Fallen Enchantress Videos, Dedication

By Jim Rossignol on May 24th, 2011 at 1:29 pm.

Problem worms? You need NEW Fallen Enchantress!
Stardock are running a video developer diary series detailing various aspects of the Elemental expansion, Fallen Enchantress. I’ve posted the first couple of these below, thanks to BluesNews. It’s looking good, and lead designer Derek Paxton has told Gamespot that UI changes will make this game far easier to get to grips with than its troubled parent game. This time around it also has a team better suited to getting an unbugged game out the door on time: “There are dedicated producers, designers, and a formalized production pipeline that we have borrowed from the enterprise software world. The design is focused, fixed (with some flexibility as we iterate and improve), and communicated to the team. Time is set aside for iteration (after we are feature complete) rather than still implementing critical features until release day.”

So that sounds good. The game looks like an improvement on the original, too.


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68 Comments »

  1. Gnoupi says:

    Jumped without thinking for the first one. Got disappointed, badly. I don’t even have the motivation to update it and check what they fixed.

    So I’m more “wait and see” about this one. (Which is literally the good expression, since owners of war of magic will get fallen enchantress for free) (at least the last time I checked)

    • Vexing Vision says:

      Elemental was the one title I pre-ordered in 2010. I share your disappointment, but as the expansion is free for us early jumpers, I’m quite happy to give the game a second chance.

      Once I’m through my backlog.

      Excitement or hope, there is none. A sense of “why not when I don’t have anything better to do” is definitely there, and that in itself is actually quite a shame.

    • Antsy says:

      I pre-ordered it in a frenzy of optimism (I even bought Brad Wardells execrable ‘novel’, which was punishment in itself) and got very little play out of it.

      One thing about this Fallen Enchantress thingy is that it’s free to people who pre-ordered Elemental. I’m cautiously optimistic at this point.

    • Wilson says:

      Same here. I was very pleased when they got Derek Paxton on board, and if it’s good (basically if it turns out to be the game that Elemental should have been) then I will forgive Stardock.

    • Premium User Badge

      Horza says:

      I preordered the fancy expensive version because “surely they can’t fuck up a MoM/AoW clone”

      Wouldn’t mind getting a decent game for that money some day.

    • Richie Shoemaker says:

      @Antsy.

      I’m on a mission to find a decent book based on a game IP. Elemental was on my list of future candidates. Is it really that bad?

    • Vexing Vision says:

      @Richie
      Apparently the Mass Effect stuff isn’t too bad.

    • Antsy says:

      Worse, possibly.

      It’s a horribly potent example of the self-indulgence and delusion that resulted in the game itself being so dissapointing. The novel reads like very poor fan fiction and that’s exactly what it is.

    • Zenicetus says:

      Here’s a fun review of Wardell’s tie-in novel:

      http://www.unamommer.com/?p=109

    • Nick says:

      “She was wearing a long cloak. Underneath it, he saw, was a dress.”

    • Sigh says:

      From the review:

      The dress is actually my favorite character in the book. A few short pages later she is accosted by bad guys and they have a conversation about the dress. Her thoughts reveal to us the backstory and political importance of the dress. After she is rescued from the bad guys by the clever orphan boy she has a crush on and a handsome knight, she flings herself into her father’s arms while sobbing and he stops to notice the dress before noticing the knife wound on her neck. That’s how badass the dress is. Later in the story other dresses get introduced. The author even makes the mistake of trying to make them more attractive than the dress.

      This is precious.

    • Ergates_Antius says:

      Just read the review….My god!

      I have a real difficulty writing prose, it’s something I’ve always struggled with*, don’t like and get really stressed when I have to. I’m fairly certain, however, that I could cobble together something better than that!

      * as you can probably tell….

    • Richie Shoemaker says:

      Wow, I feel I have to read it now. In a so-bad-it’s-good kinda way.

      The first Mass Effect book was actually pretty decent – almost up there with some of the better Star Trek novels of the 90s. I’m currently on Dead Space – which is almost readable. Next up is probably Fable or Elder Scrolls, then the third EVE book later in the year.

    • Bret says:

      The Halo novels are well above average for this kind of thing. I mean, The Flood still sucks, but the Nylund written ones are perfectly alright reading.

      Which isn’t that high of praise, but for videogame tie-in novels, that’s exceptional.

    • Pattom says:

      The first Mass Effect novel, Revelation, is very good. The first few chapters are prone to the odd info-dump, but it really gathers steam and sweeps you along as it progresses. And I confess I have a fondness for Halo: Contact Harvest. It’s a solid military sci-fi novel, even if the parts told from the aliens’ perspective are fairly boring.

    • bill says:

      Heh. That book review made my day.

      Is the game also about the White Folks trying to build a wall to keep the dark folks out and prevent the races from integrating? :-o

    • Premium User Badge

      Some_Guy says:

      This is free to all the early purchases of elemental though.

  2. Jumwa says:

    I narrowly avoided becoming one of the many who pre-ordered the game in excitement only to be let down.

    Had high hopes for the original, it sounded like a dream game; a sort of fantasy Civilization where I could be some dark mage lord or some such. Here’s hoping this delivers on the promise of the first one.

    • Nameless1 says:

      The same

    • Tuco says:

      In short it sounded like Master of magic, which was the main source of inspiration.
      Sadly it wasn’t anywhere near to it gameplay-wise, and somehow it managed to look even worse. Yes, worse than an almost 20 years old game, which says a lot.

      I must point that I’m one of these morons who preordered it in a leap of faith.
      With this and Demigod Stardock managed to slip out of my grace in a way that I don’t expect can be redeemed.

    • Martha Stuart says:

      @Tuco

      Are you really saying this game looks worse than MOM? cause thats the stupidest thing i have ever heard.

  3. Towercap says:

    Elemental remains the only game I ever returned for a refund. Nowhere near ready to give it another shot, unless I hear a lot of positive buzz about it, I guess. There are just so many awesome indies out that I know I’ll enjoy far more.

    • bill says:

      Mine is Daggerfall. Then I boughtit again later. Then I returned it again. Then I bought it again later. then I returned it again. then i downloaded the free release from bethesda.

  4. Hakkesshu says:

    Is Elemental still not worth picking up? A ton of work must have been done since it was released, and it still isn’t close to being what it was supposed to be at launch?

    • Droopy The Dog says:

      Actually, despite a great deal of song and dance in terms of blog posts, very little has changed.

      It got 2 big patches that actually changed gameplay. One 4 months after release, and another a few weeks ago (almost 9 months after release), presumably because they’re winding up the fallen enchantress PR now and want to remind people “we support our games!”. They changed mana to a global resource, tweaked hundreds of stats and gave the cities a few extra generic “+this resource, -this resource” buildings. On the plus side they added incredibly generic achievements last patch, wooo!

      Unfortunately it still plays like the world’s dullest 4X, just with different numbers, and still has the most teethgrindingly painful excuse for tactical combat. On the other hand, untill a few weeks ago, it still had memory leaks that meant long bouts of playing would eventually become unstable and crash (that’s 9 months folks!). Heck they may not have even fixed that properly, I’m not gonna torture myself long enough to check.

      Between this and demigod, I’m of the opinion that when a game goes gold in a shoddy state, stardock are prone to promising great big changes in the future and apologising a lot. But tragically seem to lose motivation to actually follow up on that once the passage of time has scraped the feces from the fan.

  5. Sigh says:

    I was one of those individuals that fervently defended this game on this very site in the first few months of its lifespan…telling everyone to “Give it a chance and just wait for the amazing patches” but even I have been worn down into submission. Sadly the game never developed a rich world with an enticing back-story and spells, while improved, are boring. Recently, I thought about giving it another chance, patching it to the current release and sitting down for a good spell, but then I listened to the most recent Three Moves Ahead: http://flashofsteel.com/index.php/2011/05/19/three-moves-ahead-episode-117-patchwork/ strategy game podcast wherein the participants essentially said to not bother that not enough has changed to make the time investment worth it. Sigh.

    Furthermore, my utter disappointment with Elemental has intersected with my recent discovery that Brad Wardell of Stardock just sold Impulse to Gamestop…yes bloody Gamestop! As soon as I learned that I uninstalled Impulse from my computer and scrubbed my hard drives with bleach and a toothbrush while humming random tunes nervously. I despise Gamestop and I did not want them managing a networked game client on my machine, it just made me feel unclean.
    Two strikes against Stardock in the span of 10 months…from my subjective perspective.

    I greatly anticipated Elemental:WoM and even pre-ordered the delux-O version that came with a pewter dragon and I have to finally admit that I was burned, badly. I was hoping for an updated Gal Civ II dressed up in fantasy clothes, but instead I got boring King-walking simulator.

    Oh well, my 4X hopes now lie with Sword of the Stars II.

    • Azradesh says:

      Just one correction, Impulse (the online platform/shop) was sold to Gamestop, Stardock has not been sold.

    • Sigh says:

      I thought I said that:

      Brad Wardell of Stardock just sold Impulse to Gamestop

  6. Drake Sigar says:

    So what is this, an updated freeform version of Age of Wonders?

  7. andyhavens says:

    I don’t usually pre-order games. Mostly I like to wait a couple years until they’re available at a major discount. But I pre-ordered WoM because it looked like the rebirth of “Masters of Magic” which was, at the time, awesome.

    WoM was garbage on every level. I don’t think I’ve ever been so disappointed in a game. It was hard for me to understand how a team of people could release something both that buggy, that under-thought, and that un-fun. I played for a few hours then uninstalled. About every three months, I’ve checked the updates, and none of them have made it any better.

    Will I try a free expansion? Yes. Do I have hope in my heart? Always. I’m a Pollyanna when it comes to dreaming of a bright, shiny future. Would I spend any more money on the title? Never.

  8. Lobotomist says:

    I actually liked the game. Not what I expected though.
    But this expansion looks spot on

  9. Vinraith says:

    I can’t tell you how impressive this would have to be to get me to actually buy it. Between having jettisoned Impulse (a system I was never fond of to begin with) after the Gamestop acquisition and having been burned by the last few games I bought from Stardock (and narrowly avoiding being burned by Elemental) I’m feeling pretty comfortable with the idea of never giving them another cent.

    It’s a pity, too, as I adored Gal Civ 2. One great game doesn’t get you a lifetime pass, though.

    • karry says:

      “It’s a pity, too, as I adored Gal Civ 2. ”

      I dont get it. Elemental was exactly the same kind of game as GC2, dry, bland, unfun, bad design all around. Why didnt you like it too ?

    • MCM says:

      What karry said. Gal Civ 2 has to be the most overrated game of all time. Maybe people who never played MoO or MoO2 or Alpha Centauri think GC2 is the greatest thing ever, but I found GC2 to be boring, repetitive, horribly balanced, and crippled by bad AI. Many of the gameplay concepts were poor implemented or just downright unimaginative.

      Brad Wardell doesn’t make good games. I really support his views on piracy and digital distribution but his own games are not good.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      The maddening thing about GalCiv II is that it’s hard to articulate exactly why it’s so bad. It’s just a lack of soul.

      With MOO2, every technology and every building had a specific use. Very few were mere incremental upgrades of existing stuff. So when you had a research breakthrough or finished a building, you knew you were significantly changing the game world. Your choices had an obvious effect. Balancing the sliders in MOO was similarly satisfying. With GalCiv 2, these things feel much weaker.

      And that’s part of the explanation, but not all. There’s no spark, no magic, no wonder, nothing to captivate you and haunt your dreams.

    • Sigh says:

      You know I initially had the same sour impressions of GalCiv II when I first started playing it, but its brilliance slowly manifests. I am surprised that individuals are critical of the AI in GalCiv II as that seemed to be one of the more impressive aspects about the game…it could be punishing on the right settings. I do agree that it seems soulless, in some vague sense. I think that the Stardock team struggles with narrative, personality, and flavor, but the game is worthwhile despite that.

      One oddity about GalCiv II is that it was first released in 2006 and seemed dated even then; in a lot of departments not just graphics. I think that the game would have been more widely lauded had it been released 4 to 6 years earlier. In retrospect, I am beginning to see a pattern of development though (and I know that Stardock did not develop the core game of Demigod):

      Galactic Civilizations II: “Spreadsheet Simulator” (decent)
      Demigod: “Poor Netcode Demonstration Simulator” (idealistic)
      Elemental War of Magic: “King Walking Simulator” (irreverent)
      Fallen Enchantress: “Tap. Tap. Tap. Is this mic on? Simulator” (desperate)

    • MCM says:

      But Gal Civ 2 wasn’t even a good spreadsheet simulator. The dual slider system was completely counter-intuitive and broken – IIRC the optimal state was ALWAYS to leave one of the sliders at max.

    • Urael says:

      I won’t hear any criticism of GC2, thank you. I’ve taken time off work to play that game purely because of how it gripped my imagination. That irritating empire to my north just had to die. Bleat on about MOO2 being the messiah all you like but GC2 is still a fine, fine game.

    • Acosta says:

      Your hating retcon is the most boring thing ever. Elemental didn’t make GalCiv II (with expansions) a bad game. It was fantastic (again, with expansions.)

      And yes, I preordered deluxe edition of Elemental, was hyped, blah, blah, blah, I didn’t hate it, but it was not what I expected. Whatever, I get Fallen Enchantress without paying any extra and I have complete faith in Paxton, so I’m positive.

    • Zenicetus says:

      I loved GalCiv 2, at least once it reached the final expansion. I still have it on my hard drive, and play a few games now and then. I was deeply disappointed in the way Elemental turned out, but at least I ducked the bullet and saw it coming, based on previews and what was happening in the forums. I never pre-ordered the game.

      The UI in GalCiv is clunky, and the economy engine is a bit inscrutable, but it has two things that really grab me in a 4X game — randomized maps, and differentiated tech trees. With each race having a different tech tree, you can’t adopt a universal strategy. You have to tailor your strategy to the quirks of each race, and that makes for tremendous replay value. I liked fooling around with the mini-game of sticking ship parts together too. It’s just a time-killer that doesn’t really have anything to do with the actual game play, but it allowed an unusual amount of personalization for my ships.

      “The dual slider system was completely counter-intuitive and broken – IIRC the optimal state was ALWAYS to leave one of the sliders at max.”

      Yes, it’s counter-intuitive, and I sure wouldn’t have designed it that way. However, once you understand how it actually works, and how it has to be adjusted for the colonization “crash” and short-term goals, it works well enough. I never left any of the sliders maxed continuously. They had to be adjusted almost on a turn-by-turn basis, including colony specialization settings. This is where the AI kills you on the higher difficulty settings; it’s simply better at micro’ing those settings. You have to learn how to fine-tune them, to have any chance at all at a higher difficulty..

    • Nameless1 says:

      I liket it too, a lot. Telling it had a bad AI simply means not having played it.

    • MCM says:

      No, Zenicetus, I’m pretty sure you’re wrong about the sliders. It ended up being more efficient to set one of the sliders to 0 and then use planetary focus instead, and utilize a single type of production facility. Micromanaging the sliders on a turn by turn basis was NOT how you best played the game. I think the changed this slightly in TA, but it was still effective.

      I agree, the unique tech trees were cool and added a lot of replayability – when they added more than two years after the game first came out.

    • RegisteredUser says:

      GC2 would not have been half as bad as it ended up to me were it not for the fact that there is no ship combat whatsoever.

      There’s just “move onto enemy tile” autoresolve boredom. That kind of throws all research/ship outfitting sense out the window and really does make it feel like just one number heap against another.

      I don’t mind this in something like Armageddon Empires(which got boring once I realized how that in turn was exploitable) which never wanted to be more than that, but if you want to be a MOO imitator, then you have got to realize just how important space combat is for a game about, well, mainly combat in space(I don’t believe in the whole spy/diplomacy blabla shebang. Domination is attained through warrrghh, not babble).

      So for me GC2 remains a nice try, but no cigar.

      I recommend checking out Distant Worlds if you, like me, enjoy space ship combat.

  10. MasterBoo says:

    Pre-orderded it, played the beta. Waited for the release. Played a minute and then stopped. I came back to it a month ago, and while I really tried to love it, I stopped playing again after less than an hour.

    What a shame :/

    At least I had Alpha Centauri to come back to :P

  11. ScubaMonster says:

    So I guess this makes the original game pointless? If this expansion is a great improvement, then there’s not really any reason to play anything other than the expansion if they didn’t really bother to fix all of that in the first one.

    • RegisteredUser says:

      That’s kind of what blew my mind when I realized that this was the official line.

  12. Gothnak says:

    With Master of Magic still being the greatest game ever made imo, i bought this the day it came out and then was as diappointed as the rest of you… I’ve never had such high hopes for a game only to end up with such a goddamn awful mess of ideas. I’ve tried later versions, but the world is bland, creatures uninteresting, the game has customisation on things that don’t matter (unit appearance, where buildings go in your city) where magic trees have no imagination at all.

    I’ll try out this at some point, but god, i don’t expect it to be any good.

  13. Sorbicol says:

    War of magic is too crippled by its underlying mechanics to recover to be honest. Once FE is released I certainly won’t be playing it again. As for all those slagging off Gal Civ 2, are you sure you were playing the same game as everyone else? If you think that game had poor AI then clearly you were playing it wrong!

  14. pipman3000 says:

    can stardock get back on their feet from the fall that was elemental?! if this collapses on itself why i would be brought to my knees! my interest in stardock took a dive after the disappointment that was war of magic

    fall fallen drop plunge plummet

  15. Freud says:

    I just realized the main reason why I don’t want this isn’t the abysmal launch of Elemental. The main reason why I don’t want this is because it simply doesn’t look all that fun.

  16. pipman3000 says:

    also am i the only one bored out of my ears about elemental’s background setting? it makes the bog-standard “humans, elves, dwarves, and orcs” fantasy world look downright fascinating. when someone advertises their game as a spiritual successor to master of magic i expect more variety than “european humans, vaguely foreign humans, humans with abutt for a forehead, and whatever the other three empire factions were, i hope the spells are in FE are going to be more then just stat+1 and generic elemental attacks.

    • MCM says:

      Yes, this too. Not just boring, but a little bit racist (“race essentialism”, that is). Very dualistic – good vs evil, etc. Boring and trite.

  17. Nyst says:

    I reinstalled the game a couple of days ago to look at the improvements they made.
    It’s still terrible.
    And I don’t just mean boring. Certain parts of the game actually make me want to stop playing then and there. Cities still look generic, combat is still horribly broken and the stats are still overly complex.

    Whatever diamond in the rough exists in Elemental, it is still only just that.

    • Antsy says:

      I honestly don’t think there’s any such diamond. But, just possibly, that turgid bowel movement of a game will be rich fertiliser for something much better.

    • pipman3000 says:

      like maybe kael can turn it into ffh3! someone distracts brad wardell with a ball of yarn and then secretly goes to work replacing the games with ffh3. he’ll never notice because he doesn’t pay close attention to his games anyway

    • MCM says:

      If Kael could turn this into FfH3, Jon Shafer could just as easily turn it into Master of Magic: Arcade Edition.

    • Nyst says:

      The diamond in question would be GalCiv2 but with fantasy instead of sci-fi.

  18. MCM says:

    bah, reply fail!

  19. Nick says:

    Yup, pretty much the ony reason I’ll even try this is because I’m getting it free. Not anticipating much.

  20. FakeAssName says:

    “Hey guys! I know what will save our game that is failing because of horrid mechanics and pacing: new high resolution monsters that badly clash with the old artwork.”
    -.-
    …. hey brad, how about less bull shitting about and simply fix the game?

    my pewter dragon would like that.

  21. MythArcana says:

    How about this idea…stop all Elemental production immediately and shift all available resources to Galactic Civilizations 3. The irony here is that Elemental came out right before Civ V (which also fairly bombed in my book) and they are still trying to fix it a year later. Just stop..pass out refunds and get crackin’ on your flagship IP and stop messing around already.

    • Nick says:

      Yes, it was the biggest dissapointment double whammy in my gaming history, I still haven’t fully recovered =(

  22. thebigJ_A says:

    So how exactly will I go about redeeming my free copy of this? I’m one of those that bought Elemental thinking it would be excellent, only to be disappointed. I have to give them credit for this giving away of the expansions (was it two, or just one you get for free?), I just hope they don’t FEEL like they’re free.

  23. Chris says:

    It should appear in your Impulse list of games automatically.

  24. RegisteredUser says:

    I liked the part where Frogboy publically admitted he f*cked everyone who bought(instead of pre-ordered) Elemental over because FE will be so much better.

    I can’t wait until that goes down the same road as Elemental, they pocket the money once more and then spend the next 6-12 months again trying to appease the defrauded consumers.

    • Premium User Badge

      Some_Guy says:

      This is free to all people that got elemental in the first few months after release or preorder.

    • RegisteredUser says:

      I stand corrected.