Archived News From March 2002

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!

Cup War Continues...
Posted by Thunder on March 30th, 2002 @ 9:16 a.m.
The massive Arbalet Cup tournament, hosted by FOPT Clan is into round five now, with the big money still available for the taking. Some of the top players in the world are still in this event, a fact which has made for some great recorded games and will guarantee that they continue to roll in. Best of luck to all those remaining, and we'll turn things over to FOPT_Strawberry now for the latest:
"The big Arbalet-Cup - Tournament has meanwhile reached round 5 which means that the field of players is down to 32 (from 18 countries) who are still fighting for no less than US $5000 in hard cash.

One of the big surprises: From the 78 American players who entered the tournament not a single one survived until now (at least the Canadian _IamChris is still in the race). Instead once again the Asian players are dominating: China has 4 players left, Korea 3, Taiwan 2 and Japan 1.

In the previous rounds many experts were eliminated by lower rated players; on top of all HALEN (_oN_Silva_) who just recently took the number one spot in the prestigeous MSN Zone-Ranking.

FOPT is offering all recorded games exclusively in their forums. Just register an account (free and easy) and start downloading.

Further more several small competitions are attending the event. For example you can still vote on the tournament-champion and win 5 free training lessons with the well known expert-player The_Steam_ by guessing the right name and of course a bit of luck. Please note that votes will only be accepted till Sunday, March 31st!

Fore more information about the tournament go here: http://www.fopt-clan.de"
- FOPT_Strawberry
Forum Party Tomorrow...
Posted by Thunder on March 30th, 2002 @ 4:04 a.m.
For all those brave enough, we're having our Forum Party tomorrow, along with an all Persian 2vs2 tournament! The green knight is busy pointing you to where you can find more information on both events, our Forum Party Post.

Best of luck to everyone in the tournament tomorrow! You may want to check out the GD forum for some informative posts on the Persians, brought up by Dark Side of Day. ...insert witty comment here... ; )
Blacksmith Feature: Hadrian's Wall...
Posted by Thunder on March 29th, 2002 @ 3:10 a.m.
This week's Blacksmith feature is going to be slightly abbreviated. That's because it isn't a scenario or campaign with a plot and heroes. This week we dip into our collection of random map scripts, which can add many hours of great gaming to your Age experience. This particular map script is very popular, and happens to be a product from Matei, one of the talented folks at Woad Creations.

(WC) Hadrian's Wall — If you're a fan of longer games or randomness, this map will probably be to your liking. The crumbling remains of Hadrian's Wall in this map is composed of rocks, which appear in many scenarios. You can't destroy them of course, and have to look for one of the breaches in the wall to get through it. The wall extends the length of the map, dividing it in half and separating opponents in the process.

Controlling the breaches in the wall is of obvious importance, but doing so early on can be dangerous. This map script also makes use of "Outlaw" units, which are essentially small groups of archers. You will occasionally find these groups sitting at the wall, just waiting for your tender villagers to come by.

That's all very well and good, but perhaps one of the coolest parts of this random map scripts is in the start. Your starting buildings are randomized, so you may find yourself starting out with more than one Town Center, or a barracks, or even outposts. This can definitely serve to create interesting strategic decisions early on, and spices things up.

This map script is only a recent find for me, but the handful of games I've played on it have been very entertaining. It's good fun to see the enemy building all sorts of walls to close up a way into his territory when you've snuck in some villagers much earlier. This map script not only creates lovely looking maps, but ones with diversity. Give it a go! ...many thanks to my pals for helping me test it out... ; )
Hun Warfare...
Posted by Thunder on March 28th, 2002 @ 2:57 a.m.
Our thanks to MoFo_Revolution for sending in this recorded game which features a serious Hun versus Hun war. Not only that, but Revolution gets beat up in the game, so all the more thanks to him for sharing a good game where he loses. Give it a download, it's short and shows some players with some serious feudal war skills. Revolution hangs tough for quite awhile, but ends up getting attacked in several places at once and calls it a day. ...interesting to note that the only forward building was a single tower... ; )
Persian Festival!
Posted by Thunder on March 27th, 2002 @ 2:02 a.m.
Start practicing! Starting on March 29, which is this Friday, and running until March 31, we will be having a Persians Festival, hosted by Darth_Malice. This means free points for Ladder players who use the Persian civilization in their games during these days. Winners will receive an extra point, and losers will lose one less point if you use Persia. Remember to report which civilization you used during this time so that you can get your extra points.

In addition, Darth_Malice is also organizing a 2v2 NOmad tournament, for this Saturday in which all players must be Persia. They are a great NOmad civ, so that should be one heck of a good tournament. For more information on this event, visit this post in the forum! Good luck to one and all! ...LOTR post Oscar depression, PVP style... ; )

This Day In Age...
Posted by Thunder on March 26th, 2002 @ 3:32 a.m.
While sifting through the extensive news archives offered both here and at AOE Heaven, I stumbled on an interesting look back at the Age of Kings beta. In March 1999, Ensemble Studios invited some local Dallas residents to visit their offices and test out an early AOK beta. One of AOKH's local forumers, The Cardinal, was one of the lucky few to get the opportunity for some hands on time with the game. Here are some of his impressions, probably among the earliest hands on information from any Age fan:
"When I play AoE and RoR I always made a perfect little city straight in a line and easily defendable. However, the size difference in AoK makes that basically impossible. Dont take that in a bad way I think they look really good that way, it just makes you change your strategy a little. I made the first mistake of building walls early in on the game thinking I had enough room, and found out that I didnt leave quite enough room to fit in all the buildings I wanted. So I had to destroy some buildings to fit new ones in. Of course this was my first game so I had not realized how much room I needed but now that I know, it is an easy mistake to fix." - The Cardinal, March 25, 1999

Source - AOKH Archives: March 17-31
Takes you back doesn't it? Later on, it was decided to scale down the size of the buildings in AOK, to the dimensions that we all know now. For those of you lucky enough to play any sort of early build of Age of Mythology, this is the sort of major change that can happen between the beta and a final version of the game. ...for those interested, we will likely hear more information on an AOM beta come May/June of this year... ; )
AOKH Ladder Standings...
Posted by Thunder on March 25th, 2002 @ 7:40 a.m.
It looks like our ladder champion, Myll_Barka, is out to set a record himself. Previous champions have had very lengthy reigns at the top of the ladder, including Final_Boss and Gary__Payton, who were both the champ for several months. Barks starts another week at the top, but there are a host of great players looking to knock him down:

  1. 171: Myll_Barka (remains #1 until defeated)
  2. 195: Pezeteros_ [aka redhair_LOLITA]
  3. 190: Gary__Payton
  4. 186: Chichiri
  5. 179: _Final_Boss_
  6. 176: Souyrar_
  7. 168: Annoyomous [aka Qwerty_Donkey]
  8. 166: Time_Itself
  9. 164: _HitMeHardPls_
  10. 162: petard_rusher

Source - AOKH Ladder

None other than S_A_S tops Dark Side of Day's list of Ladder Players of the Week once again, but he's got some impressive company. slamdrew makes the list again, with some hard fought games to his credit, as well as newcomer _HitMeHardPls_, who has been impressing everyone he plays with some serious skills. Well done lads, good luck in your upcoming games!

If you're interested in becoming apart of the ladder, just head to our Ladder Post in the forum and leave your zone name and desire to join there. ...Oscar? Bah...I wanna make DSOD's list one day... ; )
Forum Party Tomorrow...
Posted by Thunder on March 23rd, 2002 @ 3:46 a.m.
Ye olde green knight signals the coming of another Forum Party! If you're up for a few fun games of Age, be sure to stop in at the Zone tomorrow and join us. There will no doubt be some ladder games going on for those of you who are trying to climb the rungs as well, but as always you'll find all of the details in the trusty Forum Party Post.

There is a Persian Festival coming up next weekend, so you may want to take this party time to get in some practice games with them. See you on the battlefield! ...was stomped by phants in my last game...and plain ol' out boomed by persia...a nasty civ! ; )
Blacksmith Feature: Cortez' Unification of Yucatan...
Posted by Thunder on March 22nd, 2002 @ 3:07 a.m.
We have pulled another grand submission from the Blacksmith this week, a campaign straight off our Best of AOK list. The designer on the project is Derfel Cadarn, of Woad Creations. Although it looks like he's parted company with that group, this campaign of his remains as one of the top efforts to come from the Woad team. It has some unique ideas in it, and is plenty of fun to play, so let's get to it.

Cortez' Unification of Yucatan v1.5 — One of the ultimate conquerors, Cortez. The tales of his conquest of the new world, and the destruction of the Aztec empire are quite well known. In this campaign, you step directly into the shoes of Cortez, leading the Spanish army into the Yucatan. Like many scenarios though, you have to raise an army before all the killing starts. Your name carries some weight, but it's not easy to convince fighting men to follow you into what will surely be a very difficult campaign. The starting town of Trinidad, on the island of Cuba where you begin your journey, is teeming with soldiers. Better yet, there are also well known heroes about who may join your cause too. These heroes can be used to convince more soldiers to follow you, those who aren't eager to get behind your banner at first. It can take quite some time to raise your army and travel to Havana, but it is a very interesting and creative way of conducting this process.

You receive new marching orders once in Havana, and your transports take you to the Yucatan, where you immediately lay siege to the local Meso-Americans. Far from being a basic seek and destroy scenario, your overriding goal is to unite the local tribes so that you can concentrate on the real threat, the Aztecs. There are several roads to this goal, and it is totally up to you which path to take, literally. When there is a fork in the road, you, Cortez, must make the choice. Each of these choices can play out quite differently, which makes replaying the campaign well worth it.

The story is a good one, and plays out very well through-out the campaign. You have to be a quick reader at times, but getting the player to choose his path, adds a great interactive element. The ending of the campaign, with the defeat of the Aztecs is a bit anti-climactic, but there is no shortage of fighting.

Your initial siege is but a pre-cursor to some major engagements. Cortez's mighty modern army is often dwarfed by the native masses of Jaguar and Eagle Warriors. I was all set to admit defeat and reload my game at one point, seeing a sea of Eagle Warriors before me, but thankfully my units were in good position and all was not lost. Although the enemy already has superior numbers, for experienced players, you may want to try a fairly hard difficulty level to make them more of a challenge. After the initial scare, my army really cleaned up.

The map itself has pretty much everything you would expect. Plenty of jungles, a lovely Caribbean sea, and lots of natives running about. It gets the job done well without getting in the way too much, but didn't draw me in quite as much as the story did.

I will certainly complain loudly about one thing though, it's just one scenario long. It is a project that leaves you wanting more, as the review page indicates. The campaign scores between 4.4 and 4.8 with the distinguished reviewers, and is definitely worth the download in my book. ...advice: save your game fairly often...you may well not have to reload, but you can run into some nasty surprises out there in the jungle... ; )
Games In The Classroom?
Posted by Thunder on March 21st, 2002 @ 10:04 a.m.
A rather interesting study out of the UK has concluded that simulation and city-building games, such as Age of Empires II, help to develop valuable skills among players, such as strategic thinking. The study involved quite a few strategy and simulation games, and was conducted with children aged seven to sixteen as the test subjects:
"The research from the group Teachers Evaluating Educational Multimedia (Teem) is being studied by the Department for Education.

The director of Teem, Professor Angela McFarlane, said there was much to learn from the games industry in terms of developing scenarios that really challenged and engaged children, rather than reproducing text books on the screen.

"Adventure, quest and simulation type games have a lot of benefit - they're quite complex and create a context in which children can develop important skills," said Professor McFarlane. "


Source - Video games 'stimulate learning'
They certainly haven't gone quite as far as saying that Unreal Tournament should be played in the classroom, but this is a positive nonetheless. It is good to see that not all studies relating to games are attempting to determine whether they are causing people to commit acts of violence. ...beyond strategic thinking...I now know far more about Norse mythology than I ever did thanks to AOM... ; )
Team Event...
Posted by Thunder on March 20th, 2002 @ 9:50 a.m.
Grab a partner! For those of you who aren't big on 1vs1 games, Hondo has organized the RTS Gaming Arena. Registered teams of two meet on Mondays for games, with ratings and records kept. After an undetermined number of games, there promises to be a clash of the best teams to determine a champion.

More information can be found on the RTS Gaming Arena page, along with forms to register and the current rankings and statistics on participating teams. Best of luck! ...now all I need is a teammate to carry my sorry self... ; )
PC Game Renting...
Posted by Thunder on March 19th, 2002 @ 10:44 p.m.
The idea of being able to rent the full version of a PC game has been batted about by many companies, and some have even given it a go. This article, which appeared on ZDNet today, reveals a new player jumping into this arena, namely Terra Lycos:
"Executives at Internet media giant Terra Lycos said the company started a new subscription-based online gaming service beginning Tuesday that lets Web surfers play PC games without having to buy the software."

Source - ZDNet: Terra Lycos offers online gaming service
Being a penny pincher myself, and with some new games that offer ten or less hours of single player gameplay, this whole idea sounds very appealing. Stop in for a read on how you may be checking out game titles in the not too distant future. ..."I'm with silly" -BrandNewCar... ; )
New Mac Patch...
Posted by Thunder on March 19th, 2002 @ 8:07 p.m.
For those of you who are playing AoE II on the Mac platform, those nice guys at Ensemble Studios have passed along the news that there is a new patch out for you today. The patch and a complete list of bug fixes and improvements can be found at the Bold Games site. Happy gaming! ...fixes some major bugs...a must have... ; )
AOKH Ladder Standings...
Posted by Thunder on March 19th, 2002 @ 2:00 a.m.
Last week stirred up the top ten rankings quite a bit, with Myll_Barka becoming the new ladder champion. As we start a new week, Barka is still on top, but there has been some movement in the rankings below. Several new names have crept up into the top ten, let's have a look:
  1. 168: Myll_Barka (champion until defeated)
  2. 195: Pezeteros_ [aka redhair_LOLITA]
  3. 193: Myll_Slaghter
  4. 190: Gary__Payton
  5. 186: Chichiri
  6. 179: _Final_Boss_
  7. 176: Souyrar_
  8. 166: Time_Itself
  9. 163: Annoyomous [aka pOiSoN_PaLaDiN]
  10. 161: petard_rusher/161: StorM_Country

Source - AOKH Ladder

Newcomer to the top ten, Souyrar_, has made quite an impression and is on quite the winning streak. This player has already made Dark Side of Day's Ladder Warriors of the Week list, along with S_A_S, and slamdrew. All three players have been playing up a storm over the last week, keep it up guys! ...101: Thunder...finished MOH and Max Payne last week, so I can concentrate on AoC this week... ; )
Teuton Tourney Winner...
Posted by Thunder on March 18th, 2002 @ 2:47 a.m.
The Teuton Festival is drawing to a close, but it's going out with a bang thanks to TeutonicBB_838! He organized an all Teuton tournament for today, which resulted in a showdown of some good players in the finals. _VinceMcMahon (aka MoFo_Revolution) met _HitMehardPls_ in an all Toot match-up. Grab the recorded game and see how things played out. ...I hope ya'll didn't ingest too much green dye today...Happy St. Patrick's Day to all! ; )
Arbalet Update: Round 3...
Posted by Thunder on March 18th, 2002 @ 0:24 a.m.
This biggest baddest tournament to hit the Age community in quite some time is still rumbling along, with many a great player still in the running for the prize money! FOPT_Strawberry, the berry behind http://www.fopt-clan.de, sends word that things are progressing well, and we have the chance to view some of these experts in action thanks to their recorded games:
"The Tournament has reached round 3 now. 128 players from 29 countries are left in the race for US $5000, among them all the big names such as Halen, Arch_Koven_, RD_ChampioN, CNS_Grunt, IamKmkm, aluba007, Play_Boys and many others. In total 45 (!) players out of the 128 have a zone-rating of 2000+.

You can view all recorded games from round 2 exclusively in the "Arbalet-Cup" - Forum at http://www.fopt-clan.de

Please note that only registered users will be able to download (but don´t worry, registration is absolutely free and can be done by everyone in less than 2 minutes).

Also in the official Tournament-Forum you can win 5 free training lessons with top-expert player The_Steam_ from Lithuania by predicting the Tournament-Champion correctly (and having a bit of luck).

For more info visit http://www.fopt-clan.de"
- FOPT_Strawberry
Forum Party Tomorrow...
Posted by Thunder on March 16th, 2002 @ 2:24 a.m.
Before we get to the usual Forum Party business, we must pause to wish Time_Itself and Dark Side of Day a very happy birthday! They are both turning another year older today, and we wish them the best.

As always, tomorrow we will be gathering on the Zone for some games of AOK. All are invited to stop by and get in a game or two, either just for fun, or a ladder game! You'll find all the details on where and when in our trusty Forum Party Post.

See you on the battleifeld! ...another civ showcase is out for AOM! ...if you're interested, head to AOMH to be part of the insanity... ; )
Blacksmith Feature: The Duke AI...
Posted by Thunder on March 15th, 2002 @ 3:55 a.m.
We're back on track with our weekly Blacksmith Feature after missing last week. As I was away for quite awhile last week on a trip to Ensemble Studios, I didn't have time to play through a scenario and deliver a write-up. But here we go with something a little different, DarkAngelBGE's latest AI file. He's been around for quite awhile, as has his design team DGDN. (Dragon Gaming Design Network) He describes the group as, "a network of sites devoted to the customisation of strategy games. Mainly this covers scenario design, but we also support random map scripting, modifications, ai scripting, graphical design and just about everything which is possible to customize in the games we cover." In one form or another, the group has been around since May of 2000, no small feat. Let's take a look now at one of their projects.

The Duke-AI Version 1.4 — Yes, there are also a swath of AI files available in the ol' Blacksmith, and the new and improved Duke AI is the latest to be added. DarkAngelBGE has obviously spent a lot of time of this project, as just opening the 600+kb zip file will reveal 39 different files. The Duke AI is made up of a great many different .per files, easily making it one of the largest AIs out there. But how do its thousands of lines of code stand up in a game? Let's break it down by Age.

Dark Age: As with all AI files, they don't waste any time. The Duke will always send out a taunt letting you know what civilization it is using, which comes in handy when you have a Duke ally so you know what team bonus you get and have a feel for what kinds of units to expect to be working alongside. Food is the main focus in this Age for The Duke, but as its creator mentions, this AI is designed to be unpredictable. "One thing, the community considers as a disadvantage is, that the duke is sometimes slower than the other AIs. If you ask ANY AI-programmer what his aim is, he will say: 'Make a computer player like an human!' And this is my aim as well. When you play on the zone, you sometimes have enemies you wipe out really fast and sometimes you get ones who are really though. Same with the duke."

Feudal Age: The Duke will hit the Feudal Age around the same time as the standard AI, 12 minutes or so. Another interesting chat feature is that when a Duke AI is on your team, they will let you know when they have started researching a new Age, which is a pretty good gauge of how they are doing. I've yet to see any sort of Feudal Rush from The Duke, in fact the AI is usually fairly passive in this Age. A determined Feudal attack can cripple it, but then again the AI is also capable of putting up a determined defense with counter units and towers.

Castle Age: Here's where The Duke really starts to shine. Although it's not terribly fast at advancing, it generally has a strong economy at this point, and has used everything to attack from groups of Knights backed by X-bows to Hunnish Light Cav and Cav Archers. The AI can and will try to react to other units on the field by producing counter units.

Imperial Age: If The Duke gets this far on you, look out. Its fully developed economy usually has close to ninety villagers, allowing it to field a good sized army and replenish losses quickly. The Duke likes his upgrades, and you'll often find his units with good armour and attack upgrades.

Teams: Good teammates are hard to come by, especially in AI circles. Brain dead AIs that do nothing as you get double teamed out of the game aren't uncommon. The Duke is pretty good about letting you know what's going on, and thanks to some new taunts you can use to order it around, it is a pretty useful ally. He'll give you resources, be more aggressive, more defensive, and let you know that he's setting up an attack.

There have been a total of three reviews of this AI file, with an average rating of 4.5 out of 5. I'd prefer The Duke to be more consistently strong, but it's one of the best AI allies I've had and certainly think it's worth checking out. Drop in on the Official Duke AI site to find out more. ...note: played games on hard difficulty so to avoid the cheating nature of hardest AIs... ; )
Teutons Festival!
Posted by Thunder on March 13th, 2002 @ 11:07 p.m.
Another heads up for you AOKH Ladder players! There will be a new civilization festival running from March 15-17, this time featuring the Teutons. If you play your ladder games using that civilization during the 15th to 17th, you will gain an extra point if you win the game and lose one less point if you are defeated. Make sure you mention your civilization when you report your results in order to pick up some Teuton bonus points! For complete information on the Teuton Festival, make sure you visit TeutonicBB_838
's post
in the forum.

Teuton Fest organizer TeutonicBB_838 has also planned on running an all Teuton Tournament on March 17th, to wrap things up with a bang! You can sign-up, view the settings, and pose any questions about this event right here. GL and HF! ...always forget they have cheaper farms when I use toots...get in some practice games! ; )
AOMH Contest...
Posted by Thunder on March 13th, 2002 @ 8:39 p.m.
For those of you who like picking up free stuff, you may want to pay a visit to AOM Heaven at some point over the next little while. All you have to do is predict which of the main gods in that game will be featured in a GameSpot showcase next. For complete contest information, including where to send your entry and what's up for grabs, check out the Showcase Predictions Contest page over at AOMH. Good luck all! ...free stuff...now can't beat that with a dead villager... ; )
March Tournament Madness...
Posted by Thunder on March 13th, 2002 @ 2:51 a.m.
Those of you who have been paying close attention to the Zone tournament page will have already noticed that the Zone crew has a ton of events planned for March. Fans of both RM and DM will have plenty to do in the coming weeks, including a Celts only tournament for St. Patrick's Day!

There's both team and single events, but whatever your poison, make sure you get some practice games in with the Celts. The next event is going to take place on March 17th, so you have some time to get used to them. For more information on all of these events, just click on over to the Zone Tournaments page. ...best of Irish luck to you all...and keep your hands off of me lucky charms! ; )
AOKH Ladder Standings...
Posted by Thunder on March 11th, 2002 @ 8:39 a.m.
We have a new champion! Myll_Barka is the talented player who finally ended Gary__Payton's long and glorious reign. Both games, Barka's initial win and the customary rematch, were very hard fought affairs, and you can find them both in our recorded games section. Well done Barka!

This has shaken up the ladder standings a little, so let's take a look and the new top ten:
  1. 159: Myll_Barka (remains at the top until defeated)
  2. 196: Flank
  3. 194: Pezeteros_ [aka redhair_LOLITA]
  4. 190: Gary__Payton/190: Myll_Slaghter
  5. 186: Chichiri
  6. 179: _Final_Boss_
  7. 164: petard_rusher [aka IR_Evil0]
  8. 163: Time_Itself
  9. 161: StorM_Country
  10. 156: Annoyomous [aka pOiSoN_PaLaDiN]

Source - AOKH Ladder

No doubt there will soon be a crowd of players beating down Myll_Barka's door to take a crack at the new champ. Good luck to you in defending your crown Barka!

As is the tradition, Dark Side of Day, our dedicated ladder manager, has made his picks for the players who have gone out of their way to take on all comers. His ladder warriors of the week list is topped by S_A_S, a relative newcomer who dove right in, _4ever_LioN_, who's still kicking around the ladder and kicking some butts, and finally slamdrew, who's new to the ladder but no stranger to playing hard. Keep it up guys! ...some really good games for viewing in the records section...I'm downloading IR_Evil vs _IamChris right now... ; )
ES Team Expands...
Posted by Thunder on March 9th, 2002 @ 10:24 a.m.
Another member of id Software has left the company and joined up with Ensemble Studios. Designer Paul Jaquays mentioned his new career path in a recent update to his .plan. Visit Evil Avatar for the full scoop!

Which project Paul will be working on is not known, but speculation is running wild, as usual. My thanks to Picard for the heads up once again. ...perhaps they are still adding to their team for the unannounced project...AOM has plenty of designers on it already... ; )
Forum Party Tomorrow...
Posted by Thunder on March 9th, 2002 @ 3:09 a.m.
Another week is winding down, and this means it will soon be Forum Party time once again! Time_Itself will be on hand to organize a 3v3 tournament, for those ladder players who are interested, and of course there will be a game or two for those who like to kick back and conquer with some whacky settings. More information on the tournament and the start time for the Forum Party can be found in, you guessed it, the Forum Party Post!

See you on the battlefield, and best of luck to all the teams in the tournament! ...the Oasis map has a serious wolf problem, watch out for them! ; )
Arbalet Update...
Posted by Thunder on March 9th, 2002 @ 3:01 a.m.
Here is the latest on the biggest Age tournament since the big WCG last year. The first round is all done and over with and we will have the luxury of checking out recorded games from the rounds to follow! Here is FOPT_Strawberry with the goods:
"Some News from the Arbalet-Cup, this year´s main AOK-Online-Event with >500 players from almost 50 different countries and US $5000 Prize Money:

Meanwhile the first round has passed and 256 players from 40 different countries are left in the race.

From now all games must be posted in the official "Arbalet-Cup" - forum where they are waiting for public download (remember you have to register an account first).

Further more tomorrow (Saturday) a public poll opens, where you have the chance to win Warcraft III and a FOPT Coffee-Cup by guessing the winner of the tournament!

For results from the first round and new brackets swing over to the FOPT - Homepage at http://www.fopt-clan.de."
- FOPT_Strawberry
3v3 Ladder Tourney!
Posted by Thunder on March 8th, 2002 @ 9:24 a.m.
For those of you who are members of the AOKH Ladder, Time_Itself is organizing an event for you! Grab yourself a couple of allies and get set for a 3v3 tournament tomorrow. The one catch is, your team's combined rating can't be above 375, which may make for some sort of equality amongst the teams. Here are the official settings, and pay close attention to the map:
"Map: Oasis
Civs: All civs available
Speed: Normal
Reveal: Normal
Size: Normal for 6 players
Record: Yes
Cheats: NO
Team together: Yes
Time limit: 1,100 years
All techs: NO
Teams locked: Yes"


Source - 3v3 Ladder Tournament
Sign-ups begin at 4:30pm EST tomorrow (that's 1:30pm PST, or 9:30pm GMT) with the tournament starting 30 minutes later. If you have any questions, or wish to read the full list of rules, make sure you stop in on the tourney thread.

If you aren't currently a member of the AOKH Ladder, just drop in on the ladder post and leave your zone name and a request to join. ...tons of math involved in creating a team...bring your thinking caps, or calculators... ; )
Back From ES!
Posted by Thunder on March 8th, 2002 @ 2:18 a.m.
Many thanks to the Ensemble Studios crew, who put up with me for a few days earlier this week! It was just long enough for me to get in some games in their playtesting lab with their next RST game, Age of Mythology. There are a few more details to be had about the game and my trip over at AOM Heaven, with more to come! ...AOM was easy to jump on and play...1-2 games and I sorta knew what I was doing, with one of the cultures anyway... ; )
Bruce Shelley Interivew...
Posted by Thunder on March 7th, 2002 @ 10:29 p.m.
It seems we have a bit of a Bruce Shelley theme going today. If you're interested in more from Bruce, he was recently interviewed about Ensemble Studios' upcoming game Age of Mythology. You can find a link to where you can download the audio Q&A session over at AOM Heaven. The interview covers major game features, like God Powers and the lovely 3D engine.
Most Influential People In Gaming...
Posted by Thunder on March 7th, 2002 @ 10:02 a.m.
The little green people of GameSpy have been compiling a list of the 30 most influential people in gaming over the week, with a host of heavy weight industry stars mentioned so far. Coming in at an impressive number eight on the list is Ensemble Studios Senior Designer Bruce "Bruck" Shelley:
"After a long five-year tenure at MicroPROSE, Shelley left the company to pursue a rather different aspect of gaming. He set about writing various gaming strategy guides until 1995 when his old friend Tony Goodman offered him a position as designer at the newly formed development house - Ensemble Studios. Shelley chose to get back to his roots and took the position where he went on to create the highly innovative and popular RTS game - Age of Empires. From there, a sequel was born in Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings, which continued to delight fans of the ever-changing RTS genre.

Throughout his career, Shelley has consistently refined and reworked a mixture of compelling gameplay, design and presentation that has earned him a reputation as a pioneer of computer gaming. With his latest project on the way - Age of Mythology - Shelley and Ensemble Studios look set to maintain that reputation well into the next decade."


Source - GameSpy: #8 Bruce Shelley
You may be surprised that there are actually a few women who made the list, well, at least I was. The games industry is full of men, developers and gamers alike, it's great to see these obviously very successful women getting recognized this way. Stop in and check out who has, and hasn't made the big list! ...there's no way I could stop at just 30... ; )
On The Road...
Posted by Thunder on March 5th, 2002 @ 5:27 p.m.
Hey folks! News will be a little sporadic from me for the next couple of days as I'm on a short trip right now. My regular news updates will resume on Thusday, bright and early.

Hopefully I'll be able to share some tall tales about my travels soon, which will make for some interesting reading to be sure! ...many thanks once again to my pal Rick for letting me pluck away on his PC... ; )
Forum Party Tomorrow...
Posted by Thunder on March 2nd, 2002 @ 1:37 a.m.
Our weekly Forum Party is less than twenty-four hours away now, so we hope you've set aside some time to drop in for a game or two. There will be forumers there looking for ladder games or fun larger team games, so you're bound to find something for you. For all of the details on where and when to join in, head to the Forum Party Post.

You may not have to put up with me at this week's party, so here's wishing you all good luck in your games! ...we'll try and get our act together for a tourney next week... ; )
Aztec Fest Begins!
Posted by Thunder on March 1st, 2002 @ 7:41 a.m.
Players involved in the AOKH Ladder, consider yourselves warned! The Aztec Festival is underway from now until the end of March 3rd. Players using the Aztec civilization in ladder games will receive bonus points when they win or even lose a game. When you report your game during this period, remember to mention if you played as the Aztecs, or you will miss out on points.

Link: Aztec Festival Rules
Blacksmith Feature: The Swallowed Realm...
Posted by Thunder on March 1st, 2002 @ 2:43 a.m.
Another Thursday means another featured creation from our Blacksmith. The author of today's creation is our own Angel Shadows, who has been involved in some impressive scenarios, but this has to be among the best on his resume. This scenario was completed quite some time ago, perhaps one that has been missed by newcomers to the scenario scene.

The Swallowed Realm — This scenario has to be considered amongst the best RPG style adventures in the Blacksmith. It takes place in a world full of fantastical creatures, such as Orcs and Dwarves. In fact, human beings are rather despised, to say the least. You control a rather curious elf by the name of Yrdsil, who is a rather skilled longbowman. Together with your friend Davub, you set out to investigate the latest quarrel that the humans have become involved in. Shadows wrote a rather impressive excerpt, which really serves to set the scene.

In brief, your journey begins with getting permission to leave the elven town of Vinfird from the local Lord. A few small tasks later, you are off into the world of Swallowed Realm. It's a wild world, with raiders and wolves lurking in the forests, but finding a nearby human town isn't too much trouble. Your elven curiosity gets the better of you, and you soon involve yourself in the latest human conflict with the Orcs.

The world of Swallowed Realm is very well crafted. With the RPGish format of the scenario, Shadows took full advantage of being able to play with every square inch of terrain, to make it look just so. You will find lovely terrain around every corner, and a few cool tricks thrown in to boot. (it's not often you see units walk on water)

There are quite a few objectives and conversations that are important, so you'll have to pay attention. Like much of this scenario though, you can go at your own pace with conversations and objectives. Getting stuck without an objective or not knowing where to go can usually be solved by simply exploring the map thoroughly. You'll run into people of various races to give you information or even join with you in your adventure.

Our own Angel Park has reviewed this project, and gave it a well deserved score of 4.6 out of the usual 5. If you are looking for something besides a build up and destroy scenario, this creation is definitely worth checking out.