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Elemental Patched, Savaged

This Elemental Forum Post announces the release of the promised Day 0 patch for Elemental: War of Magic, updating Stardock's just-released 4X turn-based PC game to version 1.05. There's also a post on PC Gamer that tears into it, saying while it is "one of the most exciting game ideas for a long time," it is "a mess," saying "it’s been shoved out months too soon." They report persistent bugs and crashes on two different computers, and don't mince words, saying: "The game you actually get in the box, or in the initial download if you bought it digitally before today, is riddled with bugs. You should not buy it." They also point to a thread on the Quarter to Three Forums where Stardock's Brad Wardell responds to a complaint saying: "Also, to anyone, like you Ben, saying the game is like an 'early beta' then well, please stay away from our games in the future. I consider it ready for release and if others disagree, don't buy our games." The PC Gamer article concludes with an update that followed the game being patched: "The problem where tactical battles just show a white screen and are unplayable is now back, even though the interim patch had fixed it. Before last night’s patch, the game was working other than the every half-hour crashes. It hasn’t crashed since the patch, but not being able to fight is worse. Others are already finding the same." The notes from the day 0 patch and word on what they are doing next follow.

* Gameplay / Balance *

  • Several new spells added
  • Boats will no longer disband due to dissertion
  • Absolute elimination of duplicate NPCs
  • Vigilant Demon now has mana
  • Combat Speed can only be increased 0.25 per level
  • Shop values for weapons lowered
  • Elementium description added
  • Outposts and such now provide +HP to units stationed
  • Fewer resources are spawned at the start of the game
  • Summoning spellbook no longer available at start
  • Tech trees can now reach level 5 notable locations and quest locations
  • Fixed issue that would prevent people from completing the Old Enchanter quest (a.k.a. the midnight stone quest); it wasn’t checking the items of the unit that reached the quest destination, rather those of the unit that started the quest, which could be a different unit.
  • Random quest locations should no longer spawn on hills.
  • Snathi now has a new, non-Drake leader

* AI *

  • AI manages ships better
  • AI Sovereign’s spouse will seek the safety of a friendly settlement rather than travel with their spouse
  • AI more effective in establishing strong armies prior to going on the offensive
  • AI better at determining whether it is in their best interests to declare war
  • AI will notify player of tiles they should be using and how to use them.
  • Janusk provides a lot more useful information
  • AI difficulty levels tweaked for more challenge at higher levels
  • AI tweaks to XML

* Battles *

  • Added "Auto-Move Camera in Tactical" which is OFF by default
  • Clarified some language for the hurl boulder spells (that it does non-defendable damage).
  • Auto resolve draws will now favor the defender.
  • Added message boxes to tactical battles when action points are too low to do some action.
  • Added the ability to bring message boxes up as forced popups (always on top).
  • Added checks in auto resolve to be sure a unit can counter attack and its target can be counter attacked.
  • Added more robust checks to see if tactical actions can be done.
  • The tactical action check will now return a string if the action cannot be done.
  • Casting a spell will now properly check action points for special abilities and ranged attacks.
  • Moved the logic to refresh troop numbers to happen when a unit's health changes.
  • Updating troop numbers should now be a bit more logical.
  • A unit's max health is now properly based on the maximum amount of troops they have (not their current troop number).
  • In tactical battles units that have no spell can no longer open the spellbook.
  • Fixed a few temporary cursors in tactical battles.
  • Added sound effects to all the spells that were using FlameBurst1 (which doesn't exist)
  • Added the IsSpecialAbility tag to SpellDefs. Enabling this makes the spell cost 1 ap instead of 2 ap to use
  • Updated all the core ability spell defs with the IsSpecialAbility tag.
  • Casting spells in tactical battles costs 2 action points now.
  • Using special abilities in tactical battles costs 1 action point now.
  • Shooting a ranged weapon in tactical battles cost 2 action points now.
  • The tooltip for a unit’s hit points in the tactical battle window will now show any bonuses applied to the health.

******
* UI *

  • added ESC key support for closing common popups.
  • new tutorial messages added to the campaign, explaining the basics, including: camera movement, unit selection and movement, founding a kingdom, tapping a resource, visiting an item shop, etc.
  • Added a bunch of new shortcut keys
  • Fixed unit shortcut keys while in a city (now clicking on a unit portrait in the city will do that unit action instead of overriding to the city keys)
  • Fixed cases that you could click a unit, then click a goodie hut (for example), and still use the previous units shortcut keys
  • Enabled shortcut keys for items that don't belong to the local player (details, propose, recruit, etc.)
  • Fixed the hiergamenon resource breakdown page to include houses under construction for food
  • Added code to reset minimap for new game
  • New game tray implemented (now has next unit and next city buttons)
  • Added shortcut keys for next unit and next city (shift+u and shift+c, respectively [shift+s already jumps to sovereign so consistent])
  • Tool tips cleaned up
  • hooked up new for when disband unit action is disabled
  • Faction Editor “Faction Creator” hooked up
  • Mod Library button added to workshop
  • clicking someone without a soundpack uses a UI sfx, not a grunt/yes/ etc (less annoying)
  • Champion Lorebook/Context area Tweaked, adding ‘Equip’ button that brings up EQUIPMENT, remove list of items
  • unit context: removed equip icon on medallion (redundant...button directly to the right had same functionality)
  • Map Notifications now display HUD icons on the map, event icons on the side, and when you click the event list icon it’ll take the player to the event they need to see

* Engine *

  • LOD levels on main map are now back to what they used to be for better performance
  • New shard effects, both dormant and tapped, that over 1/2 as intensive as their older versions (the joys of beam particles over billboard particles)

* Impulse Overlay *

  • Support for swedish, finnish, icelandic and spanish keyboards which have the @ symbol on an alt-gr modifier key. It is also now possible to enter some more unusual symbols too!
  • Wheel scrolling in friends list.

* Bug Fixes *

  • Fixed issue that was preventing quests from placing locations with their preferred type (CQuestDef wasn’t saving the preferred type, so when the data zip was loaded, it would be null).
  • Fixed some crashes on load from if a unit type was retired while a unit of that type was in a training queue, since the unit type would be removed from the global vector but some things would still be looking for it on load. Now the function to remove a retired unit type checks the training queues of all the cities, too, and when the AI retires a unit type, it removes it from its list of designs.
  • I think this also fixes some crashes on load from the testers downstairs, where I would see units looking for AI designed unit types that weren't in the unit type list anymore, as well as the loading in of the AI designed unit type vector, but I'm just making an educated guess based on the fact that the AI automatically retires unit types it designs itself. This does fix a reproducible crash related to training units at least, though.
  • Campaign: AI cities named correctly to match lore
  • Lost Library and Ancient Temple now using proper cloth icons for their built versions (lost library used to like ancient temple)
  • Fixed bug where using a soverign for a race not their own (ex. Relias with Capitar) then playing against the race you would have led (Altar, in this example) the random sovereign would retain your name (2 relias’ talking to each other)

Known Issues

  • We did find a crash bug where monsters attack the player, the player survives and a bad thumbnail causes the game to crash. We have fixed this internally. But it wasn’t in time for tonight’s build. It should be a rare scenario. Next update will add this fix in. [update, it has been decided to release that fix tonight rather than wait, you may [probably] won’t be affected by it so you won’t need to re-update unless you feel you need to].
  • We are going to add an event so that if the user clicks on a global resource it will remove the notice.
  • There are a number of AI improvements that were checked in for the next build. [Editor’s note: Brad always has AI improvements he wants in right now now now. ].
  • The Sand Golem token may need to be nerfed (quest item).

What’s next?

  • After the team gets a day of rest, we’ll be back to put the final touches on the MP servers. Those involved on it have used the extra time to get more multiplayer maps in, add better custom game support, etc. MP should be turned on early next week.
  • If you have an ATI card with Windows 7 64-bit, make sure you have updated to the latest drivers. We have verified with AMD that the pre-July cards had a memory issue.
  • As some of you know, starting in October I will be going on a sabbatical from my day job at Stardock (President & CEO) for a month or two so that I can spend my time making mods, getting better at Python (so that we can expose the AI APIs and Gameplay APIs to modders via Python) and focus on new AI ideas I’ve had while playing the game these past couple months (these updates to the game will be free of course).
  • The book, Elemental: Destiny’s Embers is available at most bookstores now. We are releasing a series of goodies for those people who buy the book.
  • The Stardock team will be releasing a free Quest Pack for Elemental in September. If you have any requests for quests, please feel free to share them on the forums.
  • In general, we welcome your ideas and suggestions. You bought the game, we consider release day the BEGINNING of our support, not the end. Please feel free to post any requests you’d like to see in future updates. We can’t promise we’ll be able to implement them but we’ll do our best to do what we can.

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38. Re: Elemental Patched, Savaged Aug 25, 2010, 22:44 Silicon Avatar
 
Indies do have it hard, but part of the reason people often go indie is so they have more control over their projects. If you have full control and people are calling you out for bugs, you don't have any excuses to make, DRM to blame, or publishers to point at. It's just you and a room of angry customers.

 
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37. Re: Elemental Patched, Savaged Aug 25, 2010, 21:50 D_K_night
 
w34sl3 wrote on Aug 25, 2010, 13:28:
Funny thing is, aside from a memory leak bug that required me to restart evey half hour. I havent seen a third of the bugs being reported. Is the game perfect? nope. but each patch just keeps making it better. The game has been quite entertaining and fun. =)

I think alot of pirates are real upset about it not being stable out of the box too..hahahaha..*ahem*

If needing to restart the game every half hour just to sidestep a memory leak still makes the game enjoyable to you, then you surely have a different standard of what enjoyment is, compared to the rest of us.

I'm going to come right out and say that you're not a shill, because you'll have my benefit of the doubt for now.

Even if you're actually enjoying this game, just be understanding as to why everyone else is not, and will not be buying this game.
 
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36. Re: Elemental Patched, Savaged Aug 25, 2010, 21:41 D_K_night
 
Honestly at the end of the day? The game is buggy, to the point that it's worth mentioning that it's buggy.

It's not a game with minor little bugs that are of little consequence, like a seam that wasn't knitted shut or a texture sparkle which shouldn't.

The real question to ask is - are these bugs like Starcraft2 bugs which aren't game breaking? In SC2 there's niggling things here and there - but you can play the entire game through and experience everything, without it crashing and burning around you. Can we say the same about this Elemental game?

Indies do have it rougher, of course they do, why pretend otherwise. Of course Gamepro and other gaming mags have deals with big publishers, that's obvious. Maybe they are pressured to slant their reviews to disfavor the indies, even if that is true, why act shocked about it. If the indie is to survive, well, his games had better as hell stand out and not be as buggy as this.

Look at plants vs zombies or Angry birds, simple games that do spectacular. Think about this. Either we gamers spend money on AAA titles like SC2, or we shell out for this buggy mess of a game(Elemental). Our dollars are finite, especially in this time of recession. How does it make sense to release Elemental, the way it was released, especially when the stakes are high.
 
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35. Re: Elemental Patched, Savaged Aug 25, 2010, 19:23 Verno
 
The consumer doesn't care who broke the story, it's totally irrelevant to the purchase process. Whether PC Gamer is a shitty magazine or not is a topic for a different debate. It's just dodging the issue, plain and simple, it's handwaving to distract from what Stardock did.  
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34. Re: Elemental Patched, Savaged Aug 25, 2010, 17:33 Creston
 
Verno wrote on Aug 25, 2010, 16:52:

I understand where your coming from, but it dosent make it true. Why shouldnt I commment in a thread about stardock when I see them being unfairly blasted by a magazine that would praise any bug riddled product that EA puts out? I dont see any article questioning PC Gamers review tactics.

Yes or no: Did Stardock knowingly put out a bug ridden mess out to store shelves?

You can keep hand waving with the PC Gamer argument but the fact is that the source is irrelevant as it doesn't change the situation at all. It could be JoeBobsBlog or Slashdot for that matter.

Yet plenty of devs and publishers release a game that's buggy and rely on a 0 day patch to get it playable. And they'll get little to no flak for it from most big review sites, PC Gamer included.

I'm not saying this is a perfect release, but the guy does have a point. PC Gamer often blasts the shit out of the small guy's game just so they can pretend they're this really tough outfit who "tells it like it is," but they'll bend over sideways to fluff the latest buggy, DRM-infested piece of shit from Big Publisher #1.

If the game is really this bad, I'd agree that people should just hold off and not buy it (which I plan to do myself), but it's kind of hypocritical for PC Gamer to sit there and be all high and mighty with their Sword of PC Gamer Defense, when they've let the same shit slide plenty of times in the past.

Creston

 
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33. Re: Elemental Patched, Savaged Aug 25, 2010, 16:52 Verno
 

I understand where your coming from, but it dosent make it true. Why shouldnt I commment in a thread about stardock when I see them being unfairly blasted by a magazine that would praise any bug riddled product that EA puts out? I dont see any article questioning PC Gamers review tactics.

Yes or no: Did Stardock knowingly put out a bug ridden mess out to store shelves?

You can keep hand waving with the PC Gamer argument but the fact is that the source is irrelevant as it doesn't change the situation at all. It could be JoeBobsBlog or Slashdot for that matter.
 
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32. Re: Elemental Patched, Savaged Aug 25, 2010, 16:50 nin
 
Why shouldnt I commment in a thread about stardock when I see them being unfairly blasted by a magazine that would praise any bug riddled product that EA puts out? I dont see any article questioning PC Gamers review tactics.

Go for it! But spread it out a little!


I hope in three to six months people look back and say "wow, we were kinda harsh on the guy. Maybe we shouldn't jump to conclusions."

Perhaps you'll even be here to see it (but I'm betting not)!
 
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31. Re: Elemental Patched, Savaged Aug 25, 2010, 16:46 w34sl3
 
nin wrote on Aug 25, 2010, 16:12:
I see. So having no history on a site and having a differing opinion clearly makes me wrong. Yeah thats fair.

No,it makes you look like a shill. If you want to contribute to other conversations, or you're posting here in 3 or 6 months, people might take your comments with a little more weight. As it stands, you registered today, and you've only posted in two threads, both times defending Stardock. What does that look like?

A shill.


I understand where your coming from, but it dosent make it true. Why shouldnt I commment in a thread about stardock when I see them being unfairly blasted by a magazine that would praise any bug riddled product that EA puts out? I dont see any article questioning PC Gamers review tactics.

Yet because I have a different take on it. Feel stronlgy enough to comment on it and registered today. Suddenly I look like a shrill. People do have differnet opinions, it does happen. Real people, not just people paid to play people on websites.

I hope in three to six months people look back and say "wow, we were kinda harsh on the guy. Maybe we shouldn't jump to conclusions."
 
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30. Re: Elemental Patched, Savaged Aug 25, 2010, 16:33 KFC fuckin rox!
 
Who wants some crispy strips, guys!??!??!  
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29. Re: Elemental Patched, Savaged Aug 25, 2010, 16:12 nin
 
I see. So having no history on a site and having a differing opinion clearly makes me wrong. Yeah thats fair.

No,it makes you look like a shill. If you want to contribute to other conversations, or you're posting here in 3 or 6 months, people might take your comments with a little more weight. As it stands, you registered today, and you've only posted in two threads, both times defending Stardock. What does that look like?

A shill.

 
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28. Re: meh Aug 25, 2010, 16:10 Prez
 
This is a terrible shame. Stardock is going from PC champion developer to consistent producer of unfinished broken games. Whether or not the game is as bad as PC Gamer makes it out to be, the big story of Elemental's launch is not that it's a great modern day retro throwback to great games of yore, but everything's that is wrong with it. It's like Demigod all over again.

This comment was edited on Aug 25, 2010, 16:30.
 
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27. Re: Elemental Patched, Savaged Aug 25, 2010, 16:09 w34sl3
 
kxmode wrote on Aug 25, 2010, 15:49:
w34sl3 wrote on Aug 25, 2010, 15:43:
Verno wrote on Aug 25, 2010, 13:31:
w34sl3 wrote on Aug 25, 2010, 13:28:
Funny thing is, aside from a memory leak bug that required me to restart evey half hour. I havent seen a third of the bugs being reported. Is the game perfect? nope. but each patch just keeps making it better. The game has been quite entertaining and fun. =)

I think alot of pirates are real upset about it not being stable out of the box too..hahahaha..*ahem*

Pirates don't care, they just pirate the updates too genius but you just registered today and your sole comment is to defend this game so I don't know why I waste my time

Gee thanks for the love. I did register today, I really dont see how that is relevent to anything.

Because you have absolutely no history on this site, therefore anything you say cannot be believed. Especially when everything you've said is in favor of one game. You sound like a shill.

I see. So having no history on a site and having a differing opinion clearly makes me wrong. Yeah thats fair. I would be trying much harder if I were a shill. I can see where you might think that, but it is not the case, wether you want to believe that or not.

Stardock put out a buggy product. You have a right to not buy it if you dont want to. But acting shocked that this happens in games industry is just silly. Especially coming from a gaming magazine that overlooks a lot of others release problems and then slams one indie company. Shame on them.

 
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26. Re: meh Aug 25, 2010, 16:00 w34sl3
 
Com wrote on Aug 25, 2010, 14:08:
This game is still gonna get 90%+ rave reviews like all those big name games in the past that were released in an unplayable state, like Empire:TW recently... right?

I totally forgot about Empire:TW. That was broken out of the box too. American campain would lock, unbalanced, CTD's. I can remember being upset that is was just like the Rome:TW release. Same release state, which I believe they also had a release date patch for Empire. Which still didnt fix all the problems. Yet I bet if you could find a PC Gamer review you wouldn't see "Empires disastrous launch: Stay well away."
 
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25. Re: Elemental Patched, Savaged Aug 25, 2010, 15:55 Wallshadows
 
But that PC Gamer is clearly bias, since I guess stardock didnt line thier pockets like EA does, or any number of larger companies.

...or the game was a bug-riddled suck fest.
 
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24. Re: Elemental Patched, Savaged Aug 25, 2010, 15:49 Kxmode
 
w34sl3 wrote on Aug 25, 2010, 15:43:
Verno wrote on Aug 25, 2010, 13:31:
w34sl3 wrote on Aug 25, 2010, 13:28:
Funny thing is, aside from a memory leak bug that required me to restart evey half hour. I havent seen a third of the bugs being reported. Is the game perfect? nope. but each patch just keeps making it better. The game has been quite entertaining and fun. =)

I think alot of pirates are real upset about it not being stable out of the box too..hahahaha..*ahem*

Pirates don't care, they just pirate the updates too genius but you just registered today and your sole comment is to defend this game so I don't know why I waste my time

Gee thanks for the love. I did register today, I really dont see how that is relevent to anything.

Because you have absolutely no history on this site, therefore anything you say cannot be believed. Especially when everything you've said is in favor of one game. You sound like a shill.
 
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23. Re: Elemental Patched, Savaged Aug 25, 2010, 15:43 w34sl3
 
Verno wrote on Aug 25, 2010, 13:31:
w34sl3 wrote on Aug 25, 2010, 13:28:
Funny thing is, aside from a memory leak bug that required me to restart evey half hour. I havent seen a third of the bugs being reported. Is the game perfect? nope. but each patch just keeps making it better. The game has been quite entertaining and fun. =)

I think alot of pirates are real upset about it not being stable out of the box too..hahahaha..*ahem*

Pirates don't care, they just pirate the updates too genius but you just registered today and your sole comment is to defend this game so I don't know why I waste my time

Gee thanks for the love. I did register today, I really dont see how that is relevent to anything. Perhaps this is the first time I felt the need to comment. I guess with wonderful responses like this one, I can see why more people dont comment.

I do think this game needs defending, not on the basis that it is a finished game. Not that people dont have a point to be upset. But that PC Gamer is clearly bias, since I guess stardock didnt line thier pockets like EA does, or any number of larger companies. If they are going to be so critical of a game then do it fairly for them all. But they dont, so what else is new, like people who think their registration date on a forum/website determines the validity of any point they make.
 
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22. Re: Elemental Patched, Savaged Aug 25, 2010, 15:34 jdreyer
 
I think in that same post the poster said there were 35,000 bugs. If you have that many KNOWN bugs (even tho I'm sure many of those are dups) you PUSH THE RELEASE. Stardock has a constant revenue stream. This game isn't all they have. They can afford to push out a month and get the game in workable shape.  
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21. Re: Elemental Patched, Savaged Aug 25, 2010, 15:30 jdreyer
 
So sad, and completely unavoidable. If the release is going to suck, you push the release. I work in software, we have releases, and we have to do this on occasion. If we don't, it costs us MORE effort (in having to field more emergency bug calls) and good will (people are disappointed when a release is pushed, but furious when it doesn't work) than delaying. And "Don't buy our games?!?" WTF, BRAD? Are you trying to sink the company, Brad? Stardock is one of the few companies out there making unique games, I'd hate for them to go under.

On the other hand, since Stardock games don't ship with DRM, perhaps this is their way of combating piracy: make the game suck so bad no one wants to download it.
 
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20. Re: meh Aug 25, 2010, 15:17 Jerykk
 
I like gaming publications calling a spade a spade, but why does that only apply to small developers and everyone just swings on the big boys's balls. Advertising? Peer pressure?

It's bad business to criticize big publishers. They make all the big-budget, heavily-hyped games and websites/publications need exclusive previews of these games to generate traffic.

Conversely, Stardock is a small developer that creates obscure, niche games. They have no leverage over websites and publications.
 
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19. Re: meh Aug 25, 2010, 15:16 Verno
 
Jonny wrote on Aug 25, 2010, 14:39:
The consumer isn't a charitable institution to support developer fancies

Well said. One thing that always amuses me is those press interviews with publishers and developers where they act literally entitled to your money. I'm not a huge fan of used game sales, piracy or other things affecting the industry but in the end the consumer isn't there to serve the industry, its the other way around. Much like the music industry had to discover the hard way, if you aren't serving customers then they are going to get what they want elsewhere.
 
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