Archived News From July 1998

Due to the old age of most of these news items, all hyperlinks have been disabled. It is also not possible to comment on any of news. They are presented in their current form purely for your reading pleasure - it's the closest thing to a time machine we can offer you!

Posted by Omnivac on July 29th, 1998 (Time Unknown)
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Some more artwork for you to lay your eyes on again today. This time, it is a 3D rendition of the Blacksmithy from the Western European Building Set. Again, there's an insane amount of details and the total number of polygons must be... errr quite a lot. Tens of thousands seems reasonable.

Remember also that this is still early art. Everything is subject to change until the final version, but one thing we know for sure though, it CAN only get better.

New multiplayer feature
Posted by Omnivac on July 29th, 1998 (Time Unknown)

Will it be possible to transfer a scenario to all players for a multiplayer game? The current method in AoE is to be on ICQ, and then send the scenario to all the players, join the game and start rock & rolling (Hittites' way, hehe). Even then, sometimes the game hangs because someone has a different version. He thought he had the right one, or he inadvertly saved it looking at the map in the editor resulting in a slight different version. Something interesting came up in the AoE newsgroup:

For example I design a scenario and want to play with a friend, or two. We all log on together and I create the game based on my custom scenario. The game would check the other players systems and then when it does not find the scenario, it copies the scenario from my folder to the other players folder and we are all ready to play. - Willy

Dave answered with a short response, with no detour:

Yes, file transfer is in and working. - Dave C. Pottinger

This will be a cool feature. When playing Age of Kings and SpineMan comes in with his latest map, he'll simply have to host and start the game. Startup will be a little longer but everybody will get the right version of the scenario. No hassle or confusion. Thanks to K x of The Temple Remastered for the info.

Incredible artwork from ES
Posted by Omnivac on July 28th, 1998 (Time Unknown)
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Some amazing eye candy for you today! AoE2.com got their little hands on a beautiful 3D rendition of a Temple from the Far East Building Set. If anyone had doubts about the talent of Ensemble Studios' artists, then take a good look at this. The details are simply astonishing. Note that this is not the resolution that you will see in the game. Once the wireframe is built and textures are applied for coloration and shading, the object is rendered and cleaned-up of stray artifacts, and this is basically what this picture is all about. Excellent work!

ES made the News II: Age of Metroplexes
Posted by Omnivac on July 27th, 1998 (Time Unknown)

Ensemble Studios has the spotlight once again, this time in an article from the Dallas Business Journal titled "Metroplex is new hotbed of computer games industry".

That is largely why Ensemble has no plans for leaving its Dallas roots.

The company is now planning to move into a 20,000 square foot space atop a building near Meadow Road and North Central Expressway. The expansive new digs will be a haven for workaholic developers -- complete with a theater, arcade, cafe and bar.

"Everybody who's anybody knows Dallas is the hot place" for game development, Goodman says.

Okay, okay... I have a video and a 30" TV, a computer and a Nintendo, a coffee pot and a six-pack of beer. But enough of my ramblings, read the article instead. <g>

Friendly Fire
Posted by Omnivac on July 27th, 1998 (Time Unknown)

A new voting poll has been added and it asks a very simple question. If your bowmen fires in a melee with some of your units fighting there, should arrows hit them as well? Vote now and let ES knows what you think.

Mea Culpa
Posted by Omnivac on July 27th, 1998 (Time Unknown)

Please! Stop sending emails about the Chop down trees for wood! :^)

It was my mistake as I really don't look at these lines anymore when I'm playing Age of Empires. Since past October, one should know what everything does in the game, hehe. So it really never occured to me that it was always displayed when the cursor was on trees no matter what was selected. Sorry.

Now, at least the idea of some military units doing peasants' job was okay I guess. Some more food for thought.

ES Weekly Themes Shots VI: The Wild Hunt
Posted by Omnivac on July 24th, 1998 (Time Unknown)
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Hunting Deers in a Pine Forest is this week's Theme Shot. Can't wait to use the editor and make some maps. This will be a blast. Now unto my hallucinations once again, hehe. Seems like peasants will hunt with a bow this time. Maybe use it to defend themselves? There is two Bowmen also in the screenshot. One seems to have his bow strap to his back and doing... something??? My old eyes can't make it out. :^)

The other Bowman is in the usual stance, bow in front and ready to fire, and guarding a little road to a house. What's unusual is that he is selected, and the cursor must be somewhere on a tree. At the bottom of the screen you can read Chop down trees for wood. (???) Would it means that military units (or some of them) could do peasants' jobs too? Definitely a possibility.

The drawback could be a lower efficiency (something like a AoE Jihaded Villager) but you could still use them for gathering, like when you're running away from disaster (maimin_matty Mongol hordes or something, hehe). Your surviving units, and if most or ALL of them are military units, could hide somewhere and rebuild even if you don't have peasants anymore. Am I on something here?

GameStats previews Age of Kings
Posted by Omnivac on July 24th, 1998 (Time Unknown)

If GameStats News Network is not one of your daily stop to get all the info you wants about the gaming industry, then go there immediately to read and SEE their preview of AoK. You will find an interview with the big man himself, Bruce Shelley:

Balancing is a function of testing and review, as it was for Age of Empires. We have examined the history of the period and pulled out units and facts that we think will make for a fun game. It is our policy to always stress fun and gameplay. This at the expense of realism, if necessary. We can't lose sight of the fact that we are in the entertainment business, not the education business.

And some never before seen screenshots exclusive to GameStats! One of the first thing you see is that "yellow player" color has been used for these. And some new cool stuff can be found too. A wooden palissade can be seen, Docks now have flags like Markets probably for the same reason (more flags means a dock is better for trading overseas and with allies), a new tower probably from the western European set but for an early age, a newly non-upgraded castle mainly due to the fact of the missing central dungeon and only little structures can be seen inside. You've got a lot of things to see today! :^)

Show Stealer?
Posted by Omnivac on July 24th, 1998 (Time Unknown)

Looks like our sister site Age of Empires Heaven wants to steal the show <g>. We opened the new Rise of Rome section for your prying little eyes. Expect it to be filled soon with a bunch of info and eye candy. Forget what you know, Age of Empires will never be the same. This is a must buy for any true Ager.

Do you hear a RoR in the distance?
Posted by Omnivac on July 23rd, 1998 (Time Unknown)

Don't forget the new theme screenshot tomorrow (hunting), and next week (featuring boats and water).

Week Six of the Themes is tomorrow and next week (Week Seven) is the last one for a while for AOK. For Week Eight we will be having something VERY Special coming your way. Michael McCart - Webmaster

Something VERY special coming your way? Mmmm... Let's all think hard for a second. "Last one about AoK for a while", so that would mean theme shots of... Rise of Rome? Stay tuned for all the great new information coming your way.

Webmaster Stumped
Posted by Omnivac on July 23rd, 1998 (Time Unknown)

Sorry for the faulty link. The VGS button now leads to Chris Campbell's Video Game Stumpers. take a look around, it's very cool. So far it's been an inter gaming community thing in Dallas and it's grown leaps and bounds since then, with a hundred or so developers playing now. At least, you can see the questions and try to answer them. Or be stumped!

Night of the Living Dudes
Posted by Omnivac on July 22nd, 1998 (Time Unknown)

Ensemble Studios has some nice pictures of their offices, Thanks to Mario Grimani. On the wall behind Paul Bettner, there is a Age of Empires: Rise of Rome T-shirt. Looks cool. Mark Terrano seems to like old 60's rubber suit monsters movies by the look of his wall paper, hehe.

Ever wondered what happens at game company's offices in the middle of the night? It is 1:00 am last Thursday. I decided to take a break and make a snapshot of ES offices at night.

Hmmmm.. "Coke machine. Looks empty. Archangel, the sign-up sheet for stocking is to the left ;)". Mario Grimani - AI Specialist/Programmer

Looks like Archy has a dual-job now. Filling the ES site content and the Coke machine. <g> Go see the nightly pics of ES offices.

Channel 8 Transcript available
Posted by Omnivac on July 21st, 1998 (Time Unknown)

The Transcript of WFAA Channel 8 visit of Ensemble Studios can be found also at their home site. It's better than nothing for those of you who don't have the RealVideo player, don't want to download it or have trouble running it.

Scouts and Veterans
Posted by Omnivac on July 20th, 1998 (Time Unknown)

sefullness of scouts? In AOE they are usefull in the beginning for fast exploration and as "eyes" for poor sighted units, just like Dave said. It would be nice though to have them gather information rather than just seeing farther (connection to achievements screen. hint, hint :^)). The other tidbit concerns the veteran soldiers (that came up in the last ES Meets the Fans chat).

I would disagree that scouts are useless as currently implemented, though. There are a lot of other units besides catapults and Minoan archers to fight against. Putting a scout in a group of cavalry is a huge bonus (no matter what units you're going up against). Scouts could certainly be more useful, though, which is something we're working on for AOE2:)

We have veteran units on our wishlist. Dunno whether they'll get in or not. There are some micro-mgmt issues that they create (namely, you have to pay a lot more attention to which of your 20 swordsmen is which, which is a very tough thing to do in a realtime game). Dave C. Pottinger - Engine Lead

Posted by on July 20th, 1998 (Time Unknown)
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Dallas TV WFAA Channel 8 has a RealVideo Broadcast of a visit to Ensemble Studios. President Tony Goodman and Designer Mark Terrano speaks about Age of Empires and Age of Empires II during the guided tour and you can see glimpses of new animated screens in action, sound included. Choose the 5:30 Newscast for Sunday July 19th and once loaded, fast forward to 10min 45sec. Click here for a shortcut to go directly to the broadcast.

The Alpha Decree updated
Posted by Omnivac on July 20th, 1998 (Time Unknown)

Third version of Age of Kings: An Alpha Decree is online and available. This is a great ressource for new visitors to learn all the accurate and latest information about Age of Empires II: Age of Kings. While this comes from reliable sources, please keep in mind that everything is subject to changes until the release of the game.

ES Weekly Theme Shots V: Trading
Posted by Omnivac on July 17th, 1998 (Time Unknown)
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Trading is the name of the game this week. Here is an early look of the new improved economic model of AoK. Trade Carts moving between Markets, and notice the flags flapping in the wind that signify the level of power and importance of that particular market. Flags can go from 0-10 and the more flags, the more expensive, durable, and powerful the ressources for trading are for each specific markets. Notice also empty and full trade carts.

Nuts, Berries and Lions
Posted by Omnivac on July 17th, 1998 (Time Unknown)

Another preview of Age of Empires II: Age of Kings can be found at Games.net today.

Ensemble Studios surprised the gaming world last year with the success of its real-time strategy game Age of Empires, which sold more than 1 million units. Without a single orc, knight, or occasional mammoth tank, Age of Empires showed everyone that there was more to RTS games than just blood, guts, and rockets; there was also nuts, berries, and lions!

On a more positive note from Nash Werner, only 7,000 hours are left before the game is completed. That's 25,200,000 seconds and I suggest using this, as the countdown goes down way faster, hehe. Go read his article and see what he has to say also.

For Your Eyes Only
Posted by Omnivac on July 17th, 1998 (Time Unknown)

Should players have access to the achievements screen during play? Should players know when you're "aging" or have started to mine gold? When you stay on your side of the map, should you have access to this "free" spying? Well, the vote has been cast and the results are in.

  • 3% said no access to the achievements screen Whatsoever.
  • 7% said like AoE. Click a button and get all the info.
  • 88% said it should depends on information gathered by spies, scouts and the like... meaning you should do something to get your information on the achievements screen.
Of AI and Men
Posted by Omnivac on July 16th, 1998 (Time Unknown)

Scenario and Campaign Designers will be happy to hear about the new strategy module in AoK. In BigDog's own words, you can expect to do a lot of cool things with the AI that weren't possible with the AoE system. Although not much of AoK's Scenario Editor has been revealed so far, it looks very promising.

Sure, to a point. It's always going to be a tradeoff type of thing.

With AOE1, we put most of our computer player emphasis on developing the best AI opponent for a random map game. Since random map games don't have very different victory conditions, we got a CP that didn't understand all of the different victory conditions you can put into a scenario, but did understand tactics very well (in addition to generating all of his tactics/executions in realtime (i.e. no preprogramming or scripts). We definitely believe that the random map game is one of AOE's best strengths, so we'll carry some form of that emphasis forward to AOE2:AOK.

However, since we're starting with a really good random game CP (that will get lightyears better with the addition of a completely new strategy module), we can do more with the scenario side of things. The expert system that we're putting in place will also allow scenario writers to do a lot of cool things with the AI that just weren't possible with the AOE1 system.

So, the answer is yes, but, when faced with a choice of having the CP understand every last possible victory condition versus making him better at figuring out how to transport into the back of your town, we're going to pick the latter of those two.

Dave C. Pottinger
Engine Lead, Ensemble Studios Corp.

Building Sets
Posted by Omnivac on June 15th, 1998 (Time Unknown)

Sean "Lord Soth" Wolff revealed in the forum the Buildings Sets of AoK. Only the Western and Asian Set were known so far. Naturally, one would have to be done for the Turks, Saracens and Persians and another one for the "Raider Civilizations". Since the Raiders are nomads, they would need special buildings that don't look like permanent structures and, probably the main reason why they have a set of their own. So as of now, the Building Sets you can look forward to are West European, Middle Eastern, Far East and Raider.

Middle Eastern
Turks
Saracens
Persians
Far East
Chinese
Japanese
West European
English
Franks
Germans
Goths
Byzantines *
Raider
Celts
Mongols
Vikings

* The Byzantines may well have the Middle Eastern set too due to their location and the fact that their architecture had been influenced by the Turks and other middle eastern civilizations to some extent. Note that this is just my tentative guess. Do not take it as official...yet! <g>

ArchAngel flying to Nirvana
Posted by Omnivac on July 15th, 1998 (Time Unknown)

I guess a lot of people knew it indirectly, but now it's official. Our own ArchAngel flew to higher clouds and now is the webmaster for the Ensemble Studios site. Archy was a nice person to work with, and will fit very well within the ES family. Heaven will miss him dearly and will always welcome him back with open "arms", hehe. Whether with my new Egyptian Camel Riders or my Frankish Cavalry. Always look for an apparition of the ArchAngel in the forum from time to time, as well as other Ensemble Studios peoples. Congratulations Mike for a well deserved job. And thanks also for my 500 or so converted units. Looking forward more, hehe.

Look for the press release at our sister site, Age of Empires Heaven.

The New "Kid" on the Block
Posted by Omnivac on July 15th, 1998 (Time Unknown)

Brian Moon also joined Ensemble Studios as the new Chief Financial Officer. Not only Brian is an experienced accountant, but he is also described as an Age of Empires fanatic. Brian worked for two Big Six CPA firms, Deloitte & Touche and KPMG Peat Marwick, and most recently served as tax director for AMRESCO. He also worked closely with their CEO on several projects.

Welcome aboard Brian. Hoping to know you better in the following months. Inside sources also tells that with the new economic model of Age of Empires II: Age of Kings, Brian will be the "deadly feeder" of Ensemble Studios. Beware!

Age of Empires II: Age of Kings - NOW SHOWING!
Posted by Omnivac on July 14th, 1998 (Time Unknown)

The movie started, slowly and jumpy at first. I was trying to figure out the logo unfolding before my eyes, wondering if Ensemble Studios had a new one. But as expected, it turned out to be the GamePower's logo. Fade to black. Then it started.

Oh boy this little gem is magnificient. The first time I saw the peasants moving in the town made me reach my mouse to order them around. Aaaargh! No luck. As I realized this, the scene moved to a forest with two armies standing in front of each other ready for battle. Seeing them move and engage is just so beautiful. Another highlight was two trebuchets firing on a stable. This gives a good idea of their firing speed... no more machine guns. Another thing I spotted was farms on elevations. Yep! you heard me right. Farms can be build on elevations now and the Windmill was a the top of the little hill. And wait to see like 20 units (peasants, swordsmen, carts, etc...) exit a town. They all go out nice and easy through the gate with no bumping, turning around, wondering where they are and other such thing. Major improvement in this area.

Now get your drool bucket, sit back, turn off the lights and crank up the volume. Take me to the movies NOW! If you're more patient, then go for the 1273K version for a better view and sound. VivoActive Player required. The lucky ones who have the VivoActive PowerPlayer can save the movie on their hard disk drive and watch it with no Internet delays. Better yet, you can expand the viewing window to watch your saved videos at twice their original size!

What? You are still reading this and not watching the movie??? :^)

ES met the Fans
Posted by Omnivac on July 12th, 1998 (Time Unknown)

Special thanks to Chris Campbell, Chris Van Doren, Paul Bettner and Michael McCart of Ensemble Studios for being under siege by a horde of information hungry fans last night, and Merlin of AoE2.com for setting the ES Meets the Fans chat. Thanks also to the fans for being patient and making it an enjoyable evening. You can bet other chat sessions like this will happen again in the future.

...AND although it would be a close battle upgraded cavalry would beat camels. Their main prupose is to slow the ever popular cav rush. The same is also true for slingers, it would be difficult to mount an offense attack with either.

...Yah, as chris said, ships are now multi-functional, so you might be able to use a fishing ship to also garrison a few units for transport in a time of need

...The AI, being done by Mario Grimani, is getting a complete overhaul. AI will be much more able to adapt to the strategies of the player, and much more intelligent about compensating for things like getting attacked early. Also, we are looking into giving the users control over the AI scripts for modification :)

...The de-emphasizing of some of the older civs strengths doesnt really hurt the civs at all. In fact the yams (who we specifically targeted as too powerful) are still one of the better civs in the x-pack. As for monster civs the main objective is to equalize them without losing their specific characterisitcs.

Don't content yourself with only this. Go read it all (edited version for easier reading) and digest all the info you can.

See you on the "Battlefield"
Posted by Omnivac on July 11th, 1998 (Time Unknown)

You want some answers to your questions? Then don't miss tonight the opportunity to meet Chris "Torgo" Campbell, Chris "dCypher" Van Doren, Paul "Winter" Bettner and Michael "The Archangel" McCart (who's the last one anyway? <g>). Other members of Ensemble Studios hope to make the rendez-vous also, so there might be some surprises.

If the first thing that comes to your mind when you think about mIRC is "What?" Then, check out the mIRC Homepage to be ready for tonight. If for some reasons you cannot attend this event, don't worry as the transcript will be posted afterward with all the juicy new tidbits.

The event will be moderated by Merlin of AoE2.com, super player maimin_matty and myself, Omnivac among others. So prepare your questions carefully and stop by tonight for the ES meets the Fans.

The Ten Commandments

  1. Connect to EFnet channel. You will see a long list, so you just simply choose the one closest to your location.
  2. Once in the status window, simply type /join #ensemble and you'll join the chat room.
  3. In the chat room, the only thing you will be able to do is read. Sysops will have a "+" or "@" sign before their names.
  4. By clicking on their names, you will open another chat windows and inform them you have a question. Your name will be put in the queue.
  5. Be patient and wait for your turn. Have your question typed in and copied, so you can paste it when your turn comes in the #ensemble chat window.
  6. You may be allowed a follow-up, and once done you will be muted again.
  7. Try to follow the conversation and not ask the same questions.
  8. If time permits, you may ask other questions depending on the number of people present.
  9. Disruptive persons will not be tolerated and will be kicked out of the chat and banned from re-entry.
  10. Let's make it an enjoyable evening for everybody.

A more thourough guide can be found at AoE2.com. And don't forget to thank the Ensemble dudes for their time and availability. They're a great bunch of people and take very seriously what you, the fans, have to say. Don't miss this great opportunity!

Mountains and Palm Trees
Posted by Omnivac on July 10th, 1998 (Time Unknown)
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This week Theme Shot features a very beautiful landscape, and the mountains are simply gorgeous to look at. The Ensemble Studios' artists have done a real nice job rendering them and it's another proof of their AWESOME talent. Another interesting thing about the Shot is, the Bombard guy seems to have lost his...well, his Bombard (Canon). Can it be two seperate entities? Only time will tell.

Speaking of Weekly Theme Shots... Ensemble Studios has a poll about them. So pay them a visit and be sure to vote YES! We wouldn't want to lose them, do we? And while you're there, say hi to The ArchAngel and sign the guestbook.

Saturday Night Fever
Posted by Omnivac on July 10th, 1998 (Time Unknown)

Dont' miss the big party Saturday night! Chris Campbell, Chris Van Doren and maybe other ES employees will be on IRC to answer your questions. The mIRC channel and room will be announced Saturday morning.

If you don't have mIRC already, then head on over at the mIRC Homepage to download it for free. I suggest reading the instructions for Net Newbies and Download Dummies for a quick start, to be ready for ES meets the fans. Thanks to wacky wizard, Merlin of AoE2.com for organizing this event. Don't miss it!

Attacking is the best defense?
Posted by Omnivac on July 10th, 1998 (Time Unknown)

One of the main concern of fans is that AoK will be too much of a defensive game. With mighty fortifications and castles, and the need of Bombard Canons and Trebuchets to take them down, many wonders how the gameplay will be affected. Laksamana had interesting thoughts about it:

The defender must always have primacy over the attacker. It can almost be considered a rule of war.

In a siege situation, the defender has a military advantage, but surrenders mobility and economy. The besieger blockades the defending town, allowing no supplies in or out. Given that, can the defender how long can the defender hold out? Or, more interestingly, does the attacker's main objective HAVE to be the annihilation of the defender? Sieges were often used to wring concessions from the towns being besieged. The objective was not always to burn the town to the ground, but to gain political advantages from the situation. Given the strong economic component in the game, I suspect a siege might been more interesting than a simple "who can outlast the other" scenario. A well-placed siege can cripple an opponent without necessarily killing every last one of his peons.

Also, keep in mind that the besieger is also under a time constraint. Surely you don't think the defender's allies are going to be sitting around while the besieger merrily pounds the walls of the castle with his trebuchet? A army is surely along the way to help lift the siege. And unless you're strong enough to face a 2v1 when it arrives, you should either leave, or destroy the castle quickly. - Laksamana

Basically, it will be the same as in Age of Empires when you think about it. Being stuck in a corner will eventually kill you because your economy goes down the drain (no ressources gathering, trading routes cuts off, poor economy to manipulate the global market, etc...) so you eventually have to take actions and plan a sortie. The only difference in AoK is that you'll probably not die as fast as in AoE in this situation.

If you have other comments about this or anything else, then post your thoughts in the forum. Ensemble Studios read them, are interested in what you say, and sometimes write messages too. Is this Heaven or what? <g>

ES in-house interview with Harter Ryan
Posted by Omnivac on July 8th, 1998 (Time Unknown)

Project Manager Harter Ryan is the Ensemble Studios cool dude featured this week for an in-house interview with some good comments on the gaming industry. Read the full interview at Ensemble Studios.

I consider playing boardgames an excellent background for computer gaming, as learning the rules and playing the game makes you, the player, "the computer". As a player you get considerable insight into the mechanics of the game's design as well as the trade-offs that the designer had to make. I don't think computer players get to see nearly as much of that when they play a game, although it is even more obvious in a computer game when poor design or game balancing decisions has been made.

Harter Ryan
Project Manager, Ensemble Studios Corp.

Rob's Empire gets a face-lift
Posted by Omnivac on July 8th, 1998 (Time Unknown)

Have you been lost down the road to Rob's Empire? Well, here's a small note from him and why it is so. Drop by and say hi!

Rob's Empire has been down for reconstruction for while. Finaly, after many late nights, the site is back online better than ever! We have added many new features and we are still exanding FAST. Some of the new features include an (almost) complete Articles/Reviews and Interview sections! These include all of the relevant information that we know of. There are also MANY more new areas and features. EG, A very different SiteMap. To know what I mean you will just have to take a look yourself! Jump on over to http://age.gamerslink.com and take a look for yourself.
Dawning of a New Age
Posted by Omnivac on July 6th, 1998 (Time Unknown)

The Computer Gaming World's article of the July issue is online at Gamespot. Great reading for those who missed the magazine. It is essentialy the same article Gamespot UK published last week, but with a better presentation. So, if you're the newcomer around here, go read the article to increase your AoK Lore.

You can always check our AOK: An Alpha Decree for the latest facts and rumours about Age of Empires II: Age of Kings, as it will continuously be updated in the following months.

Hiding behind Stuff
Posted by Omnivac on July 4th, 1998 (Time Unknown)

From the forum, a post from Spat about the "Angels' halo"...

Can hardely wait for the final product....but one question comes in mind.... some of the units are still showing their contour when they stand behind a building...hopefully its a technical they're trying to solve... i would be a bit desapointed to have those kind of lines moving around in a busy village... - Spat

Keep in mind that this could actually change until the final release. I think it looks okay and would not be too distracting. Ideas could be an on/off toggle Where you choose if you want to see the effect or not. Naturally, one that is obvious but not confirmed is whether or not the owning player is the only one that see the outline for his units. You could use this to hide units in forests, behind buildings, to plan an ambush. Wouldn't it be cool?

New Building
Posted by Omnivac on July 4th, 1998 (Time Unknown)
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It seems that everybody missed the new building in the last Theme Shots from Ensemble Studios. AND it's not really just one building, there is actually seven of them scattered here and there in the village. We have the first look at the House from the Asian Building Set.

Weekly Theme Shots
Posted by Omnivac on July 3rd, 1998 (Time Unknown)
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This week Theme Shot features an Asian Village amidst various trees with the wonderfully rendered terrain. As always, look for any new details while you scrutinize the new pictures, and comments on them in the forum. For now, I just had one vision that struck me... The Goth cavalry of "Omnivaric" sacking and burning this town (can't wait to see how it will look, hehe). Go to the Images section for more pictures.

Enter Sandyman with a RoR
Posted by Omnivac on July 2nd, 1998 (Time Unknown)

Sandy Petersen, Lead Designer of the expansion pack for Age of Empires: Rise of Rome talks about himself, his job and our favourite past-time. He was kind enough to stop by and have a little chat with Heaven.

For instance, today I used the scenario editor to match fire galleys vs. triremes, cat triremes, and juggernaughts in various combinations to see how it did; then I changed the fire galley data and tried again till I got the result I wanted; however, success in such a controlled test doesn't always parallel what happens in the game, so I'll need to playtest it again this afternoon with a bunch of Ensemble employees.

Sandy Petersen
Lead Designer, Ensemble Studios Corp.

Our sister site Age of Empires Heaven has all the information you need. Hop in there and enjoy!

ES face the fans
Posted by Omnivac on July 1st, 1998 (Time Unknown)

Saturday July 11th at 8PM CST, Chris Campbell, Chris Van Doren and maybe other members of the ES staff will meet the fans on a IRC channel. The first half of the session will see various webmasters of AoE/AoK related sites ask their questions, followed by the fans asking theirs in turn. Webmasters should submit their questions to Merlin as soon as possible. More information available at AOE2.com about this big event.

ES in-house interview with David Lewis
Posted by Omnivac on July 1st, 1998 (Time Unknown)

David Lewis is the fifth Ensemble Studios person under the looking glass this week. Get to know Dave better by reading the Interview. Vegas? What? Age of Kings Vegas? Naaah! We'll stick with Age of Kings Heaven. <g>

Presently, working as a programmer on the Age 2 project. I am a generalist programmer so I do various tasks. I presently working on changes to the timeline and achievement screens. When I get done with this I am scheduled to start working on the online tech tree.

David Lewis
Programmer, Ensemble Studios Corp.

Gathering information...
Posted by Omnivac on July 1st, 1998 (Time Unknown)

A new voting poll has been added, this time asking you if players should be able to see the Achievements Screen during the game, to "spy" on other players. It is well known that top players check it several times in the beginning to predict the course of action of their opponents, whether it will be a tool rush, a bronze rush, villager-booming to get a huge economy, etc...

Would the removal of this omniscience ability be better for the game? If players have not established contact, you should not know what is happening on their side of the map. Think about it and cast your vote!