On vacation: Don't burn the place down!

Posted on Saturday, July 19, 2014 by Frogboy

Okay guys! I'm out at the lake for the next couple weeks. I only plan to be on working when the weather is crummy.  I just checked out source code for E2015 and will be working on that during the rainy days.

While I'm out. please DO NOT burn down the place. I know it's tempting. I realize now that leaving the ammo dump and the fuel depot together in the same area of the forum were mistakes but resist! Just resist.

Thank you!



FE: Legendary Heroes v1.7 this month

Posted on Wednesday, July 09, 2014 by Frogboy

It looks like, with any luck, LH v1.7 will be going out a week from this Thursday (July 17th).

This is possibly the biggest update we’ve done to Legendary Heroes since its release.

You can read up on what’s new in it here: http://forums.elementalgame.com/455808/

Besides a ton of tweaks to the game itself, new features, new content and improved AI we were able to diagnose some crash bugs and fix them as well. So not only should it be the funnest update we’ve done but the most stable as well.

These updates are thanks to you guys.  Your purchases of DLC allow us to hire more developers to either work on LH or on other projects which free other developers to work on LH.

The next DLC is going to focus around tactical battles and new map stamps.


Game visuals: What makes a game’s graphics “dated”?

Posted on Thursday, June 05, 2014 by Frogboy

All games, even the games that looked amazing when they come out eventually start to look “dated” visually.

The challenge isn’t determining whether a game’s graphics have started to get dated looking but what specifically makes a game start to look dated.

Let’s use Legendary Heroes as an example:


What parts of the game look dated today? What parts do you think will look dated in the near future?


16 Engineering hours for LH v1.7

Posted on Thursday, May 22, 2014 by Frogboy


v1.6 of Legendary Heroes seems to have gone well and we’re now moving on to v1.7.  I’m not sure what the rest of the team has in store for that (it’s Kael’s team, I’m just a floater).  But I’ve got 16 engineer hours of my own time for v1.7 and want to make sure every hour is spent well.  I don’t know how many of you are interested in the sausage factory side of game development but if you are, this is a good chance to see it in action.

These are what I’m spending those hours on:


Est Hours Feature Description Status
1 Stamp fix Fix stamp creation for modders, add some new stamps. Done (1)
1 BattleRank overhaul Redo battlerank so that the AI can more intelligently make decisions. Done (1)
1 Leader Update Updated text and specific conversations per player  Done (1)
1 New Spells Add new tactical battle spells/abilities  Done (2)
2 AI tactical Update AI tactical perf  Done (1)
1 Squad size Increase squad size and test  Done (1)
1 Unrest penalties Unrest causes bandits to spawn  Done and then undone (was not fun)
1 Eco balance Update mana/maintcosts/research balance/hero generation  Done (0.5)
1 Wild land menace Wild lands spawn monsters who go after players, get much worse over time.  Done (0.5)
1 AI updates Have AI upgrade outposts, Better army management, Pariden use Arcane monoliths.  Done (1)
1 Gameplay Master Quest harder, Heroes spawn at capital, Nerf consulate, bigger maps  Done (2)
1 Monsters vs. AI Look again to see why AI and monsters aren’t attacking each other (likely a threading issue)  Looked at, hoping new combat rating system might help. (0.5)
1 Pathing Fix the river pathing issue  Done (0.5)
1 Update stamps World less flat, more interesting  Done (1)
 1  Misc.  (bug fixing, fix lockups, lost device, other annoying things I encounter etc.)  Ongoing


Watch this thread for updates. I’m going through this thread here for ideas.

As I finish these, I’ll update the chart to let people know. I don’t really get started on this until next week between meetings, accounting, legal, design, software work, etc. Smile


Update 1: Friday, May 30

Finished the first half day working on this. Some of this isn't taking as long as I expected (marked at 0.5 hours in the status).

Update 2: End of day

Okay, I've got 9.5 hours into this.  The AI is definitely nastier now with the outpost upgrades. The pathfinding is less annoying for me.  I had a hard lock today that I want to put some time into.  I don't want this to just be new goodies, I'd like to fix some bugs that people have reported.


The problem with fantasy games

Posted on Saturday, April 26, 2014 by Frogboy

We’ve been blessed with a lot of fantasy 4X games in the past few years.

Besides the Elemental games we’ve gotten Warlock, Age of Wonders 3, Eador, and soon Endless Legends. If you like fantasy games, I highly recommend checking them all out (except War of Magic which is inferior to all of them).

Unfortunately, as game designers, we have an unusual challenge: Magic.

Magic isn’t fair

It is really really hard to write good AI in a game that literally allows players to conjure up all kinds of game changing stuff.  The granddaddy of this genre, Master of Magic, didn’t really have an AI.  In theory it did but the AI doesn’t really provide a challenge. The game’s amazing game design makes a strong case that it’s the journey that matters, not the destination.  That is, in MOM, winning is a foregone conclusion. Of course you’re going to win. The question is how?

Revisiting Elemental: War of Magic

At the risk of being boastful, as problematic as War of Magic was at launch, it was highly innovative.  The cloth map mode it introduced is kind of expected now.


Elemental: War of Magic introduced the cloth map zoom out concept, now obvious in hindsight


The city building features were pretty amazing

The problems of Elemental: War of Magic could be summed up as follows:  It was a series of interesting game concepts that were not tied together versus computer opponents who weren’t sure what they are supposed to be doing.

If I had to do it over again Elemental: War of Magic would have been bulleted like this:

  • You are a powerful Sorcerer (or sorceress) who must build a kingdom from the ground up
  • Your goal is to be the first to cast the spell of making to take control of the world (not that conquering enemies is NOT a requirement here)
  • To do that you will need to capture the 4 types of Elemental shards: Earth, Air, Fire, Water and construct the Forge of the Overlord
  • You can build alliances with other players who control one or more o those elemental shards who are willing to tie their destiny to yours
  • Those alliances are built through arranged marriages through your dynasty
  • Go on quests to find one of the very few Champions of the world to help lead your armies to secure the land you need to build your cities along with the loot necessary to make your units, champions, and cities more powerful.
  • Your cities provide the units necessary to learn the spell of mastery, construct the forge of the overlord and armies to secure resources that required to do both.

This design takes into account the basic problem in magic games: You can’t make a Civilization style 4X game and have powerful magic at the same time. If the object of the game is to conquer another empire, then you have to deal with balance and magic eliminates that balance.  Conquering other cities should not be the goal in these games. It’s boring and tedious.  It should be optional but not central to whether you win or lose. 

By making magic both the tool AND the goal, you can eliminate mundane balance issues.  Want to protect your capital by surrounding yourself with mountains or ocean? No problem. Go for it.  But you can’t do that if the AI is required to actually conquer your cities in order win. 

If city conquest is the goal, then magic has to be gimped and at that point why have it?


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