Elemental, like Galactic Civilizations, will have a very in-depth single player world. In fact, in terms of the single player game, it will have a lot more "stuff" to it than GalCiv had (such as a virtual persistent single player opponent which we'll talk more as time goes on).
But it will be in multiplayer that we really hope to bring new fans to the genre.
I love multiplayer games. But I am not an advocate of them in terms of taking resources up from the single player game for most types of PC games. That's because, as a practical matter, relatively few people play on-line. Not because they can't but because it's just usually not worth the hassle.
Playing on-line can take a long time, it can be frustrating and it can often end up as a total waste because of dropouts, crashes, whatever.
To address this, Elemental is going to add some new multiplayer options that we think will really help expand the interest in multiplayer.
One of those options is the persistent world: Empire vs. Kingdom. In it, players choose a side - The Empire or The Kingdom. Having chosen that, players then play on-line with various other players who are trying to help their side - The Empire or The Kingdom conquer the world of Elemental. Each battle takes place on a tiny part of the overall world of Elemental. Their opponents and friends are a mixture of real users and AI users based on what is necessary.
The AI work in Elemental is a little bit beyond what we've done before. We are aiming to provide virtual AI players who are competing in the game like a real player would. These virtual AI players would be able to join games (if no one else is available, real people get first dibs on joining games) and would play much like real people do (GalCiv players have an idea of what we mean).
Part of my work, as the AI developer at Stardock, would be to create lots of these virtual players, each with their own personalities and strategies, so that they're prepared to join up in games and provide varying degrees of a challenge to human players.
The idea here is to let people be able to get into games on-line and play without a lot of hassle remembering that this is an additional option to the other multiplayer modes available.
We'll be talking more in the future about how the Kingdom vs. Empire persistent multiplayer experience works later.