Archived News From November 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!

The news from November 18, 1998 to November 31, 1998 could not be recovered.
Fall In! Chin Up! Chest Out!
Posted by Omnivac on November 17th, 1998 (Time Unknown)

The Huscarl had the best position on the hill, but he knew the Mongol's Khan he was facing was wise. His patience running out, he ordered the Pikemen to march toward them, keeping his cavalry in the rear guard to protect the Bowmen. Besides, he had no use for it presently because of a forest flanking the right side of the Mongol's army. As the Goth's Pikemen were nearing the opposing army, he ordered his cavalry down the hill to intercept the outflanking manoeuver the enemy would surely attempt on the marching foot soldiers.

Facing him, the Mongol Khan smiled. Scores of arrows started raining down on the advancing army. As planned, he would wait and take the brunt of the impact where the Goth's cavalry would have no place to manoeuver. That's when he ordered his second cavalry force that went around the forest to charge at the Bowmen on the hill from the left side, where no troops where protecting them now. The Goth's army would be stuck between the hammer and the anvil. The Huscarl had the best postion on the hill, but now he would die.

We are working on formations this very minute and they are likey to change a great deal, so anything I say may not apply a month from now.

In general, Age of Empires is more about strategy than tactics. While formations are going to be very cool and will fundamentally change combat, do not expect to have to spend hours making slight adjustments to your formations.

Like every other feature in the game, we put a premium on formations being quick, easy and intuitive. Fractions of seconds sometimes make the difference in AOE, and I think everyone will feel cheesed if the key to victory is only micro-management.

Just as an example, imagine that your archers and halberdiers are in different formations. The archers line up and fire while the halberds keep the enemy cavalry from charging the weak bowmen. In AOE1, there would just be a mishmash of troops chasing each other around. - Greg "DeathShrimp" Street

It may look like I was dreaming when I wrote this, but it may not be far-off to what we could see in AOK. Units in formations might have bonus (+5 attack/+5 defense) to enforce using them. Flank attacks and rear attacks will result in more damage so you have to be careful and protect all your sides. Formations will rotate clockwise and counter-clockwise so you have to plan at least a minimum when you move. Units will move at the slowest unit's speed present in the formation like knights on horses forming a box around a Priest transporting a relic. Of course, all of this may be modified to some extent, but I sure can't wait to see you on THIS battlefield.

Future of Online Gaming
Posted by Omnivac on November 17th, 1998 (Time Unknown)

You can find an article at GameNet2000 about the multiplayer aspect of computer games on the net. Age of Empires is mentionned in it.

What game companies should now understand is that multiplayer is no longer to be viewed as a simple add on to a single player mode, but as that aspect of a game that gives it its longevity.

I think Ensemble Studios already did a great job at this, don't you think? It's now more than a year and I still play Age of Empires and the new expansion pack Rise of Rome. And without the shadow of a doubt, Age of Empires II: Age of Kings will only get better with things like multiplayer saves, or auto-download of the custom map being played for the players who don't have it at the beginning of the game. Read GameNet2000 article: Current state of Multiplayer Gaming. - Omnivac

A Tzar Amongst the GODS
Posted by Omnivac on November 16th, 1998 (Time Unknown)

Angel Gold at GODS managed to get his hands on the pre-alpha version of Tzar: The Burden of the Crown. You can read his world's exclusive preview and what he thinks about it.

The first and most obvious difference from every other RTS game is the way the mission briefing is handled. I've never seen a mission briefing done differently.They all start you out on a static screen, list your objectives, and you're on your way. Unless of course, you're playing TZAR.

If you want to know more, fly over there to read the preview. Gold even had the permission to show some screenshots too.

Walking on a Building Tile.
Posted by Omnivac on November 16th, 1998 (Time Unknown)
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The image to the right represents one building, which is composed of several buildings. Many other buildings are like this too. From almost the beginning, everyone wondered if units could walk on the tile of the buildings or if they would be off-limits to the units. As you noted on the image, you can clearly see a Priest walking on the tile, therefore indicating it would be possible. At the present moment, all I could get from Ensemble Studios was that it was an artist rendering (meaning you can do anything with cuts and pastes) and nothing much more, no matter how hard I tried to wololo them. Age of Empires II: Age of Kings is still under an impenetrable veil of secrecy and when new stuff will be revealed, all I can say is that you won't believe it. Remember that all that is officially known presently is almost four months old, and a lot of things may/have/will change. Stay tuned! - Omnivac

Screen Resolutions
Posted by Omnivac on November 15th, 1998 (Time Unknown)

Stop by Ensemble Studios website and make sure to vote on What resolutions do you play AOE/ROR in. It may look trivial, but I think there's more to it. It may well be related to Age of Empires: Age of Kings too, in regards to building's sizes and whether or not they would/should be scaled down. This was a topic discussed at Ensemble Studios recently. In forums, people were adamant that they wanted the big buildings even although if you play at 640x480, it would take a lot of space on the screen. So far, the 1024x768 screen resolution is leading by a good margin. Make sure to vote, it may have a greater impact on AoK that you might think.

Going 'round and 'round
Posted by Omnivac on November 15th, 1998 (Time Unknown)

You can look at animated Windmills at AoE2.com. Through lots of dedicated work, Merlin has cut, copied and pasted the fans and make 'em go 'round and 'round. You just have to imagine the creaks and wind blowing in the meantime. One day, we will see the real thing, one day you will build one, and one day you will destroy one (or capture it). *sigh*

A Town out of the Mist
Posted by Omnivac on November 15th, 1998 (Time Unknown)

Whoa! I almost had a heart attack. Mist's Town has been revived thanks to Chuck and Yzzim. They made in one week more updates than in the last 4 months. Another good site worthy of your daily visit from now on. - Omnivac

See You on Palatine Hill
Posted by Omnivac on November 13th, 1998 (Time Unknown)

Don't forget tomorrow to meet on the battlefield at the MSN Gaming Zone. First round at 1 PM EST, and second round at 10 PM EST in Palatine room for the RORers, and Victorious room for the Agers.

Facelift and New Ratings
Posted by Omnivac on November 13th, 1998 (Time Unknown)

On November 19, the front page of the MSN Gaming Zone will get a facelift and will sport several new features like downloads provided by Hotgames, editorial coverage and more games to play.

One of the latest addition as some of you may know, is the new rating system for Age of Empires on the Zone. There's already some controversy about the 'losing 100 points after 10 drops' but I think it's a good way to keep in check the dishonest players. As for the rest, it's just normal I guess because if you fight online, then your connection is part of your arsenal, You need to have a good connection. Changing alliances in pre-set teams is nice too. Should eliminate to some extents the 'Let's ally ok?', when someone drop. Have fun, and be careful next time you brag about your average 12:20 Bronze time. :^) - Omnivac

Civilization Attributes
Posted by Omnivac on November 12th, 1998 (Time Unknown)
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Hold down now, fellow warriors and warriorettes. It's not what you think. Well, yes and no. It is a civilization attributes fold-out all right but for Age of Empires: The Rise of Rome expansion pack, and not for Age of Empires II: Age of Kings. I will finish it this weekend, and it should be available at Age of Empires Heaven next week. I kept more or less the look of the old fold-out and added all the new info of the xpack. I'll admit it was done for myself in the first place, but I couldn't not share it with fellow agers. Basically, it will be JPGs that you can download, and then you simply have to print them to get yourself a new fold-out of Rise of Rome.

Age of Kings HELL Forum
Posted by Omnivac on November 12th, 1998 (Time Unknown)

The saga continue. No you're not drunk, and yes you see double posts. We have the latest version of UBBS but upgrading it from the previous version was quite hazardous. Update threads didn't quite worked well, and presently every new posts are overwriting an old post, so you get a new one as well as a copycat. One such post that was overwritten is The DeathShrimp's Gaia Art Gallery, but with some efforts Angel Mack managed to save it. I will repost the thread once I've sorted out all the words and the crazy symbols in these *.m files.

Massive Attack
Posted by Omnivac on November 12th, 1998 (Time Unknown)

At the page 163 of the December issue of SPIN magazine, you can read the article "Massive Attack" from the "Gaming '98" feature.

McCart became very important for MicroSoft's Empires, indeed. HeavenWeb attracted 180,000 visitors a month, delivering 1.2 million "page views," all focused on one product. The first six or seven months, I was alone running Heaven," McCart says, describing how his hobby began in early 1997. "It got so big -- 600 pages -- that I asked some of the better fans to help out." Eventually 12 volunteers, or "angels," joined in maintaining the site.

McCart (Michael) for those who don't know is the Archangel, now working for Ensemble Studios as webmaster. Here in Heaven, we will follow his example and continue his good work as well as upholding his gaming fan site philosophy (and converting his units <g>). Now, I'm just hoping that ES web site will get one day 600 pages and...err.. hehe.

Microsoft Launches Digital Anvil Web Site
Posted by Omnivac on November 12th, 1998 (Time Unknown)

Following Tuesday's announcement in which three Digital Anvil games were unveiled, Microsoft today launched the official Web site for the three highlighted products. The official Digital Anvil Web site includes an overview of gameplay features and story lines of Conquest, a real-time strategy game in which players fight for galactic domination in a vivid, space 3-D environment; Loose Cannon, a character-based combat simulation game that blends intense vehicular and foot-based action in a crime-infested world; and Starlancer, a futuristic combat simulation game that combines the action of a first-person space shooter with the drama and intrigue of a classic air combat movie. All three will be published and marketed by Microsoft. - Omnivac

Get Enraged!
Posted by Omnivac on November 11th, 1998 (Time Unknown)
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Lost in the strange land of Umoeir, only you can save the world against the Great Mage Shrakan and the demon he summoned from the Hadean Depths. And you can do it FOR FREE! Starting today, GameStats News Network will be giving a full boxed copy of Monolith's Rage of Mages every single day and will continue to do so for one full week.

Monolith describes their game as , "Classic role playing meets real-time strategy in this beautifully rendered epic quest!" Rage of Mages places the player in a world of danger, excitment and dark adventure.

What are you waiting for? GET ENRAGED NOW!

Half-Life Gone Gold
Posted by Omnivac on November 11th, 1998 (Time Unknown)

Personally, this is a game I've been waiting for *ahem* half my life, hehe. If a game can bring something new in first person shooters, then this is the one without a doubt. If you're not convinced, then drop by HalfLife.org and say hello to Phantom and cie. You'll find all the info you want there. - Omnivac

Halloween Studios
Posted by Omnivac on November 10th, 1998 (Time Unknown)

Herb Ellwood of Ensemble Studios scanned some pictures from the Halloween party they had last week, and you can look at them at their site. Sean Wolff has forever shattered the image I had in mind of the Death Knights of Krynn, hehe. - Omnivac

Beam the Ressources Up, Scotty!
Posted by Omnivac on November 9th, 1998 (Time Unknown)

This sure will start a raging debate again as it has pros and cons attached to it of course.

Tributes and Transporting Them by Phobotim
I think that gold should have to be transferred in a cart or war chest when tributing an ally. If a city was surrounded, gold/food etc. couldn't just appear in it through an ally's sheer good will. I seem to remember a Hittite campaign where you have to intercept an Egyptian war chest bound for the Mittani as a gift from Egypt.

Jump in the discussion and tell us what you think. It's quite clear that views on this will range from "Naaah! Too bothersome" to "Great! The game would be more strategic because of advanced planning required." I think it would be a great addition to the game. Units could be set to escort the cart with the treasure, and the idea of stealing the tribute of others is appealing. Of course, this does not end there as you then have to bring it back to your own Town Center. - Omnivac

AOE Robot Wars
Posted by Omnivac on November 5th, 1998 (Time Unknown)

No, no, no! It's not about Age of Empires IX: Age of Nano-Techlords. It's about Greg Street, assistant designer at Ensemble Studios talking about AI; Artificial Intelligence.

AOE already has variation in AI personalities. When a random map starts, the AI randomly chooses a strategy appropriate to its civ and the map, such as "Palmyra composite bow" or "Palmyra iron water". The AI files have even been improved in ROR, so you should find the computer opponents a bit more challenging.

The problem is that we set up those AI files based on the fastest (at the time) strategies that human players could come up with. The AI in AOE does not cheat (except on Hardest, where it gets a few more resources)--that is, it only builds exactly what we tell it to. What happened is that in the year since AOE has been out, human players have greatly improved their strategies, while the AI has remained the same. (As a side note, all the AI files assume a pop cap of 50, which is why the AI can't operate at higher pop caps.)

Now, what we are trying to do in AOK is design AI files that can respond to what the human player is doing. If you rush the computer, it will stop trying to go to the next age and crank out a jillion archers. If it attacks you and finds walls and towers, it will go home and make siege weapons. This approach should give the AI a longer lifespan of being challenging to human opponents. In fact, one of the fun things we are doing right now is making AI files that try to beat each other's AI files--AOE robot wars, if you will. - Greg "DeathShrimp" Street

The singleplayer experience should be greatly enhanced in Age of Empires II: Age of Kings with an improved and superior AI. Hopefully, scenario designers will be able to edit those files and have a better control for their creations. I can't imagine how wonderful it would be to edit the AI and decide IF this happens, THEN the computer will do that and so on. Designers knowing in their scenarios what the human player can build, and what the computers can build, as well as the map and everything should get this "extra" little push to make better AIs.

ICQ v. 99a Fell Off From Heaven
Posted by Omnivac on November 5th, 1998 (Time Unknown)

It seems like a little misunderstanding happened yesterday about ICQ v.99a.

I didn't make it available knowing it should not have been I can assure you. But, I have commited a very bad deed. I probably won't sleep for days. - Angel Gold

Mmmm? Gold go directly to purgatory, ask for redemption and do not claim $200. :^) Probably he was under the control of Dark Angel too, hehe. Fly over at GODS to read Gold's confession. - Omnivac

ICQ v. 99a Available
Posted by Omnivac on November 4th, 1998 (Time Unknown)

The Golden One himself at GODS has made available the Version 99a of ICQ for download (3.8 MB). Lots of new features and it is a must have! If you already have an older version, make sure you put the new version in the same directory as the old. When it starts up, it will convert all your old contacts to the new version, so you won't lose anything. If you don't have ICQ, give it a try.

Bruce Shelley Interview
Posted by Omnivac on November 4th, 1998 (Time Unknown)

You can find an interesting interview with Bruce Shelley at Next Generation Online.

Right now, it's just tank rushes and combat and conquest. We did something different, I think, with Age, giving you other ways to win and you can almost play a peaceful game and I think that's part of the reason the game was a success. So the question is, is there a next generation in that more peaceful mode for real-time games? I don't know. A further drift toward Civilization and further away from the hard core, real-time strategy combat games. So that's an interesting dilemma. - Bruce Shelley

This is a must read for any serious gamers. A good part of the interview is about casual gamers and hardcore gamers and finding the right balance to please everyone. It sure is a topic that come up quite often lately in forums of RTS games and turn base games. - Omnivac

Game Over: Statistics & Timeline
Posted by Omnivac on October 3rd, 1998 (Time Unknown)

All the statistic freaks will be pleased with the new rating system of the MSN Gaming Zone which will include your rating stats, like your best time for each Ages among other things. While it cover all your games in general, some players wants to see more data about each games when they are over.

Game Over Statistics & Timeline Suggestion by matrox
I'd like to see some more detail in the game end stats reports, even if it were just a simple matter of cross referencing each player's kills with every other player, so that I could find out how many of PlayerB's units I had killed separate from those of PlayerC, for instance.

I'd also like to see an "absolute / percentile" switch on the timeline screen to enable the timeline to be switched to a graph more representative of the total population growth over time. I know the numbers are across the top in AOE, but it is not very precise or intuitive.

Add some of your thoughts about this subject in the AOK forum. What would like to see when the game is over? Switching from graphs to numbers would be nice as you could see the exact times you've gone through the Ages. A personal log would be cool too when playing with the same name where you can see how many kills you've done with such and such units, in what ages, which civs and so on. You could look at it and see which units you use the best, your percentage of success in each ages by looking at kill/loss to determine if you're doing decent Fast Feud (AOK's version of Tool Rushes) for exemple. It would be handy for average players to learn where their strentghs and weaknesses are. Keep brainstorming!

The Worried, The Impatient and The Mailbag
Posted by Omnivac on November 3rd, 1998 (Time Unknown)

Well, hehe! It looks like a bad rip-off of Sergio Leone's The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. A new question was submitted to me, as well as the unavoidable beta question for the thousandth time.

I have heard rumors that Age Of Kings has been cancled please tell me whats going on i thought they were doing great. - Kathy Dirato

Well Kathy, you can stop being worried. Age of Empires II: Age of Kings is very well and alive and Ensemble Studios is working hard on it. You can rest easy.

When will the aoe2 beta version be ready? - WizardVII

ES probably don't even think about betas right now. A public beta test should occur next year but when? No one knows. All I can say is stay tuned because when the news breaks out, you will see it on every AOK fan sites, as well as Ensemble Studios, MSN Gaming Zone and Microsoft site. - Omnivac

All You Wanted To Know About The Longbow
Posted by Omnivac on November 1st, 1998 (Time Unknown)

Several discussions about the longbows in the AOK Forum lead me to search for accurate information about it. Look no further than The Society of Archer-Antiquaries which deal with the study of the devolopment of the bow and arrow in all parts of the world from prehistoric times to the present day and also matters relating to the history of archery in general. It is also recognised as a learned society by the British Council.

From the thirteenth until the sixteenth century, the national weapon of the English army was the longbow. It was this weapon which conquered Wales and Scotland, gave the English their victories in the Hundred Years War, and permitted England to replace France as the foremost military power in Medieval Europe. The longbow was the machine gun of the Middle Ages: accurate, deadly, possessed of a long-range and rapid rate of fire, the flight of its missiles was liken to a storm. Cheap and simple enough for the yeoman to own and master, it made him superior to a knight on the field of battle. Yet, important as this weapon was, most of our present day beliefs concerning it are based upon myth.

Take a look at their Archery Articles, especially The Medieval English Longbow and The Decline of the Longbow. Some of you may be surprised at the real facts we know for sure, and popular beliefs vehiculated.

The Temple Re-Remastered
Posted by Omnivac on November 1st, 1998 (Time Unknown)

Thanks to K_x who informed me that The Temple Remastered can be found now at a new location, and with a complete new look.

Pearl Jam's "Alive" is playing in the background, it's 6pm, GMT+1. The last files are being uploaded... Change your bookmarks NOW to http://aok.gamescentral.com/, this will be the new home of this site, The Temple - Remastered. I put a lot of work in this website, and I hope you'll enjoy it. This version is 4 times bigger than the original Temple - Remastered. It goes without saying I will keep on updating daily, with the latest info on The Rise of Rome and The Age of Kings. Hope you enjoy this site! - K_x

Undertake your pilgrimage to The Temple Remastered today, don't listen to old half-naked dudes chanting wololo, and say Omni sent you. - Omnivac