Archived News From September 1999

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!

Castle Time Challenge!
Posted by Omnivac on September 30, 1999 @ 3:23 p.m.
How fast can you build a Castle? If your Byzantine masons are the fastest to build a Castle by October 24th, then you should check out Mr.Fixit's Lair and win $100, that is unless someone else beat your best time. Are you up for the Castle Time Challenge? A random player in the top 20 will also win $25. Start practicing today.

Mis-Printed Manuals, and Problems  

Angel Omnivac
For missing or bad parts (like the manual which we have heard has had some blank pages in some cases) the consumer should call MS Sales at 800-426-9400 for replacements.

For other problems, the contact numbers are listed on the second page of the manual, under "Microsoft Product Support Services". To save you some time, the "free" support number for the United States is 425-637-9308, M-F 5AM-9PM PST and Saturday 9AM-3PM PST. There is a 24x7 "Paid" number, 800-936-5700, but they require a credit card number for the help.

AOK already in Europe?  

Angel Omnivac
Looks like Age of Empires II: Age of Kings can be found in Greece. Here's the email I received from Web Developer/Designer Sotiris Varotsis:

Greetings fellow gamer

I noticed today (as of 29 September) that on the ageofkings.com site you mention that AoK has been released in US and Canada and that is scheduled for european release in 28 october in Europe.

However I took a stroll by the large computer stores in Athens (Greece) and whadya know.. AoK is on the greek shelves as well one day after the official US release. Possibly these are the first copies not adapted to the greek locale yet.. (greek manuals and support) but who cares?.. everyone here prefers to read the manuals in english since every other translation seems puffy..

I thought you might be interested to know.

. o O (Sotiris Varotsis - Web Developer/Designer)

Dang! Nobody beats Hermes as a postman. He's one quick dude.

DeathShrimp's Design Tricks  

Angel Omnivac
Ensemble Studios' Campaign Designer Greg "DeathShrimp" Street posted in the Scenario Design Forum some hints and tricks about Age of Empires II: Age of Kings trigger and Artificial Intelligence system. It may looks very complicated at first, but do not worry... it is really simple and logical. And to help out all the scenario designers out there, you will find the AI Script Manual on the AOK CD. It is named CPSB.DOC and you can find it in the DOCS directory.

AOK's trigger and AI system are much more powerful than the equivalent in AOE and ROR. Unfortunately, this can also make it harder to get a scenario to behave the way you want it to. While editing both per files and triggers is pretty easy, there are some tricks I can clue you in on to get you started.

Lesson One: CP demanding tribute

Age2oonsl  

Angel Omnivac
Now that the game is out, it is time for you, artists at heart to send your funny Age2oons. Submit them to Angel Washizu and it may end up in the Age2oons section. Send pictures of good visual quality, and try to keep them at 50k or so. Stay tooned for AOKH's Funniest Age2oons.

Official AoK Strategy Guide  

Angel Omnivac
Stratbook Cover

San Francisco, CA, September 30, 1999 - It's the dawning of a new age in real-time strategy games. The era of Civilization has ended. The sun has set upon Command & Conquer's domination. As the new millennium approaches, gamers are preparing for the release of arguably the most anticipated real-time strategy game ever published - Microsoft's Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings-the sequel to the best-selling and award-winning Age of Empires PC CD-ROM game.

In conjunction with the release of the game, Sybex is proud to publish Ensemble Studios Official Strategies & Secrets™ to Microsoft® Age of Empires II®: The Age of Kings™ ($19.99, 384 pages). Loaded with inside tips and information, plus art from the development team, this official guide was written by the game's co-designer, Bruce Shelley. Helping Shelley was a team of Ensemble Studios' insiders and world-class Age of Empires II players.

Ensemble Studios Official Strategies & Secrets™ to Microsoft® Age of Empires II®: The Age of Kings™ includes:

  • Detailed walkthroughs for every single-player campaign, including insights from Ensemble Studios designer Greg Street
  • Hardcore multiplayer tactics that show you how to crush your enemy and coordinate your efforts
  • Expert strategies for ensuring economic growth and military dominance
    In-depth analyses of all thirteen civilizations
  • An exclusive look behind the scenes at Ensemble Studios, written by the game's co-designer, including a discussion of what went into the game's development process
  • A full-color poster featuring gorgeous high-resolution art straight from Ensemble Studios

This news broadcast brought to you by Angel Omnivac,
misleading people into thinking that sending sheep
to scout for me is a good idea.

VMDL Revealed
Posted by Washizu on September 29, 1999 @ 5:25
A lot of people have asked me about the VMDL cheat.What is this VMDL?What does it stand for?I had no idea.I thought maybe it was some type of 3D scripting language, but that was VRML (I think).Well, last night at the Release Party, the guys from Ensemble Studios asked the question, "What does VMDL stand for?" to win a copy of AOK.After many people gave answers that were WAYY off, including myself, they started giving hints... it turns out that the cheat unit VMDL stands for Villager Male David Lewis.David Lewis is an Ensemble Studios programmer, and apparently there is some sort of inside joke at ES on this one.I have yet to see this cheat unit, so if someone out there could describe it, maybe it would shed some light on the joke ;)Or better yet, maybe Dave could! Read about Dave Lewis here.You can read the whole text of the release party here. To access the VMDL cheat, type "I love the monkey head"

"Caffeine is a drug of the devil and I try to avoid it at all cost." - ES_DavidLewis

THREE WORDS  

Angel Washizu
New AOK Taunts.

AOK Duplications and CD Key  

Angel Washizu
Most of the people I've heard of trying to make "back-up" copies of AOK with a CD burner have failed.   This is due to a new way of preventing illegal CD's from being burned.I don't know much about it, but it seems to work according to some forum posters.

Personal opinion of Washizu ->Many people are complaining that this prevents them from making legal backups for their software, as allowed in the end user agreement.I have not read the end user agreement yet, as I still don't have the game, but is backing up your software that much of a necessity these days?   I have a bunch of games, and not one CD has ever gone bad. Granted, in the days of 5.5 inch floppies, one static shock would wipe a disk out, but CDs are much more durable. If you take care of them, they'll be fine.

Also, in AOE/ROR, you didn't need the CD to play multiplayer if you had at least 1 CD per 3 players.Last night at the Release Party I heard some people saying you needed the CD for each player in multiplayer, and some saying you didn't.Most of the people I hear posting about it today say that you do indeed need a CD for every player.

New ES Poll  

Angel Washizu
"What Civ do you enjoy playing the most?" is the new poll at ES Web.It's way too early to tell who's winning, so go over there and vote!

New Zone Rooms  

Angel Washizu

Here's the list of all the Age2 Zone rooms and their themes:

The Crusades - Only Western Civs allowed (not confirmed)
Divine Winds - Only Asian Civs allowed (not confirmed)
Deathmatch Room - Random Map - Deathmatch Only
Regicide Room - Random Map - Regicide Only

Standard Rooms: Any setting allowed

Hunt The Royal
Conquest Club
To Play the King

Dark Ages
Baltic Conflict
Imperial Horizon
Rule the World
Deathmatch


Restore Room 1- for restoring games
Restore Room 2 - for restoring games

AOK in Canada  

Angel Washizu
I'm getting lots of e-mail from people telling me that AOK is not out in Canada. Yes, the official day is October 8th for a Canadian release, but a number of people have contacted me saying the have purchased it in Canada, and just this morning I posted that Future Shop in northern Vancouver will have it for sale before then.

This news broadcast brought to you by Angel Washizu,
and Angel Omnivac will be post here tomorrow :).

Attention Canadians!
Posted by Washizu on September 29, 1999 @ 1:35
If you live near Vancouver you can get AOK at the Future Shop!

"I work at Future Shop in North Vancouver...Just wanted to let you know that all Future Shops should be recieving copies of AOK on Sept 28 - 30. There will be a $10 rebate on them starting Oct 1st (if you buy a copy of the game before this, just get come in within a week of buying to game for price protection). Western Canada has 3950 copies on order and my store is getting 50 copies. If there is anyone in the area that needs a copy of AOK right away, there are no rainchecks yet in my store." - Trent (Bitter Beer) Hansen

If you meet "Bitter Beer" in person, tell em Washizu sent you! :)

Team Chat
Posted by Washizu on September 29, 1999 @ 3:52
Here's a quick tip for multiplayer games.When you're in pre game chat, typing ; only allows people on your team to see your chat text.For example.

;hey guys, lets attack them in the Fedual Age
The release party was a blast for everyone there. Tons of ES dudes hanging out with tons of fans.Forumer Zelda_Gannon won a zone t-shirt, no doubt the highlight of his life from his reaction ;) and Prof_Darovan won a zone t-shirt and a copy of AOK!Congrats guys!Expect to see the chat text up pretty soon and a few TAUNTS to download.Yeah you heard me, the new AOK fan created Taunts!

Plus, I added one new command line that ES_Winter gave me.

This news broadcast brought to you by Angel Washizu,
wishing he had that blue box right now.

Age2 Zone Is Working!
Posted by Washizu on September 28, 1999 @ 4:05
Check out the all new Age2 Zone, which is up and running!They must have been working around the clock, because it wasn't supposed to be up until October 1st.Be sure to be there at 3:00 PM PST for the release party!

Mis-Printed Manuals (Again)
Posted by Washizu on September 28, 1999 @ 3:21
Ok, thanks to those of you with messed up manuals who sent in where your copy of AOK was made.I need one more bit of info from you, though. Please send Archangel at Ensemble Studios the bar code number on the back of your manual so MS can track it down. Thanks

Command Line Inputs
Posted by Washizu on September 28, 1999 @ 2:18
Thanks to markgame for posting the AOK command line inputs. They can be found right here.Also, it turns out that the music in AOK is in MP3 format, NOT the taunts, so submit them as .wav files as before.

Head to Babbages! 

Angel Washizu
Got this note from Chris Van Doren of ES:

"They had a few unreserved copies at Babbages today... So another confirmed spot for people to look." - chris van doren

Try there if the Electronics Boutique near you doesn't have it. :)Whew... lots of updating today.Also, one forumer, Rev_it_man, has a confirmation from EB World that his copy of AOK was shipped this morning!

Mis-Printed Manuals
Posted by Washizu on September 28, 1999 @ 12:50
If you have one of the misprinted manuals, take it back to the store where you bought it, but first check on the top of the box and see where it was made... It might say MADE IN USA, or MADE IN PUERTO RICO.Send me where it was made, and I'll forward it to the right people at MS so they can track down the problem. Remember, only send the info if your manual was messed up ;)

Zone Release Party  

Angel Washizu
The MSN Gaming Zone is throwing an AOK release party, and you're invited!

It's party time! Join the Zone team for some civilization conquering fun in the Release Party game room as we host the Release Party for Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings. Party begins September 28. The Release Party runs throughout the day, but we'll have special events in the afternoon beginning at 3 P.M. Pacific Time.

Remember, it's a party, so we don't even know what will happen, but one thing is for sure! The new MSN Gaming Zone Prize Blimp will make an appearance. The Blimp, which has the user ID of TheBlimp@Zone, will choose a game player and award them a special prize just for hanging around! It's our way of saying, "Hi-de-ho!" and thank you for playing online. So get your copy of Age of Empires II, be here September 28, and take a chance on winning some cool prizes. We'll be waving at you from TheBlimp!

This news broadcast brought to you by Angel Washizu,
and there's another news broadcast right below this one.

AOK Selling Out
Posted by Washizu on September 28, 1999 @ 12:30
Many forumers have been complaining that Age of Kings has been selling out local Electronics Boutiques everywhere.Make sure you call your local EB before heading out. Here's where you can find it's number.You might want to consider buying it online from EB World, as you should be guaranteed to have it in a few days.Good luck!

Misprinted Manuals?  

Angel Washizu
There are rumors now that many of the AOK manuals were misprinted. If this happened to you, take it back to where you bought it and exchange it for a new one. If you REALLY need one now, check the CD.There might be a digital copy of the manual on it.

Dstark: Now this sucks.My AOK manual pages go to page 30, then skips to page 63!Pages 31-62 are missing!Then when you get to page 94, the manual starts back at page 63 again!This Bites!

AOK Released in Canada  

Angel Washizu
The wait is over for Canadians as well!I have confirmation of AOK being spotted in "the land where ice was born."

Picture of Saboteur  

Angel Washizu
One of the cheat units, the saboteur, can be seen right here with a pic of the Viking Longboat, and the regicide king.

New Forums 

Angel Washizu
In case you were so delirious from AOK's release that you couldn't tie your shoes, you probably noticed that we split up the forums.We now have one for strategies, scenario design, and the old VVV forum, for clan talk and war stories.

Cav Units get No Bonus Against Infantry 

Angel Washizu
In AOE, cavalry units got a +5 attack bonus against infantry units, making them very good to use against them, but Mr. Fixit points out in the forum that in AOK they get no such bonus, although their attack and hp are usually higher anyway.

This news broadcast brought to you by Angel Washizu,
sleeping more hours before 11:00 AM than most people do all day.

Sandyman Eats his Words!
Posted by Washizu on September 27, 1999 @ 9:53

 

On September 19th, in the Age of Kings Heaven forum, the following dialog took place...

Q) It should be out September 24, right? Because for most companies it takes only about ten days between gold & release in stores!

E
S_Sandyman
aka Sandy Petersen:A) Most companies don't have to print as many copies of their game as we do Also, MS is pretty painstaking about getting things right. Anyway, don't expect it in September. In fact I'll come right out and say that if it comes out in September, I'll change my gaming handle to "Candy-@ss". Watch this space3.

AOK Shipped today, September 27th.

sandy01.jpg (44623 bytes)

This is Sandy's office door...

This news broadcast brought to you by Angel Washizu,
want some candy?

Long Live the King!
Posted by Washizu on September 27, 1999 @ 8:55
Thanks to Chubby Hubby and Ranger for sending in pics of the Age of Kings "King" unit, seen in every Regicide game.
king1.gif (50886 bytes)

He can't attack, he has no armor, but according to Ranger, "he's a fast moving little bugger."

Next on the most wanted list is a pic of the feared Viking Longboat!Send in a pic of the longboat or any other battle screenshots, and I'll post them

Send in any scenarios or campaigns to Angel Spineman, and taunts to Angel Zen.Try and come up with new taunts, not just old AOE ones :)You can find more info about sending in files in our downloads section.

This news broadcast brought to you by Angel Washizu,
soon to be attacking you with trebuchets!

AOK RELEASED!
Posted by Washizu on September 27, 1999 @ 4:00
I am trying to get this info up as quick as I can... hehe

Numerous forumers reported getting a call from Electronics Boutique that their pre-ordered AOK could be picked up today.Many EB's still won't have them until tomorrow.

ES_Deathshrimp confirmed in the forum that AOK has been shipped and he has seen copies of AOK himself.Chris Van Doren, an ES artist, also sent me an e-mail saying he has picked up a copy himself. Finally, ES Web has a picture posted of ES_Deathshrimp and ES_Moonster holding copies of AOK they just bought. Woo hoo!

I believe the official word on a European release is October 28th.

The AOK Zone will not be operational until October 1st.I got this letter from Brian Moon at ES:

"AoE II has begun to hit the shelves, and should be in somewhat wide distribution tomorrow.The official word from MS regarding the Zone is that it will be fully up and running for AoE II play on October 1st (this Friday). They did not expect the game to be out before then!

Think of this as more time to practice. Rather than the Zone being late, the game is early. This is a good thing!
Enjoy!" - Brian Moon (ES_Moonster)

This news broadcast brought to you by Angel Washizu,
soon to be attacking you with trebuchets!

AOK RELEASED!
Posted by Washizu on September 27, 1999 @ 10:55
Well, sort of.Many people who pre-ordered with Electronics Boutique wrote to me saying EB called them and told them to come pick it up today!If you plan to go hunting for it, I suggest calling first, because it surely isn't out in all areas just yet.In the forum, Wyllem_Wallace and eug1 have both backed this up.
This news brought to you by Angel Washizu,
about to get a shower.
AOK Ship Dates
Posted by Washizu on September 26, 1999 @ 7:06
Loads of people have been e-mailing me with confirmations on the Sept. 28th release date.   Canadian agers won't be left out in the cold either!

Renan Yildizdogan: I went to a couple of stores, and also work in a gaming store. The shipment date we all received in Canada is the 28th which is the Tuesday at 1.00 pm

Thanks to everyone that sent in their EB confirmations. We can be pretty sure to see Age of Kings on (and flying off) the shelves this Tuesday.

IABIG10:My wife's brother works at EB, they have it in, not able to sell it till Tuesday, so you are correct...as always!

I don't need any more proof.Do you?

Cheats:To Post or Not to Post? 

Angel Washizu
I received a letter yesterday from an ager who wanted to remain anonymous:

"I saw where you posted the cheats for AoK in the news. I'm not criticizing you or anything, but, I really think that was an unwise idea. You see, the game hasnt even come out, and you've posted the cheats. Thats going to tempt everyone to use the cheats, before they can get a true taste of the game. Now dont get me wrong, Im a big cheater! But I think it is too early to post cheats. I just thought I'd give you my input."

I was wrestling with whether I should have posted them or not for about a week now.I was going to wait until AOK was released, but I saw them posted on two other gaming sites.I try to give you guys the latest news, and I figured they'd be posted all over the AOK fansites by today, and of course, they are. The cheats are there for those who want them, and if they don't get a good appreciation for the game by using them all the time, that's their fault. :)

AOK Battlefield Wraps Up Contest

Angel Washizu
Their Farewell to Rome contest was a hit with the fans, and the winners were as follows:

Form1 was the winner
Runners up were Nevyn and Peons United

Congratulations guys!You can read about the contest and hear the war stories at the fantastic AOK Battlefield.

Zone Room Changes 

Angel Washizu
You _* HAVE *_ to check out the new features the Zone has planned for AOK.Here's a list of a bunch of the cool stuff:

When you join DM or Regicide rooms, the game will be locked to only allow you to play this type of game.

You can choose the game settings (map type, starting resources, etc.) in the zone game room, and it will lock these settings so they can't be changed once you get to the pre-game screen.This will help you better decide what game you want to join.Any settings not chosen in the zone game room will be determined by the host in the pre-game screen.

There will be special rooms for replaying saved games!

Check the rest our here.

Hannibals Legion's AOK Clan 

Angel Washizu
Want to join a clan before AOk even comes out? Check out this one:

http://www.outhouse.org/hl2

Pharaoh Demo  

Angel Washizu
If you're a Caesar 3 fan, you might want to check out PC Gamer.The CD that comes with the magazine will contain a Pharaoh demo (the C3 sequel)! Sierra is also shipping a playable demo with copies of Homeworld.As always the best places for Caesar 3 and Pharaoh info are, of course, Caesar 3 Heaven and Pharaoh Heaven!

This news brought to you by Angel Washizu,
a delicacy in some countries.

AOK Ship Dates
Posted by Washizu on September 25, 1999 @ 7:45
Kevinjp says that Gamedealer.com will have it in by Tuesday, and unknown784 has called 4 EB's and got the same date.I was in EB on Wed. buying Rouge Spear and the guy told me AOK was still due in on the 26th.

Gamestats Get Together Story 

Angel Washizu
Ralphedelomonius (sp?) tells a take of Licks, Honey Sticks, and Rainbow 6.It follows the gathering of the gamestats team and the events that unfolded.

News from the Descent Chronicles -

Interplay and Volition have just announced that Freespace 2 has gonegold. It should be in stores around September 30th or October 1st.

Tiberian Sun vs. AOK 

Angel Washizu
The newsie for Tiberian.com, a C&C2: Tiberian Sun fan site, translated a page from GameStar's cover story, TS vs. AOK.It was posted on Sept. 19th and is pretty interesting that even this TS webmaster thinks that AOK will probably be better than TS!Big thanks to him for linking to Age of Kings Heaven at the end of his article.

Gameslice and the Gist List 

Angel Washizu
Age of Kings made #8 on Gameslice's best looking games of Fall '99.The list went as follows:

  1. Soldier of Fortune
  2. Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine
  3. Gabriel Knight 3
  4. Unreal Tournament
  5. Homeworld
  6. Quake 3 Arena
  7. Half-Life:Opposing Forces
  8. Age of Empires 2: The Age of Kings

Read why they like these games here.

"Due out in just a few short weeks, Age of Empires II: Age of Kings from Ensemble and Microsoft recently went gold.Easily the most anticipated RTS game this fall (post-Tiberian Sun), Ensemble's classic strategy game rooted in history has 13 different civilizations this time around and a myriad of exciting campaigns with leaders such as Genghis Khan and Joan of Arc. I had a chance to sit down with a beta of the game a few weeks back and was quite impressed with the visual panache, not to mention an impressive tutorial structure that really gets you up to speed on the game in no time. But clearly the largest draw here is the multiplayer mode, which arguably is what made Age of Empires the success it was.You'll be able to judge for yourself in just a few short weeks when it arrives on store shelves."

Age of Kings Cheat Codes 

Angel Washizu
I was going to wait to post these until after release, but now they are starting to pop up on other game sites, so I figured I might as well post them now.They'll only work in single player unless you specifically turn the cheats on in a multiplayer game. Source- Miramax

LUMBERJACK + 1000 wood POLO No fog
ROBIN HOOD + 1000 gold MARCO Reveal Map
CHEESE STEAK JIMMY'S + 1000 food AEGIS Instant Build
ROCK ON + 1000 stone Natural Wonders Controls wildlife
I LOVE THE MONKEY HEAD Get a VDML RESIGN Lose
HOW DO YOU TURN THIS ON Get a Cobra car WIMPY
WIMPY
WIMPY
Lose
TO SMITHEREENS Get a Saboteur TORPEDO
(player #)
Kills player #
I R WINNER Win BLACK DEATH Win


No word on whether these are beta cheat codes, or if they work with the final release.

>This news brought to you by Angel Washizu,
now playing at theaters everywhere.

A Few Changes
Posted by Washizu on September 24, 1999 @ 3:45
This page should look much better under 800X600 resolution today now that I've archived the news.There was something in it that was breaking this table.You've also probably noticed the new drop down menu.Cool isn't it?It lists many of the great sites on the gamestats network, and will soon list them all.   If you are a fan of these games, we highly recommend you check them out.
This news broadcast brought to you by Angel Washizu, also known as Angle 45 Degrees
Less Than a Week?
Posted by Omnivac on September 23, 1999 @ 9:25 p.m.
A reliable source has informed us that Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings MIGHT be in stores as early as Sunday, September 26th! Besiege your local electronic boutique, put on your armour, unsheath your sword and prepare to fight for your copy of AOK, because the boxes will dissapear faster than a bunch of Villagers bombarded by Turkish Cannons. If not then, it should be out sometime next week, more likely by Tuesday.

And you know what it means don't you? We will have a new forummer called ES_Candy-@ss.

 

Viking Showcase
Posted by Washizu on September 21, 1999 @ 10:09 p.m.
The Vikings have arrived!   Once again, Gamespot bestows upon us their civilization showcase and gives us a glimpse into the mighty Vikings.

The bonuses are as follows:

Unique Unit: Longboat, Berserk

Team Bonus: Docks cost -33%

  • Warships cost -20%
  • Infantry +10% HPs Feudal Age, +15% Castle Age, +20% Imperial Age
  • Wheelbarrow, Hand cart free

 

Random Map Types
Posted by Washizu on September 21, 1999 @ 12:00 p.m.
The Age2 Zone has posted some info and tips on all the random map types of Age of Kings!Check them out here.

Archipelago

Large islands are the name of the game. However, you may not be the only person inhabiting your island, so beware of your neighbors. They could either be friend or foe. With all the water around, see if the fish are jumpin' and start gathering as much fish as you can.

Quick Tip: Besides ship-to-ship sea battles, build transports to land on your enemies' island. Secretly transport some villagers to your opponent's island and start building your military in their backyard. While you're doing this, get your opponent's attention by fighting sea battles.

Baltic

Here's a map with peninsulas and sheltered bays. There's usually an ocean or a body of water in the center of the map, which makes raiding your opponent a little harder.

Quick Tip: Take control of the body of water as soon as you can by building ships. And if there are more than two ways to get to your enemy, try building military units on either side of their camp. Make sure your own village is well guarded and try to bottleneck your opponent to fighting in one area.

Black Forest

Even Robin Hood could never imagine forests as thick as the ones found on the Black Forest map. We're talking acres and acres of woodlands! Study this map carefully! Because of the many forests, there are paths carved out of the woods that lead to your opponent.

Quick Tip: Upgrading the tree chopping is extremely useful in this map. And if your opponent is controlling the main path, then use your villagers to cut a new one.

more map types

 

AOK Atrium Giving Away a Copy of AOK

Angel Washizu
Their 35,000th visitors will get their hands on a free copy of Age of Kings!Make sure you check it out and hit Alt-Printscreen if you're the lucky number to take a screenshot!Thanks to Cherub Tiger Lily and Xiphoid for sending this in.

AOK Atrium

Rumor

Angel Washizu
ES_Killme posted in the forum....

It should be widespread by early October. It may be here and there a little earlier.

I wouldn't expect anything on the 26th since that's a Sunday. Now, maybe the 27th ... =)

Hmm... very interesting.The forumers seem to be having fun with Sandy's comments on a Sept release.For his sake, I hope they delay the shipment! :P

This news brought to you by Angel Washizu,
and our sponser...

Long shiny sword - $200
Plated armor - $400
Big shield - $200
Fighting a losing battle with your dead friend's sword - priceless
There are some things money can't buy, for everything else, there's Medieval Master Card.

(that's Dark Jedi Sean's signiture inthe forum)

ES_Candyman
Posted by Washizu on September 20, 1999 @ 4:00 a.m.
There's a 50% chance I'm posting this only to avoid my Calculus 2 and Linear Algebra homework, but what the hey.This was in the GONE GOLD forum post.

ES_Sandyman:
Well, here I am in the office on a Saturday for no particular reason, so I'm posting too. Guess it'll be kind of a treat for any fan who actually decides to read through all the congratulations. I admit I just did. Felt good. Some people had some questions, that I now will try to answer:

Q) Does this mean it's too late to make suggestions?
A) You have the right to make suggestions at any time. However, it's too late for them to get into the game.

Q) Why is ES happy? They have to start their next game!
A) Too late, we already have. (Started our next game, that is.) But it's going to have to be delayed an extra ten days or so because ES is not gonna do a lick of work for a while!

Q) It should be out September 24, right? Because for most companies it takes only about ten days between gold & release in stores!
A) Most companies don't have to print as many copies of their game as we do
Also, MS is pretty painstaking about getting things right. Anyway, don't expect it in September. In fact I'll come right out and say that if it comes out in September, I'll change my gaming handle to "Candy-@ss". Watch this space3.

Q) Why did EBX have a bogus ship date?
A) Beats me. Probably they got an early ship date from MS and never changed it.

Q) Did you get your idea about having garrisoned units heal from my post about tents being healing stations?
A) I have no idea. We don't keep track of where we get our ideas from. Probably we did not get the garrisoned healing from your post, though, because in the early game we had the monasteries act as healing points (i.e., the garrison of a monastery healed automatically). When we decided to limit the number of buildings that you could garrison in, monasteries dropped off the list. But later, we decided we liked having units heal when garrisoned, but still didn't want to add garrisons to the monastery, so we just had _all_ garrisons heal automatically. However, healing inside towers is reallllyy slooow.

Anyway guys, it feels good to have the game out, just like you'd expect. Consider: a student gets to celebrate his accomplishments at the end of each term. A doctor gets to do so after each patient he cures. A lawyer finishes a job well done after each case. But a game company employee only gets the satisfaction of seeing a finished project once every couple of years. So we are _extremely_ happy when this happens.

Do not underestimate the memories of AOK forumers oh great Sandyman.If AOK ships in September, you will indeed be forever known as "ES_Candy-@ss." :)

Two news posts before 4:00AM?I must be delirious...

Updates
Posted by Washizu on September 20, 1999 @ 2:30 a.m.
The fan site links section and the Castle Age unit descriptions have been updated.One note about the links, when I switched over to using Outlook2000, I lost the dates on many e-mails I had.If you don't see your link in there and you're sure you sent it to me, especially if you sent it a few weeks ago , this is probably why.Send me a message with your link and I'll add it.

Steady forumers have all noticed this, but we've split off all the posts from last June or so into an archived forum.The posts can still be read, but they can't be replied to.This should speed things up a bit and save us some disk space.

One thing I am looking into is fitting this page for people using 800X600 resolution.It is difficult to keep the design of this page consistent in different resolutions.

I was in Electronics Boutique and Babbages this weekend.EB has AOK slated for Sep. 26th and Babbages has Oct. 1st.If I had to place a $100 bet on which would be closer, I'd have to go with Babbages.11 days to print up a million+ CD's and pack them?I doubt that's possible.My own guess, probably no better than any other informed ager's, is that we'll see AOK about 4 weeks after going gold, which will put it out in the US on October 15th.

Final Civ and Team Bonuses 

Angel Washizu

The New Age of Kings zone has posted the final bonuses for each civ.Most notably the Teutons have been tweaked since the beta to protect against a fierce tower rush.Their range bonus has been completely removed.

Source:The Age 2 Zone

BRITONS
Unique Unit: Longbowman

Team Bonus: Archery Ranges: 20% faster

  • Town Centers cost: -50%
  • Foot archers: +1 range Castle Age, +1 Imperial Age (for +2 total)
  • Shepherds work 25% faster

 

BYZANTINES
Unique Unit: Cataphract

Team Bonus: Monks: 3 times heal speed

  • Buildings: +10% HPs Dark Age, +20% Feudal Age, +30% Castle Age, +40% Imperial Age.
  • Camels, skirmishers, Pikemen cost -25%
  • Fire ships +20% attack
  • Advance to Imperial Age costs -33%

 

CELTS
Unique Units: Woad Raider

Team Bonus: Siege Workshops 20% faster

  • Infantry moves 15% faster
  • Lumberjacks work 15% faster
  • Siege weapons fire 20% faster
  • Sheep not converted if in 1 Celt unit's LOS

 

CHINESE
Unique Unit: Chu Ko Nu

Team Bonus: Farms +45 food

  • Start +3 villagers but -150 food
  • Technologies cost -10% Feudal Age, -15% Castle Age, -20% Imperial Age
  • Town Centers support 10 population
  • Demolition ships +50% HPs

 

FRANKS
Unique Unit: Throwing Axeman

Team Bonus: Knights +2 LOS

  • Castles cost -25%
  • Knights +20% HPs
  • Farm upgrades free (require Mill)

 

GOTHS
Unique Unit: Huskarl

Team Bonus: Barracks 20% faster

  • Infantry cost - 10% Feudal Age, -15% Castle Age, -25% Imperial Age
  • Infantry +1 attack vs. buildings
  • Villagers +5 attack vs. wild boar
  • +10 population Imperial Age

 

JAPANESE
Unique Unit: Samurai

Team Bonus: Galleys +50% LOS

  • Fishing ships 2x HPs; +2P armor; work rate +5% Dark Age, +10% Feudal Age, +15% Castle Age, +20% Imperial Age
  • Mill, lumber camp, mining camp cost -50%
  • Infantry attack 10% faster Feudal Age, 15% Castle Age, 25% Imperial Age.

 

MONGOLS
Unique Unit: Mangudai

Team Bonus: Scout Cavalry, Light Cavalry +2 LOS

  • Cavalry archers fire 20% faster
  • Light Cavalry +30% HPs
  • Hunters work 50% faster

 

PERSIANS
Unique Unit: War Elephant

Team Bonus: Knights +2 attack vs. archers

  • Start +50 wood, food
  • Town Centers, Dock 2X HPs; work rate +10% Feudal Age, +15% Castle Age, +20% Imperial Age

 

SARACENS
Unique Unit: Mameluke

Team Bonus: Foot archers +1 attack vs. buildings

  • Market trade cost only 5%
  • Transport Ships 2X HPs, 2X carry capacity
  • Galleys attack 20% faster
  • Cavalry archers +3 attack vs. buildings

 

TEUTONS
Unique Unit: Teutonic Knight

Team Bonus: Units more resistant to conversion

  • Monks heal from 2X as far
  • Towers garrison 2X units, fire 2X normal garrison arrows
  • Murder Holes free
  • Farms cost -33%
  • Town Center +2 attack/+5 range

 

TURKS
Unique Unit: Janissary

Team Bonus: Gunpowder units train 20% faster

  • Gunpowder units +50% HPs researching gunpowder technology costs -50%
  • Gold miners work 15% faster
  • Chemistry free
  • Light Cavalry upgrade free

 

VIKINGS
Unique Unit: Longboat, Berserk

Team Bonus: Docks cost -33%

  • Warships cost -20%
  • Infantry +10% HPs Feudal Age, +15% Castle Age, +20% Imperial Age
  • Wheelbarrow, Hand card free

Here is some fun Viking History from Cherub Tiger Lily:

Vikings have been stereotyped as big, hairy, vicious men who raped and pillaged their country.(By the way, 'to rape" means "to take by force", or basically "to steal") But this image is not entirely true. Yggdrasil, home of the Vikings http://pom-vms1.pomona.edu/~asundquist/main.html has a lot of interesting history about the Vikings. There are descriptions of Viking weapons, armor(horned helmets were not a part of Viking wear) ships, trading, and lots more.

Here is an excerpt from the text:

Weapons were an integral part of the free man's personal belongings, with the spear, ax, and sword being the most common types. Of these, the sword and ax were the most important. The sword was double-edged, ending in a sharp point, and usually highly ornamented. Together with the ax, which only the Vikings used as a weapon, the sword served as a short-range weapon. The spear could be thrown for medium-range damage, but also used for thrusting at short range. The only long-range weapon available to the Vikings was the bow and arrow, which was not used as often as the other types of weapons.

There are also links to other Viking history pages at Yggdrasil. Several of the Links are to Swedish sites, which, sadly, I cannot read, but check out The Vikings, written by Dr. Arne Emil Christensen, Chief Curator at the University Museum of National Antiquities in Oslo http://odin.dep.no/ud/nornytt/uda-302.html It is strictly history, with information on where the Vikings originated from, the tactical advantage of Viking ships, and some descriptions of Viking life. Or for a little fun, go to Gorm, the Wired Viking http://gorm.com/ Gorm is a bit silly(well, very!), but it has a name converter, proverb maker, fortune teller, a guide to Norse gods and their counterparts (past and present), and an age converter.



Building Castles the Old Fashioned Way!

Age of Kings is just around the corner, and castles play and important role in the game. I found a wonderful web site that describes how many castles were constructed. It starts out describing how 9th century castles were built, and how each section of the castle was used for defense. Then it proceeds to describe the "upgrading" of castle structures through the centuries.

Here is an excerpt of the document:

"In the first place the curtain wall had to be defended, and this required archers to be on its top; they, in turn, had to be protected, and thus arose the battlement, that most characteristic feature of the medieval castle in which the parapet on top of the wall is cut away so as to give the bowmen a firing aperture and yet allow them to retire behind the merlons, the solid part of the parapet, for cover from the enemy's fire.

Read more about it at http://armouries.com/construct.htm

This News brought to you by Angel Washizu,
who's mother's birthday is today.

Dock Unit Showcase
Posted by Omnivac on September 16, 1999 @ 4:59 p.m.
The Dock Unit Showcase at gamestats News Network is an absolute MUST see.  Learn about the Fish Traps, Transports, Galleys, Trade Cogs, and technologies such as Careening, Dry Dock, and Shipwright of Age of Empires II: Age of Kings!

The emergence of deep draft merchant ships led to the construction of docks where these ships could tie up and be unloaded. Ships of this new design could not be dragged ashore easily for unloading. Associated with Docks were the shipyards where ships were built. The Dock is used to build ships, research naval technology, and trade with other civilizations. It is also where Fishing Ships deposit food. - Gamestats Dock Showcase

 

The_Sheriff talks about his summer job
Posted by Omnivac on September 16, 1999 @ 3:59 p.m.
If you want to learn more about Age of Empires II: Age of Kings, you can read a Zone interview with one of the greatest AOE player and finalist of the Rumble for Rome Tournament, The_Sheriff. He was lucky to work (playing AOK. Yeah, tough job) over there and be part of the Beta Test Team.

Zone: What has been the greatest challenge or most unique experience when working with the Age II team here at Microsoft?

The_Sheriff: The depth of this game is amazing! For every unit there are 3 or more counter units. This is great of course, but it makes balancing surprisingly tough!

Fall of Rome Tournament Winners

Angel Zeus
Champion of the Singles Random Map tournament, holding on to the title once again is Maimin_Matty ! The prize is a AoE/RoR gold box signed by Bruce Shelley, and an HGS T-shirt signed by all the Ensemble Guys, he also retains bragging rights and the Grand Emperor of Age Title. Also, Matty was the only player to make the finals in all 4 sections of the tourney - RM singles, Dm singles, Rm teams, and DM teams.

The runner-up for RM singles is Stalin ! His prize is an HGS T-shirt signed by all the ensemble guys. Stalin was feared by many on Sundays and was only defeated one game. Stalin made it to the very top in the Rumble for Rome but certain circumstances prevented him from attending the finals and Maimin_Matty took his place, going on to win.

The final matchup between Maimin_Matty and Stalin ended up 2-1 for Matty. Matty was defeated on a Hills map, I was told because of poor food placements and other misfortunes. All 3 matches were packed with watchers, I did not watch any of the 3 but for anyone that did maybe they can share the experience with us.

DashingDave and The_Cow_Is_Hot both made 3rd place, they have a choice between a poster or a music cd with the music from AoE, RoR, and AoK.

The Champion for the DM singles is Me Tam ! Me tam went on to lose only 1 game against FWH_Deathon on Tuesdays. His awards are a RoR T-shirt and a poster signed by Bruce Shelly.

Runner-up for DM singles is Julben ! Julben was also defeated once on his day. Places 2nd - 3rd all receive posters.

aloha_archer and Sam_Deathwalker both placed 3rd for DM singles. As stated above they will each be awarded a poster.

The RM team Champion is now known as PVCRC, the name was created by taking an initial from each of the original members names. Radu and Redwyn led this crew to victory, I do not know all the members but congrats to you all. The final matchup was PVCRC vs the Cow clan in which PVCRC pulled in the win.

The DM team Champion is the Shabby Takeoffs (ST), not a clan of AoE but rather a group of friends imitating one of the great clans, shai tan (ST), these players were not only fun to be with but were also deadly in the ring. The Shabby Takeoffs had to defeat Maimin_Matty's team (Gerezooty - also a name created from the initials in the players names) and also Aloha, a clan that had 2 teams make the RM team finals and 1 team make the DM team finals.

Shabby Takeoffs and PVCRC have decided to split the prizes between the teams. The prizes are T-shirts and Music CDs. Each of the 4 players have a choice of what they prefer each players gets one prize.

The tournament turned out to be a great success, there are some emails I need from a few players and teams, please email me your email so we can proceed to hand out the prizes. I need Emails from DashingDave, SamDeathwalker,Stalin, Team PVCRC (each of the 4 player's emails) and Team Shabby Takeoffs (each of the 4 player's emails).

 

AOK GOES GOLD!!!
Posted by Washizu on September 15, 1999 @ 6:15 p.m.
Age of Kings has GONE GOLD!!!The rumors were true!This was just posted on ES Web:
The Ensemble Studios Team is taking off for a few days for some well deserved rest. See you later next week!
"YEAAAAAAAAH!!!! =))))" - Paul "Winter" Bettner
"WOO-HOO!! There is drunken revelry at ES right this second. People are drinking champagne right from the neck of the bottle! Incredibly loud music blares over the loudspeakers. Self-Congratulatory cheers, back-slapping, and applause fills the air. Be unsurprised if Age of Empires 2: The Age of Kings is available significantly earlier than October 22nd." - Sandy Petersen

Come celebrate with us in the forum!

This news broadcast brought to you by Angel Washizu the man with the golden gun.

 

ES_Killme Sets it Straight
Posted by Washizu on September 15, 1999 @ 12:15 p.m.
In response to the rumor that Age of Kings has gone gold, Herb "ES_Killme" Marselas said "hold your horsies."So it looks like AOK has not yet gone gold, but it should very soon.

Sandyman on the Brits

Angel Washizu
Sandy Petersen answers the thread, "Why in the world are the Britons bad guys?" with a history lesson and a few tips on playing the British:

Before people start thinking I'm a full-fledged Anglophobe, I do realize that there were more evil nations than even the British in the Middle Ages (Tamerlane's vile empire springs to mind).

But let us not forget that a reputation for rapacity, massacre, and ferocity is NOT a bad thing in a game -- the Vikings and Mongols were just about the worst peoples in the world to have as neighbors, but I doubt that will dissuade many players from choosing their civs in AoK ... if anything, it will probably _increase_ their attractiveness

The first English king. Hmm. Do the pre-Norman Anglo-Saxons count?

Orcadian: we have tried really hard to make all the civs roughly equal when run by players of equal caliber. We want to avoid the "top-tier" civ syndrome! The only ranking we hope for is that certain peoples' play styles may match particular civs better. But we want an experienced Goth player to be a match for an experienced Byzantine player, at least on most maps.

British Strengths and Strategies in AoK:

1) Feudal Archer Rush: their super-shepherds & fast-working Archery Ranges mean they can pump out a quick group of archers in Feudal earlier than almost anyone else. This means that other civs don't dare let their woodcutters or miners get too far from the town center in the early Feudal. Of course, the British don't _have_ to do a rush in Feudal -- they can race on to Castle. To see why they might want to do this, read on ...

2) Powerful Castle Age: their super-cheap town centers means that for less than 40 extra wood, their "gathering sites" are all powerful defensive bastions with more than twice the hit points of other players' gather sites. And that work for _all_ kinds of resources. Their archers start coming into their own in Castle, too, because their range bonus begins to kick in. Note also that the British could even decide to build TCs (each with a garrisoned archer inside) instead of towers -- the TCs have more hit points than towers (until Keep is researched), a fine attack, and no minimum range problem. The British can therefore save their stone for a castle. If they go for a big Castle Age assault, they have the tools for it, with excellent archers, equal siege to everyone else (in Castle, that is), and fine infantry.

3) Solid Imperial Age: their Feudal & Castle are where the British really shine, but they are not deprived in Imperial. However, they must be played differently than other civs in this age. They lack the gunpowder units and high-end siege which other civs depend upon so heavily in Imperial. To make up for it, their elite longbows can perform impressive feats such as outranging Teutonic towers. Their infantry are still top-grade (many people don't think about it, but a British champion actually defeats a Gothic champion). They are one of only four civs in the game to get _all_ Blacksmith upgrades. Much has been made of the fact that they lack the Paladin. BUT ... given that they are likely to want both Champions & Elite Longbowmen, it's not clear to me that they'd be smart to spend thousands of resources on a _third_ superunit. Fully-upgraded Cavaliers will just have to do for them Note also that they get every naval ship & upgrade except the cannon galleon and every wall & tower upgrade except the bombard tower. Even specialty naval civs often lack some upgrades (example: Vikings don't get Shipwright or fire ships).

I would not dismiss the British as less than a "top-tier" civ by any means.- ES_Sandyman

 

This news broadcast brought to you by Angel Washizu the recanter.

 

AOK Gone Gold??
Posted by Washizu on September 15, 1999 @ 2:30 a.m.
UNCONFIRMED:  At an Australian Age of Kings press launch, it was announced Age2's planned GONE GOLD date is today, Sept. 15th.This has not been confirmed or denied by Ensemble Studios or Microsoft, but it was posted on http://www.mpu.com.au/ by natslovR, who claims to have talked on the phone to someone attending the press launch.This would put AOK out on the store shelves in anywhere from 2-4 weeks if it is true.In any case, AOK will have to go gold soon to meet its projected release of mid-October

("Going Gold" is the industry term for sending a copy of the final build to the publisher to produce the CD's you'll see on the shelves.)

This news broadcast brought to you by Angel Washizu, also known as
Angel Matt Drudge

 

AOE2.com Preview
Posted by Washizu on September 14, 1999 @ 2:30 p.m.
Merlin at AOE2.com has a preview on the Age of Kings AI.   He notices a dramatic improvement from Age of Empires, and warns "don't expect to get away with the old tricks" that worked on the computer in AOE.

There is also an order to 'Follow', that assigns the unit to shadow another unit that needs protecting. This sort of makes a new group, you only need to move the main unit being protected and the entire entourage will follow along, very useful in a Regicide game when everything rests on one unit. Beware of any attacks while moving this kind of group though, while in motion their orders may be in conflict and units busy following wont necessarily attack any nearby enemy. AOE2.com AOK Preview

ES Poll is Radical!

Angel Washizu
I really like the poll at ES Web right now.It asks which area of gameplay would like to see radically overhauled.Economy?Naval Battles?Units?Diplomacy?Go place your vote!

AOK Chat with Bruce Shelley 

Angel Washizu
You can chat with Bruce Shelley from Ensemble Studios talk about Age of Kings here tomorrow at 9:30pm AEST at PlayNow!

New Link System

Angel Washizu
I hope you guys are digging the new link layout up top.I sure think it makes things easier.If you haven't noticed, I've been adding a lot of unit and screenshot galleries lately, too.

This news broadcast brought to you by your friendly neighborhood
Angel Washizu

 

The Forum is BACK!
Posted by Washizu on September 13, 1999 @ 10:50 p.m.
Many thanks to Angel Mack for getting our discussion forum running smoothly again.There was an updating error last night that caused the forum to think it was running a program.This shouldn't happen again in the future, and it certainly won't for this long.

Age of Kings Forum

Genghis Khan Preview at IGN!

Angel Washizu
AoEc006.jpg (33484 bytes)
One of the campaigns that will ship with Age of Kings trails the conquests of Genghis Khan.

The first two scenarios in the Mongol campaign have the forces of Genghis Khan fighting other Mongols, struggling to unite the various tribes into an army. In the first scenario, as messengers of Genghis, you must visit each of the Mongolian tribes and convince them to join the horde. The scenario has an RPG quality (difficult to achieve in an RTS!) as you must perform a different service for each of the tribes to convince them it is in their best interest to join with Genghis. In the second scenario, you must eliminate the traitor Kushluk before he destroys the Mongol camp. - IGN Preview of the Genghis Khan Campaign

There are plenty of sounds and screenshots for you to see, so make sure you read the preview.There was one quote from ES_Deathshrimp, that caught my eye in particular...

AOK ships with three kinds of grass, three kinds of dirt, desert, three types of water, and even two roads. The roads can be used to make cities look more like cities, or to connect allied towns together. The road terrain does not affect movement in any way, but it is a lot easier to use than the sprite-based road objects from AOE. With all of the terrains available in AOK it is possible to make Viking lands with deep grass and pine trees look very different from the dunes and palm trees of the Mideast.- Greg Street from the IGN Preview

New Unit Gallery

Angel Washizu

Here's a sneak peak at AOKH's new unit gallery!

This news broadcast brought to you by Angel Washizu,
the ghost with the most.

Under Siege
Posted by Washizu on September 12, 1999 @ 12:50
The Siege Unit Showcase at gamestats is an absolute MUST see.Learn about the battering rams, scorpions, and trebuchets of Age of Kings!

Edward I (called Longshanks because he was seven feet tall) of England refused to accept the surrender of Stirling Castle during one of his campaigns in Scotland so that he could witness the operation of a new trebuchet that had just arrived from England.

Siege weapons are used to destroy enemy defenses such as walls, towers, and buildings. Most siege weapons cause graduated damage (the most damage occurs at the point of impact with diminishing levels of damage radiating out). You can build siege weapons at the Siege Workshop. You must have a Blacksmith before you can build a Siege Workshop.
- Gamestats Siege Showcase

AOK Trading Cards and Player's Guides

Angel Washizu

There's a special Age of Kings pre-order deal going on with Electronics Boutique and Babbages.Going with EB will get you a free 11 page "limited edition" player's guide written by ES designer Bruce Shelley. If you decide to go with Babbages, you'll get your hands on a set of 13 trading cards, detailing each of the 13 civs.Note to MS:Stick a pokemon on each of the cards and they'll sell like crazy. :) If you want to participate in the pre-order deal, check out this site for details.

You might notice a few changes here and there on the main page.   Tell me what you think?

PCZone previews AOK

Angel Washizu

"Greg Street, Sandy Petersen and Chris Rippy - among others - are the ones really responsible for addressing the single-player game," says Ian Fischer, designer of Age Of Kings, and a thoroughly nice chap who wouldn't look out of place behind a desk in your local Abbey National or a drum kit in a death metal band. He accepts that Age I failed, in part, to provide a cohesive single-player story for all its epoch-spanning glory. "Greg (a marine biologist by trade) hasn't even been here a year and yet he's done pretty much everything for our scenarios. He's really good at evaluating what makes them interesting. He scrutinized a lot of RTS games, took a critical look at the first AOE and then handed the programmers a list of what he thought would improve the single-player game."PCZone Preview

ian.jpg (20649 bytes)

Ian Fischer, mild mannered Abbey National pencil pusher or Death Metal percussionist... you decide!

 

 

 

Woo Hoo!
Posted by Washizu on September 9, 1999 @ 6:30 p.m.
It's 9/9/99 and you know what the big news of the day is?
omnireturn.jpg (20030 bytes)
That's right folks, he's out of the hospital and doing great!You should even see a few updates from him after this weekend.I told him to take it easy for a few days and not worry about Heaven stuff until he gets settled in.He'll probably be playing a lot of Asheron's Call, so if you're in the AC beta, look him up :)

AOK Preview at Game Power

Angel Washizu
Game Power gives a big thumbs up to Age of Kings, even though the reviewer seemed to dislike Age of Empires!

To combat the poor pathfinding of the original, formations have been added. You can command troops to wheel, form lines, or even protect your more vulnerable units (such as monks and siege weapons). Even if you don't form a set formation, if you group your army together and send them off, it forms a column and stays together. No longer does the cavalry arrive two days ahead of the rest of the army.-GamePower preview

Halflife.org T-Shirts!

Angel Washizu
Halflife Dot Org is giving you the shirts off their back!Go check out their new line of clothing to wear while blasting someone with the gluon gun or the tau cannon.Don't forget to scope out their cute model as well :)

If you are in a shirt frenzy, check out our own HGS shirts.I wear mine all the time.Be sure to scope out our hot models, too.

ALSO, there is another contest going on in the gamestats network. Here it is:

West Wood Underground is giving away:
Tiberian Sun the Platinum Edition
GDI T Shirt
Nod T Shirt
And A Set of TIberian Sun Pins.
The url is at:
http://www.ww-underground.com/contests/september/tsgiveaway91.shtml
(sorry no models at the WWU :)

History Notes

Angel Washizu
Thanks goes out to AOE Heaven's Cherub Tiger Lily for these interesting nuggets.They're very timely considering the recent release of the Celtic Showcase at gamespot!

Really, Really Old Games!

Ok, is this day and age, it is not hard to find something to do for entertainment. But have you ever wondered what people in other times did for fun? At the Medieval & Renaissance Games Home Pagehttp://www.inmet.com/~justin/game-hist.html there is a lot of information about ancient games, from Viking games and card games to children's games. They also have links to period game vendors and related sites. This site lists how to play original versions of cribbage, blackjack, backgammon, & chess, as well as other board and card games, active games (like hopscotch) and dice games. Some of the games may be quite familiar, but others are more obscure, like Laugh and Lie Down, Gleek, Bryncir, Kaiserspeil, Fierges & Gluckhaus.Anyone up for a game of Karnoeffel?

Rob Roy...Ever Heard of Him?

Rob Roy was born several hundred years after William Wallace (or Braveheart). Sir Walter Scott(who is a distant relative of mine) wrote a book about Rob Roy( Rob Roy is the title of that book, in case you did not know). But as the movie Braveheart awakened a lot of interest in Scottish history, and the Celts being one of the civilizations of AOK, I thought I might enlighten you to another interesting "Man o' the Kilt". Rob Roy MacGregor was born in the mid 1650's the second son of Donald MacGregor at Inverlochaig at the head of Loch Doine. His life as an outlaw started when he was unable to repay money that he had borrowed form the Duke of Montrose to fund his growing cattle trade. The Duke seized his lands and property and Rob Roy fled with his debt unpaid. From this time onwards Rob Roy and the followers he had gathered, at one time as many as 500 men, profited from raiding lands of the Duke and those of his neighbors. Though he relieved many of their property it is said that he was never brutal or cruel with his victims and never stole from the common man, there was after all no profit from robbing a poor man.

Montrose captured Rob Roy but he made a famous escape, with the aid of a friend in the employ of the Duke at the ford in the river near Balquidder. Rob Roy died in his home in 1734 and was buried in the small churchyard in Balquidder.

Scott's book is a good read, and the movie Rob Roy was good as well, though is was overlooked by many, since Braveheart came out at the same time.

Want to get yourself a Kilt?

Geoffery Tailor Highland Crafts LTD. is said to be one of the best kilt makers around. The proprietor's name is Geoffrey Nicholsby and it is a family run operation with a satellite store in San Francisco and a van that hits many Highland Games in North America.

Kilt wearers note! Women in Scotland do not wear kilts unless they are pipers or highland dancers! They wear kilted skirts. Men do not wear kilted skirts unless they are trying to look like women!

Geoffrey Tailor Highland Crafts Ltd
57-59 High Street (2 doors up from John Knox's house)
Royal Mile, Edinburgh
EH1 1SR
Tel: 031 557 0256

Celtic Showcase!
Posted by Washizu on September 8, 1999 @ 3:10 a.m.
Gamespot continues with their excellent civilization showcases with the Celts.

Our eleventh showcase returns to the British Isles to look at the Celts, who were the native inhabitants of the isle and moved back and forth between English and self-rule for many centuries. However, they chafed under outside authority and more often than not were at odds with the English. They are a strong civilization and will prove as durable and tenacious a people in Age II as they were in recorded history. In Age of Kings, the Celts are a fast and aggressive military-minded civilization, designed for frequent and swift rushes. However, not only are they a terror in hand-to-hand combat, as strong as the Goths in fact, but they also can field some fine siege weapons as well. - Eliot Chinn from Gamespot

Note: In the showcase, ES_Sandyman is quoted as saying that Siege Onagers are the only units that can destroy trees.He retracted this in the forum comments and said that trebuchets can also do this.I assume he also counts villagers :)

Celtic Bonuses:

  • Infantry moves 15% faster
  • Siege weapons fire 20% faster
  • Villagers chop wood 15% faster
  • Sheep control radius equal to the nearest unit's line of sight

I updated our own Celt description, so check that out, too.

Forum comments are already underway here.

My own personal opinion is that the Celts will fare well during most areas of the game.The wood bonus helps them get going quickly, and the infantry bonus helps them during the entire game, rather than getting stronger by the age like the Goth infantry bonus does.

 

A New Age!
Posted by Washizu on September 7, 1999 @ 1:15 p.m.
No, not a new game announcements from Ensemble Studios, a baby announcement! Congratulations to Age of Kings Producer Harter Ryan and his wife on their new daughter Gillian.Curious as to what the producer of a game company does?   There is a Studios Team interview with Harter about just that:

Studios: What is your involvement with the Ensemble Studios?

Harter: I am the Producer, but I also stock the coke (as in soft drink, not the other kind) machine, give investment advice, and perform general housekeeping as needed around the office. When things go well, it is my job to ensure that everyone involved gets their fair share of the credit. When things don't go well, it's my job to be yelled at (first) as well as fix the problem or process so we don't have a repetition.

HGS Gets Reviewed

The guys at Downunder, a gaming/showboating reviews and rants site has just reviewed Heaven's Gamings Sites. They gave us a 4/5, so I guess they have some pretty good taste for a couple of Area-S wannabes.I'll make a warning, this site isn't intended for mature, rational thinking people.

 

Angel Omnivac OK!
Posted by Washizu on September 6, 1999 @ 9:10 p.m.
We are happy to bring you this message from Omnivac's sister:

"Hi guys! That's just to tell you that your friend Omnivac will be home Thursday if everything is going well. He's in shape now to return in the fascinating world of Heavengames! So, good luck!"

This is a huge relief to all of us here at Heavengames.Congrats Omnivac!

On a sadder note, however, I ask that you keep Angel Grenadier's dad in your thoughts and prayers.He was hit by a car recently, but is doing ok at the moment.

HGS Previews Asheron's Call!!!

I have been working on this nearly non-stop for a few days now, and it's finally finished.Asheron's Call is a 3D, massively multiplayer, RPG, and if you'd like to learn more about it and check out a ton of screenshots, read on.

HGS's Preview of Asheron's Call

AOE Agora now the AOK Agora

And it's sporting a brand new look!I have to say, I like the new layout a lot, and so will you.

Happy Labor Day

 

WC3!
Posted by Washizu on September 5, 1999 @ 1:45 p.m.
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Blizzard Entertainment has finally announced that they're working on WarCraft3!I don't have to tell you how good it looks.That screenshot speaks volumes.From the official WarCraft 3 site:

  • Introducing Role-Playing Strategy. Players wage war in a fully interactive world that incorporates non-player characters, wandering monsters, neutral towns, strongholds, temples, and environmental effects.
  • Six different races to command including Orcs, Humans and Demons, each possessing unique units, magical abilities and weapons of war.
  • Skeletal and skinning animation process allows infinite frames of animation resulting in true fluid movement of 3D models.
  • Advanced world design tools allowing players to customize every aspect of the game including tile sets, character art, quests, mission objectives, and unit types, AI, attributes, special abilities and spells.
  • Expanded multiplayer options over Battle.net™ including a larger number of players per game and multiple game types including team play and questing.

Warcraft III is expected to release by the end of 2000 in Windows 95/98/2000/NT formats.

Still at least a year away,I'll pick this one up for sure.

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This pic comes from Gamecenter's preview of WarCraft3.Think Blizzard won't ship it at the expected release date?Read this from the preview:

Warcraft III is scheduled to ship in time for the 2000 holiday season. If that sounds a bit optimistic for Blizzard, which has been consistently late with all of its games, there's some justification for that projection. According to Pardo, development on the game has been going on for nearly a year now in total secrecy, and parts of Warcraft III are already up and running. "It's the furthest along [we've] ever been for a Blizzard game at the time of announcement," he said.

 

Retraction
Posted by Washizu on September 3, 1999 @ 2:00 p.m.
I posted earlier about EBworld's AOK release date, but according to Mike "Archangel" McCart from Ensemble Studios, this date is bogus and the official release date is still set for Mid-October. Sorry to get your hopes up guys :)

Nordic Battle Site

Angel Washizu

Head over to here to win a trip for two to New York!It's actually a really interesting site, but it's much easier to just have you check it out for yourselves than post a description here.

 

Game Dive Show Archived!
Posted by Washizu on September 3, 1999 @ 12:15 p.m.
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Thanks to the Game Dive archives, you can hear the Age of Kings Show whenever you have time.Anyway, when you have 2 hours to kill, or are cleaning your room, listen to show while you work.(Thanks to AndyHRE for giving me a heads up on the archive being posted)

AOK Shipping Early?

Angel Washizu

Most people were very surprised to see Age of Empires and The Rise of Rome ship a week or two earlier than expected. Will AOK go the same route?Mike Delany got an EBworld newsletter stating their anticipated release date for AOK was September 23, 1999!

Pharaoh Manager Interview at PH

Angel Washizu

My favorite hamster, Angel Reckless Rodent, has a cool interview with the Alex Rodberg, Brand Manager for Impressions Software.

ARR: If we can just have a quick chat about trade – is it like it is in C3 – do you still have to pay to open trade routes, and do you get traders walking through your city?

Alex: You still need to pay to open a trade route because it costs money to create roads and send gifts to people in the other city. The big difference is with the Empire map, in that it’s dynamic. You’ll be able to see an army moving from one city to another, and the position of any trade caravans relative to your city. There’s a lot more information there, making it easier for you to make decisions. Say for example a friendly city has requested help to fend off a military assault, you can see where the enemy army is on the map so you can decide whether any troops you send will get there in time.

 

ARR: Will you be able to send your troops out of your city to intercept any enemy forces that are approaching? - Interview at Pharaoh Heaven

Unit Descriptions Updated

Angel Washizu

Dark Age Units
Feudal Age Units
Units Page

 

Stable Units Showcase
Posted by Washizu on September 2, 1999 @ 5:00 p.m.

Want to learn more about AOK's horse and camel riding soldiers?Check out gamestats's most recent preview:The Stable Units

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As the Middle Ages continued, the rise in importance of mounted warriors created demand for large numbers of horses, which were bred and maintained at the Stable. A variety of horses were bred, including horses for long-distance travel, fast horses for quick movement, and the heavy charger. Scout and light cavalry units needed quick horses with lots of stamina. Heavy chargers of great strength were required to carry fully armored knights into a charge. Mounted warriors trained at the Stable, as well, learning the skills of fighting from horseback with spear, lance, sword, flail, mace, and hammer. In other parts of the world, camels and elephants were bred and maintained for mounted combat.

Joe Camel

Cavalry units are used for scouting and combat. You can create cavalry units at the Stable and improve them by researching technology at the Blacksmith.

WON Show Archives

Angel Washizu

I have been informed that the Game Dive at the World Opponent Network, does in fact archive their shows, meaning that very soon, you'll be able to listen toIan Fischer, Mario Grimani, and Herb Ellwood talking about AOK, not to mention call-ins from Spacecase, pa_freeze, and me, Angel Washizu :)

WON Chat
Posted by Washizu on September 2, 1999 @ 12:30 a.m.
Too bad WON doesn't keep archives of their shows from what they told me.It was two hours long and there were a ton of ads, but calls from beta testers and webmasters asking questions made for a cool show.I got to ask two questions, one about AI and the other about Team Bonuses.I was hoping to get a few specific team bonuses, but they are still tight lipped on those I guess :)  The AI question I asked Mario Grimani was:  

Age2 claims to have a much better AI than Age1. When you guys started Age 2, what was the most important thing you knew the AI had to be able to do. Make walls? Check your opponents achievments?

Once again, I wish I could just copy and paste his answer or play it in a sound file, but basically he said they made a list of all the dumb things computers would do that made it easy for humans to kill them, like the suicide repairmen, or computers attacking lone wall segments, and worked dilligently to overcome these things.Mario, if I misquoted you at all, let me know :)Other calls were made by beta testers Spacecase, pa_freeze, and ranger-x.After calling in for the 2nd time, the host asked if I was "lonely," but I'll forgive him for that since he plugged Heaven for me. :)Good job guys.

One cool thing they mentioned was that all their incredible art is only 8-bit, which many game developers refuse to believe :)

I have a crazy number of classes today, wish me luck.

Link Fixed
Posted by Washizu on September 1, 1999 @ 9:30 p.m.
The link I posted today to the WON chat went to the ES news page. You could have gotten it from there, but in case you couldn't find it, here it is World Opponent Network Chat with ES

It starts at 10:00 EST, so check it out!

PC Game Review Interview
Posted by Washizu on September 1, 1999 @ 7:00 p.m.
Ensemble's own Bruce Shelly was interviewed by PC Game Review:

Q. In AOE many players stayed within a subset of civilizations in multiplayer play. Can you talk about the balancing process? Are you confident that all the civilizations will get played roughly the same amount on the IGZ? What is the biggest balancing issue that remains to be resolved before AOE2's release?

A. Balancing is just the result of thousands of hours of testing, adjusting, and retesting. We hope the civs are roughly balanced but it is likely that some will be favored, some neutral, and some less favored. We take heart in the stories of players who study a less favored civ, learn to play it well, and then succeed with it. We have a friend of ES who became expert with the Persians in AoE I. Although a less favored civ, this fellow had a record of 25 to 1 at one point. There are reasons why a less favored civ in 1 on 1 games might be a very useful civ in a 4 on 4 game. We believe players will be very happy with the new civs, how they are balanced, and how they play in multi-player games. It will take time to learn to play the civs well, but that process of discovery should be fun.

Hmm... who is this mysterious friend of ES?   I'd bet my money on The_Sheriff :)

New Zone Revisited
Posted by Washizu on September 1, 1999 @ 12:00 p.m.
Yesterday I reported on the new Zone profile and team system.Below are a few more additions to the MSN Gaming Zone.

New Features in Retail and Premium Game Rooms!
Here are some of the new features available in retail and premium game rooms! In addition to sending a chat message in a game room by typing your message and pressing ENTER, you can also type your message and click Send.

Wish you could change the size, color, and font of your chat text? Now you can! In a retail or Premium game room, click Options in the menu bar and select Chat Font. Also in the Options drop-down menu, you can select “Show Enter/Exit Messages” and “Filter Chat Languages”. All these options will only change the way you view chat messages. They won't affect how other players see your chat messages.

You can sort the players listed on the right of the game room by latency or by name. Click Options in the retail or Premium game room menu bar and select either “Sort Users by Latency” or “Sort Users by Name.” And if you're in a rated game room, you can sort player names by rating.

Read more about it here.The sorting by latency sounds great to me.Now, if they just had a permanent ignore feature...

AOK Box Puzzle at Gamespot

Angel Washizu

If you like puzzles, or just want to see what the AOK Box looks like, head over to gamespot and download the 3Mb "pandora's box."I thought it was one of those slide puzzles (go here for an AOE slide puzzle), but it's not.You have to switch pieces of the picture to see the whole thing.It was kind of fun.I did it in 3:35 on the first try.How fast can you do it?If you are really stuck and want to see the box art, click here.

Gamespot UK also has a new AOK preview out there.

Age Of Empires II picks up the historical story from where the original game left off ­ at the fall of Rome. Starting smack in the very depths of the Dark Ages, you'll progress into the Feudal Age, and then into the Castle, Imperial and post-Imperial Ages. Each provides a logical technological break and advances ranging right up to rudimentary firearms. A technology chart for the civilisation you're playing is now built into the game's interface, so you can quickly see exactly which advancements you can and cannot make.


Chat Event Today

Angel Washizu

Today is the day for that big chat over Real Audio with Mario Grimani, Ian Fisher, and Herb Ellwood at the World Opponent Network.Don't miss it at 7:00PM PST.

Plastic on the Brain

Angel Washizu

Mario Grimani was kind enough to post this in the forum yesterday.The AI programming is one thing I'm looking forward to very much.

Mario "PlasticBrain" Grimani, AI specialist: AI has a separate manual. It is available only on CD and not in a printed form. I submited it for final check and formatting last week. At that point it had a little bit over 100 pages. I am not sure what the final size will be.

He posted this 2 weeks ago:
You can write your own scripts. Once you copy them in the appropriate directory they will appear as additional AI personality in the drop down menu that is part of the pre-game screen. AI opponents can be freely mixed with human players in both single player and multiplayer games.

Sounds very cool to me!Things like this extend the playability of a game to a great degree.