Elemental: War of Magic is an unabashedly deep and complex PC exclusive, made by gamers for gamers, that melds the turn-based strategy and role-playing genres. It could only come from Stardock, a company small enough to take risks and innovate, but big enough that it can secure its own distribution and make those ambitions a reality. We were able to have a lengthy, in-depth chat with their fearless leader about Elemental, as well as the state of the gaming industry and Stardock’s role in it, so grab a beverage and read on!
Part 1 – What is Elemental?
FiringSquad: What sort of gameplay modes are there?
FiringSquad: Okay, for the record, please introduce yourself.
Brad Wardell: My name is Brad Wardell, I am the president and CEO of Stardock and I’m also the designer and one of the developers on Elemental: War of Magic, an upcoming PC strategy game.
FiringSquad: Could you describe Elemental for those that may not know anything about it? What kind of game is it and how is it played?
Brad Wardell: Sure! Elemental is a PC turn-based strategy game set in a magical, kind of medieval setting, in which the player takes on the role of a powerful magic caster, which can also battle with a sword, so sort of like a [battle-mage] type guy. They either build up their faction as a Kingdom or an Empire by researching technology, learning new magical spells, going to war, forging diplomatic alliances with other players, going on quests and all kinds of other stuff.
The way I usually describe it to my friends who are not gamers is that, well, for everyone who’s ever played Dungeons & Dragons, and has been in their party where there’s a fighter and a thief and a mage and a cleric, and gone into some dungeon or a temple or some ruins and gotten wiped out by the demon or whatever, Elemental is really what happened after that. Now, you’re the sovereign, the king, the emperor of that land that that took place in, and you kind of have to clean up after that sort of thing. So, in Elemental, you play up against 8-10 other factions that have the same goals as you do.
The game has single-player in a sandbox mode where it randomly generates the world every time you play. It also has a campaign that has a story, which was actually written by a team over at Random House publishing; it’s an original story that you walk through. You also can play online multiplayer versus other people, up to 16 players over the internet. So those are the primary ways of playing.
You win the game by either conquering the world outright, or having a diplomatic victory with other players – what you do is you ally up with all the remaining players, which is easier said than done. Another way to win is through the Master Quest that is to research enough quest abilities so you can actually go on this really advanced quest to find the pieces of the Forge of the Overlord, put them together, and win the game. Another option is to gain control of all the elemental shards and then cast the Spell of Making, which allows you to gain control of the world, as well.
FiringSquad: Can you play multiplayer on LAN?
Elemental requires you still have internet access; you do have to have an account [and sign in] to play multiplayer. The way it works, almost as an anti-cheat mode – unless you set up your own custom servers, which I guess you could for LAN, but I don’t know if that’ll be available on Day 0 or not. Effectively, all the data comes from the servers, so someone can’t mod their local machine for victory, so to speak. Other than that, when we play internally, we’re playing on our LAN.
FiringSquad: How do the turns work for multiplayer? Is everybody moving at the same time or do you have to wait on the slow people?
It’s simultaneous, and then when someone hits the turn button, the clock starts ticking down for the other players to finish their turn. Up until then, everyone can be moving; It’s a turn-based game, but movement within a turn is real-time.