Archived News From December 1999

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!

2000 almost here!
Posted by Washizu on December 31st, 1999 @ 11:26 p.m.
Well, some interesting things are already happening. Boris Yeltsin resigned, George Harrison was stabbed, and who knows what will happen next. Attention you crazies out there, leave Philadelphia alone please! You’ll notice the forums will be down for a bit today and tomorrow as we do some testing to make sure they work properly. UBB forums have had some problems with the change over to ’00.

But AOK news is better than Y2K news anyday isn’t it? I got this from William:

Gamespot is holding an interview with 20 game designers and developers about games design towards the new millenium, including our very own Bruce Shelley.

. If there were one moment from gaming you’d put in a time capsule to represent the 20th century of interactive entertainment, what moment would it be and why?

Age of Empires II
Bruce: The one event that stands out for me was my introduction to Sid Meier’s game Pirates! At a relatively early date, that game included story, ship-to-ship action, land battles, treasure hunts, and aspects of role-playing, good graphics, and great gameplay. It was an important signpost for me about the promise of interactive gaming, even though it was for a single player only. When I found out the company that made that game was located in the city in which I lived, I set out to get a job there and did about a year later.

Have a great night!

Happy Holidays
Posted by Washizu on December 24th, 1999 @ 9:33 a.m.
Well folks, its Christmas Eve and everyone should take this time to spend it with their familiy and friends. If you must play a few games of AOK, give this recently added scenario a try. It’s called “Christmas Morning” and Yogurt did a heck of a job with it. It doesn’t take too long to play, and is more of a movie than a scenario, but when I first tried it out I have to admit, it really made my day.

I hope you like the medieval santa I put together up there. he looks as though he’s going to drop off swords and bows to good Imperial Age children. Here’s what I think each Age of Kings civilization wants for Christmas this year:

Britons: A Teuton TC patch! The sly brits know that if the Teuton range bonus is taken away, the cheap brit TCs will rule.

Byzantines: They want to know just how the heck Lord_Captain_Kidd can Castle so quick with them.

Celts: Woad shirts to match their kickin pants so they can hit the clubs over the holidays.

Chinese: More room (10 people per town center is CRAMPED!)

Franks: They want to know just how their axe throwers get their axes back after tossing them.

Goths: Black make-up, trench coats, and stone walls.

Japanese: To invent the Pokemon in time for AOE 3.

Mongols: New animals to hunt (they are tired of boar, deer and sheep stew).

Persians: 4 words. Elephant sized pooper scooper.

Saracens: They want people to stop calling their Unique Unit the “marmaduke”.

Teutons: A patch so people will be allowed to play them again.

Vikings: A fat, horned, opera woman to sing every time they resign.

EWOT Finals
Posted by Washizu on December 21st, 1999 @ 2:21 p.m.
The Eyes Wide Open Tournament is about to end, and it has come down to long time ager atsq facing Starcraft God Debaser, aka Maynard, who shocked many by defeating maimin_matty. If you haven’t checked out mrfixit’s website yet, there are tons of recorded games for download there, including every game of the tournament. You can see me getting my @$$ whipped twice! Good luck to both of them and may gain the favor of the random gods.

More ES Christmas Wishes
Posted by Washizu on December 20th, 1999 @ 11:02 p.m.
Archangel continued asking members of the ES staff about their Christmas wishes and posted answers from Paul Bettner, Joe Ybarra, Dave Pottinger, Rob Fermier, and Mark Terrano. Check it all out here. This reminds me, I still have a ton of shopping to do!

Majesty Demo Available
Posted by Washizu on December 20th, 1999 @ 10:41 p.m.
We just recently closed Majesty Heaven, but if you’d like to check out the game, I strongly recommend downloading the new demo. The game has great graphics and sort of a Diablo meets Populous type of feel to it.

AOK Battlefield Contest
Posted by Washizu on December 19th, 1999 @ 1:36 a.m.
Our good friends at the AOK Battlefield are offering up some great prizes in their new contest.

In our tradition of rewarding true Agers and masters of many aspects of the game, our new contest deals with Scenario Design. For some Agers, their only experience with AoK’s scenario editor is testing how some units perform against others, but for many others it is a tool with which they can create a whole new world, or a masterpiece bringing history to life. These artists have a passion to create, and the Celtic Fire Contest is hoping to fuel some creativity. Drop by AoK Battlefield for all the details including the prizes for the runner up!

First Prize:
-A Music from the Age of Kings CD
-an Ensemble Studios ball cap
-an Ensemble Studios T-shirt
-a copy of the Ensemble Studios Official Strategies & Secrets™ to Microsoft® Age of Empires II®: The Age of Kings™
-and last but not least, $75 us which can cover a night on the town, or perhaps the next Age game

Happy Holidays ; )

Posted by Washizu on December 19th, 1999 @ 1:30 a.m.
Archangel over at Ensemble Studios went around to members of the ES team and asked them a few holiday questions:

1. What was you greatest work related challenge of 1999?
2. What are your plans for the holidays?
3. What did you ask Santa for?
4. What will the year 2000 bring for you?

To hear their answers, with plenty of info on their great upcoming game called [deleted], check out ES News

The Sandinator Strikes
Posted by Washizu on December 17th, 1999 @ 8:52 a.m.
Some more Q&A from coolest guy I know with a girl’s name

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) 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) How do I stop playing this game?
A) Have your wife cut you off from bedroom privileges until you shape up.

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

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.

Sandyman Forever

RTS Domain Wish List
Posted by Washizu on December 17th, 1999 @ 8:45 a.m.
The fourth item on RTS Domain’s Christmas wish list was a copy of Age of Kings. I’m sure Santa will bring it to them unless he’s too busy playing it this year.

4. Age of Empires 2 – So, you’ve heard the rave reviews right? So have I, and I’m starting to believe them. This game takes all the fundamentals of the RTS gameplay you know and love and refines it into an extremely playable and addictive game that is better than most, but not Starcraft. Cause Starcraft is Starcraft, of course. Anyways, ability to set aggressiveness in AOE 2, much like TA, and the ability to set a group to a formation are two things of note which makes the gameplay in that game go that much more smoothly. Also, the overall simplicity in the interface makes the game easy to get into. This in turn means a kick-ass game that you’ll want to be playing over the Holidays. “So, give me AOE 2, or give me rotten underwear!”

RTS Domain wish list

Heaven Quoted in PC Gamer ad
Posted by Washizu on December 15th, 1999 @ 11:13 p.m.

Congrats to the crew at Pharaoh Heaven for getting the attention of Sierra and being quoted in this month’s PC Gamer !

Sandyman Q&A
Posted by Washizu on December 14th, 1999 @ 10:39 p.m.
If there was an award for “most time spent with fans” for game designers, there would be little doubt to who we’d all vote for.

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.

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

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) 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) 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) I also noticed that the AI 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) 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) i would really like to see a random team setting
A) 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.
Sandyman X

PC Gamer Rates AOK 94%
Posted by Washizu on December 14th, 1999 @ 10:17 p.m.
The printed rag PC Gamer made AOK their “Game of the Month”. They touted it’s “astounding amount of creative detail, fresh concepts, and terrific animations.” But said the main drawback was “the default game speed is geared to players on crystal meth.”

I don’t know, maybe PC Gamer brains are slower than the average ager’s I haven’t picked up this issue yet, but I sure will now. Thanks to Y2J_WP and everyone else who sent this in.

Games of Encouragement
Posted by Washizu on December 14th, 1999 @ 10:10 p.m.
Please remember to donate to the Games of Encouragement if you are able. They’ll not only take games, but other gifts, $ donations, etc. It’s a great cause for some great kids.

maimin_matty and the Border Patrol
Posted by Washizu on December 14th, 1999 @ 8:39 a.m.
maimin_matty was probably the best AOE/ROR player in the world, winning several tournaments including the Rumble for Rome, earning him a trip to Italy and the title “Grand Emperor of Age.” What it didn’t get him was a work visa to come to the US and test AOK at the MS Redmond Campus. You can read about his story here.

Sadly, I just found out matty lost to Age newcomer Debaser in mrfixit’s “Eyes Wide Open tournament. I hear Debaser aka Maynard, is one of the top players on that Blizzard game… hmm what’s it called again?

Activision says “hasta la vista”
Posted by Washizu on December 12th, 1999 @ 9:45 p.m.
to the sombrero wearing villian of it’s upcoming Toy Story game. Hispanics protested outside of Activision’s Birbank, CA offices for the “ethno-specific” use of a hispanic as one of the game’s baddies.

“We feel it’s degrading, it’s dehumanizing. It stereotypes Mexicans as villains,” says Oscar de la Torre, a counselor at Santa Monica High School. “It’s a virtual game of genocide, the way we see it, because they’re being ethno-specific.”

It was not mentioned if they believed the Taco Bell dog stereotypes all hispanics to be taco loving, godzilla hunting chihuahuas. – Story from

Microprose (again)
Posted by Washizu on December 11th, 1999 @ 8:45 a.m.
I got a few e-mails about my comments yesterday on the Microprose/Hasbro consolidation. Jim York had this to say:

I noticed your note about Microprose, and I have a couple of things to add. First, the 2000 layoffs were from Hasbro as a hole, Hasbro Interactive/Microprose only lost around 60 or 80 people. The Microprose brand name is still around, and they will continue to develop good, deep games, they’re just getting out of the Falcon 4 style flight sim market.

Second, the Microprose you remember died many years ago, when they were purchased by Spectrum Holobyte. If you remember, SH purchased Microprose then changed the company name to Microprose. The company that made Hyperspeed, Darklands, Master of Orion, Master of Magic, X-Com, Civilization, and all those other wonderful titles, stopped existing then. The only thing that died this week was the Falcon series.

Thanks for that clarification. I don’t think most people know about stuff like that, especially because most of the changes all happened before the net got big. Nowadays, everyone seems to know if the janitor at Ion Storm was late for work two days in a row, or if Sierra’s art department has been taking longer lunch breaks than usual

I also got an e-mail from a guy interested in finding a copy of darklands on 3.25 inch floppies (or CD if possible). Send me a note if you find it.

Sandy Petersen Interview
Posted by Washizu on December 11th, 1999 @ 8:33 a.m.’s Dirtcowl~Wurm interviews AOK designer Sandy Petersen, also known as ES_Sandyman.

With the release of Age of Kings, Ensemble Studios has been rising to the top very quickly. It even beat StarCraft on the charts… But when you try to find programs about StarCraft, they’re everywhere, but when you try to get one about Age of Kings, they are very few, is this coincidential or because of better C++?

I think it’s because people like Age of Kings as it is.

Sandy Petersen Interview

All I have to say about this comment is that Starcraft has been out forever, so naturally there are going to be more editing programs out and about. Give it some time

Free AOK!
Posted by Washizu on December 11th, 1999 @ 8:27 a.m.
Gamers Voice is holding a contest where you can win a free copy of Age of Kings.

Microsoft and Gamer’s Voice are teaming up to give three lucky readers a copy of Age of Empires II: Age of Kings. Full details and the simple entry form can be found at:

Free Anti Virus Software
Posted by Washizu on December 11th, 1999 @ 8:25 a.m.
Angel Draco sends word of a pretty good deal:

Computer Associates is offering its virus protection software for free, with free updates indefinitely, as a P.R. thing. If you want it, go here:
I just tried it an it was pretty good! CA is a very big software company, probably #3 under Microsoft.

Downloads Day!
Posted by Washizu on December 11th, 1999 @ 8:24 a.m.
First off, Angel Spineman updated the Blacksmith today with a ton of new scenarios. Be sure to check out my new multiplayer scenario as well, The Points of Oceanarm. It’s for 2 human players and very different from your normal build up type scenario. It includes well over 50 triggers and 3 custom sound files.

Our good friends at Pharaoh Heaven just got their downloads working, so if you are a PH fan, head on over there to get some newly uploaded saved games.

Microprose Shut Down?
Posted by Washizu on December 10th, 1999 @ 5:15 p.m.
It was reported on GoneGold yesterday that former entertainment software powerhouse, Microprose, is being absorbed by Hasbro Entertainment and that around 2200 employees have been let go. I don’t know if this is good or bad without hearing from the people involved, but what I do know is that at one time I used to purchase games just because they were developed by Microprose. Hyperspeed and Darklands were two of my all time favorite games and I’ll never forget them. In my opinion, the only things seperating these two fine works of entertainment from today’s games are graphics and multiplayer support. To everyone at Microprose who put their efforts and talents in to making my gaming platform of choice the PC at a pretty early age, I say thanks.

ROR Patch Deals with Shang
Posted by Washizu on December 10th, 1999 @ 5:44 a.m.
In this month’s Microsoft Games press release, they mention the recent AI patch, but also say that very soon a patch for Age of Empires and The Rise of Rome will be released that disables all “cheating issues the developers knew about.” Even more surprising is that the Shang villager cost has been modified, along with a few other attacking bugs.

You’ll want to stay tuned for an Age of Empires and Rise of Rome update download in the days ahead. To briefly summarize, these two updates address the following:

* All cheating issues that the development team knew about have been fixed.
* The Shang villager cost has been adjusted for balance reasons.
* Several random gameplay issues have been fixed (tower targeting, converting docks, missile damage, building through diagonal walls, etc).

Bid for EXPERT AOK lessons
Posted by Washizu on December 10th, 1999 @ 5:39 a.m.
DaRq_darkjiahd is auctioning off his services on ebaY, the auction site with the letter “e” in pig-latin. The current minimum bid is $7.50.

Get lessons on Age of Kings from a recognized Expert in the field, DaRq_DarkJihad. DaRq_DarkJihad is the author of the highly acclaimed Age of Kings Strategy Guides:ON THE ROAD TO EXPERT, which are available for viewing at Let DaRq_DarkJihad teach you the basics of Age of Kings, or help catapult that intermediate player up to Expert.. He can improve ANY player..

Expert/Teaching Qualifications Include:
18-2 current AOK rated Zone record, 1725 rating
Member of the Highly ranked Alliance Team on Cases Ladder
Previous experience teaching Age of Empires I
Member of DaRq, elite Age of Kings Clan
Peer Mediator and Tutor for 5 years
Offered Microsoft Internet Gaming Zone Sysop Position

You are bidding ONLY on the lessons, the number and amount of which will vary depending on final bid price. The $7.50 starting bid is good for a One hour lesson at your convenience, once payment is received. A larger bid will receive correspondingly more lessons along a similar pay scale. I accept personal checks, cashiers checks and money orders, a $.50 discount is given for money orders and cashiers checks.. Should the bidding exceed $10 the winner will also receive a CD-R copy of the best of Age of Kings Saved Games played by DaRq_DarkJihad..

If you have ANY questions about this feel free to email me at

Disclaimer: The Age of Kings saved games are NOT part of the sale price and they are not being sold nor are they for sale, it is only provided as an aid to the lessons. I’ll make myself available at just about ANY time for lessons, though depending on the Time you wish to learn lessons may not start until Mid-January when I return to college.

Lilith and Eve giveaway
Posted by Washizu on December 9th, 1999 @ 8:09 a.m.
My good friend Aurora from sent out this press release:

This Friday on Lilith & Eve, Stef and I have dedicated the entire 1 hour
show to nothing but giving stuff away. Throughout the whole hour, viewers
will have a chance to call in to answer some pretty simple trivia questions
(using a toll free number). I don’t even know what most of the stuff is….
umm.. an air hockey table, lots and lots of games, most likely some
hardware stuff … we’ll be randomly calling developers and putting them on
thre spot to cough up prizes. So, for anyone who wants free stuff, this is
a good show to catch. Its friday, live at 7pm EST.

Gamer’s Voice Givaway
Posted by Washizu on December 9th, 1999 @ 8:08 a.m.
Gamer’s Voice is giving away a few copies of Age of Kings!

Microsoft and Gamer’s Voice are teaming up to give three lucky
readers a copy of Age of Empires II: Age of Kings. Full details and
the simple entry form can be found at:

Check it out here.

Gamestats Contest
Posted by Washizu on December 9th, 1999 @ 8:02 a.m. is offering a nice prize schedule this week. Check this out!

For the next 9 days we will be presenting readers with a
chance to grab something for themselves *OR* to give
any prize that they might win to the Games Of
Encouragement Christmas Drive!

We have the following prizes up for grabs:

Dec 9 – Music From Age of Empires

Dec 10 – Elite Darts

Dec 11 – Game Commander hardware/Software

Dec 12 – Dune 2000

Dec 13 – AUTOGRAPHED Copy of Age Of Empires

Dec 14 – Starsiege

Dec 15 – Age OF Empires Age Of Kings

Dec 16 – Lands Of Lore III

Dec 17 – AUTOGRAPHED Copy of Age Of Empires

You may enter every day, but only once per day. On the
entry form you will have a choice. Should you win for
that day, you may select to have the prize sent to you or
you may donate it to the Games Of Encouragement!

You are under NO OBLIGATION or pressure to donate
the prize. If you choose to keep it your name will not be
posted and you will receive the game in the mail in a
week or so.

If you select to give your prize to GOE your name will be
posted on the donor’s page and you will receive a thank
you note from both GameStats and later from RMH.

Winners will be chosen at random using Tarok’s Unix
random number generator each day.

Check the contest out here.

Vote for AOK!
Posted by Washizu on December 8th, 1999 @ 10:24 p.m. currently has a poll to determine the best games of the year in several categories. Age of Kings is up for best strategy game, so get over there and vote! Also, make sure you write in AOK for game of the year!

AI Update Available at Heaven
Posted by Washizu on December 7th, 1999 @ 9:41 a.m.
The AI patch is now available from our Blacksmith right here. It doesn’t affect Multiplayer at all, so you won’t need it to play on the zone unless you like to play games against the AI. It supports English, French, German, Spanish, and Italian, and asks you for your preferred language at the start of the installation process. This patch fixes the infamous “early resign bug”, which caused the computer to resign too fast while playing on high population limits and low skill levels.

ES Strat Guide Update
Posted by Washizu on December 7th, 1999 @ 9:35 a.m.
Chapter 2 of the online update to the Official Strategies & Secrets Guide has been released. It centers on scenario creation and design, giving detailed descriptions of all the scenario editor’s triggers and events! This is a must read for scenario designers, especially if the trigger system seems to go over your head. Check it out here.

You can check out chapter one of the online update here.

EWO Tournament Round 1
Posted by Washizu on December 7th, 1999 @ 3:28 a.m.
MrFixit the Don King of AOK, and his Eyes Wide Open Tournament are going strong after the first round. I entered the tournament and was unable to play 2/4 games I was slotted, and they 2 I did play in I lost (gg’s Questar and DaRq_Doink), so it doesn’t take a PhD to figure out I was eliminated in the first round. The remaining 30 players are as follows: has completed Round One of the Eyes Wide Open Tournament for Age of Kings. Every game in the tournament is being recorded and posted at

The games in round 1 have shown us a large number of new and
interesting strategies which we are eager to try for ourselves.
We wrote up our impressions of the best games of this round at

Out of 130 entrants, 30 players have advanced to Round 2. These players
are among the top players of Age of Kings on the
Internet. The players, with their initial seeding position are as

1. ATSQ (by default)
2. matty (3-0)
3. Staffa (3-0)
5. questar (4-0)
6. _Number_6 (2-0)
8. Vlad_t_Impaler (1-0)
9. Out4Blood (4-0)
10. VG_Messiah (4-0)
11. Sam_Deathwalker (2-1)
13. LittleKnife (2-0)
15. pmp_cheese (1-0)
17. VG_Ranger (3-0)
18. Grand Pooba (2-0)
19. Form1 (1-0)
28. Lightning_CN (3-0)
31. Black_Hawk3 (3-0)
39. _t_a_l_o_n (1-0)
40. Darq_DarkJihad (4-0)
42. Mr.Fixit (2-1)
44. Krono1 {1-0}
45. Halliron (1-0)
46. Madwand {2-0}
48. Debaser (1-0, beat platoon leader)
59. NI phlsphr (1-0, beat platoon leader)
60. Fisher_X (1-0)
62. Tertullian (2-0)
66. _Jantzen_ (2-0)
93. cEnTaUrAi (2-0)
95. redline (3-0)

If I were a betting man, which I am, I’d put money on matty. He seems to always pull through when the pressure is tight.

Prima Strat Guide Review
Posted by Washizu on December 7th, 1999 @ 3:01 a.m.
If you’ve heard of the strat guide published by Prima and written by GX dudes Thump, Methos, and a bunch of others, but were unsure whether you wanted to buy it or not, check out my review here.

Joan of Arc – Scenario 1
Posted by Washizu on December 7th, 1999 @ 2:27 a.m.
Wild1234 has written a nice walkthrough for Scenario 1 of the Joan of Arc campaign.

Along the road to the south, you will run into a battle, after you watch this little play, you can continue south, or if you would like, you could chase red with your mounted units, and attack a couple of their units, but this serves no purpose in completing the scenario. When you reach the bridge to the south, you find it to be knocked down, and you must find another way to the Chateau of Chinon.

Hopefully, Wild1234 will continue with the rest of the scenarios as well. If any of you want to write walkthroughs for any of the campaigns that shipped with AOK, contact Angel Zeus.

New Age2oons
Posted by Washizu on December 7th, 1999 @ 2:00 a.m.
Angel Thorfinn has updated the Age2oons Archive. There are now 9 pages of toons for you to enjoy, so check it out!

Starcraft Convert!
Posted by Washizu on December 6th, 1999 @ 12:24 a.m.
Great post in the forum by Lord of Ramuz, who claims to be a Starcraft pro.

I’m still very much a newbie in Age of Kings but I was a genuinely good Starcraft player.
Recently I watched some recorded games where I got my arse whipped, and where I was fortunate enough to have a skilled tema mate. (Recording games is a wonderful innovation). Well, I was amazed. Firstly by the difference between AoK and SC and then by the sheer skill of the players. The sheer numbers of villagers, the fast scouting and the mastery of controlling so mnay different battles, resources and building seemingly at once. It really blew me away and I have endevoured to emulate. I still uphold Starcraft as being a fantastic game, I just now understand how truly different these games are. The word Strategy really makes sense in AoK.

Personally, I could never get into Starcraft. I really disliked the economic model. It would be like AOK except you could only use fishing boats to get food. That would get pretty boring, especially with the unrandom maps of SC. Not that SC is a bad game, it seemes to appeal to tons of gamers.

Ripple Effect
Posted by Washizu on December 6th, 1999 @ 9:13 a.m.
DaRq_Darkjihad’s terrific “Road to Expert” series, possibly the best set of strategy articles for Age of Kings to date is available in our University strategy section, run by Angel Zeus. One of the more recent entries is titled, the “Ripple Effect”.

The name of the game is the ripple effect. More villagers earlier means more resources later means more villagers later too. Its like dropping a little rock vs a big rock into a pond. The little rock is the rush and the big rock is the boom. Initially it takes more effort to lift and throw the big rock, and even then the ripples from both rocks are nearly the same. But as the ripples go out farther they also spread faster from the bigger rock, and in the end that big rock moves a whole lot more water.

I figured I’d mention darkjihad’s article as news is a bit on the slow side of the street this weekend. I took the time to play some great games of AOK today, and I even ended up winning all 3! (How did that happen?) I’ll have 2 cool things for you guys tomorrow though, so check it out.

While I’m plugging away at random news, the new Beck CD “Midnight Vultures” is GREAT! If you were disappointed with his last album, “Mutations”, you’ll be happy to know that “Midnight Vultures” is more along the lines of “Odelay.” You’ve probably seen the banner ads running about the Beck contest at where you can mix your own Beck song. My roommate and I have been working on tracks this weekend, and it’s a blast! The song you get to mix, called “Mixed Bizness” is one of the best on the CD. My own personal favorite has to be “Debra”. the CD’s closer. Later guys and sorry for all the non AOK stuff, I just got on a roll there

People on the Zone (again)
Posted by Washizu on December 5th, 1999 @ 3:18 a.m.
Vector had this to say about attitudes of zoners, and why they might not be ignoring you when you want to talk to them.

I know what he means. I’ve thought about this too. Two very important
factors in seeming player rudeness are, IMO, age and origin. One risky
thing about netplay is that you never know when you’re playing an
11-year old. If you were in person with this tyke, one would probably be
more understanding. Kids generally aren’t good at polite text typing. I
still feel guilty about being mean to this “guy” for his perfunctory
rudeness and then finding out he was 12.
By origin I mostly mean cultural and language barriers. I know that a
lot of people playing are foreign and do NOT speak english. They either
only know a few words, or have a text file with strings of ASCII that
form english phrases and they paste it into the window. This would
explain some of the instances of them not reading your info, and
sounding impolite and out of it.

Personally, I find that playing with people I know is twice as fun as playing with random people. You avoid nearly every problem other than ones created by your ISP. My suggestion to people who never seem to get good games are to join an AOK Clan (plenty are listed in our links section), or play with people you know. Even names you recognize from the forums are a good idea.

TWN Tournament
Posted by Washizu on December 5th, 1999 @ 3:13 a.m.
Got this from our friends at the Total War Network.

We at the Total War
are pleased to announce that registration for Last
Man Standing, an automated, free, 64-man tournament, has begun.
In this open test of your military tactics and might, face off against
a multitude of other commanders, all vying for your utter defeat. If
you’re not already a member, <a
href=””>become one and register for Last Man Standing before it’s too late.

What is a Helegator?
Posted by Washizu on December 5th, 1999 @ 3:10 a.m.
Got a humorous e-mail from a French ager today, and I figured I’d share it with you guys:

Hello from Paris (France)
I am translating the Sybex Book on Age of Kings and I read Helegator on DM vs BM. Do you know what does it means ? I do not see it in my English to French dictionnary neither on website ?
Thanks for any help you could provide to me.
See you and bravo for this A of K website

Gilles Klein
ELLE (french weekly printed edition)
Multimedia High Tech section (every week since 1996)

Helegator is the name of an avid AOK fan who contributed to the Sybex strategy guide, and not a real word in the English language. He also happens to be a bigwig at the brand new pro gaming organization, Just a reminder, the Story contest we recently held is now closed, so you should hear the results in a week or two. Thanks to all who entered!

People on the Zone
Posted by Washizu on December 2nd, 1999 @ 11:15 p.m.
An topic that pops up in the forum every once in a while is the current state of maturity and honor among your average, run of the mill, AOK player on the zone. Chuppo has started a forum thread devoted to his current thoughts on the subject, and as is usually the case when this subject is brought up, he is not pleased.

Chuppo:What’s wrong with some of those Zone members? So many people are rude and inconsiderate…

Whenever I play, I specify in the room title that it’s random everything. In case they don’t know what that means, I state in the room description that it’s random map, random map type, and random civs, along with my customary pop 125 and 3v3. I figure they understand what all that means.

Yet when people come into my room they keep telling me to change all the settings. People come in and say “chng it to 200pop” or “i wana do blackforast” or whatever. Why can’t people click the “Info” button before they join or read the settings? Is it really that hard? They always demand me to change settings. I never get a “do you think you could change the pop limit?” or anyone actually asking kindly. Of course, if they spend their whole lives on the Internet then they wouldn’t know any social skills or manners anyway…

, I always specify that the civs are all random in the title and description. After I launch the game and we’re in the Game Setup screen, I always get people who pick civs even though I said it’s random. So I say stuff like “hey guys, it’s random civs” in the chat window, and I get completely ignored! I say it a couple times, and I get no response. Finally, I have to type “RANDOM CIVS! THAT’S WHAT THE GAME TITLE SAID! SWITCH TO RANDOM OR YOU’LL GET BOOTED!” and I’ll finally get a response. Usually a “wups, sry, i didnt no.” And then I’m on bad terms with guys before the game even starts.

I_ALWAYS_WIN:Chuppo you are not alone. I will write “EXPERTS ONLY” on the outside of the room and somehow always end up with at least a newbie. I have found that the title “Fun Game” attracts good competition and keeps the newbies(sorry newbies, I was one too, but don’t join games you dont belong in!) out of the room. Also, I will write Random civs, tell each player when they come in, and type it again before launch, and usually half of them say “What??? Random Civs? No Way Man!!!!” or something to that effect. Anyways, contact me as heel_1 if you wanna play sometime, I am looking for opponents/or teammates like you.

gcameron:Yeah, the zone is a scary place. Once I had a guy come in to my pop125 room, and he demanded that I change it to pop 150. I said, “nope,” and he said, “You suck” and left. Ah, the politeness…
The only place I would disagree with you is on the point of making conversation. I think we have to respect people’s privacy; some people go on the zone to make friends, others just want to play the game and be done with it. I am usually receptive if other people want to chat, but I rarely initiate it. Once they enter the room, I will usually wait a few seconds (in case they have scanned the settings and want to leave); then, if they are still there, I will type “Hi.” If I get a response, I will type “play?” or “go?” and will launch the game if they answer in the affirmative.

In my own experiences, the last 4 or 5 zone games I’ve played with random people have been disasters. Players continuously drop from the game, try to run high performance settings on low end machines, or are just rude. It’s easier to spot the rude ones, but how do you know if your opponent is running a Pentium 100 and will slow the game down to unplayable levels? How do you know he won’t leave after 25 minutes to go eat? I wouldn’t put the blame on the Zone, I rarely have technical problems these days, unlike in the past. Any problems I do have are usually solved with a reboot, and I don’t even have to do that too often. One thing I do find is that even the lamest, most annoying person who posts on website forums is usually better than a random, unknown player, so if you see me on the zone, ask me for a game.

Clan News
Posted by Washizu on December 2nd, 1999 @ 10:57 p.m.
If you haven’t been stopping by Angel Thorfinn’s neck of the cloud lately, you have been missing some great AOK clan news and articles, including the Sarmis Clan’s “Out of Context” quotes from their members. Here are a few of their choice quotes:

“Don’t piss down my neck and tell me its raining.” – Sarmis Zeke.

“God only made so many perfect heads. The rest? He covered with hair.” – sarmis Pug.

“Ah, Wisconsin. Where the girls are pleasantly plump (well, plump, at any rate)” – Armagedn.

“Anything you do can get you shot, including nothing.” – Sarmis Zeke.

AOKH Towncenter Links

Official AI Fix for AOK
Posted by Washizu on December 2nd, 1999 @ 1:01 a.m. has first dibs on the patch that fixes AOK’s “early resign” bug. If you’re wondering why they released this patch now instead of patching this and a few other bugs together, it’s more than likely because this one only affects computer AI, which is much easier to test. Here’s Merlin to tell you about it.

An EXCLUSIVE for, you can now
download the AoE2 AI Update that will fix the ‘resign bug’, officialy
released today from Microsoft. There may be other issues remaining, so we
can not call this a patch for the game. It does precisely as advertised, it
makes the computer opponent play the game fully instead of quitting early.

Here’s the official word from MS about the AoE2 AI Update:

“This AI Update fixes the problem where the computer player will resign
after a few minutes. This is now digitally signed and ready for distribution
to customers.”

“It does not effect multiplayer, meaning players with the Update can play
with players who do not have the Update. It is localized into English,
French, German, Spanish and Italian all in the same build. You choose your
language at the start.”

Last Day for Submissions
Posted by Washizu on December 1st, 1999 @ 9:50 p.m.
If you want to participate in the contest to win one of Bruce Shelley’s great strategy guides, make sure you get your entry in by midnight tonight (EST). After that I won’t be accepting anymore. I have 40 or so entries right now, so you’ll have a pretty good chance of winning something if you enter. Check out the details to the contest here and then send me your story!

Forum Tournament
Posted by Washizu on December 1st, 1999 @ 1:59 a.m.
Mark_Aurel is putting on a tourney for the forumers in our Knights of the Round Table Forum.

. The game can be ANY settings, as long as ALL players involved agree. That is, if everyone does not agree, it won’t be a Tournament game. On the other hand, playing out the game will be seen as accepting the settings, if it is clear that it is a forum tournament game.

2. The game can involve any number of players, from 1v1 up to a 4v4. All players involved must be humans, however. No ‘puters in this tourney!

3. The teams can be anything that ALL the contestants agree to. There needn’t be “regular” teams for the tourney, but some could choose this option if they like.

4. No cheating of any kind, including, but not limited to: The use of trainers, bugs that obviously aren’t “features” (e.g. Farm Bug, Boat Bug), excessive taunting or pausing, multiple user names, etc.

5. As for scoring, you get 1 point for every opponent you play, but lose to, and 3 points for every opponent you defeat. This is cumulative for team games.

6. Each player can get points by playing every other player in the tournament TWICE, not more.

7. Game results will be reported, by the losers, in a thread exclusively for this purpose. No comments on the game will be made there, for the sake of simplicity and accessability. Game comments, stories, etc. will be summarised in a separate thread. A number of huge forms will be made for the purpose of keeping track of scoring. Each player should also keep track, by himself, of all the games he’s played.

8. All games will be recorded. This has several purposes. If anyone synchs out of a game, the game should be saved and resumed. No one should abuse the recordings in such an instance, however. If there was a clear winner at the point of a drop, the loser should graciously accept defeat. In some cases, it might be necessary for some players to act as judges in the case of disputes. In this case, recorded games will be utilised.

9. The tournament will begin on the 1st of December, 1999 and end on the 31st of January, 2000.

Signups will end on the 15th of December … the tourney will last from the 1st of December to the 31st of January

Jeff Head Scenario at ES
Posted by Washizu on December 1st, 1999 @ 0:51 a.m.
Well known Civ 2 scenario author, Jeff Head submitted a scenario to Ensemble Studios. Here is what Archangel had to say about it:

We don’t normally posted fan made scenarios (So PLEASE DO NOT send us any!) but author Jeff Head is well known for his work on Civ II scenarios, so I made an exception in this case. Here is what Jeff has to say about his Age of Kings Scenario.

“We have created a custom map of the Mexico area and have included a BMP file for the scenario start-up screen. There are many very good triggers in this scenario. A conquistador.txt REAME file is included in the zip file I am attaching, along with the BMP, MP3 and SCN files. Just unzip them directly into your AOK directory. The scenario file will automatically go where it belongs, into the Scenario sub directory, and the MP3 files will go into the Sound directory, into the scenario sub-directory underneath it.”

Conquistador Scenario by Jeff Head