CEO Brad Wardell filed a lawsuit earlier this month against a former employee, an employee…who sued him for sexual harassment two years ago.
Elemental: War of Magic
Publisher: Stardock Entertainment
Developer: Stardock Entertainment
Stardock Studio’s CEO Brad Wardell is making waves in the gaming media this weekend in perhaps one of the ugliest ways imaginable. The CEO of the Michigan-based PC developer filed a lawsuit a few weeks ago against a former employee, marketing manager Alexandra Miesta, for $1 million in damages for the mishandling of Stardock’s 2010 release of Elemental: War of Magic. The claims made by Wardell state that Miesta “destroyed and/or stole Starock’s Elemental materials, analytics and trade show information weeks before the release of Elemental just before quitting, causing the company to lose all their marketing data and analytics for Elemental: War of Magic only three weeks before the game’s scheduled launch.”
Considering the reception of Elemental was subpar at best and Wardell at the time admitted to the game’s shortcomings, the claim does not seem so groundless upon first glance. However, in December 2010 Miesta filed a lawsuit against Wardell for sexual harassment. According to documents obtained by Kotaku, Miesta was seeking unspecified damages in the excess of $25,000. Allegations of harassment include Wardell sending emails to Miesta with sexually explicit material and a 100 question “purity test” survey asking sexual related questions such as “have you engaged in group sex?” or “have you engaged in anal intercourse?”
Wardell also seems to have a track record for harassment at Stardock. Several witness dispositions have revealed that he made several comments about female employee bra sizes, asked Miesta to attend a media tour because “[her] nipples look better on TV” and, the straw that would break the camel’s back, touching Miesta’s hair during a media tour dinner in May of 2010. Shortly after that media event, Miesta would send a letter requesting Wardell to stop the sexual harassment because of how it made her uncomfortable at Stardock.
Wardell would reply to Miesta through an email, promising to change “some of” his behaviors.
Miesta did just that back in August 2010, finally achieving her lawsuit in December of that year. As for the sexual harassment lawsuit, it has been slow-going for a year, until July 13th. Wardell had motioned for a dismissal of the case, alleging that not only did he not sexually harass Miesta. In July, Judge Robert Ziolkowski denied the dismissal, ensuring that Miesta v. Wardell will go to trial.
For those still following this, basically, Wardell sexually harassed Miesta, Miesta sued him, Wardell tried for a dismissal and failed, and about a month later Wardell filed a lawsuit against Miesta. It should be noted that in the move for dismissal, Wardell’s lawyers do mention that Miesta deleted files before she left Stardock in 2010, but several witnesses contradict this claim. In fact, an anonymous member of Stardock revealed to Kotaku “that at the time, nobody mentioned any materials having gone missing or any sabotage having taken place and showed Kotaku communications from Wardell that indicated satisfaction with how Miseta’s staff replacement was taking over the review kit and review guide process.” Considering most of the problems with Elemental, the game in question, were QA issues and technical glitches, it seems unlikely that marketing material would be the cause for Elemental’s failure, something Wardell said over a year ago.
Finally, there is one more bit of news from Wardell, who responded to these allegations on the message board Quarter to Three:
Both cases are currently pending at this time, but that is truthfully irrelevant in the end. The lawsuit by Wardell against Miesta just reeks of desperation on his part for his behavior. To blatantly sexually harass an employee, and then accuse her of destroying materials from her job through a one million dollar lawsuit after her case is pushed forward becomes a motion of hypocrisy. If this was the case, why didn’t Wardell sue Miesta after she left the company? Why wait two years to make that claim, and why wait until the timing for the lawsuit was perfect because of your own losing battle? Those type of moves are transparently obvious in the end.
I would wish Mr. Wardell luck on his cases, but I hope that he get’s what is coming to him. Call me biased, but his behavior is deplorable in this situation, and I have no sympathy for him or his actions. As for Ms. Miesta, I hope that she never has to suffer that sort of abuse again. It just goes to show how jokes can sometimes blow up in your face, be it intentional or not, but owning up to your actions instead of making things worse is the way to go.
Stardock games in its ever vigilant pursuit to make the ugly release of their magical RTS Elemental have released their first major patch. The game appears to at last be not only fully functional, but worth an in depth look too.
“Elemental: War of Magic Released. Balls.”
I had tremendously high hopes for this title, and when I started it up the first time I was amazed with how difficult it was to play. The memory leaks were so bad I had to restart the game once about every ten to fifteen minutes, and I had to restart the campaign no less than three times before I realized it was utterly unplayable.
When I finally managed to get enough gameplay time in, I noticed how horribly broken the game was. Not just technically, but also mechanically.
|PROS||Unique genre, customizability, creative content|
|CONS||Slim campaign, resource allocation, AI with Alzheimer’s, still some stability issues|
|WTF?!||This game was released in AUGUST. I’ve only found it playable now|
I have very fond memories of Microprose turn-based strategy games from my childhood. Master of Orion, Master of Magic and X-Com: UFO Defense (or UFO: Enemy Unknown for our European counterparts) were affairs that lasted for months. Even though I was also romancing titles like Syndicate, Return to Zork and a young upstart RTS called Warcraft that year, it was not uncommon for me to frequently return to Master of Magic and its kin to conquer the realms of science or arcane wizardry.
Certainly, we’ve seen a lot of contemporary and futuristic strategy games since then, both real-time and turn-based, but the world of magic appeared for a time to have sequestered itself to either the Heroes of Might & Magic games or the Age of Wonders series. I had been waiting for magic conquest to come back, and to my surprise Stardock games was thinking the exact same thing.
I’ll make this clear right now: I will be writing of the game trying to approach it as a new user. The scoring will *not* take into account earlier versions of the game (the 1.1 patch was released last week) and instead focus on what they have to offer with a complete, working product.
The game itself is not that distant from many other civilization management-style games. Players take control of a powerful channeller who founds an empire and through blood, sweat, tears, mayonnaise, back massages and an inclusive-manner-of-picking-children-for-teams-in-gym-class raises their kingdom up and holds dominance over the lands. Cities are given building and training queues, each allowing the city to produce/augment resources (Currency, Research, Food, etc.) or train military units, both templates and those of your own design. When entering the fray, battles are turn-based on a grid, with each unit getting a certain amount of actions each turn.
There IS a single-player campaign in Elemental, though I wonder why. The story is quite thin, and there isn’t nearly enough depth to the campaign as there is in the free play mode. For example, you don’t manage a research/spell tree in the campaign ever and they disallow you from making your own pioneer units, which found cities. They just give new cities to you when you’ve advanced far enough. What’s more is the story is incomplete, banking on the upcoming first DLC set (and possibly more to come) titled “Book 2: Magea” to continue the narrative. What’s strange is, though lackluster, I’m not completely sure how this contributes to the final evaluation. Most civ-style games don’t bother with a story mode as it tends not to add much, and though that’s true for Elemental (it really doesn’t seem to add much more than a limited tutorial), I’m somewhat glad that Stardock is trying to fill out their games.