Archived News From October 1998

Due to the old age of most of these news items, all hyperlinks have been disabled. It is also not possible to comment on any of news. They are presented in their current form purely for your reading pleasure – it’s the closest thing to a time machine we can offer you!

The news from October 22, 1998 to October 31, 1998 could not be recovered.

Bruce Shelley Interviewed
Posted by Omnivac on October 21st, 1998 (Time Unknown)

GameStats News Network brings you an interview with none other than Bruce Shelley of Ensemble Studios.

I act as a senior designer and keep involved in everything. I’ve done a lot of the research for AGE 2, for example. Sandy led the Rise of Rome X-Pack design and is helping with scenarios for AOE II. The lead designer on AOE II is Mark Terrano. Co-designing is Ian Fischer. Ian is doing most of the work adjusting units and technologies, and makes daily changes to the database. Also helping with scenarios is Greg Street. In addition to his sound director duties, Chris Rippy did a lot of the scenario work for AOE I and ROR, and is involved again with AOE II. – Bruce Shelley

Stop by GSNN to read the full interview. Among other things, you’ll catch a small comment about a possible second expansion pack for Age of Empires. Don’t miss this interview with one of the greatest game designer in the industry. – Omnivac

Gaia Gallery in need of Arts
Posted by Omnivac on October 20th, 1998 (Time Unknown)

Greg Street from Ensemble Studios is compiling a list of ideas for new Gaia objects for Age of Empires II: Age of Kings.

I am currently working on a wish list for doodads, eye candy, and other art elements that can go in scenarios. Adding Gaia objects is one of the easiest way to make scenarios seems less like random maps.

Guidelines: A few clever ideas will be a lot more useful than a long list that takes time to sift through. Keep in mind the scope of AOK–sea monsters, tropical rain forests, llamas etc. will all get low priority. Also anything requiring a lot of animation may not make it in. – Greg “DeathShrimp” Street

Start writing your list about what Gaia objects you would like to place in your AoK scenarios and campaigns. Follow the guidelines and YOUR Gaia Object(s) may end up in the game.

Win a Gravis Blackhawk Digital Joystick
Posted by Omnivac on October 20th, 1998 (Time Unknown)

GameStats News Network has another contest for you. Be sure to read the review of Justice T and why he like to play more with it than…errr.. Ahem! And then enter the contest to get yourself a brand new Gravis Blackhawk Digital Joystick. – Omnivac

Forummers’ Party on the Zone
Posted by Omnivac on October 17th, 1998 (Time Unknown)

Quick reminder about the forummers’ party today. Victorious room in the MSN Gaming Zone is the place, and same time as last week. Meet others in the first round at 12 (noon) Central time US and/or in the second round at 9 PM Central time US. Whether you post actively or are just lurking in the forums, Everybody is welcome.

See you on the battlefield! – Omnivac

Nachrichten fuer Unsere Deutschen Freunde
Posted by Omnivac on October 15th, 1998 (Time Unknown)

In the October isssue of PC Action Online, you can find a preview of Age of Empires: The Rise and Rome and Age of Empires II: The Ages of Kings.

Microsoft und die Ensemble Studios schreiben wieder Geschichte: Mit dem Expansion-Pack Rise of Rome und Age of Kings stehen uns in Kürze spannende Strategie-Ausflüge ins Reich Caesars und in die Welt des Mittelalters bevor.

Universal translator required unless your ancestors were the valiant warriors from across the Danube. – Omnivac

Men (and Women) of Great Deeds
Posted by Omnivac on October 14th, 1998 (Time Unknown)

If I had to choose my favourite Heroes from the Age of Empires II: Age of Kings’ time period, without a doubt it would be Belisarius, Richard the Lionhearted and Eric the Red. Of course, you may not agree with me so hop on at Ensemble Studios and cast your vote on Joan D’ Arc, Frederick Barbarossa, Genghis Khan, Saladin, El Cid, William Wallace, William the Conqueror, Charlemagne, Tamerlane, Henry V, Robert the Bruce or others.

A tiny, itty, bitty glimpse at gameplay
Posted by Omnivac on October 14th, 1998 (Time Unknown)

DeathShrimp provided a short overview about walls, towers and gunpowder. More importantly, little updates about where the game is going, what has changed and what may changed.

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Tower On walls and towers — I say this over and over, but in earlier incarnations of AOK, it was very hard to ever attack a city. Walls had a ton of hit points, archers couldn’t do much damage to structures, and knights milled around outside the walls while your trebuchets slllooowwwllyy took out the towers. Tedious. In fact, games were only being won by building Wonders. In fact, we all kept rushing because everyone knew that if you didn’t hit someone 9 minutes into the game that you would be playing a 2.5 hour Wonder game! We had to tone down the defensive nature of the game in order to make it fun. That is the position I am coming from when I talk about sieges, battering rams, moats, etc.

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Arquebusier On gunpowder — People seem very scared of guns for some reason, but the fact is that they were in the Middle Ages, and they were quiet powerful. Why else do you think we no longer have knights running around? Just think of cannons etc. as the AOK equivalent of Armored Elephants or Helepoli. They are effective, but they are expensive and there will be plenty of game time given to archers and pikes. We tried the backfire approach, but it was actually really frustrating to kill your own units. – Greg “DeathShrimp” Street

This bring interesting thoughts about what should be the game’s length. Since a lot of players usually play a few hours in a nightly session, what would be the best solution? Playing 3 games of 1 hour, or 1 game of 2.5 hour? There is naturally some good points and bad points for each but with different settings, players could limit the overall length of a game and have the choices? How long should a game last? And why? – Omnivac

A New Button in the Sky
Posted by Omnivac on October 13th, 1998 (Time Unknown)

Heaven Gaming Sites is bringing you a new site, Caesar III Heaven. You can find there the demo for downloading, as well as information about the game and a preview written by the colorful Angel Alexander. the C3H triumvirate will be completed by Angel SpineMan for the download section, and Cherub Pengo that will assist them both. Pay them a visit, they say all the URLs lead to Rome. – Omnivac

Forests: Impassable… or Passable ?
Posted by Omnivac on October 12th, 1998 (Time Unknown)

Should forests completely block movement and act as natural defenses, or should movement be allowed in them? EvlBeaver5 wondered, suggested, and Greg “DeathShrimp” Street replied:

Passable Forests
I think this is an interesting idea, but implementing it might require a lot of playtesting. I am not sure passable forests would lead to more defense but the contrary, since everyone would lose their natural walls. Yes, there could be two kinds of forests (passable and impassable) but you would have to be able to tell visually and immediately which was which.
While I agree that some element of stealth would be cool, I am uncomfortable with using the graphics to hide units. That seems to be non-game interface interfering with the suspension of disbelief. Wouldn’t you be frustrated if you didn’t happen to notice that enemy archer who snuck into your town because he blended into the woods? Realistic? Possibly. Fun? Not so sure.

I agree that all but the most dense forests are passable to individuals, but you must admit that a whole company of soldiers has trouble marching through wooded terrain. I always envisioned each AOE unit as representing a company, not an individual. How else can you explain fighting a war with 100 soldiers?

It would be easy to make passable forests for scenarios by placing trees individually. I worry that making passable forests a default for random maps adds an extra complication.

I don’t know if regenerating resources will be a part of the game. It is an idea we are kicking around, but it has to add something to gameplay if it’s going to stick.

Continue to post ideas and what you would like to see implemented in Age of Empires II: Age of Kings. And don’t forget the wise words of DeathShrimp. “As always, if someone can come up with a good way to implement a feature, I promise we will consider it.” Keep brainstorming! – Omnivac

Last Call
Posted by Omnivac on October 10th, 1998 (Time Unknown)

Don’t forget today the Forummer’s Party on the MSN Gaming Zone. Everybody is welcome. What? You need Age of Empires. (Doh?!?). Where? In the Victorious Room. When? 12:00 (noon) Central time USA and 9:00PM Central time USA. Got a few emails about time zones and all that. So here’s a guideline:

10 AM West coast
12 (noon) Central time
1 PM East Coast
6 PM England
7 PM France, Denmark
7 PM West coast
9 PM Central time
10 PM East Coast
3 AM England
4 AM France, Denmark

Obviously, the first round is more for the Euro-Agers and why an earlier hour was requested. As for myself, I will show up during the second round at 10 PM Central time or so. See you on the battlefield!Omnivac

The Future of Ensemble Studios
Posted by Omnivac on October 8th, 1998 (Time Unknown)

Bruce Shelley met with Gamecenter and discussed what will happen down the road with Ensemble Studios.

“As a company, we need a second franchise,” Shelley explained. “We think that’s the best economic model for us.” Shelley estimated that if Age of Kings can sell 1 million units and Rise of Rome can come close to selling 500,000 units, Ensemble will be well positioned for the future. “If we do that, then we are starting to look like a good prospect,” he said. “If we continue to put out A-quality games, someone’s going to have to buy us.”

Bruce had more say, even discussing briefly about the second franchise of games. Read the article to get all the latest details. – Omnivac

Heaven Forum Party
Posted by Omnivac on October 6th, 1998 (Time Unknown)

Thanks to the initiative of Jehu, Stooge_Farsan and others, forumers’ parties on the Zone are back in business after a long summer break. These parties are always fun as you play with and against people you “know”, and the atmosphere is more friendly than the usual night on the Zone. It’s another occasion also to prove your points and then discuss it in the forums afterwards. So, have your Age of Empires CD ready, and come to the Zone this Saturday, in the Victorious Room. Two separate meeting times have been proposed, 12:00 (noon) Central time USA and 9:00 PM Central time USA to accomodate everyone. In the meantime, you can add more ideas to it, or even challenge someone. Oooh, and BTW, this will be on the new Zone that opened today.

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GameStats Presents
Posted by Omnivac on October 6th, 1998 (Time Unknown)

Gamestats is hosting another new contest and if you like puzzling addictive games, then head on over there to get a chance to win one of the 15 copies of Nine Dragon’s Software’s Hong Kong Mahjong.

Also, GameStats will be hosting beta sign-ups this Friday, October 9th if you want to be part of the beta tester team for Close Combat 3: The Russian Front. Stand by on radio frequency ‘zulu foxtrot six’. More information is coming. – Omnivac

Who’s killing Who ?
Posted by Omnivac on October 5th, 1998 (Time Unknown)

Assitant designer Greg “DeathShrimp” Street made a few interesting comments in the AoK Forum about how units will relate to each others on the battlefield in Age of Kings. While you can expect the good old rock-paper-scissors…

History accurate units
we are going with a rock-scissors-paper approach. In AOK, you will probably see a lot of relationships similar to that of camelry and cavalry in ROR. That is, camels are worse than cavalry for the most part, but excel at killing cavalry.

The only exceptions would be units, such as superunits, that are expensive and high up the tech tree.

In another post, he was more specific on certain type of units, hinting also that AoK is still in the design phase where any parts of the game can change on daily basis.

More on the Longbow
As I understand it, the main advantage of the crossbow over the longbow was the former’s ability to punch through heavy armor. The disadvantage was the slower rate of fire.

Our current thinking in AOK is that crossbowmen will beat bowmen in a relationship similar to that of camels v. cavalry in ROR. Longbowmen will probably be the English superunit. Of course, all of this could change tomorrow!

From the look of it, Age of Empires II: Age of Kings will have very interesting battles with more units being the “bane” of other units. This way, you can’t really build a “one type of unit army” since an opponent would have only to build up a few units specialized against it. Combined arms will definitely be the only viable option if you want to survive.

An Angel on the Battlefield
Posted by Omnivac on October 5th, 1998 (Time Unknown)

Angel Washizu of the Net Campaign The Throne of Washizu met on the battlefield with none other than BravenIrish:

BravenIrish: Well thank you! Now, with the success of “Net Campaign” for AoE, what’s going to happen with the release of Rise of Rome?

Washizu: Well, this is the plan. On November 3rd at midnight (so actually it’s November 4th I guess), AOE Net Campaign ends, the winner is determined by our ranking system, and the prize (a copy of RoR) will be awarded. Then, a short time after that, when I decide enough people have signed up for it, RoR Net Campaign begins using the same maps/continents plus a few added ones.

Make a stop at the AoEII Battlefield and read the full interview to learn more. DuH?!? The Battlefield scooped Heaven with the DM Net Campaign. <g> – Omnivac

Internet Gaming Zone No More
Posted by Omnivac on October 2nd, 1998 (Time Unknown)

On october 6, the IGZ will cease to exist, only to be reborn as the MSN Gaming Zone. It should not affect your gaming needs and more importantly, it will still be free. MSN will bring new enhancements as well as a host of new services whether you want to know movie times or buy an airline ticket. You can find all the details on the Internet Gaming Zone news section. – Omnivac

The State of the Strategy Union
Posted by Omnivac on October 1st, 1998 (Time Unknown)

As we are nearing the X-Mas season (already?), Dean Gordon of Games Domain explores various facets of the gaming industry and the upcoming onslaught of new releases:

With so many titles released at once, though, a strategy gamer takes on a deer in the headlight look. It’s one thing to sit back and wait for the positive reviews to come in to avoid being burned, but another thing altogether when dozens of “must have”, “great”, “best game I have ever played” platitudes roll start piling up. Do you pick up that hot new Dungeon Keeper 2 or do you hold off on a new purchase because there is a rumor that Alpha Centauri will be released in ten days, knowing full well that the latter will soak up all of your time outside of the commode?

To no one’s surprise, Age of Empires II: Age of Kings made the list in The Must Haves section of the 100+ strategy titles due out in the next few months. Be sure to read the article for more details. – Omnivac