Archived News From April 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!

Conquerors & WCG...
Posted by Thunder on April 30th, 2001 @ 10:50 p.m.
Organizers for the 2001 World Cyber Games have announced the list of candidate games for their upcoming event! The RTS games up for a spot in the competition are The Conquerors and Starcraft Broodwar, along with the expected first person shooter titles like Counter Strike and Unreal Tournament. The final picks will be announced in mid-May.

You may recall the WCG event in Korea last year which featured $200,000 in prize money, and top players in many different games facing off against one another. That event included Age of Kings as one of the games involved. Keep your ear to the ground for more information on this year's event! ...thanks to Theta for pointing me to the list... ; )
Wrapping It Up...
Posted by Thunder on April 30th, 2001 @ 10:05 p.m.
While we wait for Angel Washizu to finish up his article on the recent 2001 Fanstock event, check out blue_myriddn's Fanstock recap. He's covered the big line-up of Microsoft Games that are currently under development and shares his experiences playing a few.

Wrapping things up elsewhere, the AoE Center crew has announced the winners in their contest, bringing it to a close. Pop by to see who takes home the AoE Collectors Edition! ...seem to be sold out of those in stores around my place... ; )
Tavern: SNUFF & Party Stuff...
Posted by Thunder on April 30th, 2001 @ 9:51 a.m.
No, SNUFF isn't drunk talk. The Tavern will enlighten all on that strategy post as well as the highs and lows from our most recent Forum Party, complete with a couple of gory pictures! There were a swath of brutal fights and more to come next Saturday. See you on the battlefield! ...where even Angels go down in flames... ; )
DM Champ Crowned!
Posted by Thunder on April 29th, 2001 @ 10:25 a.m.
Our hearty congrats to RomanGladius who managed to win the DM Forum Championship! There was some serious competition in this event, and he faced long time DMer orangepanther in the finals.

Keep an eye on this post which will soon contain links to all of the Champs recorded games from this tournament, and or drop in to offer your congrats to the winner. ...mystery prize is a date with me...your mystery date...it's all very mysterious... ; )
A First From Last_Knight...
Posted by Thunder on April 29th, 2001 @ 9:44 a.m.
With all the heated debates going on in our Age of Mythology Forum, Last_Knight lightened things up by posting the first AgeToon involving AoM. Check out the great work by this knight, as he incorporates units from AoM and AoK into a typical toony scene.

If you're a brave soul, you can jump into the many AoM debate threads there as well! ...maybe after E3 I'll have courage enough to wade in... ; )
DeathShrimp Takes on the Critics
Posted by Washizu on April 29th, 2001 @ 3:07 a.m.
Co-Lead Designer of AOM, Greg "Deathshrimp" Street answered some of the recent fan criticisms of ES's decision to move in the mythology realm:
Critic: We heard there was 18 civs, compared to the 3 cultures that we've heard about so far for AOM.
DeathShrimp: But you didn't know about the 13 civs (18 in the Xpack) until relatively close to ship.

Critic: ES also released a little bit of info about AOK (and not just screen shots to gawk at) on each of the civs over time. (such as the UUs and such). They've did nothing of the sort for AOM but 3 screenshots of boats so far, and we don't even know what's fighting half the time in them.

DeathShrimp: That's how you play the game--release a little bit over time. Think about how movies are marketed--the first trailer you see is probably just the film's name, or a single image. You don't get many of the details until shortly before the film comes out, and even then, script details are protected so that there will still be some surprise left. As cautious as we were about AOK, I still remember some fans saying "Well, we know everything about the game now. I will be a little dissappointed when I finally get it and realize I already know it all."

Critic: There are historical buffs out there that don't want to run around with Ra, or Zeus throwing lightning at peoples towns. But rather having historical units such as longbowmen and TKs, as well as an historical setting and campaigns so you can actually feel how they battled. I still admire ES with AOK, since they were able to stick to history and still make it balanced much like midevil battles were, compared to how easy it is to make a fantasy RTS game now days. (making up 1-3 races to battle humans, such as in warcraft, starcraft, starwars and such is a lot easier to balance than the 18 civs in TC)

DeathShrimp: we realize history buffs like our games. We have no interest in alientating them. AOE was never a historical simulation. It was a game with some historical window dressing.

Critic: A lot of people admired the 2D hand drawn graphics that AOK had (such as I). 3D is very common and after 30 or so "3D graphics! You must buy because it's 3D!!" games its newness wears off. But, AOK was able to show that an old school graphics can still hold in the top 3 for months. AOM is pure 3D, which will make it blend in with the croud of new gen games.

DeathShrimp: I always said in interviews that we weren't interested in going 3D until we could make the art look as detailed as we could in 2D. That day has arrived. (Most) consumers are too sophisticated to buy a game just because it is 3D.

Critic: Many people that loved AOE and AOK for its history were turned off when ES stated that it would be "a treat for history and fantasy fans". In this, some people that like history and fantasy assumed that it was going to be another AOE type game with some fantasy units, which it isn't at all. Each culture has different base units and you must use gods to win, which a pure history fan won't like using Thor to crush a sea monster. (don't tell me you won't need to, since we all know we'll have to use gods or you're screwed).

DeathShrimp: We have released virtually no information about how the game will be played. Even if we did release a lot of detail, it would likely change over time. Fans still give us a hard time about cut AOK features, such as Outlaws, that were announced too early.

Critic: Not everyone can play multiplayer, and like to enjoy the in game random map settings as well as the campaigns. I have a junky connection with a 56K that won't even run on the zone, so I can care less on how much net support it has. Not everyone has a high powered server with a Cable that can support 8 people in a game at once. So far EE has stated that it will have campaigns as well as random map settings. So far neither of these are heard for AOM. For all we know it can be a multiplayer only game (which I doubt ES would do to us, but it is possable).

DeathShrimp: By far, the majority of our players play single player. We support multiplayer because those players tend to play the game for a longer period of time. We would be stupid to not make single-player a major focus of our game, as we always have.

You seem to be judging AOM based on tiny about of information you have heard about it and jumping to conclusions that the game won't have certain features because you haven't heard about them, or that the game won't be fun because we are forsaking our roots. You would think our reputation would be worth a little more than that by now.

I know waiting sucks. It sucks for us too. But all will be revealed in time and then I hope and expect a lot of the doomsayers will change their minds.
Very interesting. It annoys me that people think ES should make one type of game, and that's it. They are a creative bunch, and it hurts the fans in the long run if we pressure ES to stick to one theme or genre. Just my opinion, though.
Tavern: Forum Party...
Posted by Thunder on April 27th, 2001 @ 9:58 p.m.
With Saturday coming up quick, the Tavern makes that all important weekly announcement! The Forum Party is tomorrow so make some time to play some games and chat with your AOKH pals. If you're new to the party scene head to the Tavern for the details and a link to the Party Post in the forum where you can ask questions or throw in suggestions. ...I must go and practice, Chooch wants me to wipe the battlefield with him... ; )
Back from Microsoft
Posted by Washizu on April 27th, 2001 @ 5:24 a.m.
As Angel Thunder mentioned, I spent the last few days in Redmond getting a look at Microsoft's impressive line up of upcoming game titles. Among them were Sigma, Dungeon Siege, Mech Commander 2, MS Train Simulator, MS Flight Simulator 2002, Zoo Tycoon (wait 'til I tell you about the escapes ), and the XBOX's Halo. I'm shooting to have my full recap done by mid next week.

I got to meet a lot of new people, including MFO's blue_myrddn, Darren from SiegeWorks, Homeworld, and now Sigma, designer Alex Garden, Dragon from Strategy Planet, Pike from Relic News and even BILL GATES's employees. Haha tricked you there, but I did see his house again. I took a pic of Mike "Archangel" McCart's Ensemble Studios leather flight jacket. Unfortunately, I don't think it came out very well Oh well, maybe Mike will take a shot of it and post it up on the ES site. Many thanks goes out to Microsoft, Ensemble Studios, Relic, Gas Powered Games, and everyone else involved in the trip. Huge thanks goes to Steve, Leslie, De Ette, and Jon from Arbuthnot Communcations and April McKee from Microsoft for putting together a great trip. As I said before, I'll have a significant write up for you guys by mid next week.
Game Voice v1.3 Beta...
Posted by Thunder on April 26th, 2001 @ 7:53 p.m.
For those of you using the Game Voice or thinking of trying it out, there is a great big upgrade available that adds and improves features. To name a few, they have improved the voice recognition software allowing for faster responces to your commands and have added server support, which saves on bandwidth while allowing for larger chat sessions.

To download the new version, including an updated version of their free software (Game Voice Share), you can snag it all here from the official site.

It's important to note that users who have v1.3 will not be able to communicate with Game Voice users who have any of the previous versions.

If you've got a Game Voice and are looking for folks to chat and play with, check out the Game Voice Forums. ...a great place to find tech advice too... ; )
Final Fling...
Posted by Thunder on April 26th, 2001 @ 7:08 a.m.
Tonight is the night for the final Zone tourney for April! There's already over 300 Agers registered for this event, but if you're looking to throw your hat into the ring you'd better hurry. For more information or to register, check out the Zone Tourney Page, and as always good luck to you! ...that must be a typo in the settings, post Imp RM? Naw...couldn't be... ; )
CGO's Look At AoM...
Posted by Thunder on April 25th, 2001 @ 7:59 p.m.
It's certaily too early for previews, but Computer Games Online has posted a short article that looks at the situation Ensemble Studios finds themselves in. Venturing out from under the Microsoft umbrella with their newest RTS game, still under development:
"The setting for RTS III will be during what Ensemble is calling an "age of mythology." You will choose a civilization and become its guiding spirit, using its heroes and cultural resources to gain world domination. With respect to mythological ties, you need to act in ways that will gain the favor of your civilization's particular gods. More "otherworldly" features will include interaction with "rare and fantastic creatures."

RTS III will be in full 3D using Ensemble's proprietary BANG! Engine which has been in development for quite a while, but also which is, not surprisingly, under wraps at this writing. Ensemble does promise "new ideas, new looks, and new features" though....

Now, we can talk franchise all we like, but so far the game has not announced a publisher. If you look at the fine print on your Age of Empires disc, though, you'll see "Age of Empires and Age of Kings are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries." It'll be interesting to see how innovative the publisher is able to become when cementing a title for this project, which is certain to extend well into the year 2002. They certainly cannot call it Myth."


Source - CGO: A lovely Ensemble
There's certaily some interesting comments in there, especially that 2002 jab at the end. Through-out the article, they refer to the game as RTS III and not Age of Mythology, which suggests that either they are behind the times or saying that AoM is simply a working title that may be changed by the publisher that takes on the project. Do read the full article, and if you haven't seen the green sea monster screenshot, they've got that posted too.

Comments? Questions? Wild speculation? You know where to head, the Age of Mythology Forum. ...the article is just a day old, so I can't see them being behind the times... ; )
Soothing Shrimp...
Posted by Thunder on April 25th, 2001 @ 6:37 a.m.
He's a brave lil' guy, you have to give him that. Greg "DeathShrimp" Street dove into a thread in our Age of Mythology Forum where some Agers were voicing their displeasure over the non-historical theme of Ensemble Studios' next game. Referring to the recent press release that announced Age of Mythology, Greg said:
"Fellas, don't confuse a press release with a feature list.

We have so far announced virtually nothing about the game. Take all the numbers that you hear (about number of civs or anything else) with a grain of salt for awhile."
- Greg Street

Source - Who doesn't like AoM...
Yes, there are plenty of mysteries with regards to AoM yet to be solved. A few screenshots and a press release do not a preview make. As we get closer and closer to E3 (May 17-19), the clearer all issues regarding civs, resources, units, and the whole shabang will become. ...if I want history, I'll go here... ; )
Best Of Both Worlds...
Posted by Thunder on April 25th, 2001 @ 4:10 a.m.
While we're waiting for Angel Washizu and all the other webmasters to return from this year's Fanstock event at Microsoft's pad in Redmond, many of us have Age of Mythology on our minds. Washizu is likely getting a sneak peak right now of all sorts of games, but if AoM is among them he may not be able to tell us absolutely everything. No doubt though, he will have a bunch of pictures and tall tales from his trip which we will hear about upon his return.

Being one of those folks with AoM on his mind, I grabbed the AoM wallpaper from ES. I previously had the latest screenshot as the wallpaper on my desktop, and instead of giving up that great image for Thor and the new wallpaper, I combined them both. The new image is available in our downloads section and you can view a description of it here. The download of this file will start automaticly if you click here. The bitmap file is zipped, but still weighs in at 2mb. ...have a new "old" camera to take to E3...it's not digital though, I'd roll Washy for his if I could catch him... ; )
Cossacks Countdown...
Posted by Thunder on April 24th, 2001 @ 10:01 p.m.
The riders at Cossacks Heaven send word that there's only a week left to get yourself entered for a chance to win a free copy of the english version of the game! It's simply the luck of the draw, so break out your lucky bunny foot and head to their contest page. Deadline to enter is April 30 and the winners will be announced on May 1.

There are five copies of the game to be awarded, so your odds are winning should be pretty good. Best of luck! ...if ya don't win, the game will be on store shelves in North America in the coming days... ; )
Unleash the Gods On your Desktop
Posted by Washizu on April 24th, 2001 @ 6:05 a.m.
The Archangel tossed a bone to us hungry Age of Mythology dogs with new AOM wallpaper for your desktop. It's available in small, medium, and super-sized (800x600, 1024x786, 1600x1200) right here.

The new wallpaper was plastered onto my machine mere minutes after this photo was taken to test out my digital camera (it's a bad camera, I know). Why did it need a test? Well friends, I'm headed out to Microsoft tomorrow, and hopefully I'll have a some cool info to share with you guys when I return. last year's trip was a blast
Tavern: Post Party & ES Posts
Posted by Thunder on April 23rd, 2001 @ 8:19 p.m.
The latest exciting bits from the ale swilling bunch in the Tavern includes the latest posts from members of the Ensemble Studios fellas, on topics from their scenario design contest to the environment, and the aftermath of our weekly Forum Party. Ian Fischer has offered some insight into the judging process for scenarios as well as clarifying a mountain of other issues. Pull up a stool at the Tavern! ...had no idea who this ES_General Buck Turgidson guy was for the longest time... ; )
Real World Map: France!
Posted by Thunder on April 22nd, 2001 @ 8:43 p.m.
The latest addition to Ensemble Studios' collection of Real World Maps is France, which barely topped the Mideast map in their poll. Drop in and download the map, which is just waiting for a scenario designer to add some fabulous looking terrain, and do vote to pick the next map. The two remaining choices are Iberia and the Mideast. ...Iberia is currently leading with over 60% of the vote...we will refrain from projecting a winner at this time... ; )
MFO Events...
Posted by Thunder on April 22nd, 2001 @ 11:00 a.m.
Straight from the keyboard of Mr.Fixit comes news of new events kicking off at AoK.cc, as well as the results of their team ladder tourney from yesterday:
"AOKcc MONTHLY TEAM EVENT MAY BLOWOUT

In May, AgeOfKings.cc is running a 4 week tournament where teams can compete with other teams in their class. Only one match (best of 3 games) are required each week and teams can set their own schedules. With $300 in cash prizes, 2 collector editions of Age of Kings (one signed by Bruce Shelley), and 5 Ensemble DVDs, this tournament should be fun. There will be multiple brackets setup for each tournament (Random Match and DeathMatch) with sign ups open until April 29th! Don't miss out on this large team bash...

RM TEAM TOURNEY (May)
DM TEAM TOURNEY (May)

AOKcc MONTHLY TEAM TOURNEY - APRIL RESULTS

Debaser, a huge StarCraft player who broke into the AOK scene in 1999 with a stunning win over maimin matty, returned to cause some havoc! His team was not able to upset tourney favorite - Storm who spent the day undefeated. On the DeathMatch side, some great matchups as the top DM teams duked it out; this month, favorite SDW Mercenaries pulled it out, defeating pG for the title.

RM TEAM TOURNEY (April)
DM TEAM TOURNEY (April)"
- Mr.Fixit
Those ES DVDs would be a great thing to snag! (Ya ok, the Collectors Edition signed by Bruce Shelley wouldn't hurt) When the ES Behind the Scenes Video was released, we were still calling Age of Mythology by the code name of RTS III and had no idea of a theme. Taking a peak at these screen captures from the video is a little more exciting now. Just think of the great quality the DVD would have.

At anyrate, you've got to work for those great prizes, so make sure you've got your team assembled and ready to win something! ...ok, so knowing the theme doesn't help the quality of those screen captures, but squinting sure does... ; )
A Wonderous First Week...
Posted by Thunder on April 21st, 2001 @ 9:24 p.m.
It's starting to lose that new site feel, instead Angel Draco has been working to make Age of Wonders Heaven feel more like home. The site has just crossed that mythical 2010 hit barrier, not bad for being just a week old! Stop in and check out this new corner of Heaven.

You'll notice on our Merchant Partners page that you can pick up a copy of Age of Wonders for under ten bucks! It comes highly recommended from Angel Draco of course, and I hear there's a sequel in the works. ...how fitting that Draco is heading up a site with a Dragon head in the title pic... ; )
Still Kicking Along
Posted by Washizu on April 21st, 2001 @ 5:42 a.m.
I read this first over at Evil Avatar. It's no surprise to us, but Age of Empires 2: The Age of Kings is still a top selling game at #7 on NPD Intellect's charts for the week ending on April 7th:
1. The Sims House Party Expansion Pack
2. Black and White
3. Tribes 2
4. The Sims
5. The Sims Livin' Large Expansion Pack
6. Roller Coaster Tycoon
7. Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings
8. Diablo II
9. Half-Life: Game of the Year Edition
10. NASCAR Racing 4
Pretty soon, they are going to have to make a list of the top selling Sims games. By the way, NPD Intellect used to be called PC Data.
Pick of the Week
Posted by Washizu on April 20th, 2001 @ 11:28 p.m.
Cherub Jerusalem has once again selected a great Pick of the Week from our Blacksmith to enhance your single player experience. This week's choice is Roland's Quest, by professional scenario designer, Angel Rasher:
Roland's Quest, by The Rasher

Description | File | ">Review

"As soon as Roland was out of sight of London, he carefully checked to make sure he was not being followed. Although he had no reason to believe there would be anyone following him, a man in his position could not afford to be careless.

Satisfied that he was alone, Roland turned not down the road that would lead him to the countryside and his wife, but the road that led toward Montaque, the capital city of the Revolution..."

This is how "Roland's Quest", one of the best scenarios in the blacksmith imho, begins. You play as Roland, the British royal officer, who also happens to be a turncoat for the Rebellion. You lie to your King, saying that you are going to your wife due to her illness, but you are actually going to give confidential documents to the head of the Rebellion. And if you thought the story was cool, hang on for the gameplay.

RQ pretty much has something for everybody. The scenario starts off as an RPG/Puzzle which takes a little figuring out, continues as a daring FF, climaxes as a B&D, and ends with a grand finalle with
some more mind-boggling puzzles.

If there is one thing that particularly caught my eye when I was playing "Roland's Quest", it was the balance. In one part, I was attacked by about half a dozen enemy soldiers, and once I defeated them, I was left with exactly 3 hitpoints left. That is how balanced Roland's Quest is... In any case, saving from time to time is very adviseable, as any mistake can make you lose the game at some points.

I like Roland's Quest because of the intricate puzzles involved in it. A lot of the things in this scenario are quite ahead of their time! (this scenario was submitted in Jan 2000, and it's still worth playing).

The author, Angel Rasher, (informally also SSSI_Rasher), is 16 years old and from Nova Scotia, Canada. Along his designing career, he is also a full-time HG Angel, interested in AoK, EE, Alternative Rock, Heavy Metal and Ice Hockey (at least according to his profile).

To the Rebellion!
Tavern: Forum Party...
Posted by Thunder on April 20th, 2001 @ 8:19 p.m.
The cheery Friday news from the merry red nosed fella in the Tavern is all about our weekly Forum Party. Gather your friends together for some games of AOK:TC tomorrow, and don't forget to put on your best suit of armour. The details await you inside! ...working the rust off of my duds right now... ; )
DM Tourney Tonight!
Posted by Thunder on April 20th, 2001 @ 8:12 p.m.
The Zone Tournament is a go tonight, so grab your best DMing bud and make sure you're registered for this event. Registration closes at 4pm PST, which is 7pm EST. They've banned the Korean civilization, and the map is Arabia, 2 on 2 with a lovely 200 pop limit.

There's just 35 teams registered at the moment, so it's not a great big field. Best of luck to one and all this evening! ...that first international tourney must have gone reeeeally well...they haven't had another... ; )
AOM Logo
Posted by Washizu on April 20th, 2001 @ 5:31 p.m.
High quality versions of the Age of Myhtology logo are now available at the Ensemble Studios website. The logos are available with both black and white backgrounds, and you'll also find the new logo Ensemble Studios logo. Looks like their PR war machine is gearing up for an assault... and that's a good thing
Kingdomality...
Posted by Thunder on April 20th, 2001 @ 11:01 a.m.
Where would you fit into a medievil society? Are you the ruler sort, the doctor type, or perhaps a blacksmith? Check out the Kingdomality Personal Preference Profile, which takes your answers to just eight questions and gives you a medievil roll that suits your personality.

Once you've got your results, or if you're curious as to what category others have been thrown into, visit this forum post. So far, there's a couple of White Knights, a Benevolent Ruler, and an Engineer in our forums. ...I wonder if Plague Carrier is an option...or Arrow Fodder... ; )
Ager Appreciation Returns...
Posted by Thunder on April 20th, 2001 @ 4:01 a.m.
A note sent our way by Xynon has announced that AoE Center's contest has been revised and is taking entries once again. The Ager Appreciation Contest will be open for our entries for about ten more days, with the many prizes being awarded shortly afterwards. The hefty prize list includes one of those AoE Collectors Editions, which are becoming harder and harder to find in stores. Even harder to find is one signed by Bruce Shelley! Click here for more information or to enter yourself for some prizes! ...Jackie Chan and the Matrix in one...skinny guys can kick butt too... ; )
E3 Status Report...
Posted by Thunder on April 19th, 2001 @ 8:37 p.m.
This year's Electronic Entertainment Exposition (E3), which is held in Los Angeles in mid May will feature a host of companies showing off their wares. Just check out these stats from Avault:
"More than 750 never-before-seen computer, online and video games and related products will debut at the 2001 Electronic Entertainment Expo, according to the IDSA. Overall, about 400 companies, including 123 first-time E3 exhibitors, will showcase thousands of games and products at the show, which will be held next month from the 17th to the 19th at the Los Angeles Convention Center."

Source - Avault - E3 to Host 750 New Games
Among the hundreds of games to be shown off is Ensemble Studios' new RTS which we've been getting glimpses of, Age of Mythology. Some very lucky Angels will be at the big show to check things out first hand and will be sharing their experiences with us! You can bet they'll be front and center for the Age of Mythology demos by Ensemble's designers Ian Fischer and Bruce Shelley. It's all less than a month away now. ...winging our way to LA... ; )
Day and Night in AOM
Posted by Washizu on April 19th, 2001 @ 7:32 a.m.
What are the design ramifications of having day and night in a real time strategy game that spans centuries? ES game designer Greg "Deathshrimp" Street offered his thoughts:
Two things have always annoyed me about day-night cycles. First, it seems kind of silly for a game along the time scale of Age of Empires. If I'm the Babylonians, and I am going to advance from inventing the wheel to iron weapons, that's like 3000 years of history (or 1.1 million day-night cycles) to cover in a 1 hour game. I think we might all get seizures from the light flashing on and off. Granted, this doesn't apply as much to the shorter time period of Age of Kings or to scenarios, which are generally depicted as covering a shorter time period (though still often weeks or months).
Secondly, in the RTS games I have played with this feature, when it turns night, my LOS is reduced and I just end up waiting for light again. How many ancient or medieval battles can you think of that happened at night?

I am not giving away (yet) whether we have this feature or not. Just commenting on some of the design ramifications of trying to incorporate it.
Well, for the timespan issue, a lot of liberties are taken for playability's sake. My early villagers live to be a few thousand years old (until they are brutally slaughtered in their old age at the end of the game), it takes a few hundred years to chop down a tree, etc. RTS gamers are completely content with speeding up and slowing down time as needed to fit the gameplay. Now, whether or not I'd like to see night having an affect on the game is another story. It might look silly if all my workers are out chopping trees at 1AM (hmm.. I am working at 1AM, is that silly? ), but it would also make for a pretty boring time in the game if everyone went home and went to sleep. I know a few have suggested that this would be a good time for spy units, sneak attacks and such, but I think the real draw of RTS games is the epic battles, and not sneaking in a unit to poison your opponent's crops while they are sleeping.

What would be cool is if you could use night time as some sort of godly power. Maybe Loki could cast a curse on your land, putting you in darkness with only the moonlight to guide you, making it tougher to see things like resources. Just a thought. Read the whole thread here.
Age of Mythology Screenshot!
Posted by Thunder on April 19th, 2001 @ 0:11 a.m.
The ever vigilent Enrique Orduno caught a glimpse of Ensemble's Age of Mythology site today and was immediately drawn in by a new screenshot posted there! He shared his discovery here in our AoM Forum.

The screenshot is easily the best yet! Viking Longboats are making a landing, and Egyptian units are coming to greet them. There's archer units, soldiers, and what appear to be civ, or should I say culture, specific units! An Egyptian Sphinx and a Viking Giant make their first appearances! It also looks as though there may be day and night cycles as the sun appears to be setting.

Share your thoughts on the new screenshot here, if you can bring yourself to type. ...holy hell...the wave action and the oars in the water are superb! ; )

**UPDATE**
If you have had troubles loading the screenshot in the past hour or two, the URL was changed on the ES site and should be working ok now.
Destiny Of A Dynasty: The Final Three!
Posted by Thunder on April 18th, 2001 @ 8:56 a.m.
Our scenario design contest is finally wrapping up, the end is truly in sight! Angel Rasher has announced the scores for those who did not reach the finals, as well as the trio of talented finalists to make the grade here in the Scenario Design Forum.

The three finalists, Andres_age, The Conquistador, and Zanzard Lothar will have to bite their nails for another week or so as the judges re-evaluate and scrutinize their entries to decide a winner. Following that, all scenarios entered will be available for download from the Blacksmith, so keep your eyes peeled for the big announcement! ...I hope ya'll are entering this contest too...make the time to do it, you'll be glad you did I am sure... ; )
Down & Dirty DM: The Final Eight!
Posted by Thunder on April 17th, 2001 @ 8:41 p.m.
The cream is still busy rising to the top, but it's not going to be easy with this skilled field! Cherub_BiggN sends us the match ups for the final 8 players who are currently playing a best of 3 series against each other to advance:
"illusionS_
Vs
Ugly_Goth_Man

RomanGladius
Vs
BiggN

BioSoldier007
Vs
OrangePanther

FootballBeast
Vs
Aarz"
Best of luck to those left, and stay tuned for recorded games and results from this tournament. ...some big names in DM circles in the running here, whew... ; )
GameSpy Arcade v1.07
Posted by Thunder on April 17th, 2001 @ 7:46 p.m.
A brand new version of GameSpy Arcade is available for download. New in version 1.07 is support for a bunch of new games, voice chat, private chat rooms, and plenty more! Check out GameSpyArcade.com for more info on the latest version.

This program is free to use, or you can register it and loose the ads and such. ...a nice alternative to the Zone... ; )
AOM FAQ at MFO aka AgeofKings.cc
Posted by Washizu on April 17th, 2001 @ 4:53 p.m.
That's enough acronyms for one day. MrFixit sent out this press release today:
AGE OF MYTHOLOGY FAQ

Lots of new tidbits of knowledge are escaping about Ensemble's new game: Age of Mythology.

We have created an Age of Mythology FAQ with all press releases, screen shots, and bits of knowledge on AOM and opened a Forum to discuss AOM.

Stop by to get the scoop on this upcoming blockbuster Real-Time Strategy game!

SCENARIO MADNESS LEAGUE

An Age of Kings Scenario league is forming. Come join the party if you have the guts to play 5 player FFAs on different scenarios each week: Scenario Madness League
Not much is known yet, but everything that is known can be found in their FAQ.
Age of Mythology Forum Opens
Posted by Washizu on April 17th, 2001 @ 5:21 a.m.
In order to better focus the discussion of Ensemble's next strategy game, Age of Mythology, we've opened a new message board to go over the facts as they are released, as well as speculate/suggest on future features of the game.

The first few topics have already been posted!
Cultures vs Civs by Angel Washizu
Mythological Units Poll by Cannibal Shadow
AoE III or just plain AoM? by Cherub Dimitrios
What all mythologies could be considered? by dedkrikit

Head to the new forum as soon as you can!hmmm... how long til AOMH hits?
** Age of Mythology **
Posted by Thunder on April 16th, 2001 @ 8:20 p.m.
So long to that vague code name of RTS III, we now have a real honest to goodness title! Age of Mythology will be featured on the cover of the July issue of Computer Gaming World:
"Ensemble Studios, creators of the award-winning Age of Empires games, has been working on its next big RTS for three years. The new game, Age of Mythology, adds mythological creatures, gods, and heroes to a stunning 3D world. Players can unleash ultra-powerful god attacks such as lightning and meteors, as well as use chimeras, trolls, giants, and flying units to attack their enemies. There will also be a major single-player campaign in the game, with numerous cinematic and scripted events. The game promises to be an exciting departure from previous RTS concepts. For more details and never-before-seen screenshots, see the July issue of Computer Gaming World, on sale May 8."

Source - ES News
There's a much larger version of the cover shot available on the ES news page linked above! Grab your war hammer and haul yourself over to see it! ...OMG... ; )

**UPDATE**
Let's get straight to the press release! We WILL be seeing Age of Mythology at E3 which is held in the middle of May:
At E3 this year, Ensemble Studios will reveal and demonstrate publicly for the first time, a stunning new strategy game titled AGE OF MYTHOLOGY. The subject matter, gameplay, and technology of AGE OF MYTHOLOGY have been topics for endless speculation within the gaming community while development was carried on in secret for the past several years. Be among the first to see it and play it at E3 this year.

The setting for AGE OF MYTHOLOGY is long ago, when legend and myth are real. Three mighty cultures struggle for world dominance. Gods and their minions are meddling, attempting to favor one group over another. Players are the guiding spirits of one civilization, employing their heroes, their cultural resources, the favor of their gods, and rare mythical creatures to conquer the world.

AGE OF MYTHOLOGY is the next generation in real-time strategy game development from Ensemble Studios, the creators of Age of Empires and Age of Empires II. It features the full 3D software technology of Ensemble Studios' BANG! engine. Strategy games will now lead the technology curve, not lag. AGE OF MYTHOLOGY is stunning in 3D, maintaining the Ensemble Studios’ signature of creating vivid realistic worlds.

At E3 the lead designer, Ian Fischer, and the senior designer at ES, Bruce Shelley, will conduct demonstrations of AGE OF MYTHOLOGY. The game will be available also on the show floor for hands-on play.

Ensemble Studios is one of the world’s most successful entertainment software developers. They are best known for creating the four titles in the Age of Empires series of games (published by Microsoft) that have sold over 8.5 million copies worldwide so far. The Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences voted Ensemble Studios’ games Strategy Game of the Year for 1997, 1999, and 2000, and PC Game of the Year for 1999.


Source - ES news
Love it? Hate it? In shock? Head to this thread and throw in your two cents!
MFO Monthly & DM Results...
Posted by Thunder on April 16th, 2001 @ 10:47 a.m.
The monthly team ladder tournaments are on again at AoK.cc, with prize money and plenty of competition. There's an RM event as well as a DM event, with everything getting underway on Saturday, April 21. Make sure you're in the know by reading all of the details.

For you DMers who may be looking for a little inspiration, the DM Grand Champion event has wrapped up with the recorded games being posted for download here. RD_ChampioN bested the rest of the field and made a cool $150 in the process! ...what? There are other games out there?... ; )
Craving Cossacks?
Posted by Thunder on April 16th, 2001 @ 9:52 a.m.
Recently the english version of Cossacks went gold and began shipping. This game has been selling like crazy in Europe and created quite a buzz in Heaven when the demo came out. You've got the chance now to win yourself one of five free copies of the game right now! To enter, just drop by the contest page over at Cossacks Heaven and then cross your fingers. Enter before the deadline on April 30, and look for winners to be announced on the very first of May. ...hold on to your lucky charms... ; )
Scenario Pick Of The Week!
Posted by Thunder on April 16th, 2001 @ 3:57 a.m.
Once more Cherub Jerusalem brings us his pick from the Blacksmith, home to hundreds or thousands of scenarios, for the featured scenario of the week. Put your money where your mouth is and take this classic for a spin:
"'AOKasino', by the AOKasino Team


Description:
http://aok.heavengames.com/blacksmith/descpages/single/675.shtml


File:
http://aok.heavengames.com/blacksmith/php/getfile.php3?type=Single&id=675


Review:
http://aok.heavengames.com/blacksmith/reviews/single/675.shtml


'Other' says the style column under the row of 'AoKasino'. Indeed this is the most adequate way to describe the genre of AoKasino... just 'other'. AoK transformed into something else in the most splendid way.


As the name implies, 'AOKasino' is in essence a very large Casino in a scenario form. You have many games to choose from (around 30, I believe). Unlike any other aok scenario, there is no fighting in this game. You do not build an empire. You do not wage wars. You do not make strategic decisions... all you do is gamble.


I like AoKasino because of this crazy idea. As I mentioned in a previous Pick of the Week, scenarios that change the rules of the game are my favourite 'genre' - genre is in quotations because every scenario is a genre in it's own right. A whole lot of thought has been invested in this playable and re-playable scenario, and the massive trigger count shows...


More interesting features include:
- 12 areas: When you feel like taking a break from gambling, come and relax in the park, buy tickets for a show or hang out in a hotel lobby (and yes - it does look as cheesy as in Las Vegas).
- Challenges: People will summon you and test your strength, at times for a great risk - will you succumb?
- Meet the creators: They participate in the game, lol.
- A bank system with interest rates
- Password trick! (makes you wonder how they did that)


The team (Enrique Orduno, Cshunter2000, Robthebrave, Shadows166, Irish Woman and IMANAOKFANATIC), was hosted by SCN Punk, founded in December 1999. Yes - that's right - work on AoKasino took around a year! I think that in itself is an excellent reason to download this masterpiece.


Have fun and - from experience - don't drink too much in the bar... "
- Cherub Jerusalem
A full year to complete the scenario? Whew, it's bound to be a polished play, give her a shot. ...at least stop by the bar, Jerusalem is the lush in the corner... ; )
Where's the Rabbit?
Posted by Zen on April 15th, 2001 @ 5:22 p.m.
I've just received a message from White Rabbit... apparently all this following by you OD forumers have made him paranoid...

This is part of the OD Forums's 2001 Easter Hunt
Heroes Of The Ages FAQ Update...
Posted by Thunder on April 14th, 2001 @ 9:38 a.m.
The questions keep flying, as do the answers! Ensemble Studios' Heroes of the Ages scenario design contest has generated a ton of interest, which may have something to do with the awesome prizes being offered. (new computer, digital cameras, and more!) Mike "Archangel" McCart has just posted an update to the contest FAQ page to clear up some of the more common questions thrown his way.

In addition, Greg "DeathShrimp" Street has bobbed into this post in the forums to tackle some of the questions there such as:
"Q: Are we allowed to use sounds(crows, wolves, swords...) from the Internet,
it'll really improve the quality of the scenario and everybody can use them.

A: Only if they are public domain and/or the owner very clearly grants you permission to use these libraries. Keep in mind you aren't using these just for your own use--you are trying to profit off of them, which violates the terms of some of these agreements. It would be much safer just to avoid using them at all. It may improve the quality of the scenario, but it won't matter one whit if the scenario isn't really fun to play. Sounds, bitmaps and AVIs are all icing on the cake, but they are only going to make a difference if your scenario is very close in quality to another one.

Q: Any file size limit?

A: I have 420 Meg free on my hard drive. If I have to delete my MPP3's to make room for your scenario, then it;s too big."


Source - New Scenario Contest at ENSEMBLE STUDIOS
Lots of great advice and tips to be had out there, but you'd best start designing your scenario soon as the deadline for entries is coming up quick! Check out the contest page for all the details on requirements and how to send in your entry. ...keyword throughtout, make it FUN... ; )
Anything Goes Contest!
Posted by Thunder on April 14th, 2001 @ 9:10 a.m.
Look out now, this is bound to be a crazy contest! aoe2.com is hosting the ATG contest where it's totally up to you what kind of entry you'd like to send in. A scenario? Great! An AgeToon? Fine! A story? Cool! Just about anything goes:
"This is a very unique contest; instead of having me tell you exactly what to do, I'm letting you decide! Choose from several different paths and create an entry that you believe will bring you fame (well, maybe) and fortune. You will be competing against people with varying skills and artistic abilities...choose wisely what you enter. Will you design an award-winning scenario, or design a great Age wallpaper? Any thing you want to do you can enter...it's all up to you!"

Source - ATG Contest
The deadline is just a couple of weeks away, so make sure you choose an entry that can be completed in this amount of time! May the 6th is the last day to get an entry in, and the top four entries will all recieve a copy of the expansion pack! Make sure you stop in for all the rules and regulations. ...wow, not going to be an easy contest to judge...best of luck all! ; )
Tavern: Forum Party!
Posted by Thunder on April 13th, 2001 @ 11:35 p.m.
It's time for that weekly clash of arms know as the Forum Party! Grab a friend or two and enjoy a few games on April 14th. For all of the sordid details, pull up your stool at the Tavern and we'll see you on the battlefield. ...a good way to kill some time if you're waiting for a bunny... ; )
Back On the Saddle
Posted by Washizu on April 13th, 2001 @ 4:51 a.m.
After a brief pop off the charts, Age of Empires 2: The Age of Kings is once again in the top ten selling PC games for the week of March 25-31, 2001, according to Gamespot. The top finisher? You can read it in...

Rank / Title / Publisher / Average Price
1 / Black & White / Electronic Arts / $45
2 / The Sims: House Party / Electronic Arts / $30
3 / The Sims / Electronic Arts / $39
4 / Tribes 2 / Havas Interactive / $49
5 / The Sims: Livin' Large / Electronic Arts / $28
6 / Serious Sam: The First Encounter / GodGames / $17
7 / Roller Coaster Tycoon / Infogrames Entertainment / $27
8 / NASCAR Racing 4 / Havas Interactive / $43
9 / Age of Empires II: Age of Kings / Microsoft / $44
10 / Command & Conquer Red Alert 2 / Electronic Arts / $36
Way to go AOK! I, for one, am glad to see a non-Sims title in the top spot for a change. Only 3 out of the top 5? Will Wright must heart broken ... by the way, check out Washizu the APE


More DM Events!
Posted by Thunder on April 12th, 2001 @ 10:17 p.m.
There's a boat load of Deathmatch tournaments going on, with a couple going down later today.

The Zone's Spring Fling starts this evening, in a few hours from now in fact. There's still time to sign up before things get underway at 5pm PST, which is 8pm EST. (US & Canucks only)

MFO's Blood Bath is also going down tonight! Grab your partner and a towel for this one. ...counting down the hours until the LONG WEEKEND!! ; )
Wherefore Art Thou Screenshot?
Posted by Washizu on April 12th, 2001 @ 6:37 p.m.
If you've checked out the Ensemble Studios website recently, you may have noticed the absence of their latest RTS3 screenshot, which was released last week. A quick email to ES webmaster Mike "Archangel" McCart cleared up why the shot was nowhere to be found:
The picture I took down as was close to 2 months ago and we have progressed quite a bit in the game play and graphics since then. Basically the picture that was deleted, doesn't acutally display the true up to date status of RTS III. - Mike "Archangel" McCart
Archangel told us that a new screen shot will be posted sometime within in the next day or so. ...To quote Billy Madison... "that's quacktastic!"
No Zone For You!
Posted by Thunder on April 11th, 2001 @ 6:09 p.m.
It seems the Zone has stepped in and put the screws to the UGD Training Center crew. Some of their teachers, such as pG_Bravo and DBD_Jinx have had all of their Zone names banned, and apparently this list includes UGD himself. Drop in on AoK.cc for more of the gory details.

Surely the lessons will continue as there are numerous other places besides the Zone to gather, chat, and play. ...hurts if ya have a highly rated ZN...in rated, my name is mud... ; )
Deathmatch, Down & Dirty...
Posted by Thunder on April 11th, 2001 @ 10:06 a.m.
Tourney time for DMers once again! Cherub_BiggN is taking sign ups for a 1 on 1, head to head, no holds barred, turn your head and cough, tooth and nail Deathmatch event. The settings are:
"1v1
Death Match
Standard
Arabia
Tiny (2 player)
Easiest
200
Fast
Explored
Post-Imperial Age
Conquest
Record Game"


Source - AoKH Tourny.. Sign Up
Those settings will make for some fast and furious games! Don't dilly dally, sign ups end at midnight GMT tomorrow, which is around the 7pm EST mark. Best of luck all! ...courtesy Angel Zen...Server 54, Where Are You?... ; )
ES Contest FAQ v1.2...
Posted by Thunder on April 11th, 2001 @ 9:53 a.m.
No doubt Mike "Archangel" McCart has been hit with a lot of questions regarding the Heroes of the Ages scenario design contest. With all those amazing prizes, the interest of any Ager who knows how to place Gaia units has surely been peaked! Before you e-mail in your question, check out the contest FAQ, where you may find your answer and or some useful info. ...remember to take breaks from the scenario editor or you'll go nuts (just ask Angel Rasher!)...here's a great little diversion... ; )
Design Guides...
Posted by Thunder on April 10th, 2001 @ 6:27 p.m.
If you're going to be entering the Heroes of the Ages scenario design contest and are looking for some inspiration or help, here's a few links that may be of interest.

Our Blacksmith is full of great scenarios to inspire you. That's not to say that a scenario rated at 5.0 in the Blacksmith will walk away with the top prize, but they've done something well to earn that score so you may want to take a peak.

There is a wealth of great articles at Scn Punk. They cover basic AI scripting, map tricks, trigger tricks, and just about everything in between.

Not to be lost in the mix is the Ten Commandments for Scenario Design, by Greg "DeathShrimp" Street. This article contains some great tips and thoughts on how to create an entertaining experience for players.

Remember designers, the ES folks are looking for a fun scenario above all else! If you haven't had a full read through of the contest details yet, they've provided some examples of what they're looking for. Best of luck everybody! ...played a really beautiful scenario the other day that was loaded with complex triggers...it was great except for the fact that I spent the majority of the time watching units fight and text show up, didn't really do anything myself... ; )
The Sounds Of Little Agers...
Posted by Thunder on April 10th, 2001 @ 9:35 a.m.
It's the least we can do for those poor Agers who'll be missing out on game time now that they've got a little one to take care of. Dan "Inquizative" Bayne was reading about the recent birth of Ensemble Studios programmer Rob "Xemu" Fermier's boy and dropped us a note with some news of his own:
"My son Jay'den was born Feb 17th, just days before Tsunami Studios implimented The Tsunami Group, intern program. I actually thought the internship up and implimented it while my son and my wife were sleeping in her maternity room. I'd love to have a birth announcement for him, if his birthdate wasn't too late to announce!" - Dan Bayne
Anything to make your sleepless nights a little easier. Check out some of his work at Tsunami Studios or Tsunami Online. If the name seems familiar, I believe he was the winner of a map designer contest not long ago held by ES. ...only catch is he promised me his first born in order to get this posted... ; )
MFO Five Days A Week...
Posted by Thunder on April 10th, 2001 @ 8:35 a.m.
Deathmatch and Random Map events abound over at MFO. Suit up and get ready to rumble, here's the news straight from Mr.Fixit, the MF in MFO:
"MFO EVENTS

MFO is now running five weekly events (yow!) With DM "Down Under", we finally have a tournament for the Australians; DM Blood Bath has two nights a week for some fun 2v2 action; and our popular RM 2v2 SMACKDOWN is still going strong; and every Wednesday we do MFO Night

PROFESSIONAL AOK TRAINING

In a controversial move, UGD has opened up a professional training center at MFO where top experts provide lessons for pay. Myth_Ares, AoR_Cow, illusionS_, pG_Bravo (K1LLa), DBD_Jinx and others provide the best training available. More: http://www.ageofkings.cc/lessons

MFO NIGHT

In our last MFO Night we saw the return of an old time AOKer (smurf name = Dramatic Irony, what is his *real* name?? hehe) who destroyed the competition, going undefeated along with Iketh in an ad hoc HEATS 3 tournament.

DM GRAND CHAMPION

Were down to the last 4 contestants, the best of the best: mYsTikaL_SouL vs pG_Lance and RD_Champion~ vs IYIiK_77I. The best DMers in the world have competed in this high profile event. More: http://www.ageofkings.cc/events.asp?EventId=11

LOTS MORE
- How to Cav Archer Rush by DaRq_Minos
- Random Match Japanese by Chichiri
- Smackdown 8 and 9 results
- MFO Survivor (shimo-style) tourney results
- Why do Koreans excel at DM play?

Check it out at http://www.mrfixitonline.com and http://www.ageofkings.cc"
-Mr.Fixit
There you have the run down the their bag of events! Due drop in for all the gory details.

I'm not sure how controversial UGD's lessons are, it's been tried in the past more than a few times. Paying for lessons hasn't been terribly popular, but with that line-up of instructors it may well prove worthwhile for some folks. For those on a budget, just playing a lot against better players is a great teacher in itself, and of course that's free. ...AOWH...ya'll sniffed that out in a big hurry! ; )
Captain Insano Does Some Explaino
Posted by Washizu on April 10th, 2001 @ 6:41 a.m.
Over at Evil Avatar's news comments, ES Programmer Herb "Captain Insano" Marselas responded to fans critical of 3D RTS games:
So why bother going 3D?

There are many reasons.

One reason is that players want more units, more animations, smoother animations, etc.

In AoK, we were really topping out with the multi-hundred MB of sprite facets we were shipping.

Going to 3D allows us to have more units, more animations, and smoother animations, in the same or less space.

There's a lot more cool stuff, but we'll save that for later
Well said. When you use 2D sprites, you need to save what they look like from every angle, and in every single state.
ES Sponsors Scenario Design Contest!
Posted by Thunder on April 9th, 2001 @ 6:02 p.m.
The list of prizes is just staggering! Everything from digital cameras to a new computer are up for grabs in this contest that will surely result in Agers dusting off the scenario editor. Here's the pitch:
"Want world wide fame? (and a new Computer!) Test your scenario making skills against the best in the world. Can your Charlemagne rise to power? Your Harold Haardraade lead the "Viking invasions" in England? Will Salah al-Din attempting to prevent Richard the Lion-Heart from taking Jerusalem? Only your scenario designing skills (and history will tell. Enter your finest scenario to win one of several awesome prizes from ENSEMBLE STUDIOS."

Source - ES Contest Page
Make sure you stop by their contest page for the full prize list, rules, and how to send in your entry! Deadline for entries is May 21, so get going and good luck all! ...a sweet PC...1ghz CPU and loaded with the good stuff!! ; )
Second RTS III Screenshot!!!
Posted by Thunder on April 9th, 2001 @ 5:44 p.m.
Only the second ever screenshot of Ensemble Studios' third RTS game has been posted here on their website! The latest screenshot features several buildings and units including another ship, what looks like a ballista, goats, walls, trees and more! The architecture does look it could be Roman, but judge for yourself:


Click here
It is quite breathtaking! I may be speechless, but do share your thoughts in this thread started by the eagle eyed Derfel Cadarn who spotted the new screenshot. ...thanks to the many folks who sent in an e-mail pointing me to it... ; )
Tavern: Wrap Up & New Mod...
Posted by Thunder on April 9th, 2001 @ 2:19 a.m.
The latest drunken blurbs from the Tavern include some war stories from the recent Forum Party, and word of a new moderator in one of the forums. It's Tonto_Samurai, pulling double duty! Pull up your stool at the Tavern for more. ...see ya'll for another Forum Party next week... ; )
Atilla #2 Walkthrough
Posted by Socvazius on April 9th, 2001 @ 1:54 a.m.
Walkthrough writer Bob_003 has written the second edition in his series of AOK:TC Walkthroughs. This time it covers the 2nd scenario in the Atilla campaign. It's well-written and includes a couple screenshots to assist in understanding the article.

  • Atilla #2 Walkthrough(By Bob_003)

    So if anyone is having trouble with the second Atilla scenario, this is the article to read.
  • Tsunami Online Opens
    Posted by Washizu on April 8th, 2001 @ 11:56 p.m.
    There's a new multiplayer scenario design team forming over at SCN Punk called Tsunami Online, a branch of Tsunami Studios concentrating on multiplayer scenarios and they're looking for a few gurus to add to their team:
    The site is up and ready to rock n roll. Once again, thanks to Ex T for this great opportunity. Personal recruitment has begun on the Zone. To formally apply, fill out the form in the membership form page.

    If you are interested, you are urged to apply as soon as possible. The team is looking for a few key designers and once found, applications will no longer be received.
    Good luck!
    Tavern: Forum Party!
    Posted by Thunder on April 6th, 2001 @ 10:01 p.m.
    The end of the week already? You bet, and that means tomorrow is Forum Party Day! All are invited to take part in the glorious battles, just drop by the Tavern for all of the details.
    Designer Journal Update: Balancing Act...
    Posted by Thunder on April 6th, 2001 @ 8:50 p.m.
    The Studios Designer Journal has been updated with more from this year's Game Developers Conference! The three amigos, Greg "DeathShrimp" Street, Mike "Captn" Kidd, and Sandy "Sandyman" Petersen gave a presentation on how to balance RTS games, and shared their experiences from the AoE series. You can download their Power Point presentation or view it online.

    Included in their presentation is a section of "Balance Bloopers", with those old classics like the Sumerian Ville Rush. A great read, head on over for a look see. ..."Be prepared to patch"...hehehee ; )
    ES: Help Wanted...
    Posted by Thunder on April 6th, 2001 @ 8:02 p.m.
    Yet another position is open at Ensemble Studios, this time in the management arena. They are in need of an Assistant Producer, who are the people who do this kinda thing:
    "I. Job Description / Role

    The Assistant Producer is responsible for managing a specific subset of the title's development as defined by the Producer, as well as filling in for the Producer in his absence. The Assistant Producer may also be called upon to provide guidance for the designers to ensure the game's vision is maintained, and to work towards integrating multimedia content into the final game product. If any part of a title's work effort is outsourced, the Assistant Producer may be called upon to manage the relationship and delivery from the external provider. An Assistant Producer may also be given full Producer responsibilities for expansion pack titles, as warranted."


    Source - Producer Wanted
    There's yet another position to add to their job openings which include a content designer, QA Lead, and of course the always in demand, Programmers. ...if they have an opening for Bar Keep, I'll be the first to send in a resume... ; )
    Scenario Pick Of The Week!
    Posted by Thunder on April 6th, 2001 @ 7:45 p.m.
    This week's scenario is truly amazing. Cherub Jerusalem has sifted through the Blacksmith and pulled out a dandy by Yogurt, who's now working on content for Empire Earth:
    "'Final Hour', by Yogurt
    Description:
    http://aok.heavengames.com/blacksmith/descpages/single/419.shtml


    File:
    http://aok.heavengames.com/blacksmith/php/getfile.php3?type=Single&id=419


    Review:
    http://aok.heavengames.com/blacksmith/reviews/single/419.shtml


    If there's any type of scenario I like, it's a crazy one that changes all the rules of the game and breaks completely new grounds. Yogurt's "Final Hour" pretty much answers that definition, maybe with the exception of "crazy"; As you will read on you will see it is a very sane scenario indeed.


    Final Hour can be described as "the single-player scenario of your dreams". Fully customizable, changes every time you play it, painstakingly balanced to the last detail, innovative beyond your imagination.


    You play as Betrand, the commander of an Imperial army facing a rebellious group of natives. Your objective is to defend the Governor's estate in the magnificent Imperial capital. All can be taken, but the governor's estate must be defended at all costs from the (literally) neverending native army. You have no reinforcements. Sounds impossible? Hang on, that's only the first part of the scenario.


    As you've probably figured out, the end of the first part of the scenario, the one described above, is always definate; The natives shall eventually win. The only question is when, and the whole second part of the scenario revolves around this question. The time you managed to hold out from the natives (hopefully, as long as possible) is recorded in the game in the stone stockpile. For explanatory reasons, let's call that time "x".


    Now, you switch places. As Betrand wonders to himself what would have happened if he had been the commander of the natives, you find yourself, well, as the commander of the natives, recieving the occasional reinforcement in the gathering spots in the villages. You are timed; If you can conquer the governor's estate in less time than the computer did (which is x), you win!


    Long explanation, I know, and it's not even the half of it. I skipped some descriptions of choices you need to make in the beginning of the first and second rounds. Also, it gets a little complicated when you
    read about some strategic spots which if you hold, you recieve certain bonuses. Fortunately, it's not too much to handle as the learning curve is rather gentle, and anyone who carefully reads the instructions, hints and in-game chat messages and pays attention to the bitmap, should be able to play this.


    I like Final Hour because, as I described above, it's very imaginative and it has a really long life as being worthy of playing in these rainy days of April, thanks to FH's high customizabltity (whew, long word).


    Yogurt (actually, now SSSI_Yogurt, couldn't think of a better person for the job if you ask me), or Tim Mitchell, lives in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. He is a college teacher and a level designer. He writes short fiction and screenplays, and has a master's degree in Creative Writing. Other creations of his for AoK include Christmas Morning, and Out of Doors, which, too, are amazingly creative and highly reccomended scenarios."
    - Cherub Jerusalem
    Well I'd say that one came highly recommended! Thanks to Jerusalem for another great pick this week, and I'm sure he'll have another treat for us next week. ...offer of a bubbly drink still stands Tim... ; )
    ...And Then There Were Three!
    Posted by Thunder on April 6th, 2001 @ 8:51 a.m.
    A very talented scenario designer has been added to the distinguished list of finalists in our Destiny of a Dynasty campaign contest. Angel Rasher made the announcement in the scenario design forum late last night:
    "It is with great pleasure that I congratulate Zanzard Lothar on being named as the third finalist in the Campaign Contest.

    His campaign Emperor Wendi, First of the Sui will join the ranks of Glory of the Tang, by Stan (aka The Conquistador), and Three emperors and two dinasties, by Andres_age as the finalists thus far.

    Judging is nearly complete, but there may still be some more finalists left to announce..."
    -Angel Rasher

    Source - Third Finalist Announced
    Being the humble fella he is, Zanzard popped in to the post and thanked just about everybody under the sun! I think he was in a real rush to meet the deadline for the contest, great to see his hard work pay off. No winner yet, but we'll keep you posted! ...I remember him winning the AOKB scenario contest...it was extra sweet because he had to play a game against another fella to win and pulled off a Turk LC rush... ; )
    Impending DM Clash!
    Posted by Thunder on April 5th, 2001 @ 11:40 p.m.
    The gauntlet has hit the dirt! AoK.cc will be hosting weekly DM events starting this Saturday, April 7th. Grab your best DMing bud and prepare to have at it in the 2 on 2 showdown. For all of the nitty gritty details check out their info page, and most of all good luck! ...starting a support group for folks who aren't crazy about B&W... ; )
    Mini-Mu?
    Posted by Thunder on April 4th, 2001 @ 10:04 p.m.
    Congratulations to Rob "Xemu" Fermier who is the proud Poppa of Xavier Gregor Fermier, born on March 11! You can check out little Xavier's unit stats and an image right here. Welcome to the family kido! ...now researching solid food upgrade... ; )
    Captain Insano From GDC...
    Posted by Thunder on April 4th, 2001 @ 9:57 p.m.
    You may have read Herb "Captain Insano" Marselas' article on managing assets at Gamasutra, but you can now find it in the ES Designer Journal. Herb presented this information to the crowd at this years Game Developers Conference, and you can now find the Power Point presentation that went along with that in the journal as well.

    These file management issues are shared by many companies and industries, it is interesting to see how the ES folks deal with the situation. ...proof that making games is not always a barrel of laughs... ; )
    Forum Status...
    Posted by Thunder on April 4th, 2001 @ 7:15 a.m.
    A message has come in from Angel Zen regarding a forum feature that is currently on the fritz. Hopefully it will be fixed shortly, but in the meantime here's a work around:
    "The Preview feature is currently broken. If you click on "Preview", you will see a preview, but when you go back, you'll either get an error message from your browser (i.e. page expired when using Internet Explorer), or a blank form with all your text erased. We're working on fixing the problem. In the meantime, please copy your message into your clipboard (Select all, CTRL+C to copy) before you preview. After you preview, you can paste your text back in." -Angel Zen
    Everything else in the forums should be working as per usual, so don't despair. We'll keep ya posted on the status of the preview feature. ...speaking of previews...it's EE mania over at Gspot! ... ; )

    **Update**
    He's a good lad that Angel Zen. He stayed up late helping me spell RTS the right way and while he was at it, he's got the forums back into shape! Not only that, the preview feature has been improved. Head to the forums and try it out! ...the brighter side of crashing ad revenues... ; )
    RTS III And Sandy...
    Posted by Thunder on April 3rd, 2001 @ 7:38 p.m.
    For anyone who lives in a cave and has yet to see the RTS III screenshot that was released awhile back, you'll need to click here. Designer Sandy "Sandyman" Petersen has answered a few questions on this work in progress, including a confirmation that the units in the screenshot are the real deal:
    "Q) are the figures from the RTSIII-screenshot actually a part of (the today's version of) RTSIII or just put in for any other reasons?
    A) The RTS3 screenshot is an honest-to-goodness screenshot with real units, terrain, water, etc.

    Q) Will some of the units on RTSIII be very different from AoE and AoK?
    A) How could it be a new game if all the units were the same.

    Q) Will RTSIII be very different to play from AoK in the military part?
    A) Our intent is that it share fundamentally similarities with our other RTS games.

    Q) I was wondering if you had ever seen Archangel’s dark, angry side... you know, the side prone to psychosis?
    A) This is, in fact, the only side he displays to his co-workers here at ES. Today, for instance, he was walking through the halls carrying a dripping piece of raw meat and muttering under his breath. We all closed our office doors and tried not to make eye contact. I guess that’s the price for having a good webmaster."
    - Sandy Petersen

    Source - Ask Sandy 4
    Just click on the link above to check out the latest of Sandy's responces to Ager questions, or of course you can ask a few yourself.

    More than a few people have had the notion that the big green monster in the screenshot would not be an honest to goodness unit in the game, and so it appears that at the moment it is. At this stage of development though, that could easily change. ...thanks goes out once again to those ES folks who stop by and post a few...much appreciated! ; )
    WCG Talks To Top Agers...
    Posted by Thunder on April 3rd, 2001 @ 7:17 p.m.
    The gang at AoK.cc spotted an interview with three top AoK players who were at the World Cyber Games last year. The WCG was looking for some feedback about their event, and who better to ask then some of the best players who were there battling it out, including Arch_Koven:
    "The objective of the discussions with these esteemed gamers was to receive their direct feedback on the faults and areas of improvement that existed at the World Cyber Game Challenge, as well as sharing ideas for addressing these areas to ensure that this year¡¯s 1st World Cyber Games is a much improved, world-class event."

    Source - WCG Talkfest With Top Players
    A few Agers and I were just talking about last year's WCG championship, and it is great to see that they are getting feedback and looking to improve. As you have read, there will be another competition this year, so keep in top gaming shape, it could really pay off! ...hopefully they'll send out a PR release or two letting everyone know about the events this time... ; )
    GameSpot's History Of RTS Games...
    Posted by Thunder on April 3rd, 2001 @ 3:49 a.m.
    The second installment is now online in GameSpot's look at the RTS genre. They've now added the Age of Empires series to the list of great games in their article, with words of high praise for AoK and its expansion pack:
    "Age of Empires II made just about everyone's list for the best games of 1999, and its superb expansion pack, The Conquerors, almost merits a full page on its own. Many people are calling the combination of Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings and The Conquerors the best real-time strategy game ever. It's hard to disagree. "

    Source - History of RTS: Part II
    They've also got some interesting thoughts on the future of the genre, a tantilizing read to so the least. With the recent release of the RTS3 screenshot, it's hard not to be daydreaming about the future. ...perhaps we'll see the future at E3...lil' over a month to go! ; )
    Party Games...
    Posted by Thunder on April 2nd, 2001 @ 7:38 p.m.
    For those of us, such as myself, who missed out on the Forum Party on the 31st, there have been quite a few recorded games from the event sent in to the Downloads Section. There's a Tonto Clan birthday bash, as well as a pair of games submitted by Pascal, one with a rather cramped map! Chooch709 was in a sharing mood as well and posted an unflattering screenshot in this thread.

    I hope everyone enjoyed themselves, and will be back this coming Saturday for more games and a little smack talk! ...more smacking, less talking... ; )
    Hope You Enjoyed...
    Posted by Washizu on April 2nd, 2001 @ 6:10 a.m.
    We hope you enjoyed the jokes yesterday. RTS3, of course, has not been delayed due to the release of Black and White, and there is no "Egyptian Knight Rush" that easily counters feudal age rushes. We had at least one "April Fool", and it was none other than AOE2.com's, theWill, who sent me this ICQ message:
    On the main news page at AOKH you have the following news post: "RTS3 Delayed Following B&W Release." In that post, you state that you got your information from an ES press release. Are you on a mailing list that sends you the press releases? and, if so, could you please send me the link so that I might sign up? btw, could you please send me the press release that you got that from.....Thanx a bunch!
    Hahaha poor guy. Thanks for falling into my... errr I mean, being a good sport
    A flush counter
    Posted by Socrateius on April 1st, 2001 @ 11:59 p.m.
    Fellow agers, I believe I have discovered the most powerful counter strategy to the dreaded FLUSH: The Egyptian Knight Dark Age Rush. It involves a quick economical boom with the Egyptian civilization and repeated Knight raids in the Dark Age. It will cripple an opponents economy and stop a flush dead in its tracks. I have written an article further explaining the strategy and how to properly use it.

  • Egyptian Knight Dark Age Rush(By Angel Socrateius)
  • RTS3 Delayed Following B&W Release
    Posted by Washizu on April 1st, 2001 @ 10:39 p.m.
    In a press release sent out today, Ensemble Studios has admitted that RTS3 development is being put on hold in order to concentrate on playing the single player story line of Black and White, which was released this week by LionHead and EA.

    An ES employee, who asked not to be named, in fear of his creature getting jealous, said, "Sure, I'd love to be working on our 3D random maps for RTS3, but I just need to teach my Cow to cast "Miraculous Wood" so I can take over Lethys's villages. Unfortunatly, all my Cow wants to do is poop on my worship sites!"

    Another ES employee, who also asked not to be identified, said "when ever Tony (Goodman) walks by and asks how the "NEMESIS" project is coming along, we say, "Pretty good, but he keeps throwing rocks at us!". Haha. Now, I guess the joke is out in the open."

    Ensemble has said that "crunch mode" will be reinstated in a few weeks to resume work on RTS3, unless a patch for Tribes 2 is released. hmmm.... what day is it?