Archived News From December 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!

Battling Nomads...
Posted by Thunder on December 31st, 2000 @ 6:27 p.m.
The champs have been decided in our AI Wars, but the battles are still raging on in our King of the Nomads Tournament. The nomad map type has made for some crazy games, and some surprising results! Several good players were ousted early on, including the runner up in our last tournament hZ_Farmer who was defeated in round one by PoLiSH_Cavalry. In the very next round, PoLiSH_Cavalry was then defeated by magicmel, making for a termoil set of brackets.

Our thanks to all those who entered and participated! We're down to the final few players right now and will post the winners as soon as the dust has settled. ...and a Happy New Year to all! ; )
The Winds Of Change...
Posted by Thunder on December 31st, 2000 @ 2:06 a.m.
Today Ogre has announced that he's heading back to his roots, and that the long running fansite aoe2.com will be undergoing some big changes in the near future. Although Ogre will no longer be the webmaster at aoe2.com, he will have his hands full with his GameTropics Network which will host sites related to all sorts of RTS games. Best of luck to our fav webmonster! ...no word on who's going to be taking over the reigns at aoe2.com yet... ; )
A Quiet Read...
Posted by Thunder on December 31st, 2000 @ 1:24 a.m.
It's officially a slow news week. Everyone at Ensemble Studios is taking it easy until January 2, except for Archangel. He's dipped into the mail and answered all sorts of questions regarding their big contest, the game, and more. Have a look inside the ES mailbag. ...bought Mechwarrior 4 and took it back to the store the same day...big disappointment... ; \
AI Wars Championship!
Posted by Rasher on December 29th, 2000 @ 8:57 a.m.
28 entries. 4 rounds. 27 games.
These are the hard numbers, but what it all boils down to is that this was one great tournament! The smoke has cleared, the dust has settled, and the results have been announced! They can be seen at the AI Wars page. Without further ado, the AI Wars Champion(s) are:
Drumroll, please...

farmertron,
by hZ_Farmer
and
Narusasu,
by Narusasu

That's right, these two amazingly fierce competitors wound up in a draw for the AI Wars Championship! It was a close competition all the way through, and the ending was certainly no expception.
So, head over the AI Wars Page, where you can see the official results of the tournament, download all of the entries, view the tournament map, and more.

Many thanks to all who entered in this tournament... it is you who have made it a success!
A Jaunt Down Janissary Lane...
Posted by Thunder on December 28th, 2000 @ 6:50 p.m.
In between enjoying his new Trans Am, ES Webmaster Mike "Archangel" McCart has found a bit of history on the Turkish unique unit at wargamer.com. If you're interested in history at all, this is a great read as it covers their history right up to their demise. ...they've got a great pic Topkapi Palace...if you're ever in Istanbul, it's a must see! ; )
Nomads Tourney Underway Tomorrow!
Posted by Thunder on December 28th, 2000 @ 6:33 p.m.
Registration has now ended in our King of the Nomads Tournament, and round one will start tomorrow! Good luck to everyone who entered, there are close to 40 particpants ready to fight for the crown.

It's worthy to note that the winner of our King of the Hill tournament had to pull out of this one. Those of you who registered can breathe a sigh of relief that New_Legion won't be in this tournament. ...for the latest updates on the tournament keep an eye on this page if you're inclined to follow along... ; )
Things You Just Don't Want To Hear...
Posted by Thunder on December 27th, 2000 @ 11:10 p.m.
As the victim of having played a ton of games with people I don't know, this recent post by King Francis the Wicked was definately worth a chuckle. Playing with new people is always an adventure that can sometimes turn into a rout. You know you're in for trouble if you ally types something like:
"1. Your Mayan ally tells you, 'I'm goin' cavalry.'

3. Your ally confides to you his brilliant strategy. He calls it, the 'Sheep Rush.'

9. Ally: 'Cheese Steak Jimmy's.'"


Source - Top 20 Worst Things You Can Hear in a 2v2
These would probably also stand for reasons that players want to join clans! Stop by the tread for the other 17 reasons, and add a couple of your own if you wish. ...#9 is my fav...was playing a game of AoK long ago and had an ally typing "Rock on"...he wondered why we were laughing... ; )
Nomads Tourney Registration Deadline...
Posted by Thunder on December 27th, 2000 @ 9:18 a.m.
This is just a quick reminder that the deadline for registeration in our King of the Nomads Tournament is tomorrow at 11am EST! Be sure that you've got your informaiton sent in before that time or you'll be left out of the action.

If you have already sent in your registration information, double check to make sure that your GameSpy Arcade user name is listed on our register players page.

Games will be getting underway on December 29, and let's wish all the participants that best of luck! ...I posted a link to this site before, but it's worth reposting, and bookmarking! The Time Zone Page...a great place to figure out what the heck 7pm EST is where you are... ; )
Christmas Tournament Finals: Recorded Game!
Posted by Thunder on December 26th, 2000 @ 9:07 p.m.
Playing our very special Santacide setting (very very similar to Regicide, only the name is different) _AgerZ_Elite and _AgerZ_Paladin took on gOf_CC and gOf_Alexander in the final round of our Christmas Tournament.

The final showdown featured battles on Ghost Lake, in a Britons + Viking vs Koreans + Viking match up. There were Castle Age raids and slow roasting booms in this game, with the _AgerZ_ coming out on top! You can now check out the recorded game from this final match up here. Note, Cherub Socrateius was a watcher. ...gg all! ; )
MFO Looking For Staff...
Posted by Thunder on December 26th, 2000 @ 8:04 p.m.
The hard working gang at Mr.Fixit Online have plenty of things on their plate at the moment, and are looking for some help. Here's the latest:
"MFO is looking to add 10 (yes, TEN) new staff members! Stop by to see what we are looking for to support our plans for 2001!

We are also looking for some HTML help in developing our Events software.

MFO SMACKDOWN

GoTeamKoreaGo/WinTeamKoreaWin wins MFO SMACKDOWN 23! This Dark Age DM 2v2 tourney had 80 participants - thanks to all participants

Finally, HAPPY HOLIDAYS FROM http://MrFixitOnline.com
-Mr.Fixit
Happy Holidays right back at ya MFO! Be sure to drop by their site for more information on any of the above. ...check out Pigin's comic is all it's finished glory! ; )

Julio Iglesias Explained!
Posted by Washizu on December 25th, 2000 @ 0:31 a.m.
Thanks to Jim Creel for the answer to yesterday's email:
When one downloads the new Windows Media Player 7, they not only get the player and all the bells and whistles, but a bonus track. Mine happens to be Beck's "Beautiful Way", and btw, it's a 30 SECOND track, not 30 minute. When you install the media player, and then go to C:\My Documents\My Music\ and there you will find your free sample of music. It's in *.as format (my take on it is that MS is trying to migrate people over from *.mp3, and this is their promotion) Hope this clears things up.
Thanks for the answer, and merry christmas to everyone.
'Tis The Night After The Tournament...
Posted by Thunder on December 24th, 2000 @ 9:21 a.m.
Our Christmas Tournament has concluded tonight and we've brought in the Monk to heal the bumps and bruises of the vanquished! We had a little bit of Eggnog with our rum, hummed some tunes, and then beat the tar out of each other. Thanks to all of the enthusiastic Agers who showed up and made the evening a lot of fun! Hopefully we'll be able to announce official winners along with a recorded game of the finals shortly. In the meantime, you can view the tourney brackets in post #2 of this thread in the forums.

For those of you still in the tournament spirit, there's still a few days left to sign up for our King of the Nomads Tournament, which has just a few more prizes to award than the event we held tonight! ...and to all a good night... ; )

**Update**
It looks like the team of _AgerZ_Paladin and _AgerZ_Elite beat out the two old timers, gOf_CC and gOf_Alexander in the final game. Congrats to our Kings of the North Pole!

We'll be posting a link to the recording of the finals as soon as we can, stay tuned for that.
Christmas Tournament: Battle Of The Santas!
Posted by Thunder on December 23rd, 2000 @ 7:15 p.m.
Join us on the Zone today at 6:00pm EST for a festive holiday 2 on 2 mini tourney! There'll be songs, eggnog, and plenty of battles, so grab a partner and get in the spirit:
"Join members of the HG crew for a christmas tournament tonight on the Zone! Triumph over all other Santas(kings) and become the undisputed king of the santas!

The tournament will start at 6:00 EST in the MSN Gaming Zone room, Agincourt. Sign up in a designated room in Agincourt, :30-1:00 before the start of the competition and while you are waiting, you may recieve some strategy tips from AOKH's most skilled players!"
-Cherub Socrateius

Source - Christmas Tournament: The Battle of the Santas
For the complete details, settings, and all the rest, be sure to visit this thread in the forums! This is a 2 on 2 affair, so grab a friend and head to the Zone this evening. See ya on the battlefield! ...what could be more festive then butchering a stand in for Santa! ...I'm not sure who these most skilled AOKH players are...I hope they can teach me something though... ; )
New Map From ES: Sherwood X 2
Posted by Thunder on December 23rd, 2000 @ 6:55 p.m.
They've hung their decorations, and now they're dishing out the gifts! There's two versions of the latest random map script for download from Ensemble Studios, one strictly for multiplayer, and the other for multi or single player. The forests in the map, ES@Sherwood are actually single trees placed all over the map, so you'll be able to walk amongst the trees, as they are not clumped together as is usually the case. In addition to that, you're start is a bit different:
"The forests are not the only cool feature in Sherwood. Among them, you can find many patches of grass or dirt in which you can place your buildings a little easier. Small ponds are scattered here and there as well, which can be packed tight with salmon and shore fish. You won't find any boars on the map, but each player should be able to easily find 2 giant herds of deer among the trees nearby. The best part of the map though, is your scout. All players begin not with a scout cavalry, but with a hunting wolf to explore with. The woods provide great cover for this sneaky wolf, which is not only fast but very dangerous as well. The hunting wolf is much stronger than a scout, and attacks on enemy villagers or deer in the dark age is common."

Source - ES@Sherwood
There you have it! A great gift from the festive folks at ES. Be sure to drop by their news page as well for a teaser in their latest and greatest contest! ...done my shopping...I sympathize with anyone heading out to the stores this weekend! ; )
Christmas Gift To You
Posted by Washizu on December 23rd, 2000 @ 10:36 a.m.
One of the funniest emails I've gotten in a while is my Christmas gift to you:
I recently downloaded Microsoft Windows Media Player 7 and was trying out all the new features. I went in to the CD Audio section, not knowing that my TC disc was in the drive. Then I saw something crazy. A 30 minute Julio Iglesias track was shown as being on the CD. I know it wasn't on my hard drive and it played perfectly. This is not a pirated or copied version, I bought it in a store. When I ejected the CD, the song was no longer present. Could you check this out to see if this is real or if I've gone crazy?
Crazy? No. Not in the slightest bit. In fact, with two North American civs being included in the AOK expansion pack, it's only fitting that the latin invasion continue with the sound track.

Hahaha... I'm kidding of course. There is no way a Julio Iglesias song is on your AOK:TC CD. If it is, send it to me, and I'll replace it with another copy, plus a Heaven t-shirt. Merry Christmas everyone.
Nomads Tournament Registration...
Posted by Thunder on December 22nd, 2000 @ 10:51 p.m.
There's now a little less than a week left to get your name in for our King of the Nomads Tournament. The list of registered players continues to grow, but make sure your name is on it before 11am EST December 28 or you'll be out of luck!

For registration information, prize list, or to gander at who's entered thus far, drop by our Tournament Center for the complete story. ...and make sure you show up at the correct times...you could win yourself a random prize just for that! ; )
X-Pack Of The Year...
Posted by Thunder on December 22nd, 2000 @ 6:49 p.m.
It's about that time. Gamespot UK is having their week of Game of the Year picks, in a ton of categories including Expansion of the Year. Naturally the Conquerors was in the running with the likes of the Sims x-pack and the famous Half Life Mod, Counter Strike. I suppose Mods count as x-packs eh? Sorta? Well, Counter Strike ended up taking home top prize in the category, but not by much:
"Bruce Shelley and Ensemble Studios' add-on to the epic Age of Empires II was only just pipped at the post by the all-conquering success of Counter-Strike. Boasting a huge number of refinements and improvements to the award-winning series, Conquerors followed all the tenets of a successful expansion by rewarding Age II veterans with all the of the features that made the original so impressive, with knobs on. An expansion to find favour with silicon despots everywhere."

Source - Gamespot UK's X-pack of the year
It's not too late to cast your vote for the best console and PC games of the year, just drop by Gamespot UK lickity split! ...I never thought Mods were xpacks, but how many Mods get packaged and sold like Counter Strike? ; )
The Plot Thickens...
Posted by Washizu on December 22nd, 2000 @ 3:16 a.m.
With the ES-MS speculations flying around more than paper airplanes behind a substitute teacher, it was interesting to see ES webmaster Mike McCart mentioning their games of TC with employees from marchFIRST.

If you check out the mF website, you'll notice they are a PR firm. Their slogan is "We help build visionary business models, brands, systems, and processes empowering them to transform their business, drive innovation and become market leaders."

It should be noted, that there are no laws against ES marketing their own brand name while they publish their games through Microsoft. Thanks to conspiracy theorist, the_cerebrum, for pointing this out to me, and as usual, post your comments on the situation here.
Mr.Mapster Online...
Posted by Thunder on December 22nd, 2000 @ 1:04 a.m.
Lots going on at Mr.Fixit Online, as per usual. My personal favourite Ager repair man has sent word of some of the latest happenings, so hang your stockings, buckle up, blow your nose, and get ready for:
"NEW AOK MAP - "Random Map without Black Forest and Snow" (must see!)

Real Random is a custom map for Age of Kings that fixes all sorts of "map screws" in the default Random maps - also removes Black Forest and snow! You gotta check this out now! There is a detailed list of fixes for each map, instructions on how to download, and a forum to answer your questions. What more could you want?

MOST INTERESTING GAME CONTEST WEEK 2

This weeks entries in our "Most Interesting" game contest include two outstanding games: Myth_Ares battles Tetra duke it out for over 2 1/2 hours and Iketh battles Joe in one of the most amazing comebacks since ATSQ vs matty! The fans get to vote on who weeks our weekly $100 prize!

COSSACKS - EUROPEAN WARS

MFO opened a new forum to discuss the upcoming RTS game "Cossacks - European Wars." Download the demo and join the talks. (Mass Pikemen anyone?)

TIRED OF LOSING?

MFO's new Rookie section is hopping. See numerous detailed posts on how to improve your game.

HTML CENTER

Ever want to learn how to make web pages (HTML)? Check out MFO's new HTML center for a tutorial and a support forum!

EMPIRE EARTH

Check out the latest "Kleitus Scope" with some really funny quotes from the "old days."

RED ALERT 2

MFO's RedAlert2 Command Center is almost ready! Check out some beautiful build tree graphics by BlackGrail join the forum as we launch this site!"
- Mr.Fixit
You'll want to stop by and check out the first random map script by MFO's Mapster Team. It's a little something like the Salt Marsh map type, except for more of a bay for fishing. While you're waiting for ES to release their map for the holidays, check it out! ...item #1 on my holiday list...a new computer chair...I pulled this one out of a land fill (read garbage dump) in 1987...lasted longer than the new chair my brother bought in 1993...they don't make em like they used too... ; )
Sneak Peek At A New Random Map...
Posted by Thunder on December 21st, 2000 @ 11:08 p.m.
The gang at Ensemble Studios are currently putting the finishing touches on Sherwood Forest, a new Random Map Script that will be released shortly! They have posted a mapshot of the script, as well as a recorded game of some ES dudes duking it out on the map to test it! Drop by and have a look see, but watch out for Grinchyangel as he's censored many of the good bits...such as the name of the game Harter Ryan is currently producing. ...someone start singing...perhaps that will warm his heart... ; )
University Error
Posted by Washizu on December 21st, 2000 @ 10:29 a.m.
Fans of the University Strategy section here at AOKH will have to wait a bit. A strange bug corrupted our menu files and they'll have to be rebuilt. All the articles are still in place.

Thanks for your patience!
AI Wars - Semifinal Pairings
Posted by Rasher on December 21st, 2000 @ 10:19 a.m.
Well, we are down to the Crunch Time in the AI Wars Tournament. Four contestants remain, and these four shall be duking it out to see who shall advance to the Championship game, and a shot at glory.
All of the remaining AIs shall be walking away with prizes for their great showings, and all that remains is to crown one AI king. So, without further ado, here are the semi-final matchings:

yakuto sacramble, by rao
vs.
Narusasu, by Narusasu

Coteti_bot, by Coteti
vs.
farmertron, by hZ_Farmer


The Round #3 Results and Semi-final pairings can be seen at this thread.
Gamespy Purchases Mplayer
Posted by Washizu on December 21st, 2000 @ 8:43 a.m.
In an interesting development for Internet gaming, Gamespy Industries has purchased Mplayer for " a combination of cash, a promissory note, and stock by which HearMe acquires a 10 percent stake in GameSpy." Gamespy's biggest gain in the deal comes from Mplayer's VoIP (Voice Over IP) technology, which may be included in future versions of Gamespy's matching software. Here's the full press release.... and if you have a minute to kill, check out this game I made for my assembly class. It's called Nuclear Beach Party.
Bruce (Un)Comments on Rumors
Posted by Washizu on December 20th, 2000 @ 9:43 p.m.
Evil A posted a response from Bruce Shelley to rumors of the split between Microsoft and Ensemble:
We have no comment on rumors. When we have something official to say, we issue press releases. We have at least two game projects in development right now, one of which is an RTS. We have no development contracts signed with any publisher at this time, which is a strong position for a developer with our track record.

Bruce Shelley
Ensemble Studios
Very interesting. This means they definitely haven't inked a deal with Microsoft as of yet, so things are still up in the air. As before, if you want to comment on this piece of news, head here.
E3 2001...
Posted by Thunder on December 20th, 2000 @ 6:31 p.m.
The dates have been hammered out for the 2001 edition of some of the longest days of the year for developers and press. The Electronic Entertainment Exposition will be held in Los Angeles in mid May once again. There's been no word on an Ensemble Studios team going there to show off either of their two projects just yet, but with an expected announcement regarding RTS3 coming sometime in the first few months of 2001, they may be ready to show us something by May!

If you're interested in attending, or want to see what it's all about, drop by www.e3expo.com ...watch out for this virus over the holidays... ; /

**Update**
Thanks to Angel Zen who has pointed out that ES is already listed as an exhibitor, so they'll certainly have something to show us.
A Couple of Contests...
Posted by Rasher on December 20th, 2000 @ 8:41 a.m.
There are a couple of contests related to designing right now that should be pointed out...
First of all, Bingmann's AI Tournament League is underway with their first tournament! The league in itself is a great idea, and if you happened to miss this tournament, never fear! There's always a new one starting up soon...
Be sure to check out the AI League here

Secondly, Lord John is putting on an informal AoK Screenshot Championships in the forums! Be sure to drop by, and check it out. It doesn't take a lot of work to whip up a nice screenshot, so fire up Age of Kings and see what you can come up with. You can check out the competition here
Battlestats
Posted by Washizu on December 20th, 2000 @ 6:17 a.m.
Just got this courtesy of Angel Zen:
Greets!

I would like to introduce my self first. I am Bravo_1 head of the AoEII section of Battlestats. The AoEII has been rapidly growing in the last month. Battlestats has around 20,000 Registered Players that play games from Xwing Vs Tiefigher to Rogue Spear. For AoEII We Offer Wars, Tournaments and Ladders. Go here. We would appreciate if you advertised our services on your website for us . Please give us feedback on our services.

Bravo_1-AoEII Game SysOp
www.battlestats.com/games/aok
BSC_Bravo_1
Rumor Mill: ES Making A Break From MS?
Posted by Thunder on December 19th, 2000 @ 11:46 p.m.
A rumor that the folks at Ensemble Studios may be parting ways with their publisher Microsoft has surfaced at EvilAvatar.com. Yes, that's the same Evil Avatar who had ES programmer Herb "Captain Insano" Marselas over to his house recently for a visit:
"According to my sources, despite having offered to match any royalty rate offered by another publisher Ensemble has decided to break away from the Microsoft collective. The break isn't a bitter one and another Age of Empires Mission Pack may still be forthcoming from Ensemble under the Microsoft label. As a result of the deal, Ensemble Studios will get to publish Age of Empires 3 and other titles under their own name rather than the Microsoft name. Ensemble would get to keep the Age trademark."
...and he goes on to add...
"I've got some pretty solid sources on this one - though the one Ensemble Studios person I contacted denied this rumor - saying (quite correctly IMHO) that it isn't likely that Microsoft would be willing to sell the Age of Empires trademark back to Ensemble even if they do end up parting ways. It sounds like Ensemble Studios is playing hardball on the publishing deal for their next title so it will be interesting to see if this rumor ends up being true and how the deal falls out in the end. I'm told to expect an official announcement from both Micrsoft & Ensemble in the coming weeks."

Source - EvilAvatar.com

Well Agers, let us wait with baited breathe for some official word from the parties involved as at the moment this is all just rumor. Speculating wildly might help to pass the time before Christmas, but do keep an open mind in all this. For all the gossip about a possible ES/MS break, click here. ...maybe ES is tired of the long wait for patches too? ; )

If you have any thoughts on this subject, post them here - Washizu
New Prizes In ES Contest!
Posted by Thunder on December 19th, 2000 @ 11:28 p.m.
Just today a couple of new prizes have been added to the massive bag o' stuff to be given away in ES's Make Texas Beautiful Contest. The grand prize winner will now be taking home a $500 gift certificate to amazon.com, where you can buy pretty much anything that you can ship in a box, in addtion to the previous prizes listed! The 2nd - 5th place desginers will now get a $50 gift certificate to the same place, but don't take my word for it, visit the ES Contest Page for the complete updated prize list. ...holy cr*p batman! ; )
Ai Wars - Round #2 Results and Round #3 Pairings!
Posted by Rasher on December 19th, 2000 @ 8:02 p.m.
As the AI Wars begin to wind down, the action is certainly heating up! Round #2 is complete, and it's time for Round #3 to get underway. The entrants remaining thus far are:

AllTooEasyAI
yakuto sacramble
R-TYPE
Narasasu
coteti_bot
Turbine
Farmertron


You can see the official Round #2 results and Round #3 pairings at this post.
Good luck to all the AIs that remain, and thanks to all who entered! These last few rounds promise to bring us more of the same excitement that the first two did...
Dont forget to check out the Destiny of a Dynasty Campaign Contest while you are at it!
PAoE GameSpy Arcade Event Tonight!
Posted by Thunder on December 19th, 2000 @ 10:46 a.m.
It seems that this latest exam period didn't claim any lives. Angel Washizu, myself, and Xiphoid from the famed Planet AoE all survived ok, and for you fans of the Tuesday evening battles on GameSpy Arcade rejoice! These gatherings were Xiphoid free of late, but he's lathered up and ready to clobber the competition this evening at the usual time and place of 4pm PST/7pm EST in the Conquerors lobby on GameSpy Arcade:
"We'll be playing on a 4v4 large continental map with random teams and civilizations. The winning team will receive prizes. Each week we've seen the crowd grow, starting at around seven and now over twenty Agers each week. Only seven get into the prize game, but everyone that doesn't make it in is welcome to set up their own games and report the winners and I'll get them in the news. See you there!" -Xiphoid

Planet Age of Empires

I'm not sure exactly what the prizes will be, although previously it's been things like copies of Red Alert 2! Put your game face on and drop by the Conquerors lobby today for this bash. ...I sympathize with any of you who have relatives coming to visit for the holidays...I must pick up my Dad at the train station in a few hours...6am my time! I'll be napping while this event happens... ; O
ES Contest Comments & Inquiries...
Posted by Thunder on December 19th, 2000 @ 8:38 a.m.
One entry has already arrived in ES's Make Texas Beautiful Contest, which Mike "Archangel" McCart has posted on the ES news page to inspire us. (along with an interesting link to movies of knights battling!) He's also posted a work in progress from another crafty designer, and it's looking lovely already!

The Archangel will also be keeping his holy eyes on this thread in our Scenario Design forum for your questions, comments, and just about anything else you'd like to share on the subject!

Remember folks, the designers of the 50 best maps will all be getting some super kewl Age prizes! For more information on this contest, be sure to visit their Make Texas Beautiful Contest Page! ...anyone up for a game of knifey spooney? ; )
The Lanaholics Of Chicago...
Posted by Thunder on December 19th, 2000 @ 4:34 a.m.
This LAN event isn't going to be strictly Age, it's going to be strictly fun! If they scare up some Agers to play Age of Kings, you and your friends can beat the tar out of each other on a lag free LAN and perhaps win some stuff to boot! Here's the deal straight from Old Lord Skull:
"Lanaholics - Chicago's Biggest and Baddest LAN Party

Date: January 20th - 21st, 2001 (Saturday & Sunday)
Time: 9:00am Saturday - 5:00pm Sunday
Where: The Roundhouse. Check out the venue page, and see what this great location has to offer us.
Cost: $35.00/person for prepay, $40.00/person non-prepay - $10 for all the beer you can drink - prepay, $20 for all you can drink if you pay at the door.. Raffle tickets are on a donation basis.
Prizes: Prizes, donated by our sponsors, will be awarded to the tournament winners. Additionally, we will have a door prize drawing for chances at some sweet prizes. Prizes will depend on what our sponsors provide us, so they vary per each event.
Capacity: 100 person capacity. Check out the who's attending page, and see if we still have a spot available for you.
Food/drink: Lanaholics and the Roundhouse will be providing the food and drinks free of charge. That's right, your food and non-alcoholic drinks will be provided at no additional cost! It's included in your entry fee.
Hotel: If you are interested in staying the night after a long day of fragging, the Comfort Suites is right across the parking lot from the Roundhouse. You can bet at least a few of the Board members will be crashing at the Comfort Suites.
Directions: Click here for directions to the Roundhouse. Check out the Venue page for information about the Roundhouse.
Parking: Free parking is available on the North/East side of the facility. You can find out more information on the parking specifics on the directions
page.

Games Played: The games you play are entirely up to you!!
We will be running several dedicated servers all day long. The specific games will be determined by Lanaholics, and posted at the event. They will most likely be one, or several, of the following games: Q2, Q3, UT, CS, CTF, Q2RA, SOF, etc. It all depends on the crowd, and what we all feel like playing. Heck, you may even see some demolition derby, Age of Empire II, NBA Live 2000, or even South Park!! Make sure you bring all of your game CD's!

For legal reasons, this event is for gamers 18 years and older unless
"gradfathered" in along with a signed waiver by a parent or legal guardian. Exceptions may be made for any parent attending and bringing their son/daughter with them to join in. If you have any questions, please e-mail the man responsible for the greatest Chicagoland LAN party, Lanaholics Head Coordinator - Chris Walljasper, at wally@lanaholics.com or myself at the
address below. Hope to see you there!

Tom Coster (aka Old Lord Skull)
Lanaholics LAN Party www.lanaholics.com
oldlordskull@lanaholics.com"


Now, that sounds like a blast! Be sure to check out www.lanaholics.com for more information or to sign up. ...$10 for all the beer you can drink....weehehehehhehehee ; )
Twin Cities LAN Party!
Posted by Thunder on December 18th, 2000 @ 7:56 p.m.
Do you live in the Minneapolis, St. Paul area of Minnesota? There's a 16 player LAN party in the works for people in that neck of the woods (thanks MFO) but you'll have to be quick about signing up as it's first come first serve! You have until January 5th to get yourself entered for this event in which The Conqueros and Quake III Arena will be the main games of choice. Click here if you'd like more information. ...I remember the twin cities' airport fondly...plenty of walking room, clean, great signage...that's about all of the area I got to see though... ; )
Nomads Tourney Registration: 10 Days Left...
Posted by Thunder on December 18th, 2000 @ 9:12 a.m.
There's now just ten days remaining to get yourself entered into our King of the Nomads Tournament, where you'll have a chance to win all sorts of prizes including some gaming hardware, as well as random prizes just for participating! All you have to do to enter is send in your GameSpy Arcade user name to thunder@heavengames.com and be ready to fight it out starting on December 29th. Registration will close on December 28, so make sure you're not left out.

I've had a question or two about entry fees, and the cost of downloading the GameSpy Arcade software. It costs nothing to register for the tournament, and the trial version of GameSpy Arcade's software is free to use. The only cost is having to put up with an advertising banner, a small price to pay indeed. So to sum up, fees are zero, notta, rien, bupkiss, zip, nothing, zilch, and so on.

The winner and second place finisher from our last tournament, New_Legion and hZ_Farmer, are both back for more action this time around. Could these two meet up to do battle once again? Will Farmer's sheep stray from the flock once more? We'll all find out shortly as on December 29 the fun starts! ...played a Nomad game tonight...planted my TC within spitting distance of an enemy TC... ; )
Forum Awards, Cast Your Vote...
Posted by Thunder on December 18th, 2000 @ 8:27 a.m.
Did a certain campaign you've played strike you as outstanding? Or perhaps a scenario? Is there a member of our forum who's posts you find are must reads? TNK will be handing out his own awards for the most sought after campaigns, scenarios, and many more! Visit The Best of 2000 thread in the forum to cast your vote for a worthy contender. ...can't vote for myself? bah, I demand a recount...or some such... ; )
Forum Party Wrap-Up...
Posted by Thunder on December 17th, 2000 @ 6:43 p.m.
For those Agers who didn't have their copy of the original Age of Empires game handy, there were a few Conquerors games being played. The screenshot on the left there shows the result of GPA_Great_Benze's feudal attack on Tonto_Caesar in one game I played in, that second tower was a nasty surprise for Caesar's villagers! That was a particularly short and brutal game, but mercifully the game in which my castle attack fizzled and my team lost wasn't recorded.

Check out this thread in the forums for a good post from The Hyper Duck about his game of Age of Empires. There is no recorded game feature in the original game, so he's rekindled the art of telling a good war story.

Thanks for the games all, and we'll probably be holding a holiday party sometime soon, so keep an eye out for information on that. ...Sunday Comics...inspired by the Goon Show, an old BBC radio program... ; )
Blast From the Past!
Posted by THS on December 16th, 2000 @ 4:23 a.m.
The forum party this weekend, is a very special one. Instead of playing Age of Kings, we will be playing Age of Empires. The original. You can't use your AoK strategies, so you might have to be creative.

Time: Saturday in America, around the evening.

Location: MSN Gaming Zone, at the game room "War Cry".

Please label all your games "AoKH Party". Also, password protect them with the code "HUNTER".

See you on the battlefield!
An Unfolding Story...
Posted by Thunder on December 15th, 2000 @ 8:16 p.m.
The lush, also known as Angel Chris sends word of a wonderful story being written in our forums. If you're a budding author, you may want to stop by for a read, or write a few lines yourself:
"Greetings reader. Herein lie the tales of the scholarly Marcel, the young Pierre, the seductive Monique, and a host of others. Follow them as they travel across France, Greece, the Holy Land, and even China itself, in an epic search for a mysterious treasure that was lost long ago…. Laugh at their escapades; cry at their losses, for this is a story like no other!

It is a story where friends are few, and enemies abound. It is a story where good and evil is blurred, where decisions are made in a moment that can last a lifetime. You may say that what I have just described is in many other books. But there is a difference. For this story is a story that needs YOU to be completed. You call the shots. You make the decisions.

And ultimately, it is you who decide what happens to this cast of characters. Welcome to Story Thread II."
-Angel Chris

If you decide to add a to the story yourself, please make sure your addtion is appropriate to the story line and format, and be sure to check in on the thread to see how the story plays out. ...snow here today, so I'm stuck inside...thankfully though, those of us that are in that situation have some reading material now... ; )
Tournaments & Timezones...
Posted by Thunder on December 15th, 2000 @ 7:05 p.m.
Not sure when 7pm EST is where you are in the world? Don't know what EST is? Some of the folks who want to play in King of the Nomads Tournament have been asking such questions, actually, quite a few have.

EST, that refers to the Eastern Standard Timezone that runs down North America, containing such cities as New York, Toronto etc. I stumbled onto a nice website that may be of some help. The Time Zone Page allows you to input city names and it gives you the time in those respective places. For example, you could input "Perth, Toronto" and be given the current time in Perth and Toronto, which happens to be in the EST timezone. Tada! I hope that helps to answer some questions! ....I LOVE that website! ...very handy indeed... ; )
Bruce Shelley Interview!
Posted by Thunder on December 15th, 2000 @ 6:02 p.m.
The gang at Stomped.com have been talking to developers in a series of interviews about the big games of 2000 and what they're looking forward to in the coming year. Their latest chat was with Ensemble Studios Designer Bruce Shelley:
"Stomped: What was the year 2000 like for your particular gaming projects? Were you happy with the response to your most recent games? If you did not release a game this year, were you happy with the progress made during your current game's development?


Shelley: We released The Conquerors Expansion for the Age of Kings to great reviews and even better sales. We couldn’t be more pleased about that. Our current challenge is to make sure that the Age of Kings is not the best game we ever do. We have been working on some new projects for a while now and we think they can meet that challenge."


Source - Stomped Interviews B. Shelley

The interview is all too brief, but definately worth checking out! They talk about past and future games, gaming trends, and future projects. ...the new year is almost upon us...won't be long before ES let's the secret out of the bag! ; )
Make Texas Beautiful: 50 Winners & 155 Prizes!
Posted by Thunder on December 15th, 2000 @ 7:59 a.m.
Finally the details on Ensemble Studios' latest contest are available, and hold onto your socks Agers, there's going to be some serious prizes up for grabs! All the details can be found on their contest page, including the deadline which is January 15, so be quick about getting started! You're going to have to download a blank map of Texas and make it GORGEOUS:
"Since the contest is called "Make Texas Beautiful Contest", you may have already guessed what comes next. You take the now "Blank Texas Scenario" load it up in the Age of Empires II: The Conquerors Expansion Editor and make us a pretty Texas Scene. We want to make this contest available for all AGERs of all AGEs, so your scenario does not have to be a working game scenario, just a Beautiful Screen Shot. Any or all of the Age of Empires II and Conquerors Civs and scenario objects can be used. No, your map doesn't have to have Texas cities, land or water features, you can make Texas into a South American Jungle or Winter Wonder Land, anthing goes. The choice is yours, we are talking Beautiful Screen Shot here, pure and simple."

Source - ES Contest Page

As you may have gathered by the headline there's going to be a ton of winners and a ton of prizes up for grabs. You may want to drop by the SCN Punk site to pick up some tips on making a beautiful map. You don't have to make a razzle dazzle scenario, but they have a list of eye candy for making an AOK map look lovely.

Another great resource is provided on the contest page itself, as you can download a map that was used in promotional campaigns for AOK:TC. You may recognize it! ...what? No battles or fights to the death, what kinda contest is that? ...one with a lot of prizes... ; )
The Pretty Town Competition Deadline draws nigh...
Posted by Rasher on December 14th, 2000 @ 8:22 a.m.
Thanks to Cherub Fozby for the heads-up!

The AOKH Pretty Town Competition, expires tomorrow, Friday the 15th. A last minute reminder to send in those pretty towns, and to those who haven't yet started - get a move on! Zip and send in those entries before tomorrow to have your town judged. Details on the competition can be found in the threads in Outside Discussions and Scenario Design.Hurry and send those picturesque towns in!
The_Sheriff's Dock First Strategy!
Posted by Thunder on December 14th, 2000 @ 7:29 a.m.
There's a brand new strategy article available at Ensemble Studios documenting their new QA Lead's unique fast castle strategy. Kevin "The_Sheriff" Holme has been a long time Ager, and a top contender in all sorts of leagues and tournaments. He's now working at the Studios as QA Lead, and shared his latest strategy with Mike "Capn" Kidd, who jotted it down for all of us:
"The Sheriff introduced me to a fascinating quick-castle strategy shortly after coming to work at Ensemble Studios. It involves the unusual tactic of building a dock before a lumber camp, making a few fishing boats immediately, and delaying the construction of a mill until well into feudal age."

Source - The Sheriff's Persian Dock-First Strategy

There's screenshots, and recorded games showing that not only is it possible to get blazing fast castle times with a dock first, you can build a massive economy along the way as well. This article is a must see to believe! Your great economy leaves you in a good position for a very early Castle attack, however, you'll have to keep your guard up for a Feudal attack. Be sure to head to the ES Strategy Journal for the full story. ...I immediately had visions of enemy towers going up in my town while reading this strat...yikes, seems risking... ; )
AI Wars Begins Round 2
Posted by Washizu on December 14th, 2000 @ 7:18 a.m.
Angel Rasher has just posted the first round results and links to the recorded battles of AI Wars in the scenario design forum. Advancing to the next round are:
AllTooEasyAI
Szatyor
yakuto sacramble
King Marzee the 1st
Falcdragon2-5
R-TYPE
Narusasu
ApricotKnight
Coteti_bot
Adaptatron
Maximus
Turbine
Farmertron
macchaV5tcEN

Good luck in round 2!
Tournament Prizes Update!
Posted by Thunder on December 13th, 2000 @ 7:15 p.m.
A couple of interesting new prizes were added to the mix last night! The first place finisher in the tournament will now be taking home a Sidewinder Strategic Commander, a very sleek device that can scroll the screen for you and allows you to set up tons of customized commands for your fav games. Not only that, but they'll also be awarded the Sidewinder Game Voice, a fantastic chat device! The second place finisher in the tournament will now be taking home a complete set of Sybex's Age II guides in addition to all the other stuff listed. Many thanks to the generous folks at Ensemble Studios!

For information on how to register, prizes, settings, and all the rest, visit our King of the Nomads Tournament page. Registration is ongoing until December 28th and you can now drop by and see the first updates to the registered players page! ...how fitting that New_Legion, winner of our last tournament, was the first to sign up...good luck to our King of the Hill! ; )
MS Games Giving Away AoE II Gold!
Posted by Thunder on December 13th, 2000 @ 5:16 p.m.
The festive folks at Microsoft Games are giving away all sorts of great stuff! The holiday spirit has really gotten to them, and they're giving us the chance to win Gold Editions of not only Age of Kings, but also the Conquerors Expansion pack and several other titles! This is just one of the contests you'll find on their Holidays site, which is spreading a little joy with blinking lights and prizes galore. Make sure you sign up to win before the deadline on January 4th, and good luck Agers! ...winners to be announced on January 5th! ...now there's an efficient contest! ; )
AoK On PS2...
Posted by Thunder on December 13th, 2000 @ 9:02 a.m.
I was poking around amazon.com tonight, trying to find out what the 5th and final AoE Collectors Edition was being taken home for. With less than 12 minutes left in the bidding, it was sitting at $71, which is quite the steal as it is signed by Bruce Shelley and other members of the Design team.

While I was stumbling about there though I was reminded of an upcoming event! They are already selling copies of Age of Kings for Playstation2, and the released date is listed as January 4th, 2001. That's just a few weeks away! If you've run yelling and screaming out of an electronics store with a PS2 slung over your shoulder, be sure to pick up AoK! ...hyuck, yuck...I likes funny pictures... ; )
MFO Events
Posted by Washizu on December 13th, 2000 @ 6:15 a.m.
Just got this press release from our buddies at Mr Fixit Online. Boy they have a lot things stirring in the pot:
Lots of happenings at MrFixitOnline.com

MOST INTERESTING GAME CONTEST

Voting is underway to determine the winner of the first "Most Interesting" game contest. MFO is running 4 of these contests where the most interesting (for whatever reason) recorded game can win $100!

HEATS TOURNEY

MFO's first HEATS tourney was finished with 56 players. DaRq_Doink takes the top heat. RIP_Sesami, Supreme_EdGe, and NoX_Jinx take the other heats. It was a fun night and we plan to hold more of the "fight your peers" tourneys!

ROOKIE FORUM

MFO opened a Rookie Forum (no flaming allowed!) for the non-experts among us (like me - hehe) to get questions answered.

NEW FORUMS

New forums for Baldur's Gate II, Championship Manager, Chess, EverQuest and others are now open!

LIVE GAME CLINICS

We have finished 10 weeks of live game clinics. Be sure to check out these unique events where a player's game is critiqued AS they play by several MFOs- all captured in the game recording.

EMPIRE EARTH HAPPENINGS

MFO's Empire Earth Command Center (EmpireEarth.cc) has been churning out the beef. Check out the "Behind Enemy Lines" with game designer Methos, Clubber Bob/Kleitus column, the Kleitus Scope, and much more!

See all this and much more at http://MrFixitOnline.com

Thanks!
Mr.Fixit
hmm... they should call themselves Multiplayer Freaks Online
New Contest Coming At ES!
Posted by Thunder on December 12th, 2000 @ 10:38 p.m.
He's given us a wink and a nudge alright! Ensemble Studios webmaster Mike "Archangel" McCart has posted a large and very blank mapshot of Texas and a list of prizes. It seems that we will have the challenge to "Make Texas Beautiful", piece of cake eh? Head to the ES Contest Page for a look at the prize list, a mapshot of Texas, and some hints. ...contests everywhere...and they all seem to come at once... ; )
King Of The Nomads Tournament!
Posted by Thunder on December 12th, 2000 @ 10:10 p.m.
Registration has now begun in our latest tournament, King of the Nomads, which you may have guessed takes place on the always fun Nomad random map! There's plenty of time to register and practice up as games won't be getting underway until December 29th.

To find out how to register, what prizes are up for grabs, and a complete list of settings, be sure to visit the King of the Nomads tournament page. Good luck to all, and may the best villagers survive! ...do note that the Chinese civilization is banned from the tournament...nothing personal, they're just too damned good on Nomad maps... ; )
Pictures Worth 100 Cards...
Posted by Thunder on December 12th, 2000 @ 4:01 a.m.
For Agers interested in playing the low tech AoE card game that will be out soon (official release date still appears to be March next year), you'll want to drop by the ES news page. Webmaster Mike "Archangel" McCart has dug up a new picture of a card set, the Britons to be precise. Stop by and have a gander! ...dear god, are those two very thick instruction books?? ...who would have thought AoE would be so complicated... ; )
An Early Present For Your Enemy...
Posted by Thunder on December 12th, 2000 @ 1:48 a.m.
Have your forward villagers arrived a little early for your Feudal Attack? Standing around with not much to do? Well, here's a little something that will keep them busy for a few moments and can really mess up the plans of your enemy. Have them build some cheapo palisade walls around enemy gold, stone, or even their town centers if you think you can get away with it! The benefits can be enormous.

This idea is nothing new, but it's something that most players rarely use. Heck, if you're quick enough, you can even wall up enemy Boars! Now that'd hurt. ...no matter how hard I tried, I just had to click and see what all the fuss was about: Giants Nipples ; )
GameSpy's GOTY Vote...
Posted by Thunder on December 11th, 2000 @ 10:35 p.m.
That's the glorious Game of the Year vote of course, one of the first of many to come. The folks at GameSpy.com are inviting us to vote in selecting the best games of 2000.

Being that AoK was out in '99, it is of course not on the list, and I guess the Conquerors x-pack was left off because it is not a full fledged game. Being the thoughtful folks they are though, they've left a blank spot on the ballot for you to enter your own pick if you should know a certain game that should have been included. Drop by and cast a vote or two! ...warning, those charitable AoE Collectors editions on auction (mentioned bellow) are not being shipped outside the US...not even for lil' ol' me who lives a 40 min drice from the border! Be sure to bid, they are a bargain at double the price... :.(
Time Is Ticking Away...
Posted by Rasher on December 11th, 2000 @ 7:25 a.m.
...For the Destiny of a Dynasty Campaign Contest, that is!
Fact: Campaigns can take a long time to make. Fact: The contest deadline is fast approaching! Remember that all campaigns must be submitted by the deadline, which happens to be January 30th, 2001. This may seem like a long time away, but remember that time flies when you're having fun...
If you haven't started designing yet, there is still hope for you! Get over to the official contest page, read over the rules, get some hints and tips from the Scenario Design Forum, fire up the editor, and get designing!

If you are planning on entering, how bout heading on over to this post in the Scenario Design Forum?
AOE Collecor's Edition Auction
Posted by Washizu on December 11th, 2000 @ 4:33 a.m.
Come on guys, there has to be someone out there that would like a copy of the AOE Collector's Edition signed by legendary game designer Bruce Shelly this Christmas. Currently, the auction is price is less than the price its selling for in stores! Tha auction is only going to last another day and a half, so let's see some bids. As of 10:35PM EST, on 12/10/2000, the bids are at:
  • #1 $305.00
  • #2 $61.00
  • #3 $47.00
  • #4 $45.00
  • #5 $55.00

Check out the current bids and remember, this goes to help the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation.
Contest Chaos...
Posted by Thunder on December 11th, 2000 @ 0:29 a.m.
There's quite a number of contests coming and going in the Age community right now, as you can see by our list on the right there! There's a few that have just wrapped up, or are about to this week, so here's a quick recap.

Drop by Mr.Fixit Online for the results from their recent "Heats" tournament and enter your weird or whacky recorded game for a chance to win $100. Not much time to get your entry in so be quick about it!

PC Gameworld.com is giving away 10 prize packs which include a copy of the AoE Collectors Edition! Contest closes on December 15, so get yourself entered!

Also closing to entries on December 15 is the AOKH Pretty Town Competition. You can even check out a mapshot of the entry by the SCN Punks, it's quite a sight!

There's plenty more contests and competitions on our listing to the right, so be sure to keep an eye on it for your chance to take home some prizes in one of the many Age events going on. ...and there's always more where that came from! ; )
Story Contest Winner: Strange, Very Strange...
Posted by Thunder on December 10th, 2000 @ 0:30 a.m.
He hummed and hawed for awhile. The webmonster at aoe2.com has now chosen the best of the bunch from the entries in their story contest and posted it for all to read:
"There were so many good contest entries that it was very hard for the Ogre to decide on who should be the winner. After reading most of them over and over again, it came down to two different stories. The story that eventually won out over all of them was the one entitled "The Strange Case of Hertian of Rome". This story was just well written. Basically it follows a villager that gets transported mysteriously from the days of Age of Empires to the
days of Age of Empires II. I just think over all it is very creative The lucky winner ShinDock will soon received a copy of The Age of Empires Collector's Edition signed by none other than Bruce Shelley himself!. Youcan find the story on this page: http://aoe2.com/contest.shtml"
- Ogre

Now if that doesn't brighten up ShinDock's holidays nothing will! Our congratulations to him on crafting a very creative story, be sure to drop by and give it a read. ...great story: "“I don’t think I’m in Rome anymore,” he whispered as he approached the city’s massive stone gate." ... ; )
New Age Sites Abound
Posted by Washizu on December 9th, 2000 @ 8:18 p.m.
Here are some new Age sites that have been sent to me:
  • Darkstar's Age Toons: A site devoted to cartoons created by Dark Star. Many of them are really good.
  • Kakarotto's Self Defense Flash movie: This details how to defend yourself at the Outside Discussion forum parties, starring Angel Rasher and Pigin. You may have to copy the URL out and paste it into your browser for some add reason. Its probably Yahoocities trying to "protect" your content ;)
  • Golden Eagles: A great site for Italian speaking agers. It has many strategies from MFO translated from English to Italian.
  • Kyle Leach's Map site for Indiana University and Purdue University: Evidently they play these maps for fun at LAN parties. Kyle is an award winning map designer.
Angel Attempts To Lure Virgin Mary...
Posted by Thunder on December 9th, 2000 @ 9:10 a.m.
I'm not sure that the Virgin Mary was tempted this year, but Angel Alexander I has shared some very festive pictures of a twinkling competition in Colombia! The competition has the locals trying to out shine each other with all sorts of lights on their homes. Tis the season for light shows, and AAI's photographs are certain to add a little bright spot to our season. Drop by Heaven Games Main to take a gander! ...a very cute girl in one of the pictures...watch out though, I think she's one of Alexander's ; )
Sandyman's Best Friend
Posted by Washizu on December 8th, 2000 @ 11:00 p.m.
AOK Designer Sandy Petersen and his dog Naomi are pictured over at the Evil Avatar. Other game developers are encouraged to send in pictures of themselves to the evil one. Maybe Herb Marselas got a pet ferret by now
EULAs, And What We've Been Missing...
Posted by Thunder on December 8th, 2000 @ 9:43 p.m.
An interesting article has popped up at avault.com that points out some weird and whacky things that many gamers miss when they skim or even ignore reading the End-User License Agreement that we have to agree to:
"Have you ever put a Rainbow Six screenshot on your website? Can't do that. Have you ever paid to play Half-Life in a cyber-cafe? Can't do that. Have you ever relied on Age of Kings to land jet planes at a major airport? Don't do that. Please don't do that.

All these, and more odd little activities are prevented by one of the most annoying, and misunderstood aspects of purchasing computer games: the EULA (End-User License Agreement). Almost everyone who has bought a computer game is guilty of taking the EULA that comes with it lightly at one time or other: either throwing out the piece of paper in the retail box, or skipping through the EULA page at the beginning of most install processes. 'Read carefully before agreeing,' the installers tell us. 'Uh, huh,' we say, scanning for the 'I agree' button."


Source - Look Before You Click, Part 1: Do you really know what's in your EULA?

Yep, they found an interesting tid bit in the EULA for AoK related to Java, and probably a few other games that you've purchased too. When you click that "I agree" button, you may be agreeing to more than you think! ...I've hired a lawyer to sit here and translate all the EULA from future games I buy...there's no way I'm handing over my first born to any publisher! ; )
Make Your Bids!
Posted by Washizu on December 8th, 2000 @ 9:06 p.m.
Amazon and Microsoft are auctioning off 5 signed and numbered AOE Collector's Editions. Which numbers are they? 1 - 5, and number 1's bid is already over $300. Get in there while you can... The proceeds go to a good cause:
*****************************
MEDIA ALERT: DECEMBER 8, 2000
*****************************

PLACE YOUR BID! AGE OF EMPIRES: THE COLLECTOR'S EDITION CHARITY AUCTION NOW
UNDERWAY

Proceeds To Benefit Toys For Tots Foundation

Microsoft today announced that its auction to benefit the Marine Toys For
Tots Foundation is now underway at Amazon.com. Up for auction are the first
five numbered, limited-edition copies of Age of Empires: The Collector's
Edition, signed by the legendary Bruce Shelley, senior designer of the Age
of Empires series, and members of the development team at Ensemble Studios.
The auction will run through Tuesday, December 12, 2000. The Marine Toys for
Tots Foundation distributes gifts to underprivileged children throughout the
U.S., bringing the joy of Christmas to millions of kids each year.

To place a bid, please visit
http://s1.amazon.com/exec/varzea/ts/promotion-glance/A3QOPOTFKVQJ7A/.

Age of Empires: The Collector's Edition is a special, limited-edition bundle
that includes Age of Empires, Age of Empires: The Rise of Rome Expansion,
Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings, and Age of Empires II: The Conquerors
Expansion. In addition, The Collector's Edition comes with an exclusive
music CD, containing musical scores from the games, and Age of Empires
promotional and teaser trading cards. Only 75,000 copies of The Collector's
Edition were created for distribution in North America.

Age of Empires is one of the most successful strategy game franchises in
history, having sold over 5 million units worldwide since its inception. The
original Age of Empires spans 10,000 years following the last Ice Age,
challenging players to be the guiding spirit in the evolution of small stone
age tribes. Starting with minimal resources, players are tasked with
building their tribes into great civilizations. The Rise of Rome Expansion
begins where Age of Empires left off, allowing gamers to play an active role
in directing the ascension of the infamous Roman Empire. Age of Empires II:
The Age of Kings spans a thousand years, from the Dark Ages through the
Imperial Age. The recently released Age of Empires II: The Conquerors
Expansion, challenges gamers to wage war on an epic scale with all-new
civilizations, unique units and technologies, and campaigns based on
infamous conquerors, such as Attila the Hun, El Cid and Montezuma.

More information is available on the game's official Web site at
http://www.microsoft.com/games/agecollectors/, or on the Ensemble Studios
Web site at http://www.ensemblestudios.com/.

For more information on the Marine Toys For Tots Foundation, go to:

http://www.toysfortots.org/
A Buggy America
Posted by Washizu on December 8th, 2000 @ 11:20 a.m.
In case any of you have thought about downloading the new America demo with its hefty 125 Megabytes, be forewarned. The multiplayer does not seem to work and crashes every time I click on the button to join a game. Others seemed to have the same problem. The single player, however, seems interesting. "America: No Peace Beyond the Line" is a new RTS game that centers around the old West with coybows and ind... err native americans. I would like to see how the game looks in a higher resolution, because after playing AOK at 1280 x 1024, 800 x 600 just doesn't seem to cut it. Maybe that will be added in the full version.

The good things about the game: The terrain looked nice, and the interface art was very well done. The buildings looked a little on the small side, but the detail was very realistic. The coolest thing about the demo I saw while playing the native americans was if you find a horse in the wild, you can just tell your brave to saddle up! He pops right up there and becomes a horse archer. You don't even need a wild horse, you can kill a cowboy and use his horse as well. If you are on a fast connection, and aren't really interested in multiplayer, go ahead and download it here.
ES Programmer Journal: Breaking Into The Biz...
Posted by Thunder on December 8th, 2000 @ 7:18 a.m.
He's one of the new kids in town, and Ensemble Studios programmer Bill Jackson has put together an interesting read on just how he got his job there and what the first few months have been like. He had plenty of experience to begin with, but that wasn't enough to get him a position! (I'm sure it didn't hurt) Check out how he make the break into the gaming industry:
"I am fast approaching my three-month anniversary with this little company called Ensemble Studios. Not so coincidentally, I am fast approaching the three-month anniversary of my start in the gaming industry. In fact, not too long ago I held a title something like "Vice President of This and That," and I sometimes had to wear a suit to work! Alas, that is no longer true. In celebration of this fact, I thought that I would share the inside scoop on just how I mad e the transition into the game industry, and what my first few months have been like here at The Studios." - Bill Jackson

Source - How to Break Into the Game Industry in 18 Years or Less

Well, he sure went that extra mile to stick together a demo! A very nice piece by Bill "*insert witty handle*" Jackson, be sure to give it a read by clicking ye olde source link above.

If you do drop by the ES Programmers Journal, you may find the links to be in a bit of a jumble. Not to worry, they'll be sorted out faster that you can say "Hooshashmeefner"! ...I think my halo is two sizes too small, starting to effect my circulation ; )
Listen Up, Game Voice Upgrade!
Posted by Thunder on December 8th, 2000 @ 6:58 a.m.
Those of you who checked out our Game Voice Review know that this chat device worked pretty well, but wasn't perfect. Well, the gang at MS have released a new version of their software which you can grab at www.gamevoice.com, v1.1 to be precise. It adds some new features, such as:
"Enhanced performance with most sound cards*
Many users found Game Voice 1.0 failed to recognize voice commands after about 5 minutes of using voice commands. This issue was particularly linked with the Aureal Vortex sound card and chipsets.

Downloading the Game Voice 1.1 Beta resolves this issue for most sound cards.

Compatibility with ICQ 2000b
Start a Game Voice chat session via ICQ instant messenger service! Download the Game Voice 1.1 Beta to increase your Game Voice compatibility.

To use Game Voice with ICQ 2000b
1. From your ICQ contact list, click on a contact's name.
2. Under Invite, select Other IP Phones/Voice Chat, and then select Game Voice. This will open a Game Voice chat session with you as the Host, and will send an invitation to your ICQ contact."


Source - Game Voice 1.1 Features

There's quite a few new groovy features, so drop by and check out the full list at the source link above. I'm very happy to see the addition of ICQ compatibility in this version of the software! There's also a new version of the free Game Voice Share software, v1.1 of course, to check out as well. ...and so ends my semester at school...FREEEEEEEEDOM! ; )
Kleitus on Recording Games
Posted by Washizu on December 6th, 2000 @ 7:54 p.m.
The infamous AOE expert Kleitus (now a member of the Stainless Steel Studios strike team, helping develop Empire Earth) has a weekly column over at MFO, and this week writes about the difference between experts sharing strategies and sharing recorded games. Kleitus is of course the winner of the very first Ultimate Ager tournament, a top Kali AOE player (when people actually played AOE on Kali), a top Zone ladder player (teams and singles), and doom sayer extraordinaire when he predicted a Shang civ imbalance even before the Rise of Rome expansion was released.

Read the article here. Thanks to EEH.
Top 10 Reasons People DON'T Buy AOK
Posted by Washizu on December 6th, 2000 @ 7:15 p.m.
Why would anyone not want to purchase one of the best strategy games every created? Here are 10, according to IClan_Emperor:

10. Sadly, No Computer.
9. Their Psychiatrist Thinks they’re not just ‘ready’ yet.
8. 40 Bucks? Unlikely.
7. Offended whenever a War Elephant or Paladin dies.
6. They just didn’t see the Screenshots.
5. They get enough from fan sites anyway.
4. They refuse to feed Bill Gates’ evil empire.
3. They are British, French, Scottish, Chinese, Japanese, Mongolian, Turkish, Iranian, Middle-Eastern, German, Polish, Norwegian, Mexican, Korean, Spanish, or Hungarian.
2. They might just be a redneck.

And the Number One Reason People Don’t Buy AOK is…

1. Subliminal Messages in Diablo 2 Tell them not to!
Check out the thread where this was posted here.
GS Arcade Upgrade!
Posted by Thunder on December 6th, 2000 @ 8:19 a.m.
If you logged onto GameSpy Arcade tonight, you've probably already discovered that there's now a new version of the match making software available, v1.01. There's no major new additions, mostly just bug fixes to keep our game time smooth:
"Version 1.01 of the GameSpy Arcade software is now available for your downloading pleasure. You can grab it now from the Arcade download page, courtesy of FilePlanet. Or, if you're already an Arcade user, simply fire up the software and follow the auto-updating prompts."

Source - GameSpy Arcade

If you haven't tried out GS Arcade yet, it's similar to the Zone match making system, but supports a crazy number of games including all popular FPS games, RPGs like Baldur's Gate II, and of course Age of Kings and the Conquerors. ...and if you're a Deus Ex fan in a downloading mood, grab the brand new patch that adds multiplayer to the game! ; )
Planet AoE's Arcade Challenge Tonight!
Posted by Thunder on December 5th, 2000 @ 6:46 p.m.
Get ready for some action on GameSpy Arcade as Xiphoid from Planet AoE has issued his weekly challenge. The bash will be taking place on the latest RM script from ES, which has been dubbed ES@Canals. If you come out on top, you could even pick up a new game:
"The name of the game will be an eight-player free-for-all random civilization game and the prize will be a copy of Red Alert II to the lone man/woman standing. I'll be in the fray of players so don't get your hopes up too high. Practice up on your canal and trench warfare before tomorrow at 4PM PT/7PM ET in the Conquerors Lobby when the event kicks off." -Xiphoid

Be sure to stay tuned to PlanetAoE for the latest on this event, and good luck folks! ...definately get some practice in with Canals...you're gonna need it if you want to survive an 8 player FFA! ; )
Zone Tournament Wraps Up...
Posted by Thunder on December 5th, 2000 @ 6:46 a.m.
The finals in the Zone Arctic Age II Blast Tournament have finished up a few hours ago with Camellott_Royal coming out the winner against Myth_aRes. The champ, Camellott_Royal, is taking home $100 cheque with his winnings, so drinks are on him! You can view the brackets from all of the rounds, including the finals, from the link above. If you missed out on this tournament, there's more in the works and on the events list to the right! ...hopefully we'll have another tourney here in heaven...sooner rather than later... ; )
GameProfiles.com
Posted by Washizu on December 4th, 2000 @ 7:11 a.m.
There's a new website you guys might be interested in. It's called GameProfiles.com:
Will your online buddies find you next year? Please come and check out our new website, register your favorite nickname and we will do our best to keep new and popular online gaming communities informed about our database. Online friends will be able to come in and find out where their buddies are and what game they play.

Don't just let your good friends disappear, registration is free, fast and most nicknames are still available.


Check it out.
Pigin's AOKH Comic Strip
Posted by Washizu on December 4th, 2000 @ 5:55 a.m.
A lot of us here at Heaven got a kick out of Pigin's AOKH comic. It features none other than Angels Zen, Thunder, Spineman, Rasher, Chris the Great, and THS, along with some of the cherubs like Sunshine, Dimitrios, and Cheerful Chum, who's rendering could give you nightmares. Are Pigin's skills as an artist up to par? You be the judge...

Angel Washizu


Angel Thunder


Angel Zen


Check out the comic.
Herb Marselas Bitten By Ferret!
Posted by Thunder on December 3rd, 2000 @ 10:30 p.m.
How's that for an odd headline? Scarey thing is, it's true! Ensemble Studios programmer Herb "Captain Insano" Marselas dropped in on Evil Avatar, the head evil guy at EvilAvatar.com:
"Talk about a fun afternoon! Yesterday Ensemble Studios Programmer Herb Marselas stopped by my house since he was on a business trip to Phoenix. We spent the whole afternoon / evening BSing about video games & console systems and trading industry rumors and managed to sneak out to a nice restaurant for dinner. Herb is a really great guy an we had a lot of fun, though just like any visitor to my home, my ferret, the Bumble, promptly bit him. I tried to warn him! Honestly."

Source - EvilAvatar.com

There's even a picture of Herb "trying to look distinguished" to boot. Let's all hope that Evil's ferret has had all of its shots for disease etc, or ES may be looking for a new programmer! ...the post I'm referring to at Evil Avatar's place was made on Dec 3 12:12PM ...they post a heck of a lot of news, so you might have to scroll down a ways to find it... ; )
Age2oons Update
Posted by Washizu on December 3rd, 2000 @ 10:35 a.m.
You asked. You begged. You pleaded. The Age2oons have had a massive update tonight, so get on down there and check out all the new toons! Keep on the lookout for broken images for me, too!

AOKH's Age2oons
New Random Map From ES!
Posted by Thunder on December 2nd, 2000 @ 9:33 a.m.
Can ya smell that new map smell? Whelp, it looks like Greg "DeathShrimp" Street has done it again! Here's the company line for their latest creation, ES@Canals:
"The most notable feature of this map, is in fact, the network of canals, which creates a spiderweb effect as they try to connect every player's starting town and generate some pretty spectacular-looking minimaps. The more players, the more canals, so this map is much more interesting with 8 players than with 2. However, unlike some of our recent maps, computer opponents can play on Canals just fine.

Because there are so many Shore Fish (and even some shallow-water Marlin), little other food is needed. In fact, there are no Sheep or Deer to be found."


Source - ES@Canals Random Map

As per usual, you can drop by the page to download the RM script and take a gander at the mapshots with Canals running this way and that. I likes my shore fish, so something tells me this is going to be an interesting map type to tackle! See you in the Canals! ...a nice Hittite War Galley would rock on that map... ; )
The Good Word: AoE Card Game Ships...
Posted by Thunder on December 2nd, 2000 @ 9:19 a.m.
If you're interested in the Age of Empires Expandable Card Game, you'll be very interested in a note I received from Conquestadoor this evening. He is very excited about the game and has been participating in an eGroup devoted to discussion about this new addtion to the Age series. Here's the word:
Thunder,
FYI, the latest messages on this list mention that the product has now been shipped to distributors. I can't wait til the stores get it!"
- Conquestadoor

I did have a peek at the Official Site for this card game to see if there was some announcement and came up empty handed. Chances are they started their weekend early. (unlike this guy)

At any rate, keep an eye out for signs of this card game in a store near you. If it has just started shipping there could be some delay yet before it hits shelves. ...thanks Conquestadoor! ; )
Heating Up At MFO!
Posted by Thunder on December 2nd, 2000 @ 8:57 a.m.
Things settled down and even got a little quiet as my fav Ager repairman set about moving the mass that is Mr.Fixit Online to a blazing new machine...or two. Well, that's all over with, and Mr.Fixit sends word that things are heating up again with some brand new events:
"AOK HEATS TOURNEY
Next Friday, December 8th, participate in the first MFO "HEATS" tourney! Age of Kings: The Conquerors, Random Match.

You face only people in your skill level in a 16-player, single-elimination heat. I will personally be running this tourney, so stop by to chat a bit too!

MOST INTERESTING GAME CONTEST
Each week in December, MFO is running a "Most Interesting" recorded game contest. Upload a funny, dramatic, intense, or just plain weird game and you & your opponent just might win the weekly $100 prize.

REDLINE INTERVIEW
Be sure to check out our recently posted interview of Age of Kings gamer REDLINE who was hired by Stainless Steel Studios to do game testing.

MAJOR SERVER UPGRADES:
MFO got a serious overhaul and is *much* faster now."

I thought that was a typo for just a minute, but it really does appear that the MFO gang will be giving away $100 a week for a super kewl recorded game! Damn, that'd make a great liner for your pocket at this time of the year. Drop by for all the details! ...time to reveal my super secret strat and win myself some money...it involves breaking into Mr.Fixit's house because I haven't got a hope in heck of winning a damn thing... ; )
Genghis Khan Essay Contest
Posted by Washizu on December 2nd, 2000 @ 3:07 a.m.
Cherub Dimitrios is running a contest based on one of the most exciting figures in history, Ghengis Khan:
The Life Of Khan :: History Essay Contest

Organized by: Cherub Dimitrios

Requirements: Must be at least 850 words. Suggested to be less than 1800, but will be accepted if it is, and no points will be deducted. Suggested to be written on Microsoft word or Word-pad. If you do not have either, send it through note-pad. If you do not have any of them, e-mail Cherub Dimitrios at [his email address], and tell him what programs you have, to see if he can receive it. It must be 100% ORIGINAL. You MAY NOT copy, or rewrite any already existing essay or written piece, unless it was written on your own. Title should also be original and creative. Two people may collaborate and no restrictions will be applied. None of the judges may enter. HG staff may enter, but cannot win first place. All information must be accurate. Any opinions or theories are aloud, but if the information is clearly untrue, or if something definitely not true is stated as a fact, points will be deducted. It must talk about his whole life, from life until death, it may focus a lot more on one point in his life more than the other, but you must mention his childhood and his adulthood. A bibliography may be included, but absolutely not required, no points will be deducted for a missing bibliography. Pictures may be included but are not required. The essay can be written in any style of writing, and any setting in time, past, present or future.
Evaluation: A panel of judges (Cherub Dimitrios, Cherub Socrateius, Angel Rasher, Angel Gustavia, and Cherub Sunshine) will be judging each essay on accuracy, style, focus, mechanics (Spelling of Ghengis Khan will not count, seeing on how many people spell it many different ways), content, originality, understandability, creativity, and all around performance.

Each category will be out of 10 (including decimals), then the 9 categories will be averaged, and then they will be averaged with the other judge’s votes. The top score (all averaged out) will be the First Place winner, second will be the second highest score, and the third will be third (obviously). All entries must be sent by February 23(Cherub Dimitrios’ birthday). If for any reason you cannot get it in by the 23rd, send it no later than the 24th. We hope to get many entries, and a close race.
Get all the info right here.
A Little Herring With Your Game?
Posted by Thunder on December 1st, 2000 @ 9:34 p.m.
The fishy folks at redherring.com have posted a very interesting discussion on game design that includes Age of Empires Designer Bruce Shelley, Dennis Fong (Mr.FPS), and Will Wright (Mr.Sim). They chat about how games have evolved, where they may be headed in the future, and why gaming has taken off in some asian countries in a big, big, big way:
"RH: What's your view of how much gaming has grown up?

Will Wright: Well, I'm disappointed that it hasn't grown more and permeated the culture more. It still seems like it is stuck in a subset of the population. It has a certain amount of stigma attached to it. But I think there's a slow generational shift going on, [with] the console games especially when it comes to things like gender. You see much close gender equality with girls and boys playing console games, and that's now starting to carry through to the PC side. And, you know, again, I think it's going to be a generational shift where, at some point, most of the kids now are going to grow up thinking games are just an appropriate recreational activity."


Source - Redherring Talks Gaming

There may not be any RTS3 tid bits, not any that I saw anyway, but the ideas expresed make for good reading. It is very interesting to hear about the different ways in which gamers are perceived in other countries. ...gamers being worshipped like gods...my kinda country! ; )
The Name Game...
Posted by Thunder on December 1st, 2000 @ 6:51 p.m.
Could it be a series? The gang at GameSpy have continued their look at the stories behind the names for gaming companies, and their curiosity lead them to Tony Goodman, founder of Ensemble Studios:
"GameSpy: Who started your company and in what year?

Tony Goodman -- Founder, CEO: I started the company 1994; incorporated in 1995. It started as a spin-off from a systems consulting firm, (Ensemble Corporation), which I started in 1990.

GameSpy: How did you decide on your company name?

Tony Goodman: It made sense to name the game companyEnsemble Studios (ES) because the two companies were linked at that time. The name Ensemble was originally chosen because it has a cool definition that represents our team culture philosophy ... 'en-sem-ble: A group together producing a single effect as in a work of art.'"


Source - GameSpy's Article Page 3

They also briefly discuss the logo for the studios, and where it came from. Click here to check out the full article. ...wish me luck, exam today... ; )
Crazy AOK Links
Posted by Washizu on December 1st, 2000 @ 9:34 a.m.
Once again, here are some strange and unusual links I uncovered from Google.com while searching for "Age of Kings":

  • Japanese AOK site: This looks like an egg with a sword to me.
  • Hmm..: AOK is now being classified as a "fantasy" game here.
  • PS2, Dreamcast port fact sheet: Ship Date: Fall 2000


Hope you enjoyed those links. Now, for something completely unrelated... The McChicken Head
RPG Street
Posted by Washizu on December 1st, 2000 @ 9:16 a.m.
Where does the role playing end and the strategy begin? How different are Action-RPGs and Action-Adventure games? Can anyone really tell the difference between Blue-Green and Green-Blue? Maybe one of these women can, but what types of gender... er genre bending are we seeing nowadays, and what will the future hold? AOK:TC lead designer Green Street inserted his opinion into an article on PC IGN.:
Street goes on to point out that even Gran Turismo (a best-selling racing game for the PlayStation) has role-playing elements, as do most sports games with league play and changing stats. But despite the popularity of incorporating role-playing elements in games other than those belonging to the "D&D, sci-fi, and post-apocalyptic" genres, there seems to be a cut-off point with how far developers or publishers are willing to go.

Read the whole article here. Listen to Greg, he should know about this sort of thing.
AI Wars: Games 2-6
Posted by Rasher on December 1st, 2000 @ 8:36 a.m.
Games 2-5 of the AI Wars have been posted for download in the Market, with Game 6 to follow very shortly.
If the tournament keeps going the way it is, I doubt that I will be alive to see Round 2 take place, as everytime that I see another game my blood pressure takes a signifigant jump! There is a lot of nail-biters so far, and pretty much all of the games have been quite enjoyable. But you shouldn't take my word for it, you should go and try them out for yourself!
6 down, 8 more left to go in Round 1... I really dont think my blood pressure can handle all the action!