Elemental Status: April 2014

Posted on Sunday, April 20, 2014 by Derek Paxton


This will be a fun week for Legendary Heroes.  On Tuesday we will be release the 1.6 patch as well as updated to the Quest, Loot and Dead World DLC.  Overall this is a balance patch based on lots of playing (this is a process that can go on forever in games like this).  But we also have a few good things in store.

There is a fix that improves the randomness of item generation which is a significant fix, especially if you have the DLC’s (the more items you have, the more problematic the generation would be).  But I’m also excited because we’ve added some new features to the engine.  These are very minor on the code side (literally 3-4 lines) but modders can get a lot of use out of them.  They are the ability to have conditional modifiers be based on the target or attackers stats, rather than be comparative.

Nerd stuff:

In Legendary Heroes you can create an ability that has a conditional comparative modifier, such as the Brute ability that gives +3 Attack when you are attacking someone who is lower level.  It is conditional because it only applies in some situations, and it is comparative because it compares the attacker’s level to the targets to see if it should be applied.

Which this change we can have conditional abilities for things beyond comparisons.  We can have a conditional bonus that is only applied when the target has less than 20 hit points (as with the new Death Blow ability) or a bonus that is given only when the attacker is above a certain level, is enchanted (if we created a unitstat to count enchantments and had every enchantment increment than unitstat), or is using a certain weapon (such as in the new Master Archer ability that gives the unit a critical hit bonus when wielding a bow).

I wanted to make sure to get in abilities that used the new feature both ways so that modders would have examples (and because they are fun).

On Thursday we will be releasing a new Leader Pack DLC for Legendary Heroes.  This adds a new sovereign from the lore of Elemental to each of the 10 base factions. This is the bulk of what I have been playing with for the past 2 months when I have been testing and balancing the game.  This will give you 10 more leaders to play as or against in your games.

With each of the leaders the goal is to make the experience different than playing with other leaders.  My favorite is Magesta. For those of you up on your Elemental lore you will know that Magesta is Procipinee’s daughter. So I wanted something that made her feel like a powerful caster, but giving her a lot of spells felt a little flat. Giving her attack magic didn’t feel very “Paridenish”.  Procipinee herself was always one of my favorite leaders because her crown broke a rule of the game and made her feel like she had a special proficiency with magic without being overpowering (as well as encouraging her players to really invest in enchantments and not be bled dry on mana for other spells because of it).

Magesta was the last leader I had to design, everyone else was ready (though one went through a redesign, which I’ll talk about later).  I just couldn’t find any combination of abilities that felt interesting for her.  I knew I should create a new ability for her, but for what? Create a new spell for her? Give her a bonus to her summons? I tested a lot of abilities and none of them really changed the way I played her. I was playing her like any other caster.

The trick came when I was in looking at the MeleeAppliesSpell code. We have some abilities that trigger a spell whenever you strike an opponent. The Frostborn ability does this to apply Slow every time the unit strikes an enemy. I began to think about what an ability that triggers a spell each time the unit casts a spell would look like and I had Magesta’s unique ability.

It’s called Lifeblood, each time Magesta casts a spell she is healed. That spell could be summoning an elemental or hasting an ally, each spell doubles as a heal spells for Magesta.  When I played with this I found myself timing my spell casting more carefully. I would attack with my melee attack instead of summoning an elemental to allow my enemy to get a swing at me first, then summon the elemental to take advantage of the healing. When I realized I was playing her differently than other leaders I knew I had a good ability.

After Magesta I thought I was done. I wrapped the DLC pack, sent it to QA and started inviting others to play. One of those was Adam Biessener, our brand manager, marketing guy and all around strategy game nerd.  Adam gave great feedback but he didn’t think that Moria, Queen of the Gandru (our new Umber leader) was good enough. Moria established power by rallying bandit groups and umber tribes under her banner. She wasn’t the most powerful of the leaders, but she is sneaky and ruthless. Adam remarked that LH lacked a good thief archtype in its leaders and he thought Moria would be a good place to add that. Since Adam always likes to suggest solutions when he points out problems he also recommended a new roguish ability for her, that she have a chance to get better items from goody huts. I got the ability in and a few hours later we were play testing with her, it felt great and though she can be unbalanced (we put a lot of work into pacing out what random items you find and when, and she breaks those rules) she is fun to play.

One of the challenges in providing new leaders for a game that allows (if not encourages) you to make your own leaders is that it may be viewed as being lower value. After all you can fairly easily make 10 new leaders on your own with the tools we have provided. But even in that case you can take advantage of the DLC. All of the new leader abilities have been added to the sovereign creator. There are new abilities like Lifeblood and Treasure Finder. There are new items and equipment in sovereign customization. And even if you never play as the new leaders, it’s fun to find new enemies to play against.

I look forward to getting it released this week and I hope you have as much fun with the patch and the DLC as I have.


The financial model of LH updates

Posted on Sunday, March 09, 2014 by Frogboy

Greeeeeeeeeeeeetings my friends!

This post is more for indie developers who want to know how much money things make. 

First some basics on game budgeting:

  1. Every person on your game you should budget at $10,000 per month. It’s a good rule of thumb. 
  2. You should target a 25% “profit” on your game to cover the unexpected as well as for future growth
  3. Steady State income represents the gross income of your game without sales, promotions, new releases, etc.
  4. Steady state takes 6 months to eliminate the “new game” anomaly.
  5. You need to take opportunity cost into account when budgeting (am I better off working on this versus that?)
  6. Opportunity cost is hard to calculate and is what kills most studios long-term.

The steady state of LH is $40,000 per month.

That doesn’t mean its annual income is $480,000 a year because there are lots of events that cause income spiking (Christmas is a 4X spike, Thanksgiving is a 2X spike, and the Steam July sale is a 3X spike.

For LH, that means I could justify 3 resources on it before taking opportunity costs into account.  Once I consider opportunity costs, the number declines to 1 because those other 2 resources are better off on Galactic Civilizations III or Star Control or “Elemental 3” or what have you.

Before anyone poo-poos 1 resource, bear in mind that I made the original Galactic Civilizations by myself. So 1 person can still get a lot done. But that’s where we are.  1 person means that the game can continue to evolve.  Some months it might be an artist. Another month a developer.  In January, it was Charles (programmer) fixing bugs and tweaking.  In February it was Kael doing new balance changes.  In March it’ll probably be me (I have anger management issues with the game’s pathfinding). 

The main funding source: DLC

DLC is really the funding source.  The base game is doing $25k and DLC is picking up the remaining $15k.  In effect, DLC purchases are providing the $10k resource and the $5k profit necessary to keep the game going.

The next DLC: Spouses

For those of you reading this, the next DLC is going to allow players to have spouses. Kael has meticulously designed a spouse for each player (and to be honest, they’re way cooler than the sovereigns because Kael got to really go crazy with these).

The one AFTER Spouses will probably (but not certainly) be Random Map expansion. That is, a lot more “interesting” stuff for random maps. I plan to do this one myself as I’d like to see random maps made a lot more interesting and I’ve had a lot of practice in the past year in my own “for fun” mods.



Elemental Status: March 2014

Posted on Tuesday, March 04, 2014 by Frogboy

Lots of cool stuff going on around here.

Fallen Enchantress: Legendary Heroes 1.6 is due out in April and there will be a new DLC released shortly after that.  It involves spouses. That’s all I’ll say.

Legendary Heroes 2.0

Also, as some of you may have heard, Legendary Heroes 2.0 has been approved and budgeted. This will be a free update of some significance.  I don’t have a due date for it yet but it does have some interesting changes in it including ZOC for monster lairs and possibly some changes with regards to the way champion inventory is handled. 

Other things on our “want” list for Legendary Heroes 2.0 include:

  • Updated diplomacy options to help build longer term relations
  • More performance boosts (we’re working on redoing the way trees are handled)
  • Some tweaks to the way magic is done
  • More effective alliance handling (this is something we really want to see)
  • Some changes to the way the Spell of Making is handled

That’s just a bit of it.

Obviously, this all boils down to having enough revenue to pay for it.  The numbers for LH are quite promising.  In January, about half of LH’s revenue came from the DLC. So that’s a good sign.

Next DLC

Like I mentioned, we have new DLC coming out next month. It’s already in QA.  Kael has gone pretty crazy with it.  Anyone from the Civ IV world knows the crazy stuff Kael can do so I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised. But it’s pretty neat.

But AFTER that one I have two questions I’d like to get your views on:

1. How OFTEN do you want to see new DLC?  (Monthly, Quarterly, Every couple months, etc.)

2. What would you like to see our NEXT DLC be?

a. Stamps pack (for more random map generation interest)

b. More tactical battles maps

c. More magical spells

d. New factions

e. More loot

f. More quests

g. Something else (if it involves writing c++ code, it’s not DLC so has to be content that is downloadable).

Other sneak peeks…


image image image

Stay tuned!


What’s parts of Legendary Heroes do you find the most fun?

Posted on Monday, February 17, 2014 by Frogboy

First off, for those of you not familiar with our forum structure, I go by 2 handles: Draginol and Frogboy.  Draginol came from the old idea that when I posted from home, I’d use a different handle. Bah. Now I never get them straight.

Anyway, I need your help. 

As concisely as possible, can you list the things in Legendary Heroes that you find the most FUN.  Not unique. Not stand-out. But FUN. Can be something that you love in many games.

After a few posts, I’ll list my own favorites but I really want to hear your thoughts on this.



I live!

Posted on Monday, February 17, 2014 by Draginol

I’m going to do a follow up article soon on how I almost killed myself with cough suppressants.  Long story short, I came down with a bad cold in January but I’ve been traveling like crazy so to function, I just took a bunch of cough suppressants to control the cold.  Unfortunately, that led to a pretty severe case of bronchitis which has basically taken me out for the past 3 weeks.

Lots of stuff going on in the Elemental universe though.  An additional year of development effort on Legendary Heroes was approved in January. While we shouldn’t expect a bunch of updates on LH this year, there will be some across the board.

We also have something new in store which we’ll talk about more when it gets closer. 


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