Archived News From January 2001

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!

AoKH Campaign Contest Update
Posted by Rasher on January 31st, 2001 @ 11:14 p.m.
The AoKH Destiny of a Dynasty - Chinese Campaign Contest official page has been updated to include an addition to the Grand Prize. In addition to all the cool stuff already up for grabs, the lucky person that is our contest winner will also walk away with an AoE Collector's Edition (signed by Bruce Shelley!).

As well, remember that the Contest Deadline is Febuary 15th, 2001 - a mere 15 days away. If you are planning on entering, make sure to have your entry in by the deadline, or you miss out on your chance for glory!
ES Video Initial Report
Posted by Washizu on January 31st, 2001 @ 1:57 a.m.
I just watched the ES video at Gamespot, and most of it talks about the lessons they learned, what they like about making games, and even some background on how the company was created. All very interesting, but not even half as interesting as this bomb that was dropped by ES President Tony Goodman:
"We're working on a console game... in the future, we'll be working on an online game, possibly a massively multiplayer game" - Ensemble Studios President Tony Goodman
The video also showed some game play from super early versions of AOE. I'm sure there are things I missed, so check out the forums for all the other pairs of eyes taking it apart. Post your thoughts on the video here.
Behind The Scenes Video!
Posted by Thunder on January 31st, 2001 @ 0:18 a.m.
Head to GameSpot Live for the Behind the Scenes: Ensemble Studios video! I haven't had a chance to watch it just yet, but here's the plug:
"See what goes on behind the scenes at Ensemble Studios, the company behind the incredibly popular Age of Empires series, with tons of interviews and a brief history of the company and its games. Look closely and you'll even get a glimpse of games it currently has in development."

Source - GameSpot Live
Still here? ...didn't think so... ; )

**Update**
The interview with Tony Goodman is also live now. Check it out here, GameSpot Interviews Bossman. They talk a lot about RTS3...a pretty much nothing but! ...will be seeing it at E3 in May...a safe bet there... ; )
Xiphoid's Top Ten
Posted by Washizu on January 30th, 2001 @ 11:03 p.m.
An interesting and bold list to post is a top ten list of the biggest legends of the Age series in terms of how good they were and their effect on the community. Xiphoid from Planet AOE has posted such a list, and I agree for the most part with his selections. His offcial definition for a legend is "as a player of every capability who has built an overwhelming reputation as having game anytime from tournament victories or big matches and a little attitude mixed in." He gave top honors to:
10. Mozory - AOK & TC expert
9. Kleitus - AOE & ROR expert
8. RD_Champion - AOK & TC expert
7. Blackgrail - AOE & ROR & AOK & TC expert
6. Crexis - AOK & TC expert
5. Methos_ST - AOE & ROR & AOK expert
4. Arch_Koven - AOK & TC expert
3. Stalin - AOE & ROR & AOK & TC expert
2. maimin_matty - AOE & ROR & AOK expert
1. The_Sheriff - AOE & ROR & AOK & TC expert
Notables missing from this list that come to mind are atsq, Lakuma, Dustin, Thump, Debaser, Helicon, and Staffa. There are certainly others who are escaping my mind at the moment, but X's list was certainly arguable in an informed ager debate.
Back to the Future
Posted by Washizu on January 30th, 2001 @ 6:54 a.m.
Today the long awaited ES video will be released. Rumors on what the video will contain vary widely, but most likely it will show us what it's like to work at ES, and some of their game development ideologies. Don't expect much in the way of RTS3 information, but keep your eyes peeled for any dry-erase boards or computer screens.

Check back here often for the latest word on the video's release. In the meantime, check out these sneak peaks:

AOK Heaven's peek
AOK Command Center's glimpse
Planet AOE's 3 Shots (Jan 26 news)
A Small Universitian Update
Posted by Socvazius on January 29th, 2001 @ 11:46 p.m.
The skilled Ager Corrupt Halberdier has sent me an excellent article on the ins and outs of the Turkish civilization and their infamous Gunpowder Rush.

  • The Turks and The Gunpowder Rush(By Corrupt Halberdier)

    BTW, if you are sending a strategy that you would like to be posted on the University, please include all of the HTML code required - Youch, forgot to add the closing bold tag:p.......
  • Another Dynamic Duo!
    Posted by Thunder on January 29th, 2001 @ 8:37 p.m.
    A pair of blokes from Ensemble Studios have popped into the forums this morning to help clear up a few misconceptions and let us in on a few interesting design decisions that were made on the expansion pack. With the big video about the Studios past, present, and future to debut sometime tomorrow Sandy "Sandyman" Petersen takes on a few RTS3 related issues:
    "Q) When ES tells everyone about RTS3 on Tuesday...does that mean you can start asking questions about RTS3?
    A) I think you’ve mixed up 'ES is releasing a cool company video on Tuesday' with 'ES is going stark raving mad'. The video isn’t about RTS3.

    Q) Is it true that 3d rtsgames do not have the same potential to create random maps as 2d rtsgames because of the amount of data involved?
    A) I know what website YOU’VE been reading As a matter of fact, it’s not as easy to make a random map in 3D as in 2D. So most companies don’t even try. Poor babies."
    -Sandy Petersen

    Source - Our Forum: Ask Sandy 1
    For anyone expecting ES to spill the beans on RTS3 in their video, you may have to wait until E3 in May of this year for some real meaty details. It's very likely that the video is going to give us a peak, but no more. Thankfully Sandy also has given us a hint that the ES folks are likely breaking some new ground and throwing in random maps with their 3D game!

    Xpack designer Greg "DeathShimp" Street dropped in on an RTS3 thread that turned out to be nothing of the kind. He did leave behind a very intriguing post about what was left out of the expansion:
    "We experimented with giving the Koreans a super-Scorpion (which would be more historically accurate for a Shinkichon upgrade), but it was hard to balance. In order to justify the expense, the weapon had to be pretty effective, which meant that on those rare occasions when a player could get an army of 40+ together, they were unstoppable.

    Cataphracts, Mamelukes, Elephants and War Wagons all seem pretty tough in large groups as it is. If any one of those units had been able to do ranged, area-of-effect damage...well, you get the idea.

    I desperately wanted a Siege Tower in the Xpack, but there were too many gameplay problems. Everyone wants siege towers to be able to go over walls, otherwise it is just a garrisoned battering ram that shoots. But how can units go over walls? Do they just get to hop over the wall? Won't that make player just build two rows of walls with a gap in the middle? Late game walls are pretty useless anyways and there are much cheaper and safer ways to knock them down."
    -Greg Street

    Source - Our Forum: Unique Siege Weapon for RTS3
    Well I don't know about you, but I'd rather have a slow moving super scorpian hunting me down as opposed to those War Wagons. Of course, that probably would have made taking out those nasty Korean Onagers pretty impossible to take out with super scorps around. A tough call there. Glad you're not a game deisnger? ...lots of Agers wanted siege towers...glad they aren't in the game now though, they woulda been pretty useless... ; )
    Interview With Battletop CEO...
    Posted by Thunder on January 29th, 2001 @ 6:54 p.m.
    Those of you who remember the World Cyber Games, and the role Battletop played in it will no doubt be interested in this very candid interview. John Varley, CEO of BT, responds to critiques and discusses plans for the future at Challenge.World. The topics are largely FPS in nature, but it's a good read if you're looking to stay on top of the big time tourney scene. ...looks like I wasn't the only one squinting real hard at this picture... ; )
    Change In The Status Quo...
    Posted by Thunder on January 29th, 2001 @ 11:28 a.m.
    The pointy but cute Angel Spineman let's us know of a change to the submissions process in the Blacksmith. If you're already a member of our forums, it won't be that big of a change for you. Your forum ID and password will be needed to submit scenarios and the like in the future, but head to the Blacksmith for the full story. ...thank you to dedkrikit for sending in the recorded game of the big shimado game from the forum party...cheers! ; )
    The People Have Spoken: Conquerors Wins!
    Posted by Thunder on January 29th, 2001 @ 8:06 a.m.
    My thanks to Xiphoid who sent a subspace message from Planet AoE that the ballots have been counted over at GameSpot in their Reader's Choice Awards for 2000. Over 20,000 GSpot faithful cast their votes, and the final results from all of their polls can be viewed for all genres. There are some surprising results, but few quite as close as the race for Strategy Game of the Year where The Conquerors edged out Command & Conquer Red Alert 2 to take home the award!

    The winner of the Game of the Year for 2000 according to us readers is, Baldur's Gate II! Drop in and check out the entire set of results for yourself. ...surprised MW4 got an award...might have been good, but I'll never know because it refused to run on my system... ; )
    Forum Party Wrap Up...
    Posted by Thunder on January 28th, 2001 @ 9:25 p.m.
    ...and a good time was had by all! Apparently there was a big shimo showdown that actually ended with a wonder victory. Hopefully one of the blokes involved will upload the recorded game for us!

    I stuck with standard RM this time around, first tangling with GrEEk_OuTcAsT in a random civ game. I was Turks, he was Spanish and the hard fought game went into the Imperial Age despite my failed feudal attack. (thankfully I didn't get hit with knights or it woulda been game over)

    Afterwards, Angel_Washizu, Angel_Socratieus, and me teamed up to take on The_Piemaster, Tintagil, and krud139 on the infamous The_Unknown random map script. The map turned out to be similar to arabia, very wide open, which leant itself well to my Mongol feudal attack on Tintagil, but an untimely drop by The_Piemaster (who was doing very well) spelled the end for the other team. krud139 got some revenge though in a 1on1 random civ game with me later. Turks again for me, and Mongols for him...doh.

    Thanks to all who came out and enjoyed some games with us! Hopefully we'll see you all again next week. ...I'll be making sacrifices to the gods of randomness all week...enough with the Turks! ; )

    **Update**
    Head to the downloads section to grab the giant 8 player shimo game from the party! Downloading it myself right now, thanks GUNS_N_ROSES for uploading it.
    Forum Party Reminder...
    Posted by Thunder on January 27th, 2001 @ 8:05 p.m.
    Just a quick reminder that in a few hours we will be meeting in the Agincourt game room on the Zone for some games! Join us at 7pm EST! (4pm PST and EST=GMT-5) We'll be playing all sorts of different game types, so if you drop in you're likely to find a little of everything. ...maybe even a little shimado...shimo/nomad ; )
    Taking Home Top Spot X 2...
    Posted by Thunder on January 27th, 2001 @ 7:47 p.m.
    The votes have been counted at IGN PC's 2000 awards, and The Conquerors was not only chosen by the editors as best X-pack for 2000, the readers voted heavily in favour of it as well:
    "What the readers thought: This wasn't even a contest. With The Conquerors stealing over 60% of the vote, your choice for Expansion Pack of 2000 was clear, so The Conquerors captured both our praise and yours."

    Source - IGN PC's Best of 2000 Awards
    Congrats to the Studios crew on more awards to add to their growing collection! (and thanks to Archangel for this great news) Drop in on the IGN PC awards and see how your favourite games of 2000 faired! ...I'm surprised Giants won for best action game...it's fun, but it had it's flaws too...well, the in game movies sure made up for much of that...some of the funniest I've seen! ; )
    Angel Bingman Brings Death...
    Posted by Thunder on January 27th, 2001 @ 9:31 a.m.
    Looks like Angel Bingman is doing himself proud. He's been hard at work on the latest event in the AI Tournament League, an all Deathmatch showdown! The event has just finished up the third round, and Bingman's own script is currently the only one undefeated. Scripts by Keita, coteti, and AllTooEasy have been putting on impressive showings as well!

    For results, the recorded games, information on upcoming events, scripting tips, and more, drop in on the AI Tournament League! ...there seems to be an echo in the Tavern...and some amazing artwork by Pigin...amazing he's still alive after posting those drawings! ; )
    Forum Party Tomorrow!
    Posted by Thunder on January 27th, 2001 @ 1:25 a.m.
    Drop in on the Agincourt room on the Zone for some games with fellow forumers and friends! We had a big ol' Last Man Standing rumble last week, with a little RM and Nomad on the side. While we wait for Tuesday to roll around, and the video about ES, come chew up some of those hours with some games!

    Have a question, challenge, or just want to lay on the smack talk? Drop on by our forum: Forum Party Thread ...see ya there Agers! ...oh and if you're not so skilled at the game, no worries, drop by and you're sure to learn something new...or at least get a kewl recorded game to watch... ; )
    Coming Soon To A Theatre Near You!
    Posted by Thunder on January 26th, 2001 @ 7:23 p.m.


    This Tuesday will see the debut of a video that will give us a look at where Ensemble Studios has been, and where they are headed! (RTS3!!) For those of you who miss it, or want to watch it a few more times to look for any of those sweet dry erase boards and the like, we'll have it here for you on Wednesday.

    Check out our sneak peak from this video!

    Keep a close eye on www.ageofkings.cc and Planet AoE for other images from the video, and clear your calenders for Tuesday... ...not a bad Australia Day gift hmmmm? I hope ya'll had a good one.. ; )
    Lame Journalism
    Posted by Washizu on January 26th, 2001 @ 5:29 p.m.
    IGN.com has a good reputation for providing news to gamers and hosting some top notch sites. Their post today, however, puts it in the category of e-tabloid. IGN Chats with Bruce Shelley is an article that says Ensemle is not working with LucasArts for their next strategy game. Maybe this site has been guilty of it at times, but I really thought "what was the point of posting this?" when I read the IGN article. I guess maybe they wanted to reiterate the rumor that ES may not be publishing a game with Microsoft:
    "We just had some talks with them," he said, "That's all." Ensemble at this point is just acting as sort of a sounding board for some of LucasArts' ideas. "We're not writing code or doing any art for them," Shelley explained. "The simple truth is that we've done RTS games and they haven't -- at least not any that have been successful." Seeing as how LucasArts would like to make something of their Star Wars franchise in the strategy arena, it's no surprise that they'd turn to Ensemble, developers of the spectacular Age of Empires series.
    Read the whole article here.
    Ogre on Game Design
    Posted by Washizu on January 26th, 2001 @ 2:50 a.m.
    And you thought Ogre was only the great webmonster of Through The Ages. He also is trying his hand at game design. During his senior year, he and six others designed a 3D Adventure Game called Theseus, set in a futuristic/ancient Greek period. He based it on the excellent Genesis3D engine, which is freely available on the net:
    Over the next few months of the semester we had to work on getting the project done. We were only given about 3 months to finish it and it had to work when it was done to receive a grade. There was no set time to meet or anything such as that. But to make sure everyone on the team was on the same page, we met every Friday. Some meetings lasted more than two hours at times. I would like to point out that teamwork is key in completing any project. Though all of us had our separate jobs, we were all part of a team.
    Hopefully, this future Bruce Shelley will give us a link to download the project, so we can all give it a grade. In the meantime, read the whole article here...."where's the PATCH!" "It's so unbalanced!" "How do you take screenshots!!!"... Get ready for comments like those
    Games Rated Better, Retailers Worse
    Posted by Washizu on January 26th, 2001 @ 1:27 a.m.
    Most of us are slightly following the movements around the country to prevent minors from purchasing violent and adult themed games. The latest report on the issue was released today by the Institute on Media and the Family, which approved of the direction video games were going, although according to them, retailers are not doing enough to stop young people (as far as I could tell, this means anyone under 14) from getting a hold of games that depict violence. CNN.com posted the story about the report, which can be found here. Supposedly, they also have statistics supporting the idea that games can make kids more violent. If you're interested in how they rated Age of Empires 2, head here. I have to say, AOK was probably rated pretty fairly.

    I really hope that games don't go the way of movies, and restrict 16 year olds from seeing and hearing things they experience on a weekly basis. Personally, I think a 14 year old is plenty mature enough to watch an R rated movie, but that is just my opinion. I'm 22 years old and I'm not kidding when I say that I have been carded twice in the past year for movies I have been legally allowed in for 5 years now. If publishers and retailers want to restrict sales to certain ages, I don't have a big problem with that, as long as they do it SENSIBLY. A game like AOK should be purchasible by anyone, but maybe games like Kingpin or Soldier of Fortune should not be available to pre-teens. Just my opinion
    The Future!
    Posted by Thunder on January 25th, 2001 @ 11:34 p.m.
    Not a lot of facts on this at the moment, but here's what's posted on the Ensemble Studios site right now:
    "The Past, The Present and The Future Video Coming Next Tuesday also, Special Interview with CEO and Founder Tony Goodman"

    Source - Ensemble Studios
    Ya noticed that "Future" part too? It's looking like Tuesday may be the day we finally get a peak at RST3! ...blast it! All the good stuff happens when I'm commuting to school and back... ; )
    Simply Sandy...
    Posted by Thunder on January 25th, 2001 @ 9:54 p.m.
    Designer man, Sandy "Sandyman" Petersen dropped in to the forums in his spare time today to to provide some answers to burning questions, such as one I've been meaning to ask...What's displayed Duncan McKissick's monitor right now? (might get a scarey Lara Croft related answer to that one...) Here's a few of the catchy responces:
    "Q) What is the last thing you'd want to hear from a fan of your games?
    A) 'We have your dog hostage. If you ever want to see Naomi again, you better make Canada the dominant civ in your next game …'

    Q) Do you let your kids know about any news on RTS3 or any other games under development?
    A) Hell, they get to play it."
    -Sandy Petersen

    Source - Our Forum: Ask Sandy 1
    I'd be far more worried about being swamped by requests for adoption rather than having your dog taken hostage by some nutty Canucks. Drop in on Sandy and see what other pressing questions he's taken on. ...hmmm bonuses for a Canadian civ would be? ...won't be any military bonuses, that's for sure! ; )
    Microsoft's Web Woes Continue...
    Posted by Thunder on January 25th, 2001 @ 9:04 p.m.
    Yesterday it was reported that everything was reported that the folks at Microsoft had solved their technical difficulties. A quick scan of major MS sites today will tell you that they've still got some serious work to do as most are down and out, including the Zone. (thank goodness for GameSpy Arcade!)

    Here's the latest word on the situation from ZDNet: Microsoft not out of the Web woods just yet ...proof! It happens to everyone, even the big boys... ; )
    Swiss Championship And More?
    Posted by Thunder on January 25th, 2001 @ 10:31 a.m.
    Switzerland is getting ready to rumble in a big Conquerors way. Ensemble Studios has just posted a link to www.agemasters.ch/, which is apparently hosting a Swiss championship tournament, sponsored by Microsoft! The finals will be taking place in Bern, and the two best players from there will be awarded a trip to the USA. That trip, paid for by Microsoft, will be to a World Championship?

    There's been no official announcement of a World Championship that I know of. The french version (I'm german impaired) of the site does say:
    "Les deux meilleures joueurs suisses de la Finale d’AoE 2 pourront participer au titre de Champion du Monde qui se déroulera aux Etats-Unis. Le voyage aux Etats-Unis est payé par Microsoft."

    Source - www.agermasters.com
    ...Champion du Monde...it basicly says that the two best players from the big showdown in Bern will have the chance to go to the USA and participate in the World Championships!

    Very interesting stuff. The qualification events for the finals in Bern are underway and continue into February. Hopefully we'll soon have some more information on this, but in the meantime be ready for anything.... ...I dunno what to say...I'm in bloody shock... ; )

    **Update**
    The Ager who sent in word of a German add on not long ago, jk, has dropped me a line with a translation from the german version of the site that is a little less/more revealing than the french version:
    "Microsoft can not tell yet wheter (!!) and when the world championship will take place....but Microsoft promised, that the 2 best players will travel to the USA in any case, even if it will turn out to be a holidaytrip only"
    Thanks very much to jk for sending that in!
    Mamelukes, Camels, Nomads, Oh My!
    Posted by Socvazius on January 25th, 2001 @ 3:06 a.m.
    I received 2 articles today, both of excellent quality. Thus, I added them to the University. The 1st one, Nomad Strategy, was made by a team, Magicmel and Dedkrikit. Though, the 2nd article, The Saracens, was made solo by frequent forumer Micr0boy.

  • The Saracens, a civilization born of the Desert(By Micr0boy)
  • Nomad Strategy(By Magicmel and Dedkrikit)

    Just a neat little fact: Micr0boy's "The Saracens" article was the 100th article submitted to the University . [100th including all the test articles that are in there that you don't see ;) - Washizu]
  • Quick n' Dirty Scorecard Cleaned Up...
    Posted by Thunder on January 24th, 2001 @ 10:23 p.m.
    The super quick reference card created by Mike "Captn" Kidd that catalogues available units and such for all civilizations has had an update. Some folks were very quick to notice a couple of errors, and some of the scores have been adjusted. You can snag the update from the ES Strategy Journal, and it's once again available in PDF and XLS formats. ...never realized how much I use the left shift key until I used a keyboard where it didn't work...had 34 to choose from and I picked the busted one... ; )
    Two New Reviews
    Posted by Washizu on January 24th, 2001 @ 8:01 p.m.
    The first review is one you'd expect. Wewp! Entertaninment gave The Conquerors an 8/10 in its review. The real curious thing is that the reviewer said "Not much music. Mainly sound effects." Hmm... it's very possible that he had the music turned off, because unless you're deaf (which he must not be, unless the sound effects came from inside his own head), you'll hear plenty of music while you play.
    The biggest part of this expansion is probably the 26 new technologies (such as theocracy or caravans) not including the technologies that are unique to the individual civilizations. Some of the best enhancements are in how your characters play in the game. The villagers are smarter and thus work and build more efficiently (a definite plus). For those who like to build farms, they will defiantly like the ability to have your farms be replanted automatically without having to manually assign a farmer to them. After getting used to the game, the Advanced tab comes in very handy. Another one of the enhancements to the game is that you can now place your ships in formations rather than having them go wherever they feel is best.
    The second review is something I just HAD to write about. Not often do you see companies reviewing four year old games, but it seems that Gamer's Uplink is trying to change that trend with their review of Age of Empires. Yeah, that's right, the original Age of Empires with the Yamatos, Assyrians, chariot archers, gazelles, etc. Stay tuned for their reviews of Civilization 2 and Sim City 2000. haha
    Ok, so this review is just a few years late, but you just can't have a site without a review of Age of Empires. The Age of Empires (or AOE) is one of the best games that has ever been released for the PC. It's durability and playability are second to none but it's own sequels.
    It's definitely a good review for someone who's considering purchasing the AOE Collector's Edition, and wants to see if installing AOE is worth it. I have very fond memories of that piece of software, and there aren't many greater feelings than running a large force of lethal horse archers into your opponents town.
    Microsoft's Website Troubles...
    Posted by Thunder on January 24th, 2001 @ 6:45 p.m.
    Apparently people all over the world are having troubles accessing Microsoft websites. This includes their host of official games sites, such as the official AoK site, and could quite possibly include the Zone as well. (which hasn't been loading for me, but isn't mentioned in this article) ZDNet has received the official word on the subject:
    "Microsoft sites offline for hours

    By Melanie Austria Farmer
    Special to ZDNet
    UPDATED January 24, 2001 8:29 AM PT

    Microsoft confirmed on Wednesday that a number of its online sites are currently unavailable and have been down for a number of hours.
    Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) is temporarily experiencing problems with its various Web properties, including Microsoft.com, MSN.com, WindowsMedia.com, Encarta.com, Carpoint.com and Expedia.com, said Adam Sohn, a company spokesman.

    'Customers aren't able to get to some Microsoft Web properties,' said Sohn. "We're working as quickly as we can to resolve those issues.' Sohn said it was unclear how long the sites would remain offline."


    Source - ZD Net: Microsoft sites offline for hours
    Drop in on the source link above for the full article! The MS folks are working on this problem, so it surely won't last much longer. ...and if the link to MS above works for you, then it's likely fixed already... ; )
    Running Man Released...
    Posted by Thunder on January 24th, 2001 @ 9:41 a.m.
    Plenty happenning at SCN Punk of late! Most recently, newly appointed Cherub Enrique Orduno has released his latest work, a scenario entitle "The Running Man", which is apparently a blast multiplayer. Drop in the the Punks to find out more. ...hmmm, perhaps we can try it out at the next forum party hmmmm? I'll give ya a head start! ...and no it wasn't meant to be a joke posting this so close to the item bellow... ; |
    An Open Letter...
    Posted by Thunder on January 24th, 2001 @ 9:30 a.m.
    A letter posted this evening on Blues News. It's hard to ignore something like this:
    "Just prior to New Year's eve, Bob Quinn was paralyzed in a skiing accident.

    Most of you don't know Bob Quinn, but you do know his work. If you are playing multiplayer games on a Windows platform, or for that matter using almost any networked application under Windows, you are building upon his contributions to the Winsock standard.

    But beyond the work he has done on the standards, beyond his work in seminars and as an author, he has also donated countless hours of his expertise to helping networked applications developers (students, professionals, games or not) privately and on mailing lists.

    Multiplayer games on the Windows platform have built upon and depended upon the time he has spent; the games we make and play depend upon his efforts. Now, he needs our efforts."


    Source - An Open Letter to the Windows Multiplayer Community
    Click on the source link above for the full letter, and for information on how you can make a donation to help out Bob Quinn. ...if you can't make a donation, perhaps help spread the word... ; |
    University Updates
    Posted by Socvazius on January 24th, 2001 @ 2:58 a.m.
    Hello, I am Angel Socrateius. I run the little known University here at AOKH. It has a large amount of excellent articles, ranging from walkthroughs to civilization guides. I will be reporting updates of the University . The most notable current articles residing in the University are:

  • Detailed walkthroughs for every AOK scenario(By Angel Socrateius)
  • "On the road to Expert", very well-written articles that greatly help beginners learn the ropes(By DaRq_Jihad)
  • Analyses and upgrades for every unit in AOK/AOK:TC(By Angel Socrateius)
  • "Emissary's Guide to the Mayans" An in-depth analysis of the Mayans(By Emmissary)
  • "The Goths" An in-depth analysis of the Goths(By Angel Chris)
  • "The Aztecs" An in-depth analysis of the Aztecs(By Angel Socrateius)
  • "The SERUSH"(Seige Engine Rush)(By Angel Socrateius)

    If you want your strategy to be posted in the university, just send it to me, Angel Socrateius, and I'll look it over. If it is as well-written as the "standards" set by AOKH, I will put it in the University .
  • German Campaign...
    Posted by Thunder on January 23rd, 2001 @ 9:02 p.m.
    I received a note from jk who pointed out a couple of pages on www.pcgames.de which may be of interest. Now, as my deustcher is limited to a few insults and asking where the bathroom is I just blindly downloaded the campaign they have there, and was pleasantly surprised. It's for Age of Kings, not TC, and is completely in German. I played the first scenario for about 10 mins and it's quite nicely done, with a cool map, triggers, everything you'd expect. Aparently it's just a two scenario demo of a much larger add on which has four campaigns and twenty-five scenarios about German history!

    Here's both of the links if you'd like to investigate:
    PC Games Downloads page
    Add on news

    Thanks jk! ...Teutons...ya gotta love em... ; )

    **Update**
    Scenario designer, and all around nice fella, Zanzard Lothar has sent in a note regarding this add on:
    "I may be wrong, but i guess that the frquent AOKH visitor and renowed map maker Ingo Van Thiel had a big role on this Add-on from which you played the scenarios... well, at least he told me that he had been in a project of a AOK german add-on about german history, so i guess that it is this one you were talking about in the news..." -Zanzard
    He's a good guy to write in and let us know about that eh? Ingo Van Thiel sure does know how to design an entertaining scenario, which makes this add on all the more worth looking into.
    More To Those Mayan Farms, Gender Specific?!?
    Posted by Thunder on January 23rd, 2001 @ 7:50 p.m.
    After Mike "Captn" Kidd revealed that Mayan farms lasted longer on some maps than others, Emissary did some testing to see what happenned on which maps, and he posted his results here. PBS_Tinky_Winky tried to duplicate his results, and wasn't having much success. Here's what he's now concluded:
    "First I tried on arabia and the farms lasted 20% longer which they didn't in Emissary's test. Then I thought it was the terrain and tried making farms on both grass and dessert but I got inconsistent results sometimes on grass I got 20% extra and sometimes not same thing happened on the dessert, all in the same game. After that a weird thougt crossed my mind and I tested if the villagers' sex had any influence on the farms durability and sure enough when females farm, the farms last longer and not so with male villagers. I have tested this quite a few times and have gotten the same results everytime. Oh yeah it doesn't matter who build the farm just who farms it." -PBS_Tinky_Winky

    Source - This Thread At MFO
    Unbelieveable? About as possible as farms lasting longer on certain maps and not others I suppose. The Mayans appear to have some issues with their workforce at anyrate. ...just seems to get weirder and weirder doesn't it?... ; )
    Time is Ticking Away...
    Posted by Rasher on January 23rd, 2001 @ 5:32 p.m.
    ...For the Destiny of a Dynasty Campaign Contest, that is! With less then a month to go, no entries have been recieved thus far, so your chances are looking good to win some of the great prizes that are up for grabs!
    Remember that the contest deadline has been extended to Febuary 15th, so you don't have to scramble to have them in on January 31. Just be careful not to miss the deadline

    Here's hoping that the first offical AoKH Campaign Contest will have a good turnout... good luck, and happy designing! When you are ready to submit your entry, use the Submissions Form
    On another note, the long-running AoEH "Through the Eyes of the Pharoah" campaign contest has finally wrapped up. You can view the results here
    Planet AoE Arcade Challenge Tonight!
    Posted by Thunder on January 23rd, 2001 @ 11:18 a.m.
    The return of the arcade challenge! Xiphoid, master blaster of Planet AoE, heads to the Conquerors lobby on GameSpy Arcade tonight for a bit of action. There'll be some prizes if you and your team can take down the big guy in a 4 on 4 rumble, and failing that (many do, he's darned good), you'll have some great games! Things get underway at the usual arcade time, 4pm PST which is 7pm EST.

    Also worthy of note, you can catch some delicious recorded games from the recent PAoE forum tourney on the news page. Just break your orbit and prepare to go in hot, find em at Planet AoE. ...we were so poor my parents gave me words to play with when I was growing up... ; )
    Game Voice v1.2...
    Posted by Thunder on January 23rd, 2001 @ 10:45 a.m.
    If you're a fellow smack talker who has hold of the Sidewinder Game Voice or the freebie Share version, an update to the software has just been released. Version 1.2 beta offers:
    "-Full compatibility with Windows 2000
    -Better keyboard injection for improved voice command recognition
    -Keyboard Push-To-Talk for your chats
    -Keyboard activation for voice commands
    -Improved compatibility for American and British English profiles
    -Internet auto-dial will no longer be triggered automatically"


    Source - Download v1.2
    Those are some handy new features worth downloading!

    Communication is key. Check out our GV review if you're wondering if it's going to be right for you. The review is getting dated, as it was done using v1.0, but it'll give you an idea of what the product can do. ...whoever thought up the toggle switch on the Game Voice for switching from headphones to speakers is my hero...I use that switch absolutely everyday! ; )
    Interview With The Kaiser...
    Posted by Thunder on January 23rd, 2001 @ 9:13 a.m.
    The winner of the most recent tourney on the Zone, Kaiser_Willhelm has had a nice sit down chat with the FOPT Clan folks. (thanks to FOPT_Strawberry for sending word!) This guy is a talented player who's tangled with the very best, and answers a wide range of questions:
    "Question: In last years World Cyber Game Challenge in Korea you made the 4th place for $ 4.000 of prize-money. Further more you are now "officially" the best non-Asian player in the world. Did your life change after this experience in Korea in one way or the other ?

    Kaiser_Willhelm: Yes. After Korea i became a MUCH better player, and sure it has changed my life. It was a fantastic experience , i still can´t believe these things really happened.

    Question: Let's stay at for a moment at hotkeys. I was told to ask you about your personal hotkeys. Do you know and use ALL the hotkeys ? Did you even edit hotkeys for smarter playing ? And if so would you tell us which were the most important changes you made ?

    Kaiser_Willhelm: When i returned from Korea, i immediatly re-arranged the hotkeys in about 30 minutes. I´m very happy with my new settings. I put all important stuff to the left on the keyboard and changed my fingerstance. I use my fourth finger on "A" , which i´ve set to "villager build" and i use "W" to "select Town Center" and "E" to "create villager". WEWEWEWE...very smoothly actually. I changed practically all hotkeys but i don´t want to tell about ALL the changes. I think that you should set the hotkeys in a way that suites yourself the best and not copy others. People´s minds are different and work in different ways. For instance i use "G" for mill. That´s left from AoE to build "granary" and i don´t think that many players in AoK would feel comfortable with that."


    Source - FOPT Clan Interviews
    Head on over to the interviews section at the FOPT site for the entire interview, it's well worth it and available in both english and deutsch. Afterwards, check out their downloads section for recorded games from Kaiser_Willhelm and many more great players! ...make sure you turn up the volume before visiting the site for the interview... ; )
    Straight From The Mules Mouth...
    Posted by Thunder on January 23rd, 2001 @ 6:39 a.m.
    There's been an aweful lot of articles (it may just seem that way) lately that are looking ahead in the RTS genre. Many of these articles have been some what critical, or a lot, critical of the 3D RTS as the general opinion seems to be that no one has done it "right".

    The Mule, a Daily Radar butt kicker, has put together an editorial on this very subject:
    "Due to the success of a few key titles, developers and publishers are under no onus to really change the genre. Why do anything but refine what's been successful? Clearly going it on your own isn't a guarantee of success -- games like Battlezone and Battlezone II, while critically successful, didn't sell well. Hell, why even do 3D? Not one of the 3D-based RTS games have been successful in comparison to those in 2D."

    Source -Where does the RTS genre go from here?
    Well, we all know that Ensemble Studios has been at work developing a 3D RTS game, breaking from their traditional, and top notch, 2D games. There's way more questions in the article then answers, but as we wait for more news on ES's future project it may be of interest.

    Another very popular series heading the way of 3D is Warcraft. The third installment in that stellar franchise may be out by the end of this year, but of course we all know those dates don't mean much to the folks at Blizzard. From what little I got to see of it at E3, it's got a familiar look to it, but it is obviously 3D as just looking at the units tells you that much. It'll be very interesting to see who does 3D better, ES or Blizzard. ...or EE... ; )
    Fear The_Unknown?
    Posted by Thunder on January 22nd, 2001 @ 9:50 a.m.
    Having recently had my first taste of the newest rm script from the gang at ES, and having enjoyed the randomness of it, I took it for another spin tonight. This random map script from the Studios, The_Unknown, threw a new variation at me tonight. You never know what you're going to get with this script, islands, land map, resources and relics vary, it's always an adventure. As you can see by the mini-map, both the enemy and I were sealed up tight in forests in this odd variation! It would make for a very lopsided game as the red player could chop his way out with relative ease, and have free access to all of the resources on the entire map.

    Having pointed out that strange map out, I must say that I just generated a bunch of new maps using The_Unknown script and not one of them was even remotely like it, so the chances of a repeat aren't high. ...is it just me or does that map have two eyes and a mouth? ...it's laughing at me... ; )
    Planet AoE Turns One Year Old...
    Posted by Thunder on January 22nd, 2001 @ 8:23 a.m.
    It's only been around a year? I couldn't believe that the prestigious site, Planet Age of Empires, had only been for a year, but the word came from Xiphoid so I imagine it must be so. Perhaps it's the history of commitment that Xiphoid has shown since the very beginning of the Age series that's foggied up the facts for us.

    At anyrate, as we all get older, we tend to take a look back to see how we've come along. With PAoE celebrating the big one year anniversary, Xiphoid has written up an account of his journey down webmaster road that lead him to his present success:
    "Yes, it really doesn't seem like it's been that long but exactly one year ago from today, January 21, PlanetAgeofEmpires was launched on the GameSpy Network to provide a complete resource for Age of Empires and Age of Kings fans. The site has definitely come quite a long ways from its launching status, with now hundreds of downloads, thousands of forum members, 100k forum posts, an archive of hundreds of daily news updates, and last but not least, many new visitors. My deepest thanks to all the visitors and contributors to the site because you're the ones that make it run.

    To commemorate the event I wrote up an editorial on how PlanetAOE began as a small hobby site of mine a few years ago and how it's grown into what it is today. The editorial sheds some light on what the Age community was like back in the day of its infancy and some of the primitive tools I used to create my first sites. Whether you recently discovered PlanetAOE or have been visiting my line of sites since Age of Empires Atrium, this should be an interesting read for all. Thanks again and here's to another year of success and happy gaming."
    -Xiphoid
    Not only has he shared a great deal about himself and his work over the past four years, Xiph posted some old artwork from the many changes that his Atriums went through.

    Our congrats to Xiphoid! His dedication and fantastic work over the years have both been of tremendous quality and quantity. I'm sure you've got many many years of success ahead of you. ...getting a bit too mushy? ...ok dear, I'll take your roses back to the store... ; )
    Cheap TC
    Posted by Washizu on January 21st, 2001 @ 8:26 p.m.
    Thanks to Eiji for sending this my way. eToys has a great price on The Conquerors Expansion for Age of Empires 2: The Age of Kings, so if you haven't picked it up yet, or would like to buy it for someone else, you'll only need $16.99 (plus shipping).
    IGN PC Reader's Choice Awards!
    Posted by Thunder on January 21st, 2001 @ 1:05 p.m.
    Everyday for over a week now the IGN PC crew have been adding another category for their readers to vote on. RPG, action, sports, strategy, and now the all important vote for expansion pack of the year! The Conqerors is in tough against some big sellers, some big names and some of both in the case of The Sims xpack. Be sure to vote for your favs from last year!

    The ballots are to have been counted by the 26th, so you've got a little time to make up your mind, hum haw and play a few nominees that you may have passed up on. ...oooo my, the Pharoah xpack was nominated too... ; )
    Battlefield's Stone Free Champ...
    Posted by Thunder on January 21st, 2001 @ 12:31 a.m.
    A few bumps along the way, generally provided by the staffers at the Zone, created a little tension, but everything went smoothly in AOK Battlefield's tourney yesterday. Congrats to the stoneless champ, FanatiC_PaLadiN! For recorded games and final results drop by the SF Showdown tourney page for the works. ...rock on... ; )
    Tales From The Forum Party...
    Posted by Thunder on January 21st, 2001 @ 11:35 a.m.
    We ventured into The_Unknown tonight. The gang at the party wanted to play a Last Man Standing game (aka shimo) and the brave souls even did it on the latest random map script, The_Unknown, which gave us a funky land map and a great game. You can check out the recorded game of this clash in the downloads section. You can't miss it...it's the teamless game that I titled as a 3 on 3, doh! (My LMS newbieness is showing through) The game itself was just over two hours long, and involved all the posturing and action you'd expect from this type of game, including an unusual win thanks to the funky random settings on this map type! Players involved: HG_Chooch709 (Turkish tyrant who went Jannie and BC nuts), knightsturm (Byzantine brute who nearly stole the show), Impurethinker (Spanish survivor, hit early, hit hard, hit often), MarkS_Punk (Turkish tyrant II, fought tooth, nail, and gums), and Slyph (our victor, of the amazing Aztecs).

    Did ya ever notice how strange two player conti maps are? You can see a mini-mapshot of the one I played on tonight with tonto_jnuff19. (uploade that recorded game too) The cursor points out the shallows that is the only thing conecting us, and the blob in the middle could only be reached by transport or a teeny land bridge right at jnuff19's town. (red) A tranporting paradise!

    Thanks to all those who showed up to play, and said "Hi!". GG all. Hopefully we can do this again real soon! ...also called the rm script, "The_Known" in the recorded game description...that's the signal to get some shut eye... ; )
    Spotlight Tourney Results!
    Posted by Thunder on January 21st, 2001 @ 4:03 a.m.
    I don't know how they did it, but the gang at the Zone managed to complete their tournament with hundreds of entrants all in one night. I imagine there's some pretty sleepy Agers today! You can check out the final results right here, but no big surprise that Kaiser_Willhelm finished in top spot, that guy has some serious talent!

    There were some good games played tonight at the forum party, and I had my first taste of the Last Man Standing victory condition and The_Unknown random map script! More on that later.... ...heading back to the zone for some more games in a couple hours...as soon as I have a snack or two... ; )
    AI Scripting Bug?
    Posted by Thunder on January 20th, 2001 @ 1:13 p.m.
    One of our newest winged staffers, Angel Bingmann, who heads up the AI Tournament League, found a bit of a problem in his DM script. The problem appears not to have been his coding, but a bug that fails to distinguish between the different types of towers that can have some nasty effects. He explains his findings thoroughly in this forum thread, and also provides the way he was able to work around the issue. ...sleep is for the weak and the sober...g'night! ; )
    RTS: Iteration Versus Innovation...
    Posted by Thunder on January 20th, 2001 @ 12:47 a.m.
    You can find an interesting write up about RTS games over at GameSpy at the moment. The article was written by Ed Del Castillo, and carries with it the lengthy title of Fighting the Good Fight: The State of the Real-Time Strategy Genre. Ed works at Liquid Ent., and has worked on an aweful lot of games over the years including the Command & Conquer series.

    What you'll find in the article is a brief history of how the Real Time Strategy genre came about, Ed's impressions of where this genre is at the moment, and where he would and would not like it to go in the future. (warning, dude on a soap box!) His opinions certanly aren't going to be held by everyone, however, ya gotta respect a fella who's all for more battles and less economics. Up on his list of "no-nos" is RTS heading to the realm of 3D, and turning a quick buck:
    "We are in a state of iteration (bear in mind that all of this is just one man's opinion). The RTS industry has become bent on maximizing revenue. This is, of course, what all good money making companies try to do, but these companies are only thinking short term. Downturns in the market and lack of visionaries have forced game companies to sacrifice the long-term growth potential of their brands in favor of turning a quick buck. It's iteration vs. innovation. In a forward thinking company, both exist. Lastly, RTS games are finally making the transition from 2D to 3D. This is another drawback, because everything will initially take an aesthetic step back. Units and terrain won't look as pretty, things will move more slowly, and interface will be more complicated - lots of no-nos for the casual gamer." - Ed Del Castillo

    Source - The State of the Real-Time Strategy Genre
    It's a grand three page read, one that will surely to get your brain jump started. Now all we have to do is sit back and wait for the crew at Ensemble Studios to prove that all of this can be accomplished, and done well, with RTS3. Not only are they making the leap to 3D with their next RTS, they've got to live up to their own high art standards and appeal to both hardcore and casual gamers, as they did with Age II. A mighty big hill to climb... ...note to self, wall in Ed's town if you ever play him in Age... ; )
    Cossacks Heaven Opens Its Pearly Gates!
    Posted by Thunder on January 20th, 2001 @ 5:21 a.m.
    A very cool RTS game that created quite a buzz awhile back when the demo was first released now has a heavenly site all unto its own. Cossacks Heaven launched just a few hours ago, but has been under development for quite sometime. There's a dedicated crew of Angels and Cherubs there already to make sure you get the latest in Cossacks news!

    Best wishes to the new members of HG, and the brand spanking new Cossacks Heaven! With the US release date of the game coming up fast, drop in and see what all the fuss is about! ...the demo has been out for a long time so you can get right into this game now... ; )
    Forum Party Tomorrow!
    Posted by Thunder on January 19th, 2001 @ 11:08 p.m.
    It's been awhile since a forum party was declared, but let the battles begin! Tomorrow, Saturday the 20th, let's meet up in the Agincourt on the Zone around 7pm EST (4pm PST, EST=GMT-5) for some fun games. Nomad, regicide, RM, DM, whatever you're up for!

    Feel free to show up early or stay into the wee hours of the morning. If you're new to the game, this is a good way to get your feet wet with multiplayer action. Share your taunts, challenges, and smack talk in this form thread and we'll see ya on the battlefield tomorrow! ...Zone name: AOKB_Thunder, skill level: rusty ol' sod...let's dance... ; )
    Petersen's Studios Development Cycle...
    Posted by Thunder on January 19th, 2001 @ 7:37 p.m.
    Designer, gamer, philosopher, and fan of throat singing. Sandy Petersen has been in and out of the forums this week, answering questions with his usual flare. One brave soul, One_Eyed_King, even asked what the timeline of the development cycle at the Studios:
    "Q) While this may be ES private business, I am *curious* as to the timeline of the development cycle. Anyway you can divulge some old info on this?
    A) Sure. It goes like this:

    Stage 1 – pre-planning: everything is secret. Don’t tell anyone.

    Stage 2 – skeleton phase: everything is secret. Don’t tell anyone.

    Stage 3 – production: everything is secret. Don’t tell anyone.

    Stage 4 – late production: hints get dropped to chosen media. Sandy thinks this means he can talk about it on fansites, does so, gets in trouble, and is off the net for the next few months.

    Stage 5 – final testing and polishing: some game site starts publishing data actual screen shots. Near the end of this, Sandy gets onto the net again, and tries to be careful only to talk about stuff that has already been released. He errs at least once and gets pulled off the net again for a few weeks.

    Stage 6 – release: everyone starts complaining about the terrible balance and screaming for the patch. Sandy comes onto the web and everyone regales him with their suggestions for the next project.

    Q) Dude, you seem to be in a deeply philosophical mood lately
    A) I had the flu yesterday. That always makes me introspective. So introspective I want to puke."
    -Sandy Petersen

    Source - Our Forum: More questions answered
    As always, our thanks to the ES folks who drop in to answer a question or two when they can spare a moment. If you've got a question for Sandy, drop in and let him have it! ...but watch where you step...he's been rather introspective of late... ; )
    ES Strat Journal Update!
    Posted by Thunder on January 19th, 2001 @ 6:35 p.m.
    Eighteen civilizations means a lot of information to keep track of, especially for those players who enjoy random civ games. Mike "Captn" Kidd has put together a table that not only will help you remember if certain civilizations get specific units, but it also gives you an idea of what upgrades they have for those units:
    "I love playing random civs. But pretty much everyone except DeathShrimp or The Sheriff gets into this situation once in a while: You draw a civ that you don't play often, say Persians. You try their strong suit and use a small boat boom to launch an early castle age knight attack. Your opponent has pikemen waiting, so you shift to plan B, and invest heavily in swordsmen. You start your attack, upgrade to imperial, and...what's this? No two-handed swordsmen or champs? Argh!

    I hate it when that happens.

    What I needed was a single-page quick reference, that I could check in a matter of seconds while a random civ game was in progress. I wanted to know which lines were good for each civ, without checking for all thirteen technologies that upgrade cav archers."
    -Mike Kidd

    Source - Captn Kidd's Quick-N-Dirty Civ Scorecard
    If you build it, they will come. Mike Kidd's score card for the civs can be found in the ES Strategy Journal in PDF and XLS formats. The card's numbering system allows you to determine what units a civ is strong in and weak in at a glance. Head on over for your glance at the card. ...there's other civs besides Mongols??? ; )
    Command Center Press...
    Posted by Thunder on January 19th, 2001 @ 6:14 p.m.
    Our fav Ager repairman has dropped off another press release with all the latest happenings at Mr.Fixit Online. ...and off we go:
    "DEVIL_BARON INTERVIEW

    Devil_Baron is one of the premier Age of Kings DM players today, with thousands of games under his belt, dozens of conquered tournaments, and seven (yes, seven) rated names above 2000, one of them currently holding the #3 spot on the Zone. Recently, two members of MFO's news team, Ldz_Farg and _t_a_l_o_n, caught this great for an interview.

    MOST INTERESTING GAME CONTEST 3

    The third of four contests, watch these Age of Kings recorded games and vote for which one is the "most interesting" with winners getting $50 each

    ZONE LADDER ROOMS!

    Finally!!! Zone now supports Ladder games with two new rooms! Come play MFO Ladder games. 1v1 Ladders are going strong and team ladders start in a few weeks.

    RANDOM MAPS - A NEW LOOK

    Tired of Arabia always looking the same?

    MFO Mapster's new script tries to overcome this problem by introducing a set of randomly selected new looks for each of the 6 map scripts found in the Random Land setting (Arabia, Ghost Lake, Highland, Mongolia, Oasis, and Yucatan). The basic map for each script has not been changed.

    GAME REVIEW - GSF VS PAK SE RI

    GSF takes on Korean legend Pak Se Ri, with expert game analysis by Malicious K1lla.

    BOB THE CLUBBER (4)

    Q: Will you ever grow up and stop playing stupid computer games?

    Kleitus: Has my mom gotten to you too?
    Bob: *growl*
    Kleitus: I'm going to act like a child until the day I die. If you have a problem with that, then I'll take you out to dinner so we can have a public food fight. That's always good for your resume.

    ...Full article and more available at http://www.AgeOfKings.cc"
    - Mr.Fixit
    Two press releases in the same week from one site, sheesh they're a busy bunch! Drop on by for the latest. ...sheesh Mr.Fixit is up aweful early...sent that out before 7am... ; O
    Bruce's Quick List...
    Posted by Thunder on January 19th, 2001 @ 2:23 a.m.
    Studios designer Bruce Shelley, a fella with a wee bit of game design experience under his belt, has put together a list of features that RTS games should have to be good'uns. I'm not sure if it's in order of importance, but it's worthy to note number one is:
    "1. Gameplay: poses for the player an unending stream of interesting decisions that are well paced and of consequence.

    2. Multi-player game play: offer intense action with many important decision points, strategic options, tactical options, and ways for experts to excel."
    -Bruce Shelley

    Source - Studios News
    There's a total of fourteen items on his list, and it's quite thorough indeed. As you've no doubt guessed, you can check out the entire list on the ES News page, a great resource for being in the know. ...#15) Handicapping feature to allow players of different skill levels play semi-competatively...ahhh, to dream... ; )
    Duel Tournaments!
    Posted by Thunder on January 18th, 2001 @ 9:35 a.m.
    Both Aokings.com and the ever vigilant Archangel at ES spotted a site that will soon launch an RM and a DM tournament. You Francophones out there will have an easy time of it as the site is entirely in french. My highschool french is mighty rusty but...there's some awesome prizes up for grabs, like a Sidewinder Strategic Commander, Game Voice, and more! There's a limit of 256 players for the 1 on 1 RM tourney, and a limit of 128 players in the 2 on 2 DM tourney. You need to get yourself signed up before January 31 to get in on the action. (I think you've got to have an account at the site, as you would need to enter a Zone tourney) Tourney will start on February 5 and run until March 12: Age of Kings: Grand Tournoi ...my french teacher would be proud...or would she? Drop me a line if I mucked up on the details... ; )
    Ye Olde Sayings, Like "Ye Olde"...
    Posted by Thunder on January 18th, 2001 @ 9:01 a.m.
    This is a fun website that Angel Park, head halo at Empire Earth Heaven, pointed out to me. The site is called Ye Olde English Sayings, and deals with sayings that have become common today, but were used long ago and have often had their original meaning lost. Some of their explanations are pretty distorted, but they've also posted explanations offered by other readers. Here's a lovely bit of terminology:
    "GETTING BOMBED: A bombard is a leather jug which holds 8 pints or 4 quarts. A full bombard of ale would make you drunk.

    HONEYMOON: It was the accepted practice in Babylonia 4,000 years ago that for a month after the wedding, the bride's father would supply his son-in-law with all the mead he could drink. Mead is a honey beer, and because their calendar was lunar based, this period was called the "honey month" or what we know today as the 'honeymoon'."


    Source - Ye Olde English Sayings
    The origins of "bonfire" seem to be a bit of a mystery. Everyone appears to agree that the term came from burning bones of various sorts, either people at the stake, animal carcasses, or the bodies of a defeated army. It makes for interesting reading at anyrate, stop in and check it out. ...eight pints...ya that'd give ya a buzz! ; )
    Bruce Shelley On Innovation Versus Imitation...
    Posted by Thunder on January 17th, 2001 @ 11:57 p.m.
    Designer Bruce Shelley, of Ensemble Studios of course, has shared his thoughts on borrowing great features and ideas from good games, but doing so without creating a clone:
    "When Ensemble Studios began developing the game that became Age of Empires, published by Microsoft, we were inspired by several successful real-time strategy (RTS) games, especially Warcraft and Command & Conquer. We borrowed many ideas from these great games but did not attempt just to imitate them. We incorporated the ideas we liked best but then looked for ways to make our game different and new." -Bruce Shelley

    Source - ES News: Innovation and Differentiation Versus Imitation
    As an example he mentions how Baldur's Gate has many of the strengths that Diablo does, but is certainly no clone as the developers took it a few steps further in some areas. Of course, it's an interesting read, click on ye olde source link above to find the full write up. ...Bruce wrote it, so it's a must read of course...feel free to read between the lines... ; )
    3D Game Force Review
    Posted by Washizu on January 17th, 2001 @ 5:43 p.m.
    3D GameForce sometimes drops the z-axis and decides to review non 3D games. Somehow I think a site called "2D GameForce" wouldn't quite make it into publication . They have posted a very complimentary review of The Conquerors, and cite "improved multiplayer, new terrain, and great reply value" as some of the reasons why it gets a 9.5/10 and their 3DGF Editor's Force Award:
    In conclusion it seems that Age of Empires II: The Conquerors is one of the best expansion packages that have been created for a game, but what really makes it that great? Well Microsoft and Ensemble Studios managed to improve more from the original game. Instead of releasing another expansion package that was poorly created with some cheap new units, making it seem that the developers are just out to create a quick buck, they instead added a ton of new features making it feel like a whole new game altogether. I really recommend this game to any gamer that loved Age of Empires II and who would like to have some fun new challenges.
    There is one part of the review, however, that I just don't get. In the last part, they state the pros and cons of the game. The cons are, "Some balance between civilizations may be off to some and the expansion is really just for the fans." Hmm... who should they have made it for? It's a puzzling statement to say that it should not have been made for fans. Read the whole review here.
    Mayan Guide Revisited...
    Posted by Thunder on January 17th, 2001 @ 10:35 a.m.
    A few people have expressed an interest in having an up close and personal look at Emissary's guide that he wrote up for the Mayans which was mentioned yesterday. It's an in-depth look at a potentially devastating civilization, something many of us have found out from being steam rolled by Mayan Plumed Archers and 100hp Eagle Warriors.

    Here it is, for all Mayan fans, Emissary's Guide to the Mayans. For more strats, civ specific or not, drop in on the University and see what you can find. ...I hate that EW + PA combo almost enough to play the Mayans... ; )
    Mayan Farming Effected By Map?
    Posted by Thunder on January 16th, 2001 @ 10:38 a.m.
    So says the good Capn. Forumer Emissary, who recently wrote up a great guide for the Mayans, posted a quote from Mike "Capn" Kidd, that'll raise a few eyebrows. Mike was responding to differing opinions on how much longer Mayan farms last thanks to their bonus of longer lasting resources:
    "Our QA folks did some testing, and it seems to be map-based. On some maps, the mayan farms last longer, on others they don't. I have NO idea why that would be the case." -Mike Kidd

    Source - Mayan Farm Bonus Map Specific
    Maybe they don't like the snow? Well, although this isn't likely to cost you a game, it would be nice to have the bonus regardless of the map type. The Quality Assurance folks at ES seem to be on the case, so hopefully they'll soon get to the bottom of the mystery.

    Big thanks to Emissary for letting us all know about this. Click on the source link above where you can find his full post, a link to the Capn's post and the Emissary's Mayan Guide. ...yarrr, there be bigger bugs to fry me bucko... ; )
    Incoming Transmission...
    Posted by Thunder on January 16th, 2001 @ 10:16 a.m.
    We're starting off the week with some big time press release action! Here's the latest from Mr.Fixit on the recent happenings and future plans for his dynamic site:
    "AGE OF KINGS COMMAND CENTER OPENS

    Sporting a new look, MFO's Age of Kings site has been launched with a new address and new content: http://www.AgeOfKings.cc called the "Age of Kings Command Center"

    Quick: If you are using Bombard Cannons, should you research Ballistics? Answer: don't bother Check out our new Quick graphical unit sheets which detail the upgrades that units can get.

    HEATS-2 TOURNAMENT COMPLETED

    MFO ran two "HEATS" tournaments this weekend--one in Random Match and one in DeathMatch. Le_Peste (from www.conquerors.f2s.com) took the top RM bracket and AngelZ_Lord won the second RM bracket. In DM, U_Gonna_Die returns to smack down several top DMers and take the top bracket. GSF took the unrated DM bracket and then faced off vs UGD in a final match. UGD won again to go undefeated!

    AOK SMACKDOWN ~3

    Congrats to Zoltron_4ever/Zoltron_Rulez for winning SMACKDOWN ~3 (Sam_DeathWalker/MaLiCiOuS_K1LLa runners up).

    DM SPOTLIGHT GAME

    AOKcc has over 10,000 Age of Kings recorded games and each week we spotlight a bunch of the best available. The Spotlight page has tons of *great* recorded games, including a spicy DeathMatch 3v3 that Malicious K1lla post a great writeup about. Be sure to stop by to browse the largest AOK game collection anywhere!

    MAJOR CLAN INTERVIEW

    The MaJoR Clan is currently the #1 Ranked AoC DM clan with 19 current members, most 1900+. They also dominate the MFO DM ladder, with 4 members out of the top 10 ranked players. MFO _t_a_l_o_n recently caught their two leaders, MaJoR_HeavyBoy and MaJoR_PaLY, for an interview.

    AOK TEAM LADDER STARTS FEBRUARY

    AgeOfKings.cc is launching an Age of Kings Team Ladder for both Random Match and DeathMatch. Teams can be of any size (2 to 20) and can play in 2v2, 3v3, or 4v4s. Each month, AOKcc will also host a Team Tourney with prizes. AOKcc had run a 1,000 person AOK league in 2000 and we look for the Team Ladder/Monthly Tourneys to bring back the fun spirit of team play (and with NO preseason!!)

    See all this and more at http://www.AgeOfKings.cc"
    That Team Ladder sounds like great fun, and no preseason, praise be! The hard working staff over there are doing a great job, drop and see what's new. ...office dares: Run one lap around the office at top speed...Phone someone in the office you barely know, leave your name and say "Just called to say I can't talk right now. Bye"....and my favourite....While riding an elevator, gasp dramatically every time the doors open. ; )
    Back From the Dead
    Posted by Washizu on January 15th, 2001 @ 10:08 p.m.
    I just got a message from our old friend Ogre the webmonster, and the great AOK fan site, Through The Ages, is back in operation.
    Well its Ogre here. I bet you, the other agers, and the guys at ES are
    wondering what happened at AoE2.com. Well I thought I owed it to you guys
    to tell you. If I had it my way I would continue doing AoE2.com but
    unfortunately I don't. The reason I left was because I could not keep the
    site going with what the guy at GameGlow was doing. He owns the domain,
    Ogre does not. And as you may or may not know, GameGlow is out of business.
    Though HQ Gaming still lives on, well so the guy who owns would like
    everyone to think. Anyhow I decided to reopen Through The Ages. Here is my
    press release:

    Ogre and some of the guys from AoE2.com have started a new Age website.
    Through The Ages is committed to bringing you only the best Age of Empires
    series information. Thats right! We carry information on all the Age games.
    The Age series as every Ager knows includes Age of Empires, Age of Empires
    Expansion: The Rise of Rome, Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings, and Age of
    Empires II Expansion: The Conquerors. Though the site is obviously designed
    in a Conquerors motiff, we are for all the games. The reason the site looks
    like The Conquerors is that it is the latest game in the series. Ogre
    thought it would be best to make the design look like the latest game in the
    series. For the reason that it shows off the latest and greatest work from
    Ensemble Studios. The new and improved Through The Ages is not just the only
    new thing to arrive on the net. The Game Tropics Network which is all new
    and devoted to nothing but PC strategy and simulation games. Here is the
    press release from GT:

    "Today I am happy to announce that the Game Tropics Network is back online.
    After an absence from the web for a year and a half, I think it is about
    time that this great idea comes back to life. That idea is one of bringing
    fans of strategy and simulation games together. How do we think we can stay
    around after many sites of this type have died?

    The strategy genre to some people is dying, but I say not so! Most strategy
    titles have fans. An we are here to aide you in getting the most out of your
    game. By most, I mean a place where all fans are welcomed. Where you can
    find great downloads for your games. To start off we will cover certain
    things.

    Currently we are a small network of dedicated strategy and simulation game
    sites. We focus on five game series, however in the future this will be
    changed to include more. These game series include Age of Empires, Empire
    Earth, Rogue Spear, Roller Coaster Tycoon, and Microsoft Train Simulator."

    http://throughtheages.com
    http://gametropics.com

    Cheers,

    Eric "Ogre" Lizotte
    Webmaster, Game Tropics Network
    http://www.gametropics.com
    http://www.throughtheages.com
    http://ee.gametropics.com
    http://rct.gametropics.com
    http://tss.gametropics.com
    Quite a list of sites you got there. Make sure you stop by and check out TTA.RIP gameglow
    RTS Innovations
    Posted by Washizu on January 15th, 2001 @ 9:10 p.m.
    Even though they got a few Age features pegged to the wrong title in the series, Gamespy's Top Ten RTS Innovations is a cool article nonetheless. Making the list of innovations were map editors, formations, multiplayer, and more.
    There was nothing more frustrating than setting up a cool defensive formation, then trying to move it. The formation did not hold. Games like Age of Empires were able to implement a formation system that allowed you to move your squads or groups in the formation you chose. It would even automatically protect your weaker units for you! It saved a lot of time in recreating the desired formation, and made for a more realistic (and strategic!) battle. Shogun: Total War also made use of formations to realistically recreate the battles of feudal Japan.
    Check out the whole article here. hopefully Xiphoid will tell them to replace their AOE screenshots with AOK ones
    It's All Over Except The Judging...
    Posted by Thunder on January 15th, 2001 @ 8:56 p.m.
    The deadline for entries in the Studios' Make Texas Beautiful contest has now passed. They had a whopping 97 entries sent in from all over the world, Texas, UK, Canada, Austria, Russia, Colombia, Spain, and even one or two from my town.

    If you sent in an entry, you may want to double check that it's listed on the contest page. With all those entries flying around, it's easy to misplace one!

    Best of luck to all those who entered, and stay tuned for the winners list which should be posted around the first of February. ...1 in 2 chance of taking home a prize...damn, ya gotta likes them odds! ; )
    Mother Nature Strikes A Blow...
    Posted by Thunder on January 15th, 2001 @ 9:39 a.m.
    Of all the rotten luck! The image on the right shows my forward villagers in the process of being ambushed in a game this evening. Four Jaguars decided to feast upon their tender vittles as the villes walked through the jungle towards an enemy town. Luckily my scout wasn't far off and jumped into help out! One lonely villager out of the three survived the encounter, crippling my feudal attack.

    Remember all of the sounds that the sound team at the Studios has been gathering of late? (as written about in the Studios Journal) Lions, Hippos, Tigers, Snakes, Bears, Rhinos, Elephants, Killer Whales, Killer Penguins, and Killer Gibbons! I fear for my poor villagers.

    Let's hope that the Studios Designers will see fit to spare us from some of these menacing creatures in their next game so that our villagers may wander the map in relative peace. Us rushers have to make a living too. ...perhaps all their animal recordings will just end up being used for ambient sounds...crossing my fingers! ; )
    New Design, New Counter, New Beginnings...
    Posted by Thunder on January 14th, 2001 @ 9:15 p.m.
    The one and only FRC_Travis just sent in a note announcing that his baby, www.aoktc.com, has just had facelift. Most of the sections are currently being worked on, but it looks like the forums are up and running so stop in and say "Howdy!", or give em your two cents on the new look. Their counter is fresh out of the box as well, I was visitor number six!

    Best of luck to www.aoktc.com and her crew! Hopefully the site will soon be bursting at the seems with original content. ...Angel_AoErat even gave em a hand getting going...he's all heart... ; )
    Zone Tournament...
    Posted by Thunder on January 14th, 2001 @ 8:58 p.m.
    Thanks to the gang at AoK.cc for this news item. The Zone is currently accepting sign ups for their Spotlight Tournament which will get underway this Friday, the 19th, at 5pm PST. (8pmEST) Be prepared to stay up late, as this event already has about 700 people entered!

    Remember, their tournaments are only open to players in Canada and the USA, and those who are 13 years or older. Read the fine print, or you could get the boot. ...not right away, but they'll get ya... ; )
    AI Tournament League Moves In...
    Posted by Thunder on January 14th, 2001 @ 12:17 a.m.
    While checking on the status of the contests and events in our listing on the right there I discovered that one of the leagues listed can now be found right here in AOK Heaven. The AI Tournament League is the only league of its kind as far as I know. AoK artificial intelligence scripters can enter their creations and have them compete in a tourney style format to weed out the best of the best!

    The next AI tournament is set to get underway on January 22, an all deathmatch affair. Drop in on the league page for information on future events, past results, and everything in between! ...if you've yet to discover adcritic.com, you must stop by...my Turk pal showed me this ad from Fox, my fav...takes awhile to download, but it's soooo worth it! ; )
    Another Sound Team Adventure...
    Posted by Thunder on January 13th, 2001 @ 8:24 p.m.
    You can have a look and listen to the Ensemble Studios own sound crew as they record anything that vocalizes or grunts at Sea World! Stephen Rippy has written up an account of their trip in the Studios Journal, complete with pics and sounds:
    "Not long before our Christmas break in December, Kevin and I took a field trip to San Antonio, TX. We had a mission: to record as many animals as we could find at either SeaWorld or the San Antonio Zoo. We had made trips like this before, but nothing could prepare us for being shoved into the mysterious and icy Penguin Encounter or being schooled in dining etiquette by a hungry walrus." -Stephen Rippy

    Source - ES Team Journal: I Am the Soundman, This Is the Walrus
    Sheesh, that boom mic has gone through a lot! Drop on by and check out the sound team's latest adventure. ...they should have a sound clip to accompany the pics of their guides too... ; )
    Random Maps In RTS3?
    Posted by Thunder on January 13th, 2001 @ 9:01 a.m.
    Our friends at GoneGold.com have many daily rituals, and among them is Joel Mathis' always interesting articles that make up the Hot Sheet. Joel has been around the block, generally knows his stuff, and recently mentioned something that I thought would be worth sharing. In his article for Friday the 12th, he was discussing the good and bad of random maps and brought up an interesting scenario that really caught me off guard:
    "There's a reason why every game doesn't include some capability to randomly make it's own maps. If the game itself is going to generate the random areas on it's own rather than having randomly generated maps created by the developer and included with it the game has to use 2D graphics. With a modern 3D engine in order to keep it running at a reasonable rate all of the level's information has to be compiled in advance and something that can take a great deal of time depending on the complexity of the area in question. Presumably the player doesn't want to wait a few hours when they enter a new region so randomly generating 3D environments with modern graphics is out of the question (if you don't mind graphics that are three or four years out of date it might be doable). So, any game that randomly makes it's own maps will be required to use 2D graphics, something that many developers avoid doing." -Joel Mathis

    Source - GG Hot Sheet 01/12/01
    Alright, let's just take into account that pretty much all we know about Ensemble Studios third RTS game is the code name, RTS3, and that it will use a 3D engine. Could it be however, that this new game that's under development will break with the tradition of the AoE series and not be capable of generating random maps? That feature is a big draw for many gamers as it adds replayability, and certainly the new feature in the Conquerors expansion of being able to script our own random map types has only added further to that.

    Check out the full article on the Hot Sheet. Whether or not the Studios' next game generates random maps or not, it's still early in development and we're still very much in the dark at this point. Who knows what the Studios team will come up with? ...ever played a fully 3D game with a random map generator? ...sorry, more questions than answers right now... ; )
    MFO Launches Ageofkings.cc!
    Posted by Thunder on January 13th, 2001 @ 7:52 a.m.
    You can now find all of the great strats and information you've come to expect from the gang at Mr.Fixit Online and at a brand new URL! You can find the latest and greatest AoK information at Ageofkings.cc, with that great MFO design and feel. Beautiful work fellas! Pay them a visit and check out the AOK Command Center for yourself. ...still a few tweaks to make? ...Ha! Looks awesome right out of the gate... ; )
    New ES RM Script: Random Randomness...
    Posted by Thunder on January 13th, 2001 @ 0:04 a.m.
    This is the ultimate random map script! The map design team at Ensemble Studios has created a new sort of random map setting with this latest script, but the maps generated have a ton of other random variables to them:
    "Once upon a time, random maps were predictable. You knew that Arabia would be a rush fest, while Black Forest would lead to hours of Siege Onager bliss. You knew to look for ice sheep on Ghost Lake. You knew to fish the corners of Continental. Oh, once in awhile a map like Capricious would emerge, where you couldn't count on finding certain resources, but you could still learn the basic layout of the map. No longer.

    In The Unknown, everything is random. Everything. From the moment the game starts, you will have to scout (with a random number of scouts, of course) to figure out whether you are on an island, a mainland, or inside a clearing of trees. You will have to figure out if there are lots of sheep, lots of berries, or a lack of stone. You will need to look out for choke points, shallows, fishing ponds, and cliffs. Where are the other islands or lakes if they even exist at all? It's all random, all the time."


    Source - ES RM Script Downloads
    The link for downloading is now active (so I'm told, can't download it from here at school) so you can snatch your copy of the script now. There's also a ton of mapshots and a full description to be found here: ES@The_Unknown ...about time we took down the holiday decorations eh? ; )
    Qs & As With Sandy...
    Posted by Thunder on January 12th, 2001 @ 6:45 p.m.
    Designer Sandy "Sandyman" Petersen has popped into the forums once more during a bit of free time to answer some questions. Drop in on him and say "Hi" or post some questions of your own! With all the console news out there about PS2 and Xbox, here's some thoughts on consoles from Sandy:
    "Q) what advantage would the N64 hold over the PC...not much, I'd imagine
    A) On the contrary. Console games have some enormous advantages over PCs. First, they have standardized controllers that are far superior for controlling in an action adventure game. Second, you don’t have to worry about video cards, sound boards, etc., which is one of the reasons that they are so much more reliable.

    I mean, think about it – when you buy a console game, how do you go about playing it? You take it home, stick it in the machine, and start playing. When you buy a PC game what happens? You take it home, spend 20 minutes installing it, go on the internet to download the latest patch, then it locks up or is incompatible with your video drivers or something, and you curse and try to change settings so it works and then fiddle with the options until you get a screen that looks good and THEN you start playing it. If you’re lucky. When I want to take a break and play a video game, I find myself heading for the console 9 times out of 10 nowadays, and I LIKE computer games."
    - Sandy Petersen

    Source - Our Forum: More questions answered
    You never know how far he'll go to find an answer to your question, if it's within his power. He did an investigation into the Studios coffee maker to answer one forumer's inquirey. Thanks for stopping in Sandy! ...now if we can just get him to investigate what he sees on the artists screens... ; )
    Holiday Project...
    Posted by Thunder on January 12th, 2001 @ 11:10 a.m.
    Here's a little something that I worked on over the holidays. It had been sitting on various hard drives of mine since sometime in 1999, and I finally sat down and fixed it up properly. Unfortunately the animation is too large to post here, it's over 130 kb in size so you'll have to have a look at it here: Trade Cart ...can't wait to get some more time off school to see what other unfinished projects I've got... ; )
    New Map & Journal Entry Impending...
    Posted by Thunder on January 12th, 2001 @ 1:50 a.m.
    Webmaster at ES, Mike "Archangel" McCart has just revealed that the latest Random Map Script that the map team at the studios has been working on will be available for download tomorrow evening. You can also drop by their news page where he's posted a couple of mini-mapshots of this script, "The Unknown", over the last few days.

    We'll also have a new Studios Journal entry of the sound team's trip to Sea World, which will be up this weekend! Either way you look at it, their next RTS is certain to have all manner of beasts in it. ...heck, for all we know they could be modifying all of these sounds for some weird monsters...don't ya hate being in the dark?!? ; )

    **Update**
    You can find some mapshots of "The Unknown" RM script here, in the Studios RMS Downloads section. "The Unknown" looks like it randomly generates a random map...could be islands, could be land, could be conti-like, could be medi-like! Very cool. The link to download does not work right now, you have to wait until tomorrow night.
    The Future Of Internet Explorer...
    Posted by Thunder on January 11th, 2001 @ 10:54 p.m.
    Not exactly an Age story, but browsers are something us net folk have to deal with. This story from ZDNet reveals that Internet Exporer may be headed the way of the dinosaurs, being replaced by a pair of Microsoft browsers. Each of these browsers is geared towards a specific segment of internet users, which may leave IE 6.0 with no where to go. An article that's worth a look see. ...it might be un-official, but you may enjoy chatting with fellow forumers: Un-Official AOKH IRC channel... ; )
    ES Sound Team Makes Another Zoo Trip!
    Posted by Thunder on January 11th, 2001 @ 10:23 p.m.
    The search continues for the perfect sound. The sound team of Stephen Rippy and Kevin McMullan made a recent trip to another Zoo to record all manner of wild animals, including some of the poisonous variety:
    "Stephen and I gained incredible access to the animals at the zoo. I never expected the snake keeper to let us get this close to the venomous snakes. As I held the boom mic inside the rattlesnake's cage, I kept thinking to myself that I was crazy for giving the snake such easy access to my arm. Does our insurance cover anti-venom?" -Kevin McMullan

    Source - It's All Happening At the Zoo
    As you may have already gathered by the source link you can read, look, and listen to parts of their trip to the Zoo in San Antonio thanks to the Studios Team Journal and Kevin McMullan who wrote up an account of the trip. Crank the volume and check out some of their recordings! ...sheesh, they're recording an aweful lot of exotic animals...maybe the civs in their next game will be from the animal kingdom... ; )
    Mr.Fixit Adjusts The Heat...
    Posted by Thunder on January 11th, 2001 @ 3:25 a.m.
    Join in on MFO's latest event for Agers of all skill levels. MFO Heats are competitions between ladder players of similar skill level, ensuring that everyone will have a fighting chance! There will even be heats for DM players in addition to standard RM. Things will get underway this Sunday, the 14th, so make sure you've signed up and checked out the rules in advance.

    While you're hanging at Fixit's place, check out Wide_Arc's article, Crappy Grushing. It'll help you sieze control of the water in a big way in the early game, and keep it! There's also an example to go along with the article in the form of a recorded game. ....going for a galley rush is great, but don't rule out going for a straight landing on an enemy island in Feudal...assuming you've got an opening on the water for your trannie anyway... ; )
    Mid-Week Pick Me Up...
    Posted by Thunder on January 10th, 2001 @ 6:52 p.m.
    If you've recently gone back to school or work, here's a little something that may help keep you cheery until Friday rolls around. It's a little something by Antarctic Dragon that I found in one of our many Age2oon Galleries, of which there are now almost 80. Click here for Antarctic Dragon's toon, and have a great week! ...if that doesn't lift your spirits, try wearing a kilt for a day... ; )
    Weekly MFO Dust Up!
    Posted by Thunder on January 10th, 2001 @ 10:34 a.m.
    Wednesday evenings have been set aside for a get together with the Mr.Fixit Online crew. Drop on by their Zone room of choice to play some games, have a chat, or test out a new map! The first of what appears to be a great many of these weekly get togethers will be tonight. Be sure to check out the MFO Night page for complete details on where and when! ...8pm MFO time...they've got their own timezone! ; )
    Through The Ages Set To Open Monday!
    Posted by Thunder on January 10th, 2001 @ 9:39 a.m.
    The infamous Ager webmonster, Ogre has sent word that the grand re-opening for his Age site, and I believe his network, is to take place this coming Monday! Not only that, it sounds like he's planning a bit of a bash to kick things off:
    "The Ogre about a week ago said he was leaving AoE2.com, well that does not mean he is leaving the Age scene. Instead the Ogre has been working hard with a few other people getting together the new Through The Ages. Through The Ages is now part of the Game Tropics Network. The Game Tropics Network is a network whos soul purpose is to give only the best information on PC strategy and Simulation. So therefore it is no surprise that we would do an Age of Empires fan site.

    Through The Ages is just that. We go cover all the Age series games and hopefully help people get more enjoyment out of them. The new Through The Age site will launch with the Game Tropics Network on January 15th. I hope all Agers drop by because I plan on having a big party "
    -Ogre
    Woohoo! Party on Ogre and company. Be sure to drop by Through The Ages on January 15 to help give those fellas a grand welcome back! ...Angel Alexander I continues to share some fabulous photos from his vacation at HG main...some lovely snaps AA! ; )
    New RM Script In The Works...
    Posted by Thunder on January 9th, 2001 @ 10:27 p.m.
    Keep your peepers peeled! The gang at Ensemble Studios will soon release another in their series of Randon Map scripts, or so I've cleverly deduced from this top secret message posted in the middle of the RM scripts download page over there:
    "Coming Soon "The Unknown" a New Conquerors Random Map from Ensemble Studios Developers of the Age of Empires Series of Games"
    Of course, there's already a group of ten scripts for download there at the moment. Try out a few the next time you're doing battle as these new maps often force you to adopt or adapt strategies. ...Capricious is one of my favs...I am 1-0 on it... ; )
    Does AoE Deserve To Be A Trilogy?
    Posted by Thunder on January 9th, 2001 @ 10:28 a.m.
    The Age of Empires series is made up of certainly some of the best RTS games produced by the games industry, but should the developers carry on with a third Age title or move on to a new series or setting? With the development of Civilization III underway, the folks at GameSpot are polling their readers to see which popular series has what it takes to follow Civ III. Diablo, Baldur's Gate, Red Alert, and many more are all possible candiates for a three-peat. You can find the GameSpot poll on the bottom right, and cast a vote for the big bad series you want more of! ...surprising to see Baldur's Gate leading right now...Diablo in second, and AoE sitting a little bit back in third...vote on... ; )
    Battlefield's Stone Free Showdown!
    Posted by Thunder on January 9th, 2001 @ 8:25 a.m.
    Our buds at AoK Battlefield are putting together a tournament that will utalize a random map script called Stone Free. The limited amount of stone on this RM map type may throw a wrench into your plans, but you can download the RM script ahead of time to see what you're getting into. You've got to be a registered member of the AOKB forums in order to participate, but not to worry as it doesn't take long to sign up for that!

    For all of the rules, prize list, and a link to the RM script, visit the Stone Free Showdown page. ...brave folks to be using that script... ; )
    Aging Clan List
    Posted by Washizu on January 9th, 2001 @ 5:59 a.m.
    I got a pretty good response from a bunch of Aging clans out there, many times from multiple members of the same clan. That just shows how active you guys are! Contrary to what some might think, a lot of the clans are just about having fun and playing with friends, not necessarily about playing competitively. Here is a list of the clans who responded:
    • The Fruit of the Poisonous Tree
    • Clan SUD (for spanish speaking agers)
    • Tonto Clan
    • Age of Kings Clan
    • Soldiers of the Roman Empire
    • Imperial Clan
    • HolyCrusaders(their website seems to be down at the moment)
    • Empire of Kings
    • The Roman Units
    • Hordes of Genghis the Hun(yes they know Genghis was not a Hun)
    • The Empire Raiders
    • WGoDs (no URL sent with this one. I'll post it if someone sends it in)
    There you have it. A good list of active clans for our friend shadymilkman98 to join. His email address is shadymilkman98@aol.com if anyone wants to offer him a spot in their clan directly. congrats to Socrateius on getting his promotion to Angel!
    Asking the Tough Questions
    Posted by Washizu on January 9th, 2001 @ 4:55 a.m.
    Ensemble webmaster Mike "Archangel" McCart has decided that enough is enough! He's going to ask Sandy Petersen the questions no one from ES had dared ask (until now):
    Dear Sandy,

    1. How come no one ever stocks Pepsi One in the ES Soda Machine?

    2. Why does everyone tease Santos all the time? He seems like a really nice guy.

    3. Since you can't answer questions about RTS III, when will you stop posting "I will not answer questions about RTS III"?

    4. If you look through Rose colored glasses, what color will the Roses be?

    5. What did Santa bring you for Christmas?

    6. How come you can't tame the deer in Age of Kings and use them as fast attack units? (If you want more cool ideas, please give me your email address and I will send you more!).

    As a long time Age player I demand you answer these questions!!!
    Poor Duane Santos. Rumor has it that he lost to a fansite webmaster in Street Fighter 2 last year at E3, and he's never been the same since. Direct your Santos related questions to game designer Sandy Petersen right here. Sandy might even be able to answer a few other Q's, as long as they aren't about RTS3.
    What Do Game Designers Do?
    Posted by Thunder on January 8th, 2001 @ 9:43 p.m.
    The artists create the art, the programmers lay out the code, what do Game Designers do? Forumer CrAzY_SmUrF_L has the right idea, but was looking for some confirmation if his guess about designers dreaming up units and civs to go into a game was correct:
    "Yes, that is exactly what we do. However, unlike in some companies where a designer might get to make all decisions about content, ES is a very consensus-based company. I would never be able to just pick those civs I wanted to put into a game without convinving the rest of the company why they were the best choices.
    The truth is that game designers don't spend most of their time coming up with cool ideas. We spend most of our time making those cool ideas work.

    There are starting to be several good articles about getting into game design on the net. Our own site, ensemblestudios.com, has a few. If you are interested in game design per se, you need to be able to:

    1) Write very well
    2) Perform research quickly and comprehensively
    3) Get along well with other people
    4) Play lots and lots of games, and know what makes them work
    5) Have an intuitive knack for what is fun

    But by far the hardest part is:

    6) Convinving a game company that you can do 1-5."
    -Greg Street

    Source - This thread
    Many thanks to the Lead Designer on the Conquerors expansion, Greg "DeathShrimp" Street for popping in to provide that information! As he mentioned, the Ensemble Studios website has journal entries on this subject that would certainly have some tips for designers, programmers, and perhaps some of it would apply to artists as well. Stop in for a look! ...the party is over...back to school for me today! ; )
    Clan Affairs
    Posted by Washizu on January 8th, 2001 @ 6:12 a.m.
    An ager in search of a clan sent this to me, and I wondered, how many active AOK clans are out there these days?
    I was wondering how can i join a clan? ive tried but it either says my mail
    couldnt be sent or the person i email doesnt send anything back.
    AOK Clans, send me your name and your URL and I'll post a list of them all here in the news.
    Conqerors Trial Version 1.0b...
    Posted by Thunder on January 8th, 2001 @ 2:02 a.m.
    Some bugs have been addressed in the trial version of the expansion pack, and it is now available for download at the Official Site. (thanks Voodoo Extreme) This sum up of the features it includes was snagged from activewin.com:
    "This was just released: "The trial version of the Age of Empires II: The Conquerors Expansion is now available for download. Including one standard multiplayer game (King of the Hill on a Yucatan Map), one single player campaign scenario (Montezuma One), and two civilizations (Mayan and Aztec), the trial version showcases the amazing gameplay available in the full retail version. Download the trial today and see for yourself!" 38 MB. This version includes minor bug fixes and resolves some compatiability issues."
    As far as trial versions goes, that's a pretty slim and trim download. It seems that they are getting bloated to the 100+ MB region, so if you haven't given the Xpack trial version a shot yet, 38mb probably won't hurt. ...I think the BG II demo was something crazy like several hundred MB....remember when Hard Drives were 20 MBs? OH! Welcome back to Angel Alexander I, who went on a lil trip and has posted a breathtaking picture over at HG central... ; )
    Campaign Contest - Deadline Extension
    Posted by Rasher on January 7th, 2001 @ 7:37 a.m.
    If you were too busy over the Holidays to work on your Campaign Contest entry, never fear! The Contest Deadline has been extended until Febuary 15th, 2001, which gives you an extra 2 weeks to get to work on those campaigns!
    So, if you were discouraged due to not being able to work on your entry over the Holidays, there is still hope for you
    Be sure to check out the updated Contest Rules for the new rule changes and submission form!
    ES Contest Counting Down...
    Posted by Thunder on January 7th, 2001 @ 7:25 a.m.
    A monsterous contest at Ensemble Studios will be closing for entries in just over a week now. The Make Texas Beautiful Contest is open to absolutely everyone, no matter where you live or what your age. In fact, if you're an experience challenged Ager, (read young) the judges will be gentle with you.

    All you have to do is download the blank map of Texas, add some fancy terrain and what have you to make it look drop dead gorgeous, and send it on in. Up for grabs is a $500 gift certificate, a ton of Age stuff, and fifty entries will be awarded prizes!

    The deadline is closing in Agers, January 15! Be sure to check out ES's contest page for the blank map, complete prize list, and all of the little details. ...Xbox unveiled...perhaps a future platform for Age, perhaps not...loving the green + black though! ; )
    AoE Card Game Fansite...
    Posted by Thunder on January 7th, 2001 @ 2:36 a.m.
    While the gang at Journeyman Press hum and haw over working on their Official site for the AoE expandable card game, a fansite has sprung up with some helpful information. It's only a few days old, so let's hope these fellas stick with it! Sam and Mike apparently own the complete set of cards (read all 260+ of them) and have started work on uploading images of them all, adding some tips for building your deck, and more. Pay them a visit at www.tmct.net. ...a great start guys, keep up the fine work! ; )
    Out With The Old, Almost In With The New!
    Posted by Thunder on January 6th, 2001 @ 9:59 p.m.
    Forumer IClan_Emporer posted some screenshots of terrain layed out by ES's 3D engine that they will be using for RTS3. Rob "Xemu" Fermier, programmer at the Studios who recently wrote up an article on development at Ensemble, dropped by to set an age to the shots and makes us drool with anticipation once more:
    "Those screenshots on the archive are, in the most technical sense, from RTS3 in that they come from an ancient version of the [ed. censored]! Engine. I believe they are from a presentation that Dave "Bigdog" Pottinger did a year or so back. I hope no one considers those in any way indicative of what our game looks like. When you see the real game, with the current engine and an actual scene, it looks about a zillion times better.

    I can't wait until we can release real screenshots... between our crack engine team and our superb artists, it's really all coming together quite nicely..."
    -Rob Fermier

    Source - This thread in our forum
    He can't wait, WE can't wait, and yet, there's waiting. Life just isn't fair. Drop in on the source link above to share thoughts and what not on the subject. ...apparently the name of their 3D engine was to change at some point, due to other games/things of the same/similar name...how about, DELETED! ...my thanks to Cherub Chooch709 for the tip off... ; )
    Nomads Tourney Wrap Up...
    Posted by Thunder on January 6th, 2001 @ 9:35 p.m.
    The winner of fourth place in our King of the Nomads Tournament has finally been decided, bringing this event to a close. FoN_Raveman has claimed the fourth and final prize package in the tournament, congrats to him and of course all of our other winners! Drop by the KOTN Tourney page for the wrap up, final results, and final announcements.

    Our thanks to all of the participants and our King of the Nomads, QGUARDIAN! ...a fine buncha Agers you guys are, very patient with me... ; )
    Ensemble Supporting PowerPlay...
    Posted by Thunder on January 6th, 2001 @ 7:26 p.m.
    No two minute penalties here! (warning, ice hockey reference) No one is headed for the penalty box at all. Archangel, aka Mike "The Chimney" McCart of Ensemble Studios, has posted a link to an interesting read at Voodoo Extreme about something called PowerPlay 2.0. The whole idea is to help provide us consumers with a better, even lag free, online gaming experience. No joke:
    "The Internet wasn't designed for entertainment. Routers are optimized for traditional business traffic. Internet service providers primarily provision for e-mail and web hosting. Content developers focus on mitigating the worst case of Internet traffic rather than optimizing for the best experience.

    Recognizing the need for a coordinated effort to address the issues of consumer entertainment on the Internet, representatives of Cisco, the predominant Internet infrastructure company, an as yet unnamed leading Internet service provider focusing on quality of service issues, and Valve, makers of Half-Life, PC Gamer's 1998 Game of the Year, met to discuss ways to move the Internet forward.

    The result of these development activities is PowerPlay, a set of protocols and deployment standards for Internet consumer entertainment. PowerPlay will be the basis for a vastly improved quality of service for consumer entertainment on the Internet."


    Source - Voodoo Extreme PowerPlay Article
    There's quite an influential list of developers on board already, including ES of course. The article also contains a very interesting Q & A that helps to explain things further.

    Lag free gaming is a real dream for us 56k modem users, and even those blessed with Cable modems can experience aweful lag. PowerPlay sounds all well and good, but the hair on the back of my neck stood up when I read, "The first month of service will be completely free...", which sounds even more ominous as there are no estimates on pricing after that. ...I'm about as cheap as they come... ; )
    Age On PS2 Oddity...
    Posted by Thunder on January 6th, 2001 @ 12:25 a.m.
    The Playstation 2 console wasn't on my Christmas list, but I do know quite a few people who've recently purchased or been given one. With that in mind, the release of the Konami port of Age of Kings to this console is near, if not upon us already. (last release date I saw on a pre-order game site was Jan 5th or 4th) Hopping on over to GameSpot's PS2 Previews page, we are greeted by a link to an elderly AoK preview that has been recently updated on Jan 4th. Included with this update, and perhaps the only part of the update, are some screenshots right out of the beta! (ok, older than the beta!) We're talking way back when there were giant gates, a completely different interface, and old old old unit art. Why oh why would they be posting screenshots that must be from the PC version from 1998 or maybe 1999?
    "If you're familiar with the PC Age of Kings, you'll notice that Konami's making no major enhancements to the game's two-year-old visuals. The game features animated 2D sprites on top of bitmapped pseudo-3D battlefields. The visual feel is serviceable and pleasant, if a bit dated."
    Dated? Ya, what you're apparently looking at is older than...oh let's not go there. For the sake of PS2 owners, let's all hope that Kanomi's port didn't revert all the artwork back to pre-beta. ...the AOK PS2 "box art" I saw had the artwork on it we all know and love...up to date Paladin art and the whole bit...assuming that was the actual case... ; )
    Two Firsts In The Blacksmith!
    Posted by Thunder on January 6th, 2001 @ 11:56 a.m.
    Here at AOK Heaven, you'll find a ton of player created multiplayer scenarios, single player scenarios, campaigns, random map scripts, and more in the Blacksmith. This is also where Angel Spineman lurks, posting reviews and new downloads, generally making sure things run smoothly. Recently he made a few changes to the smithy, and announced a couple of new happennings with regards to reviews. It seems that the first Mod has been reviewed, a creation by neinnunb which got a perfect 5.0! (a couple of other Mods have since been reviewed)The first random map script was also reviewed, (there's actually almost 200 for download there) and another 5.0 for Matei's creation.

    If you're looking for these two new materpieces, some new campaigns, scenarios, or would like to help out simply by reviewing submitted works, drop in on Angel Spineman in the Blacksmith and he'll point the way! ..."In case you are a Goth player, this is a joke..." -Roka...Ha! ; )
    Lick Your Lips...ES Journal Entry By Rob Fermier...
    Posted by Thunder on January 6th, 2001 @ 8:30 a.m.
    He may be a relative newbie to Ensemble Studios, but Rob Fermier is no stranger to the gaming industry. Not only does he play all sorts of games, he's had a hand in making a few before arriving at the Studios. In the latest Programmers Journal entry he gives us a sampling of what's happenning with RTS3, and how the development process is similar or different from other companies. Here's the teaser, straight from the Archangel:
    "A Taste of Game Development at Ensemble


    Another very interesting Journal entry, this time by Studios Programmer, Rob Fermier. Rob discusses RTS3 and the Ensemble approach to games (among many other topics). Below are a couple of quotes from the article, for the full article click here.

    'It's been a busy few months here at Ensemble Studios. In addition to all the usual holiday craziness (like our amazingly kick-ass company party ) we have been making some great progress on RTS3. If you haven't been following all the bits of rumors leaked out here and there, RTS3 is the oh-so-clever code name for our third RTS game under development here at Ensemble. We finished up our latest internal milestone right before Thanksgiving, which went very well and was a very positive note for the team heading into the holidays.'

    'The Ensemble approach to features and scheduling was also a pleasant surprise. As most developers will tell you, game development is often caught between a rock and a hard place on when the game is done. Contract deadlines, cash flow issues, or both can force a game to ship before it is ready, and yet without deadlines no game would ever ship, since there is always one more feature to add or one more system to tweak. I'm very proud of the work that I've done elsewhere in the industry, but it has always been a struggle between meeting deadlines and making the best game possible. Whenever a feature isn't quite ready there is always the implicit threat that if push comes to shove, the game can ship with any problem short of a fatal crash.'"
    Folks, all this talk of RTS3 and ES chugging along with their milestones is hard to take. Some sort of official announcement (hopefully an official title too!) will be happenning sometime in the next few months, so don't despair!

    By the sounds and looks of things, we'll have a fair amount of information from the development team working on RTS3 once it's announced. Remember the Conquerors Designer Journal? That gave us some great insights into the expansion, something that wasn't around back in the days of Age of Kings development, and hopefully something that will continue. ...I swear I saw Rob Fermier's name in the credits to Deus Ex as well, although he doesn't list it as a game he's worked on... ; )
    RTS3 Info!
    Posted by Washizu on January 6th, 2001 @ 3:40 a.m.
    That's right folks. I've digged. I've scrounged. I've bribed. I've even sold organs to bring you the latest info on RTS3, the next strategy game by Ensemble Studios and their yet-to-be-determined publisher.
    • Just think of the screen shots you can take with RTS3!

    • It even needs its own power supply!

    • Ten different speed settings!

    • "Resonance suppression is the number one priority". See for yourself!

    • It can even help you reduce stress!

    I don't know about you guys, but I am getting pretty excited about RTS3. ... mathematically speaking, there will be at least one person out there who somehow thinks I'm being truthful. Don't be in that minority!
    Campaign Contest Submission Form!
    Posted by Rasher on January 5th, 2001 @ 9:53 p.m.
    Courtesy of Angel Spineman, the Submission Form for the Destiny of a Dynasty - AoKH Chinese Campaign is primed and ready to go! You can start submitting those campaigns any time now, whenever they are ready.
    Before you submit, make sure to check out the Submissions Procedures, which can be found on the Official Contest Page. Less then a month is remaining until the contest deadline, so if you are planning on entering the contest you had best get to work!

    Contest Submission Form
    Punks: Help Wanted...
    Posted by Thunder on January 5th, 2001 @ 7:27 p.m.
    The fellas of the SCN Punk team are once again looking for some talented people to help them with their many projects. It looks like they've filled their scenario designer position but still have openings for a graphic artist, voice artist, and mod pack designer. Drop by and see the SCN Punk gang for more information. ...Angel Draco is a big ol Star Wars fan...check out this New Years greeting...a Star Wars take on the Happy Hampster dancers... ; )
    Nomad Recordings...
    Posted by Thunder on January 5th, 2001 @ 2:52 a.m.
    Just a reminder that there's now a fair selection of recorded games from our King of the Nomads Tournament for you to watch in our downloads section. (under Recorded Games) Most of the first place finisher's games can be found there, so you can watch the King of the Nomads, QGUARDIAN in action!

    The latest addition is a very brief game, only about seven minutes. It's hZ_Farmer's only game of the tournament and against the very same player he knocked out of the first round in our King of the Hill tournament! A quick and brutal villager war with PoLiSH_Cavalry, just for fun. ...who made them stickin' random brackets anyway?? ; )
    GameSpot Reader's Choice Awards...
    Posted by Thunder on January 4th, 2001 @ 9:26 p.m.
    Thanks to Archangel at ES for the reminder that it's that time of the year again. The editors at GameSpot have given us their choices for the best games of 2000, and now we get to have our say. Yes, the Conquerors is up for a couple of awards, as are a host of other great titles! The results will be posted on January 19, so be sure to drop by and vote before then.

    One great feature about their ballot is you can add the title of a game you think deserves a vote if it's not already listed.

    The Archangel has also posted the winner and a half from his contest yesterday. The dude with the license plate reading "H CCCC" is Mike "Capn" Kidd of course...I got it, eventually. Find the results on ES news page, along with a couple of recaps on a recent TV treb war. ...the pic I linked to earlier was Mike Kidd pulling his Trebuchet out of that same car in the summer of last year... ; )
    Weaving A Worthy Tale...
    Posted by Thunder on January 4th, 2001 @ 10:06 a.m.
    This item isn't directly related to scenario design, however, it may prove benficial to some designers. Gamasutra.com has a new feature up on a talk Bob Bates gave at the Game Developers Conference. It's not an article, it's actually Bob's lecture in real media format. The pitch is:
    "The fundamentals of storytelling do not change, regardless of the medium in which the story is told. An author must deal with character, setting, and plot; and so too must a game designer. In games, this is difficult because control is ceded to the player and the designer has an obligation to keep things moving. This GDC 200 video offers tips on slipping stories into games without slowing down the action."

    Source - Gamasutra Features
    Scenario designers are often telling a tale and thus quite a few tips can be found in this lecture. Just who is this Bob Bates fellow? He introduces himself nicely in the lecture, and I think it's safe to call him a seasoned vet of the industry and he currently works at Legend Entertainment. Would be game designers may also want to have a listen to what he's got to say.

    Some of the material covered may seem pretty obvious, but as consumers in the gaming industry we know all too well that there's still plenty of games hitting the market that are missing out on the basic stuff. ...saw Pirates of Silicon Valley tonight for the first time...a bloody weird movie! ...seems to be a pirate theme tonight... ; )
    Sobering Up...
    Posted by Thunder on January 4th, 2001 @ 8:44 a.m.
    That makes two of us! Angel_Chris has been a fury of activity of late in the AOKH Tavern. If it's a hot topic or a post worth reading in our forums, it's likely that he's tracked it down. Drop in on him in the Tavern today. ...I overlook the obvious, it's a skill I've got on my resume! Just so I don't mislead anyone else, here's a pic of a certain car before it's new custom plate...H CCCC...this is going to haunt me, I can tell... ; )
    Gamecenter Alliance Disbanded
    Posted by Washizu on January 4th, 2001 @ 7:29 a.m.
    Rumors have been flying around the net concerning C|NET and it's Gamecenter Alliance. Basically, the alliance hosted some top gaming sites/networks, and shared the banner ad revenue with its hosted sites. The ending of this alliance program thrust many into limbo.

    VoodooExtreme said this:
    C|Net today announced that it was going to dissolve it's GameCenter Alliance at the end of the month leaving large (and popular) gaming Networks like Stomped.com, GamersDepot, Counter-Strike.net and Unreal Universe and many more in the cold. There is no word where these networks will be hosted in the future, but if you can offer help in this crisis post word in the comments section where you (and your Network) can be reached. After the GameFan fiasco it would be a real shame to see these old and established sites die.

    Crossroads of Dereth:
    CNet started the Alliance program in order to bring more awareness to Gamecenter. According to Jason Fischel over at CNet, the program was a huge success and has really increased Gamecenter numbers and awareness.
    Of course, if some of you remember, CNet bought ZDNet. ZDNet owns Gamespot. After this purchase, CNet really has cornered the market on their share of gaming entertainment coverage.

    The program wasn't losing money by any means and in truth wasn't being fully pursued as it *could* have been. I wouldn't blame CNet for anything other than good business sense.

    They don't need to grow their numbers anymore now that they have ZDNet.

    The UGO and IGN price wars (where they were charging insanely low amounts for ads when they would lose lots of money by taking ads) hurt the banner market and it'll take a bit for it to shake out to acceptable levels (and yes it likely will).

    It takes a lot of effort to try to work on target advertising (CNet did a great job, but didn't want to dedicate more resources to it after the ZDNet acquisition)
    Will networks like ours go by the wayside? I expect not, though it is entirely possible. We have a number of offers already and with our network's size, we are a good asset to companies looking to reach a much larger readerbase. And companies who know advertising can really do well if they use networks like us, Stratics, etc.

    We're not planning on falling off the map though, so I wouldn't count us out just yet :P

    Marduk - Crossroads Gaming Network, LLC.


    Gamespy's Interview with C|NET
    GameSpy: What is the time frame for the Alliance program to end?

    Gamecenter: We have already told the Alliance partners of our plans. The last day of the program is February 1, 2000.
    What does this mean for HeavenGames? Not anything at the moment, but it sure does not look good for ad based revenue models these days. Sadly, the winter season is supposed to be the BETTER time of year, too. Oh well.
    Best Sellers Of 2000...
    Posted by Thunder on January 4th, 2001 @ 2:36 a.m.
    The gang at Quarter To Three have been crunching sales numbers from the year 2000 to determine which games were at the top of the sales heap. Their Top 10 Best Sellers list has all the big name games on it including a surprise or two, such as the Starcraft Battlechest (original game and xpack) breaking into the top 10. Of course, Age of Empires II is on the list, coming in at number five:
    "Number 5. Age of Empires II
    Units sold: 442,318
    Gross income: $19,569,892


    2000 was a phenomenal year for RTS games and Age of Empires II was a textbook example of what got better in the genre. You don't have to babysit your units because there was a strong tactical AI. The different sides are varied and yet balanced. The graphics are detailed and sharp, without being too busy or cluttered. And there are so many different ways to play that it appeals to a spread of players from casual gamers who just want to diddle with the single player story-driven campaign to hard-core multiplayer gamers who want to compete in online ladders. The Conquerors add-on is also one of the year's better expansion packs and also another success story, selling 221,000 copies for another $6 million in the franchise’s coffers. Go, Ensemble, go!"


    Source - Top 10 Best Sellers
    Not too shabby! No suprise that Diablo II was near the top, coming in at number two on the list. Number one? The Sims!

    There's also quite a few big name games that you won't find on the list. Drop by and take a peak at the figures. ...Washizu played the Sims...didn't ya get bored of that one Washy?? Or did you go back and buy copies for every member of your family...
    License Plate: "H CCCC"...
    Posted by Thunder on January 4th, 2001 @ 2:13 a.m.
    Drop by the Studios news page real quick for your chance to win a t-shirt! What's the catch? Whelp, you've got to guess which ESer has a custom Texas plate on his car that is "H CCCC". How do I know it's a he and not a she? Archangel has given us a hint, drop by and take a peak. ...hmmmm, a few Studios ppl have black beards...I think one of em named another possession after an age item...my curiosity is peaked! ; )
    UK Site Uniting Agers...
    Posted by Thunder on January 3rd, 2001 @ 11:14 a.m.
    If you're an Ager in the UK, you'll be happy to know that there's a site dedicated to you! They're organizing events that will be more suited to your clock and there's plenty of articles and other content to boot. They're working on a ladder, regular tournaments, and more.

    Drop by and meet up with some fellow Agers from your neck of the woods: www.ukageofkings.com ...my thanks to Rolfe_WJ_2 for pointing this site out to all of us... ; )
    Recorded Games: The First Of Many...
    Posted by Thunder on January 3rd, 2001 @ 7:03 a.m.
    You can now find the first recorded game(s) from our King of the Nomads Tournament in the downloads section. (under "recorded games" of course) Not all of the recorded games will be uploaded as some are brutally short or lopsided, however, you can be sure to find the top players in action.

    Be sure to check back over the next few days as we add more from the tournament. The final showdown between the undefeated duo of petard_rusher and QGUARDIAN to decide first place will be available shortly! ...would have started uploading these sooner but I was assembling an "easy to assemble" chair...the hours blurred into one another... ; )
    X-Pack Noteables...
    Posted by Thunder on January 2nd, 2001 @ 7:38 p.m.
    The Conquerors x-pack has been in the running for many sites' Expansion Pack of the Year awards, and over at Gamers Pulse it took home top honours! Congrats to to hardworking folks who crafted the Conquerors, and thanks to Archangel at ES for the tip off.

    Another interesting note is that this is the first time I think I've seen both Age II and the Xpack out of a top 20 sales list. Check it out at Gameweek, where the Sims and Roller Coaster Tycoon are both still going strong. It seems that the Sims xpack has breathed new life into that game, which was said to get boring pretty fast. ...I received Baldur's Gate II and Giants as gifts recently...enjoying both of them. BG II has a more relaxed pace that Diablo II...no slamming down 20 healing potions as fast as you can to stay alive...Giants is funny and weird, and in need of an in game save feature... ; )
    Planet AoE Arcade Challenge!
    Posted by Thunder on January 2nd, 2001 @ 11:59 a.m.
    Yeah, that crazy Xiphoid, honochio at Planet AoE, is at it again! He's taking on challengers tonight in 4 on 4 team action on the latest random map script from Ensemble Studios, the infamous Sherwood Forest. There'll be prizes for the winners, to go along with the sweet taste of victory. Be sure to join the action on GameSpy Arcade tonight. I think 4pm PST/7pm EST is the usual time, but heck, show up early and play some warm up games so you'll be sure not to miss it. ...hmmm, I hope honochio doesn't mean something degrading in another lanuage...ahh well, Xiph would forgive me, I'm his fav beta punching bag... ; )
    Optimzer on Diablo2 Hack
    Posted by Washizu on January 2nd, 2001 @ 6:54 a.m.
    Ensemble programmer Matt "The Optimzer" Pritchard recently posted some comments to a news article at Slashdot concerning the hacking into of Diablo 2 ladder accounts. Here is what he said:
    What, if anything, will Blizzard do in the form of an 'official response' that acknowledges the cheats and lets the online community know how it will be dealth with?

    Wishful thinking won't make anything go away and it only can further hurt the honest players. I do think the climate is shifting, and that users are becoming less tolerant of 'head in the sand' tactics by developers and publishers.

    A couple of people have taken my prior post to mean that I actively dislike Blizzard, and that just isn't true. I find it interesting because because of all the factors involved (installed base of game, popularity, striking at top (most time invested) players, etc) and am curious as to how it will play out.

    Personally, most of the guys at Blizzard I've met in person are pretty cool, and some of them wanted to talk about specific things that happened to D1.

    I do stand up for my personal belief that faliure to disclose successful cheats is not the best thing to do. The developers and publishers do not have exclusive control of the flow of information about their games (/shudders at the thought) and therefore run a considerable risk of being cast in a bad light and upsetting the people who are, after all, their paying customers when an exploit becomes well known (or posted to /. ;-) I do believe that acknowledging problems and telling people what is being done to fix them is a better way to service your online community, and has fewer downsides.
    A faithful fan responded with "You wrote AOE? You are my god. I would gladly kill anyone you ask me to for a linux port with none of that broken directplay bull****."

    Matt Pritchard wrote a fantastic article on stopping multiplayer game cheating for Gamasutra a while back, and he also did an interview with us. He knows his stuff so well, you might be inclined to call him the Sir Issac Fig Newton of smart cookies (oh wait, are they cookies?). Anyway, if you have any comments, place them here.
    King Of The Nomads!
    Posted by Thunder on January 1st, 2001 @ 7:34 a.m.
    Congrats to QGUARDIAN the winner of our King of the Nomads Tournament! Our three finalists faced off in a series of 1 on 1 games against one another to decide a winner and the champ finished with a perfect 2-0 record. Our other two warriors, petard_rusher and magicmel, fought a good fight but it was petard_rusher who claimed second place when he beat magicmel to finish with a record of 1-1.

    Stay tuned for some choice recorded games from this competition, and once again thank you to all our participants! ...one of the final games was over in a couple of minutes, villager war!!!! ; )