Archived News From September 2000

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!

Ohhh... Washizu Was Right!
Posted by Washizu on September 29th, 2000 @ 7:53 p.m.
Sure enough, the new Ensemble Studios random map is titled, Moats. It places a ring of water directly surrounding your starting zone, giving you indestructible walls from the start.

If you sent in your guess to Ensemble Studios, they will have the winners posted on Monday, as webmaster Mike "Archangel" McCart is having some mail problems at the moment.

In the mean time, check out the new random map, Moats.
Civ and Map Frequency
Posted by Washizu on September 28th, 2000 @ 7:38 a.m.
AOK designer Sandy Petersen has posted some interesting figures in the forum concerning how often civs are chosen along with how frequent certain map types are played:
The following information came from the Zone. I think it's only random maps with completely normal settings (i.e., no DM or Castle-Age-starts, that sort of thing) that's covered. Sadly, both 1-on-1 and large team games are lumped together into the same group, which probably skews some results.
Each civ is followed by the percent of times it appeared as a player's choice.

Old AoK: Franks 19, Britons 17, Chinese 13, Persians 9, Teutons 8, Byzantine 8, Vikings 7, Celts 5, Turks 4, Saracens 3, Japanese 3, Mongols 2, Goths 2; Note: if civs were completely random, the results would be 8 each.

The Conquerors: Huns 11, Mayans 9, Koreans 8, Britons 8, Spanish 7, Chinese 7, Celts 6, Franks 6, Vikings 6, Teutons 5, Aztecs 5, Goths 4, Mongols 4, Byzantines 3, Persians 3, Saracens 2, Japanese 2, Turks 2; Note: if civs were random, the results would be 6 each.

In TC, the civ choosing is far more balanced. Some civs are still more popular than others (duh). Personally, I was surprised that the huns seem to be the most popular new civ.

Maps: in Old AoK, Black Forest was 36% of all games. Arabia was 31%. Then we get Highland 8%, Continental 5%, Gold Rush 4% and everything else 3 or fewer.

In TC, Arabia is now 36%, but Black Forest is only 18%. Next is Yucatan at 8%, followed by Highland and Ghostlake both at 4%. Again, everything else is 3 or less. One amazing thing was that the MOST POPULAR Real World map was Texas!? Go figure.
Recently fitted with the new title of AI Designer, Mike "Captain" Kidd also added his thoughts on the data:
I am STUNNED that Turks, Japanase and Saracen are at the bottom of the list. Turks have so many options in castle age, and so much early and late imperial power, that they're a very versatile and powerful civ. Saracens, with their overall camel bonus, the efficient market, and the Mameluke absolutely rock. And if you haven't played with upgraded Japanese trebs, you owe it to yourself to try. OK, maybe not to yourselves, but you owe it to Sandyman and Deathshrimp, they put a lot of work in on it. ;-)
Seriously, in AoK I could see why Goths and Mongols were the least popular. But I gotta believe that when people play five or ten games with these three civs, they'll get to like them.

Especially the Turks.

Add your own thoughts and comments here.
Win a Conquerors T-Shirt
Posted by Washizu on September 28th, 2000 @ 6:55 a.m.
All you have to do is guess the name of the new random map shown on the ES news page, and you could be sporting a brand new Conquerors t-shirt! The map, in my opinion, looks like it has moats around the player's starting areas. Just a little hint from your friend Washizu

Check it out here.
The Cerebrum Hands Out Some Books
Posted by Washizu on September 28th, 2000 @ 6:49 a.m.
Want to get your hands on Sybex's new AOK:TC strategy guide? Just head over to The Cerebrum's new site, AgeofEmpires.com:
Hello,
Age of Empires.Com has teamed up with Sybex to give away 5 of thier new strategy guides (Age of Empires II: The Conquerors Expansion: Sybex Official Strategies & Secrets) in the next 15 days.Full details can be found here: http://www.ageofempires.com/tc/sybex_contest.shtml

We've also just put a review of the aforementioned guide online here: http://www.ageofempires.com/tc/sybex_review.shtml

Thanks,
the_cerebrum
Webmaster,
Age of Empires.Com
AOKB Loses Its Thunder
Posted by Washizu on September 26th, 2000 @ 9:30 a.m.
One of the biggest losses for the AOK community, and a hopefully temporary situation, has occurred. Thunder of the AOK Battlefield has been scouting out news for as long as AOK has been around, but has decided to leave the site for personal reasons. Its a shame, because Thunder's effort has kept the site going through several periods of neglect in the past year. His posts will be missed by the hardcore agers who visited the AOKB every day.

The site still stands here.
Sim Mayor Opens EEP
Posted by Washizu on September 26th, 2000 @ 9:25 a.m.
Just got this press release from the self appointed Mayor of RTS and sim games, Sim Mayor:
September, 25th, 2000
Following SimMayor's Place move away from the long time home at Geocities, the Empire Earth Place is opening at Gameglow. The new host, Gameglow, enables many new features and gives all the disc space and tools needed for a high quality site. Gameglow is a rapidly growing gaming sites network, which is known by it's superior features and great support. SimMayor says: "After having the Age of Kings Place at Gameglow for a month, I knew that this would be the best place for the Empire Earth site, too."
Not only does the host change, but the name of the site does too. The new name of the site is Empire Earth Place, which indicates that the focus of the site is now on Empire Earth. Site resides on an easy to remember address: http://eeplace.gameglow.com .
The Empire Earth Place is completely dedicated to the game called Empire Earth.
Japanese AOK Site
Posted by Washizu on September 26th, 2000 @ 9:23 a.m.
I was just alerted to two new sites opening up, one of them in Japanese for anyone out there who hails from the land of the rising sun. Note, it seems to be mostly about AI writing:
I'm sorry poor at English,since I'm Japanese.
My The Conquerors Expansion AI is here

English page:
http://maccha.terrashare.com/
Japnese page:
http://www.geocities.co.jp/SiliconValley-Oakland/3670/

Hideki Matsuoka
Xynon Checks out RA2
Posted by Washizu on September 26th, 2000 @ 9:20 a.m.
Xynon over at AOE2.com visited Westwood Studios recently to take a gander at the latest in the Red Alert series, Red Alert 2:
Over the weekend Xynon from AOE2.com received the opportunity to visit Westwood Studios in Las Vegas to play Red Alert 2, which has a scheduled release of October 24th. In this article it includes details of the trip, battle stories, overall opinion of Red Alert 2, and an exclusive high quality screenshot taken straight from the game. The article can be found at www.aoe2.com/ra2event.shtml

Clip from the article:

"After playing single player a while, we went to a conference room to chat with Producers over at Westwood Studios, Mark Skaggs and Harvard Bonin. They were in the "crunch time" development, but graciously took time to talks with us. We gathered around the table and a very high-tech (what'd ya expect) screen revealed the two guys. In short, they said how they wanted to bring back the fast pace part of the game and the fun. Paraphrasing Mark Skaggs said, "We had the idea of a giant squid and thought the idea was too silly, but the next day we were like, hey this might work! That is the whole concept of Red Alert 2- did the squid make sense? No, but it was really fun." Westwood was leaning toward a fun game with fun units than units that would fit in this time era"
Ahh... the perks of a webmaster. Read the whole article
ES Visits Texas Tech
Posted by Washizu on September 22nd, 2000 @ 5:35 p.m.
Two Ensemble Studios team members visited nearby Texas Tech this week to give a talk on getting into the game industry to the school's ACM chapter. ACM is a great organization, and if you're a student of computer science, it's a worthwhile association to belong to, as they offer access to CS journals, scholarships, and an annual programming competition (I'll be representing my school this year at the Mid-Atlantic competition, held at Virginia Tech).

If any students from Texas Tech who attended the talk read this site, feel free to send in your comments on the event, or share with us some insightful things you might have learned from Ensemble's 3D artist Chris Van Doren and 3D programming specialist Herb Marselas. You can check out some pictures of then even here.
AOKB Woes
Posted by Washizu on September 20th, 2000 @ 5:39 a.m.
It seems like one of our favorite sites, the AOK Battlefield, has run into some problems and can't be accessed by their domain name, aokbattlefield.com. In the mean time, you can access the site via their host's address:

http://aokbattlefield.warzone.com
ES Happenings
Posted by Washizu on September 19th, 2000 @ 7:11 p.m.
Over at the Ensemble Daily Gaming News, lots of things are going on.
Ensemble Studios
http://www.ensemblestudios.com

1. http://www.ensemblestudios.com/aoeiix/docs/rms.shtml Second in the Series of Random Map Downloads for the Age of Empires II: The Conquerors Expansion is now availalble at the Ensemble Studios Website. Each New Custom Random Map is designed by lead Conquerors Greg Street. Today Greg brings you a new Random Map called 'Team_Glaciers".

" In the frozen north, each team must defend their own hunk of ice and snow against frequent enemy raids. Bad weather makes both ships and walls rare, though strangely, has lead to a bumper crop of deer. Welcome to Team Glaciers. "

2. http://www.ensemblestudios.com/openjournal3/ AI Designer and Expert Age Player Mike "Captn" Kidd posts his newest Age of Empires Series game play Srtategy called "Kidd's Lightning Eagle Warrior (KLEW)".

" Looking for something fun to do with the Mayans? This article will give you a KLEW. ;-) . This strategy works best in 1v1 matches, and is designed to catch the opponent by surprise, while giving you a few options to change course depending on map conditions and your opponent's strategy. The primary plan is to reach a lightning-fast Castle Age, as early as 14:00 and hopefully before 14:30, with the ability to immediately create Eagle Warriors near the enemy base. "
Read all these and more, here.
MFO Movies at Battletop
Posted by Washizu on September 19th, 2000 @ 7:00 p.m.
Ever wanted to see what MrFixit looks like? You can see him, along with Crexis, Jinx, Blue_Myriddn, and more, thanks to DaRq_DarkJihad's movies at the New York Battletop event. Check them out here.
AOE2.com Shared Toon Winners
Posted by Washizu on September 19th, 2000 @ 5:15 a.m.
AOE2.com has announced the winners in their long running shared toon contest. Check out the toons and winners here.
Apologies to MPP
Posted by Washizu on September 19th, 2000 @ 5:01 a.m.
The other day, I called the Memphis Powder Puffs "one of the most ridiculous Age sites out there". I realize now that such comments are offensive and uncalled for. My extreme apologies go to the MPP, One-Eyed King, and anyone else who may have been offended.

For the record, I retract my statement and rephrase it to say the MPP are "THE most ridiculous Age site out there."

hehe, be sure to check out the MPP, the only site with more pop up ads than sites blocked by NetNanny.
MFO Happenings
Posted by Washizu on September 19th, 2000 @ 4:57 a.m.
MFO always has things worth checking out. Here's a list of the newest:
MEET MFO IN NYC
Friday and Saturday (9/15 and 9/16) MrFixitOnline.com will be one of thesponsors at a huge BattleTop tournament in New York City (winners go to Korea to compete for 300,000 prize pool !!). Besides watching the tournament, featuring Age of Kings, Starcraft, Quake and Unreal, meet celebrities and stop by the MFO booth where we will be running live game clinics, presentations, and hanging out all day Check out MrFixitOnline.com for info on this and other upcoming BattleTop tournaments.

3 MILLION VIEWS A MONTH
MFO hit a new record of 3.1 million page views in August – YOWZA!

AGE OF KINGS – CIV ANALYSIS
MFO takes a look at the Archery powerhouse – The Britions. Updated for expansion pack! Also, check out the in-depth look at Koreans, Spanish, and the Mayans. MFO takes a detailed look at DeathMatch, Korean style – see why this civilization is considered the undisputed champion of DM play!
Head to MrFixit Online.
Battletop Coverage
Posted by Washizu on September 19th, 2000 @ 4:54 a.m.
The Battletop qualifications going on right now have been grabbing some of the world's top age players. Here's some info on some of the results:
Hi Washizu

This is Rolfe_WJ_2 (aka Warren Rolfe).

I was lucky enough to be one of the UK qualifiers for the WorldCyberGames from the London Challenge, organised by battletop.com.

Anyway, to help keep the UK Ager community up to date with how their team is doing before, during and after the games I have knocked up a quick webpage. It can be found here: http://www.crosswinds.net/~rolfewj2/

I'm not sure how news worthy this is, but it might be of interest to the UK Ager guys at least.

Thanks

Rolfe_WJ_2
Warren Rolfe
warren@rolfeassociates.co.uk
Some news on the New York qualifier:
Taking 1st place was DBD_Jinx, who defeated Crexis for the Title. Third was Stalin, followed by Devilz_Vasago.

Visit MFO for more including the Recorded Final Game ! http://www.mrfixitonline.com

DaRq_DarkJihad
Also, the FOPT clan continues their excellent coverage of the event here.
Team Glaciers
Posted by Washizu on September 16th, 2000 @ 9:01 a.m.
The one who calls himself Deathshrimp has released his latest random map creation, Team Glaciers. We call him Greg Street, and the AOK:TC credits call him the lead designer. His mom calls him son, and everyone else calls him Dr. Street (oh yes, he has a Phd).

Team Glaciers is a dandy little map similar to team islands, except in this map, teams must defend their little area of ice. Looks like a terribly small area to build up in, but interesting nonetheless. It's from Ensemble, so you know everyone will be checking this one out. Why not give it a shot:

Download Team Glaciers here.
Forum Party!
Posted by THS on September 15th, 2000 @ 5:06 a.m.
Forum Party on September 16th, this Saturday. It will be around evening time for those of us in the western hemisphere and in the morning or lunch time for those of you in the eastern hemisphere. We will be playing the expansion pack in the game room Paying Tribute.

Always name your game AoKH Forum Party.

Always password protect the Forum Party games with the code "HUNTER"(without the quotes).

Thanks to Confused Saboteur for reminding me. There will be a lot of forummers there. Tonto and JKA clan members are welcome. See ya'll on the battlefield!
Deathshrimp Diving Interview
Posted by Washizu on September 14th, 2000 @ 5:05 p.m.
The Death Before Dishonor clan has interviewed lead designer for the Conquerors expansion, Greg "Deathshrimp" Street, mostly on his diving days as a Marine Biologist. There were no events of saving whales on the beach by extracting golf balls from blowholes, but if you're interested in Greg's pre-game designing days, you'll want to check it out:
Vger - You said that it was the most unusual job you held, what made aquarium work so unusual?

Greg - Being able to explore the Aquarium after hours is unreal. A lot of the animals that are shy with so many kids around are downright social when all the lights are off. The three beluga whales just kind of hung out while there were visitors in the building, but early in the morning they would actually play with you. You could run back and forth past the glass and Kia, the youngest, would follow you along. It was cool to feed the puffins and try and try and locate Rapunzel the sloth.
Read everything else here.
MFO Live Game Clinic
Posted by Washizu on September 14th, 2000 @ 4:53 p.m.
If you live in the New York City area, you might want to check out MFO's live game clinic this Saturday at the Battletop tournament. They're sure to improve your game and whip you into shape.

Get all the details here.
Action Trip AOK Review
Posted by Washizu on September 14th, 2000 @ 9:33 a.m.
The boys at Action Trip give a very positive treating to the Conquerors, but then again, have there been any bad reviews?
Some of you may not like how Microsoft handles their business, but you don't have to be a Sherlock to deduce that the company is rolling out one hit after another. Age of Empires II is one of the few remaining RTS games, able to compete with today's 3D hardware hogs, with its crisp and detailed 2D graphics. It is no wonder then that the new expansion pack The Conquerors (AoE2: TC) does exactly what it's intended to--enhance features, fix bugs in the sequel and provide new options. AoE2: TC should serve as an example for other companies how an expansion pack should be done.
Well Sherlock, you were half right ES had a hand in creating the expansion pack, too Read the whole review here.
Time to dust off your old Age of Empires CDs...
Posted by Rasher on September 13th, 2000 @ 7:24 p.m.
...And head over to Age of Empires Heaven and check out the The AoEH Campaign Design Contest - Through the Eyes of the Pharaoh official rules [here].
That's right, a new Age of Empires campaign contest! Feeling nostalgic? Wanna enter the contest and win some prizes, and maybe relive the good old days of Age of Empires? Read over the rules, fire up your old AoE CDs, and get designing.
If you have any questions or comments, check out this post and feel free to post a response.

Happy Designing!
Letter to Washizu
Posted by Washizu on September 13th, 2000 @ 6:37 p.m.
I got this e-mail from a new ager who had some questions that I thought might help more than a few of you guys:
Hi,

I am new to AOK and have picked up your email fron the heavens webpage. I have looked at the page and registered for the bulleten board/forum, however I could not see any way to post queries. Perhaps I need the password which will be emailed to me but I could not see anywhere to enter a password even if I had one. I hope you can help with some direc questions.

1. I have progessed to the Joan of Arc campaigns however my mouse is
now very jerky when I get well into the campaign. It is perfect for a
while then gets almost unplayable. I have seen many article on the site about mouse problems but nothing specific to mine. It is a microsoft wheel mouse. I have adequate resources for the game and have tried alt+escape, leaving the game running and staring another programme and the mouse works fine so I do not think it is a memory issue. I have 64Mb and a pentium 2.

2. I cannot find what resources are required to advance to the
Imperial age. I have had all of the new buildings in the castle age and more than 1,000 of all resouces and cannot get the advance to imperial age icon.

3. How do you know what difference in strength garrisoning units makes. for instahnce what is the difference between 3 archers in a tower or 5 archers and where does it tell you.

I hope you can help.

Regards,
Robert
Welcome to the community! The way our message boards work is after you register, we send you a randomly generated password. After that, you can change the password to whatever you want. Remember, your e-mail address must be valid to recieve this password, and if you are using AOL or Compuserve as your ISP, you MUST use your AOL or Compuserve email address. This helps us keep a few troublemakers from ruining the forums.

1. Make sure no other programs are running except for AOK. This will ensure maximum performance for AOK, which is what you want, so close down Instant Messenger, your email software, etc. Also, try playing at a lower resolution and at a lower detail setting. Lastly, you may want to turn off the music. All of these tips can increase the game's frame rate.

2. If you are having trouble advancing to the Imperial Age in the Joan of Arc campaign, it may not be your fault, but a design decision in the scenario. Certain scenarios prevent you from advancing to a higher age for difficulty reasons and reality issues as well. In random maps, you can always advance as far as you want.

3. If you select a garrisoned tower, look at the "sword" icon, which has its attack value next to it. This should give you a good idea on what effect archers have on the offense capability of a tower or Town Center.

Hope this helps!
Spanish, French, and Korean Patches
Posted by Washizu on September 13th, 2000 @ 6:25 p.m.
Good news for Spanish, French, and Korean speaking agers. The AOK patches for these languages have all been released and can be obtained from Ensemble Studios. Note, that if you have the Conquerors Expansion you don't need to update unless you sometimes wish to play regular AOK.

Tre bien!
More ES Team Additions
Posted by Washizu on September 12th, 2000 @ 7:13 p.m.
After checking the ES site this morning, I realized I probably posted the news of the Sheriff's recent hiring by ES too soon. They've added three new employees to the team, including the Sheriff.

Jeff Brown is a "content designer" working on ES's super secret upcoming project. On the ES news page he lists his "likes", and he sure likes a lot of stuff. No word on his online handle, but it seems likely that he has been called "Charlie" Brown more than a few times in his life

Jeff Ottinger is the 2nd webmaster to be hired by Ensemble Studios, the first of course being Mike "Archangel" McCart. According to Mike, "Jeff has allot in common with a normal webmaster, he was to busy (or is it to lazy) to submit anything for this short news posting."

Maybe he had problems getting a phone installed Read about the new team members here.
Sheriff@ES
Posted by Washizu on September 12th, 2000 @ 5:08 p.m.
In some circles of the AOK community, this was probably common knowledge, but until the recent interview of ES designer Karen "Scout" Sparks by the MPP, I had not heard that the infamous Sheriff is to start working at Ensemble Studios this month.
It was funny, when Kidd first started here we actually handicapped him once by making him take a lap around the office every 10 minutes during a 4v4. We’ve dragged his play down considerably since then. I’m sure he’ll be glad to get back into fighting trim when “The Sheriff” (Kevin Holme) starts on the 11th
Previously The Sheriff held a job at Microsoft testing Age of Empires 2 and the Expansion, a job made famous on the net by this picture which revealed the Huns as one of the expansion civs.

Kevin "The_Sheriff" Holme is recognized by many to be one of the top Age of Empires 2 players in the world. One of his more memorable achievements was his final 4 finish in the Rumble for Rome, a tournament the MSN Gaming Zone held for the AOE expansion pack, the Rise of Rome. Kevin and four others; maimin_matty, Seasian, and Methos (now a game designer for SSS), were flown to Seattle for the finals where he was defeated by maimin_matty, the eventual winner.

Kevin should be a terrific addition to the QA team at Ensemble Studios. At E3 this year, I saw him take on 5 players at once in less than 35 minutes. Granted, these players were walk ons, many of which had little experience with AOK, but it was fun to watch
AOK:TC Reviews
Posted by Washizu on September 12th, 2000 @ 4:53 p.m.
Gamer's Pulse has a new AOK:TC review:
this is a great expansion. It builds on the strengths of Age of Kings, shores up the weaknesses and generally makes me happy that I am a Real Time Strategy fan. If you have Age of Kings, you won’t regret getting the Conquerors expansion. If you don’t own Age of Kings, where the hell have you been?
Read it here.

Well Rounded Entertainment has yet another flattering review of AOK:TC. Seems like everyone likes it!
As expansions go, it doesn't get much better than The Conquerors. All of the new content and strategic options make this a must have for any fan of Kings. Even without a snazzy new introduction cinematic.
Read if here.
Battletop Coverage at FOPT
Posted by Washizu on September 12th, 2000 @ 7:23 a.m.
For the last few months, the FOPT clan has been putting some great info on their website, but today they posted two great interviews of regional Battletop tournament winners, Crexis in Phoenix, AZ and DevilZ_High in London, England. It turns out neither of them are actually FROM the countries they won in, but hopefully they will make it to Korea for the finals. Good luck guys!
Crexis: No free hotdogs. They had a concession stand (for money). I heard the hotdogs tasted like they were 30 years old. I didn't touch any of it.

The tournament wasn´t that well organized. We got there at 10:00 am, and didnt' start playing till 2:30 pm. And there was only 16 players in the AOK part of it. Hundreds of players in the Quake3 and Unreal. NYC should be a lot better though, a lot more people know about it. NO ONE KNEW about this Arizona tourney, Battletop did a piss poor job of promoting the event.
Read the interviews here.
MPP Scouts Out ES
Posted by Washizu on September 12th, 2000 @ 7:10 a.m.
One of the more ridiculous Age sites out there has to be the Memphis Powder Puffs, and their obsession with how bad they are at AOK. They landed an interview with ES scenario designer Karen "Scout" Sparks, and it was one of the better interviews I've read in a while. Don't look for too much game info, though.
MPP: During our recent tour, Sandy Petersen suggested that we may not want to look inside some artist’s offices. Why is that?
Scout: I took him at his word. You should too. I don’t want to have anything to do with something that Sandy is leery of.

[editor note: try to imagine nerds too geeky to talk to women, but artistic enough to draw them.]
Read the whole interview here.
Gamestats Interviews Bruce Shelley
Posted by Washizu on September 11th, 2000 @ 6:29 p.m.
Our host Gamestats has secured an interview with legendary game designer, Bruce Shelley. Bruce, of course, is the senior game designer at Ensemble Studios and has worked on games such as Civilization, Railroad Tycon, and others:
[SawdEye]: What's your favorite part about Ensemble Studios?

[Bruce Shelley]: The best part of Ensemble Studios has been the people. We've grown from about five people in February of 1995 to over 60 and we would hire more right now if we could find the right skills/personalities. Most of those people had no experience making games before joining us. It has been great to watch our skills grow and see great products be completed, all while generally having a lot of fun. We have all spectrums of ages, backgrounds, and outside interests. That contributes to the great atmosphere. From the beginning CEO Tony Goodman has stressed the human side of our company and that continues to drive our success.
Read the quick interview here.
AgeofEmpires.com Launched
Posted by Washizu on September 11th, 2000 @ 5:39 p.m.
The Cerebrum, formally of one of my favorite AOK sites, The Lost Isle of AOK, has upped his investment into the AOK community by starting a new site, AgeofEmpires.com:
Let me introduce myself, I'm the_cerebrum, from The Lost Isle. As you probably know, I was responsible for the Influential Agers interviews a few months back. Well, I stand here today with something new to announce, I have a new site. It's been under development for quite some time now, a month and a half. I think you'll like it, and I think it's newsworthy news for your outstanding sites.

Site Name: Age of Empires.Com
Address: http://www.ageofempires.com/
Congrats!
Server Downtimes
Posted by Washizu on September 11th, 2000 @ 5:35 p.m.
We apologize for the recent downtimes this weekend. For almost all of Sunday, our webserver encountered an unknown problem that has been taken care of by the support staff of our host, Gamestats. Measures are being taken to prevent this sort of thing from happening in the future.
Be A Multiplayer Game Tester
Posted by Washizu on September 10th, 2000 @ 3:09 a.m.
Stainless Steel Studios, developers of the upcoming title, Empire Earth, needs some hardcore multiplayers to put EE through serious balance testing. They're looking for the best of the best RTS gamers, and here are the details:
Multiplayer Game Playtesters Wanted

Stainless Steel Studios, Inc., founded by Rick Goodman (creator/lead designer for Microsoft's award winning Age of Empires®), based in Cambridge, Massachusetts has embarked on the development of real-time, multi-player strategy games for the next millennium.

Here's a unique temporary, six-month job opportunity to contribute to the creation of an innovative, top-quality RTS game title for one of the industry's best and highest quality developers.

If you're a die-hard gamer who is hard working, self-motivated, energetic and you're interested in having major input into the creation of 'AAA' game titles, Stainless Steel Studios is looking for you!

Job Description:

Stainless Steel Studios is seeking top ranking AOE and/or AOK players to fill a full time, six month position, located in Boston MA. The job entails play testing and play balancing our newest RTS currently under development. The starting date for this position is flexible – anywhere between November 1, 2000 and Jan 1, 2001. The assignment will be completed in May of 2001.

Students are welcomed to apply. If you are a student and are interested in taking one semester off school, in order to help us create a blockbuster RTS and gain “once in a life time” real-world game development experience, contact us right away.

To apply, you must have one or more of the following qualifications.

Qualifications:

Age of Empires / Age of Kings

· 2000 rating in Age of Kings on MSN Gaming Zone
· 1900 rating in Rise of Rome on MSN Gaming Zone
· Top 16 finish in one of the following tournaments
o Ultimate Ager I, II, III; Rumble for Rome; RoR World Championship Clash of the Titans

Starcraft / Brood Wars

· Top 20 in Battlenet Starcraft / Broodwar rating at the end of any season
· Top 32 in any of the PGL seasons.
· Top 16 in any Battletop Tournament
· Top 128 in the KBK Tournament


Contact: Dara-Lynn Pelechatz here.

All inquiries will be kept strictly confidential. We are an equal opportunity employer.
TC at the top!
Posted by Reckless Rodent on September 7th, 2000 @ 10:29 a.m.
The Conquerors are conquering the PC sales charts all over the US right now - PC Data has it debuting at no. 3 in its list of top sellers, whereas GameWeek has it going straight into number 1.

Perhaps more impressive is the fact that AOK is still in the top 10, despite having been out for almost a year. I think ES deserve some hearty congratulations .
AOK: TC Guide now out
Posted by Reckless Rodent on September 7th, 2000 @ 10:24 a.m.
Sybex have published their Conquerors strategy guide. Here's what you get if you push some of your cash their way:

  • Comprehensive walkthroughs for accomplishing every objective in every mission
  • Hardcore strategies for building your economy and controlling your military
  • Detailed analysis of every civilization's multiplayer strengths and weaknesses, including civ-specific tactics from expert player Out4Blood
  • Insider info straight from Ensemble Studios' Greg Street and Karen Sparks
  • Plus: A full-color poster!

  • Ooh, a full-color poster, I must have it now
    AOK: TC Designer Journal
    Posted by Reckless Rodent on September 7th, 2000 @ 10:18 a.m.
    ES's Greg "DeathShrimp" Street has updated ES's Designer Journal with some great tips on how to create your own random map scripts for AOK: The Conquerors. So, if you want to know what this:

    start_random
    percent_chance 50
    #define SMALL_ISLANDS
    percent_chance 50
    #define LARGE_ISLANDS
    end_random

    means, then head on over .

    In case you missed it yesterday and don't want to scroll down this page, then hit the mouse on here to download the first random map script, which was made available yesterday.
    Bruce Shelley interview at CGO
    Posted by Reckless Rodent on September 7th, 2000 @ 10:14 a.m.
    Prepare yourself for a bit of a news blitz in the next few minutes .

    Anyways, I spotted on ES's site that Computer Games Online has posted an interview with ES's Bruce Shelley. Some good stuff here about Bruce's background and the process one goes through when designing a game like AOK. Here's a little snippet about the latter:

    The goal is to get a working version of your game running as soon as possible. What we've come up with at Ensemble Studios is a pre-skeleton phase where we work on a vision statement for the game which will drive the whole process. Then we go into the skeleton phase where we have a skeleton team of maybe a half dozen people. The skeleton phase maybe takes six months and we try to deliver a playable prototype. At that point we've hopefully proved all our concepts and we can put a full team on it.
    AOK: TC Random Map Script Available
    Posted by Reckless Rodent on September 6th, 2000 @ 9:51 p.m.
    ES have just released the first of the promised random map scripts for The Conquerors. You can get it from this page, and here's a little snippet detailing what it does:

    On this evil little map, there is no predicting what resources you will find. Oh, lumber is always in abundance since the trees don't go away, but that is all you can depend on. Food, gold and stone might be at normal levels, might be in short supply, or might be in great abundance. Basically, when the map is generated, it randomly decides whether food, gold and stone are in double normal levels, at normal levels, or at one-half normal levels. All three could even be at high-levels, giving a resource bonanza, though there will never be more than one resource at low level.
    Email Problems
    Posted by Zen on September 2nd, 2000 @ 4:14 a.m.
    My ISP took down their mailservers on Friday, and they won't be back up until Sunday - and that's their optimistic view. The last time they did this the server was out a day after their announced "uptime". So, in any case, if you have emailed me, expect a delay in the response.

    In the meantime, Happy Labor Day weekend for those of yous in the US!

    -Zen
    Rule Changes to the AI Wars Tournament
    Posted by THS on September 1st, 2000 @ 4:34 a.m.
    Several important rule changes have been made to the AI Wars rules. The changes are as follows:

    1. The deadline for new submissions has been pushed back to November 1st, 2000, due to later then expected Worldwide Release Dates.
    2. Victory Conditions have been changed so that if one Ai on a team is defeated, the game ends, and the victory goes to the other team.
    3. The use of Wonders as a Victory Condition is now disallowed. Any time an Ai builds a wonder, it will be disqualified. The use of Relics and other standard victory conditions are fine.

    Be sure to check out the AI Wars page for the full rules.

    Thanks to Angel Rasher for pointing this out.