Remember the buckets of love poured on Elemental: War of Magic when it launched in August? The lavish critical acclaim? The fawning blog posts? The waves of forum adulation?
Neither do I. Instead, we got a few tough reviews followed by a bunch of internet drama, culminating in heartbreaking layoffs. It's not that critics hated the game--this is Stardock we're talking about, one of the few indie beloved--but when you launch a game prematurely and exacerbate the error by standing on it, you're asking for trouble.
How Elemental slipped quality control's tethers remains a mystery, but it's now beside the point. What matters was that the guy responsible, Stardock founder and CEO Brad Wardell, stepped up by effectively backing down and admitting the game was a mess in need of a massive overhaul. More than just a bug-stomping hunt, in other words, and for a few game concepts, a fundamental rethink.
It's almost time to see how the team's fared. Wardell dropped a massive update last night detailing Elemental's upcoming 1.1 patch, a patch his team's been working on for the past two months, and which he believes represents "an important step" toward bringing the game "up to its potential."
It's in final beta now, and should be available this week through Impulse, Stardock's digital distribution service.
"When the game first came out, a lot of people (including us) were disappointed with it," wrote Wardell on his Facebook page. "It had not lived up to our expectations both in terms of quality and cohesiveness."
"At the time, we said we were committed to doing what it takes to make Elemental into the preeminent fantasy strategy game for the PC," he continued, citing as "crucial" to that process the addition of an enterprise project manager (Fall of Heaven's Derek Paxton) and new quality control procedures.
"Version 1.1 of Elemental: War of Magic is only the beginning. We will begin work on the next update (for January) as soon as this goes out the door."
Extending an olive branch--actually two--to gamers, Wardell wrote that Stardock will give away the first two expansions for the game to everyone who bought it prior to October 31. And if you bought (or buy) it after that date but before the end of the year, he says you'll still get the first expansion pack gratis.
Keep tabs on us with Twitter (@game_on)