Spolight On: Elemental: War of Magic, More

We recently had a chance to visit with developer and distributor Stardock to get an update on the studio's software developments and on Elemental: War of Magic. Stardock is hard at work on its "GOO" (Game Object Obfuscation) copyright protection software--a simple copy-protection setup that...

We recently had a chance to visit with developer and distributor Stardock to get an update on the studio's software developments and on Elemental: War of Magic. Stardock is hard at work on its "GOO" (Game Object Obfuscation) copyright protection software--a simple copy-protection setup that requires users to enter their name, e-mail address, and serial code online to register the game once, then be able to claim full ownership over that game regardless of time passed or computer used. The software has already been adopted by such publishers as Ubisoft and Paradox and, according to Stardock frontman Brad Wardell, will be used by "all the big publishers" for their PC games in the near future. The studio will also soon be taking the wraps off the next revision of its Impulse online distribution client, which will feature a new "ready to play" system that will let you fill out a personal profile for yourself and then actually have prospective multiplayer partners suggested to you based on profile matches--assuming none of the people on your friends list are available for you to play.



The studio also made a brief showing of the next Sins of a Solar Empire microexpansion, Diplomacy. Diplomacy will, like the last microexpansion, Entrenchment, sell for $9.95 and will offer new gameplay content to the space strategy game. Diplomacy will add new interfaction diplomacy features and new diplomatic tech-tree options to research, including the ability to form treaties with other alien races and to trade treaties with other races. While Sins of a Solar Empire currently has an excellent space combat system, it doesn't have a way to manage relations with other space races, so the new microexpansion will draw inspiration from the diplomacy system of Galactic Civilizations II. Diplomacy will go into beta this fall and is planned to launch next year.

Finally, the studio gave us an updated look at Elemental: War of Magic. Elemental is currently in a very early beta-testing phase where Stardock is testing only gameplay concepts. In fact, the early beta presented to the testers has what Wardell refers to as a "cloth map" interface--an interface that looks like a cloth map but is actually just the game zoomed out all the way back. The version of the game we saw was zoomed in, and even though it's still very early, the graphics already had a stylized look that resembled the faded color art you might expect to see from medieval European paintings.


You'll build a fantasy kingdom and rule it forever in Elemental. Or at least, until you win, or someone else defeats you.

Elemental is still very much in development--a work-in-progress--so we were able to see only the basics of the game in action. You start with nothing but an immortal sovereign unit who can commission new buildings, though later you can marry into one of the game's other 12 base factions and sire prince and princess children who can also be married off, increasing your standing with them. Unfortunately, while your sovereign, who is both a powerful wizard and a mighty military general, is immortal, his children aren't, so when that good-for-nothing son of yours kicks the bucket, his wife's family may not react kindly. Wardell compares the courtly intrigue of Elemental to one of his chief inspirations, the Game of Thrones novels by author George R. R. Martin.

An actual game session of Elemental will let you try to do the same thing you do every night in every other explore-and-conquer game--try to take over the world--but in a variety of different ways. Among other things, you can conquer the world through military force; you can amass powerful diplomatic ties; you can win through sorcerous means (a combination of extensive magical research and controlling different magical shards that may be attuned to one of five different spheres of influence: earth, air, water, fire, and life); or you can win by "questing." Elemental's maps will have lengthy, story-driven quests that are being crafted to resemble role-playing game content, and by completing an epic arc of story-related quests first, you can also attain victory.


The game's flexible 3D engine will let you zoom in and out as you please.

Elemental's graphical engine, while still being worked on, provides an impressive level of detail and seamlessly zooms out to multiple zoom levels with a single glide of the mousewheel--all the way out to cloth map view, and all the way in to a close-up view that lets you see the tiny peasants building up your kingdom as they putter around, hammering and chiseling the walls of your castle. Elemental will support robust level-of-detail rendering to play the game at different zoom levels and will let you lock in the zoom to support the best combination of zoomed-in graphics and performance that your desktop or laptop computer can handle. The engine (and map editor) will also support deformable terrain so that the randomly generated scenario maps will have valleys, volcanoes, and bodies of water (the latter will primarily act as obstacles that you'll need to traverse by putting your infantry units onto boats).

In preparation for extensive experimentation on the part of the fan community, Stardock is planning to ship the game with the same editing tools that the studio's in-house developers use. While Stardock expects that fans will definitely create new fantasy races to play (the base game will have only playable human factions), the editor will have no polygon limit, so as computing technology increases, the fan community might continue to build huger and huger maps. Wardell even suggests that the robust editor will be useful for applications beyond playing Elemental--as an old-time Dungeons & Dragons fan, the studio head pointed out that Elemental's robust toolset could actually be used to generate maps and campaign aids for game masters running tabletop games such as D&D.


Watch for Elemental next year.

Elemental is still a ways off and is scheduled to ship next year. Like Stardock's other games, and in keeping with the studio's "Gamer's Bill of Rights," of which Goo and Impulse v4.0 are a part, the game will ship free of any DRM software.

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Discussion

18 comments
Ryusuke_Akihiro
Ryusuke_Akihiro

Whoa... This is definitely on my list of games to buy now! (Thanks to the toolset)

adamosmaki
adamosmaki

The support of stardock guys for their games is amazing

RavenXavier
RavenXavier

Incredibly Awesome. I'm in the Beta for this now. Pre-Order before the end of September or you'll miss out!!!!

melisa06
melisa06

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

melisa06
melisa06

Thank you very cool.. sesli sohbet sesli chat

commander_mp
commander_mp

Got to love those guys at Ironclad. I can't wait till it Diplomacy goes beta, I'll probably pick it up within the first week, like I did with Entrenchment. Just wish they would put these things out a little faster, but oh well.

danforinton
danforinton

"try to do the same thing you do every night in every other explore-and-conquer game--try to take over the world" I see what you did there. *NARF!*

dark-wolf12
dark-wolf12

i think i'll wait untill the third expansion comes out. because then they will be released on CD/DVD in one big pack

Geek12
Geek12

Man i love this company, they do such good business and they really know how to treat their customers. I look forward to Diplomacy and this new game looks very good.

sportwarrior
sportwarrior

Elemental sounds bad ass... Like a medieval magical Sins. Effin love it. And I can't wait for the Sins Diplomacy and Offense micro expansions. GOTDecade as far as I'm concerned.

templar71
templar71

@robchart Pretty sure he meant Robert Jordan who wrote the Wheel of Time series, but died before finishing the last book. Martin's ALIVE!

b_ux
b_ux

I bought the original Sins of a Solar Empire while I was in Singapore for 72 dollars. I was very entertained by the game, then. Little did I know that I would be unable to play its subsequent so-called micro-expansions (Entrenchment and this Diplomacy) because they are only offered as digital downloadable contents that can only be paid electronically (I cannot buy it in DVD or CD form). I am really disappointed with this move towards offering expansions only in the form of electronically paid, downloadable contents. What with customers who do not own credit cards or paypal accounts to pay for such downloads. Please, just release those expansions in CD or DVD material, stardock. I will gladly buy them, as you created a really good, entertaining game with Sins. Please.

robchart
robchart

Uhm...George RR Martin is still alive as far as I know. You scared me though with the "late George Martin" comment since I am eagerly awaiting him to finish his series...

WorldWar3434
WorldWar3434

Looking forward to purchasing the game and continuing my support of Stardock.

One_mans_floor
One_mans_floor

Looks awesome. I may have missed something but would the skirmish or multiplayer games have that quest system or would that be restricted to campaign sections of the game? The editor certainly sounds exciting too. lol reference to pinky and the brain.

KayHangman
KayHangman

I'm eagerly anticipating Elemental. It's seems to be forming into a unique strategy experience and that's a good thing, especially when it's from Stardock.

AndrewP
AndrewP

We recently had a chance to visit with developer and distributor Stardock to get an update on the studio's software developments and on Elemental: War of Magic. Stardock is hard at work on its "GOO" (Game Object Obfuscation) copyright protection software--a simple copy-protection setup that requires users to enter their name, e-mail address, and serial code online to register the game once, then be able to claim full ownership over that game regardless of time passed or computer used. The software has already been adopted by such publishers as Ubisoft and Paradox and, according to Stardock frontman Brad Wardell, will be used by "all the big publishers" for their PC games in the near future. The studio will also soon be taking the wraps off the next revision of its Impulse online distribution client, which will feature a new "ready to play" system that will let you fill out a personal profile for yourself and then actually have prospective multiplayer partners suggested to you based on profile matches--assuming none of the people on your friends list are available for you to play.

The studio also made a brief showing of the next Sins of a Solar Empire microexpansion, Diplomacy. Diplomacy will, like the last microexpansion, Entrenchment, sell for $9.95 and will offer new gameplay content to the space strategy game. Diplomacy will add new interfaction diplomacy features and new diplomatic tech-tree options to research, including the ability to form treaties with other alien races and to trade treaties with other races. While Sins of a Solar Empire currently has an excellent space combat system, it doesn't have a way to manage relations with other space races, so the new microexpansion will draw inspiration from the diplomacy system of Galactic Civilizations II. Diplomacy will go into beta this fall and is planned to launch next year. Finally, the studio gave us an updated look at Elemental: War of Magic. Elemental is currently in a very early beta-testing phase where Stardock is testing only gameplay concepts. In fact, the early beta presented to the testers has what Wardell refers to as a "cloth map" interface--an interface that looks like a cloth map but is actually just the game zoomed out all the way back. The version of the game we saw was zoomed in, and even though it's still very early, the graphics already had a stylized look that resembled the faded color art you might expect to see from medieval European paintings.

You'll build a fantasy kingdom and rule it forever in Elemental. Or at least, until you win, or someone else defeats you.

Elemental is still very much in development--a work-in-progress--so we were able to see only the basics of the game in action. You start with nothing but an immortal sovereign unit who can commission new buildings, though later you can marry into one of the game's other 12 base factions and sire prince and princess children who can also be married off, increasing your standing with them. Unfortunately, while your sovereign, who is both a powerful wizard and a mighty military general, is immortal, his children aren't, so when that good-for-nothing son of yours kicks the bucket, his wife's family may not react kindly. Wardell compares the courtly intrigue of Elemental to one of his chief inspirations, the Game of Thrones novels by author George R. R. Martin. An actual game session of Elemental will let you try to do the same thing you do every night in every other explore-and-conquer game--try to take over the world--but in a variety of different ways. Among other things, you can conquer the world through military force; you can amass powerful diplomatic ties; you can win through sorcerous means (a combination of extensive magical research and controlling different magical shards that may be attuned to one of five different spheres of influence: earth, air, water, fire, and life); or you can win by "questing." Elemental's maps will have lengthy, story-driven quests that are being crafted to resemble role-playing game content, and by completing an epic arc of story-related quests first, you can also attain victory.

The game's flexible 3D engine will let you zoom in and out as you please.

Elemental's graphical engine, while still being worked on, provides an impressive level of detail and seamlessly zooms out to multiple zoom levels with a single glide of the mousewheel--all the way out to cloth map view, and all the way in to a close-up view that lets you see the tiny peasants building up your kingdom as they putter around, hammering and chiseling the walls of your castle. Elemental will support robust level-of-detail rendering to play the game at different zoom levels and will let you lock in the zoom to support the best combination of zoomed-in graphics and performance that your desktop or laptop computer can handle. The engine (and map editor) will also support deformable terrain so that the randomly generated scenario maps will have valleys, volcanoes, and bodies of water (the latter will primarily act as obstacles that you'll need to traverse by putting your infantry units onto boats).In preparation for extensive experimentation on the part of the fan community, Stardock is planning to ship the game with the same editing tools that the studio's in-house developers use. While Stardock expects that fans will definitely create new fantasy races to play (the base game will have only playable human factions), the editor will have no polygon limit, so as computing technology increases, the fan community might continue to build huger and huger maps. Wardell even suggests that the robust editor will be useful for applications beyond playing Elemental--as an old-time Dungeons & Dragons fan, the studio head pointed out that Elemental's robust toolset could actually be used to generate maps and campaign aids for game masters running tabletop games such as D&D.

Watch for Elemental next year.

Elemental is still a ways off and is scheduled to ship next year. Like Stardock's other games, and in keeping with the studio's "Gamer's Bill of Rights," of which Goo and Impulse v4.0 are a part, the game will ship free of any DRM software.