ďAh, hello there everybody! It is a pleasure to have you here. As youíre all well aware, Iíll be conducting tonightís interview with Filthydelphia. Heís truly a long, long, LONG-standing member of the HeavenGames community, as well as part of the Forgotten Empires team that we know and love. Without further ado, Filthydelphia!Ē
With a grand sweep of his hand, Major Helper stands up to receive Filthydelphia who appears from the right of the stage amidst the applause, smiling and waving his hand. After a firm handshake, the two men take their seats. As the audience calms down, the interview begins.
Itís a pleasure to have you join us tonight. I know it's rather sudden, but how're you feeling about this interview?
Is that the first interview question? *chuckles* Iím feeling good about it. Itís great to have an opportunity to answer any questions you have and let the community hear a bit of my voice outside of just the campaign scenarios.
Indeed it is, abrupt and kind of awkward as it might be. Glad to hear you're enthused. Let's start with getting to know YOU, first of all. A/S/L?
I'm 34 years old, male, and currently live in Chicago. I live right by the famous "Bean" statue and Lake Michigan is a stone's throw away from me. I can actually see Lake Michigan from my living room window.
Ooh, impressive. As a Finn I know and can certainly appreciate a good lake view.Tell me about yourself in real life. What field do you work and/or study in? What hobbies do you have? What brings you enjoyment in life?
Iím currently a second-year Master of Business Administration (MBA) candidate at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, which is the #1 MBA program in the world according to many rankings. Iím pretty sure I had nothing to do with that, though! Iím also currently a captain in the United States Marine Corps Reserve where I have the honor to command a very large company of about 500 Reserve Marines. Itís a maintenance unit so my Marines are everything from truck mechanics to radio repairmen to gunsmiths. I joke that real-time strategy games like Age of Empires are a major reason why I became a logistics officer in the military, but thereís definitely a kernel of truth in that. Playing these games growing up, you realize just how important the process of turning resources into combat power and moving men and supplies across the battlefield is to victory. As far as hobbies go, itís tough to have many outside of Age of Empires these days with school and my military obligations, not to mention my work with Forgotten Empires! Iíd say Iím fortunate enough to get paid to do my hobby which is to work on such a great franchise and tell the stories Iím interested in through the gameís campaigns, both official and custom works.
Amazing! What came first, army or business studies?
I was a Finance major for my undergrad, worked a bunch of odds jobs, then joined the Marine Corps. I commissioned, meaning that I became an officer, in 2013. I started on my MBA in 2018.
Mm, I see. Do you have a goal to aim for?
Professionally, Iíd like to continue serving in the reserves as long as I can. Itís fulfilling work and Iím a patriot at heart. Besides, itís definitely great to go away for a weekend once a month and do cool things like military field exercises, weapons ranges, and truck convoys! I suppose when your day job is making video games, you need something pretty out there to spice things up! In the civilian world, I received an offer to work at a major video game publisher this September so Iím excited to continue working in this industry! My long-term goal and dream is to become the head of a game development studio.
That's a pretty impressive juxtaposition, honestly. Combining what's typically considered a pretty sit-down job with something that's the absolute opposite. On the other hand, it does make sense too, gotta blow off the steam somewhere. And your long-term goal's certainly not setting the bar too low!
I'd also like to think my military training helps me in designing tactically fun scenarios.
Ah, good point. What sort of games would you be interested in developing, were you to one day achieve your dream?
With Age of Empires, you really see the power that games have in teaching history and other skills. I think there was an article in one of those trendy business management blogs about how someone learned everything they needed to know about running their start-up from Age of Empires! I think video games sometimes have a bad reputation, but theyíre awesome tools for learning problem-solving skills and learning about history. When I played games like Age of Empires and Civilization as a kid, it inspired me to read tons of history books! So I would love to develop a brand new historical strategy game, especially one that would introduce something entirely new and different to most gamers. For example, in doing research for the African Kingdoms DLC for Age of Empires II, I learned a lot about West African cultures and mythology and I think a game that brings some of that history to life would be awesome! But regardless of the theme of a game, I canít wait to work on new projects in this industry!
It is certainly undeniable that games have a huge potential to teach people in various subjects, as well as boost their interest in them. Take me (and probably every gamer in a non-English speaking country) for example, there's no way I'd be able to use English as proficiently as I do without games. Itís the same with history, too. I doubt I'd know half of what I do without strategy games like AoK and Hearts of Iron 2. So, would your development studio be strictly strategy-game based? Or do you think there's space for other approaches like character driven exploration or some such?
Oh, I donít want to give the impression that Iím only interested in strategy games! And certainly, me having my own development studio is far in the future, if it ever happens! Iíd say any type of game can do the same things that Age of Empires does, which is immersing gamers into a unique and different world and making them want more outside of the game. I think that really describes the most exciting games to be a part of: ones that make players want to invest more time in the game's world even when not playing it. Whether it's learning about the underlying history, or reading novels related to a fictional game, or whatever else! I think every video game developer is thrilled when gamers are still excited even after they leave the main menu. Special props to games that also allow the community to shape the game through UGC like mods or custom scenarios. Games like that really have great communities!
Those are certainly the best kinds of games, regardless of whether they're based on real life or not. I can't even count the amount of hours I can use modding games and researching how to do things more efficiently in them. Since we're already on the topic of games, walk me through the games of your life. What was your first digital game, and when did you play it for the first time? What are the main games that followed and that you held dear? Are you perhaps a PC purist or a consolist? Or is it whatever goes, it's all good in the end?
My first introduction to video games was sometime in 1990 when I was 5 years old. I have no idea what this game was, but my uncle had some sort of pixelated medieval fighting game. Think something like Mortal Kombat but with pixelated men fighting with quarterstaves. I was hooked. In grade school, we played educational games like the original Oregon Trail, Number Munchers, etc. Not long after that, we got a PC at home. I think the first game that really captured my imagination was the Dynamix/Sierra WW1 flight simulator Red Baron. I voraciously read everything I could on WW1 aviation. My introduction to real-time strategy games came with the first Warcraft, but the Age of Empires demo really struck a chord. I remember playing, I think it was the Rise of Rome demo, loving the ancient vibe of the menu and the music. When I saw a lion chase a gazelle past my town center on the first mission, I was hooked. It felt like a real, immersive world on that little screen, like I was transported back to the Stone Age with a world of wonder through the black fog on the game map. I couldnít get enough of it! I guess you can say the rest is history. I have a PC and used to own an XBOX 360. I think if you're primarily a strategy gamer, you need to be on PC, but that distinction has mattered less and less over time and will probably not matter in the future with the technology changes happening over the next several years. And nowadays, you can find some pretty impressive games even on mobile!
Sounds like history has always managed to strike a chord within you! What brought you to HeavenGames? Was it AoEH or AoKH that you first signed up for? What made this place gain a spot in your heart that makes you still visit it, untold years later?
I played Age of Empires before the second game came out so I was first on AoE Heaven back in 1998. Thereís a quirk about the HeavenGames websites in that no one is registered before 3/31/1999 because there was a forum update that day that wiped everyoneís registration data. You can check every user on those two sites and none have a registration date before that, though some of us were certainly around from the earliest days! I think the custom scenario community really is the biggest draw to these sites. It was certainly the reason I got there. You can even find some of my embarrassing first attempts at scenario design hidden in the depths of the AoEH Granary! I stuck around until around 2003. The HD edition of Age of Empires II really is what brought me back at the end of 2013 Ė again, as a scenario designer. Itís great to have a community of designers eager to help each other out by answering questions and giving feedback! Weíre lucky as fans of Age of Empires to have someplace like AoE and AoK Heaven because sites like this are rare for other games. Plus the Blacksmith really is an incredible and valuable resource. You could spend a lifetime playing Age of Kings and only barely scratch the surface of everything thatís in the Blacksmith!
Indeed, the community surrounding Age of Empires games is amazingly good, with many talented and creative individuals that have made a huge amount of content that, to this day, gives an untold amount of enjoyment to the players. I'm assuming that scenario design is what got you your job with Forgotten Empires, or am I mistaken? What do you do there?
Iím one of the campaign designers on the team. I worked on the African Kingdoms and Rise of the Rajas DLCs for HD, Age of Empires: Definitive Edition, and Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition. Specifically, the campaigns I designed were Almeida (Portuguese), Bayinnaung (Burmese), Ivaylo (Bulgarian), and the remade Sforza (Italian) and Prithiviraj (Indian) campaigns for DE. The latter two have been completely redone from scratch with an all-new story and scenarios. I also worked on about half the scenarios in the DE version of AoE1. I was recruited through AoKHís own HockeySam18 back in early 2015. I was actually deployed overseas for the military at the time but jumped at the opportunity to work on a franchise thatís been so dear to me. I think I even created the first outlines for the Almeida campaign Ė originally an Afonso de Albuquerque campaign, in fact Ė when I was overseas! Besides designing campaigns, I try to help the team anywhere else I can. One great thing about Forgotten Empires is that weíre such a small team and weíre all passionate fans of our games. Bert, the head of the studio, is open to feedback and ideas from everyone across the team so Iíd like to think we all contribute in many ways besides our specific roles.
You're clearly an important part of the team, no doubt about that!
Whew, we're approaching the end stages of the interview. It has been quite a marathon. Are there other things you'd like to tell about yourself, your work or what you're up to? If yes, fire away, if not, we'll move onto the traditional quick questions.
Well, I do want to plug some of my custom content and my YouTube channel. Iíve put out 10 custom scenarios for Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition since the game launched so if you still somehow havenít gotten enough campaigns, be sure to check those out by searching for ďPhillySouljahĒ either at
Make sure to check out his stuff, everybody! It's definitely worth your time. Here come the quick questions, no need to think about them too hard. Feel free to elaborate on your choices if you want to, though!
Red vs. Blue?
Here's one closer to my heart:
Orange vs. Green?
Should've been the first question to totally throw me off! Green.
Nice, good choice!
Chocolate vs. Ice cream?
Invalid. Chocolate ice cream!
City vs. Countryside?
City. I'm in Chicago and used to live in NYC and Philly. Not sure how to survive in a place without a subway system!
Baseball vs. American Football?
Football hands down. Baseball is like a cure for insomnia!
So I hear, never watched it myself. Never watched the Finnish version of baseball, either.
Favorite source of caffeine?
None. I actually don't drink coffee, caffeinated teas, or sodas. Don't drink alcohol or sugary drinks either. I'm totally weird.
Atypical, but certainly interesting!
Happiness vs. Contentedness?
Is this a trick question? Not actually sure what the difference is. Let's go with contentedness, since it seems you get happiness from that word and I'm only here to make you, the interviewer, happy!
Much appreciated! Personally I tend to think contentedness is what one ought to strive for, as happiness is passing, with shifting goalposts, while being content with what you do and how you are, is a state of being. Well, from my point of view, anyways. Here's the last one:
Glass half-full or half-empty?
Half-full. Everything will work out. And even if it doesn't, you have to believe it will.
Thatís a fine way to think indeed. Last but not least, you can offer the world something. A bit of life advice, a recommendation for a book/movie/game/whatever, something like that. The wordís free.
Hereís a very important piece of advice: if you havenít yet played Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition, play it now!
*laughs* A fine businessman to the very end! Thank you so much for agreeing to this interview. It's been a fun couple of hours.
Thank you for having me. It's been a pleasure.
You, you... Finnish Barstool! - Enraged Popeychops
Major Helper: Helping AoE3H Housewives since 2008 - As_Saffah
I spent 3 months trying to convince a door that I was an intelligent life form and gave up. - TLM
Winner of "Nicest" (2012-2016), "Most Helpful" (2014) and "Best Moderator" (2015-2016) Forummer Awards