Ask Sandy VIII

Article written by Sandy Petersen
Originally published on 12-12-1999 ; updated on 03-13-2017
Tags: General Info, Ask Sandyman, Interviews

Q) Will the spanish, aztec, or mayan civs be on the X-pack?

A) Look at the list of civs that are NOT going into any prospective X-Pack. If you don't see spanish, aztec, or mayans on that list, they're at least a possibility.

Q) If you make AoK for a console, do you think ...

A) ES will not do AoK for a console. However, we are perfectly willing to license it to another company to do the console version.

Q) There is another thread going on about what exactly villagers in different civilizations say when they are tasked. Is there a definitive list inside ES on what it is they say in their native language & English translation for them?

A) Probably somewhere. I think it's all pretty obvious stuff, like " hunting" when you click on a deer, "chop wood" when you click on a tree, and "building" when you select a foundation.

Q) I'm old Call of Cthulu player from way back. Are you interested in recreating those kinds of stories with current PC technologies. It would make a change from the vast arrays of weaponary of Doom & Quake to take on cults and Lovecraft's creatures with a trusty 1920s sidearm and note paper

A) I think that the traditional horror story would not be well-served by a first-person-shooter environment.

Q) What is Call of Cthulhu?

A) 1 - a horror story written by H.P. Lovecraft. The eponymous alien personage of the story has become a sort of cult figure among those in the know. 2 - a horror-story paper roleplaying game authored by yours truly.

Q) Why does the quick reference card recommend the use of priests against the teutonic knights, yet they r more resistant to conversion?

A) Even with the extra resistance, TK are still fairly vulnerable to priests. Try it.

Q) 1) Do you own a PSX?

A) Yes.

Q) Do you own an N64?

A) Yes.

Q) What other games are you hooked on at the moment?

A) Donkey Kong 64

Q) Where do you live?

A) Texas

Q) Are you addicted to caffiene like me?

A) I doubt it.

Q) Are you addicted to nicotine like my grandmother?

A) I never smoke and never have. Nor chewed.

Q) What's your favorite movie? (and don't say Blair Witch)

A) Casablanca

Q) What music do you like?

A) At this very instant, I am listening to "Dead Can Dance". When I glance to my right, I see the following groups each of which I own 3+ CDs - Tom Waits, The Nits, Laibach, Philip Glass, Tarika Sammy, Yothu Yindi, They Might Be Giants, Brave Combo, and Randy Newman. Yet others can be found back at my home. If this list tells you what kind of music I like, please tell me what it is.

Q) Are you against, or for CD cracks?

A) Pragmatically against, because obviously they can be used to benefit pirates (such as the guys who sell 94% of all software sold in China). Philosophically in favor, because I can find no sin in a person using a CD Crack to make himself a backup copy of something he already owns.

Q) what is your opinion of the concept of auto-farming?

A) If and when the X-Pack comes out, it will be obvious for all to see.

Q) In the same manner that pornographic images are not appropriate for this forum neither are comparisons relating the addiction of games being compensated for by the fun as is the taking of Heroin.

A) When a person says that a random comment about drugs somehow encourages their use, he aligns himself with the mavens who claim that video games, films, or music cause violence, drug-use, or other plagues. In my opinion, such persons, by inference, agree with the concept that we are the tool of our environment and lack free will. Philosophically, morally, and ethically, I stand opposed to any such interpretation, no matter how vague, unformed, or unintentional. I vigorously deny that joking or commenting on drug use, murder, or burglary leads to a greater likelihood of criminality. Folks who disagree with me are welcome to ban me from the forum or cut me dead socially, but I don't intend to engage on further discussion on the subject within my threads. I will probably continue to make occasional offensive jokes with precisely the same likelihood as before (which, as nearly as I can tell, has been once so far on this forum).

Q) A little concerned about the exclusion of the mighty beatnik civlization

A) You have my sympathy. I fought hard for their inclusion, but lost the battle. You will note, however, that Yippies and the Symbionese Liberation Army are not yet excluded.

Q) do you ever take the time to browse some of the other forums, or do you have someone do that FOR you?

A) I barely have time to post in this one! My time on-line is limited and I have to decide what is most edifying at any given moment. Every minute spent cruising the Pokemon sites is one less I can spend replying to questions about my on-line interests.

Q) And, do you read the profiles of those forumers whose questions you answer?

A) Never. Should I?

Q) Is there any connection between the honesty of the profiles and the number of questions they receive responses to?

A) Not directly, since I don't read them. Perhaps I should.

Q) Where can I find pictures of wonders?

A) I think they're posted all over the web.

Q) Why can't you go to the Imperial Age in the demo?

A) It's a naked ploy by ES to trick you into wanting to buy the final game.

Q) During the Time of AOK Poland was United with Lithuania. Did it mean anything when you said the Lithuanias were not included?

A) I hereby state openly that the Lithuanians, Latvians, Estonians, and Byelarus are not included.

Q) If you need somebody to help you on the Polish Civ assuming you need it. Best of all we will help for free.

A) Thanks anyway, but we've found in the past that free help is worth every penny.

Q) I must highly recommend the film "With Fire & Sword"

A) I will look it up. I am not familar with it.

Q) if a Polish civ were in it, then I think the Unique Unit should be the Winged Heavy Cavalry.

A) The famous winged hussars of Poland were actually not heavy cavalry, but light cavalry. They kicked major behind, though, and are a terrifically cool unit.

Q) Also, what do you think about terrain (mud, snow, etc.)?

A) It's not fun to have your units slow down in bad terrain.

Q) And momentum?

A) It's not fun when your units don't stop where you want them to.

Q) If you had to pick one new tech for the x-pack what would it be?

A) I am not allowed to say. It'll be in there if we do an X-Pack, though.

Q) Do u take a deep interest in history?

A) I love history, and if you've read my thread for any length of time, you can see that I can discuss it fervently and at length.

Q) Was it you that backed for the historical accuracy?

A) It was not only me. It is, however, my firm opinion that every time that we can make Age more historically accurate WITHOUT hindering game fun, we ought to do so. I feel that part of the fun is seeing historically important units. It also helps in game play at many a time - for instance, when you play Starcraft (an outstanding game), there is absolutely no way you can figure out what a Goliath or a Zealot or a Spore Colony is good for. You have to figure it out and then remember. This part of the learning curve is absent in AoE. Everyone knows immediately that an archer must be a ranged unit, and that cavalry are faster than footmen, and that rams are probably pretty good against castles & walls, etc., It makes logical sense that you train archers at the archery range, cavalry at the stable, etc., Why a Robotics Facility should produce Reavers is somewhat less obvious. Of course, there are subtle relationships in AoE/AoK that are not so immediately obvious (skirmishers kill archers? Fire galleys kill cannon galleys?), but the basics in AoE tend to be logical and easily remembered. Note that I am not trying to dis Starcraft for this - any science fiction or fantasy game of necessity is going to have these same problems.

Q) will there be much more history given in the X-pack (if there is one)

A) Any X-Pack would have an appropriate amount of history included.

Q) is the only reason why Ensemble/Micro$oft put in so much history so that parents are made happy and think that by buying it their children will benefit?

A) No. Our theory is that the vast majority of people who buy are games are doing it for themselves, not for their children. (We know that children buy our game, too, but even then they buy it for themselves.) We include the history part, not because we want to be educational, but because we think history is fun, in our cute little pedantic way.

Q) Will selecting the game speed to slow reduce game lag on the Zone? By selecting record game does that also slow the game down? What are some other ways to reduce lag while playing on the zone?

A) record game is only slowing the game down if someone has a turtle. A red dot lag is NOT affected by record game. If there is a turtle, the best way to speed up the game is for the turtler to decrease his screen resolution. If you play a Fortress map, you are far likelier to have lag (in general, walls increase lag).

Q) If you where playing against me and I was playing byzantines would you use infantry against me?

A) It depends on what civ I was. Certainly if you were playing byzantines, I'd feel constrained about using infantry, and want to back them up with camels or pikemen.

Q) I still see hold-outs asking for 50 reasons why AOK is better than AOE.

A) Here's my fifty: 1 -- no trainers; 2 - game recordings; 3 - historically accurate campaigns; 4 - superior AI; 5 - much improved pathing; 6 - rams; 7 - trebuchets; 8 - civ-unique units; 9 - a different wonder for every civ; 10 - better civ balance; 11 - farms you can walk over; 12 - worthwhile infantry; 13 - relics are valuable, unlike artifacts; 14 - better art; 15 - buildings & ships closer to real size; 16 - garrisons; 17 - demo ships; 18 - in-game tech tree; 19 - fish traps; 20 - sheep; 21 - more kinds of maps; 22 - more and cooler things to research; 23 - skirmishers & pikemen; 24 - light cavalry; 25 -dudes are visible behind buildings & trees; 26 - palisades in dark age; 27 - the starting scout; 28 - bigger maps; 29 - trade carts; 30 - the amazing new market; 31 - siege weapons near-useless vs. normal units; 32 -Spy eliminates the hide-and-seek ploy for loser players; 33 - regicide; 34 - single-unit strategies now flop; 35 - multiplayer save games; 36 - gates; 37 - formations; 38 - combat stances; 39 - wolves preferentially target forward-builders; 40 - ranged healing from monks; 41 - town bell; 42 - the idle villager button; 43 - way better campaign intros; 44 - better multiplayer with locked teams, locked game speed, etc; 45 - team bonuses; 46 - first-rate tutorial; 47 - cool unique backgrounds for every civ; 48 - female villagers, yowza! 49 - villagers can repair siege units; 50 - villagers speak in their native tongue.

Q) In the upcoming patch, have you considered giving Goths Gold Shaft Mining, and a +30 population at imperial age instead of +10?

A) We are highly unlikely to give Goths Gold Shaft Mining. We are constitutionally opposed to giving civs research items they lacked before. A flat +30 pop in Imperial would be a problem for those who played at lower pop caps. Much better would be, say, a flat +13% boost to pop cap.

Q) in gold rush, why is the gold always closer to 1 team? that unbalances it!

A) when you randomly generate a map, that kind of things happens.

Q) A tactic to get to your enemy is to cut a path through his forrests. (or around an enemy wall) Some players wait till imp and use the forrest military available. Then there r others who use a foundation deleting method. Chop a tree 'till it is down, put a farm foundation on it (or any foundation) delete the foundation and the path is clear! For early spying some are placing foundations down around the enemy, when vills or military walk over them, you see them. What's your opinion Sandyman, are these tactics intended features in AoK or will some adjustments be made in the patch or expansion?

A) my opinion is that these tactics are time- and labor-intensive, and I don't particularly mind their use.

Q) Why did you make it where churches don't heal your units by garrison.

A) It's not historically accurate - people didn't go to church to get healed (except maybe via prayer). And we immensely preferred to have the only garrison buildings be those in which the garrisoned troops can shoot out of. I.e., town centers, towers, and castles. Yes I know that units can "garrison" inside barracks, docks, etc., if you set the gathering point atop the building. Really, though, this is more of a delayed production than a garrison. In other words, we made a conscious decision to greatly limit the number of buildings in which units can garrison. This was a gameplay decision - in the early game, you could garrison in almost every building. This proved Bad, and now we have the current situation.

Q) have you at ES ever considered a place where you can train your troops, like a building that you would garrison units inside. It would slowly deduct gold, but would slowly, I mean slowly, increase those units stats.

A) This is what the unit upgrades & research items are supposed to do.

Q) Any chance one of the following units will be in the X-pack? Cavalry crossbowman, cavalry gunner, maceman, hammerman, armored infantry.

A) Well, the armored infantry is already present, in the form of the Teutonic Knight. A mounted crossbowman is properly named a "Turcopole", by the way. There was no such thing as macemen or hammermen (maces & war hammers were used by mounted knights). I am not going to rule out any units at this time.

Q) The multiplayer mode where two humans control the same colour & civ, will a patch be implemented so that you can see which units your partners have selected so you know they are under control?

A) Probably not.

Q) Why don't trebuchets have the "Follow" command?

A) I don't know. The question never occurred to me.

Q) Why can't wolves be hunted and eaten!?

A) EEEEUUUUUUWWWWW!! Ecch!

Q) Why don't wolves chase and eat other animals? ie. Sheep?

A) They did at one time. It was roundly condemned by our playtesters as a gross bit of unfairness, since not everyone's sheep got eaten evenly, and if you lost 3 sheep while your neighbor lost 1 ...

Q) What is your favorite piece of literature?

A) I do not have a favorite piece of literature, only favorite authors. In my opinion Jane Austen is the most nearly perfect writer in English that has ever lived. I also love Rex Stout, G. K. Chesterton, and of course H. P. Lovecraft

Q) Sandyman tries valiantly not to spill any beans but accidentally lets slip that the Winged Hussar is a unit in the X-Pack

A) I didn't say that. All I said was that winged hussars were cool. So are Turcopoles. Dozens of ancient troop types that aren't in the X-Pack were cool. I am explicitly NOT saying that hussars or turcopoles or gallowglasses or firespears are IN or OUT of any X-Pack.

Q) Was that an intentional use of IF? I would think you mean WHEN (and only when). (Referring to the X-Pack.)

A) An X-Pack has not been announced by MicroSoft yet, therefore I cannot officially announce one, nor can I comment on any units, civs, researches, features, or campaigns to be incorporated into it. In addition, anything which is due to happen in the future is of necessity an "if" - perhaps Y2K will erase all our computers, or MicroSoft go bankrupt under the weight of Justice Department fines, or everyone at ES get hit by a meteor while at the Christmas party or something.

Q) Will ES do anything about the TC rush?

A) Yes. In fact, we have. And tested it. We like our solution, but the tests are proceeding to ensure that we haven't incorporated some new screw. Our solution, incidentally, was not to make skirmishers TC killers.

Q) Are the Habsburgs being considered for any expansion? They did rule a huge chunk of Europe for a very long time, and were engaged in constant fighting for much of that period.

A) No. I detest the Hapsburgs and regard them as an untalented, but malign, force of oppression throughout their entire history. Not only that, but they looked funny.

Q) It would be awesome to have a bonus unique unit for each original civ in the game

A) Doing new units is among the most difficult and time-consuming tasks that we do here at ES. It takes a lot of art time as well as a lot of playtest time. Expect something new and cool for every civ in any possible X-Pack, but don't expect new unique units for the old civs.

Q) Why does the comp take so long to get to castle?(on Hard)

A) Because he sometimes builds up an army in Feudal, and he sometimes is tributing to an ally.

Q) I also noticed that it never hunts boars?

A) He sucks big-time at boar hunting, and when we allowed him to do so, he'd lose 3-4 villagers in Dark & Feudal Age to boars every game. Yuck.

Q) It also farms in the dark age. Why? After you said that you wouldn't recommend it.

A) I don't, for humans. But since the CP doesn't hunt boars, it's necessary for him.

Q) Does ES have any more great ideas to make the market more in depth and fun to use

A) We're pretty happy with it for now. Maybe a new research item or two might be fun.

Q) Does the "if" in your statements mean you are forgetful, or that it is now a debatable decision?

A) It means I got stomped on for saying something official before MS got their chance to.

Q) who wrote the following lyrics (deleted)

A) I don't know. Reminds me a little bit of some of Uriah Heep's old stuff.

Q) You are a noble game designer!

A) Wow, what rank? Baronet? Marquis? Duke? Bastard by-blow of the King?

Q) Why do goths and Teutons speak the same languages in AOK?

A) Because they came from the same place. Germany.

Q) Shouldn't every civ have a unique language?

A) Why?

Q) And the langage that AOK teutons & goths speak would be the goth language or the teuton language?

A) It's Old German, I believe.

Q) In Hyperspeed, which "civ" of aliens was your favorite to design?

A) The Broodmasters were pretty near the top of the heap. I'm sure you remember them. They were the ones that were invariably obsequious and polite, but always always lied, and gave you absolutely terrible advice.

Q) Sandyman, have you ever heard of Nine Inch Nails?

A) Yes, of course. I helped design Quake, didn't I? I am not a fan of Trent Reznor. A lot of his lyrics are unnecessarily vulgar and I regard his philosophy as juvenile and trivial. I think that there is an excellent musician somewhere deep inside Trent and I hope he lets him out someday.

Q) The player could build a unit that sprays the ground with water, therefore making mud around their base.

A) I think the odds of adding a "urinating" unit to the game are even less than the chance of a mace man.

Q) i would really like to see a random team setting in wich the compuetr theam the palyers instead of tvb or ove

A) I apologize but after "theam" I can't understand anything you wrote. English spelling, while strange and eccentric, is at least not random. I agree with having a random team setting, and in fact IF we do an X-Pack, you can expect it. In fact, if we were currently doing an X-Pack, it would be in the game right now and everyone that has tested it would have liked it.

Q) What was the most interesting thing you learned about the middle ages when researching for AoK? did your opinion of any civs/events/units change based on the research?

A) I didn't do a whole lot of research just for AoK - I was already a history buff. I think the most interesting thing I found out was the life of Joan of Arc. I'd not learned much about her before, and when I started looking up the facts, they were absolutely astounding. She is one of the most remarkable individuals who has ever graced the face of the Earth.

Q) I've been trying to convince people that Korea would be a cool civ

A) I agree.

Q) Starcraft recently sold its millionth copy in Korea

A) I've heard this, too, and frankly, I find it hard to believe.

Q) Walls too defensive. I played with a guy who just builds continous layers of fortified walls without gates. He won by building Wonder. Can you make them easier to destroy?

A) Trebs & rams go through walls pretty fast, in my opinion.

Q) Why does the Throwing Axemen and the Mamelukes can attack from range that cost regular damage?

A) Because it made them very interesting from a gameplay viewpoint.

Q) Do the Mamelukes really throw their scimitars?

A) In the game, yes. In real life, no.

Q) I really think that the Mangudai, Mongols's uniques unit is ugly, can whoever drew it redraws it?

A) WHAT?! You are dissing my favorite unique unit (art-wise). How dare you.

Q) Does this mean, a better video card means less lag??

A) Er ... yes.

Q) Do you have any more interesting events from the Middle Ages that you think we might find interesting?

A) Sure! Here's three that amazed me when I first learned of them.

THE BATTLE OF SEMPACH: about 1500 Swiss pikemen were faced by four times their number of Austrian knights. Realizing from earlier battles that the Swiss pike phalanx was dominant over knights, the Austrians dismounted and marched into combat as infantry, using their lances as spears. The Swiss were more lightly-armored, but more ferocious. For a time, the two sides simply pushed back and forth at each other with their 5-7 meter (!) long pikes. Then, the heroic Switzer, Arnold Winkelreid, dropped his pike and reached out to gather as many Austrian pikes into his arms as he could. He, of course, almost instantly died, with a dozen or more pikes buried in his chest. But this created a gap in the Austrian ranks which the Swiss immediately exploited. As the Austrian columns split and tried to react, other gaps appeared. The Swiss broke the Austrian line, and decisively crushed the Austrian army. This was THE deciding battle of the war. A short time thereafter, the Hapsburgs recognized Swiss independence, ending a century of warfare. One fighting man achieved victory in the battle for his entire side, and through that victory, bought freedom for his entire nation.

THE EVIL OF VLAD TEPES: this was the real name of Dracula (a real person!), a medieval ruler of Moldavia and Transylvania. During one of his wars against the Turks (sometimes he was on their side, sometimes he was against them - it was that kind of age.), he captured 30,000 prisoners. The Sultan of Turkey came to destroy him and wreak a terrible vengeance. His army halted when it came to a grisly scene - all 30,000 of his men, impaled on long poles, arranged into a hellish "forest", blanketing hill and vale. The Sultan suffered a physical collapse and returned with all his army to Turkey. He died some time after, a broken man. If ever a man went straight to Hell upon death, it must have been Tepes. This was only one of his horrible pranks. Others are known, even more terrible, if that is possible. But this may not be the place for them.

THE JAPANESE INVASION OF KOREA: After Hideyoshi had become Shogun and unified all of Japan, it was time to expand beyond his borders. He launched a ruthless invasion of Korea. The Koreans fought back, but their soldiers, brutalized and demoralized by effete upper class officers, were no match for the seasoned Japanese samurai. Admiral Yi Sung Sin was the man of the hour. Jealous subordinates had gotten him in trouble with the ruler, and he had been mutilated (sadly I can't remember what his mutilation was at this time - might have been his nose and ears cut off). Despite this awful background, he was still loyal to Korea, and he commanded the Korean fleet in battle against the Japanese. Yi Sung Sin was possibly the most brilliant admiral of the millenium. Among other things, he developed the "turtle ship", an ironclad galley - the first armored ship! It was 300 years before this idea came to the West. Though outnumbered, his fleet battled it out against the Japanese and sank or captured 59 japanese vessels, losing almost none of his own.

While the Japanese still ruled the mainland of Korea, they could neither get supplies nor reinforcements from home. When winter came, things got grimmer, as the Koreans began a guerrilla war of resistance. Now that the Korean ruling class was mostly imprisoned, killed, or fled to China, the Korean commoners proved themselves hardy fighters, and the Japanese suffered constant attrition, often in deadly one-on-one struggles out in the snows. The Japanese attempted to get more troops to Japan, but Yi Sung Sin trounced them again in a battle in which the skilled Japanese actually leapt from ship to ship, landing on top of the turtle ships and pounding uselessly at the ships' iron roofs. Though Yi Sung Sin was actually killed in this fight, the Japanese were defeated so soundly that they withdrew from Korea, not to return for three centuries.

Q) Bugs: Walls "wig out" even when trying to draw across about 8 tiles (I know, I know, make smaller sections..but this sux). Vills don't repair boats properly, require multiple clicks to convince them to do this (in AoE/RoR it seemed to work flawlessly). Gates don't always set up in the desired direction, maybe put toggle key for changing direction (I know, I know, make wall foundations first...but this sux).

A) Yes we know about these and they are either fixed (watch this space) or being worked on (depending on the bug).

Q) hope I didn't violate any Sandyrules.

A) The Sandyrules are not for y'all, they are for me. I.e., you can ask any kind of question you want, no matter how trivial or monotonous or offensive (I'm not singling anyone out here). The Sandyrule says only that I don't have to answer it.

Q) Lithuanians were the ones that kicked behind of the famed Teutonic Knights time after time

A) Most notably at Tannenberg, in consort with the Poles

Q) Why not include more cheats in AOK such as Starcraft or even AOE had? Why no level-jumping cheat and others?

A) Level jumping cheats? You mean, a quickie rise to Imperial or something?

Q) Will you include more cheats IF you do an x-pack?

A) I fear that cheats will always be a very low priority with me when I am doing a game or game supplement.

Q) Please fill us in on the VDML joke. Who is it making fun of? Why did that person always say that? Why is he naked?

A) I am honor bound not to tell. It commemorates an event at a convention last year. If you see me at E3, ask again, and I'll direct you to the person involved himself and he can tell you if he likes. He's naked because he WAS. (I.e., it's for historical accuracy.)

Q) Who decided to add the car as a cheat in AOE and AOK? Why those particular cars?

A) Scott Winsett. He loves cars and races them for a hobby.

Q) Can you tell me of any other Kurosawa films in color besides RAN?

A) Sure. Kagemusha & Dreams, for two.

Q) What's your calling in your ward?

A) I am currently a primary teacher and I like that job fine. (Also a home teacher, but so is every adult male.)

Q) Why wasn't the Cannibalism cheat idea (suggested by some of the ES workers at 1998) included in the game?

A) wimps got their way.

Q) I think Trent has matured a lot since Halo 13.

A) Maybe he's worth listening to now. I did say that I thought an excellent musician was somewhere inside him.

Q) You've beta-tested AoE right?

A) Not exactly. I played the game before release, but I never played on the same exact version that beta-testers got.

Q) How would you feel if someone would ask you for a scenario of lost AoE beta units if you have the beta version of AoE?

A) I would not provide them with such a scenario. If you have the beta version and want to do it, more power to you.

Q) Starcraft DID sell a million copies in Korea, because most people here go to "PC Bangs" or pay computer rooms where you play games over IPX. Since there's one on every damn block of Seoul, Seoul has approx. 12 million people, and every place has at least 20 computers, AND they actually do buy a copy for each one

A) There are 3000 PC Bangs in Korea. If each one bought 50 copies, that would be 100,000 copies, not a million. Since the PC Bangs actually REDUCE the number of sales to normal people (since many go to the Bang to play), I still find it impossible to believe there were a million sales in Korea.

Q) do YOU like the music provided by the Rippy brothers for the game?

A) It would be highly impolitic of me to say anything else. Yes I like their music.

Q) how about castle rushes and dark-age TC rebuilding?

A) We don't mind castle rushes because that is exactly what people did in the middle ages. Also, you can't build nearly as many castles as you can town centers. Dark Age TC rebuilding is not a screw because no one has a particular advantage in doing it, as far as I'm concerned. If you don't like it, go rebuild YOUR TC somewhere else.

Q) What things are we not going to see in the x-pack? snow? redwood trees?

A) Flying saucers, kangaroos, woolly mammoths, hoplites, chariots, and natural rock arches.

Q) From what I have gathered the x-pack will have a European theme,

A) I can't imagine how you could have gottenthat idea.

Q) Do you know what Dhow and Caravel is?

A) Yes, I know what they both are.

Q) Doesn't Cog means transport ship? So why make the trade ship "trade Cog"?

A) Because if "cog" means "transport", there is already a transport in the game. Ergo, the cog must be for trade - transporting cargo instead of people.

Q) Why didn't Hero Columbus, Dias... appear?

A) Only so much time to do art.

Q) Would Portugal (or whatever that is spelled) be in the x-pack?

A) My brother-in-law is from Portugal. My wife speaks Portuguese, and lived in Portugal for a year and a half. So of course I cannot possibly put Portugal in the game.

Q) Do you think that Heavy Demo Ship is too expensive?

A) Compared to what?

Q) Why didn't you make Ice a terrain in the Scenario Editor?

A) Got to save something for expansion packs.

Q) are there going to be new buildings if an X-pack comes around.

A) Kind of. Look at Rise of Rome. There were no new TYPES of buildings, but there was a new architectural set. And of course any new civs we add to an X-Pack have to have wonders.

Q) i do think that Elite Teutonic Knights are way too tough considering their cost

A) Our perception is that there are lots of ways of killing them and that they are a very specialized unit.

Q) I want to know if every Civ is really fair and at same level.

A) None of the civs are balanced. Every civ has some play style, some map type, or some game type in which it is inferior to all the others. Goths really suck at defending a wonder. Britons are unimpressive in Deathmatch. Extremely aggressive players are frustrated when being Byzantines.

Q) I think its great that you put no copy function of the CD.

A) Thanks

Q) Is becoming a Game designer get you lot of money?

A) Not for many years.

Q) Why are you the only one answering questions from Ensemble Studios?

A) I have been asked to be the ES contact to Age of Empires Heaven. Other ES people who like to go on-line have been asked to do so in other forums. Go look for them.

Q) will the americans be in the x-pack?

A) Didn't you see my earlier post in this subject?

Q) trebs suck! i spend 200 wood/gold on them and they can't attack! they just roll around and build a building when told to fight!

A) You are the wind beneath my wings.

Q) do you think MS would allow you guys to release the GENIE engine source code or at least enough to make pretty substantial mods at some point in the future?

A) I do not believe MS will do this.

Q) If it was entirely your decision, would you have the source code released?

A) Yes.

Q) If so, at what point?

A) after the final ES product using GENIE has been released.

Q) I appreciate your comments on the Habsburgs. But the Teutonic Knights were right bastards too. That's no reason to leave them out.

A) Well, that's true, but the Teutons (and the medieval British) were _cool_ villains and the Hapsburgs were lame villains.

Q) I know you want to make extensive tests to the Teuton solution you have, and you may even be waiting for the X-Pack

A) We are NOT going to wait for an X-pack before releasing our Teuton solution

Q) Build bridges. In some games, rivers, or the gaps between island are fairly narrow. Would a bridge building option be available if you do an X-Pack?

A) The GENIE engine does not support actually altering terrain (such as changing land into water). The time and trouble it would take to incorporate such support is not, in our opinion, worth the results. A bridge is, in effect, a terrain change.

Q) Converting buildings. If my civ doesn't get camels, for example, an I have monks covert an enemy stable of a civ that does get camels, wouldn't it be interesting if I then could produce camels from that one stable.

A) This would be a huge and gross imbalance for those civs that get the ability to convert buildings, since not everyone does.

Q) wasn't vlad tepes a great guy? He makes the vampire dracula look like a beanie baby.

A) He WAS the vampire Dracula. Maybe he didn't suck blood, but he sure as heck spilled a lot of it.

Q) Do you own stock in MicroSoft?

A) Not intentionally. It's possible that one or more of my mutual funds have invested in MS.

Q) Don't just tell me : "read my previous posts", there are too many of them.

A) I'm sorry, but your desire to not read all my previous posted is matched and exceeded by my desire not to repeat myself again and again and again. Since you are the supplicant here, it is incumbent upon YOU to seek the answer.

Q) Is there a simple way to define the personnality of the AI in the map editor. I'm quite tired of seing camels running away from paladins when I do tests.

A) If you give the CP the standard AI, then he will always assign one of his units to check out the map. To prevent this, give him an extra scout (or light cav) - if he has a scout, then he will always select the scout to go running around, and his other units won't.

Q) What do you think about legalizing marijuana?

A) I think marijuana is less harmful than alcohol. Therefore, we should outlaw alcohol.

Q) How do I stop playing this game?

A) Have your wife cut you off from bedroom privileges until you shape up.

Q) Hey Sandy, do you want to play a 1v1 with me?

A) I am headed off to Utah for vacation tomorrow and won't be around.

Q) Will you add more history in the "if-is" X-Pack?

A) Yes.

Q) What is Tim@ES' job at Ensemble Studios. And why is he the only one from ES I've seen on the Zone?

A) Tim is a programmer who will soon be demoted to designer. I don't know why he's the only one you've seen. Others are frequently there.

Q) Who else besides the Hapsburgs do you consider lame villains? Who do you think are cool villains?

A) Here are five of each:

Cool villains = Louis XI of France, Toktamish, Torquemada, Nathan Bedford Forrest, Ivan the Terrible.

Lame villains = Charles the Bold, Kaiser Wilhelm, Akechi Mitsuhide, Charles I of England, Charles XI of Sweden (hmm. I wonder why so many Charleses are villainous?)

Q) Does you being appointed Heaven forum liason account for the fact that we haven't heard from deathshrimp in ages?

A) Probably.

Q) I am mighty impressed, how did you know about PC bangs, even less their massive and overwhelming number? How did you learn the juicy details of Yi Sun Shin's brilliant victory? How do you know SO MUCH STUFF? I give in. You are a master and I am your lowly student.

A) I never watch TV. I read voraciously. And I have a lot of friends who live or have lived outside the USA. Example: a Korean family (the Parks) are very good friends of our family. You should see my library - I own several thousand books.

I urge you not to give in - emulate my reading habits and surpass me. The fact that my brain is filled with random bits of arcana has proven to be an enormous and continuous source of amusement to myself and others.

Q) Who is the man that would risk his life for his brother man? Who's the cat that won't cop out when there's danger all about?

A) Danger mouse of course.

Q) I was just wondering if you could recomend some historical sources, books or Internet, which would help users understand AoK at little better?

A) Archer Jones's book THE ART OF WAR IN THE WESTERN WORLD

Q) Do your kids play Age of Kings?

A) Absolutely.

Q) Are you going to John Carmack's wedding?

A) If I get an invitation.

Q) why would Charles XI be lame?? He was way cooler than the other ones you listed!

A) He is lame for a different reason from the others. He is lame because he had such enormous talent! I mean, how much could you really expected from idiots like Charles I of England or Charles the Bold of Burgundy? But Charles XI of Sweden was brilliant, charismatic, an excellent writer; he had the potential to be one of the great leaders of all time. Yet he flushed it all down the toilet along with Sweden, for his love of warfare. I regard him as one of the great wasted opportunities of history. He could have been Sweden's Bismarck or Richelieu. Instead he was very nearly its destroyer.

Q) I was wondering why you thought Charles the first rated as a villain. Here in the UK Charles is considered more a victim, it's usually Cromwell who gets the bad press. I know Charles was responsible for disolving parliment, and questioning the right of the people to rule themselves, but in his day, did that qualify him as villainous. After all he did truly believe in his own divine right to rule, and was known to be personally very religious. The fact he was wrong is irelevant to the case.

A) I'm not surprised Cromwell gets the bad press in the UK. After all, he was anti-monarchy. In the US, Cromwell is usually seen as the good guy (no doubt because he was anti-monarchy). The reason that I think that Charles I was a bad guy is, in fact, because

1 -- he illegally dissolved parliament

2 - he tried to enormously increase the people's taxes in order to fight unpopular foreign wars.

3 -- after agreeing NOT to do so, plotted with England's enemies to overthrow parliamentary rule.

4 - he strove heartily to turn back the tide of democracy and go back to the old Henry VIII dictatorial manner

The fact that he believed he was right is immaterial. He WAS wrong, and if he had had his way, England would have been seriously oppressed. Yes I believe that even in his day these actions qualify him as villainous. The fact that Cromwell also ruled as a dictator doesn't make Charles I any more palatable to me.

Q) We don't mind castle rushes because that is exactly what people did in the middle ages." I'm serious Sandyman. Obviously you're not.

A) I am absolutely serious. Castles were OFTEN built as an aggressive act, a jumping-off point for attacks, to control enemy land (not just your own), and to suppress potential expansion. Look at the history of Wales. The English border barons built castles right inside Welsh lands in order to annex it onto their own. This was also done by the Teutonic Knights in the Baltic region.

Q) Dark Age TC rebuilding is not a screw because no one has a particular advantage in doing it, as far as I'm concerned. If you don't like it, go rebuild YOUR TC somewhere else." Have you ever tried it on a computer opponent??

A) When you're playing against a computer opponent, you have complete power to play any way you like. If you think you win too easily by doing a dark age TC rebuild, then DON'T DO IT! No one's making you! Good heavens, you can deny yourself any techniques you like vs. a computer opponent and no one will care in the slightest. For that matter I expect if you try the Dark Age TC rush vs. 2 computer opponents you will be sorry.

Q) what, in your opinion, was the single most important or influential event in European history?

A) the invention of movable type by Gutenberg.

Q) Is it true that Ensemble is going to change the name of Age of Kings to... TC-Wars ?

A) Yes.

Q) Which castles have you been to if any and which one is your favourite?

A) The only major castles I've visited and spent lots of time in are Bodiam and Conwy.

Q) when I said castle rush I meant building a castle right in the middle of the enemy's base which is a very cheap and effective tactic in this game. And Sandyman's trying to tell me that's what people did in the Middle Ages?

A) Yes that's PRECISELY what people did in the Middle Ages. Conwy castle was built right smack dab in the middl e of Welsh territory. And not in bad territory either - it is right in the lowlands, at a strategic port site, where a market town already existed. So it is in primo territory. As the English castles took over the valleys, the Welsh holdouts were forced into the hills and desolate areas, just like what happens in AoK.

Q) What do you ppl define as "Rush"?

A) I define a Rush as a strategy in which a player consciously aims his build-up scheme so as to produce a single type of unit in great numbers as early as possible.

Q) All the buildings in a set change as you go up in ages, looking more 'modern' each time, and yet, unless I'm mistaken, the Castle does not. Did you consider creating an Imperial castle for each set?

A) We did, but creating the castles was a lengthy and time-consuming process, and we decided that our art time would be better spent spiffing up other things instead.

Q) Total Annihilation raised the bar in multi by allowing 10 players, but it seems every game since then settled back to 8. Did you consider a player limit of 10?

A) We see nothing sacred about our player limit. We chose 8 at least in part because it was much easier to find 8 different player colors than 10. If the Zone had allowed more than 6 players we probably would have cared more.

Q) Please release the Teuton solution soon!

A) It is not entirely up to ES.

Q) How do you counter Cataphracts without Camels? Most civs have only the Pikeman, but the Pikes are quite vulnerable to the Cat's bonuses. Was this intentional? If not, could the Cataphracts be patched so as not to get their bonuses against pikes?

A) I counter them with cavaliers or paladins, who trounce cataphracts and are cheaper besides. The only civ that lacks cavaliers are the Saracens, who have pretty effective anti-cataphract technology. Another good counter are archers or hand-cannoneers. I realize that cataphracts kill these guys one-on-one, but don't fight that way. Remember that the cataphracts can ONLY be built at a castle. Therefore, you should be able to produce hand-cannoneers about four times as quickly, not to mention they cost a lot less.

Q) the terrain would end up looking like WWII battle fields where the B-52s had blown the **** out of everything

A) Just a pedantic point. B-52s were first flown in the 1950s. They are a Cold War weapon and were never seen in WWII. A logical WWII bomber might be the B17 or B24, but they weren't used in tactical bomb runs very often.

Q) When do you plan to release some information on the expansion pack.

A) As soon as MS lets me.

Q) If you post another new thread could you make the first post only one line long?

A) You must be very short on time.