Archived News From February 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!

Sampling Sandy...
Posted by Thunder on February 28th, 2001 @ 9:23 p.m.
Our lil' ol' forums have received a visit from ES Designer Sandy "Sandyman" Petersen. He's answered a ton of questions on various subjects, and of course he couldn't escape commenting on the recent announcement of the partnership between ES and LucasArts:
"Q) Does this new partnership signal an end to ES's relationship with MS?

A) To clarify: Lucasarts is NOT publishing ES’s games. ES is NOT publishing Lucasarts’ games. This is a side deal, in which we license Lucasarts some useful technology.

MS publishes AoE, RoR, AoK, & TC. As long as those games stay in print, we will have a “relationship” with MS. However, it’s entirely possible, even likely, that our upcoming games (Nemesis & RTS3) will NOT be published by MS."
-Sandy Petersen

Source - Our Forum: Sandy Answers Your Questions
Click on the link above to check out Sandy's full post as he further comments on this subject and more. ...earthquake here on the west coast today...see what happens when Thunder screws up on the news? ; )
Evil Chat With Bruce Shelley...
Posted by Thunder on February 28th, 2001 @ 7:41 p.m.
It's well known that Evil Avatar is a big Evil Ager, and with yesterday's announcement regarding Ensemble Studios lending a technological hand to LucasArts, he was able to get in touch with Bruce Shelley for a bit of clarification.
"Evil Avatar: If the Battleground game engine is 2D like Age of Empires, Why did Ensemble Studios & LucasArts decide to go with a 2D game engine after having used 3D for Force Commander?

Bruce Shelley: The decision to go 2D was made by Lucas Arts. I think they were impressed with the AOE games and they could use that technology immediately. Our new BANG! 3D engine is still in development as we work on our third major RTS game internally."


Source - Evil Interviews Bruce Shelley
So it appears that the LucasArts crowd will be using ES's tried and true 2D engine for another whack at the RTS market. Bruce couldn't answer all of Evil's questions regarding the LucasArts game, illustrating that the role the Studios is taking in this partnership seems to be supplying the technology, with the design decisions coming from L.A. ...my bad...lesson, never update the news as you're running out the door... ; )
Audio Interview
Posted by Washizu on February 28th, 2001 @ 6:42 p.m.
Following the annoucement of Star Wars Battleground, Tom Byron of LucasArts has done an audio interview with techTV.com. He talks about the relationship between Ensemble and LucasArts and says they hope to continue the relationship in the future, so it's possible we may see a Star Wars game someday based on Ensemble's upcoming "Bang!" engine. For now, however, Star Wars Battleground will utilize Ensemble's existing technology. Also, Tom Byron was hesitent to say that it using the "Age of Empires" engine, probably due to legal technicalities with Microsoft, who owns the name "Age of Empires." Will SWB be out this fall? According to Byron it will, "if the game wants to be." once again, Star Wars Battleground is not RTS3
RTS3 is NOT Age of Empires Strikes Back
Posted by Washizu on February 27th, 2001 @ 11:00 p.m.
Despite what some Age fans would have you believe, RTS3 is not "Star Wars Battleground." These will be two different games, one by Ensemble Studios and one by LucasArts using Ensemble's 2D technology:
IGNPC: So you've been working on Battleground for a while now?
Randy Breen: Yes.

IGNPC: Ensemble announced they were working on a 3D RTS codenamed "RTSIII" late last month. Is this the project they've been working on?

Randy Breen: No. Ensemble is doing several things, but their focus has been on transforming their game designs to a 3D engine. I think that in some ways what we're doing is continuing the development of their existing technologies.

IGNPC: So Battleground is going to be a 2D RTS like Age of Empires?

Randy Breen: Yes.
Source: IGNPC (thanks X27) So, Star Wars: Battlegrounds will use the genie engine, developed by Ensemble for Age of Empires and Age of Empires 2.

A big shocker for all of us, there wasn't even a hint of this before today. It's hard to imagine something this big was worked on for a significant amount of time without leaking out, but it was pulled off nicely. Calling dibs on the naming the first rushing technique... the FRUSH (FoRce RUSH)
Star Wars Battleground
Posted by Thunder on February 27th, 2001 @ 10:08 p.m.
Out of left field comes a press release from the folks at LucasArts Entertainment announcing their new partnership with Ensemble Studios to bring us a new RTS game based in the Star Wars universe:
"LUCASARTS AND ENSEMBLE STUDIOS ENTER INTO
INNOVATIVE BUSINESS PARTNERSHIP


Age of Empires® Developer and LucasArts to Pioneer New Developer/Publisher Relationship; Announce Star Wars® Battleground® for Fall 2001

SAN RAFAEL, Calif. -- February 27, 2001 -- LucasArts Entertainment Company LLC today announced a strategic alliance with Ensemble Studios to develop a new and compelling Real Time Strategy (RTS) franchise for the digital interactive gaming market. The initial release from this cooperative venture, Star Wars Battleground, will be built upon PC-based technology created by Ensemble and used in the highly acclaimed Age of Empires series. Combining the design talents of LucasArts and Ensemble -- including noted designer Bruce Shelley -- Star Wars Battleground will build upon Ensemble’s proprietary engine technology to usher in a new phase in the evolution of the RTS game. Star Wars Battleground is expected to release fall 2001.

Future ventures with LucasArts are envisaged to encompass new technologies developed by Ensemble, weaving increasingly innovative engineering into the core premise of interactive strategic warfare within the Star Wars universe.

“From the first time I played Age of Empires, I knew someday LucasArts and Ensemble should work together to create the ultimate RTS franchise,” says Simon Jeffery, president of LucasArts. “Gaming is evolving rapidly and fewer massively successful games are stumbled upon by accident. The market is more aware of what it wants, and consequently we are providing a marriage of superlative design, consummate technology, and an IP-based gaming universe with which most of the western world is familiar. In short, LucasArts very much views this as the birth of a market leading franchise.”

“All of at us at Ensemble are huge Star Wars fans and we’re very pleased to be partners with LucasArts in creation of Star Wars Battleground,” says Ensemble Studios CEO Tony Goodman. “The passion and talent of the LucasArts team blends well with our Real Time Strategy game expertise to make the Star Wars universe a compelling and fun game experience.”
Let that sink in for a moment. ...speechless... ; )
Clan War Campaign...
Posted by Thunder on February 27th, 2001 @ 7:45 p.m.
This ambitious project may well remind some Agers of Angel Washizu's Net Campaign, which he organized way back in the AoE days. Myll_Slaghter_ has sent along word of the Clan War Campaign, which I believe is still under development right now. Clans will be fighting for control of territories on a world map, in team games of course.

Drop in on the CWC website for a better idea of how to get involved and how things will be run. They have a forum already up and running to help answer your questions and are working on setting up scripts to update game results quickly. Best of luck with this venture fellas! ...not in a clan? ...grab your buddies and make one! ; )
RTS3 Music Style
Posted by Washizu on February 27th, 2001 @ 4:05 a.m.
Ensemble's maestro Stephen Rippy aka ES_Big_Al, has just let one RTS3 nugget slide into the public domain:
I am working on RTS3 along with Kevin McMullan. It will have a very different sound, but one I think fans of the Age series' music will like. Lots of live instruments, lots of big beats.
Big beats eh? That could mean any number of things, including rock or maybe some sort of tribal music. Does this clue us into a theme? Well, it certainly eliminates "Age of Carebears" or "Yanni's Empire."
AI Armada...
Posted by Thunder on February 26th, 2001 @ 10:48 p.m.
The latest AI Tournament League event being run by Angel Bingmann is well underway. You can drop in and check out the results from the first three rounds of this tourney, which features custom AI scripts battling it out on island maps. Keita's Spanish navy script is currently undefeated in the 1 on 1 bracket, while SlakTheEldar leads the team AI event. Good luck to all as they head towards the final showdowns! ...welcome back Sammy... ; )
Alexander's Hints & Food...
Posted by Thunder on February 26th, 2001 @ 3:43 a.m.
It's been a busy weekend for Angel Alexander I as he's been finishing up the latest installment in his look at markets. The latest section covers some of the foods available, complete with mouth watering photographs from my favourite of food groups!

AAI has also been passed a few whispered words on a new HG site that will be opening. Drop in and visit Alexander at HeavenGames Main for all of the above! ...aha! A Mazda 323, great little cars...I'll have to come down and visit Alex, check out all that foooood... ; )
New Map Download: Italy By A Nose!
Posted by Thunder on February 25th, 2001 @ 11:17 p.m.
The latest in the weekly Real World Map Download series from Ensemble Studios is the bare bones of the map of Italy. It came in with the most votes in their poll to decide which map to post, beating out Byzantium by just over 1%.

Check out their growing collection of Real World Maps and while you're there, vote in the poll to decide which map is posted for next week! ...Sea of Japan and Byzantium are tied at the moment... ; )
Forum Party Wrap Up...
Posted by Thunder on February 25th, 2001 @ 11:06 p.m.
"Need more pop!" seemed to be the call of the day in most of my games. We had a few games with lower population limits for fun including a pop 50 game, and a dreaded pop 25 game. I uploaded the recorded game of our quick and brutal pop 25 game which turned into a Castle building game. It's worthy to note that around the 30 minute mark in that game one of my longswordsmen decided to chase down and attack an invisible unit--he must have gotten into the ale. (you can catch the recorded game in downloads)

A few players have already shared some war stories in this thread in the forum. Age_King has given a great acount of a shimo game that had Kings held hostage, great escapes, and of course battles! IClan_krud139 eventually won the game, and hopefully will be uploading the record to the downloads section soon so we can all have a look.

Thanks to all those who showed and battled yesterday. We'll be seeing you on the battlefield next Saturday! ...someone better upload that shimo game, I've gotta see it... ; )
RTS Threeory
Posted by Washizu on February 24th, 2001 @ 8:55 a.m.
Don't even try pronouncing that title tonto_stickman has come up with a very interesting prediction for the theme of RTS3.
What is RTS3? Einstien has solved the problem.....

"On the assumption that a Third World War must escalate to nuclear destruction I can tell you that the Forth World War will be fought with bow and arrow" - Einstien

On assumption that "Einstien" is never wrong in anything (even when he was wrong he was actually right) I think "RTS3" will be about "future earth" where mankind has reverted technology wise back to ancient times. Hence the "History and Fantasy fans will be interested" bit......
Stickman's theory is entirely possible based on the information we have now, but hopefully some real info will be released soon. Stay tuned. Black and White is nearly gold!

ABCs Of DM Rushes...
Posted by Thunder on February 24th, 2001 @ 8:31 a.m.
As the forum DM tourney rumbles towards the semi-finals, Exzar made an interesting post outlining the basics of the Deathmatch rush. He's set out a few basic rules, and gone ahead with a civ by civ description. Check out his words of wisdom in this thread from the DM forum, and add a little of your own findings if you can. ..."...be 2 steps ahead of your enemy. Cause they will more than likely be 1 ahead of you." -Exzar...I love it! Thanks to Angel Zen for the heads up on this one... ; )
Sandster Q&A
Posted by Washizu on February 24th, 2001 @ 7:59 a.m.
AOK designer Sandy Petersen has been answering more questions in his latest thread. He comments on everything from his religion to his opinion of Pink Floyd:
Q) Does Sheriff always build insane amounts of archers?
A) Not when I’m watching. I’ve frequently seen him wipe out opponents (including myself) with cav or infantry. Or even ships.

Q) Are there going to be random maps on RTS3, I heard that ramdom maps on 3d is time consuming(or something)
A) Random maps on 3D are hard to do. They’re hard to do in 2D as well (look at Starcraft). Most companies don’t even try. I’m not supposed to talk about RTS3 at all, but I think I won’t get in trouble if I say that, yes, we want random maps.

Q) What's your ladder at Nemesis?, i mean from best player to last?
A) This question does not apply to Nemesis.

Q) If you could create any kind of game from scratch, what genre/plotline would it be?
A) The answer would be different if you asked me at different times. At this instant in time I’d kind of like to do a high level strategic/diplomatic multiplayer persistent online game of WW2.
Read all of Sandy's thoughts here.well, not ALL of them, but a few.
Forum Parties Tomorrow!
Posted by Thunder on February 23rd, 2001 @ 10:51 p.m.
Friday is upon us! Tomorrow we will be heading to the Zone to do battle with each other through-out the day. Stop in for a chat or a game!

As usual, we will be meeting the the Agincourt lobby starting at 4pm EST (1pm PST, 9pm GMT). This is the first gathering time for those who have to get to bed early, or if you're one of those billions of people who live on the other side of the globe.

The second round of party games will begin around the 9pm EST mark (6pm PST, 2am GMT) but there's usually quite a few of us who hang out in the lobby and play the whole evening, so stop in whenever you can.

Visit this thread to lay down a little pre-party smack talk and the like. ...anyone interested in trying some low pop games? ; )
Looking For A Handsome Smurf?
Posted by Thunder on February 23rd, 2001 @ 9:37 a.m.
Tonight the folks at the AoK Command Center will be holding one of their Blind Date events, in which you'll be paired up with a mystery player for some 2 on 2 games. The games will have a time limit, so you won't have long to get better aquainted with your partner, just long enough to smurf the enemy. The fun will start this evening at 8:30pm EST, good luck to all!

For added clarity, smurfing is when a player uses a different name than usual to disguise themselves. For example, when Angel Washizu doesn't want to scare away lesser skilled players with his expert reputation, he uses his smurf name on the Zone, allyerbase. There's no telling who you may be paired up with for this event! ...you'll have a smurfy time I'm sure... ; )
Learning The Lingo...
Posted by Thunder on February 22nd, 2001 @ 9:37 p.m.
A feature posted today at Daily Radar entitled The Newbies Guide to Playing Online reminds us that there's lots of newcomers to the online arena. The article is a general look at playing online and includes some of the many terms that may seem completely alien to newbies.

Several newcomers to our forums have mentioned that translating some posts is quite a challenge. There's tons of abbreviations for units and buildings, but a trip to the AOKH Tavern can answer quite a few questions. It contains some useful guides on posting, AOK lingo and more. A great first stop for new forumers! ...I was on a tour at CreoScitex yesterday...their sales rep talked a different language I swear... ; )
New Strategy Forum Moderater
Posted by Washizu on February 22nd, 2001 @ 8:47 a.m.
Newly winged Cherub Winston will be taking over my duties as the Strategy Forum moderator. I felt I really couldn't devote enough time to it (although I still generally moderate all the forums), and it needed more attention. Winston was voted the unoffical strategy forum president by other forumers, and was known for helping others with strategy questions and instigating some good discussions. Welcome to Heaven! All your base are belong to us.
It's A Dirty Business...
Posted by Thunder on February 22nd, 2001 @ 8:34 a.m.
It's not all fun and games working at Ensemble Studios, the latest article on Gamasutra by Herb "Captain Insano" Marselas is proof of that. (thanks EA) How would you like to be working with tens of thousands of files, in various formats, and in various stages of development. Now throw in a bunch of fellow employees all working on these files and things can get pretty mixed up. Herb's article covers just how the Studios gang has gone about improving their handling of such tasks.

Probably the highlight of the article for most will be the top image on page 2, which is likely about as close as any of us will get to viewing RTS3 for awhile. ...don't gimme that look...I didn't just look at the pictures, I swear! ; )
Zone Tourney Updates: DM & RM!
Posted by Thunder on February 22nd, 2001 @ 7:23 a.m.
There's a tournament that goes tonight on the Zone, for random map 1 on 1 fans. Sign up as soon as possible, as things will be getting underway at 4pm PST, which is 7pm EST.

You can also sign up for a Deathmatch tournament which will be getting underway on March 6th. This could be a strange tournament as those Zone folks don't like to ban civilizations.

To sign up for either or both of these events, click over to the Zone Tournament Page. Make sure you read the eligibility rules and other fine print! ...last Zone tourney I played in before the x-pack turned into an RM Teuton TC war... ; )
Alexander's Trip To Market...
Posted by Thunder on February 22nd, 2001 @ 7:11 a.m.
There's lots of photographs in the latest addition to Angel Alexander I's look at the structure of markets, with the promise of more to come. My fav is the photo of tent and umbrella tops that abound in the area. Head to HeavenGames main for the goods. ...I squinted real hard, but just couldn't see the make on that green car...a Mazda perhaps? ; )
Game Clinic: The Doctor Is In...
Posted by Thunder on February 21st, 2001 @ 11:26 p.m.
Local forumer GPA_Great Benze has taken it upon himself to offer up his services in order to help us less skilled Agers improve our games. He has recenlty co-oped with a player and offers in game advice, the results of which you can check out in this thread. Need a helping hand? Drop in and get in touch with GPA_Great Benze.

If you're no rookie and are willing to offer up your time and advice to a newcomer, Benze has also started up a thread for that, click here. ...you're a sweet heart Benze... ; )
AIAS Nominees Announced!
Posted by Thunder on February 21st, 2001 @ 8:59 p.m.
The nominees for the 4th annual Interactive Achievement Awards are in (thanks Avault) and The Conquerors is up for a pair of awards. Hopefully we'll once again see the Ensemble Studios gang picking up some hardware, for PC Strategy Game of the Year and PC Game of the Year! Of course, there is some big time competition in both categories, head to the Interactive Achievement Awards site for the full listings of console and PC titles up for awards. Here's the Age related categories and the nominees up for glory and fame:

PC Game of the Year:
  • Age of Empires II: The Conquerors
  • Asheron's Call
  • Baldur's Gate II
  • Command & Conquer: Red Alert II
  • Deus Ex
  • Diablo II
  • Disney's Magic Artist 3D
  • EverQuest: Ruins of Kunark
  • FIFA 2001
  • Links 2001
  • MechWarrior 4
  • No One Lives Forever
  • Roller Coaster Tycoon: Loopy Landscapes
  • Sacrifice


PC Strategy Game of the Year:
  • Age of Empires II: The Conquerors
  • Command & Conquer: Red Alert II
  • Sacrifice
  • Zeus: Master of Olympus

These awards are especially meaningful as it's fellow game developers who nominate and decide the winners. Being recognized by ones peers is always exciting, congrats to all the nominees!

These awards will be handed out on March 22 at a ceremony in San Jose, California. Until then, keep your fingers crossed. ...good luck to all nominees, even Zeus, which is also up for PC Strat Game of the Year... ; )
DM Forumers Have At It!
Posted by Thunder on February 21st, 2001 @ 7:19 p.m.
The local crowd in our Deathmatch Forum have been taking each other on in a tournament of late! Hopefully we can convince them to upload some of the recorded games to the downloads section for all to view. Currently, they are fighting it out in round two. Good luck to everybody! ...nice tourney format too... ; )
Life of Khan Lives On
Posted by Washizu on February 21st, 2001 @ 7:14 a.m.
Cherub Dimitrios alerted me today that his Life of Khan contest deadline is being pushed back to March 18th, so you still have a month to write a magnificant essay on Genghis Kahn. I'll bet more than a few of you come up with "The Wrath of Khan" for your title, but I guess now you'll have to change it since I said it here first. haha! Try some clever play on words, like "The Bath of Khan" or "The Math of Khan." Oops, there are two more you can't use now. Oh, what the heck, I'm freely giving out the title, "The Math of Khan" for anyone to use in the contest, just because it seems like it would be a good essay. Get writing! saw Hidden Tiger, Crouching Dragon tonight. It was great! It made me want to climb trees and fly around in them.
AoE Center Opens With A Contest!
Posted by Thunder on February 20th, 2001 @ 10:02 p.m.
Formerly of aoe2.com, Merlin and Xynon have teamed up to bring us the brand new AoE Center. The big news there at the moment is their Ager Appreciation Contest, which features daily prizes and there's also an AoE Collectors Edition up for grabs as a grand prize!

Best of luck to these two fellas on their new venture. It's a snazzy looking site that covers Age in all its glory, drop in and check it out. ...rekindle that magic... ; )
Nomad Tourney Reunion!
Posted by Thunder on February 20th, 2001 @ 10:15 a.m.
My thanks to magicmel for sending in a great recorded game that features quite a few great players from our King of the Nomads tournament! QGuardian, dedkrikit, petard_rusher, FoN_Raveman, and of course magicmel duke it out on the Nomad map with a trio of newcomers to round out the teams. There's early action on the seas and tons of late game clashes making for a very entertaining game. Head over to our downloads section to grab a copy and settle in for some top notch nomad action!

If you're curious about the results or happennings in our King of the Nomads Tournament which was held last December, click here. Recorded games from the tournament can also be found in our downloads section. ...that trio of newcomers knew what they were doing...held their own just fine! GG all! ; )
Latest Intelligence...
Posted by Thunder on February 19th, 2001 @ 11:26 a.m.
Islands and Team Island maps will be the theme for the latest AI Tournament League clash, which is set to get underway today. No doubt Angel Bingmann will be keeping us all updated on the round by round results as these custom AI scripts try to knock each other's block off.

For AI script downloads, tips, previous league results and more, drop in on Bingmann's AI Tournament League page. ...no artificial intelligence for me...I'm searching for the real thing... ; )
The Story Of Heavenly Markets...
Posted by Thunder on February 19th, 2001 @ 9:46 a.m.
The first part of Angel Alexander I's look at market life can be found at HeavenGames central. We're not talking a trip to the downtown to the mall, but more of a central feature of life in many towns in the world. Hopefully in future writings AAI will be sharing more of his great photos with us, like the one of the giant Age of Kings banner! Haven't seen that one yet? Head to HG main for the picture and the tale. ...always seems to be sunny in his pictures from Colombia...even when it's cloudy...how's he do that? ; )
Blank Britain...
Posted by Thunder on February 19th, 2001 @ 8:48 a.m.
The latest in this series of weekly downloads from Ensemble Studios is the real world map of Britain. It has been added to the two previous real world maps released, Texas and the Caribbean, which you can also snag here.

Is there a particular real world map you've got to get your hands on? Head to their Real World Maps page and vote in the poll which will decide which map is the next to be released! ...Byzantium and Sea of Japan are tied for first right now...go Byz! ; )
Forum Party Wrap Up...
Posted by Thunder on February 18th, 2001 @ 10:46 a.m.
We're back online here after our brief bit of downtime. Everything seems to be okily dokily right now, so I guess it's safe to assume all went well with the work on our servers.

Agincourt has been shuffled around on the lobby list at the Zone which made for more non-forumer traffic in the room. Things were a little crowded at times, moreso than usual anyway, but on the whole there were some great games played.

The day started off poorly for me as I lost the first couple of games I played, thanks generally to petard_rusher, a sound player indeed. Some lopsided team games followed where I picked up a couple of wins, and the grand finale came with a hard fought 3on3 game. There was early fighting between villagers, and I ended up following around a group of enemy goldminers throughout the feudal age, building towers at every gold site they went to. Youch! That Mongol scouting bonus sure paid off that game.

If you're in the mood to share a war story, head to the usual Forum Party Post and tell us your tale. My bud krud sent in a note describing one of his games as a "gun fight in a phonebooth." Sounds like a blast! --puns on Sunday, tsk tsk

GG all! We'll be seeing you next again Saturday! ...no uploaded games from me this week...I hear tell of a few other great games, perhaps their records will appear in the downloads in the near future... ; )
B2K
Posted by Washizu on February 17th, 2001 @ 9:54 a.m.
I just want to take a moment to thank Angel Spineman for all his hard work on developing our blacksmith software. Thanks to his efforts, and with the help of a few others, we now have over 2000 campaigns and scenarios for you to download. That doesn't even include the hundreds of other random map scripts, recorded games, utilities, etc. Also, a huge thanks goes out to everyone who submits these files. You could have the best download script ever written, but if no one uploads anything to it, it isn't worth much.

The AOKH Blacksmith

MFO Team Ladder Opens!
Posted by Thunder on February 17th, 2001 @ 9:41 a.m.
A few hours ago the ribbon was cut and the doors flew open! A pair of brand new ladders are up and it's time to start dragging yourself and your team up the rungs.

There is of course a RM Ladder, and a DM Ladder. Round up your pals and set up a team while there's still that new ladder smell!

If you're new on the MFO ladder scene, they've set up a couple of articles to set the scene for you. You can start with this quick "how to" that'll get you off and running. ...a little over 12 hours until the forum parties start! ...better get some beauty sleep... ; )
March Of Art Continues...
Posted by Thunder on February 16th, 2001 @ 10:15 p.m.
I spotted another new high resolution image on the ES news page today. The latest of the random images that appear at the top was a very shirtless male villager. Hide your girlfriends and eat your heart out Tom Cruise!

Keep an eye out for that image, and snag the Turtle Boat and Petard wallpapers if you missed those. You can download these here, and the male villager will be added to this list shortly I am sure. ...no hooting or cat calls if they post the female villager... ; )
Forum Party Tomorrow!
Posted by Thunder on February 16th, 2001 @ 7:55 p.m.
Saturday is coming up once again Agers and that means many of us will be heading to the Zone to hang out in the Agincourt lobby and beat each other up in some games! You can drop in on the fun at our usual times, or hang out all day. Although it's not confirmed just yet, some of the staff and forumers from AoK Battlefield will likely be on hand to jump into the action!

The party start times are: Party One 4pm EST, which is 1pm PST and 9pm GMT; and Party Two goes at 9pm EST, which is 6pm PST and 2am GMT.

You can find the standard party planning post here in the forums, a good place to challenge and taunt the enemy! ...Roger Wilco users will be interested to read this news...those not so sneaky devils... ; )
What If?
Posted by Thunder on February 16th, 2001 @ 11:22 a.m.
An interesting post in the forums as MNBob opens up an interesting can of worms. Here's the simple question, with a not so simple answer:
"If Random Map games started in Feudal Age instead of Dark, how much differently would the game play? Would it play better?" - MNBob

Source - Our Forum: How much differently would the game play...
Ok, that was two questions, and MNBob posted a pile more that illustrate how different the game can be if you fiddle with the game settings. Any number of those settings can give the game a completely different feel and make players give up their old stand by strategies they've practiced for hours on end, or at the very least adapt them. The possibilies are endless. ...love those whacky settings games at forum parties... ; )
Ogre Interviews Iron Lore Founder...
Posted by Thunder on February 16th, 2001 @ 7:10 a.m.
Former Studios member and co-founder of the brand spanking new Iron Lore development company, Brian Sullivan, has ended up in the clutches of Ogre! The Game Tropics Network webmaster, home of Through The Ages, talks to Brian about his plans, his reasoning, and more:
"Recently GT webmaster Ogre interviewed Brian Sullivan. Brian Sullivan was the co-creator of Age of Empires. In late 2000 he left Ensemble Studios, the developers of the Age of Empires series, to start his own company. Iron Lore Entertainment is the name of his new company and already they are hard at work on their game." -Ogre
It's a pretty well done interview. Brian as been interviewed by quite a few game sites lately and Ogre did a good job of getting more than just the standard replies. If you're interested in Iron Lore and the ambitious new title they are working on, drop in for a read. ...do ya think we've over used that "webmonster" title too much? ; )
More ES Downloadables...
Posted by Thunder on February 16th, 2001 @ 4:03 a.m.
I'm feeling spoiled now. The gang at Ensemble Studios are now offering another new download today, something scenario and map designers will no doubt be interested in. You can now download the blank real world map for the Caribbean, a pirates paradise! ...flat tire, ruined rim, that's about how my ride went in North Van today...be glad you weren't there... ; )
Hot cross huns
Posted by Socvazius on February 16th, 2001 @ 1:57 a.m.
I know I "borrowed" that topic title from another news post made before TC was released, but I couldn't resist.

A player, Mojo Shivers, has recently written a detailed guide on the nomads of AOK, the Huns. It covers every major thing that you need to know about that civilization.

  • The Huns: Detailed Civlization Guide(By Mojo Shivers)

    It's a somewhat long one, but well worth reading.
  • Campaign Contest Deadline Reached!
    Posted by Rasher on February 15th, 2001 @ 7:34 p.m.
    Well, the deadline for the Chinese Campaign Contest has been reached, with a fair turnout of 10 entries! Things were looking pretty grim, until a last-minute flood of entries garaunteed an OK turnout. The entries that were recieved are:
    • The dynasty of Tang, by Rickard Stenberg
    • Three emperors and two dinasties, by Andres_age
    • Rise of the Ming campaign, by styrbiorn
    • Glory of the Tang, by Stan (aka The Conquistador)
    • The Rebellion of An Lu-Shan, by Lord Lucas
    • Ancestors of China, by Do_Japan2
    • Emperor Wanli, by Therese Dumas and Stephen Dumas
    • The Voyager, by Vertigo Extremist
    • Dawn of new Dynasty Campaign, by Joe Gillum
    • Emperor Wendi, First of the Sui, by Zanzard Lothar

    Now all that remains is to get on with the judging... good luck and many thanks to all who entered, and may the best campaign win!
    ES Poll: Future Downloadables...
    Posted by Thunder on February 15th, 2001 @ 7:12 p.m.
    In the right column of the ES news page you'll find their latest polling question. They are inquiring about what kind of cool stuff you'd like to see offered for download for their future games, and options include a Civ Editor, Tech Editor, Scenarios, and more!

    Since they've included Random Map Scripts as an option in the poll, I think it's safe to assume that the poll is referring generally to their current RTS game under development. Vote, and help shape the future. ...I just can't decide which option to vote for...I've got my fingers crossed one of those will be included in the game itself...ahhh to dream... ; )

    **Update**
    While you're over there, snag the latest high resolution image for your desktop! Currently being offered for download is this snazy image of a bearded and over loaded Petard.

    This is an absolute do not miss, especially if your nickname happens to be petard_rusher, or if you're already tired of the previous desktop picture, the Turtle Ship. Missed it? Get it here.
    Pirates Broadsided...
    Posted by Thunder on February 15th, 2001 @ 5:40 p.m.
    A group of game manufacturers have banded together and are taking four US men to court for pirating their software. There's some pretty big name companies involved in this case including Activision Inc., LucasArts, Electronic Arts, and Microsoft:
    "Those companies allege that copies of their products are being given away by the defendants over the Internet. The defendants are accused of operating websites where computer file versions of games, commonly known as 'warez', are freely available."

    Source - Avault
    This is the first I've heard of a group of game companies going after warez in this manner, but I don't tend to follow such things so I could be wrong. Check out the full article at www.avault.com if it peaks your interest. ...long weekend here for me...anyone up for some Mtn Biking in North Vancouver with me and my chums? Heading out this afternoon, drop me a line... ; )

    Winners Announced!
    Posted by Thunder on February 15th, 2001 @ 3:34 a.m.
    The huge list of winners in Ensemble Studios recent contest has finally been posted! There were to have been 50 winners in the contest, but the generous folks there have bumped that number up to 100! The Grand Prize Winner is Inquizative, who'll have a very large gift certificate to spend.

    Congrats to all 100 winners, drop in on the ES contest page for the complete list, and for mapshots from the top map designers. Texas has never looked so Agerific! ...oooo, super cheesy... ; )
    Final Day for Campaign Contest Submissions
    Posted by Rasher on February 14th, 2001 @ 6:45 p.m.
    Just a quick reminded that there is less then 24 hours remaining for submission to the Destiny of a Dynasty Campaign Contest! Only a few entries have been recieved thus far, and with a lot of great prizes up for grabs, your chances of winning are very high...
    Remember to get those campaigns in before the deadline, or else you might wind up missing your opportunity for fame and prizes!
    Submit Your Entries
    Server Power Down & Power Up...
    Posted by Thunder on February 14th, 2001 @ 8:53 a.m.
    This coming Saturday night will see our HeavenGames servers undergo some maintenance, which will mean some downtime for us. Angel Zen sends along these specifics:
    "Our ISP company is going to be upgrading their power systems this weekend. Since upgrading their power supplies require the power to be turned off for safety reasons, ALL of HeavenGames will be inaccessible this Saturday night, February 17th, between the hours of 11pm - 1am Eastern Standard Time." -Angel Zen
    Hopefully everything will go smoothly and we won't be down long. At the time, I'm sure many Agers will be all tuckered out from our Forum Parties and will likely not even notice. ...curses! ...I'll have to wait until morning to tell the tales of my victories at the Forum Parties... ; )
    High Rez Age Art!
    Posted by Thunder on February 14th, 2001 @ 6:58 a.m.
    Now being offered for download in various sizes at Ensemble Studios is a fantastic image of the Korean Turtle Ship. You can snag a copy of this high resolution image, perfect for your desktop, from the ES news page.

    Perhaps we will be treated to more of these great pieces of artwork in the future, but be sure to grab this one while you can. ...perfect replacement for my desktop pic of Hagia Sophia...it was gathering a bit of dust... ; )
    EE Toon Contest!
    Posted by Thunder on February 13th, 2001 @ 9:32 a.m.
    All those versed in the arts of the AgeToon will be interested to know that Empire Earth Heaven has launched an EE Toon contest with weekly prizes! Up for grabs are Empire Earth Calenders signed by EE designer Rick Goodman, and the chance at a grand prize. The contest will be ongoing until this summer, see the EE Toon Contest page for all the details.

    A good place to start is the massive gallery of screenshots at EEH. You're sure to find some inspiration among all of those shots! ...check out some EE toons for inspiration at the bottom of the EEH main page... ; )
    Don't Forget To Vote...
    Posted by Thunder on February 13th, 2001 @ 9:20 a.m.
    There's currently plenty of polling action going on at AoK.cc, drop in and cast a stone. Their current topics include tournaments, future events, and the civilizations of the expansion pack. ...for those of you looking for a team tourney, vote and you may just have it... ; )
    Programmer's Journal Update!
    Posted by Thunder on February 12th, 2001 @ 11:18 p.m.
    How well versed are you in programming languages? It seems Herb "Captain Insano" Marselas has learned a few in his days as a programmer, most of which aren't much help when coding games at Ensemble Studios. The guy likes to learn new things though, so it looks like he's in the right career! You can check out a brand new article he wrote up for the Studios Programmers Journal that takes a peak into his past, present, and a prediction or two for the future:
    "By storing the units as 3D triangles in the game, we are no longer constrained by a fixed number of camera angles for a unit. Using the 3D data, any angle of the unit can be created on the fly. This makes animations smooth as silk. No more sliding along the diagonal!

    And, since the 3D stuff is generally smaller than the faceted camera angles, that means more better animations in less space!

    But remember, even these triangle-based models of today and the next few years are only a whistle stop on the way to something else."
    -Herb Marselas

    Source - ES Journal: PEEKing and POKEing and Triangles
    Well there's one benefit of 3D, and I am sure that ES artists will be taking full advantage of the this opportunity. Head to the journal for some more on this and moldy old programming languages. ...our families first PC was a Tandy 3000...8mzh CPU and a 40mb HD! ; )
    ES Video: Freeze Frame...
    Posted by Thunder on February 12th, 2001 @ 9:29 a.m.
    The behind the scenes video that was featured on GameSpot about two weeks ago gave us the chance for a sneak peak into the Ensemble Studios offices and the opportunity to glimpse work on their top secret games. That opportunity turned out to be a little fuzzy in the streamed format, but thankfully the Studios offered a download version of the video in three parts.

    If you're stuck with a slow connection to the net, or you aren't keen on waiting on the 50+mb downloads, you can check out some screenshots from the Art section of the video here: Behind The Scenes Screens

    There were all sorts of sketches in the background of the Art section of the video, now you can take your time and study them in all their pixelated glory! ...not sure if those sketches are for RTS3 or NEMESIS...I'll take em either way though ; )
    Modpack Showcase...
    Posted by Thunder on February 12th, 2001 @ 9:06 a.m.
    It's tough to know what you're getting sometimes when you download a Modpack, but this new feature in the Blacksmith will hopefully help to give us all a better sense of what the author has created. Pictures are worth a thousand words and Angel AoErat's brand new Modpack Showcase will present us with a great tool for not only searching through the mountain of Mods available, but also providing us with images of of the Mod in action!

    AoErat will surely be busy compiling material for the showcase over the coming weeks, but be sure to drop in on the Blacksmith to see how his progress is going or of course to snag a Mod from one of the many top notch authors. ..."We're receiving reports that Sega are developing a Dog-Walking game..." -GameSpy Daily ...as a dog owner, all I can say is, Pooper Scooper... ; )
    GameSpot's Updated AoK FAQs...
    Posted by Thunder on February 12th, 2001 @ 4:06 a.m.
    A few days ago the GameSpot AoK page was updated with a pair of FAQ files. You'll be able to find some useful information such as build times and the like, but as always, don't leave your brain at the door when reading any sort of guide or FAQ. Conquerors players need not bother with these as they are AoK only. ...keep an open mind folks, Vikings do well on land despite what they say... ; )
    Forum Party Wrap Up...
    Posted by Thunder on February 11th, 2001 @ 11:12 a.m.
    The two party times seemed to work pretty well. There were quite a few Agers who hung out in Agincourt all evening and I never had troubles finding a game.

    Several of us tried out the latest map from the Studios ES@ShipWreck. You can see the mini-map of our ShipWreck on the left showing one feature worthy of note. The ring of water is just loaded with fish! Another piece of that map worth fighting over, and with towns on the central island within shooting distance of war ships, a tempting strategy?

    I played in too many games this evening to describe them all, but one of the highlights was playing a round with some of the gang from AoK Battlefield, Mr.Fixit Online, and Through The Ages. It wasn't the most exciting game of the night, but it was great teaming up with Angel Washizu and Ogre to fight it out with the other fellas. You can grab the records and descriptions from these games and a few more Nomad battles in our downloads section!

    If you've got a war story to tell, or are seeking a little revenge next week, drop in on the Forum Party Thread and tell us your tale. ...remembered to leave wood for my TC this week...but it didn't help me win any nomad games! ; )
    Brian Sullivan Interview
    Posted by Washizu on February 10th, 2001 @ 11:43 p.m.
    Former ESer Brian Sullivan recently founded his own game development company, Iron Lore Entertainment, and has done an interview with Stomped.com:
    Stomped: What else can you say about the game you are creating? Will it appeal to the Age of Empires players out there?

    Sullivan: Our game will definitely appeal to Age of Empires players. Although it will not be a strategy game, many hallmark Age features will be present, such as bright detailed graphics, infinite replayability, an easy to use interface, and addictive gameplay. We also believe in shipping a game only when it is really finished. The last 3 - 6 months of polish can turn a mediocre game into a great game and best seller. This polish made Age of Empires and Age of Empires 2: The Age of Kings best sellers. Age of Kings is still on the top 10 bestseller list a year and a half after release.
    Iron Lore is now the second spin off from Ensemble's original lineup, the first of course being Rick Goodman's Stainless Steel Studios, about to release their first game, Empire Earth. Check EE Heaven for more info on Empire Earth. How long before The_Sheriff leaves to start his own game development shop?
    Forum Parties Tomorrow!
    Posted by Thunder on February 9th, 2001 @ 10:29 p.m.
    The discussion about moving the time of the forum party either earlier or later on Saturdays was about as divided as you can get. There were great ideas and several good suggestions made, the best of which seems to be to have two parties! Put on your pointy party hats because tomorrow we'll have twice the battles.

    Party number one will start at 4pm EST, 1pm PST, and 9pm GMT. This will allow those overseas Agers to particpate without staying up too far into the wee hours of the morning! Anyone who is completely Age addicted can stay around and play until party number two starts.

    Party number two will start at 9pm EST, 6pm PST, and that's 2am GMT. This later start time is for those who like to get things done during the daylight hours, or have to get the kids to bed.

    Mark these times down on your agenda, and we'll see you in the Agincourt lobby on the Zone tomorrow! Ideas? Challenges? Comments? Visit the Forum Party Post in the forums! ...and may you never run out of wood before you build your TC in Nomad... ; )
    Zone Team Tourney Tonight...
    Posted by Thunder on February 9th, 2001 @ 8:49 p.m.
    This is just a reminder that there's a team tournament on the Zone this evening with check-ins starting at 4pm PST which is 7pm EST. Make sure you and your partner have signed up before then, and remember that all Zone tournaments are only open to those who live in the US or Canada. ...always read the fine print... ; )
    ES@ShipWreck Available Now!
    Posted by Thunder on February 9th, 2001 @ 9:36 a.m.
    It's officially "tomorrow" morning and we can now pick up the latest random map script! ES@ShipWreck may not be exactly what you were expecting, here's a pull from the description:
    "Think of Shipwreck as a reversed Migration: all players start in the middle of the map, where resources could quickly run out. Across a shallow lake is an outer ring ripe with resources to plunder. The decision is how soon to abandon the shipwreck island and move to the outer island--a lack of wolves and jaguars makes this decision a little trickier than in most maps."

    Source - ES@ShipWreck
    As a great added bonus, there's a recorded game of ES taking on the Grumpy Old Farts on this new map! Go grab it as it's sure to be in use at our forum party tomorrow! ...details on the forum party times to follow later today... ; )
    Download Behind The Scenes Video!
    Posted by Thunder on February 9th, 2001 @ 7:26 a.m.
    Remember the Behind the Scenes at the Studios video? It featured interviews with Tony Goodman, Bruce Shelley, Herb Marselas, Duncan McKissick, and even more of the gang about their projects, company, work etc. You can now download the three different parts of the video from the Studios, but be warned the file sizes are pretty big!

    I am slowly downloading one of the three parts to the video, and hopefully it will be easier to see the artwork in the background than it was with the streamed version that we first saw at GameSpot. If you've got a fast connection, it'll be a breeze for ya! ...I'm about 2mb into the smallest of the three parts...going to be a loooong night... ; )

    **Update**
    The quality of the video is better than the streamed version. The sound is way better for me, and the picture is much larger, although still quite pixelated. ...I was disconnected about 22mb into my download, just missing the section on art... ; \
    New Walkthrough
    Posted by Socvazius on February 9th, 2001 @ 3:22 a.m.
    I have updated the University with a walkthrough of the first Montezuma campaign: The Reign of Blood. So anyone that needs help with the 1st scenario of the Montezuma campaign, here is your help .

  • Montezuma: The Reign of Blood scenario walkthrough(By Angel Socrateius)

    I will add scenario screenshots to this walkthrough as soon as I fix my computer.
  • New ES Random Map Tomorrow!
    Posted by Thunder on February 9th, 2001 @ 2:51 a.m.
    Tomorrow morning we'll be treated to another brand new ES Random Map entitled ES@Ship Wreck! That's all that's known of the new rm script at the moment, but we only have to wait until tomorrow morning to be able to take it for a test run. ...I immediately picture those little beached ships you find in the scenario editor... ; )
    Former ESer Blazes His Own Trail...
    Posted by Thunder on February 9th, 2001 @ 0:02 a.m.
    One of the folks who worked on the Age series at ES has now founded his own game company and is currently working on a very ambitious title. Brian Sullivan co-founded Iron Lore late last year, and the company's website is now live. Here's a tad from the press release, shamelessly yanked from Blues News:
    "Brian is looking to take his experience creating Age of Empires and Age of Empires 2: The Age of Kings and create a new franchise combining the best of action, RPG, and adventure genres. 'One problem with these types of games is they get repetitive very quickly,' says Brian. 'We have some exciting features that provide a lot of unique content and game play twists, which will keep the game fresh for a long time.'"

    Source - Blues News: Iron Lore Press Release
    All the best to Brian on this new venture! There's not a lot of game info up on their website yet, but www.IronLore.com is the place to go for the latest on jobs, and the like. ...some great artwork up there right now, can't wait for more! ; )
    AOK Still Selling Well
    Posted by Washizu on February 8th, 2001 @ 2:23 p.m.
    PC Data just released their PC game sales statistics for the week ending on January 27th, and Age of Empires 2: The Age of Kings graces the list at #6. That's pretty impressive considering it was released a year and a half ago. The Sims is, of course, still the best selling game on the block and with all the expansions for it coming out, I wouldn't be surprised if it was the best selling game of 2001 as well as 2000. It's interesting, but I haven't reinstalled it in ages. I guess it was just one of those ideas that appeal to non-gamers.

    Here is the full top ten list, and thanks to Evil Avatar for alerting me:
    1. The Sims ($40)
    2. The Sims: Livin' Large ($28)
    3. Roller Coaster Tycoon ($24)
    4. Diablo II ($35)
    5. Hoyle Casino 2001 ($28)
    6. Age Of Empires II: Age of Kings ($42)
    7. Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2 ($39)
    8. Roller Coaster Tycoon: Loopy Landscapes ($27)
    9. Sim Theme Park ($20)
    10. Who Wants To Be A Millionaire 2nd Edition ($19)
    I got almost no sleep last night. Damn head cold
    GSpot's Strategic Commander Review...
    Posted by Thunder on February 8th, 2001 @ 12:03 a.m.
    I guess the GameSpot hardware gurus were taking their time puting the Sidewinder Strategic Commander through its paces. Angel Washizu wrote up a review quite some time ago when it first came out, a solid second opinion on the topic.

    The GameSpot review gives it a 7.6 out of 10, and I think sums up the product pretty well with:
    "With lots of practice, a player could learn to use this controller for a serious competitive advantage."

    Source - GameSpot SC review
    That about says it all, casual gamers stay clear. It takes many hours to set up an efficient profile for yourself, tweak it, and get used to it. The more time you have to invest in that process, the greater the benefit you'll get from it. ...not enough hours in the day is there... ; )
    Fastest Feudal To Hardest Victory...
    Posted by Thunder on February 8th, 2001 @ 11:49 a.m.
    It looks like the NoX fast feudal contest is winding down (thanks AoK.cc) and several players had times in the low five minute range. LoKo's time of 5:04 appears to be the best right now, with several other players with 6 seconds of that. At the NoX page there's news of another challenge for the week in which you must defeat a computer player on hardest difficulty in the fastest possible time. ...looks like we might have a 5 minute mile thing going on here... ; )
    Recorded Game: Grumpy Old Farts vs ES!
    Posted by Thunder on February 8th, 2001 @ 11:30 a.m.
    While sifting through the downloads section today I found several new recorded games had been uploaded, including this one that features several members of GOF vs Mike "Captn" Kidd, Kevin "The_Sheriff" Holme, and another ESer who's nickname is unfamiliar to me nazgul@ES. Here's the game description by Hyarmendacil (one of those gaseous elders):
    "This is a game that features AOKH's own Grumpy Old Farts against a team from Ensemble Studios. From the GOF, Valkyrie and GoldChalice co-op, along with MrMan, iBaL, and Hyarmendacil playing solo. Opponents are the Sheriff, along with nagul and Cptn_Kidd from ES. The game is over 2 hours long, and features around 1:45 of continuous warfare, along with a wonder taken down with under 20 years left."
    Although the description is a bit of a spoiler, the game is just amazing. The ES guys are really in a bad position thanks to the map, completely seperated from each other in addition to being outnumbered four to their three. Arbalests take the field in large numbers, showing their true power when massed, there's towns destroyed, big comebacks, the works!

    A great game by all and you can grab the record for yourself in the downloads or you can click here and the file will start auto-downloading to you. Thanks for the great record Hyarmendacil! ...don't try this at home... ; )
    So Long GameCenter (we hardly knew you)
    Posted by Washizu on February 7th, 2001 @ 6:59 p.m.
    A favorite target of Angel Thunder and I was the famed, Gamecenter.com, a source for gaming news and articles that always seemed to be shooting blind into the archery range that is the game industry. They frequently posted about the demise of game genres, only to have another article a month later about that genre's comeback. My good friend Thunder took quite an annoyance to the fact that Gamecenter claimed The Conquerors was unbalanced because the Spanish were too powerful.

    So it is sad to see a site that generated so much news here move off into the sunset. So long Gamecenter.
    Reading Into Conquest...
    Posted by Thunder on February 7th, 2001 @ 6:45 p.m.
    A recent link posted on the Ensemble Studios site leads us to this Q&A about the game Conquest: Frontier Wars. I am sure that the gang at ES are all looking forward to playing this game, but perhaps a little more can be derived from the current situation of that game -- going out on a bit of a limb.

    The gang at Microsoft were set to publish this game, but they had second thoughts about that. The game is without a publisher at the moment, much like RST3 is. The Q&A helps to establish the situation developers are in when their games are without a publisher:
    "Stomped: After the publisher is announced when can we expect the game itself to be released in stores?

    Peterson: That will be entirely up to the publilsher, there will be marketing ramp up, and we want to get the game localized properly, so it will be a couple of months at least."


    Source - STOMPED's Q&A with Eric Peterson
    Quite a lot will be up to whichever publisher signs on the dotted line to handle RTS3, and hopefully we'll be hearing more about that in the not too distant future. ...wouldn't it be great if someone spelled it out for us... ; )
    Code Name: NEMESIS
    Posted by Washizu on February 7th, 2001 @ 4:35 a.m.
    Ensemble Studios Lead Artist Scott Winsett was doing some name dropping in his article about the daily life of an ES artist. The name in this case was the previously unnamed, unannounced, unRTS3, possibly console project ES has had up their sleeve for a while now. The name, in case you didn't figure it out from the title, is Nemesis, and a good guess floating around is that it will not be a strategy game:
    Wife called and lets me know she is on her way to the house, she tells me all about her day and stuff you wouldn't want to hear about it… I had to let her go, because Brian Sousa (another artist on NEMESIS) calls me and wants me to check some stuff out he has been working on, he claims it's the 'BOMB' - WORD cause I am always down for that…
    To read about Scott Winsett's daily routine and pick up a few Nemesis clues I probably missed, head here.
    Clans: Watch Out
    Posted by Washizu on February 6th, 2001 @ 11:43 p.m.
    This was an interesting story I heard about on Slashdot. A student at Kent State University had his dorm room "raided" by university police, supposedly based on what was posted on his StarCraft clan website. Police searched the room and confiscated a "computer, CDs and computer games."

    Members of the "Bled for Days" (BfD) clan claim that it was probably their "Sh*t List" that set some warning flags off with police. As many clans do, BfD has a list of people they consider to be cheaters, lamers, or all around jerks. In this case, their "Sh*t List" says in large letters "Wanted Dead or Alive" above the accused lamers. Possibly added in after the police raid is a message from the clan, "they are just plain b****rds that deserve to die (in the game itself, not the REAL world!!!"

    In my opinion, I think there is something missing from this story. I don't think the police would be able to raid someone's room based on some publicized trash talking. What I find interesting is that the account is on 50megs.com, which gives me a hunch that this might be warez related. In any event, you should check out the BfD site when they update their news to hear their side of the story, and also to check out their member bios. {BfD}Poison~Ivy is gorgeous!

    For more information, check out:
    Digital Stater: The online Kent State newspaper
    The Bled for Days Clan
    Slashdot w/ comments
    [Update: According to some of the clan members, it seems as though the initial problem was typing an IP address incorrectly when FTPing some files.]
    Party Time?
    Posted by Thunder on February 6th, 2001 @ 10:15 p.m.
    Our Saturday forum parties usually start around 7pm EST, which is something like 12am GMT. It's impossible to choose a time that will allow all Agers world wide to particpate at a decent hour, but if a change of a few hours one way or another will benefit you, please voice your opinion. We'll do our best to fix a time that will allow the majority of forumers to drop in for some games.

    This Saturday is, of course, when our next forum party will be taking place on the Zone, and the time will be announced here on the news Friday. See ya'll there! ...Don't let 'Love' bug bite on Valentine's Day... ; )
    Hall of Famer
    Posted by Washizu on February 6th, 2001 @ 4:58 p.m.
    Congratulations to Ensemble Studios! Age of Empires was just inducted in to the Gamespy Hall of Fame. Giving the induction speech is none other than former Angel in Heaven, Steve "Vidguy" Cherrier:
    Strategies for the various civs developed over time and the fan site message board threads were filled with subjects such as "Assyrian Archer rush rules!" and "Shang boom will dominate!" I remember when I perfected the Archer rush. My buddies were always crying when I slaughtered them, but then a counter to that was discovered and I had to develop a new strategy. This seemed to be a regular occurrence with this game, and one of the many reasons why it was so well received and maintained its longevity.
    I still remember the first game Vid and I played together, and sure enough, he put me down with an Assyrian Archer rush. Honestly, AOE was a game that put my life into a different direction altogether, and without it, I'm not sure exactly what the heck I'd be doing today. Visit Gamespy's Hall of Fame.
    Arcade Challenge: Free For All!
    Posted by Thunder on February 6th, 2001 @ 9:25 a.m.
    Tuesday evenings on GameSpy Arcade are when you can catch Xiphoid from Planet AoE fighting for his life in the Conquerors lobby. Join him for some King of the Hill free for all games tonight at 7pm EST/4pm PST and put your game face on.

    Good gaming to all! The King of the Hill setting should make for some monumental battles, keep your eyes peeled for recorded games afterwards. ...surprise everyone with your new experimental strategy that makes use of the top secret Flying Monk... ; )
    Spaghetti Strategies
    Posted by Washizu on February 6th, 2001 @ 6:05 a.m.
    The Sandanista himself has returned to his Q/A thread despite inaccurate rumors. The cause of his absence was the dreaded flu. Hopefully he fed and/or starved it out of his system and he can get back to doing what he does best: Answering your que.... err designing great games! Here's what he had to say:
    Q) Over in the History forum we have been having a somwhat 'dramatic' debate on whether a Mongol invasion of Europe could succeed
    A) The Europeans had nothing that could have stopped them, as Subotai’s invasion showed. He never lost a battle, though he was outnumbered every time. Any firm effort on the Mongols’ part would have toppled the rotten superstructure of Feudal Europe and conquered the whole thing. Europe was probably easier to conquer than China.

    Q) last time I talked to you on ZF, you said that you didn't have TC installed on your computer. Yet you work at ES
    A) I play it off the network, so I can play TC from my computer, it’s just not installed on it. I can’t play it online though.

    Q) Are you pleased with how the MesoAmerican civs have been received?
    A) Extremely. Especially after all the doom-sayers were predicting that they would be a wash.

    Q) Though it is tough for people who play "Random" as their civ more often than not to choose a favorite, is there a civ that makes you groan in pain when you draw it?
    A) Briton

    Q) Do you know how much yours, Deathshrimp's, and Kidd's involvement in the forums does to keep the game alive and breathing in the gaming community?
    A) No. Please tell Mike McCart.

    Q) What do you think of games like Cossacks and other RTS games that are coming out this Year?
    A) Some upcoming games look like they’ll be good. Some don’t. I hope for the best for them all. I think good games are better for the industry as a whole.

    Q) I was humoured by your statement in ES's latest video release to the effect (single games) "the computer player has to lose".
    A) Well, look at it from our point of view – the computer player never buys any of our games.

    Q) Why did Kamakazi pilots wear helmets?
    A) To protect from shattering glass and bullets as the enemy shot at them – could throw them off-target, you know.

    Q) How do you eat spaghetti?
    A) I scroll up the strands by pinning the fork against my plate.
    Whenever I eat pasta, I'm tempted to rush Read all the Q and A over at Ask Sandy 2.Man my girlfriend was a bit too happy about the Cruise/Kidman break up
    Super Deal!
    Posted by Thunder on February 6th, 2001 @ 2:36 a.m.
    Age of Kings for under $10?!? According to the big Age fan Evil Avatar, there's a 48 hour special for AoK. You can grab it for the itty bitty price of $9.90! (there's a mail in rebate in there somewhere) Evil is giving away a Sybex Strat guide for AoK to the first three people to pick it up. I think there's a wee link to this deal at compuexpert down there on the right if ya like. ...there's some pretty good deals on the xpack too...more mail in rebates there though, shop around... ; )
    It's A Team Effort!
    Posted by Thunder on February 6th, 2001 @ 1:21 a.m.
    The www.ageofkings.cc crew are currently taking sign-ups for their Team Ladder, which will get underway on February 12th. Teams can be composed of 2 to 20 members, and there is both an RM and DM ladder! Drop in on this page for more information on how to sign-up, and the rest of the rules. ...teams inactive for 28+ days get the boot...that should keep things hopping! ; )
    Game Design Series...
    Posted by Thunder on February 5th, 2001 @ 9:45 p.m.
    If you've had thoughts of breaking into the game design field, something I'm sure a few scenario designers have dreams of, Daily Radar has launched an interesting new series. The "So You Want to Be a Game Designer" series will feature comments, mod making tips, and all sorts of other tid bits sent in by gamers and mod makers. It may be well worth keeping an eye on! ...Nakul has some ideas about RTS3 ...pure speculation, but exciting theories none the less! ; )
    VE Poll Continued
    Posted by Washizu on February 5th, 2001 @ 2:59 p.m.
    Come on guys, make sure you vote for Ensemble Studios as the best game development company in VoodooExtreme's poll. Currently, ES is behind Origin by a mere 10 votes! They are still way behind groups like Bungie, Square, Looking Glass, and EA Sports.

    Help them finish in a higher position than *gasp* eleventh place by placing your vote.
    Feudal In Five...
    Posted by Thunder on February 5th, 2001 @ 11:42 a.m.
    Five minute feudal times abound in the Fastest Feudal Contest running over at www.ageofkings.cc. There's only a few more days left for Agers to post their best feudal times, and a few have gotten very close to beating the five minute barrier! Keep tabs on the latest times here, or post your own blazing results. ...5:08 seems to be the time to beat for the moment...that's whiplash fast! ; )
    Blacksmith & Downloads Updates...
    Posted by Thunder on February 5th, 2001 @ 11:29 a.m.
    There's a new pilot and co-pilot looking after the blacksmith now, taking care of all of those scenarios, campaigns, AI files, and reviews. Angel_Rasher and Cherub Jerusalem are at the controls now, but Angel_Spineman will still be knocking about, helping out many of our HG sites. Don't mind the noise and pop your head into the blacksmith for the introductions and farewell.

    On an aside, PseudoKnight (aka TheOminous) alerted me to a problem with the 3on3 recorded game that I uploaded from Saturday's forum party. If you had troubles downloading it, everything should be fixed up now, enjoy! ...ya'll remember Lordbain's rather creative take on AoK? ...check out his liquor inspired Conquerors adventures... ; )
    Vote for ES
    Posted by Washizu on February 5th, 2001 @ 3:14 a.m.
    Voodoo Extreme has a poll running at the moment asking "Who is the best game development company?" Strangely, some of the biggest game developers aren't even included on the list. Show your support for Ensemble Studios by heading over there and voting.
    Forum Party Wrap Up...
    Posted by Thunder on February 4th, 2001 @ 11:26 p.m.
    Thanks to all those who showed up and had some fun! I had three pretty entertaining games, starting things off with a great 3 on 3 game. It was random land map, and turned out to be Yucatan. The teams were petard_rusher, IClan_Flamingo (pocket), and TheOminous vs Greek_Outcast (pocket), GrafM, and me. I was Mongol and tried to feudal rush TheOminous, but he was really wedged in the trees and was so quick to react with tower and wall defence that I didn't really get anywhere. I hit him again in the Castle Age, but he held me off again, and IClan_Flamingo showed up with some help in the form of petards, knights, and some longbows knocking me back on my heels. petard_rusher was getting doubled by the rest of my team, surviving some very heavy fighting but eventually being overwhelmed. Greek_Outcast and his herd of Light Cavalry and GrafM's Mamelukes pouned on IClan_Flamingo and then walked over the rest of the map. GG all, I'll see about uploading that game to the downloads section later today.

    Our next game was a nomad clash, and I really messed up on my build and got left way back in the dark age. Despite the determined effort, my teamates couldn't win the 3 on 2 game. TNK and Greek_Outcast did very well under the circumstances.

    The final game took place on a real world map, but ended with disconnections all around. My town had become the front lines of the battle from the feudal age onward. There was heavy fighting and castle building right on top of me, it's too bad we couldn't play it out.

    You can drop in on our forums for more results from the party. Several people have shared their tales of victory and defeat there: forum party results and Forum Party 03/02/01

    We'll be seeing you on the battlefield next week! ...and in the meantime I practice my nomad build... ; )
    Zone Spotlight Tournaments!
    Posted by Thunder on February 4th, 2001 @ 6:46 a.m.
    The gang at the Zone are looking to break the bank as they've got a ton of Spotlight Tournaments running for several games including the Conquerors! It looks like they're even planning on a team event, and it's all going down this month. Drop in on the Spotlight Tournament page for the details. ...hoping to get in another game or two tonight...and forget about a terrible nomad game! The sordid details will follow... ; )
    Forum Party Tomorrow!
    Posted by Thunder on February 2nd, 2001 @ 8:45 p.m.
    Just the usual invite to everybody to stop by the Agincourt lobby on the Zone tomorrow for some fun battles! Drop in around 7pm EST (4pm PST, EST=GMT-5) for games with AOKH staff, forumers, and friends. If you can't make it exactly at the start time not to worry, it's not written in stone so show up early or late if that suits you.

    Head to the Forum Party Thread if you've got questions, comments, challenges, or need to let loose with some nervous energy. See ya tomorrow folks! ...anyone up for a little Regicide? ; )
    Fast Phant Challenge!
    Posted by Thunder on February 2nd, 2001 @ 6:08 p.m.
    Here's an interesting competition. How fast can you wrangle a herd of Elephants together? The person to create a herd of ten phants the quickest will walk away in a winner in this challenge:
    "The Order of Knights de ( l'Ordre des Chevaliers ( French team )) Team proposes you a competition, the aim is to get - the most quickly - an army of 10 PERSIAN elephants. If you want to participate, please find hereafter the links:
    - Presentation

    - Announcement of times
    "
    - OC_Arkon
    This is a great resource too, tournois.aokings.com. Not only can you find more information for this competition there, they've also got news of many a tourney and clan clash. You may need to brush up on your french verbs a bit though. ...bon chance... ; )

    Planet AoE Makes Contact: The_Sheriff Interview!
    Posted by Thunder on February 2nd, 2001 @ 8:18 a.m.
    Incoming transmission from Planet AoE! Xiphoid sends word of an interview with certainly one of the best Age players, and now one of the ES guys working on RTS3. ...and here's the pitch:
    "PlanetAOE has a big treat for you to start off the new month with and it's an exclusive interview with none other than Ensemble Studios' Kevin 'The_Sheriff' Holme, one of the most fabled Age players of all time. I ask Kevin about his work at ES and what it's been like to work in one of the most talented gaming studios of all time. Also, if you've ever seen Kevin play in a recorded game, you'll know that his play is probably the most diverse and unique out of any other player's. I ask him about some of the aspects of his playing style such as fast castling, feudal defense, trade carts, and unique units, that us mere mortal players can't debunk. A huge thank you goes out to Kevin for agreeing to do the interview and providing some great thorough answers. As one of our captions for a past picture of the day read, simply put, 'the dude can play'. -Xiphoid
    The interview is a very interesting read, and not once does the question of "What's your fav civ?" come up. He's an unorthodox player, and his answers are as interesting as his strats. I'll leave you with a quick quote from the piece:
    "What do you think is key in defending a feudal attack…towers, heavy skirmisher armies, early castles…?

    [Kevin "The_Sheriff" Holme] The best way to go about defending the feudal rush is not so much about reaction, but about prevention. Information is the key, and if you can figure out when, where, and what will attack you it will be a lot easier to stop because you will have time to prepare. Some tricks I use to do this would be to build my houses or barrack on the outsides of my gathering sites so that I increase my town's line of site. I will also keep my scout moving in areas outside my town where I am most vulnerable to attack in hopes of catching them before they reach me. Its also important to take notice of when your opponent advances an age. Generally, the first thing rushers will do when they get to feudal is build an archery range outside of your town. This is the good one. As soon as your opponent hits feudal, scan the fog of war around your town with a house foundation, (as if you were trying to find a good spot to build it) until you run over an obstacle that you can't see. That will be your bad guy. Now that your know where he is, you can set up your skirmishers to intercept, and you should be able to have enough time to hide your villagers when they start coming."


    Source - Planet AoE Interviews The_Sheriff

    Ogre's Designs Adventure Part II...
    Posted by Thunder on February 2nd, 2001 @ 8:05 a.m.
    There were a pair of press releases waiting for me when I got home this evening, both announcing great articles! First in the box was Ogre who's finished up part II of his article on his adventures in game design:
    "For the senior project game, Theseus, we decided to make it a 3D adventure game. To do this we had to select an appropriate game engine. So here is where we get into the technology aspect of game design. A game engine, as some gamers know, is the gut of a game. It takes all of the pieces of the game and puts them together for the player to interact with. For our game we decided to use the open source engine known as Genesis3D (G3D). This game engine was chosen for two main reasons.

    The first reason we chose to use the G3D is that it is free to use and
    modify. The second is that I already had some experience with it. Basically G3D is a game engine specifically designed for 3D action and adventure games. The player plays the game in a first person perspective. This means you see through the main characters eyes. After we had come up with our ideas and found the technology we wanted to use, we began development."

    Source - Ogre's Game Design Adventure: Part II
    An article that will surely inspire others to take a whack a game design, drop in on Through The Ages for a look! ...Hooshashmeefner... ; )
    Beautiful Winners Delayed...
    Posted by Thunder on February 1st, 2001 @ 10:26 p.m.
    For those expecting to hear the announcement of the winners in ES's big ol' Make Texas Beautiful Contest on or around today, we're going to have to wait. Here's the latest prediction:
    "Winners to be posted on 15th Feb 2001. We are sorry to report due to the overwhelming of number of entries, time required to do print big screen prints of each and judge all entries fairly, we had to push back the Winners Date."

    Source - ES Contest Page
    A couple of weeks in exchange for fairness, a good trade I'd say. There'll be fifty winners announced on that day, stay tuned for the full list! ...who knew there was such a thing as the World Encyclopedia of Beer...that's going on my must have list! ; )
    AI Tournament League: Hail IronChef!
    Posted by Thunder on February 1st, 2001 @ 11:35 a.m.
    The Deathmatch event has concluded in the AI Tournament League, and the winning script went undefeated through five rounds of action! Angel Bingmann was the author behind IronChef, the tournament champ. Congrats! No rest for the holy though, there's a brand new tournament coming up on February 19, and for something a little different the fighting will be on water maps.

    Drop in on the AI Tournament League page to check out the final tourney results and or to get a few tips. ...anyone watch the Iron Chef TV show? ...dueling Chefs, secret ingredients, and tons of tension... ; )
    FF >> Contest!
    Posted by Thunder on February 1st, 2001 @ 11:04 a.m.
    Just how fast can you reach the feudal age hmmm? An interesting challenge has been posted on the boards at AoK.cc by a couple of the NoX fellas. All you have to do is be the fastest to the feudal age in an Arabia 1on1 (playing a computer) and you'll have your recorded game reviewed by a NoX dude and you'll get an autographed picture of NoX_Malice. Looks like we've got Age's first pin-up star!

    You can find out more information about this contest in this post by NoX_HaDeeZ, such as where to upload your recorded game to.

    Just for fun, I gave it a whirl tonight. I fouled up on my wood gathering, but was still able to get a sub 9 minute feudal time with Mongols. (8:42 exactly) I'm sure we'll shortly see some sub 8 min feudal times posted, but how low can you go? Good luck to all! ...tired of feudal rushes? Play some Regicide! ; )
    The Aftermath...
    Posted by Thunder on February 1st, 2001 @ 0:12 a.m.
    We still don't have a real name for RTS3, but there were lots of interesting answers from Tony Goodman in the GameSpot Interview posted yesterday along with the video. One that's generating a lot of responce is this:
    "GS: Is the game based on historical events, or does it draw its influence from fantasy or sci-fi themes?

    TG: I can't say what the theme is yet, but I can say that both history fanatics and fantasy fanatics will be very excited about RTSIII."


    Source - GameSpot Interview Tony Goodman
    That little mention of the word "fantasy", touched a nerve with quite a few Agers, many of whom are those "history fanatics" Tony mentioned. It sounds as those they are working on developing a middle ground of some sort between the two with this game.

    We've certainly narrowed the scope of RTS3 down a bit, but it appears much is still to be decided. Whichever company publishes the game could have a pretty big effect on the finished product, and as was obvious by the inteview with Tony, that's still up in the air. Until the game has a publisher, it's likely that we won't be seeing much of it. ...add your two cents to the hysteria here...I don't know about you, but my eyes hurt from squinting at that video and probing its blury background.. ; )