Archived News From July 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!

Answerman Petersen...
Posted by Thunder on July 31st, 2001 @ 12:13 a.m.
Game designer, and all around good fella, Sandy "Sandyman" Petersen of Ensemble Studios paid a visit to the forums to answer some fan questions. There were a mountain of them waiting for him, and he's offered his comments on the usual wide variety of topics. Here's a few bits and pieces covering Warcraft III and Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds:
"Q) How do you think Star Wars Galatic Battlegrounds will be compared to Aok:tc, as it is built upon the Aok engine?
A) I hope way better. I am an optimist, and they have been able to see our mistakes and with luck improve on us.

Q) what other things were you guys gonna put in the game that didn't make it?
A) Literally dozens of things. Off-map trade, mercenaries, Iron (a resource), edible bears, etc. etc. None of these types of things were rejected through lack of time, but solely through testing and advancements in game play.

Q) Will you buy WarCraft III?
A) Unless Blizzard sends ES some free copies and I manage to snag one.

Q) Do you feel threatened by WarCraft III, now that it is due closer to AOM, and is surely going to be pushed back further?
A) I hope that WarCraft III is a really fun game. I am sad that it is delayed, but glad that Blizzard is one of the companies who is willing to delay a project to make it better. If it comes out too near AoM I am sure that it will cannibalize some of our sales (and vice versa). This threat cuts both ways."
- Sandy Petersen

Source - Ask Sandy 8
He's also commented on Age of Mythology and a whole whack of other things. Drop by the Ask Sandy thread and drop him a question or two!

Of further interest to SWGB fans will be MFO's SWGB preview, which provides their first hand findings from their recent playtesting mission. ...haven't been keeping close touch on that game, but they've got some screenshots that I haven't seen before as well... ; )
Gold Edtion Box Art!
Posted by Thunder on July 30th, 2001 @ 10:32 p.m.
Now available for pre-order at EBGames.com is the Age of Empires II Gold Edtion, going for $54.99.

Included in the gold edition is both Age of Kings and the Conquerors expansion, as well as "Bonus Maps" according to the box. Not sure which maps, but there's a lot of small print on the front of the box, so it looks like it's loaded with good stuff.

You can expect to see the gold edition hitting store shelves towards the end of August. It will be shipping on August 23rd according to EB's listing, but hopefully we'll have some official word on this soon. ...one hellish week left in my school year... ; )
Virus Warning: SirCam
Posted by Thunder on July 30th, 2001 @ 2:25 a.m.
Most of you have likely heard of or even been sent copies of this virus. Having just done a weekly sweep of my hard drive, my anti-virus software just took care of a further 37 copies of SirCam, sent to me by friends, family, and some people I've never had correspondence with. According to an article on ZDNet, this virus hasn't fizzled out just yet:
"'This one has a lot of staying power because it's using a multilevel approach,' Sunner said.

The SirCam worm, which surfaced last week, spreads by e-mailing copies of itself to everyone in the infected computer's Windows address book. It also sends itself to any e-mail addresses contained in the Web browser's cache files, which store recently viewed pages.

An added twist with SirCam is that it sends a randomly chosen file from the infected computer's hard drive, potentially sending confidential business data or embarrassing personal information along with itself. The e-mail subject line matches the name of the file being sent."


Source - ZDNet News
Please make sure your anti-virus software has been updated, or get some software to protect yourself if you haven't got any. A couple of HG folks have lost information on their systems as a result of this virus, don't let it happen to you. ...might sound like a cheesey commercial, but take the advice... ; )
Gold Edition Coming...
Posted by Thunder on July 29th, 2001 @ 10:51 a.m.
Over on the Gone Gold release dates list, you'll find a projected release date for "Age of Empires II Gold". Currently listed as an August 24th release, this gold edition will no doubt contain the Conquerors expansion pack as well as the one and only Age of Kings. It will certainly be priced less than the combined cost of buying both items seperately, so newcomers to the series or collectors of all things age, keep your eyes peeled for the coming of the gold edition. ...may contain some little extras too, like the Collectors Edition did... ; )
Forum Party Tomorrow!
Posted by Thunder on July 28th, 2001 @ 2:41 a.m.
It's just about that time once again. All are invited to join in on some Conquerors games tomorrow, with fellow forumers and the odd AOKH staffer. You can find all of the important details right in the Forum Party Post. See you on the battlefield! ...here's hoping we all have a notch in the win column when things wrap up... ; )
Chat With Blue...
Posted by Thunder on July 27th, 2001 @ 9:00 p.m.
There's a chat event that goes tonight with blue_myriddn, who is busy workin' it over at Mr.Fixit Online. Ask him about his thoughts on the game, pro gamers, or his take on Neil Diamond. You can find more information on the chat event here as well as submit your question early.

There's some big news out of MFO this morning regarding Star Wars Galactic Battlegrounds, perhaps something else to ask blue about:
"Blue_myriddn and I visited LucasArts for an exclusive, hardcore strategic playtesting session on Star Wars: Galactic Battleground spanning 29 hours of testing in two days. Even though the game is in “pre-alpha” stage, we were able to really dig into this new game and discover how impressive this game is. Built on the Age of Kings engine, LucasArts has added numerous enhancements and radically changed the gameplay and strategy, bringing an entirely new experience to Age fans. In the next few weeks, we will be describing in detail the impact of the new features on hardcore gameplay – we are sure that all serious Age fans will be very impressed with the scope and strategic possibilities of Battleground. In our opinion, Battleground is going to rock the house and bring an exciting new game to the Real-Time Strategy scene. " - Mr.Fixit

Source - Mr.Fixit Online
The "I" in that paragraph is Mr.Fixit himself. They can both be found in their SWGB Forum answering questions and giving their thoughts on the game. ...some mighty big words of praise and it was only the pre-alpha that they played...imagine the final product...*drools* ; )
Bug Hunt Continues...
Posted by Thunder on July 27th, 2001 @ 10:27 a.m.
The infamous chat conducted by NoX_Malice regarding experts using bugs that are unknown to most players to gain the upper hand continues to inspire debate and bug hunters. GPA_Great Benze has apparently revealed one of the bugs mentioned in the chat that allows ships to move faster than normal:
"Select the ships you would like to go somewhere fast with. Hit z and click the place. Reapeat very fast. When patrol is enacted, the ships get a little speed boost. When you do this many times very fast the ships keep up the speed without slowing down, making them go fast."

Source - The bug/cheat chat between Si, Nox and Darq
One of the responces to the original chat post provides screenshots of another bug in action. Here you can find a link to several screenshots with a unit being seen through the fog of war. These bugs have been known to a small group for awhile, a group which apparently includes Ensemble Studios. ...Star Wars Galactic Battlegrounds preview at GameSpot...did they mention Age II enough? Game sounds kewl though, check it out... ; )
Zone Design: They Want Our Input!
Posted by Thunder on July 27th, 2001 @ 0:08 a.m.
Wow, who would have thought we'd ever see the day. The new design that recently went live on the Zone was greeted with horror and shock by most of the Age community. We knew it was coming, but who knew it'd look like that.

Whelp, it looks like this is going to change. The Zone design lead recently posted here in the forums at AoK.cc looking for our two cents:
"Hi all, this is Jack Huang, the Product Design Lead over at the Zone. I'm the guy ultimatly responsible for how things looks on the Zone. Based on the feedbacks posted, it's painfully obvious to me that most of you HATE how the new site looks... So something must be done about that.

Let me start by throwing all my excuses at you. First of all, the unused white space will be used. The Zone as a whole is optimized for 800x600, and based on the fact that we will have additional items on the right hand side. Unfortunately, those items have not been implemented yet.

I agree that the colors are rather unbearable in terms of contrast. It's the result of me not doing a good enough job in defining better colors specifically for these pages. This huge redesign effort has been a massive lack-of-sleep for me and everyone else at the Zone. Somewhere along the line I think I might of lost the ability to see colors properly.

I am in the process of requesting color changes for all the the Age pages, the first comp is posted at http://communities.msn.com/ZoneDesignStuff/files.msnw?fc_a=0&fc_p=

Please take a look and let me know what you think. If you rather email me directly, I've set up an alias at zdesign@microsoft.com. You can send me email there, but please start your subject line with "feedback - " because I receive insane amount of emails each day."


Source - New Zone colors - need your input
Be sure to stop in and check out his full post here at AoK.cc. Go on, let's improve our playground. ...wow, can hardly believe this has happened... ; )
Top 10...
Posted by Thunder on July 26th, 2001 @ 7:50 p.m.
The list of top selling PC games for July 8-14 is now available (thanks to Voodoo Ex) and there's not a whole lot of surprises. The new Diablo xpack tops the charts, with those simple Sims still clogging up several slots:
"1) Diablo 2 Expansion Set: Lord of Destruction; Vivendi Universal Publishing - $35
2) The Sims; Electronic Arts - $42
3) The Sims: House Party Expansion Pack; Electronic Arts - $29
4) Diablo 2; Vivendi Universal Publishing - $38
5) MP Roller Coaster Tycoon; Infogrames Entertainment - $27
6) The Sims Livin Large Expansion Pack; Electronic Arts - $29
7) MS Age Of Empires II: Age of Kings; Microsoft - $41
8) MS Flight Simulator; Microsoft - $34
9) Black & White; Electronic Arts - $41
10) Baldur's Gate 2: Throne Of Bhaal; Interplay - $30"


Source - Voodoo Extreme
The Baldur's Gate 2 expansion grabbed the last spot in the top ten, revealing that it's not selling nearly as well as LoD. Still kicking around in the top ten nearly two years after its release, Age of Kings. ...it just keeps going and going and going... ; )
WCG Western Canadian Prelims!
Posted by Thunder on July 25th, 2001 @ 9:52 p.m.
Being organized by my pal Lila "Player_Theta" Yee, the World Cyber Games adds an event that takes place in my own back yard. This prelim tournament is part of the huge international WCG event, which has qualifying tournies underway in many countries right now:
"WCG Western Canadian RTS Tournament kicks off August 18 and 19 in Vancouver

The Gamer’s Box, in cooperation with the Cyber Champions Corporation and World Cyber Games (WCG), today announced the Vancouver WCG Western Canadian Regional RTS Preliminary Tournament, which takes place August 18-19, 2001. Gamers will compete using two of the top selling real-time strategy games, Age of Empires II: The Conquerors, and Starcraft: Brood War. The winners of each category will receive $500 and a trip to Toronto to compete in the Canadian Preliminary.

Canadian gamers from Western Canada can sign-up now at The Gamer’s Box Web site. For more information about the Vancouver WCG Western Canadian Regional RTS Preliminary Tournament visit:

http://www.thegamersbox.com/"
If you're going to be around Vancouver during mid-August, make sure you sign up for this event! You must be 15 years or older in order to participate, as well as pay a whopping $10 entrance fee. I'll be heading down to lose a game, and will be hanging out with fellow Agers, stop in and say "Hi". ...lots of good players come from around these parts...should be a great event! ; )
Big Dog's Young Pup...
Posted by Thunder on July 25th, 2001 @ 9:26 p.m.
Our congratulations to Ensemble Studios Technical Director Dave "Big Dog" Pottinger on this brand new lil' addition to his family!
"Andrew David Pottinger
Born: 7:37 PM, July 23, 2001
Weight: 6 pounds
Length: 18 inches"


Source - ES News
...and the Age community grows once again. No doubt this little Ager will be defeating his old man in AoM in just a couple of years. ...if not sooner... ; )
The Russians Are Coming!
Posted by Thunder on July 25th, 2001 @ 9:29 a.m.
Yes, while stumbling around in the Modpack forum I stumbled onto something cool yet again. This project is a total civilization conversion, bringing the Russians into Age:
"Well two months ago as RaW was being finished I had an idea of starting my own total civ-conversion project(well actually I needed a hand with stuff that need to look professional, so now it's teamwork with Dire Wolf, Wijtmaker, and RU_Pupp). I had the idea of changing the Mayans and Aztecs into two medieval Russian civs, which I thought would be neat. Didn't many people wanted Russian civs added in the game, anyway? Well the two civs that will change the Mesos will be Kievan Rus, or ust Kiev or Kievan(changes Aztecs) and Russia(changes Mayans)." - Agamemmnon

Source - A sneak peek at WFS' new Russian Mod project
The screenshots are a must see! The russian wonder, which you can see in the top left is just amazing! So far, it is looking like a top notch mod in every way, one to watch for sure. Great work guys! ...I swear, my jaw dropped when I saw that wonder...just outstanding! ; )
LEGO Meets AoK...
Posted by Thunder on July 25th, 2001 @ 9:19 a.m.
I'm not sure how Angel Chris found this site, but he's just sent over the URL. If you played with LEGO as a kid at all, it will no doubt bring back some memories. An Ager has taken pictures of various LEGO people in the garb of AOK units, including the infantry and archer lines as well as many unique units. Stop in for a look at these LEGO warriors. ...love my LEGO... ; )
Warcraft III Delayed...
Posted by Thunder on July 24th, 2001 @ 9:58 a.m.
A shock to no one I am sure. Blizzard has posted their traditional game delay message on the official site, revealing that Warcraft III has slipped to sometime in 2002 for release:
"Warcraft III Update
Over the past few weeks, it has become apparent that Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos will not be complete for release by the end of 2001. Our development team is hard at work finalizing the product and we look forward to bringing you an outstanding, real-time strategy game in 2002.

Our goal at Blizzard is to make the best games possible. This means that we will not release a game until it's ready. While we could release an inferior product to meet a specific date, we instead choose to polish our games until they meet the superior quality that we know Blizzard gamers and our development teams expect.

We firmly believe that this additional development time will prove invaluable, ensuring that Warcraft III will expand upon the legendary gameplay experience previously found in the critically acclaimed Warcraft series."


Source - Blizzard
Well now. Will WC3 be going head to head with Age of Mythology in 2002? Blizzard was definately quite vague with their mention of only the year, so it may not go gold until well after AoM's release, which is slated for sometime in the spring. Still, it would be an interesting scenario. ...both companies make high quality RTS games...it would be a battle of the best! ; )
The Art of War - a Guide
Posted by Socvazius on July 24th, 2001 @ 3:46 a.m.
Trinity has written a guide to how to play AoK following Sun Tzu's legendary writing, The Art of War. It includes excellent information about the way of Sun Tzu, and how to use it in AoK. Be sure to check it out, it's a great article.
Site Milestones...
Posted by Thunder on July 23rd, 2001 @ 10:28 a.m.
Hearty congratulations to the crews of AoE Heaven, which recently surpassed 2.5 million visitors and is the birth place of many great Agers, and the much younger EE Heaven on their 300,000th visitor! Here's wishing both sites a continued long life.

One more milestone, or baby step if you will. The youngest site here in Heaven is celebrating its first week in existance. Stop over at AoM Heaven and see how they've faired. ...wonder if we're going to get some information on this $50,000 tournament anytime soon...their "couple of weeks" is resembling something suspiciously like a month... ; \
Tavern: Party Tales...
Posted by Thunder on July 23rd, 2001 @ 2:34 a.m.
The results of a couple of Form Party games can now be found in our Tavern, both pretty disasterous losses. Be sure to stop in for all of the gory details, and we'll see you for more battles next week.

My thanks to dedkrikit and magicmel for giving a modified RMS a run through at the party. It's a shame the game wasn't recorded, they really went at it! ...gotta have another nomads tourney I think... ; )
SW:GB Goes Alpha...
Posted by Thunder on July 22nd, 2001 @ 12:22 a.m.
No, we're not turning into a Star Wars fansite. There does seem to be a fair bit of interest in this RTS that's powered by the Age engine though, so here's a rather large announcement regarding its development that was found in the latest designer journal update at the official Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds site:
"Designer Diary #2

July 20, 2001 -- The whole team has been working extremely hard the past few weeks and brought the game to a very solid "Alpha" state last week. The art team successfully reached a critical milestone to where we now have every unit and building represented in the game. All six civilizations are looking great and people are really excited in particular about all the new Wookiee art that has just been finished. It's really exciting that our team has the opportunity to visualize a variety of elements on the Wookiee homeworld for the first time. (environments, buildings, vehicles, and much more.)"


Source - SW:GB Website
The journal entry by the game's lead artist goes on to talk about how many other aspects of the game are coming along, and you can also find some new screenshots of the game at the site. There's a great new one featuring AT-ATs shooting stuff up, supported by Storm Troopers. ...my thanks to Gerard for the note regarding this announcement... ; )
Big Travis' Big Mod...
Posted by Thunder on July 21st, 2001 @ 8:42 a.m.
This modpack was announced as in the works quite some time ago. You can finally find North America to Arms as the latest mod for download in our Blacksmith. It's creator, Big Travis, has obviously spent a great deal of time on it, creating all sorts of new unit art and too many other changes to list here. For screenshots and more information on all of the changes you can view the description here, along with comments from people who've downloaded it.

It is a hefty 9mb+ download, but by the looks of the screenshots and positive feedback it seems well worth it. It really does look amazing! ...new ages, new civs, new units...who could ask for more? ; )
Tavern: Party Planning...
Posted by Thunder on July 21st, 2001 @ 4:03 a.m.
The sword swinging green knight signals that another Forum Party is near! Be sure to hop a bar stool in the local Tavern for more information on this event, and we'll see you on the battlefield tomorrow for some games of the Conquerors. ...bring your big sword...and a little knife for a bit of backstabbing if you're up for shimo... ; )
Sandy Sounds Off...
Posted by Thunder on July 20th, 2001 @ 10:13 p.m.
Game designer, Sandy "Sandyman" Petersen popped in to answer more fan questions today, leaving behind many interesting comments, including thoughts on the latest patch for the Conquerors:
"Q) The patch was a great addition! What is the sentiment among ES staff regarding what, if anything, should be done about the 35% cheaper Goth infantry?
A) I guess our bottom line is that the Goths are too cheap, but that even with this extra bonus they’re not as dominant as the Chinese were pre-patch. With the improvement of the Byzantines, it is our belief that the difference in balance between the best civs & the worst civs has been narrowed, so by and large we’re happy with the patch but we fully agree it is not perfect.

Q) Have you got any comments on the resent conspiracy-theories at MFO, about top players such as Koven and Kidd and the other real Experts using Bugs not known to more than the Elite, in their everyday strategies?
A) When have experts not used aspects of game play to maintain their position, whether buggy or not?"


Source - Ask Sandy 8
Drop in on the Ask sandy post to check out more answers from Sandy, and throw a question or two at him while you're there. ...bugs, well of course...that's why Methos beat me so soundly... ; )
Latest From The Nations Cup...
Posted by Thunder on July 20th, 2001 @ 7:38 p.m.
An update has come in from the organizers of the Nations Cup, which puts teams representing their countries in head to head games. Here is the latest, courtesy CID_Al_Malone:
"The 1/8 finals of the playoffs are almost finished and there have been two big surprises, the defeat of Germany by Bulgaria and the loss of France versus Brazil. Records of these particulary spotlighted games can be downloaded in the save game forum.

Regarding the poll 40% of the voters think that Southkorea is going to win the Cup.

On August the 1st the new season will begin with partially changed rules. We hope that all great teams of the world will participiate again and that all matches will be played finally.

Additionally we added a new funny links section on the site, where the most entertaining sites of the internet are listed. We r glad about some hints about other strange or funny sites."
-CID_Al_Malone
Sign ups for the next season of national competition begins on August 1st, and each nation must organize a team with a minimum of six players on board. Head to the Nations Cup site for more information, and good luck! ...you'd be surprised how many countries have fielded teams! ; )
Run On Recorded Games...
Posted by Thunder on July 19th, 2001 @ 10:41 p.m.
If you're on the hunt for some great recorded games to inspire you to new heights, be sure to stop in at Planet AoE. Xiphoid has just made an update to his records collection that includes games involving The_Sheriff, Djadja, and several other great players. ...if you've been stuck watching our forum party slug fests, treat yourself to some of these games... ; )
Bruce Shelley Cooks Up AI...
Posted by Thunder on July 19th, 2001 @ 12:55 a.m.
While poking around in the ES Designer Journal and gawking at Sandy "Sandyman" Petersen's pictures from his recent trip to a convention, there happenned to be a new article there by Bruce Shelley no less. He examines the current state of artificial intelligence with an example straight out of the Iron Chef:
"The recent North American release of the film AI by Steven Spielberg has focused media attention on the creation of artificial intelligence (AI). Ensemble Studios has been interviewed regarding the state of AI in games and this forced us to think about what we have achieved as an industry and what we have not. Although we have made great improvements in game AI since the beginning of the computer game industry, we still have a long way to go before we approach the kind of AI portrayed in this film.

For sake of discussion of where game AI is today, imagine that we are developing a game where AI chefs compete in an electronic kitchen to create great tasting meals. As game developers we can now create kitchens with lots of pots and pans and lots of different foods available for cooking. We can create adequate AI chefs that can be placed in the kitchen and cook. We can create good recipes that the AI chefs can follow. This is basically where game AI stands now.

For the past 25 years, the game industry has been focusing on creating better digital "kitchens" and AI chefs, providing better digital "foods", and, more recently, providing better recipes for the AI chefs to follow."
- Bruce Shelley

Source - The State of Game Artificial Intelligence
It's not a lengthy read, but Bruce sums things up pretty well. I hate to think that truly intelligent AI is as far away as he's saying it is, but at the rate it has been advancing, he may well be right on the money. Be sure to stop in and check out Bruce's article in full. ...that article make anyone else hungry? ; )
Warhammer Eye Candy...
Posted by Thunder on July 18th, 2001 @ 8:52 p.m.
Stopping into the Modpack discussion forum can be a real treat. Some of the talented folks who dwell there will occasionally post screenshots of their latest works, some that just make your eyes bug out in awe.

Josef_Bugman recently gave us a look at his Warhammer Mod, which contains a very impressive Castle, amongst many other changes to the Vikings. Drop in on his post for a screenshot and more information on the project. Great work sir! ...now, if someone could just make a Mod that'll let me win a game or two... ; )
Imperio SUD, Now With Imperio English...
Posted by Thunder on July 18th, 2001 @ 8:21 a.m.
One of the manly men from Imperio SUD --hmmm, hope he's a he-- just dropped us a note about a new feature they have available. This long running spanish language Age site can now be read in plain old english as well. See for yourself:
"We have opened a new section we hope will be of great pleasure for English-speaking visitors and members. You can click on the logo that you will find on the right. That will let you read the news of our main page in English. We've done this due to the poor english translation you get from the translation program that we have.

Here is the link to that page
http://www.imperiosud.com/aoe/news.shtml"
- Raven
The english version is good, damn good. We're going to have to start using spellcheck or something to compete.

Our thanks to Raven for letting us know about this awesome new feature. ...hot or not Dungeon Siege style... ; )
Longest Thread? Party On...
Posted by Thunder on July 17th, 2001 @ 11:34 p.m.
Well, we made the news. The Party Thread in the OD forum (for discussion of non-Age related stuff) is currently sitting at 10,817 replies, making it easily the longest thread in any AOKH forum. Is there one longer anywhere out there on the net? The whole notion was just geeky enough to appear on Geeknews.

On our way to a world record? ...apparently this is a very serious matter and not the result of too much booze... ; )
AoK For Mac Goes Alpha...
Posted by Thunder on July 17th, 2001 @ 0:28 a.m.
For any Mac users out there who are anxiously awaiting the Age of Kings port, there is a brief update on its progress here on the Westlake site. (thanks Voodoo Ex.)
"Age of Empires II has reached the Alpha milestone, and is proceeding well towards beta.

Much of the game is playable, including network play. We're now working on cleaning up graphics routines and fixing some remaining save game and file I/O code."


Source - Westlake Interactive - News
A brief update, but it does sound as though things are speeding along quite nicely! ...will likely be in stores for the holidays at this rate... ; )
Age Of Mythology Heaven Launches!
Posted by Thunder on July 16th, 2001 @ 7:40 p.m.
You knew it was coming, and a few hours ago Age of Mythology Heaven threw open the gates to Agers! You'll likely recognize a few of the staffers over there, pop by for a look:
"HEAVENGAMES LAUNCHES AGE OF MYTHOLOGY HEAVEN
July 16, 2001 - HeavenGames LLC announced today that it has launched Age of Mythology Heaven, the latest in its series of special-interest sites for Real Time Strategy & Citybuilding games.

Currently in development, Age of Mythology is a Real Time Strategy (RTS) game developed by Ensemble Studios/Microsoft. The game covers ancient times when mythological creatures and events were part of the human experience. The game features some of the more famous civilizations known for their mythological pasts - the Norse, Greek, and Egyptians. The game also features a new proprietary 3D engine enabling stunning visual effects, animated water, mythological characters and hundreds of on-screen units.

Age of Mythology Heaven will be dedicated to featuring extensive coverage of Age of Mythology as the game is being developed, and will bring you the latest news on the game, as well as chats with developers in the forums. Be sure to check out their E3 coverage of AoM as well!

AoM Heaven will be operated by an experienced staff of four. They are Graham "Thunder" Somers, Site Director; Chris "Angel Chris" Gouardo, Content Writer & Graphics Designer; HoYin "Zen" Au, Technical Director; and Tom "Spineman" Mescher, Downloads Director. Many have been actively involved in the gaming community for more than 4 years.

ABOUT HEAVENGAMES, LLC
HeavenGames LLC, based in Villa Park, Illinois, is a privately-owned web-content publisher geared towards the creation of special-interest sites for Real-Time Strategy and City-Builder games. Its sites, contents, vast amounts of resources, as well as a dedicated staff & management team make HeavenGame's sites the premier destination for gamers worldwide."
There you have it, even including the about HG bits. So that's where you'll be finding AoM news, instead of here, where we've been sticking it over the last few months. See ya over there! ...careful when you enter the forums, someone is trying to addict everyone to kick-ups already...for shame... ; )
The Gestapo, Conspiracy, Ethics, And Legends...
Posted by Thunder on July 16th, 2001 @ 10:39 a.m.
All fabulous ingredients for a movie no? All are somehow mentioned or involved in this chat session, presented by AoK.cc, in which NoX_Malice attempts to reveal the dirty little secrets of the experts. Does it take more than just talent to be at the top of the Age world? A helpful bug or two might be worth using, when there's money to be had:
"NoX_Malice> well are there
NoX_Malice> tricks still out there?
Si_Lau_Ming> y ^^
Si_Lau_Ming> at least 3 good ~
Si_Lau_Ming> ES knows
Si_Lau_Ming> but kid z-msged me and asked if they are Major
DaRq_Mark> this sounds like a conspiracy theory...
Si_Lau_Ming> i said no, cause no one knows about it
Si_Lau_Ming> so he said if i won't tell, they won't tell
Si_Lau_Ming> it kinda is mark ^^
Si_Lau_Ming> in a way
DaRq_Mark> ok ... would these things be "major" if known?
Si_Lau_Ming> all ikarus (sp?) students know ^^
Si_Lau_Ming> well
Si_Lau_Ming> not as big as farm bug
Si_Lau_Ming> one can kill DM ~
Si_Lau_Ming> one is only major in RM castle
Si_Lau_Ming> one is kick ass on water"


Source - Please read - What they don't want you to know
The three tricks are never revealed, although their effects are mentioned and could give a player an edge. Some interesting debate has been sparked as a result of the chat, as some seek to level the playing field while others see no problem with a small group of players with knowledge of these tricks. Makes for some good reading. ...*insert tasteless joke about an expert with a bug up his/her arse...erm, sleeve... ; )
The Huns
Posted by Socvazius on July 16th, 2001 @ 3:59 a.m.
The Dragon Reborn has written another civlization guide, this one covering AoK's nomadic civilization, the Huns. It's a great brush-up or introduction to the civilization, so be sure to check it out. Here's a brief excerpt:

The Huns are often dismissed as a ‘newbie’ civilisation, or as too ‘one-dimensional’. This is a grave injustice, and players doing so are dismissing the true power represented within the Huns. Perhaps more people should play Huns. Perhaps you should try them today.
Greg Street Interview!
Posted by Thunder on July 15th, 2001 @ 11:04 p.m.
A messenger just came in from www.aok-conquerors.com, where they have an exclusive interview with Greg "Deathshrimp" Street, game designer with Ensemble Studios. The interview encompasses Greg's role at the studios, so there is a fair bit of talk about scenarios:
"[Alliance Francophone] You designed almost all the scenario and campaigns since "The Rise of Rome" expansion. Could you please tell us how you get inspired for doing this task?

[Greg Street] Starting with Rise of Rome, but to a much greater extent in Age of Kings and The Conquerors Expansion, we wanted to tell stories about famous or interesting leaders from history. My first task was to come up with a list of interesting heroes that I presented to other folks at the company. Some of these heroes, like Joan D'Arc, were no-brainers because they had a great story that could be retold in a dramatic fashion. Other leaders who had some amazing adventures, like Belisarius of Byzantium, or the Mameluke Baibars, had to be cut along the way so that we could focus on a few really good campaigns. The next step was to outline each scenario and decide what the interesting "hook" was for each one. I worked with Producer Chris Rippy to make sure there was variation within the campaign. Most of our scenarios are of the build-up-and-fight style because we know that is a fun part of Age of Kings, but we try to throw set-piece battles or more RPG-style scenarios in al!
ong the way for variety. To get inspired, I would order lots of books and try to read everything about the individuals features in the campaigns. You end up throwing a lot of stuff out, since you really have to focus on battles over personal crises and you want to have a climactic ending for the story."


Source - Greg Street Interveiew [English]
There is also a french version of the interview, a good read in any language. Our thanks to Dallas, Co-Webmaster at www.alliance-francophone.com for the heads up! ...Friday 13th isn't supposed to last all weekend...is it? ; )
The Celts
Posted by Socvazius on July 14th, 2001 @ 4:09 a.m.
The Dragon Reborn has written yet another guide and submitted it to the University. This guide covers the Celts, the seige and infantry heavy civilization in AoK. Be sure to check out this great guide.
Tavern: Sandy's Patch Thoughts & Our Party Plans...
Posted by Thunder on July 14th, 2001 @ 3:56 a.m.
Now playing in our Tavern is the latest batch of answers from Sandy "Sandyman" Petersen, as well as the details on our weekly Forum Party! Come one, come all for some Conquerors action on the Zone.

There's a two drink minimum, plenty of seating, and more on both topics to be had in the stinking Tavern. ...rotten day, starting to become paraskevidekatriaphobic...will be spending next Friday 13th with the covers pulled over my head... ; )
100, 000 Cossacks...
Posted by Thunder on July 14th, 2001 @ 1:19 a.m.
Happy belated 100,000th visitor to the crew at Cossacks Heaven! It was a couple of days ago now that the big event took place, so the gang are probably starting to sober up from the celebrations. Stop in for a bit of cheer, and to see the latest on the Cossacks xpack!

After a quick walk around Heaven, I noticed that Zeus Heaven recently surpassed the 100,000 visitor mark, and Empire Earth Heaven is edging ever closer to 300,000. Congrats to all of the winged folk involved! ...hmmmmm, what should we do when AOKH hits 5 million? ...open to ideas... ; )
Help Wanted At TTA...
Posted by Thunder on July 13th, 2001 @ 9:41 p.m.
It's hard to find good help, or so the saying goes. Ogre, chief webmonster at Through The Ages, just threw a "Help Wanted" sign through my window. Here's what he's looking for:
"Ogre has been very busy with many different things at the moment, he simply is running out of time in his day to do the news here at TTA. He is asking for a helper. If you would like to help post news here at the site let Ogre know. The only skills you need to have is fairly good spelling, not perfect, but good enough. Also the ability to find news off many different sites. That's about it, just apply to the Ogre if you want to help!" - Ogre
If you've got some spare time to post news, be sure to visit Ogre and let him give you a sniff. Boy, this is a fun job...day in, day out, news posting...exciting stuff, let me tell you! ...bah, ya don't need skill to post news...I'm proof of that... ; )
Mythological Friday 13th...
Posted by Thunder on July 13th, 2001 @ 1:32 p.m.
I imagine that all of the paraskevidekatriaphobics, those who are terrified of the 13th day of any month if it happens to be a Friday, are safely hiding under their beds, waiting this one out. There are some interesting theories and stories behind why this is a day to be feared, and why the number thirteen is thought unlucky by many. Here's a couple of mythological related causes that may interest AoM fans out there, found at about.com:
"To the Egyptians, life was a quest for spiritual ascension which unfolded in stages – 12 in this life and a thirteenth beyond, thought to be the eternal afterlife. The number 13 therefore symbolized death – not in terms of dust and decay, but as a glorious and desirable transformation. Egyptian civilization perished, this explanation continues, but the symbolism of the number 13 lived on only to be corrupted by other cultures (the Romans, for example) and bound to a fear of death instead of a reverence for the afterlife. (In Tarot decks the "Death" card bears the number 13 but retains its original, positive meaning: transformation.)"
Well now, here's a little something for you Norse supporters:
"Twelve gods were invited to a banquet at Valhalla. Loki, the Evil One, god of mischief, had been excluded from the guest list but chose to crash the party, bringing the total to 13. True to form, Loki raised hell by inciting Hod, the blind god of winter, to attack Balder the Good, who happened to be a favorite of the gods. Hod took a spear of mistletoe offered by Loki and hurled it at Balder, killing him instantly. All of Valhalla grieved. And although one might take the moral of this story to be "Beware of uninvited guests bearing mistletoe," the Norse themselves supposedly concluded that 13 people at a dinner party is just plain bad luck."

Source - Why Friday the 13th Is Unlucky
No wonder Loki is slated to give archers a bonus in Age of Mythology. Here's hoping your Friday plays out ok! ...don't mind Friday 13th so much myself...weekends always seem to follow... ; )
The Chinese: A Guide by The Dragon Reborn
Posted by Socvazius on July 13th, 2001 @ 1:36 a.m.
The Dragon Reborn has submitted to the University another article in his series of civilization guides, this time covering the technological powerhouse, the Chinese. It includes good information for beginners who want to learn just how to work with the Chinese, or for intermediates who want to brush up on that civ. Be sure to check this great guide out.
Rasher's Scenario Design History Quiz...
Posted by Thunder on July 13th, 2001 @ 0:18 a.m.
This is kind of a fun post by Angel Rasher that you'll find in the Scenario Design Forum, and one that will give long time members of the design community a definate edge. The AoKH Scenario Design History Quiz is a collection of ten questions from our past, such as:
"#1: List, in order of oldest to most recent, the three moderators of the AoKH Scen Design Forum

#2: This review (include name of author and approximate date) was the first-ever posted in the AoKH Blacksmith"


Source - AoKH Scenario Design History Quiz
The questions get harder from there! There has been a lot of wild guessing, but plenty of correct responces too over the last day or so. Pop in and see if you can manage a perfect score. ...really glad Rasher's not my prof...that's a killer quiz! ; )
Game Voice Update v1.5...
Posted by Thunder on July 12th, 2001 @ 6:42 p.m.
For those who own a Sidewinder Game Voice, you'll want to take note that there is an new update avaiable. The new features include:
"-Join Server chat sessions: Integration with Game Voice Server provides improved network connectivity, and allows you to meet new gamers online.
-Use Keyboard Push-To-Talk: Choose when you want to broadcast your voice into a chat.
-Start or Join Games: Game with the players in your chat sessions.
Program timed macros: Map multiple game actions to a single voice command.
-Customize voice command parameters: Modify parameters to improve your voice command recognition."


Source - Game Voice v1.5 Features
Drop in on the official GV page and download the new update, or the new version of their free chat only software.

If you don't have a Game Voice right now, they are offering a rebate for those who buy one before August 31st. If you would like some more information on what the GV is capable of, check out my Game Voice review. That article is getting a little long in the tooth, as there have been several software updates since it was written, but it'll give you an idea of what the product can do. ...and what the product can't do...it's not like I own stock in the company... ; )
Post Patch Chat With The_Sheriff!
Posted by Thunder on July 12th, 2001 @ 2:32 a.m.
With all of the tweaks, additions, changes, mutations, and other things to be found in the new Conquerors 1.0b patch, we had a few questions. Ok, a ton of questions. Thankfully Kevin "the_Sheriff" Holme took some time to sit down with us and answer some of our questions that were actually patch related. We cover the super cheap Gothic infantry, bombard towers, and other civilization tweaks or changes. It's short, but oh so sweet: ...and of course after the chat we thought up another truck load of questions to ask...doh... ; )



click here
A Little More Brawl At The Mall...
Posted by Thunder on July 11th, 2001 @ 8:14 p.m.
Some more information is now available on the Brawl @ The Mall, which will be taking place next Friday - Sunday (July 20-22) at the Mall of America, which is located in Bloomington, Minnesota. The Conquerors 1on1 even starts at 5pm on Friday, July 20th, and will play out to its end that evening. I've also just received word from Gary Arndt, a Stomped stud, that we will get to see the settings/rules for the Age tourney "shortly". ...watch their B@TM page real close for settings info... ; )
DeathShrimp Q&A...
Posted by Thunder on July 11th, 2001 @ 7:49 p.m.
Shamelessly extracted from the AoM forums to be found at aoe2.com, sidgu has gathered some interesting responces to questions by Greg "DeathShrimp" Street in this post. Greg has shared comments on all sorts of AoM goodies, from the civilizations and units to art work and favour. Pop into this great post for the lengthy Q&A with Greg. ...and thank you to whoever it was that e-mailed me about sidgu's post...sign your next e-mail so I can sing your praises... ; )
Bruce Shelley Interview At MGON!
Posted by Thunder on July 10th, 2001 @ 6:44 p.m.
A brand new addition to MGON's coverage of Age of Mythology is a great interview with Ensemble Studios senior designer Bruce Shelley. They cover numerous topics, which of course includes many aspects of the game itself:
"Steve: Do you think that 3D RTS games are significantly different to 2D RTS titles?

Bruce Shelley: The significance comes in three areas. First, great 3D graphics can make the world look amazingly real. We are very proud of the waves washing ashore and receding, for example. Animations of humans and animals look very real. Second, we can do interesting effects, like lightning bolts and meteor showers, and effects that change the landscape. None of this was easy, if even possible, in 2D. Third, we can generate cinematic sequences in the game quite easily. This allows us to use the sequences in the single player campaign to move the story along seamlessly, without forcing the player to jump out of the game. Overall, we hope that Age of Mythology will be a dramatic improvement over 2D RTS games."
...

"Steve: What sort of AI system have you developed for the game?
Do computer controlled characters study your tactics and learn from them?

Bruce Shelley: To the chagrin of our business people, we are rewriting the AI routines again for Age of Mythology (not relying on what we did for Age of Kings). The AI in Age of Mythology will work much like it did in Age of Kings but we will be improving it. Yes, the computer characters will learn from your play and respond. We will be including AI personalities, who will play as you might expect from their historic behavior. We have full time designer working on AI scripts now."


Source - MGON Interviews Bruce Shelley
I believe the designer he is referring to is none other than Mike "Captn" Kidd, who's got that monumental task of putting the intelligence into the AI and making it fun to play against.

It's quite a lengthy discussion, and most certainly a great read. Pop over and check out the full interview with Bruce. ...man, they corrected their spelling of Age of Mythology and got an interview with Bruce Shelley...wonder what would happen if we cleaned up our spelling... ; )
Master Of The Links...
Posted by Thunder on July 10th, 2001 @ 7:37 a.m.
The brand new manager of our links section is just starting to settle in. Let's all welcome Angel Nazgul to this lil' corner of heaven. He'll be looking after all our linky like needs, and is currently collecting URLs of scenario design team sites in this post.

Welcome aboard! ...no messing around for Nazgul...look at him go! ; )
The Return Of Sandy P....
Posted by Thunder on July 9th, 2001 @ 10:28 p.m.
He's baaaack. Returned from a glorious two weeks of being out and about, ES designer Sandy "Sandyman" Petersen has popped into our forums once again to answer some fan questions. As always, he's commented on a wide range of topics, everything from consoles to politics and a few things in between:
"Q) Do you prefer console's simplicity or PC's complexity when it comes to game's(you don't have to read the game manual for a console game to be able to play)?
A) I like the console’s reliability. Complexity is not necessarily bad, but don’t confuse simple controls with simple games – you can interact with the world in 40-50 different things in Banjo-Tooie for instance. Compare that with a “complex” PC shooter – I doubt there’s more than 6 or 7.

Q) Will the Age of Empires games eventually get to present times?
A) Unknown

Q) Any change made in the beta patch that you don’t like?
A) not a single one. You can probably guess why.

Q) Why is relocation necessary to get a job at Ensemble Studios?
A) Because you can’t do the job right unless you’re here, surrounded by other people on the project."


Source - Ask Sandy 8
Yah, the ES crew are always having meetings and bouncing ideas off of each other. They are quite the team, one which would hard to be apart of over the phone etc.

There's plenty more questions and answers from Sandy in the ask Sandy post. Click on over for a read. ...Sandy got root beer for Father's Day...wow...my Dad has a box full of ties and soap on a rope... ; )
Patch Findings...
Posted by Thunder on July 9th, 2001 @ 7:17 p.m.
Some of the hype and euphoria has worn off, and many players are giving the new Conquerors patch (1.0b) a sober look. Our patch discussion forum contains bug findings and the expected Agers upset with changes to various civilizations or units.

The change to the Goths has generated a fair bit of debate. Did the Ensemble Studios guys mean to make Gothic infantry cheaper than was documented in the patch readme? (35% cheaper versus 25% cheaper in the readme) Has this made the super cheapo Goth infantry rush an unstoppable strategy? Well there are people on both sides of both of these issues right now, and no official word from Ensemble Studios.

One interesting patch debate centers around what is supposed to happen when a Monk converts an enemy building. Converted Gothic barracks are definately producing infantry at a much faster rate, quite likely keeping the unique technology Perfusion (if it has been researched) as well as the Goth team bonus after converted. This bug post (may or may not be a bug) on converted buildings has made for some interesting findings which may not be game breakers, but have reinforced the fact that the lastest patch is not a miracle cure all. ...ok, no patch is a miracle cure all...but we all hold ES to super high standards since patches have been rare... ; )
Fansite Makeover...
Posted by Thunder on July 9th, 2001 @ 6:51 p.m.
Webmaster of the french fansite aok-conquerors.com, Magellan, just sent word in that they've just redesigned the site. It is quite a big change from their previous look, but a slick looking design to be sure! A new feature they've added will also translate the site to english for you. Drop by and check out their new design. ..."coolbeans" -Zen... ; )
Tavern: Modpack Library & Party Hangover...
Posted by Thunder on July 8th, 2001 @ 9:59 p.m.
The talk of the Tavern right now is a great post for newcomers to the modpack community. You can find links to all sorts of sites regarding all things mod. The aftermath of yesterday's awesome patch party can also be had, which involved plenty of great games with a lil' smurfing on the side. Drop in on the barkeep at the Tavern for more of the sordid details and see ya'll again next week at the Forum Party. ...the patch may not be perfect, but it's sure done wonders for my game...undefeated since it came out! ; )
Article Shuffle At SCN Punk...
Posted by Thunder on July 7th, 2001 @ 7:15 p.m.
None other than Angel Insane sent a message over from the SCN Punk camp regarding their mountain of scenario design articles. Their article collection has been re-organized and moved of late, but still contains the same great tips and tricks.

If you're looking for information on triggers, AI, waterfalls, sea gates, cliffed lakes, or just about anything else to do with scenario design, the SCN Punk guys have a wealth of knowledge shared in their articles. Drop in on them for more information. ...they've also got just a few great scenario projects available for download...some of the very best! ; )
Tavern: Patch Party...
Posted by Thunder on July 6th, 2001 @ 11:05 a.m.
The details on our first full flegded Forum Party with the final version of the Conquerors patch can be found in the Tavern! Gone are the days of having to IP into a patched game! Stop by for some games with fellow forumers tomorrow, and we'll put the latest version of the game through its paces. ...had a couple of great patched games tonight...even took out a BT with a ram! Go BT push yo momma...none of that in my town... ; )
** Final Conquerors Patch Released **
Posted by Thunder on July 5th, 2001 @ 9:57 p.m.
The final version of the Conquerors patch is now available for download! The Ensemble Studios crew have included a few surprise changes to some civilizations and units like the Byzantines and the Korean War Wagon. You can find the patch and the readme file at the MS Conquerors site, and here at the ES site. The readme is truly a must read, with a huge list of changes and fixes that will really effect how you play some civilizations or use some units! Here's a few of the surprises and interesting items listed:
"Civilizations

Aztecs get free Loom.
Byzantines get free Town Watch.
Chinese start with 50 less food (for a total of -200 food).
Franks now get the Halberd technology.
Goth infantry cost 25% less starting in the Feudal Age.
Japanese infantry get 25% attack speed bonus starting in the Feudal Age.
Koreans -
Shinkichon increases Onager range by +1 instead of +2.
Turtle Ships have Heated Shot and additional armor vs. Galley-line ships.
Korean villager LOS increased by +1.
Turtle Ship artwork is changed to be more realistic.
War Wagon and Elite War Wagon range is reduced.
Spanish Hand Cannoneer and Bombard Cannons fire 15% faster. Fire rate for Conquistadors and Elite Conquistadors is also improved.

Units

All archery range units (except Hand Cannoneers) now do +1 additional damage to Spearman-line units.
Camels are now as quick to train as spearmen.
Viking Berserks now move as fast as pikemen.
Celtic Woad Raiders now move faster (they run faster than Eagle Warriors who lack Squires).
Bombard Cannons cause +80 additional damage to buildings.
Training time for Teutonic Knights, Longboats, Tarkans, and Samurai is significantly reduced.
Cavalry Archers now have equal range to Heavy Cavalry Archers.
Scout Cavalry get +2 attack in the Feudal Age.
Galleys now take 60 seconds to produce (War Galleys & Galleons still take 45 seconds).
Fireships & Fast Fireships have additional armor vs. Galley-line ships.
Fireships cause additional damage vs. Turtle Ships.
Korean War Wagon cost increased to 120 wood 60 gold.

Buildings

Castles now take longer to build.
Bombard Towers now do piercing damage instead of normal damage (the major effect is vs. rams).

Technologies

Loom provides +1 additional Pierce armor.
Palisade walls get +3 additional Pierce armor.
Treadmill Crane, Masonry, Architecture, Hoardings, Fortified Wall, Guard Tower, and Keep have had their stone cost replaced with wood or food. Now these technologies only cost food & wood.
Theocracy only costs 200 gold.
Shipwright now also decreases ship build time.
Parthian Shot increases Cavalry Archer and Mangudai attack vs. spearman-line units.
Heated Shot now increases tower attack and Castle attack vs. ships.
Capped Ram & Battering Ram upgrades no longer cost gold."
- Patch readme
...and the list goes on! There are certainly a few nice surprises in there, such as the adjustment to Goth and Japanese infantry, so snag this patch quick and check out how it plays! ...too many changes...sensory overload! ; )
MGON Preview AoM...
Posted by Thunder on July 5th, 2001 @ 6:33 p.m.
Now playing at MGON is an all too brief Age of Mythology preview, in which they share their thoughts on the game. This is the second or third preview we've seen make mention of the mythological artifacts "Pan’s Horn" and the "Golden Fleece" and some nasty sounding God attacks:
"There will also be a host of special effects on offer with some of the most stunning including waterspouts, infernos, lava, tornadoes and earthquakes. However these effects will not only be important because they look good they will also be evidence of your gods’ powers as you call upon the heavens to smite enemies. "

Source - MGON Previews AoM
There's not really much new in this preview, so if you've been following AoM news you won't be missing much if you skip this one. They even managed to get the title of the game wrong...doh. ...their pixelated version of Thor's picture has an interesting name: pcintro_ageofmythology...my thanks to Cherub Krud for the heads up! ; )
More Zone Events!
Posted by Thunder on July 5th, 2001 @ 11:29 a.m.
The Zone crew is really working hard to give us Agers something to do this summer! Not with any previous Age title have there been this many tournaments on the Zone, with the latest set to get underway today! Here are the settings for this DM dash:
"1 vs 1
Game Type: Death Match
Map Style: Standard
Location: Random Map
Map Size: Tiny
Difficulty: Moderate
Population Limit: 200
Starting Age: Post-Imperial Age
Reveal Map: Enable (Explored)
Game Speed: Fast
Victory Condition: Timed (500 years - 40 minutes)
Lock Teams: Disable
Cheats: Disable
All Tech: Disable
Record Game: Enable

Disconnects: 2 Disconnects from same game = Forfeit"


Source - Zone Tournament Page
There's some crazy DM settings for ya! There's currently only about ninety players registered for the first of four preliminary rounds which will be taking place July 5-8. Be sure to stop by the Zone Tournament Page as soon as possible if you're looking to get involved. Good luck DMers! ...as if DM wasn't fast enough already...they've got this event running at "Fast" speed... ; )
DeathShrimp Dishes Some AoM Dirt...
Posted by Thunder on July 4th, 2001 @ 11:55 p.m.
Alright, not so much dirt. Designer Greg "DeathShrimp" Street made a stop at our Age of Mythlogy forums today, sharing his views on villager art --discussing those all important female villagers-- and weather effecting gameplay. Do random disasters turn your crank?:
"Several of the natural disasters you mention are the kind of things you can ask your god to call down upon your enemy. I have never been a big fan of totally random disasters--it just doesn't seem fun that 1 in every 10 games or so you'll lose due to circumstances utterly beyond your control." - Greg Street

Source - How will Weather and Natural Effects affect the gameplay


"Villagers take more art time than almost any other unit in the game because they have so many different actions. By the time of E3 we had only done the men, but the women will be forthcoming. There are different models for the different cultures (unlike AOK)." -Greg Street

Source - WHAT?!?!?! no female villagers?!?!?!
Yes, it appears that many an Ager is worried about the presence of female villagers in Age of Mythology. The question of whether or not they'd be in the game was so popular that we even put it to the ES guys when we were at E3. There will be female villagers, not to worry!

Thanks for stopping in DeathShrimp! Hang a left and head to our Age of Mythlogy forums for more mythological matters. ...Last_Knight made a valiant attempt at locating a female villager... ; )
Tavern: Art Of War, Art Of Language, Just Plain Art...
Posted by Thunder on July 4th, 2001 @ 7:23 p.m.
Some drunkard in the Tavern has pointed the way to a few Forum posts of note. To be found in this dark corner of Heaven today are war stories from last week's Forum Party, a lovely medievil language guide, and a Giant labour of love that can now be viewed in glorious technicolor. Pull up your stool at the Tavern and read on! ...ES crew is all likely off celebrating the fourth of July...so expect a quiet day from those fellas... ; )
World Cyber Games Gears Up...
Posted by Thunder on July 4th, 2001 @ 10:42 a.m.
If you haven't checked the World Cyber Games site in awhile, stop in for a look. They are busy organizing preliminary tournaments in over twenty countries around the world right now, in order to send the best of the best players to the final showdown in December of this year. There will be the usual hundreds of thousands of dollars in prize money, split between winners of the various games of course, so this is obviously something worth getting involved in. The Conquerors made the list of games to be featured in the competition, so keep in good gaming shape!

Make sure you visit the WCG site regularly for the latest information. Events may be coming to your country or even town in the coming weeks, so make sure you don't miss out on your chance to compete! ...look out Edmonton, you've got incoming WCG craziness... ; )
Bug & Panther At MFO!
Posted by Thunder on July 4th, 2001 @ 9:33 a.m.
The huge RM tournament at Planet AoE has wrapped up at long last! The news that Storm_Panther took the best of three final series was found at AoK.cc along with both of the recorded games. The field for this tournament contained some major Ager experts, so this is no small feat of arms!

Also to be found at AoK.cc is a bug sighting! It's not a big one though that's going to have people running through the streets screaming bloody murder. sebass_uk posted here, revealing that if a Siege Workshop is built against enemy walls on specific sides, units created at the shop will be able to pass through the walls. Stop in and get the full scoop. ...unescorted siege...well at least Knights and the like seem to be stopped in their tracks by walls... ; )
FOPT Milestone & Cup Coverage...
Posted by Thunder on July 4th, 2001 @ 9:01 a.m.
That crazy fruit --his words not mine-- who keeps the FOPT Clan page ship shape dropped us a line with some great news! Not only did they recently welcome their 100,000th visitor, but they also have pictures, results, and interviews from the AOK EuroCup:
"FOPT - Coverage of the "AOK EuroCup" - LAN in Paris (with many european expert players) is now online.

Additionally to 22 own photos (ever seen an "exhausted" Elfanor) EvilWhite_NG (Organiser) and The_Steam_ (Winner 1 vs.1 - RM) gave us exclusive interviews.

You can find the full article on the FOPT - site under "Articles".

Apart from that last night FOPT welcomed the 100.000th visitor (and almost 400.000 site-views) to it´s homepage making it one of the most frequented AOK related sites worldwide.

Thank you to all who have supported us in the past and we promise that we will double our work in the future!"
- FOPT_Strawberry
Congrats to the FOPT crew on reaching the 100,000 visitors mark. You guys are well on your way to earning your first million!

Their AOK EuroCup coverage is quite superb. They've chatted to the winners in the RM and DM events, as well as the organizer. Stop in and read up on the details from this LAN event. ...The_Steam has a stylin' t-shirt... ; )
Patch Chat With Captn_Kidd!
Posted by Thunder on July 3rd, 2001 @ 9:03 p.m.
The testing period for the Conquerors beta patch has officially ended, and the crew at Ensemble Studios is now hard at work on a final version! Our thanks to them for allowing us Agers to have some input into it, and thanks to all of those Agers who helped evaluate the proposed changes/fixes.

If you stop into AoK.cc today, you'll find none other than DaRq_LadyWoogy and Neilkaz have waded into a beta patch discussion with ES designer Mike "Captn" Kidd. They cover all sorts of issues from Scout rushing to Bombard Towers to those dreaded Koreans and a few things in between:
"DaRq_LadyWoogy> I don’t understand why u increased the speed of the zerks, pikemen are very fast and that will make zerks as fast as Celts champs? (I think)?
Neilkaz> Well Zerk speed is 1.05 now, un-upgraded and that is fine. But the 1.38 speed of woadies makes the elite woadie almost like a paladin that costs much less gold, has almost half it's HP and isn't vulnerable to pikes. I'm not sure, but I think this makes woadies awfully good and I'd probably knock their speed down to about 1.25 which still is a decent increase

Captn_Kidd@ES> How often do you see the zerks used now? I'm pretty confident the zerks will be fine, but we'll watch the testing. One the woadies, I would love to see them become popular. They still require a castle so it's hard to mass them like champs. We'll see.

Neilkaz> Are woadies too fast; they outrun non husbandry kinghts? What do DMers think? I'd ask them.

Captn_Kidd@ES> In our playtests, I'm always on other team from Sheriff, so I never get a chance to mass even 30 of them. Since EEWs don't rule DM, I don't think Woadies will, but we'll see. They are really quick now."


Source - Chat with the Capn': Beta Patch
A chat that gets you thinking alright. They mention a great many possible tweaks and strategies that we may see employed in the final patch. While we all wait for its release (darned fourth of July holiday is going to get in the way) drop in and check out the chat. ...internet hiccup this morning caused a bit of down time and just a few repeat posts here on the news...all should be well now... ; )
Galactic Battlegrounds Website Opens...
Posted by Thunder on July 3rd, 2001 @ 5:55 p.m.
For those Agers who are interested in seeing what the Lucas Arts folk are doing with the Age II game engine, the official website for Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds has just recently launched. You'll find a few new screenshots of the game, links to previews, and a very interesting designer diary entry that gives you an idea of how far along they are with the game. ...the game is looking very good...it will no doubt be a BLAST to play! ; )
Mythological Wallpaper Contest!
Posted by Thunder on July 3rd, 2001 @ 2:59 a.m.
With all of the gorgeous Age of Mythology screenshots that have been released so far, you knew a wall paper contest couldn't be far off! Well our friends at the AoM Center have arranged just such an event, complete with cash prizes:
"AoM Center is putting on the first AoM Wallpaper Contest. The contest will run from July 1 to July 31. In the first week of August, the winning wallpapers will be announced and prizes will be shipped.

Here are the prizes:

1st Place - $75 and an ES Prizepack
2nd Place - $25 and an ES Prizepack
3rd Place - ES Prizepack
Honorable Mentions - Bragging Rights


Anyone may particpate in this contest. If you live outside of the US, AoM Center will not take responsibility for lost shipments. Also, the currency will not be changed automatically for you. This is your responsibility. All entries will become the property of AoM Center and will be posted in a special downloads section.

All wallpapers must have a somewhat mythological theme. Also, you may submit as many wallpapers as you wish. The entries should be sent to aomcontest@hotmail.com and must be in a ZIP file format. Make sure you include your name and e-mail in the entry.

The official contest information and rules page is located at http://www.disturbedsims.com/aom/html/contest.shtml . The information is not completely up-to-date and will be fixed in a couple days. Any information in any part of the contest is subject to change."


Source - AoM Wallpaper Contest
If you have any questions about this contest, you can either post a reply in the forums --see source link above-- or drop either of the AoM Center staffers a line.

There are many great looking AoM screenshots around to provide inspiration. The ES AoM page has many great high resolution screenshots as well as links to previews where you can find more galleries of art. Good luck everyone! ...there's even a few wall paper examples at the ES site, so go have a look see... ; )
Stomped's Ager Brawl!
Posted by Thunder on July 2nd, 2001 @ 11:33 p.m.
I had a lovely press release waiting in my inbox when I got home from Sean "Redwood" Martin, from Stomped fame. Bulk up and get ready for a Brawl at the Mall Agers:
"Stomped.com and The Stomping Grounds, in conjunction with Twin Galaxies, are proud to present the "Brawl at the Mall". The Brawl at the Mall will take place July 20-22 at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota with the Twin Galaxies Video Game Festival.

The Brawl will consist of competitions in Counter-Strike, Quake 3 Arena, and Age of Empires II Conquers Expansion.

The Counter-Strike competition will be a 5v5 event and will serve as a qualifier for the CPL World Championships to be held in Dallas this December. There will also be $2,500 in prize money awarded in the Counter-Strike tournament.

The Quake 3 Arena tournament will be a 1-on-1 competition with $500 total prize money to be awarded. The Age of Empires II competition will be 1-on-1 competitions with $500 prize money as well.

All matches will take place at the Mall of America's Sam Goody Central Rotunda.

The Mall of America averages 100,000 visitors per day.

Parties interested in registering should call The Stomping Grounds at 612-279-1960 or email garndt@stomped.com. Registration is $25 per person per event, $20 if you pay by phone with a credit card before July 20. All registrations must be paid by phone or in person at The Stomping Grounds before the event begins.

More information about the "Brawl at the Mall" will be posted at Stomped.com and TheStompingGrounds.com as it becomes available."
- Sean Martin
Mark that baby on your calender and see if you can't work your way out to the Mall of America! I haven't been able to find any information on the settings for the 1 on 1 Conquerors event, but I'm sure those details will surface, so we'll keep you posted. ...road trip to Bloomington anyone? ; )
Real World Maps: Egypt & Wales...
Posted by Thunder on July 2nd, 2001 @ 11:21 p.m.
A couple of fan created real world maps have been made available on the Ensemble Studios news page. The maps, Egypt by Mavogenitz and Wales by Robert W. Chalmers, are in the same format as the others released by ES, holding the geographical shape of the region but essentially blank. A great grab for scenario designers!

If you have a fantastic real world map of your own that you'd like to share, Mike "Archangel" McCart may well post it for download too! More information is available on the ES news so drop by for a read. ...fresh in the door from my trip with a nice sunburnt left arm from 4.5 hours of driving... ; )