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Age of Kings Heaven » Forums » General and Strategy Discussion » Are many people aware of the original Age of Empires 2 graphics?
Topic Subject:Are many people aware of the original Age of Empires 2 graphics?
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posted 01-15-11 08:55 AM CT (US)         
I'm not sure if there are many long termers here (by long termers I mean original Age of Empires 2 fans who were around with its inception) but the game actually had different graphics to what you see in the final game. This version was scrapped, and to be honest with you I find the original graphics quite appealing. I will try and find the original magazine pictures and scan if for you.

Firm believer in micro-management.
Introducing one of the greatest 2D RTS Medieval mods, Sword & Arrow: European Wars

[This message has been edited by ELiTE TEUTONiC (edited 09-12-2011 @ 09:14 AM).]

posted 01-15-11 09:00 AM CT (US)     1 / 1201       
You can find pictures of it on the forums if you search.
posted 01-15-11 09:39 AM CT (US)     2 / 1201       
Dom you mean the graphics they had in the BETA stages? If so check out this Mod Pack
posted 01-15-11 01:46 PM CT (US)     3 / 1201       
Lol Possidon, That there is a mix of Alpha and Beta graphics and not all of them are accurate.

But yes I agree, The Alpha stage water/docks/ships looked so frikken good.

Proud Member of Black Forest Studios
Co-creator of Silent Evil - Voted Best Multiplayer Scenario of 2009
and The Seas of Egressa - Voted Best Multiplayer Scenario of 2010
posted 01-15-11 05:43 PM CT (US)     4 / 1201       
I just added some (1998) AoK pre-release screenshots (along with a couple shots from the Stratos demo) to my facebook page. I should post them here when I get a chance.

At one time town Centers were 5x5 and then 8x8 tiles in size. Castles were 8x8 tiles for a while also.
posted 01-15-11 05:55 PM CT (US)     5 / 1201       
Seriously? Someone from ES still bothers about this game?
posted 01-15-11 06:00 PM CT (US)     6 / 1201       
I was impressed too. 11
Btw, It would be nice if u could post them here. 8x8 TC rofl want to see
posted 01-15-11 07:11 PM CT (US)     7 / 1201       
Basse > Seriously? Someone from ES still bothers about this game?

More than you realize...
posted 01-15-11 11:20 PM CT (US)     8 / 1201       
I have found my pile of old PC magazines, but it's going to take some time to go through them all...
Lady Mule
posted 01-15-11 11:29 PM CT (US)     9 / 1201       
@ ES_MattP - that is good to hear. Good to see you here as well.

Olaf the Tardy ~ ~ ~ ~ T he Laughing Mule
              (o o),|___| \
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posted 01-16-11 00:10 AM CT (US)     10 / 1201       
ES_MattP I thought Ensemble Studios had been disbanded?
posted 01-16-11 02:44 AM CT (US)     11 / 1201       
ELiTE TEUTONiC> ES_MattP I thought Ensemble Studios had been disbanded?

It was. Quite the sad story of its demise.

Myself, I had left ES in late 2004, though I'm still in the business at another game developer these days.

I've got some spare time for a while, and I'm looking to see and learn about all the things people have done to mod and extend the Genie engine games.

The genie engine has always held a special place in my heart, as I wrote (coded) a good chunk of it (perhaps more than anyone except for ES_Deperado if you count the tools I wrote). I still remember it, and the development years, in great detail.

All of the final patches for AoE, RoR, AoK and AoC were done almost entirely by me. Most everyone had moved on to AoM or G2 (the long suffering console/non-RTS game project, that eventually resulted in Halo Wars) but even then I felt more of a desire to serve the existing community with updates to the 2d games.

Perhaps I can give back a little in the form of information about the games and engine (like in the other forum where I just explained a bit about the technical details behind 255x255 tile limit).

It totally humbles me to see those games still sold at retail, and to see the community that still exists around them.

maximusSVK > Btw, It would be nice if u could post them here. 8x8 TC rofl want to see

I just went looking again, and realized that they were AoM images (when it was called RTS3, before the MS buyout). I do have a couple alpha/beta AoK images, but most are not very interesting. Is there a way I can upload them here, or do I need to get image hosting before I can imbed them in a post? I have another machine I can check for images, as well as some of the CDs sent to beta testers (but by that time, the graphics were close to final (if not already).

The 5x5 and 8x8 town centers were experimented with early during AoK's development (first half of 1998 I would say). Mark T was the designer then, and (if I remember correctly) for a little while we tried a gameplay style that had far fewer building, and more upgrades to the buildings themselves. That building dynamic didn't work as well, and the large flat areas needed for and around the large town centers caused issues with random map generation.

I also remember we had 8x8 castles for a while, and tried to make it where the units came visibly marching out of the castle gates. That just got in the way of things.

The color palette during that time (early 1998) was darker in tone than what we wound up with. In fact, Tony G (the studio boss), decided to brighten up the palette by 10% just a few days before our first release candidate. I had to convert all the existing graphics and internal tables (like the ICMs used to blend terrains) rather quickly to accommodate the change. When we added snow terrain to the conquerors, there weren't enough white-ish colors in the palette, and the palette got reworked and all the graphics re-converted.

Cheers all...
posted 01-16-11 04:56 AM CT (US)     12 / 1201       
Thanks for the information, really gives us a good perspective.

From memory I think 0AD was meant to be a Age of Empires 2 mod? They aren't using the genie engine are they? I didn't think they were because they released all the code.

If you want to upload is very good for hosting images I have found.

Also, you obviously don't have to answer this because I realise you are/were probably contract bound why was Ensemble Studios disbanded, was it a financial issue or was there just no more projects to justify keeping them.
posted 01-16-11 06:21 AM CT (US)     13 / 1201       
btw: I do not think anyone is aware of AoE 2 graphics. I think it is great, when I first time saw AOE 2 I fell in love with them. 11 Pitty I was not there since the beginning.
posted 01-16-11 07:23 AM CT (US)     14 / 1201       
ES_MattP, aka Matt Prichard? I still don't believe it, really glad to see someone from the genius team that made this masterpiece still around, and that a fellow programmer

To cut the long story short and use this opportunity to help the community - do you have any idea how to make "Age of Empires II: The Conquerors" a bit easier to improve, that is fix some bugs that were revealed during the years? Either by some sort of source code, or yet unpublished (long forgotten) tools...

AoC has its fans for more than a decade, and they learned to fight numerous problems along the way by themselves - Voobly client brought up his own patch with some sort of regularly updated anti-cheat modules (dll injection?), VEG made AoC patch that enables running the game in a window (instead of fullscreen), enabled MP3 music to be played in background without a CD in drive (instead of just midi music from the demo versions) and did some more things (all through ASM), boekabart made a patcher to enable running the game in custom, both standard and wide resolutions (wide-screen patch), and among others one of the latest "fixes" is mudlord's registry patcher to fix color problems on Vista / Windows 7 (though some random freezing may still occur on Win7 as a result of DirectDraw conflict, not fixed yet). Even tools for previewing recorded game information were developed, like this and this.

I could write much more, but not to bother you, you can check some patches/tools/resources yourself here.

The only problem is that no official support has been given to the community till date - I know it wasn't up to you nor the Team, but to those CEOs thinking of other things instead - but maybe you could help us, if you have the time / idea how to do it. I believe you still have strong feelings toward the game as one of the people that brought it to the daylight, and what a game - more then 10 years later we admire the way everything is thought of, and implemented. Even now the graphics beats just published games because of its simplicity on one hand (everything is easy to see and control, very playable) and yet with so carefully put in details on the other (even today I tend to notice small things on buildings/units/terrain and go like - "What, they remembered to put that little thing... just perfect" *nostalgic mode off* ), while gameplay is one of the best ever. This game became a pure classic, like chess

It is just too bad no one ever released something like a fan-pack or a real collectors' edition package, containing graphics for developing a community site, additional game info, developers' stories, unseen sketches, pictures and data, high definition images of in-game models - maybe even (some) 3d studio max models themselves, interesting sound recordings, more nice (editing) tools, minor bug and compatibility issue fixes... and we had a 10 year anniversary a few months ago I mean, come on, if anyone still wants to make money out of this game then he should do something in return, if not, why not hand it over to those that truly care about the game, and that could make it last for more years to come, and maybe even polish its current (almost) perfectness.

After so many years, some small bugs were discovered, not too important but annoying - like inability to cut forest with siege onagers directly once you save chapter into recorded game (after that you can attack forest only by "attack ground", instead of right clicking it) or "Explored" map in game shown as "All visible" in the game record (and vice-versa), game crashing if random map cript file is larger then 450 KB, etc, while some technical problems were more or less successfully solved but often require additional computer knowledge, or just don't work together but only in different patches.

There are many things that could live up this game even more, inhaling fresh energy into it - like a possibility to watch a game (.mgx) file just by double clicking it, or having an option to simulate 500ms (or optional) multiplayer AI response lag when playing offline to train online playing or practice build order in "a safe environment", show players' IP in multiplayer games, or being able to continue recording a multiplayer game after restoring it (because of a previous drop), or to have an option to replay a game even faster (to skip the beginning of a long game if chapters weren't saved), or to support bigger variety of resolutions in a more appropriate way then patching each time, or to be able to adapt it better for Vista / Win7 and other systems that will come in the future, or to make more map seeds (more new maps, never played before), make playing mp3 as background music more convenient (and possible, in the first place), implement a tool to track exact unit/building/technology creation/research time (for better examining the game, and maybe preventing hacks even further) while playing a game (or watching a recorded game), add an option to count user's APS - actions per second (as mouse clicks/keyboard presses, maybe even in-game commands executed)... And so on, you get the picture

Not to make this a never-ending story, I'll stop here. ES_MattP, if you have the time and would like to help the community in any way (hopping that I didn't scare you away with this post), or you know someone who might help, you can contact me on this forum, over at AoCZone, or by this e-mail - buga_junior [at] yahoo [dot] com. It is an honor to have a member of the Team included in the community life, at least for a little bit

Sorry everyone for going a bit off-topic and writing this long post, but this might be a unique opportunity. Regarding some old AoK/AoC graphics, I'll post some when I come back home (one of these days).

Cheers, and all the best.

"Master of the Huns" Collector`s Edition (Best Games, Archives, The Final)
AoC Tools: SaveChapterTool, Voobly Rating Calculator || AoE Dev Group | AoC Zone

"When I was a fighting-man, the kettle-drums they beat, The people scattered gold-dust before my horses feet;
But now I am a great king, the people hound my track, With poison in my wine-cup, and daggers at my back..."

[This message has been edited by BugA_the_Great (edited 01-16-2011 @ 09:14 AM).]

posted 01-16-11 07:30 AM CT (US)     15 / 1201       
Is there a way I can upload them here, or do I need to get image hosting before I can imbed them in a post?
If you'd like, you can email them to me and I can upload them on the server so they'll be permanent. Otherwise, you do need to upload them somewhere else and then link/embed them in a post.

As to graphics of the aplha/beta, I think I've got a few kicking around here somewhere, and may try finding them later today.

Thanks for posting, Matt.

- ک

Ladies and Gentlemen, wear sunscreen. If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be IT. The long term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists, whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience.

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posted 01-16-11 03:16 PM CT (US)     16 / 1201       
ELiTE TEUTONiC > From memory I think 0AD was meant to be a Age of Empires 2 mod?

I don't know anything about 0AD. As for mods, the only ones out there are the ones the community has created. The only "official" use of the genie engine outside of the AoE/AoK games was Star Wars Galactic Battlegrounds.

BugA_the_Great> ES_MattP, aka Matt Prichard?

It's spelled Pritchard, but yes, that's me.

To answer your first question. Yes, I know how to make AoK:TC easier to improve, but I'm not in a position currently to do anything about it. For the time being, there are some things I will have answer "No Comment" on. Hopefully that will change in the months ahead.

I will be checking out the resources you've pointed me to. I have already spoken to a couple of people, like boekabart, about their work.

If it was up to me, AoK would have received ongoing updates... like those Blizzard games got. There was work done on another patch, but it got nixed by management. It might break your heart to know that there was very brief AoK:TC playtesting on 400 by 400 maps before I left ES.

A lot of thought went into the graphics on all the Genie games. The color Palette was carefully chosen, and the artists did manual touch-up work on many of the sprites after they were rendered out from 3D studio (max). Some of the graphics went through literally dozens of versions/iterations before the final version was deemed. With 2d, there was a focus on getting a high level, but consistent, amount of visual information per pixel. That;s a level of control that wasn't achievable (for a long time) with 3D.

I would be interested in seeing / compiling a list of know bugs and limitations of AoK/TC. I wonder if there are any forum threads compiling them?

[edit] - apparently I can't post back-to-back messages here.. lol. Ok.. let me try this inline

This image was artist's herb Ellwood's first try at adding a snow terrain texture.

And this was an early interface mockup by Mark T.

[This message has been edited by ES_MattP (edited 01-16-2011 @ 03:35 PM).]

posted 01-16-11 03:27 PM CT (US)     17 / 1201       
Hopefully that will change in the months ahead.
So, something is happening?
posted 01-16-11 03:41 PM CT (US)     18 / 1201       
That snow is not so bad, at least it does not hurt my eyes. 11
posted 01-16-11 03:41 PM CT (US)     19 / 1201       
Basse> So, something is happening?

Alas no. All is quiet right now. *whistles* But in the future I may be able to share a few things.

Let's see. Here is a screenshot from "Stratos" .. a demo created in the Genie engine, circa 1997


[This message has been edited by ES_MattP (edited 01-16-2011 @ 03:47 PM).]

posted 01-16-11 04:03 PM CT (US)     20 / 1201       
WOW I personally think that snow looks much b etter than the final one aded to the game. I wish I could be able to use that in the Age of Sherwood Mod.
posted 01-16-11 07:31 PM CT (US)     21 / 1201       
Can you comment on what changes were in the works for the patch that was being worked on? Was it a balance patch or a bugsfix patch?

Please say Huns CAs being more expensive.
(id: Tonto_DaVe)
posted 01-16-11 08:09 PM CT (US)     22 / 1201       
lol, this thread is great. Developments (if any), coming from this thread, would be just awesome.

That snow is not so bad, at least it does not hurt my eyes. 11

11, ya.

And cool to see someone else who uses italics over the quote function too, haha.

posted 01-17-11 03:53 AM CT (US)     23 / 1201       
dukla > Can you comment on what changes were in the works for the patch that was being worked on? Was it a balance patch or a bugsfix patch?

Please say Huns CAs being more expensive.

Well, I have happen to have a stack of papers in an old filing cabinet and have the 2-page to-do list for the "2002" AoK:TC Patch.

It was both a balance patch, a bugfix patch, and a feature patch.

The Game Balance changes that the Ensemble Core playtesting team (with expert/top players that we hired from the community) came up with for the patch was: (I expect this could start quite a discussion)

1) Chinese starts with +25 food
2) Koreans 20% cheaper light cav
3) Korean War Wagon cost lowered to 90 wood from 100
4) Saracens free cartography
5) Saracens 10% faster berry gathering
6) Byzantines free town watch
7) (all civs) Knights cost raised to 75 food
8) (all civs) Knights - bloodlines affects them by +10 instead of +20 for other cav units
9) Aztecs, Mayans: Give castle age Eagle Warriors +10hp
10) Aztecs, Mayans: Elite Eagle Warrior upgrade only +5 hp instead of +10hp, reduced in cost to 700 food / 450 gold
11) Franks knights 25% HP bonus instead of 20%
12) Turks: start with +50 gold, +50 stone
13) (all civs) Skirmishers speed reduced to .89 movement speed (just under Man At Arms speed)
14) (all civs) Camels +5 more HP, +1 pierce armor, increased anti cav bonus +15%
15) (all civs) Archers train time -5 seconds - to 30 seconds from their current 35 (I believe)
16) Spanish: Allow missionaries to get relics
17) Vikings: Team dock bonus needs to be staggered per age. 10%-15%-20%-25%
18) Huns: Remove Treadmill Crane
19) Persia: Add team bonus - all cavalry get a +1 bonus vs. archers
20) Huns: -100 stone at start of game
21) Goths: Infantry costs go back to 35% cheaper from 35%
22) Goths: villagers move +10% faster
23) Spanish: Conquistadors +10hp

Ok, now.. Understand that those balance changes were never put into the database and actually tested, so the playtest team never got a chance to verify how "proper" they were. I'll be curious to see if people here agree with their suggested changes, or if they think they might actually make things worse.

Oh, there was also an item on the list for adding proper external mod file support...
posted 01-17-11 04:21 AM CT (US)     24 / 1201       
All these changes would be very good, except for 7, 8, 10.

Knights are already too weak they are rarely used in 1vs1 Huns war at expert level nowadays, 7 and 8 would make it even worse because cavalry archers would be more dominating then they already are. 10 would make Aztecs even more overpowered.

22 would be really good since farmers give food faster, that's exactly what's goth need to be competitive.

16 really cool!

9 is good but eagles should get attack bonus against crosbs too!

I liked Koreans and Saracens changes.
Also we would need to solve wall problem.

The game has yet large community, but many people are stopping to play because the most played map became boring after the discovery of some lame strategies for Huns and Aztecs, there is no more micro nor plans, it's just mass 1 type of unit.

There was discussion about patch to the game recently: Sadly it didn't go forward.
posted 01-17-11 04:27 AM CT (US)     25 / 1201       
Arktoc > I liked Koreans and Saracens changes.
Also we would need to solve wall problem.

What is the wall problem you refer to?
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