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Elemental: War of Magic

November 4th, 2008 by Troy Goodfellow · 12 Comments · Stardock

For years, Brad Wardell of Stardock Studios has been talking about making a Master of Magic type game.

We finally get a name and a website.

We wanted to just call it Elemental but but trademark reasons we needed to come up with a sub-title. We wanted to give it a sub-title that was a bit corney to harken back to the classic 4X days when game names were a little more generic.

By the way, it’s supposed to be “corny” and “hearken”

The writing about the various clans is equally corny, by the way.

On dragons:

Dragons are solitary creatures and powerful beyond imagination. Most dragons remain isolated in the wilds of Elemental but some will join a cause they believe in.

On men:

Men are good at tilling the soil, making and trading goods and building things. Some are honest, some are vile, some are brave, some are ruthless, some are craven. They come in all hues and sizes.

There is a cataclysm that hurts the world and now a bunch of rival empires need to put it together or rule it. It’s all a little silly. But fantasy worlds inevitably are.

It looks a lot like Civilization, which isn’t surprising given its inspiration. We get a look at a map, and it’s one of those pseudo-Tolkien jobs. Apparently a city is researching “Lingering Death”, which I imagine means that they have Season 3 of Heroes in this world, too.

The map looks good, and I like the idea of labels on maps. Does this mean that there is a database of maps or are there random maps that are generated to have these titles on them?


12 Comments so far ↓

  • Andrew

    Alpha Centauri named various map features on random maps, so it certainly isn’t impossible to imagine they do that here. Plus the names are pretty generic. The big woods is named The Big Woods, the westernmost woods is named The Western Woods, etc.

  • Troy

    I forgot about that in AC. You’re right that this wouldn’t be that difficult.

  • Nick

    Im excited to see what this game will actually be like..

  • andrei.dumitrescu

    The channeler mechanics sound pretty good, as does the idea of the devastated world, which hints at limited resources and a lot of micro management…

  • Dave Long

    Pretty sure one of the articles (the one at Edge Online maybe?) talks about the random maps.

  • Scott

    I can’t wait 1 1/2 years! I’m just going to forget about it for now and then be happily surprised when it’s released.

  • Neil

    Stardock needs to do a better job with writing/flavor in their games. They remind me of old 1-man shareware games where the guy’s talent clearly didn’t extend beyond programming, but he did all the writing himself anyway.

    I have respect for what the guy’s accomplished with his company, but I think the GalCiv series is seriously overrated–and bad writing is part of the reason why.

  • JonathanStrange

    A great writer or writers handling everything from unit background info to spell descriptions to hero/great figures bios: wouldn’t that be an incredible addition? Who doesn’t like the atmosphere and immersion from that results from entering a fully imagined world? That would really be better than having a Fire Spell 2, Firespell 3, etc. list.

    Still, FFH2 does some of that now – and it’s my current favorite Civ Mod except for the glaring non-use of magic by the A.I. A magical world where you’re the only one who uses magic? Add the lack of much cool graphics FX when magic is used, and the need for Elemental: War of Magic is evident.

  • Scott

    Was GalCiv that bad? I never played it because I couldn’t get past the tactical battles being cinematic rather than something I had any control over.

  • Neil

    The part of GalCiv I really disliked was how the techs rarely did anything but add a numerical bonus to an existing trait or ability (e.g., new laser = old laser +10 damage, espionage ability goes up by 10, etc.). There are rarely the dramatic changes to gameplay that you see when you get certain techs in a game like Civ.

    Also, the anomaly investigations typically do the same thing, just on a smaller scale, instead of letting rescuing leaders, finding weird new ships you can add to your fleet, etc.

    It puts the behind-the-scenes numbers in the forefront of the player’s mind, which diminishes immersion and makes it obvious that it’s a game of math problems, rather than the heuristic ones that most gamers favor. I have the same complaint about Civ, although it isn’t quite as bad and does a better job of hiding it.

  • Troels

    Ok, this post and its ensuing discussion had to bring me out of lurk-mode.

    You guys manage to put the finger on some of the sore spots, which have hindered me from really enjoying the GalCiv-games (though I really wanted to like them): The enthusiastic, but less than impressive writing; the heavily exposed underlying game-model; the lack of tactical battles…

    On the other hand, I think it’s fair to remember that single-player world-management games (i.e., Civ-like), have a strong tradition of just establishing a frame for a story that will unfold in the mind of the player. Of course, that still requires the game to not /hinder/ that storytelling; and in my mind, that’s what GalCiv is doing. In particular, when it persists in telling me that that Neutrality Learning Centre, brings me a yield of exactly X %, if I set property Y and Z below certain thresholds. It pushes the game too much in the arms of the I-really-wanted-to-be-a-statistician-gamers crowd.

    In the end, I suspect that part of the schisma lies in different players wanting different things from their games. Some players like as many numbers and statistics as possible to evaluate exactly how splendid their creations are. In my view, these players are of the same breed as the CRPG-players, that spend the first few days calculating the best trade-off between having Wisdom bonus +1 and Strength +3.

    Perhaps it’s simply the case that Stardock is run by a gamer (Mr. Wardell), who sympathizes most strongly with this bunch of players… Conspicuously enough, he seems also to be a very good business-man and a good AI-programmer. Is the role of the storyteller so much at odds with computer-game production that by natural selection the good games that get made, tend to cater most strongly for the statistician-gamers crowd?

    Sorry ’bout the long post. I’ll shut up now.

  • Jason Lutes

    Yeah, I’ve gotten a lot of enjoyment out of GalCiv, but all of the drawbacks already mentioned eventually made me stop going back to it. My biggest gripe is with the diplomacy/trading interface, which is tedious to the point of being useless.

    I’m really hopeful about Elemental, though. I love what they’re doing with the maps (I’m pretty sure the names are generated, but I read that you can also custom label the maps as you play, which is awesome), the economic system sounds interesting, and the cel-shadey art style is potentially very cool.

    Stardock really does need to hire a decent writer, though…