‘Ello: Elemental – War Of Magic 1.1 Update

By Quintin Smith on December 15th, 2010 at 4:47 pm.

I couldn't find any screenshots of Elemental so I just used this photo of Bath.

Were you interested in Elemental: War of Magic but put off by all the reports of it being buggy? Did you instead choose to spend your week’s shekels getting proper bum-guzzled on the danger liquid at your local alcobuilding? Well, perhaps now is the time to reconsider that lifestyle of yours. Stardock has released its monster 1.1 update for the game, fixing a whole hive of bugs, adding spells and upgrades, changing the mana and population systems, updating the UI and rebalancing everything else. As always, a changelog of this size holds plenty of gems, including “Balanced Children” and “You can no longer drink some quest items (like the magic flute).” Version 1.2 is apparently already underway, and we can look forward to a demo in January. Latest trailer follows…

The latest trailer is, by the looks of it, the launch trailer. Oh well.

Here’s a slightly more entertaining fan-made trailer, too.

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75 Comments »

  1. Oak says:

    Civ 5 got its big patch just now, too.

    • Malcolm says:

      Ooh – really? Hope it fixes the annoying crash bug which has put me off playing since my conquest of the known world as the Japanese was unfairly curtailed with only Julius Caesar left to vanquish. Put me right off that did.

  2. ScubaMonster says:

    Not hopping aboard this train until more patches. Until I hear that it fixes just about everything wrong, not going to consider buying this. For all we know, the patch introduces as many bugs as it fixes. The fact they already announced 1.2 says they know they are a long ways away from done.

    • wargh says:

      No, that’s just their business strategy. GalCiv2 was perfectly good at 1.1 but they kept updating it month after month in order to earn loyal costumers.

    • sneetch says:

      Not really, they do know they still have a long way to go, they’ve said as much on the patch page: “We said we are committed to doing what it takes to make Elemental into the preeminent turn-based fantasy strategy game for the PC. Version 1.1 of Elemental: War of Magic is only the beginning” but this 1.1 patch looks to be a great improvement.

      That said, I might wait for 1.2 before I go back, I found the launch game and the game up ’til patch 1.06 or whatever to be dull and broken every time I tried to play it (my favourite was the level 6 enemy sovereign waltzing right up to my capital about 10 turns in to the game like a medieval terminator! “I need your clothes, your boots and your horse.”)

    • Gnoupi says:

      I installed the patch, launched a game… and faced the same framerate issues as during the first days: http://forums.elementalgame.com/391334

      15 fps or less as soon as a city is on screen, on a computer running Just Cause 2 and else on max details without a problem. I can’t even care about balance and UI changes, since I can’t really play the game in a pleasant manner.

  3. Mr_Hands says:

    Elemental? Playable?

    One can only hope.

    Though, I’m glad they balanced my children. The soft-headed weirdos kept falling over. I took them to the local apothecary for some inner-ear herbs, but nothing seemed to work.

    Then I sold my wife to a neighbouring kingdom for a pincely sum and married my unbalanced children to their own half-siblings.

  4. Unaco says:

    Why was it released if it required such a massive update/fix/patch?

    • subedii says:

      A few reasons, but largely it was a case of getting too close the the project itself and not realising where the flaws were. Brad Wardell was on one of the podcasts for “Three Moves Ahead” where he basically goes into why he felt problems arose with Elemental.

      Worth a listen for anyone wondering about it.

    • Rich says:

      …with a bit of early pig-headedness thrown in. As indicated by the guy’s initial refusal to except there was anything wrong.

      He eventually came around though.

    • subedii says:

      I think the whole thing just pretty much came as a shock. The initial reaction was understandable really, they’d spent years working on a project and all of a sudden people were dogpiling on it and they couldn’t see why. At the time they viewed it as a finished product.

      It was only once they had time to really sit down and analyse the game and the reactions to it that they could see what was really happening.

      I have some sympathy for the position Stardock found themselves in. Unlike a lot of devs, they offered a pretty surprising mea culpa on Elemental and are still working to make it the game they wanted it to be.

    • Rich says:

      At least they never tried to claim people were just “playing it wrong”.

    • Shagittarius says:

      A hidden DRM scheme.

    • ScubaMonster says:

      Not willing to admit something needs work when you’re doing something creative is pretty silly. I do some small time game programming stuff, and no way would I ever sit there and say “What?! This game is perfect! STFU!”. Same goes for my artwork. I’m always looking for ways to make my stuff better. Does that mean I listen to everybody and change everything? No. But obvious flaws need fixing.

    • Weylund says:

      @Scuba: If you slapped a coat of paint on a room and your wife told you it looked like shit, you’d probably agree. If you spent a week planning and then a long weekend making sure everything looked perfect, and she told you it looked like shit, you’d probably be less likely to agree, yeah?

      Now imagine working on a game project that lasts a few years. Obvious flaws stop being so when you’ve poured a few thousand programmer-hours into creating / working around them.

    • Orvidos says:

      I’m sad to say that may also be partially the communities fault.

      The people on the Beta forums were pretty consistent with bug reports, but no-one ever said “This entire area of the game is totally deficient!” or anything that would have precipitated major change. There were several portions of the game that were changed entirely during beta (the resource system, the mana and spell-type systems) that probably should have been a rather low priority.

      Bugs continued pretty heavily right up towards launch, but I (and I’d hazard a guess that everyone else) was very happy with the direction beta had gone. The Stardock folks had listened and made changes, and then suddenly “OH GOD THE GAME DOESN’T WORK THE SKY IS FALLING.” Oh well. Patch time!

    • dadioflex says:

      The rabid Stardock fan community is its own worst enemy in that respect.

      Anyway… having waited this long, I may as well just wait until it hits retail as a GOTY for peanuts with the expansions, and a load of community mods already in place. The GOG sale should keep me amused for a couple of years.

  5. Schaulustiger says:

    Oh, that is great news. Bought the game at release, found out it was a horrible mess and let it rest until it is properly patched. I might give it another try now.

    • Wilson says:

      Same here. It sounds like they’re steadily improving things, and I still have high hopes for the game. I’m looking forward to giving it a go as soon as I have it downloaded.

  6. Malibu Stacey says:

    Looks like they might have a finished game in time for the Christmas sales.

  7. Namos says:

    I’ve been trying Elemental out from patch to patch, and while it still has a long way to go, I’ve always found myself drawn into the game. I’m a bit busy with other things at the moment, and Steam is using evil methods to try and extend my pile of shame, but once I have a breather I’ll give Elemental another go and try to actually finish a game of it for once – it’s always by the midgame that the various imbalances and misdesigns seem to make me give up on it.

  8. Colin Marc says:

    I played this a bunch in the beta and then when it came out – I liked it, but it was definitely pretty broken. Is it worth picking up again?

  9. Bfox says:

    Wait, is this trying to be Age of Wonders?

  10. JB says:

    Both those video links show the fan-made trailer for me.

  11. scottossington says:

    Is it just me, or are those two videos the same.

  12. Jeremy says:

    I’ve been wanting to play this game for sometime, but was definitely put out by the buggy launch. I’m interested to hear more about the update before committing my cash.

  13. jonfitt says:

    I heard about many problems with Elemental one of which was the AI being soft in the head.
    To me that’s a huge problem. Has that been addressed properly in this patch?

    I know re-reviewing is a minefield from which there is no escape, but I like Stardock and would like to read a re-Wot-I-Think (Wot-I-Rethink?) of Elemental.

    What say you Quinns?

    • Oddtwang of Dork says:

      Wot I Think Now, surely?

    • jeremypeel says:

      Now I Really Think About It…

    • Archonsod says:

      The AI work is ongoing. It’s slightly less silly in terms of units it designs and fields, and has gotten way smarter about not sending it’s Sovereign off on a suicidal charge at a dragon (preferring instead to hide him away in a garrison if you’re invading, and incidentally equipping him with a large axe of doom on the way). It’s ability to build and develop cities has also been tweaked, and it’s fairly more sensible in that respect.

      Diplomatically it’s still retarded, though that’s getting an overhaul for 1.2 which is due in January. The wandering beastie AI is slightly better now too, rather than randomly wandering the non-intelligent creatures are prone to avoid cities and hunt down units, while the smarter beasties tend to head for cities and avoid large armies. Not perfect, but it’s getting there.
      In terms of putting up a fight it’s still a bit wonky. It’s better at attacking the less heavily defended cities, trying to flank around and come in from an unexpected direction and the like; it’s army composition tends to be a little more sensible to boot. It’ll still happily send an almost identical army right at the sovereign who wiped out the last four without taking any damage though.

  14. chargen says:

    The game is incredibly drab, like Stardock was terrified of color. Brown. Grey. Tan. White. Black.

  15. DojiStar says:

    Forget the patches. I’m completely holding off until the first expansion, which is my booby-prize for being a git and pre-ordering.

  16. Sorbicol says:

    Having been playing through the last couple of beta upgrades (v1.09(x) got to w before 1.1 was released) I can assure people that the game is now “playable”. the bugs are gone, the game is stable (for me at least) well into the hundreds of turns.

    The AI is still prone to stupidity, the factions still aren’t distinct enough from each other, and it is ridiculously easy on anything other than “hard”, but I’d certainly give it a go, now. It is a completely different game to the one released back in September.

    As an added bonus, if you buy it now you’ll get the first expansion (which is where I suspect this game will really come to life given Derek “Kael” Paxton will be designing it) for free. not a bad offer from Stardock if I do say so myself.

    So yeah – it does still need a fair bit of work and some balancing, the AI is slowly learning how to play the game, but it is a completely different beast to the utter drivel it was on release. I’d go for it, you have little to lose now.

    • Hallgrim says:

      I will never forgive Stardock for promoting this game as multiplayer, and then shipping it with multiplayer completely missing.

    • Profligate says:

      Agreed. Also, the whole “I loved the game too much, that’s why it is was a total piece when released; also I’m paradoxically claiming this game was released in a finished state” line of argument/ever-evolving excuse from Brad Wardell means I’m waiting for the first expansion too.

    • Vinraith says:

      As an added bonus, if you buy it now you’ll get the first expansion (which is where I suspect this game will really come to life given Derek “Kael” Paxton will be designing it) for free. not a bad offer from Stardock if I do say so myself.

      I thought that deal was only until the end of October?

    • Wilson says:

      @Vinraith – Was the until October deal getting two expansion packs for free? I know they did that for beta testers, but did it also apply for anyone buying until October? Or perhaps they just extended the first expansion free offer.

    • Sorbicol says:

      vinrath – the deal to get the first expansion free has been extended to the end of December. You get the First 2 expansion free if you ordered it before the end of October. Give Stardock their due, it is selling.

  17. DFresh20 says:

    I’m not convinced bug squashing and other small improvements are enough to save this game. I pre-ordered and couldn’t believe how bland a world they created. All the races are almost the same, the units are also the same and again bland and boring. I can’t believe that with all the possibilities for units a fantasy world allows the best they could come up with is human-like units with slightly different equipment. The game is also plagued with ideas that either don’t work or have such a half-baked approach that it negates any of the positive points. All you have to do is look at games like Age of Wonders, Master of Magic, or even Warcraft and you will see tons of interesting units and mechanics. Elemental managed different skin tones for their factions.

    • bob123 says:

      With all my love for Master of Magic,Dominions 3 beats the crap out of every other Fantasy game (not only strategy) in terms of unit diversity .
      Thats the one Elementals should take as an perfect example.

    • Archonsod says:

      The races are the same because, as they pointed out when they announced it, you’re playing humans. It’s somewhat central to the theme.

    • Hallgrim says:

      @Archonsod:

      And all peoples and cultures of the human race are bland and indistinguishable from one another?

    • Nick says:

      makes for a pretty dull and shitty theme.

    • Malawi Frontier Guard says:

      You haven’t seen bland and boring until you read Brad Wardell’s novel based on Elemental.

    • Wilson says:

      Yeah, I was a bit disappointed by this as well. I’m hoping the expansions (or maybe even a future patch, who knows) will improve this a lot. Failing that, I hope that they’ll do right by the modders and give them the tools they need, so people can then add interesting races themselves.

    • Archonsod says:

      “And all peoples and cultures of the human race are bland and indistinguishable from one another?”

      Well I can barely tell them apart now, and we haven’t had a cataclysmic world ending apocalypse.

    • DFresh20 says:

      It may fit the theme but that doesn’t make it good. They couldn’t have made other races with survivors or even the experiments the titans created more interesting? The story and fluff are all pretty poor.

    • BobDicks says:

      The real reason all the races are exactly the same is because of laziness, theme is just a convenient excuse.

  18. HeavyStorm says:

    I think we should all wait for one or maybe two another patches.

    Accordingly to Stardock, it was released flawed not on purpose — it was not a conscious thing. This means, at least, that Stardock must improve standards for testing (and, which is usually the case, for creating design docs and use cases much early in the process so that test can be done against all design decisions).

    I, however, suspect that it might be the case that they needed funds to keep the project going. If that’s indeed what happened (I’m only speculating), it was a bad market decision. They should’ve release the title as an Beta and asked money for it, like many indies do (M&B and Minecraft come to mind) at discount price. It would do less damage to the trademark, since it would be fair disclosure that the game could have many unknown bugs.

    Finally, I’m not sure, but how long did it took them to come up with a patch? Come on, when the title is so screwed people can’t play it, you should release a patch every three to five weeks. What would be the concern, introducing a bug? If you at least correct more than you introduce, in this scenario, users will be more than glad for any improvement.

    • Wilson says:

      @HeavyStorm – They have been releasing various patches since release. This is just the first ‘major’ patch I believe. Also, they did have a beta which people paid for. I really hope they never mess up a release like this again, but I’m confident they will get the game to a good place, even if it takes them a while. Plus I get the first two expansions for free since I paid for the beta, so I’m happy to wait.

    • Archonsod says:

      Stardock make far more money from their business software than they ever have from the game side of things, so money has never been an issue. They’d still be turning a profit if they released the game free. Or not at all.

      Patch wise, the first patch was out two days prior to the actual release date, another on the release date, another at the end of that week. We had weekly patches until around the middle of October, then a four week hiatus while they crunched on 1.1. The 1.1 beta came out early November, they’ve been patching it fairly regularly (to the point we’ve had daily updates over the past week and a bit).

      In fact, personally I’d wish they’d stop buggering around with it for a while because at the moment the tech tree is unrecognisable and they’ve re-jigged the weapon and armour stats yet again, so I have virtually no idea what the hell I’m doing anymore. And they’re already talking about some serious changes in 1.2 to boot.

  19. Caleb367 says:

    Great news, nice to see the release blunder didn’t make Stardock pull the plug. Definitely on my wishlist, but at 37 euros it’s still a little too pricey for me.

    • Spooner says:

      Yarr, the price is high for new-release AAA games (well, except the endless COD games), let along a game out for several months that was universally panned at release and might be playable some time in the future…

      Won’t touch it until I’ve played a decent demo and see a bit of a price drop.

    • Caleb367 says:

      Hey, I have a policy of never spending excessive money on a game. At present, my biggest single-time expense was on the ArmA2 Complete on Steam (that is, ArmA2 + Arrowhead) for about 40 euros. Might do the same craziness on Witcher 2, though. On GOG.com. ‘Cause it’s awesome.

  20. jeremypeel says:

    I’m really pleased to hear Stardock are keeping to their word post-release. Who knows, if it earns them enough fans, the idea might even catch on!

    • Wilson says:

      I know the post-release support is why I wasn’t overly concerned when the game was first released. The first game of theirs I played was GalCiv 2, and I was pleasantly surprised by the developer journals and the patches the game and expansions were still receiving some time after release.

    • Hallgrim says:

      Oh indeed!

      Maybe they should also publish a list of things that people should be able to expect from developers, like this awesome post-release support. A Gamers’ Bill of Somethings!

      Oh wait, if they did that, there’s the chance that they might violate a bunch of their own stated rights, then delete that specific post from their blog, and release a shitty incomplete game and refuse to offer a refund to people who pre-ordered it. Yeah that’d be pretty stupid, they should just keep their mouths shut.

  21. malkav11 says:

    Yeah, I’m not waiting for it to be patched, I’m waiting for it to be a good whack less than $50. Or be patched mercilessly until it is the watchword in fantasy 4X, I suppose it’d be worth $50 to me then. But I suspect the former will happen sooner than the latter.

  22. Italia says:

    “Battle powerful monsters”

    And then he smashes a cockroach with his sword..

  23. negativedge says:

    “latest trailer follows”

    “lol got u srry we just needed teh clicks lol”

  24. Kieron Gillen says:

    “Drinking The Magic Flute” sounds like a euphemism to me.

    KG

  25. thebomb says:

    Holy crap! My trailer just got posted on RPS!

    Awesome!

  26. Darren says:

    The sad thing….I have had the game for 2 or so months now. Have not installed it or played it for that matter. The reason was due to feedback from other players. So I thought I would wait till a patch came along that fixed a few of the bugs. I install the game today, download the patch, open the game up, start playing the main campaign. 4 clicks in to the game and the bloody thing crashes to desk top.

    1/ uninstall Elemental and wait another 2 or so months for a frigging patch.
    2/ purchased Age of Wonders
    3/ happiness.

    I have not got the patents to play games of that…quality.

  27. BobDicks says:

    I can’t wait for the patch that completely changes the games setting and unwrites Fropboy’s book.

    Q: How do you make a setting even more bland and generic then the Forgotten Realms?

    A: I dunno, ask Stardock.

  28. Choca says:

    Do I have to enjoy myself ?

  29. Harlander says:

    Happiness Enjoyment is mandatory, citizen.

  30. Urael says:

    I considered buying this last night, lured by the attraction of a free expansion pack, but I’m afraid I’m already waiting on a few titles to ‘mature’: I don’t need another one. Plus, I’ve already got AOW:SM awaiting my pleasure from GOG which, according to fan lore, should scratch my Fantasy 4X itch very ably indeed.

    A purchase for a future date, methinks.

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