Ask Sandy XII

Article written by Sandy Petersen
Originally published on 01-19-2000 ; updated on 03-13-2017
Tags: General Info, Ask Sandyman, Interviews

Q) If you were allowed to eliminate one man from the history of mankind, which guy would you choose?

A) The Arab leader who burned the library of Alexandria. Can't remember his name.

Q) Do you have a favorite architect? If yes, who?

A) Christopher Wren

Q) what's the difference between a designer and a programmer?

A) A programmer makes games work. A designer makes games fun.

Q) Poland didn't expect nothing from England but from France we did. We were supposed to hold the advance for two weeks.We did and the French didn't do anything. So Stalin invaded. Trust me we didn't expect to win but the soldiers morale was high. The Soldiers expected them to win. We were supposed to last 1 week according to Hitler and Himmler. According to WWII records we did do more damage to the Germans then the French did. You can double check on it if you don't believe it. The Polish Generals were the same generals that had won in WWI and in the Polish Russian war of 1921. The Poles had few tanks while the French had an whole army. The French Gave up. We fought back against the Russians and Germans. I have to disagree with you on the Non Aggression Pact. If the Russians release more Papers for WWII the world will see that this was an alliance.

A) It's very hard to argue historical things with a person who is wearing historical blinkers. Hitler and his generals did not expect Poland to fall in only one week. Himmler was not even consulted on the issue – he was not considered to be a military man and there was almost no Waffen SS at this time. The Germans planned for several weeks of conquest in Case White (the Polish assault) and that's about what it lasted. The Poles most certainly did not do more damage than the French. In Poland, the Germans lost 40,000 men (13,000 killed). In France, they lost over 150,000 men (43,000 killed). This is a matter of record. The Russians did NOT ally with the Germans by most definitions of an alliance. Just because there were secret immoral accords in the agreement does not make something an alliance. The Germans did not consider the Russians to be their allies, and the Russians certainly did not consider the Germans to be allies. Friendly neutrals at best. Surely their opinion ought to count as to what was an alliance. Obviously your nationality is blinding you to the facts and how can I expect otherwise? Good luck in your future career. I recommend you not take up historical analysis, though.

Q) Your daughter is really pretty. Maybe I'll sneak around your house to get a glimpse of her. But she lives abroad, right?

A) Correct. She does not live at home anymore.

Q) What do you think of legalizing drugs?

A) I don't even drink alcoholic beverages.

Q) Go listen to Stephen Rippy's music!

A) Too late. He's down the hall from me. I have to listen to his stuff incessantly.

Q) What's your favorite character in "a bug's life"?

A) The houseflies.

Q) Have you ever considered making a footie game?

A) I do not know what a footie game is.

Q) You said that ES will only do 3D games from now on. Blizzard's WarCraft III is 3D. The latest Panzer General is 3D. ... Is the 2D isometric strategy game dying?

A) I think so. Just as the 2-D action game is dying (the last really good one was Abe's Exoddus), and been replaced by 3-D action games such as Rayman 2, Donkey Kong 64, etc., so the 2-D strategy game is on its way out. So long, old friend. *sniff*

Q) Do you think that AoK has pushed 2D isometric strategy gaming as high as it can get?

A) No. I think that 2D strategy COULD be pushed higher. I just don't think it's going to be.

Q) Is Tony Goodman related to the Rick Goodman that is working on Empire Earth?

A) Rick is Tony's older brother.

Q) Will ES come forward with some info on the games they are working on before March the 1st?

A) It's MS, in this case, not ES. I sure hope so.

Q) IF AoK will get an expansion pack, will it then be something like the one from RoR? I mean, new civs, new units, new map types, new campaigns, new features, new ...?

A) Of course. We might even try to raise the bar further.

Q) How many people are working at the Studios now? Some 50?

A) About that.

Q) who is actually the leader or company owner?

A) It says on our web site, I thought. Tony Goodman is the CEO.

Q) it's as historically in-accurate to have Sweden and Vikings in the same game as to have Byzantines and Turks.

A) Er … I think I understand and agree what you're trying to say, but you may not have picked the world's best example, since the Byzantines warred against the Turks for about five centuries, and so obviously both existed in the same game.

Q) Do you believe that we are in a period of history when it might, figuratively, be the end of history?

A) Not in the slightest.

Q) Borders are unlikely to change, the tiniest of skirmishes can now be snuffed out instantly by NATO, or some other massive "good-guy-organisation".

A) Borders are unlikely to change? They have been changing with amazing speed over the last ten years. Why will they suddenly stop?

Tiny skirmishes can now be snuffed out? Like the years-long Bosnian war? Or the Chechen fighting in the Caucasus? Perhaps the brushfire wars raging in Turkey, Algeria, sub-saharan Africa, or Kashmir? Massive "good guy" organizations have been notably absent in the vast bulk of the wars that have been going on, and are pretty slow to respond in most cases. The two (2) recent cases in which they appeared to succeed were the Gulf War, which wasn't exactly "snuffed out" without conflict and the Bosnia, later Kosovo conflicts, which also dragged on and created significant casualties.

Q) In WWII, do you believe it is Hitler's fault or the People's fault for their actions?

A) Hitler didn't shoot anyone (well, except maybe Rohm during the Night of the Long Knives). He had to rely on other people to do it for him. Everyone that "did it for him" was an accomplice.

Q) Do you believe Chamberlin appeased Hitler to buy the Britains time to build up a resistance, improve Navy and RAF?

A) No. I think Chamberlain appeased Hitler because he felt Britain was way too weak to fight. Britain's weakness, incidentally, was largely CAUSED by Chamberlain's party and its dilatoriness in preparing for potential conflict. Chamberlain clearly felt he "understood Hitler" and felt quite betrayed when der Fuhrer occupied the rump Czechoslovakia.

Q) What is the meaning of life?

A) "Man is, that he might have joy."

Q) I'm sorry if someone else already asked this, but how long do you have to go to college to become a game designer? And what is the game designer's typical day at work?

A) Most all the designers I know have a bachelor's degree. There is no one correct field to study in, though. When I worked at MicroProse, the various designers there had degrees in History, Economics, Theatre, Music, Zoology (myself), and English. Our typical day at work is divided between talking to other people and using various tools on the computer. As a project progresses, we spend more and more time watching the game being played, and sometimes playing it ourselves.

Q) Whats the worst experience uve had being a game designer?

A) Having my department head get mad at me for telling him the truth.

Q) What will they probably do to fix the chukonu problem?

A) The chukonu problem? Elite chu-konu not only have 5 more hit points, and do a tad more damage, but they get produced out of the castles almost twice as fast. Or is that not the problem you're referring to?

Q) Do you ever get bored designing games?

A) No. I get bored going to marketing meetings, negotiating vision statements, etc. There are plenty of boring activities in the life of a game designer, but actually designing the games is most definitely NOT one of them. These other activities are highly resented by most designers because they keep us away from what we love – doing games.

Q) Has anyone approached ES about making a line of action figures based on the AOE/ROR/AOK line?

A) Not yet.

Q) Isn't the meaning of life to glorify God?

A) What kind of lame God would create beings just to praise Him? I don't think such a deity would be worthy of worship. I hold by my earlier statement that mankind's purpose on Earth is to find joy. I DO say that you can't find true joy without God, but that's not the same as saying that our only function is to praise Him.

Q) ES and MS should give you a nice bonus check for the incredible source of comsumer marketing data your threads provide. Excellent job on your part.

A) I will immediately forward this quote to the proper authorities. I'll let you know if it works.

Q) why are there only a few graphical building sets?

A) Two reasons

1) it takes a long time to put together an architectural style. If we had 13 styles instead of 4, it would have added probably a year onto the length of time it took to do the game.

2) The more different kinds of buildings there are, the harder it becomes for players to know what's going on. When there are only 4 different Barracks buildings, you can figure out which is which. But if there were 13, you might get confused. "Which one is the Mill?" That kind of thing. It makes the game interface easier to learn with fewer building sets.

So the final number of building sets was a compromise between appearance and functionality.

Q) would you be able to find out if the population, being set high, will make the game play slower?

A) Yes, a high population makes the game slower. It makes it a LOT slower if you are playing vs. computer opponents. It makes it only somewhat slower vs. humans. There is a lot of processor time taken up in pathing large numbers of units across big maps. The use of Formations help, though.

Q) When asked before about your boss, you haven't ever mentioned Bruce Shelley. So, why exactly is HIS face on the front cover of the strategy manual instead of YOURS?!?

A) I was unaware that the traditional person on the front of a strategy manual was supposed to be the boss. Bruce is a fine fellow, and I seek out his advice eagerly and persistently, but he is not my boss. A respected peer, certainly.

Q) Are you ever letting your daughter go to the BYU Jerusalem Center?

A) It depends on who has to pay for it.

Q) I put up a post today looking at the possibility of an AOE format dealing with the American civil war era. Any thoughts on the pros and cons?

A) I love the civil war. Not sure if the Age format is the best one to deal with it. For one thing, the thought of American Civil War era soldiers gunning down civilians is kind of a tough one, and the extermination of enemy civilians is a pretty fundamental part of Age.

Q) If Gen. Thomas Jackson had not been killed during the civil war, do you think the South could have prevailed?

A) I think that it would have taken more than the survival of Jackson to win the war for the South. For one thing, they lost the war in the West, not the East (where Jackson served). I DO think the South could have been victorious. In fact, my vote for most critical battle of the war is Pea Ridge. If Van Dorn's forces had not been scattered in defeat at Pea Ridge, they would have been present at the battle of Shiloh. 10-15 thousand extra Southern troops at Shiloh would have made it a definite Confederate victory. If that had happened, U. S. Grant & William T. Sherman would probably have been dismissed from command, or at least not been considered for later promotion. And without Grant & Sherman I cannot imagine the Union winning the war.

Q) I find the "under attack" sound a bit too loud compared to the rest.

A) The under attack sound is explicitly made loud and perhaps a tad obnoxious because of playtester complaints that they didn't hear it. I regret that I know of no way of lowering the volume of one particular sound.

Q) But about the Continental System, folly, or good try?

A) Napoleon's Continental system was folly. Napoleon didn't really understand economics or politics and it hurt him. The Continental system pissed off his allies, and only hurt England a little. He needed to make friends on the Continent, not to bully everyone else around.

Q) WHO would you SANDYMAN, pick for Most Influential Person of the Millenium?

A) I'd rather not say.

Q) What historical military event had the most surprising outcome in your opinion? In other words, in what battle would have expected side "A" to win by a large margin, but the exact opposite happened? How do you account for the turn around?

A) I don't know what the "largest" is, but there are a lot of big historical upsets. Here's a few amazing ones.

1) CInco de Mayo – a handful of half-trained Mexican peons trounce a far larger force of the French Foreign Legion, possibly the best troops on the planet at the time (the 1860s).

2) Marathon – civilan Athenian hoplites defeat the professional Persian army, who is armed and equipped with appropriate hoplite-killing weaponry (i.e., bows).

3) Vietnam –the communists, who (one would think) is about a match for South Vietnam all by itself, manages to defeat not only South Vietnam, but the USA and France. I don't approve of them or their cause, but it was a heck of a victory. Especially considering that the Communist forces lost every single battle they fought against American forces. And STILL won the war.

4) Nobunaga's defeat of ... dang can't think of his name. But it was a night attack in which Nobunaga was outnumbered 12 to 1. It started his rise to greatness.

5) Midway – the USA had about half the number of carriers & planes, and essentially no surface fleet. Midway's victory was partly luck, partly good code-breaking, and mostly aggressive American commanders taking immediate advantage of opportunity.

Q) It was a Christian mob that burned the library at Alexandria.

A) Yes I know that Christians burned the library, too, in 400, but a large number of manuscripts survived the Christian destruction. The Islamic guy finished it off, and actually destroyed more total manuscripts. Plus we can blame THAT burning on a single guy, which is not the case for the earlier Christian mob action.

Q) OSI claims they felt the game was essentially bug-free. Is it really possible to miss major bugs and what amounts to system incompatibilities?

A) Anything is possible, when it comes to missing stuff. We missed the fact that the CP surrenders after 5 minutes on Easy & Easiest level when you play with a high pop cap. You'd think that would be easy to notice. *sigh*

Q) OSI has also said they will only do one more patch (the third). Period. What would ES have done?

A) I don't know. We don't have a terrific track record when it comes to patches, I have to admit. We do them, but we're slow. A lot of that is, in my opinion, MS's fault, but we have to bear some of the responsibility. My personal attitude is that a company ought to do patches as quickly and as frequently as necessary. I have expressed this to the management and other personnel at both ES and MS.

Q) Richard Garriot never publically addressed the situation but was instead coaxed into some vague answers. Many people defend that by saying he's too high up the ladder to be forthright. Would you have kept quiet as well for legal or other unknown reasons?

A) I am not "too high up the ladder to be forthright". When I can't talk about something, I'll just say so.

Q) Finally, when things like this happen, do other companies take note and say: "Hey, we'd really better test our games carefully before we release them. I mean REALLY test them."?

A) No, of course not. They just snigger at the evidence of other companies incompetence.

Q) If you were not a programmer (or designer), what would you like to do for a living?

A) Zoology. Incidentally, I am NOT a programmer, in any way shape or form.

Q) Is Age of Empires III going to be in 3D?

A) Who knows if there will even be an Age of Empires III? And if there is, will it be done by ES? The "Age of Empires" name is owned by MS and, technically, they could assign it to some other company's product (in practice, of course, there are contractual obligations that make this difficult, plus it wouldn't make sense in other ways). But if ES, for instance, broke its relationship with MS (or vice versa), the next game titled AoE would be done by someone else. Note that there is NO signs on the horizon of such a break! Anyway, whatever is the next game done by ES, whether it is AoE III or something else, it will be in 3D.

Q) the Polish war lasted roughly four weeks

A) Technically, this is true, but after 3 weeks, the war was basically at an end, with only a few isolated garrisons resisting. After the first week, the Polish forces were reeling in defeat, and it was obvious that they would soon be conquered regardless. That's probably why the French didn't make their promised attack – it was pointless. Plus the English weren't even on the continent yet so there was nothing they could do except harass German shipping (which they did). This does not change the fact that the English & French were pretty spineless during 1939-40, and could have done SOMETHING. It wouldn't have saved Poland, but it might have saved their own self-respect at least. They did do a few things later on, like in Narvik. Anyway, I stick to my theory that the French & English, while hardly heroes, did not actually betray Poland. They did betray Finland, though.

Q) what is your favorite turn-based game?

A) Chess

Q) Although "Polish cavalry didn't charged against German tanks" but indeed "there was an attack by a Polish cavalry division vs. German armor during the Polish campaign." It was a night attack against resting German tank crews. Before Germans were able to organize defense many of the tank crewmen died. How the hell did you know about it??

A) I read extensively. You may recall that in my remark about the Polish cavalry attack I DID say that it was a victory for the Poles.

Q) Watching a movie, dunno the name, bout a black regiment spearheading black participation in the Civil War.

A) It's called "Glory"

Q) In spite of all the **** in the world, we're lucky than our predecessors. We don't have to kill one another that much because of either tyrant leaders or ideology.

A) We don't? Who killed & is killing all those people in Rwanda, Liberia, Algeria, the Congo, Kashmir, Chechnya, and Kurdistan?

Q) However, do you think World War III gonna happen in our lifetime? How bout Apocalypse? What would u do to prepare for it?

A) There is nothing that can be done to prepare for Apocalypse. We must labor to prevent it, not prepare for it.

Q) what happens to specific archer characteristics (rate of fire, attack, range) when they are garrisoned. do they conform to the castles stats?

A) They conform to the castle's stats.

Q) I think Cannon galleons have too much range.

A) Cannon galleons only have too much range if you've ceded control of the seas to your opponent. Cannon galleons cannot survive against naval opposition. If you surrender the ocean to your enemy, don't you think you ought to suffer for it?

Q) I have also noticed that when playing a Highland map the random generator will many times create a rivers map

A) Highland maps are now defined as often including a river or two. They do not have as many rivers as a Rivers map.

Q) Why dont ES play on the zone?

A) Some of us do.

Q) Do you think that people today have too little to steer by in their growing up?

A) Yes, but I think this has always been the case, and is not a modern phenomenon.

Q) Are you comfortable with the great meaning people seem to give about your opinion in these matters?

A) I am happy to give whatever help I can.

Q) Does the arc of the convenant still exists?

A) Not as far as I know.

Q) What does a designer do exactly?

A) He does everything in the game that isn't art or programming or sound.

Q) Well we wont aggre on the Polish Issue. You have your facts I have mine. I hope that you did vist those sites

A) I don't get my historical information from websites and I sure as hell hope YOU don't. The Web is notorious for promulgating faulty, incomplete, and outright false information. In any case, I don't think that we differ as deeply as you may feel.

We agree that

1) the Russian attack on Poland's rear was a wrongful act. Whether it was a "betrayal" or not is perhaps semantics.

2) The British and French could have done more than they did in 1939. I don't think they could possibly have saved Poland, and I'm sure you don't think so either, but they could have done SOMETHING. I don't think their inertia qualifies them to be traitors, but again, this may be semantics.

3) The Russians were cruel to the conquered Poles. Whether they interned 100,000 or 1,000,000 Poles is perhaps a moot point. If they interned _any_, they were bad. And the NKVD were certainly responsible for the 10-15,000 murders at Katyn.

Q) did you claim that the Poles broke the Enigma?

A) Yep. The Brits cracked many German codes, but it was Polish spies and codebreakers that did the original work on Enigma. I'm not taking anything away from the brilliant British work at Bletchley Part, but I have to set the record straight, as the British have long taken credit for what was initially a Polish accomplishment.

Q) Will future ES games allow for specific AI adjustments?

A) All of our games have allowed for total redesign of the AI by players. It's just a non-trivial process. Most people won't care whether the CP forward builds or not. Those who do care, can write an AI that does whatsoever they please.

Q) If we cannot find true joy without God, then by seeking to glorify him first, joy, peace, contentment, etc. all follow.

A) My argument was just with the oft-heard dogma that God created us to praise Him. I cannot accept this, which is ludicrous on the face of it. Not that we _shouldn't_ praise Him, but that praise and adulation is not the fundamental purpose of our existence.

Q) how can we possible _prevent_ the Apocalypse when God's Word clearly says it will happen?

A) Whether we can succeed or not is hardly the point. We must always attempt to thwart evil or, in my opinion, give up all claim to righteousness. The college students who organized the White Rose organization in Nazi German in 1942 knew their fight was hopeless, yet they did it anyway. Sometimes the Right Thing is to engage in an foredoomed struggle for a lost cause.

Q) Isn't religion on its way out?

A) No. There aren't particularly any more atheists than there were a century or two ago. There have always been freethinkers, and the nature of any good religion is that it permits such.

Q) It's 'labour' not 'labor'. And 'armour', not 'armor'! Why do you americans have to change everything?? Is nothing sacred any longer??

A) There's more of us than there are of you, pal. Spelling is determined by usage, or else you'd still be spelling a double "ss" like "fs".

English spelling is a scandal and a shame, and just about the only English-speaking nation that has made even the slightest attempt to improve it is the USA, of which I am proud to be a citizen. I wish English could go to a normalized spelling, like most sensible languages.

Q) Do you believe in the holocaust?

A) The Nazi destruction of the Jews, Gypsies, and other groups is the single best-documented event in this century. The fact that there are people today who attempt to deny its is, in my mind, one of the strongest proofs for the existence of evil as an objective reality.

Q) How often was ramming for the purpose of simply sinking the enemy ship employed?

A) Not that much in the Middle Ages. Ships that had to sail around in the tempestuous North Sea or Sea of Japan could not afford to be the specialized narrow and delicate vessels that the Greek & Romans built. So ramming was not often an option for them. Rams were still mounted on some ships, especially in the Mediterranean, but by medieval times, even the Arabs and Byzantines didn't do that much ram-work anymore, and resorted to other naval techniques.

Q) Do you think that if the Germans had developed these major inventions several yesrs earlier and could make enough of the excellent tiger tanks and jet fighter plans and so on, the Germans could have won the war?

A) Actually I view the German production of large, heavy, gas-guzzling, and mechanically unreliable tanks as being one of the factors that led to their defeat. Their jet fighters were an asset, no doubt. But take the V-2 program – if, instead of building V-2s, they had put those same resources into aircraft, they could have produced several thousand more fighter planes than they did, and fuelled them, too. While German science was impressive, the Allies came up with some pretty impressive things as well: radar, the proximity fuse, the bazooka, & the A-bomb being the most obvious. (Though the Germans were able to copy the bazooka, later on.)

In the end, no I don't think that "wonder weapons" could have won the war for Germany. That's a science-fiction pipe dream, and only happens in science fiction. In the end, wars aren't won by fancy new inventions, but by blood, toil, sweat, and tears.

Q) Could you possibly name 10 of the greatest military triumphs of this millenium? I.e., the enemy was totally outmanuvuered and nearly destroyed, tactics of the victor, consequences of the victory

A) No, I don't have time to go into all the lengthy details of ten different historical battles. But here is a quick line up of some important triumphs that anyone who is interested can find more detailed sources for. In fact, I only have time for eight.

1) Rossbach, 1757. Frederick II of Prussia has a mere 21,000 men facing 64,000. By the end of the day, he routed the enemy army and inflicted 10,150 casualties, while receiving only 548. Even Napoleon never managed a triumph on this scale.

2) Curupayty, 1866. During the 6-year long War of the Triple Alliance, Brazilian, Argentine, & Uruguayan troops attack the Paraguayan position at Curupayty. 9,000 of the allies are lost, while the Paraguayans suffer only 54 casualties. The victory is wasted, though – the Paraguayan leader (who was a madman on the scale of Hitler) doesn't counterattack, but lets his men sit in their trenches for over a year and die in droves from Cholera.

3) Tanga, 1914. The British land a large force of troops to conquer German East Africa. Colonel von Lettow-Vorbeck, outnumbered 12:1, and against the express orders of the colonial governor, trounces the British so badly that they actually flee back to their ships and re-embark. Later on, the British carry on a four-year guerrilla war vs. Lettow-Vorbeck, who is never captured and never surrenders. During this campaign, Lettow-Vorbeck wins numerous victories with his 4,000 men over various British forces. The British invest over 100,000 men in their unsuccessful campaign to "stop" Lettow-Vorbeck.

3) The Yellow Sea, 1598. Admiral Yi Sung Sin takes on the Japanese. He sinks more than half of the 400-strong Japanese fleet, and takes comparatively trivial losses. The next month, the Japanese evacuate Korea and make peace. Sadly, Admiral Yi himself is one of the few Korean fatalities of this battle.

4) Siege of Tenochtitlan, 1521. Cortez, who even with his Indian allies, is outnumbered by the Aztecs, lays siege to their capitol, captures it in a joint naval/land engagement. His warships had to drive off the Aztec vessels on the lake (Tenochtitlan is an island city), plus his troops had to beat the Aztecs militarily. Cortez had so few firearms that many of his pathetically few Spanish soldiers were equipped with pikes and bows, let alone his Tlaxcalan allies. What an upset.

5) Wavell's Offensive 1941. General O'Connor is attacked by a vastly superior Italian army. He advances 500 miles and captures over 100,000 prisoners, 400 tanks, and 1000 cannons. His total losses amount to less than 2000 men. For the rest of WW2, Italian troops would (unjustly) be labeled as grossly incompetent.

6) Singapore, 1942. The British have the strongest fortress in the world, lots of land room to maneuver in, the mighty British navy, and hugely outnumber their Japanese enemy. By the end of the campaign, the British have lost 140,000 men (almost all ignominiously surrendered), and the Japanese less than 10,000.

7) Puebla, 1862. Untrained Mexican peons face off a much larger and vastly better-equipped force of the best soldiers in the world; the French Foreign Legion. The Mexicans unexpectedly win, and get a holiday out of it – Cinco de Mayo.

8) Chacabuco, 1817. San Martin & Bernardo O'Higgins lead the Revolutionary Army over the Bran Cordillera of the Andes (this had never ever been done) to attack the Spanish forces in Chile. In the ensuing battle, the Spanish lose 1100 men and all their artillery. San Martin has 12 of his own men killed. Chile gains its independence.

Q) what are your thoughts on George Washington's (1st President) Military Skills?

A) Considering that he had to build and train an army while at the same time facing a foe who had infinitely more resources, better-trained and –equipped troops, and more of them, I think he did pretty doggone well.

Q) How do you ally with the computer, other than teaming up and locking teams?

A) If you don't lock teams, sometimes one of the computer players will offer to ally with you (this is ilkelier at the easy settings). He might just demand money – if you keep paying the tribute he asks for, then he'll eventually join your side.

Q) Your name is all over the default AI scripts in AOK so am I right in assuming you wrote them all? Would you field questions on those scripts or is that the kind of stuff you prefer to be paid to do?

A) I will ignore any questions I don't want to answer. But I have nothing against talking about the scripts. Shortage of time is my biggest handicap.

Q) Did each of the civs have a champion in ES who would push for increasing their abilities?

A) No. We all wanted all the civs to be good.

Q) How much time u take to answer in that post? Did u open a book when answering a question like, " What ... had the surprising outcome ... ?"

A) I don't usually take the time to open a book. For some things I do. I usually try to skim through the forum questions as fast as I can.

Q) You mentioned a time back, that you enjoy Dead Can Dance. Which titles of thiers would you recommend?

A) The Serpent's Egg.

Q) Sorry if I upset you on that spelling thing, but I hate it when someone doesn't write the 'U' in those words.

A) Well, it bugs me equally when someone DOES add a useless excess U to perfectly reasonable words like color, odor, etc., So we're at least even.

Q) I'm not british, I'm swedish. I just prefer british english, that's all.

A) Good heavens, then you have even less cause to bicker about my native tongue. At least a Brit has the justice that he's speaking the Queen's English. I'd think that a non-native English speaker would prefer the more phonetic version of English – i.e., the American one.

Q) A 'footie game' is slang for 'football (soccer) game'. Would you ever do one?

A) In the first place, most Americans, including myself, find soccer games about as exciting as watching paint dry. In the second place, I'm not a fan of professional sports.

Q) Have you finished Rayman 2?

A) No.

Q) Can I have your autograph?

A) ?? How do you propose to go about getting it?

Q) I was wondering if units could with multiple weapons, like samurai with bows and sword and mutipurpose calvary with had been taken out,could be included as hero?

A) We did not build in the complex interface & unit AI that would be needed if we had multi-weapon units. So it is unlike we would do so just for a limited-purpose hero.

Q) How do you reconcile your specific religious faith with the vast number of other religions out there, of which you might have been a member had you been raised in another culture? Do you believe different religions are merely different ways of expressing the same fundamental truths, or do you believe that the faith to which you adhere is objectively correct, and the others are objectively incorrect?

A) I believe that all humans have an instinct to seek and love truth, and that religions are one way of getting at that truth. I believe that all religions include some truth, and some error. Having spent a great deal of time philosophizing about religion, and studying other religions extensively, and, most importantly, praying hard and long about the subject, I now believe that my own religion has more truth than any other I have studied. This doesn't mean that I believe my own faith to be error-free, but at least I fess up to it, which is more than most religious folks will do. Personally, I feel that the modern tendency to regard all religions as "equal and equally good" is a product of fuzzy feel-good thinking. Of course, it is just as idiotic to regard all religions as equally wrong.

Q) What kind of "talent-man" does ES need?

A) Go to our web site and see

Q) Do you think exicting music make a game less fun?

A) I'm not sure if the word you spell "exicting" is supposed to be "exciting" or "existing". If you are asking whether exciting music makes a game less fun, I must say "no!" If you are asking whether _existing_ music makes a game less fun, I must say that it depends upon the game & the music.

Q) What kind of drink do you like?

A) I do not drink liquor of any kind. Nor do I drink coffee or tea-leaf tea (I do drink herbal teas). I like soda pop, especially root beer. I also like sweet Lassi, a yogurt drink originating in India.

Q) Is your wife beautiful? just like your daughter?

A) I think so. If enough people wanted, I could probably put HER picture on the site, too.

Q) Do you think designing game is the funnest thing in ES?

A) Yes.

Q) Do you know jason, an artist in Icewind Dale art team?

A) No.

Q) Why does Chinese don't have crop rotation? or any bonus on farming? team bonus is not good enough because it only work on multi-player.

A) Their team bonus is plenty good because it works every single time you pay chinese. The team bonus does NOT only apply to multiplayer games.

Q) Was Gettysburg *really* the turning point of the war?

A) No. The significance of Gettysburg was great though. It marked the last time that Robert E. Lee went on the strategic offensive, as well as the first time that the Army of the Potomac won a major victory over the Army of Northern Virginia. The psychological significance of this should not be overlooked. But Gettysburg was not in itself the turning point.

Q) Why Ewell didn't attack Cemetery Hill on July 1?

A) Actually Culps Hill, just north of Cemetery Ridge. Ewell didn't attack because it was night time, and he was cautious and he wasn't sure if the Union was up there in force (the hill was wooded and he couldn't see them). Basically, he lost his nerve at a critically bad time to do so. Also, Ewell was barking mad. He sometimes thought he was a little bird, and would eat nothing but birdseed during these attacks. (I'm not making any of this up.) I don't think he was having a mental attack on July 1, though – he was just being a chicken-liver. Note that his division commanders pleaded to be allowed to attack the hill (they could hear the Union soldiers chopping down trees to build defenses). Note also that Robert E. Lee badly worded his command to Ewell, telling the latter that he should attack only if he thought it best, instead of making it a hard order, which even Ewell would have obeyed. But Lee generally wrote sloppy vague orders, and this is one of the times that this bad habit of his turned around and bit him.

Q) Did Longstreet fail to launch coordinated attacks on the Wheatfield, Devil's Den & Little Round Top?

A) In Longstreet's defense, he had begged Lee not to attack at all. Also, when his troops starting marching south, they chose the wrong road (which was not Longstreet's fault either), which lost him lots of time. Finally, it wasn't really Longstreet's fault that Joshua Chamberlain was in command of Little Round Top and pulled off an incredible victory, topped off by a bayonet charge which captured five times as many rebels as there were Union troops in the charge, this despite the fact that the Union men in the charge were completely out of ammunition.

On the other hand, Lee didn't need any histrionics from Longstreet on this day of all days.

Q) What about Stuart's joyride?

A) I think Stuart typifies the best and worst of the Old South. Brave and dashing, but also arrogant and thoughtless.

Q) Do you agree with me that Pickett's charge was the greatest military folly of the 19th Century?

A) No. I rank Napoleon's invasion of Russia in 1812 above Pickett's Charge.

Q) I'm sure you have heard of how the South Carolina Sate government still flies the Confederate battle flag over the state capitol. Do you think it should stay or be taken down?

A) I think that, regardless of the original fine reasons for flying the battle flag, today it offends a great deal of tax-paying voting citizens whose opinion ought to matter, too.

Q) Which side in the American Civil war do you think was in the right?

A) The North was in the right, regardless of whether they were overstepping constitutional boundaries. Fundamentally, the South was fighting for a bad cause. In addition, if the South had succeeded, the USA would have fragmented and Balkanized. Already, the part of the Union west of the Appalachians had major differences with the Eastern Seaboard. Texas wasn't happy with the rest of the Confederacy. Heaven knows how long California would have stayed in the Union. I think that if the North had lost, the US would have broken up into different states, and our history would have been as hard, as war-torn, and as depressing as Europe's. Maybe more so. Mexico would have mourned under the harsh French colonial state for years more. Other wars, between the fragments of the Union and the Confederacy, might have ensued. The South would have fallen into an economic black hole (after all, they were rejecting capitalism and the industrial revolution in their war) which would only lead to more trouble. So I say with such horrendous results, to heck with the constitution – to arms!

Q) What did you mean by this? That American, Britain and Australian English should all have the same spelling?

A) I think that not only would it be good if all the English-speaking states had the same spelling, but if we _also_ fixed up our spelling so it didn't have ridiculous things best exemplified with sentences such as "The tough coughed as he ploughed through the dough."

Q) Do you play chess? If yes, what are your favorite openings as white and black? Why? Best and favorite choices for players, alive or dead? Why?

A) Yes. White – Center Counter. Black – Ruy Lopez or Sicilian. I like unusual White openings because they are unexpected. I like safe Black openings. My favorite players are Capablanca and Morphy. Why? They're cool, and their games are fun to read over. Hypermodernists like Reti may win a lot of games but their games are often dull ploddings to victory.

Q) What battle pre-gunpowder do you fing most interesting and why?

A) I never thought about it. Maybe Zama, because you have two highly talented generals at the peak of their powers each wielding a wide variety of troops.

Q) The advent of the siege cannon made possible the historic 'age of kings', so to avoid criticism gunpowder units were included in the game, right?

A) We didn't include gunpowder to avoid criticism, but because we thought they were cool, and because they played a major role in the late middle ages.

Q) Superbowl prediction?

A) I predict I won't watch it.

Q) Any one book you recommend with the main focus from Columbus era late 1400's to the US civil war?

A) Paul Kennedy's RISE AND FALL OF THE GREAT POWERS

Q) Is their anything in particular you find interesting or you like about the ACW?

A) It is the first modern war, as well as the last old-style war. It has some of the best generals in history, and some of the worst. It has some of the most heroic and courageous feats in military history, and some of the most degraded acts of cowardice. I guess I love the immense contrasts.

Q) Who came up with the AIs pathetic, though sometimes amusing, excuses for resigning?

A) I came up with the idea all by myself (though many of the reasons are actually poached from Ian Fischer) because I thought it was funny, and because that's what HUMAN players always do, right? Anyway, I thought players would enjoy seeing the AI resign for reasons like "Your player-color was better than mine" or "all my starting villagers were male".

Q) "Well, RTS3 is our core gameplay technology built on top of our BANG! Engine." Is this the new 3-d engine ES is planning on using for upcoming games?

A) Yes.

Q) what is this about ES adding TWO (exactly 2) new Cavalry units for an X-PAC?

A) I can say nothing. Nothing at all. Yet.

Q) Why does the longbowman wear a skirt?

A) He doesn't. It's a knee-length hauberk.

Q) I liked the "computer resigns" original excuses (from the Beta) as compared to the new ones. Why? The originals weren't in that repulsive archaic speech.

A) I agree with you. I was explicitly asked by MS to change the excuses into pseudo-old English and so I did.

Q) I know that American spellings are more accurate, but I still believe that I have the right to use antiquated spelling.

A) Of course you ought have the right to use whatever spelling you like. That's the problem in the first place. If a person tries to spell things the way he thinks it sounds, he gets lambasted for improper spelling.

Q) This diversity of language is present in many different languages, not just English.

A) But in most other languages, the difference is present only in pronunciation, not in spelling. English-speakers generally pronounce things similarly (yes I know we have strong regional accents, but bear with me) but then go ahead and _spell_ them different. Thus, both an Englishman and an American will pronounce the word "knap-sack" rather similarly, though they mean different things in the two dialects. Neither of us pronounce the initial letter "k". But we both spell it with the "k". Go figure.

Q) I hear that es`s next game will be in 3d how will this work?.. If yere next game is the xpac does this basically mean we`ll be able to view everything for 4+ angles??

A) An "X-Pack" does not count as a game. Any X-Pack we do for AoK will still be using the Genie engine.

Q) what do you know about the Livonian Knights? i readed in an encyclopedia once that they, not the teutonic knights battled with alexander Nevsky in the battle in the ice.

A) I always figured the Livonian knights were just a sub-branch of the Teutonic Knights. Is this not the case?

Q) Why do Hand Cannoneers not fire out of buldings?

A) You got me. I thought they did.

Q) How many MegaBytes of data does a N64 Cartridge hold?

A) It depends on the cartridge.

Q) is that guy on the left glass and beared.. you?

A) I don't have the strategy guide at my fingertips. Go to the ES website and look at my picture there. If it's the same guy, it's me.

Q) I think every language has it's own crazy words and sentences.

A) French spelling has its quirks too, but my experience with French is that if you see a word spelled, you can tell how to pronounce it. Though just hearing a French word won't tell you how to spell it. But an ENGLISH word you can't tell how to pronounce from reading it, nor how to spell from hearing it. We are hit both ways.

Q) I watched The Seven Samurai over the weekend and really enjoyed it. You mentioned in a previous post that you thought Toshiro Mifune is one of the best action stars ever. Which character did he play?

A) He was Kikuchiyo. I'm sure you remember him – he was the "fake" samurai.

Q) I'm sorry to see that Sandyman is so arrogant about the USA's "improved" english.

A) I don't think I'm arrogant about it. I just think American spelling has gone a little further along the road to reasonable English spelling than has England. I will in no way defend American literary barbarisms.

Q) For such an arrogant nation, your inferiority complex over any country with a longer and more distinguished history than your own constantly raises a titter. Size is not everything you know. You may be the biggest, but you are far from being the best

A) The inferiority syndrome suffered by the English because of the Americans is a constant source of amusement to me. When did I ever claim that America was "the best" at anything? I merely pointed out that, all things being equal, it would be best for the English language if our spelling was closer to the way we pronounced it. It would make it easier for foreigners to learn our language (and since most English speakers today are non-native, that's a pretty big consideration), PLUS it would make it easier for our own children to learn to read. But I've noticed many times that any time Americans say ANYTHING which could possibly, by the most convoluted reasoning, be construed as saying that anything at all about the USA was superior to anything at all about any Commonwealth nation, we are immediately jumped on, as proof of the aforementioned inferiority complex, which I have repeatedly noticed and which, while not universal, is extremely common with the British I've met.

I don't know ANY Americans who feel inferior to the British, and I'll thank you to save your penny-ante psychoanalysis for someone who needs it.

Q) I could be great whit a campaign whit the Vikings invading England, so for once the english could be the good guys =).

A) So write one.

Q) Have you ever been to Denmark?

A) Not yet, though I have relatives there, and my parents have been.

Q) Let's say I want Castles to cost 5 stone, instead of 650.

A) You can't do it in the AI files, except by using the cheating commands to give the player back 645 stone after he builds a castle.

Q) Will Es`s next game be in 3d or is it top secret?

A) 3-D.

Q) do you agree with the guy who made the campaigns (sorry, but who was he again?) that the templars and hopitallers should be represented with the teutonic civ?

A) Yeah, pretty much. It was Greg Street that made them.

Q) Which of the three orders (templars, hospitallers and teutonic knights) do you think it is/was cooler?

A) Templars, because of the (admittedly slim) chance that they might have been satan worshipers.

Q) The Angels said that Religious posts are banned in Heaven. Has anyone ever mentioned this rule to you?

A) No, but I don't care. I'll continue to post as I please, while recognizing their right to ban me at any time. I have only posted on religious topics when explicitly asked about them, which I think is hardly a violation of any rule. I'm sure the Angels intent is to keep out evangelists, not any mention of religion at all. Good heavens, how can one discuss medieval history without bringing up religion? That would be like discussing the American Civil War without mentioning slavery (which has been attempted with notable lack of success in some southern states). .

Q) that's one of the many reasons why that "phonetic argument" is so lame

A) Look, there are so many cases in which the phonetic argument is mightily strong that it's not worth discussing any more here. You nitwits who defend the idiotic spelling of my native language which even I hate are getting on my nerves. Wise up. Spanish, Russian, German, Italian, Greek, Japanese and the vast majority of human languages get by just great with largely phonetic spelling, and English would, too. One more post on this topic and I think I'll crack under the strain. Frankly, I'm stunned that so many forumers, who generally seem intelligent and sane people, would defend the English spelling fiasco.

Q) Do you play any instrument?

A) Viola & piano, but not well.

Q) When do you have time to play computer games?

A) In the evening, after my kids go to bed.

Q) What course do you need take to become a programmer?

A) How would I know? I don't program.

Q) Is Cataphract a real name? Just can't find it on the dictionary.

A) Yes it's a real word. You need a better dictionary.

Q) If anyone in ES abuse other game-creating company, would he get fired? Why or why not?

A) Only if he did so in a public forum and in a highly negative manner Even then, he'd be warned, first, and only if he went on publicly abusing the other company would action be taken.

Q) Would you like to be a game designer rather than a programmer?

A) I have never been a programmer, so I don't really know. It's kind of like asking what I would do if I were a robin and saw someone robbing my nest ...

Q) do you believe ES can sucessfully produce another game in the Age of Empires series based on a time period from lets say about 1530-1918, with modern weapons like submarians, tanks, airplanes, machine guns and still make this game fun to play?

A) I think it would be an Age of Empires game in name only.

Q) please don't use that **** awful expression "the Queen's English": it's an insult to those of us who are British but have an ounce of political/constitutional nous.

A) You are the man. I will refrain from doing so in the future. Every Commonwealth person I've met who showed the slightest trace of anti-Royalist sentiment was a fine fellow. NOTE: I've know many British who were PRO-Royalist who were _also_ excellent people, but for some reason the anti-Royalists seem to be universally cool.