus for riding a mount. Would be used for horse archers and light cavalry.
Knights: Combination of heavy infantry and horsemen, but way more expensive.
Rangers: More versatile than your normal troops, capable of handling more than one weapon (not necessarily at the same time, could change between bows and swords for instance).
Just a few examples, I'm sure you could come up with more, like classes with special (magical) abilities.
It's not ideal, and most of the same effects could be created with special 'equipment' packs. But it could add some diversity, also between factions (by giving different factions different classes, or different strengths and weaknesses).
Satrhan, yes you can have the same effect with equipment, but it just doesn't feel as cool as having different base units. There's no sense of achievement when you just keep upgrading your best unit design with whatever new equipment you just researched.
You could have all sorts of base units, with the important part that they should each feel a bit different to play with. They should look a bit different and they should have distinct stats that you can modify slightly with equipment. Here's some additional ideas for base units just for the sake of examples:
Dragon Disciple: Agile unit, low HP compared to cost, but gets considerable boost when fighting in a party with a dragon, and they boost any dragon fighting alongside them as well. Via certain special equipment you can give additional abilities to a cultist. For example if equipped with a dragonhide leash, can once per turn use 2MP to give one additional MP to an adjacent Dragon.
Cultist: High attack, low defense. Doesn't suffer any penalties when fighting alongside demons (if there are any penalties), and has an ability to transfer their own HP to heal target demon. Via certain special equipment you can give additional abilities to a cultist. For example if equipped with a sacrificial dagger, killing an enemy unit will boost or heal the closest allied demon.
Also, why not have some special units, just like special buildings:
Forge Lord: Expensive unit, can train only one per kingdom. Very high HP, high DEF, low ATK, has some boosting abilities for golems and other constructs.
If this game were as addicting as replying on the forums... just one more post before finals...
Frogboy, This would really consolidate the game. It feels to "impersonal" to have to research a tech to be allowed to adventure into a different dungeon. I really like the idea the OP had where you "level up" the adventuring tech by simply doing. It would certainly make the game more fluid as a whole.
Hehe, i thought the same. The Elemental community and the customer support are great and i hope the game will be great at some point, too.
Well I totally disagree with this because Alpha Centauri proved what a great idea being able to custom build ALL your units WITHOUT RESTRICTIONS is. I had more fun CREATING different types of units than I ever had in any other game. Doesn't feel like Excel to me at all either. I could spend a lot of time sometimes in the mid/late game creating unit types.
So definitely keep the FULL customization aspects and add more elements to it. More slots for more power tinkets the merrier.
I agree. I like full customizability as well and I dont feel it makes the game 'spreadsheet'-like, but at the same time I do agree that we can use some more interesting build options to be able to try out interesting combo's. Right now its just a matter of plopping different unit gear onto a basic build and see what you can afford right there and then vs maximum strenght. At least that's how I go at it.
It would be far more interesting to have magic/melee builds, stealth build, magic builds where armor gives a penalty, you know, the basic RPG stuff you find all the time when creating a character in, for example, a D&D adventure.Choices more in that direction would be stellar (of course not the whole personality traits stuff, cause that's far beyond the scope of a tactical game I think, but hopefully you understand what I mean).
Still, IF we get all those neat features I am all for choices! Meaning that there could be an option to toggle custom unit builds, besides, the game already offers you new builds based on new tech already with a popup, so you dont HAVE to build new units?
We just need more choices in equipment so we can make our units feel different and specialized. So robes and staffs that increase intelligence and magic res. Armor that increase aim and agility for ranged units, equipment and bits and bobs that add special abilities. Currently as has already been stated it just feels that every unit is some slight variation on dude with armor and a weapon. The unit creation is great don't get me wrong and is already alot better than alot of other games, but like so many other parts of this game it is begging for more content and a few added features.
I was just wondering how much Elemental resembles an MMO. The manual that came with the game initially is useless already and there is room for so much additional content!
I think that is a great idea and D&D is a very good example of many different build options. Different weapons, armors and kits should unlock special abilities and even D&D multiclassing would be possible if the kits could be combined.
I am glad you understand what I meant. Indeed that's it and you summarised it in one sentence.
Seems to me that could make adventuring overpowered. By making it a researchable tech, it keeps things in check because you need to expend sometimes considerable resources to advance. And it does make sense because you can argue that an adventurer who hasn't done his research wouldn't recognize the entrance of an obscure dungeon, so there is some logic to unlocking new locations as you progress through the tree.
The basic things that cause RPG addiction are : Loot, Monsters and Skills.
Ideas for future moddables
-Item and Monster Generators, and Thing of the week or month
Pretty simple. People make monsters and items. Every week or month, voters or a Stardock employee incorporates one new Item or Monster a month. This can even be a spell, hut or quest.
What's the point of having mod tools if you can't extend the game for everyone?
Ideas for future
-Quests that grant you awesome loot or skills. The hero that completes the quests gains a special ability, item or trait increase. Currently the quest rewards are kind of lame. (Gold? Slightly more exp? BORING)
-Quests that are kind of mean: Maybe you unleash zombie apocalypse, or cause a volcano to explode in your neighbor's territory.
-Monster factions. Perfect for monster lairs. The cities could have fat loots, and the sovereign could be a dragon. The faction might guard an awesome resource node. Like 3 Arcane Libraries. Or 5 Fire shards. You could also negotiate with these factions. "Hey king dragon, here's 5000 gold, attack my enemy!"
-More awesome capstone techs. Diplomacy tree already has awesome capstone techs, Dragon and demon recruitment. Awesome. These capstones shouldn't just be "win the game". They should also be "Win awesomely"
The Civilization capstone might be something like: Magic Mill, convert resources into Mana. Stuff like that.
-Please, please put an end to building spam. THere's no reason not to just spam libraries. You can build 10 outposts spamming libraries like no tomorrow. That should be horribly inefficient. Instead, every city level should have awesome buildings. You might have a level 2 Library that grants +10 Tech, a level 3 library that grants +20, etc, etc.
I may be interpreting his comments wrong, but what his proposal seems to me is parallel to what Blizzard did with Starcraft. In TBS, 4X, we're all playing the same game - we research the same techs, build the same buildings and units, pursue the same resources. What changes from game to game is our strategy.
What I read in the idea of streamlining to three tech trees is the creation of three wholly separate, but (eventually) balanced games (Compare Magic, Civilization and Adventure to Zerg, Protoss and Terran). Someone focused on rebuilding a shattered world through cities, kingdoms and empires would entirely different needs from someone seeking to rediscover lost magic, or treasure hunters looking to uncover pre-Cataclysmic ruins. In theory, it's an idea that would change 4X gaming entirely, similar to what Starcraft did with RTS.
It's a fascinating idea. Or I'm just reading too much into it.
An excellent post. I think this is so true. Firstly, you aren't customizing your units in the same way as you customized your ships in GalCiv. Here the looks go along with the functionality, which I think is a shame. Players should have far more choice about how their units look, so they can make the units they want. If you want a unit with a lot of armour, but weak defence anyway you should be able to do that (like how you could make a huge fighter in GalCiv that would still be rubbish). As it is, if I want a unit with leather armour level defence, it has to wear leather armour. What if I want stereotypical barbarians, who are bare chested but still as tough as a unit with leather armour?
Second, it's a shame there aren't selectable 'base' units (as Satrhan mentions above). Like priests who get a bonus against demons, or crusaders who have more HP than normal units. These units would then be linked in to the appropriate buildings (the cathedral or jousting ring). You get the thrill of unlocking new units and building the mighty structures to train them, but you still create them yourself. Add in the complete freedom of appearance unrelated to stats, and you can create a huge range of units which will feel far more personal.
TL:DR - I don't agree with Sir_Linque that we should have less choice about the units we make, in fact we should have total freedom to make them look however we want. But I do agree with him that we should also have special units with special powers, sometimes linked to special buildings (or factions).
Well said sir.
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