Archived News From November 2003

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!

Downloads Temporarily Offline
Posted by Aro on November 29th, 2003 @ 5:56 a.m.
We've discovered a serious bug in our downloads section, and are working on fixing it. In the meantime, the downloads section will be temporarily offline until we implement the fix. We will announce it on the news when it's back online, so be patient until then.
World Clan League Update
Posted by Aro on November 28th, 2003 @ 6:50 a.m.
It turns out a few changes have taken place for the Legion Clan's World Clan League. The number of clans that are allowed to take part in the WCL was once 20, but now it has been raised to 80 clans. This changes the previous system they were using to give the prize money of $25,000 to the winners. Here's some information from the Legion Clan's site:
$25000 will be devided between clans, who will enter to Highest League. Other clans will have chance to take small prizes from WCL.

So at this moment WCL will find out 3 group: Group 1 - Highest League Group 2 - 1st league Group 3 - 2nd league. So we have 24 groups.
More information about the World Clan League can be found in this thread or on the Legion Clan's main page. If you have any questions about the World Clan League, the Legion Clan has made a forum where you can feel free to ask them.
ES Website Redesign
Posted by Aro on November 27th, 2003 @ 7:48 a.m.
I was looking around for news when I noticed that Ensemble Studios got a brand new design for their website, and it looks great! The Age of Kings page is much easier to navigate too, so it's definately worth checking out.
Blacksmith Feature
Posted by Anastasia on November 22nd, 2003 @ 6:55 p.m.
The New World by Crasher DGDN is an imaginative historical campaign with three ambitious scenarios portraying Christopher Columbus and his enterprise to find a westward sea route to Asia. Each fantastic scenario provides a spirited account of the historic Columbus through different game types.

Manifest Destiny is an adventure game with RPG elements. Players play as Christopher who having gained the support of Spain's Queen Isabel, must gather resources for his voyage through a series of quests. Players scour the exquisitely designed city of Palos, that is curiously a snow-scape, for resource items in objective quests. Players explore both the old and new worlds, and enjoy a charming portrayal of the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria in between. Entertaining effects, jocular humor, and the perfect pitfall or two, bring players into the history of the famous first voyage of Columbus.

Imperialism is primarily fixed force, and is the forward portrayal of Columbus's conquest of the Caribbean Islands. Depending on how players choose to play the scenario, it can prove to be a relatively easy rout that ends in a somewhat dull clearing of the map to the last enemy units. I'm not going to explain what strategy makes Imperialism less of a challenge -- I'll leave it to the players to find. Players follow Christopher and crew back to beautiful Palos, only this time warm weather graces the Spanish city. Columbus gains the full support of Queen Isabel, and journeys again to the Caribbean Islands of the first map design to secure them for Spain. The exceptionally creative use of the same map (designed as a different season), tests the player's memory to afford them an additional advantage. Unfortunately an additional advantage is not needed in this fun but too permissive AoK romp.

Reconquista is the most prodigious scenario of the three and is an enhanced B&D that is extremely challenging. Players play as Francisco de Bobadillo's force, who was sent by the Spanish crown to restore order in the colony of Santo Domingo. Players face a formidable enemy with the most impressive attack and counter that I've ever experienced in single player. What impressed me most was the human like behavior of the computer position(s). The radiant map is technically brilliant too, and adds excitement to the precise balance with many choke points and elevations in the open design. A few side quests keep players with the history throughout, but this is a concentrated battle with a fierce enemy, and the culmination of the campaign's creative excellence through game play.

The New World is the first Blacksmith submission by crasher, and the 4.6 Best of AoK design is a clear indication of the remarkable talent of the DGDN scenario designer. Crasher has designed two other fabulous designs; Attack at Dawn, and A Different World (2002 Pretty Town Contest). The New World is a must play campaign with an unforgettable scenario finale.
World Clan League
Posted by Aro on November 20th, 2003 @ 2:50 p.m.
The Legion Clan is hosting a World Clan League, where all clans are allowed to join and play for cash prizes. ($25,000 in total, which will be divided up among the 1st-10th place winners.) Here are the rules for the World Clan League that's listed on their site:
Maps:
first game - Arabia;
second game - Land Nomad;
tird game - Deathmatch;
last game - Regicide Fortress (classic).

4 games 3x3;
Registrations will close on December 29th and the games will start on January 10th. For more information on this event, take a look at the Legion Clan site. Good luck to those who join!
Ulio v3.0 at the Blacksmith!
Posted by Anastasia on November 17th, 2003 @ 11:49 a.m.
Ulio v3.0 by Ingo van Thiel

A new version of Ulio is released to the Blacksmith! Ulio is arguably the greatest AoK Campaign on the planet, and it is now made better with voice-over audio for the third person narration of the story. For those who already played the campaign and experienced 'the mad hermit's tale'...they are aware of the narrator aspect of the classic tragedy that is the Ulio story.

The story and game play remain untouched except for a few minor tweaks, but the experience is renewed with the story teller's voice. The voice-over audio brings the story and the game play to a new depth and players into a new campaign with them. Players sink deeper into the role of Ulio than before, and incredibly the challenges are made new again. Players who have Ulio already and wish to play the new version Ulio v3.0, they are urged to read the description page for time saving tips for downloading.

The story teller's voice -- the narrator's voice is that of designer Ingo van Thiel, and is truly captivating in his delivery. Step into a dead man's shoes, and experience the tragic tale and awesome campaign challenge like never before!
Blacksmith Feature
Posted by Anastasia on November 15th, 2003 @ 6:24 p.m.
The Wrath of The Dark Lord by Dark_Warrior_1 is a magical role playing campaign with a myriad of features.

The story places players in a land of wizards and magic that is the fallen empire of Ranoroc the Wizard, and The Falkanesh Empire. The plot of the story is somewhat cliche, and pits the hero (Dark Warrior), against the forces of evil and The Dark Lord. However, the special trigger effects in the three story driving cut-scenes are spectacular. Can evil be extinguished like a flame of a candle, or can it be only melted down and away from the wick like it's wax?

The game play is complex and involved with an amazing list of excellent features. A food consumption aspect works to keep players on their toes, and yet it doesn't overwhelm the player as they advance to taunt based weapon equipping, real-time spell casting, and boss battles.

Players are given to explore, and can find secret passages to special locations. There is also some side quests for the adventurous, but beware of the 'instant kill traps.' Players power up and fight their way to victory using a console like fantasy fight system. The scenario has almost every RPG hook and is extremely fun to play.

The map is a creative marvel providing elevations, obstacles, pitfalls, and triggered effects all blended into the charmed design. A forest fire and flooding town are outstanding map effects, and like many of the map locations have real consequence for our hero. A most memorable, and a favorite map design location for me is the prison scene.

The Wrath of The Dark Lord, is a second bug fixing version and is a better scenario then when I played it at it's release. I was disappointed to find that the 'sound pack' is no longer available at the links given at the Blacksmith, but there is a great music sound-track and some sound effects included with the down-load. Designer Dark_Warrior_1 seems to have began designing the 4.8 Best of AoK campaign while with Fusion Studios, and completed it as a member of Woad Creations, both excellent scenario design teams. Playing on Moderate difficulty provided a good challenge and really much of the challenge is in when and what spell (upgrade) to use. Even though this version is the 'bugfix v.1' version, I still got stuck inside the archers tower like I did long ago. Yes, there is an imaginative entering of buildings feature too! Anyway, every time I take the special 'landes' bread to the archers and receive the seven wolf pelts, that can be sold for gold...I get stuck. Still not sure if this was a trap or what, but I was stuck and had to restart. Luckily for the players who will experience this -- the bug occurs early in the game. Saving often around the map is needed, and although I didn't experience any infamous 'taunt to trigger bugs' with the saves, this might be an issue for others. Still, I highly recommend this campaign for it's fun challenges and 'never a dull moment' playability. Players take hold of a treasured axe, gather some spells and potions, and go face
The Wrath of The Dark Lord!
MFO Smackdown
Posted by Aro on November 13th, 2003 @ 2:47 p.m.
Mr. Fix-It Online is having another Smackdown tourney. It should start this Sunday (November 16th). Here's some information from their site:
After the last Smackdown we have decided to make some changes. First all you all might notice the new day and time. Also the settings will be published in advance now. We are still discussing the settings for Smackdown but they will be available at the latest on Friday at MFO. MFO_Raider_Rob and Lonely_Trooper will be there to host the tournament. You can sign up at ladder room 1 on the zone from 13:00 EST until 14:50 EST. After that brackets will be posted and the first round matches should start around 15:00 EST. Smackdown will continue to be a 2vs2 single elimination tournament and due to time constraints we will keep the 1 hour timelimit for games.
Take a look at the site for more details.
Unit Special Abilities
Posted by Aro on November 11th, 2003 @ 8:26 p.m.
Medieval Warefare has posted an interesting thread in the Age of Empires III Discussions forum about special abilities the units in a possible AoE III could have. Here's an idea on what the special abilities could do:
Maybe the champion could have a special ability such as targeting one part of the body, for example the leg, and cut it off, making the opponent helpless on the ground. Then the champion could just finish him off. The research would probably come from the Blacksmith, called body targets.
Feel free to view the rest of the ideas or post comments/add-ons.
Blacksmith Feature
Posted by Anastasia on November 8th, 2003 @ 9:46 p.m.
Sabato Returns by Berserker Jerker

Sabato Returns is the dazzling campaign sequel to Sabato the Witch, and is three fabulous scenarios in one. Players choose the game play and plot that most suits their interests at the start of the campaign. The 5.0 Best of AoK campaign is the continuation of a classic tale of good versus evil, but each challenging scenario can also stand alone as excellent entertainment.

The fantasy continues, and the story remains very entertaining with it's unambiguous characters that are both humorous and menacing. The scenario(s) starts as a cut-scene of blundering miners uncovering an unholy relic with the orb containing the Archfiend Sabato, and thus releasing her to embody evil once again. Players find Lord Danteres and Sabato in another battle, and death for our hero seems inevitable. However death brings the ultimate choice between good and evil, and the choice is also a prescribed preference for game play. Play on...Join Sabato as the Dark Danteres in Evil, or renew the eternal clash with the blood of Lord Danteres' son: Master Fizban in Good.

Good is the choice that gives players two scenario options. There is two Transport Ships to hire, and each take our new hero Master Fizban to a different destination and game type. The Highochre Route is primarily B&D style game play, and the Hayfield Route is primarily Fixed Force. Both routes have enhanced features, and side quests, for added fun.

Evil is the choice that takes players into the RPG style play with wicked spells to wield and nefarious objectives to meet. Players use their acquired powers in the many challenges, and the effects are spectacular. Meanwhile, acquiring the crucial life force through killing is intense.

The choices for all the game plots are difficulty dynamic and designed to promote exploration. The random events, the adding and removing of paths, and the side quests are combined with the freedom to explore a visually exquisite open map design. This allows for many different experiences every time it's played. Saving at the Racecourse gives players an enjoyable mini game to play at anytime. Players can even switch off the superb audio for sneaking some late night game play.

Berserker Jerker (Darren and Carol), created the Sabato series, and intend another design in a trilogy. Sabato Returns is a campaign that demands to be seen in its own context through game play, and as a remembrance of warfare in a chaotic medieval world. It also captures the imagination, using fantasy elements such as Sabato herself to force us to identify with more than just the battles, but also the struggle between good and evil. That this Best of AoK design is a sequel to another (Sabato the Witch) is testimony to the amazing popular appeal of the series, and a final must play campaign is coming soon to the Blacksmith. Sabato Lives!

Anastasia
FOPT JuNo Cup Tourney
Posted by Aro on November 5th, 2003 @ 8:09 p.m.
FOPT_Strawberry has informed everybody in the General & Strategy Discussions forum that the FOPT will be holding another large online tourney for AoK. This time competitors will have to play eachother using Death Match settings.
I would like to inform you that FOPT is once again hosting a big Online Tournament for Age of Kings: The Conquerors.

The JuNo Cup is an open tournament for AoC Death Match which is limited to 128 players (if more sign up - which is very likely - the lowest ratings will be dropped). Prize Money: US $300.

If you are a Death Match player and interested to join the event please check the FOPT Clan Website (www.fopt-clan.de for details. Sign Ups are open from now till November 13th.
To find out more information, check out the FOPT Clan site. Sign up while you still can!
Instant Kills in AoE III?
Posted by Aro on November 4th, 2003 @ 8:05 p.m.
Clam_Knight posted about an interesting idea he came up with in the Age of Empires III Discussions forum that would increase the realism in a new game by ES.
this idea, would be like, a unit could sometimes perform an "instant kill" attack, in which it would kill the opposing unit instantly. The chance of an "instant kill" would vary from unit to unit...here's an example
-An archer would have like 1/500 chances of "instant killing" a Paladin, where as a longbowman might be like 1/300, and a halberdier would be like 1/150 or something.
The units would still have there HP, but their HP could be completly depleated with the "instant kill". Also, certain units would have a greater chance of getting or resisting an "instant kill"
Sounds to me like it'd be a good idea. To view the complete post or to leave a comment/add-on, feel free to visit the thread.
Evaluation of Genres
Posted by Aro on November 3rd, 2003 @ 5:43 p.m.
Lord_Fadawah has posted a very informative article located in the Scenario Design forum. The article introduces you to the three most used genres in scenarios (RPG, Fixed Force, and B&D) and lists their pros and cons.
RPGs
Easily the most popular genre out there, designers everywhere are embracing this style with open arms. Most threads here at the SD forum revolve around ways to improve its credibility and creativity -- wallet tricks, food supplies, spells etc. Its surprising that a strategy game like AoK can be so useful for making RPG scenarios.
In your standard RPG, a hero (maybe a couple fellow adventurers with him or her) quests across the land, seeking danger and adventure. RPGs are almost always have a fantasy-based storyline. Why are RPGs so popular? Well, they present a unique challenge. Players in Aok are used to just building empires and commanding armies -- its what the game is about. RPGs presents them with something unusual to do.
Feel free to visit the post if you want to read the entire article, or if you just want to leave an add-on or comment.
Happy Halloween
Posted by Philip on November 1st, 2003 @ 4:20 a.m.
Well, it's once again time for my favorite holiday to roll around. A holiday of lighthearted fun, fanciful masks, eerie flickering candles and the taking of loot from total strangers. That's right, this Friday is "Mug a Canadian Day."

No, this Friday is the holiday dedicated to visions of madness almost as unsettling as my dreams, Halloween and there can't be a better time to welcome our newest cherub into the news field.

The history of Halloween is a long and exciting one, filled with wars, aliens, potted ferns, knife fights, and even a musical number. The word "Halloween" comes from the Senior Citizen English "Hall O' Weenies," an annual fall festival where the British would gather in a large hall and drink. Soon they would pass out under the table, and the Druids would come in and rob them. It was in this manner that Halloween came to be used to refer to the Druidic Fall Festival of Savings, where the Druids would sell off their old hooded robes at or below cost. Obviously, these were truly crazy times in which to live.

But in any case happy Halloween to all you pink Cherubs out there and especially to our new Cherub Anastasia who will be starting a little number we like to call "Blacksmith Feature" in the near future!