I was going to post this as a reply to Frogboy’s “the Elemental all-purpose mega thread”, https://forums.elementalgame.com/396905, but saw that these comments go beyond being only a reply to that post, so here we go.
I will try to make this as constructive as possible, but please bear with me if/when I start to rant.
I am slowly but steadily losing faith in Stardock’s ability to deliver on even the basic promises and potential of Elemental, but hope I will be proven wrong.
To be fair I want to first say that there are indeed great things in the game already. I like the graphics, the art style, the 3D engine, to start. I love the “card” showing your sovereign, the customization of looks ... And on paper all the basics are there: magic, technology research, city building, dynasties, adventuring, tactical combat. But it seems, incredulously enough, like every part has failed to live up to its potential, and on top of all they don’t necessarily even go together. (In addition, there is still much too little content and so unbalanced you don’t want to play.)
We are now quickly approaching one month after release and to my own surprise and horror I realize that I have no appetite for playing Elemental, in the stage it is in. In fact, there are so many far-reaching changes needed to almost every area of the game that you just wonder how the game could ever have been conceived (not to speak of released) like this. (And yes it runs smoothly on my PC, I’m talking game and content.) My thoughts are turning to: it makes no sense. Something must be wrong in the process? Or in the choices Stardock makes on each individual point?
Even Frogboy’s all-purpose thread is symptomatic. What we need after the initial shock and explosion of acrimony and disappointment on the forum is some guidance, order and structure – and a quick number of shots of calming info. I don’t think a “stream of consciousness” from Frogboy was the best idea to get Stardock’s act together. Yes, I know this is presented as a start, but the fact is that the game development and the forum activity are far from in an early phase, and I think it should be taken better into account, as pointed out below. What we would need now already is more like a well-planned series of meticulously written Frogboy posts trying to take control of the sadly more and more chaotic and aggressive forum - and I can’t blame anyone for having hard feelings or starting a rant after all we’ve gone through. And then a series of development posts dissecting what Stardock plans to do, for our comments.
At the moment, the whole approach just seems completely uncontrolled, or else badly managed. Consider this: for years, hundreds of people have made great posts and very useful comments on what they want the game to be like, on this forum. Sadly, Frogboy earlier hinted that he did not have the time to read these posts during early development, during beta and before release (!), but will now try to catch up after release. But except stating that there will be the two expansions, everything is open. What is expected from us now? What is really the point of an “all purpose” discussion? It will be a no-purpose discussion, where people throw out various things and parts of the thread gets hijacked by something that sticks out. All the input already given on every single part of the game, from dynasties to combat to magic to espionage (that we never even saw) is still there, for Stardock to consult, consider and send back in a new form for new consultation by the player base. Are we now going to redo the whole thing again, re-posting the ideas and arguments that were already held in the beta and way before that …! It just starts feeling like we have all been badly wasting our time. And if Stardock did not “have the time” (deign?) to read what was written during the beta phase, how can we expect anything will be different now? Because in fact we still haven’t got any explanations to why the game was done as we see it, contrary to all those great ideas launched by the player base (from global magic to tactical combat to factions, races, etc). Maybe it was not lack of time, maybe some people actually prefer those few fizzling spells to those of MoM and AoW. What do I know when they don’t tell us, and the fanboys keep chirping even when Frogboy regrets the “disastrous” launch.
Since everything is completely open I will just put down four points I hope we’ll get to know more about, and soon, to decide if I even will continue placing any interest in Elemental or just wait for several months to see if Stardock will manage to drag the game out of today’s muckzone of lacking content and bad balance combined with nonexistent AI. (Yes, that is status of v.1.08.)
- When will we get even close to a War of Magic (like written on the box, that I still have not received BTW)? - meaning about 3-10 times as much and as varied magic content, with global spells and hopefully with multi-turn rituals (and all of it balanced).
- Is Stardock going to continue with its “human only” approach to Elemental throughout the expansions? (Yes, why does it seem like only a small modding community is addressing what probably a majority of the player base is interested in?) When I look at the current faction creator I just feel I don’t want to play this version of the game. Maybe not the intent.
- Will Stardock continue with its so-called (and IMPOV anyway de facto not applied) “you are the sovereign” policy, although thread after thread have pointed out that the dynasty system does not live up to its potential as is, that it is counter-intuitive to read that your kid is in line for the throne while there can never be any sovereign succession (as an option), that kingdoms are disappearing and that you gain XP by killing off stupid AI sovereigns whose children never take over.
- Why was no option on espionage included, and does it mean it won’t go into a future expansion (with active actions from spies, not just paying gildar for some passive info)?
It is becoming clear that it will take much more time than I had hoped to get things even on a firm track in the right direction. Almost a month after release I have NO CLUE if Elemental will be the biggest letdown of my gaming life or one of the best strategy games ever. But there was one important piece of news the other day. We were told, almost hidden away in a snapshot reply in another thread than the main discussion, that Stardock has given up on making the game more “epic”. So it won’t live up to the famous dragon versus army pic used to sell it. Won’t live up to Silmarillion, which we were told was the inspiration. Sovereigns won’t be like Sauron in the LOTR film, like we were told countless times. Another area where, incredulously enough, it all seems to just fizzle out. If the answer and end result will be similar on the points above, darkness is really falling over this game. More like: it is falling into oblivion.