Archived News From May 2000

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!

Charlemagne Scenatrio Contest Winner!
Posted by Washizu on May 31st, 2000 @ 11:08 p.m.
It’s official! The winner of the Charlemagne Scenatrio Contest Winner, judged by award winning designers Bruce Shelley and Greg Street, is Andreas Marscheider for his scenario Anno 782 – Sachsenaufstand. Congratulations to Andreas on this great achievement!

Check back here later tonight to download Anno 782 and the rest of the entries! Here is the official press release:


Microsoft today announced the winner of its Scenario Design Contest for their award-winning, real-time strategy game, Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings. Ensemble Studios designers Bruce Shelley and Greg Street selected the “Anno 782 – Sachsenaufstand” scenario by Andreas Marscheider, from
Germany, as the Grand Prize Winner.

Shelley felt that Marscheider was able to expertly use the Age of Empires II scenario editor to get the most out of his entry. “This was a very cleverly crafted scenario with several plot changes that made excellent use of triggers to drive the story,” stated Shelley.

Marscheider will get his scenario included on the Age of Empires II: The Conquerors Expansion CD, and will also receive a series of limited edition, high-resolution framed Age of Kings prints created by Ensemble Studios and signed by Shelley. Individual winners from ten participating fan sites will receive a selection of Microsoft games and gaming devices.

Quick! Get to ES!
Posted by Washizu on May 31st, 2000 @ 2:07 a.m.
Ensemble Studios is holding their caption contest, and the first image has been released! Prizes include some of the many “Music For the Ages” CDs given out at E3. The first picture is of 3D artist Thonny Namuonglo and some office foliage.

Head there right away! Remember, don’t send in the actual pictures, just send in the caption via this form.

AOK Wins Award
Posted by Washizu on May 30th, 2000 @ 6:55 a.m.
PlayNow! has awarded Age of Empires 2: The Age of Kings the distinction of being the best PC Strategy Game of the year. Thanks to VikingBrad who snagged some of the transcript of the live chat the other day with PlayNow! and Bruce Shelley: one of the biggest gaming sites in Australia awarded their Best PC Strategy Game for 1999 to Age of Kings today. Transcript of the ceremony follows. Bruce also joined a backstage chat room to chat with
visitors. (I didn’t take a transcipt of his backstage chat sorry Wash) I’m impressed, he did this @4:30am Texas time. Well done ES.

Very well done! And now for the chat transcript:

Borg_PlayNOW: Now it’s time to announce the winner of the Best PC Strategy Game 1999.
Borg_PlayNOW: And the nominees are:
Borg_PlayNOW: Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings
Borg_PlayNOW: Heroes of Might & Magic 3
Borg_PlayNOW: Homeworld
Borg_PlayNOW: Sim City 3000
Borg_PlayNOW: : C&C: Tiberian Sun
Borg_PlayNOW: And the winner is…
Borg_PlayNOW: Age of Empires 2!
Borg_PlayNOW: we’d never have guessed
Borg_PlayNOW: We are fortunate enough to have EnsembleStudios’ Bruce Shelley, Lead Designer of Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings here tonight to accept the award. Welcome and congratulations on taking it out Bruce!
Bruce@ES: WOW! Thanks PlayNOW! On behalf of everyone responsible for Age of EmpiresII: The Age of Kings, from both Ensemble Studios and Microsoft, thanks so much.
Bruce@ES: We thought the past year was a great one for strategy games and weknow you had a tough choice to make. Ensemble Studios hears from our Microsoft friends down under that AOK is one of the best-selling PC games in Australia, ever.
Bruce@ES: We certainly appreciate your support. Your comments willhelp make our future games even better. Thanks to PlayNOW! For great gamecoverage and a chance to chat across Aussie-land last August. Our whole teamwill be checking out this chat, but probably later today (it’s a littleearly here).

Way to go!!!

Elite AOK Happenings
Posted by Washizu on May 30th, 2000 @ 6:46 a.m.
I got this press release from the Elite AOK webmaster:

Elite AoK has released it’s brand new forum. It’s a UBB and is very customized. We are currently looking for sites to become a “shared” forum with. If your interested please E-Mail the webmaster at, or if you just want to visit the forum here.

Great to hear!

The Sandster Returns
Posted by Washizu on May 28th, 2000 @ 7:35 a.m.
The latest Sandy thread [ Ask Sandy 6.4 ] contains a LOAD of info from designer Sandy Petersen:

Q) In the X-Pack scenario editor, will it be possible to make those little introductory sequences at the start of campaigns?
A) No. This is not an editor function, but are separately hard-coded in.

Q) How much attack the rocketry adds to Chu Ko Nus
A) It adds about +4. I don’t know how much to the “extra” arrows.

Q) Why do you go tell everyone your leaveing and start a big-uproar and then come back?!
A) I thought I made it clear in my return letter. I had intended to stay away for months and months originally. I’ll go away again if you like.

Q) How do the new navies stack up against the old favorites (like Byzantine or Viking)?
A) Spanish & Koreans are excellent. The others not so hot.

Q) Does it do well on “Wonder Race”? I’m curious how it will handle that if it can build a wonder with only one villager
A) As I reported repeatedly in many earlier posts, the “only use one villager” bug was fixed a long time ago. He uses 30+villagers to make his wonders. At Hard he usually finishes his Wonder around 37 minutes into the game.

Q) Are you planning on retiring?
A) I am 44 years old, with excellent health (except for my stupid ankle), in an industry which emphasizes mental, instead of physical agility. My theory is I’ll be able to keep working on games for at least four more decades. (My ancestors typically showed no senility and retained clear minds until death.) At present rates of computer game creation, this gives me about 20 more games to go.

Q) What was the most fun year of your life?
A) 1999

Q) Who is your hero?
A) I have many heroes. One person I admire is U. S. Grant, whose quiet brilliance and dogged persistence reflect abilities I envy. I also wish I could talk and reason like & be as ethical as Abraham Lincoln. But certainly the man I most want to be like is my father, Robert J. Petersen M.D.

Q) What is currently the least used unit by you or the ES/MS staff?
A) Turtle Ships.

Q) My friend really wants to see AoE in the 20th century during the World Wars.
A) We’ve talked about it, but the basic ES-type beginning, at least, seems inappropriate. I mean “You are the Soviet Union. Here are your three starting villagers & town center.) Ludicrous. We would have to start all over again from scratch in designing it. (Not that we couldn’t do it, but maybe RTS is not even the best way to reproduce WW2.)

Q) Hey Sandy, you know what? You’re a good guy.
A) Though Warspite didn’t ask a question, he had a long and thoughtful post and I wanted to make him aware that I read and appreciated it. My goal is to be a good man. I make mistakes, have moments when Satan tempts me and I succumb, and have many long-running faults that I deplore. I try to convince myself that the goal is to constantly improve – to be better each day than the last.

I especially agree that an RTS won’t fit a WW2 game very well. Personally, I would love to see another RTS covering the ancient period.

The Story of Daikatana
Posted by Washizu on May 28th, 2000 @ 7:29 a.m.
This is totally unrelated to AOK, but I think a lot of you will want to check an article in Gamespot about game developer ION Storm and their rough history leading up to the recent release of Daikatana. The funniest thing in the whole article (it’s VERY long btw) has got to be the artist who drew an arrow skin that had a resolution of 1300×960! All that for an arrow that at most occupies 10 pixels on the screen! Read about the high res arrow, voluntary corporate downsizing, and basically how the best of plans can go terribly wrong. If you ever wanted a job in game development, this is a must read.

The Story of Daikatana

Letters to the dude that is called “Washiz”
Posted by Washizu on May 27th, 2000 @ 9:55 p.m.
Hehe I promise that’s the last reference to PeteBDawg’s “Forgot About Sandy.” I haven’t done this in a while, so hopefully I won’t be backed up the wall with letters to answer:

Hi again,
Sorry for pointing out mistakes, but I can’t let this one pass.
In the E3 recap you mentioned Laura Croft – well, it’s Lara Croft…I’ve played the series all the way through…
Millions of people make the mistake, don’t worry.
Keep up the good work, and posting the E3 pics ! And don’t get discouraged of posting other pics with you in because of some insolent brats 🙂
Cheers ™ 🙂 !
‘Chris the Great’

Doh! I have to admit my experience with the actual Tomb Raider games is limited to a display machine at Comp-USA over a year ago. I hated the game play, and wasn’t all that thrilled by it. Nevertheless, she’s a big star now I guess and I should at least be able to spell her name correctly. Thanks!

Dear Angel Washizu,
I have 2 problems with multiplayer that I hope you can help me with. First, I tried to play online with the Zone. When I attempted to get into one of the gaming rooms, a little box came up that said, “You must be 13 or older to enter here”. I never gave it my birthdate! Why does it say that, and how can the situation be alleviated?
After that sad episode, my friend gave me an IP address for a game he was hosting. I went into AoK, opened up Internet TCP/IP Connection for
DirectPlay, and ordered it to search for games. I typed in the IP Adress and pressed enter, but nothing happened. I know I got the address right; I’ve checked it half a dozen times. Do you know what the problem is?
Thanks in advance!

from, or the forumer you might know as Lord of Silla.

First of all, I can not believe the Zone is not allowing kids 12 and under to play there. If you’re smart enough to figure out how to get on the Zone at that age, I think you should be able to play. That’s just my opinion, though. I know of the questionable legalities of gathering info from kids under 13, but there should be a way for parents to enable their kid to play. To fix this, I’d just register a new name and give them an age that will make them, and you, happy. As for your other problem, maybe your friend didn’t have the game set up to play over the net, and instead set it up for LAN play. That being said, in rare occasions I’ve had times where I can’t see games that others can. This happens very rarely though, and it’s usually because someone is using a proxy server or firewall, which creates problems. Hope that helps.

Hi Washizu,
Heard you played The Conquerors. Will Marco Polo be a new hero? And on the Age2oons, do you update them? – KingBarbarossa

I’m not sure if Marco Polo was around in Medevial times. Wasn’t he much later? (Someone will correct me on this I’m SURE). Even so, if you want to use him, take another hero and use scenario triggers to change his name and stats to whatever you want at the start of the game. These triggers will be included in the expansion pack. Heck! If any ES dudes read this, maybe they can stick Marco Polo in as a hero, since the scenario editor units are some of the easiest stuff to add in. About the Age2oons, yes I know they do not get updated very often at all. I’m working (right now actually) on putting in a CGI system for them that will make them much easier to update. I have tons sitting in my inbox right now.

Have you heard any updates on when the Town Center fix will come out?
Keep up the good work!


No word yet, but ES still maintains firm that it will be released some time before the x-pack. That gives us at most 3 months. If the fix is similar to how TC’s are treated in the expansion pack, they cost 275 wood, plus 100 stone, their range is not upgraded at the blacksmith, and they take longer to build.

Three Elven Men wrote to say that his custom scenarios crash. The problem is the Patrol Effect. It makes the
game crash. Try it! – Mitchel

This was in response to my last “Letters…” post. Thanks for the tip, but I think I’ll be trying to avoid this bug

Page 35 of book received with CD says numbered groups can be created and
once created can be accessed by typing the number assigned. I have been unable to make this feature work in a single player scenarios. What wrong? How to fix?

You have to first assign the group. I’ll try and explain it simpler. Select some units. Press and hold Ctrl, and while still holding down Crtl, press any number from 1 to 9. If you chose 1, every time you press 1, you will automatically select those units. You can set up to 9 different groups of units.

Looking Glass Studios is Shattered
Posted by Washizu on May 27th, 2000 @ 9:25 p.m.
A fine game developer for Eidos, Looking Glass Studios, has been closed down indefinitely. They put together some great games including the System Shock series, and the Thief series. In a statement by LGS designer Randy Smith, he made a special thanks to their biggest fansite Through The Looking Glass.

I want, on a personal level and on behalf of Looking Glass, to extend heartfelt appreciation to TTLG. Knowing that you guys were out there, watching and appreciating our efforts, has truly fueled our work. The things that you’ve accomplished on your sites are amazing, and knowing that it’s all about us – Looking Glass and it’s fans – is mindboggling. I slept on the floor of Doug Church’s office for 13 days in a row during the making of Thief 2. I was working to make the game better, which I might not have done if I didn’t know for certain that someone was going to notice. You owe a part of Looking Glass’s products to yourselves, and we’ve been both proud and appreciative.

If any of you want more info, I highly suggest stopping by Through The Looking Glass. It’s a great site.

It’s a real shame too, because a lot of Eidos’s other games at E3 this year will be outdated by the time they come out. That’s just my opinion though.

Forgot About Sandy
Posted by Washizu on May 27th, 2000 @ 9:37 a.m.
Oh man, this has to be one of the funniest forum posts in a loooong time. If you have been following any of the recent forum events, AOK designer Sandy Petersen, a regular forumer here at AOKH, grew tired of the criticisms he received from a few people. He posted saying he’d be leaving the forum indefinitely. This created an enormous wave of pleads and begs for Sandy to come back to the forum and I’m happy to say that he will be back for his Q/A threads which we all like so much.

This wasn’t the funny thread I was telling you about, but it leads up to it. A forumer named PeteBDawg wrote lyrics about the ordeal to the tune of Dr. Dre’s hit rap song, “Forgot About Dre”. Of course, this version is called “Forgot About Sandy” and I guarantee this will make any true ager laugh like crazy (except maybe the people who made Sandy mad in the first place

Here it is folks, “Forgot about Sandy” by PeteBDawg. If you liked it, let him know here:

“Forgot About Sandy”

Y’all know me, still the same Sandy, the old VIP,
Hated on by most these lame kids with no games and no G’s, no beards or degrees, no sign of sense of class, or car keys,
Mad at me cause I spend half my day to answer redundant questions about UTs.
Got a job off in Texas at a place called ES,
My career’s a success,
Got all sorts of praise, awards, and trophies
Did y’all think I’ll tolerate this dumb freeze? Doh! Please!
You want me back, you better get on both knees.
Who you think taught you to seige trees?
Who you think brought you the Matties,
Out-4-B’s, Shimos, and Cheerful C’s, the dude that is called “Washiz,”
And that guy who wrote on that board in HUN-ese?
Made you a game full of cool cheats,
To use when you roll through the ‘wood,
But on the zone, when they weren’t any good,
Who’s the S-man they told you to go see?
Y’all better listen up closely,
All you trolls that said I dissed you, or dismissed you,
Y’all are the reason that the rest ain’t gonna see me
So treb y’all, all of y’all; if y’all don’t like me, boo hoo.
Y’all gonna keep harassin’ and dissin’ me,
I’m gonna go back to work for Cthulhu.

(Chorus, 2X)

Nowadays, everybody wanna talk like they made AoK,
But nothing makes sense when they post their quips,
Just a bunch of gibberish,
And lamers all act like they forgot about Sandy.

So what do you play when somebody you hate
Is tryin to bring a Teuton Town Center your way,
And you just don’t wanna play Bloody Style today?
Who’s that making the X-Pack you’ll take to the fray?
One day I was walkin’ by, with my Game Boy on, when I caught a guy give me the “wealthy eye”
And he dropped a C note in the parking lot, didn’t pick it up.
I don’t give a fig if he’s rich or not,
I make games that’ll make your day.
(If you have the cash)
Even if all your Windows crash every last time you play.
Okay, I’ll tell you, I’ve got a Mormon wife.
Yes, just one, dork. Read a book!
Don’t come here and voice your loudmouth, irritating, blind objections.
And once I left your assault,
All a y’all stood next to your burnt down house
Wit your can full of gas and your hand full of matches.
It’s your own fool fault.
From here on out it’s no more abuse,
Starting today I’ll be cutting loose,
And I’m important enough
To your forum to put AOKH in a noose.

ES_Sandy – More distinguished than Jessica Tandy,
Making “Age of” Games, and his “Age of” fame,
Has been ten times sweeter than rock candy,
But y’all got randy, put yourselves in a bad standing.
I’m done being your Raggedy Andy.
So what’s up? Do you feel dandy? (Dimwits)

Nowadays, everybody wanna talk like they made AoK,
But nothing makes sense when they post their quips,
Just a bunch of gibberish,
And lamers all act like they forgot about Sandy.

It it was up to me, all you darn lamers would stop provoking me,
Wit your fist raised aloft at me, like it’s a crime that the game’s not free
When AoK came out, you wasn’t bumpin me,
But now you’re such unpleasant company,
Everybody is attacking me and maligning me,
But you won’t get a rise from me,
Cause I walk on the streets of (Texas, Texas).
I told em all – you don’t have to buy it
What, you think I’ll force you all?
Now you wanna run around talkin’ bout games like I ain’t made none,
What, like you haven’t bought them all?
Cause I work real hard,
Now all I get’s e-mail all day that gives me no regard.
What, cause I been at my desk, trying to make this the best,
There’s no gratitude as my reward?
I ain’t havin’ that; this is the Sandyman Aftermath,
You ain’t seein’ no more after that,
So give me my last, hearty laugh,
And take your forum, you can have it back.
So where’s all the Boy Genii at?
It’s like a preschool in this habitat,
With all this nasty balance chat! Know that I was mapping stats
When you were cuddlin a Cabbage Patch.

Nowadays, everybody wanna talk like they made AoK,
But nothing makes sense when they post their quips,
Just a bunch of gibberish,
And lamers all act like they forgot about Sandy.

I know posting the whole thing here might have been a bit excessive, but I thought it deserved it. Great job Pete. Note: Sandy Petersen did NOT write the song above.

PlayNow! Live Chat With Bruce Shelley
Posted by Washizu on May 27th, 2000 @ 3:50 a.m.
The PlayNow! folks are holding a big event, with special guest Bruce Shelley, senior designer for Ensemble Studios:

PlayNOW! Gamers’ Choice Awards Online Ceremony
Thousands upon thousands of votes have been counted and the jury is out! WE HAVE OUR WINNING GAMES FOR 1999. We have been scoping out all the developers for our winning games, trying to entice them to come and accept their awards on the night of the big online ceremony and to have a chat with the gamers! Developers are jumping on board, left, right and centre. Expect some huge names to be in attendance.
and BRUCE SHELLEY – AOE2 LEAD DESIGNER. It will be monumental.

Sunday May 28 7.00pm (A.E.S.T) is this night of nights for gamers. The
Awards will unfold before you, live, in a first of its kind. Other than chatting to some of the world’s greatest developers, and of course, discovering which games take the awards, there will also be plenty of comps during the ceremony (international entries welcome). You can just rock up, enjoy the show and win.

The ceremony can be reached via PlayNOW!

But it will actually be held on the Telstra backbone to deal with the
expected demand, so you can also attend by heading here on the big night: PlayNow! Event

Be there or miss out.

E3 Photo Gallery 3!
Posted by Washizu on May 26th, 2000 @ 8:11 a.m.

Continuing my recap of the E3 experience, I’ve posted a few more pictures, including one of legendary game designer Sandy Petersen, some midgits impersonating a famous rock band, a rapper not too popular with the police, two webmasters, and the gameshark booth babes with a special guest from the Planet of the Apes. You can also read about Sandy’s famous E3 speech, how I missed the Olsen twins, and whether or not Laura Croft was real.

Check out E3 Photo Gallery 3.

Deathshrimp Journal Update
Posted by Washizu on May 26th, 2000 @ 8:04 a.m.
I am really starting to enjoy these Ensemble Studios journal entries. They’re much more enjoyable than the .plan nonsense going on with other developers. The latest is from Greg “Deathshrimp” Street, lead designer on the Conquerors expansion pack. He talks about how the expansion is going to “rock” AOK’s gameplay:

In fact, wait until you see the Random Map AI on Hard. Capn Kidd and Sandyman have been pulling out all the stops to make sure the CP can rocket to Castle, and build multiple Town Centers to train tons of villagers on high pop-cap games. I can barely handle 2 CPs on Hard most days, but 3 pretty much beat me consistently.

At E3, Greg and I talked a bit about the new AI that will be released with the expansion pack. He made some pretty bold claims about it’s abilities, and I’m excited to see what it can do.

Also at ES, the contest to win “Music for the Ages” CDs will be a caption contest like the previous one. These are always fun, so make sure you stop over there to check it out once it starts up.

Conquerors Movie at Daily Radar
Posted by Washizu on May 25th, 2000 @ 8:22 a.m.
Ok, one more news post before I hit the sack. Normally I’d just go for the sack, but this is a must post. The ex PC Accelerator and PC Gamer guys at Daily Radar have posted a 7Mb AOK:TC movie, showing a lot of the cool new features and units in the expansion. You can get it here.

Goodnight folks!

Captain Insano vs. The Evil Avatar
Posted by Washizu on May 25th, 2000 @ 8:18 a.m.
Not exactly what happened, but wouldn’t that be a cool sounding match-up? Actually, Evil Avatar did an interview with ES 3D programmer Herb “Captain Insano” Marselas on the upcoming expansion pack:

Invictus: I’ve played quite a few RTS games in my time- one of my all time favorites was Total Annihilation, which featured (literally) more than one hundred units per side. The Age of Empires series isn’t loaded up on units, but still has an excellent sense of balance. How do you achieve this?

Herb Marselas: Our mantra is: A unit for every need, and a need for every unit. Every unit we put in has a purpose. This reduces clutter, creates a clean game design, and also makes the learning curve relatively easy for the new player.

Invictus: Can you tell us anything about the fully 3D title Ensemble Studios is working on?

Herb Marselas:hmmmmm … let’s see:

It’s based on our BANG! engine technology
It’s fully 3D so you get all those neat new whizzy 3D features you’ve come to know and love
It rocks!!!

I work on it everyday, and I’m still amazed by what I see week to week.

It’s a kick showing off some of the stuff to someone who isn’t knee-deep in the code everyday. We gave Bruce Shelley a little demo a while back, and he was just standing there – mouth agape. He looked like a kid in a candy store!

Sounds great to me! I can’t wait to see this engine BANG! it’s way on to my hardrive. What do they call multiplayer testing on it? gangBANGS!?

Read the whole interview at the Evil Avatar.

AOK:TC Civ Descriptions
Posted by Washizu on May 25th, 2000 @ 8:05 a.m.
With an update to the sitemap above, you’ll notice a few new descriptions for each of the Conquerors civilizations. Be sure to check them out, as our own Cherub Broaclanders has put a lot of detective work together in gathering info for them.

  • Aztecs
  • Huns
  • Koreans
  • Mayans
  • Spanish

Sandyman Speaks to Koreans
Posted by Washizu on May 25th, 2000 @ 5:33 a.m.
AOK designer Sandy Petersen is trying to help avert some bad PR in Korea with the release of the expansion pack. If you work in the Korean press, or see anything in the press that relates to what Sandy says below, be sure to try and correct it. Hopefully some of the other fansites will pick this up, especially ones outside North America:

Here’s the deal. At E3, Korean journalists came to see The Conquerors. Of course, they had other things to see at the convention, and so they couldn’t spend as much time as they, or we, would have liked at our booth. Plus maybe there was some kind of language mixup.

Anyway, somehow it’s gotten out in the Korean press that we at ES don’t know that Yi Sung Sin created the turtle boats, and that in the X-Pack we ignore him. Therefore, we suck because we didn’t bother to learn about Korea.

This is NOT true! In the Korean scenario, you do not play Admiral Sin, it is true, but you have to go find him (he is in semi-exile) before you can get the turtle boats! The scenario explicitly credits him with their invention and talks about his great genius.

So, if you have any access to the Korean press, or even just write a letter to the editor if you see an article lambasting ES or MS for bad Korean history. It’s a misunderstanding on the journalists’ part, not an error by us.

Thank you for your help.

If you think you can help Sandy out, reply in this thread here. Sandy has specifically asked the thread not be cluttered up with useless responses, so our moderators will be enforcing that request as much as possible.

Posted by Washizu on May 24th, 2000 @ 11:22 p.m.
Is that enough acronyms in one title for you? The AOK Battlefield has posted their preview of Age of Kings: The Conquerors Expansion Pack. It’s chock full of great bits of info on the upcoming add-on for Age of Empires 2.

Read it here.

Also, be sure to check out our frequently updated AOK:TC thread, maintained by Cherub Broaclanders.

MORE Ensemble Stuff
Posted by Washizu on May 24th, 2000 @ 6:23 a.m.
If the recent journal entries weren’t enough for you, ES webmaster Mike “Archangel” McCart and music maestro Stephen “Big Al” Rippy are giving away more of those “Music from the Ages” CDs. The details on how to get them should be released fairly soon.

Also, listen up all you AI programmers and/or interface designers out there! Ensemble Studios needs to bring in some new people into the company. If you think the following descriptions look like something you’d be qualified for, get your resume in ASAP!

Artificial Intelligence Designer Information

Job Description:

Ensemble Studios Corporation in Dallas, Texas has an opening for a Artificial Intelligence Designer.

Primary responsibilities include authoring the scripts used to control computer player behavior in our games and testing these scripts. The AI Designer is the point person for ensuring that our computer player AIs provide players with fun and challenging experiences. This position is intended to work closely with our programming team (in defining desired AI capabilities in the engine) and with our game design team (in achieving desired AI behavior in random map and campaign games).

Desirable Experience:

An avid PC gamer and skilled RTS player.
Experience authoring AI scripts for any PC game.
Some programming experience.
Substantial (and demonstrable) ability for both logical and creative thought.
An understanding of the roles that “fun” and “challenge” play in AI.
Good communications and technical writing skills.
For the right person a great opportunity awaits at one of the premier game developers in the country.

User Interface Designer Information

Job Description:

Ensemble Studios Corporation in Dallas, Texas has an opening for a User Interface Designer.

Primary responsibilities include designing, prototyping, overseeing the implementation of, and refining user interfaces for our games. The UI Designer is the point person for making our games as intuitive and easy to play as possible. This position is intended to work closely with our User Interface Artist and game designers.

Desirable Experience:

A degree of game familiarity and interest (console, PC, and/or board games).
Experience doing user interface design in a professional setting (preferably in a game related field but sufficient experience elsewhere is acceptable).
Some formal education in user interface design (a college level Human-Computer Interface program).
A demonstrable understanding of the underlying principles of good user interface design.
Professional experience conducting interface usability studies and performing analysis on the data generated from these.
Good communications and technical writing skills.
Patience, creativity and a capacity for sound critical analysis.

If you find yourself in one of these categories, and want to apply, head here.

Part 2 of Lord Soth’s E3 Wrap Up
Posted by Washizu on May 24th, 2000 @ 6:15 a.m.
3D artist for Ensemble Studios Sean “Lord Soth” Wolff (sorry about the misspelling last time ) has been giving us his thoughts on E3 this year, and has give his impression on a few more of the games, including Crimson Skies, Freelancer, and Halo:

Halo, This looks to be a really cool FPS. The engine was really well done from what we can see of the movie they showed all. I really liked the idea of you and a few buddies hopping into a jeep and racing around blasting stuff (1 person drives, 1 co-pilot/gunner, and the boy with the big gun in the back). The animations of your guys looked impressive. Running, crouching and moving about, all looked fluid and seamless. When the trooper runs he doesn’t appear to be ice skating on the ground. This title looks to be a fun one, once all the game play elements are in. Another purchase for me. – Lord Soth

ES programmer Rob “Xemu” Fermier also has made an addition to the Studios Journal where he goes over his experience at E3 and talks of an important “milestone” in one of ES’s next game:

The “E3 factor” is even stronger because we had a big internal milestone right before the show. Of course I can’t talk about any of the features in it yet, but we’ve gotten “proof of concept” on some stuff that is really going to knock people’s socks off. With that behind us we can start getting up to speed to hit the *next* milestone! 🙂

Read Lord Soth’s E3 recap here.
Read Xemu’s E3 and “milestone” talk here.

E3 Photo Gallery 2!
Posted by Washizu on May 24th, 2000 @ 5:41 a.m.
Sorry, no E3 booth babes in this one, but you can see Greg “Deathshrimp” Street give us his best “What me worry?” pose, and you can read about the mysterious plant fighter I saw near the beach. Check out E3 Gallery Two!

Posted by Washizu on May 24th, 2000 @ 5:25 a.m.
It seems I made a rushed response to yesterday’s question concerning the AOK:TC demo release date. I answered it with the release date of the full retail version. No word has been made of any demo release, although there has been one for Age of Empires, AOE: The Rise of Rome, and Age of Empires 2, so tradition is on your side if you’re hoping for a demo. Personally, I wouldn’t be terribly surprised if we didn’t see a demo for AOK:TC, since ES is now busy working on 2 unannounced games, one of which will be their next RTS game.

E3 Photo Gallery 1
Posted by Washizu on May 23rd, 2000 @ 8:13 a.m.
I just put together a few pics from my trip to Los Angelos. Head here if you’re interested in seeing some shots of expert AOK players, ES employees, and a certain representative of Microsoft’s new console gaming system, the xbox. Yes, that’s right. Raven the xbox girl, standing with none other than yours truly. Enjoy!

Letters to Washizu (Lots)
Posted by Washizu on May 23rd, 2000 @ 8:06 a.m.
Ok, it seems as if my e-mail problems are fixed, but now I have a new problem. I was flooded with backlogged e-mails once the error was found, and now I must answer as many letters as possible here:

Hey, Washizu.First off, I want to thank you for running such a great site as AoK Heaven. Anyway, do you have any idea when the xpack demo is coming out? Thanks – Xanthi

Woo hoo, an easy one! Age of Kings: The Conquerors Expansion Pack is scheduled for a September 2000 release. All sources indicate that it will either ship in September or even earlier, but certainly no later.

Hi. My name is Jacques. Zone name: hyina I cannot connect to the zone to play aoe2. I get the message explorer cannot open site . The connection with the server was reset. This problem started all of a sudden. I have played the game on the zone. I installed ie 5.1 and still can’t connect. Can you please help me. – Hyina

Sadly, I hear this all too often. The Zone software and stability can be very shaky sometimes. The best way to get help would be to either contact the Zone itself, or contact your ISP if you can’t connect to the Zone at all.

Hi your site is the best. Anyways im having a problem and I hope you can help me with it. When I try to play my custom scenarios, after a few minutes the game will just dissapear and I go back to my desktop but the music keeps playng (It works fine with regular games though). I have to restart the game and it works fine until I play another custom scenario.

Please help cause I really want to finish it. Thanks. – Three Eleven Man

As far as I know, this is a bug in the scenario editor that generates the maps for the game to view. If you do certain things, you may experience crashes or unplayably maps, and so far no one has figured out exactly what causes this. Hopefully this isn’t too common, as my understanding is that the bug is fairly rare.

I’ll try and get a few more of your questions up tomorrow. I am way too tired to keep on writing. GO FLYERS!

E-Mail Woes
Posted by Washizu on May 22nd, 2000 @ 4:52 a.m.
If you have tried to contact me in the last few days by e-mail, there have been a few problems with my address. If it is urgent, please send e-mail to until I say otherwise. Thanks.

Ogre’s AOK Country Contest
Posted by Washizu on May 22nd, 2000 @ 4:27 a.m.
Our old buddy Ogre is hosting a new contest at Through the Ages, his new site devoted to games by Ensemble Studios. To enter, you must submit a custom scenario created in the likeness of a geographical country:

I bet everyone is wondering why this contest is entitled Ogre’s AoK Country Contest. Well when I was first coming up with an idea for a new contest I thought long and hard on how to make it different. At first I wanted to have people make maps on the different states of the USA. But as Borgboy, from Ager’s HQ, pointed out to me, that would be kind of insulting to the Agers that don’t live in the United States. So then it hit me! Why not have people create maps on modern day countries related to the civilizations in Age of Kings? For example the Turks come from the area where modern day Turkey is. As a matter of fact I should say that is where the Turks come from, because they are still around today. About now you are probably saying big deal, where does the skill come in? ”

And won’t this offend aliens? Aren’t you sensitive to their issues, Ogre?

Shelley Elected to AIAS Board!
Posted by Washizu on May 22nd, 2000 @ 4:23 a.m.

Having Age of Empires 2: The Age of Kings win 3 Interactive Achievement Awards was fantastic, but the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences went one step further and elected Age of Kings designer Bruce Shelley to their board of directors! Congratulations to Bruce on this great honor!

Bruce Shelley has been producing award-winning games for over a decade, and shows no sign of slowing down.

Dallas, May 18, 2000 – Ensemble Studios’ “Age of Empires 2: The Age of Kings ®” captured three Interactive Achievement Awards including PC Game of the Year, PC Strategy Game of the Year, and Outstanding Achievement in Character or Story Development. “This was fantastic news,” says Bruce Shelley. “We felt our best chance was in the Strategy category. To win PC Game of the Year in addition was quite a thrill, especially given the excellence of the other nominees. It was also a surprise for a real-time strategy game to win the award for story development, but Greg Street and Chris Rippy did a masterful job creating campaigns based on historic figures.”

Age of Empires 2 is just the latest game incorporating Bruce Shelley’s talents to win an Interactive Achievement Award. Age of Empires, which was released in 1997, won the Interactive Achievement Award for PC Strategy Game of the Year. In fact, Bruce Shelley has been co-designer on a string of award winning, blockbuster games for over a decade starting with “Railroad Tycoon ®” (1990) and “Civilization ®” (1991) with Sid Meier and MicroProse, and more recently with “Age of Empires ®” (1997), “Age of Empires: Rise of Rome ®” (1998), and “Age of Empires 2: The Age of Kings ®” (2000) with Ensemble Studios.

“I’ve been fortunate to have worked with so many talented people on these great games,” says Bruce. “We’re working hard now to make sure our next product, “Age of Empires 2: The Conquerors Expansion ™”, is also an extraordinary game.”

Another indication of Bruce’s respect in the industry is his election to the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences Board of Directors. “A strong Academy can do a lot of positive things for our industry. I look forward to representing the views of developers on the AIAS Board.”

Things that Make You Go OOS!
Posted by Washizu on May 20th, 2000 @ 7:27 a.m.
I got some feedback from people disagreeing with my comments on “out of sync” errors, or more commonly known as “OOS”. Here are some things people had to say about that:

About that letter with the OOS problem, I have come up with some more reasons…

DSL requires a filter on the line to work correctly right? I think that it requires that, but he may not have that filter.

May be connecting through a proxy or Firewall, but I dont think he could connect to the zone in the first place with a proxy or firewall.

Im not completely sure if that filter thing could cause OOS, I’m just guessing from the best of my knowledge. – Eris from


Actually, OOSs can be due to a number of factors. Physical faults in any part of the computer could do it, from overheating in the CPU, to slight problems in the hard drive, to power irregularities. It could also be a small bug in ANY of the myriad drivers that make up your windows configuration, or even not so much as a bug but a minor incompatibilities that arise from the billions of possible driver combinations. Any of those factors could cause an OOS.

Saying that OOSes can “only” be due to a certain thing is wrong, and
unfortunately could lead to more false accusations of cheating. Indeed, OOSes arive ANYTIME that at there is a miscalculation between two machines, from a horse archer being in the wrong place to a wrong number of resoruces for a certain player. – David aka form1


I think that u were wrong in your answer to _Shin_Dock_.
I’m no hardware specialist, but many friends of mine had the same problem : OOS when there were more than 2 players involved.
We now know for sure where it comes from : it’s the ethernet card.
There are two models available : a 10 Mb or a 10/100 Mb. AoK players NEED the latter.

Now, I’m talking about French cable. But since the symptoms are axactly the same, I guess the cure is as well

It’s particularly devious problem, since theoretically our cablenetwork doesn’t support 100 Mb so vendors in all good faith recommend a 10Mb card. But as I said, we now are 100% sure that you need a 10/100 card to play multiplayer AoK.

Hope that helps. – Feyd (NOT Lord_Feyd ;;-) )

Thanks for the insights guys. Some of that I’d never heard of before, especially the ethernet stuff. Good thing at school I always had a 10/100Mb ethernet card.

MORE letters to Washizu
Posted by Washizu on May 19th, 2000 @ 0:01 a.m.
Oops forgot one more letter I wanted to answer:

You’re probably tired of hearing this, but before I go on, I just wanted to thank you for keeping Age of Kings Heaven one of the best sites out there =) Anyway, I was wondering if you, or anyone else, would happen to know why DSL doesn’t seem to work well on the Zone. I always get OOS errors if I have more than 2 people playing! I’m sure no one was cheating. I double checked recorded games and all the other stuff. Anyway, if you happen to know why it does this and how it can be fixed, I would be VERY grateful. Oh, I have already written the Zone, but have no idea if/when they’ll ever respond. Thx! – _ShiN_DocK_

It can’t be solely because of the DSL connection. I know plenty of people who have no problems playing all kinds of games over DSL. OOS errors occur from the following reasons:

1. One player is trying to use a 3rd party program to illegally alter the match.
2. A player has a warezed or incompatable version of AOK.
3. A player has problems with their own PC, specifically networking software or DirectX.

Hope that helps!

More Letters to Washizu
Posted by Washizu on May 18th, 2000 @ 11:44 p.m.
Here are a few more letters I’ve received recently:

There has got to be a way to keep players who use cheat programs from cheating. Although No Cheats is ON, these losers have software that gives them cheats.

What do I do about this? You can’t tell they’re cheating until the game is over, right? I am not bad, and not expert…. but you can tell by the final score who’s been cheating… it’s SO obvious. – code.mode

Personally, I have yet to see a program that can do this without synching out from a multiplayer game. If you have found one that works in multiplayer, please contact me asap so it can be documented and sent in to the appropriate people to get it fixed.

Hi Washizu. This is a question which i think many people have, so i think that it would be a nice addition to that letters to washizu section. Anyways, who ended up as the winner of the Charlemagne Scenario contest? Has a winner been decided yet? Or maybe the winner was not announced yet? Or maybe the winner was already pointed and i didn’t read the news? Anyways, keep up the good work on AOKH! – Zanzard Lothar

Thanks for the kind words Zanzard! Getting ready for E3 (and then recovering from it ) took a lot of time out of the judges, designers Bruce Shelley and Greg Street, and they have not yet finished judging them. They did say they were impressed by the quality of the scenarios, so that shows you guys are making their decision even that much harder!

MFO Events
Posted by Washizu on May 18th, 2000 @ 10:02 p.m.
The ever busy guys at Mr Fixit Online have some cool events going on right now. Check them out:

MFO News – May 18, 2000

-Shimo Tourney
-B4S Tourney starting and round 1 deadline extension
-SMACKDOWN-9 results (FFA)
-Recorded Game Search (search over 2000 aok games)

Shimo Tourney:

Imagine a world where mighty nations rise and fall like the endless tides… where back stabbing and hasty alliances are common place… where a friendly welcome one moment can turn into a dagger at your throat the next. Paranoia torments the most powerful of kings, as doubt of even the most sacred alliance is a constant reminder that trust is a luxury that can’t be afforded. The richest lands are swept up in poverty, as once laden gold mines grow dry. Delicate trade alliances, the last bastions of peace in the world, hang in the balance as the glory of victory eventually consumes even the noblest ruler.

Welcome to the world of…
Shimo-Style: Age of Kings

MFO is proud to present its first ever, Shimo-Style: Age of Kings tournament! For those of you not in the know (shame on you), Shimo-Style represents a whole new way of playing the game we love. Some of the features involved are:

Introduction of dynamic diplomatic relations
Increased importance of trade and commerce
Increased importance of troop organization, deployment and battlefield tactics

If you haven’t tried this yet, give it a shot. Those who play it swear by it!

And remember……..
There can be only One!


Battle for Supremacy News:

**** IMPORTANT ****

The deadline for all games in this round is Sunday, May 21st 3:00 EDT.

At that time, if you have not been able to schedule your match, join the MFO Chat Room from 3:00 to 3:30 EDT. It is *IMPORTANT* to make every effort to complete your matches on time as your win-loss record will be tallied and counted when it comes time to start the regular season.


SMACKDOWN 9 Results Are In!!


And the winner is…………

Can_I_Rush (and can he ever)

Your mojo is rising and the steam is arising! Way to go you sexy beast!

Make sure to sign up for SMACKDOWN 10 which is scheduled for Friday Night, May 19th, 8:00 PM, EDT. This weeks settings are sure to be even stranger than last weeks courtesy of our truly strange staff.


NEW MFO FEATURE!!!! –> Recorded Game Search!!!
Ever want to see if Devilz_Loko is as good as he says he is but you couldn’t find one of his games in the library?

Do you entertain private thoughts in that deep, dark place that people dont talk about that you could actually BEAT Arch_Koven?

Ever get the urge to look through some of your own posted games and see how truly horrid you played that match?

Or finally….have you ever just wished there was a simple, easy to use way of finding games that you want to watch?

Well now there is.

Search over 2000 recorded games in our very own MFO database. We have the most extensive collection of AOK recorded games ANYWHERE!!

New Staff Members
Posted by Washizu on May 18th, 2000 @ 0:29 a.m.
Following E3 and some new events we have planned, two recent promotions were handed down from the Heavens and one new staff member was added to the site. Based on their hard work for us, cherubs THS and Rasher will forever now be known as Angel THS and Angel Rasher. To recognize the fact that he’s helping me out a lot with an Age of Kings: The Conquerors section, I’ve also drafted BroacLanders to be the latest Heaven cherub. To see what I mean, check out his AOK:TC fact sheet. Congratutlations to all.

Lord Soth’s E3 Recap Part 1
Posted by Washizu on May 17th, 2000 @ 5:17 a.m.
Ensemble Studios 3D artist Sean “Lord Soth” Wolfe posted a recap of E3 in the Studios Journal. Most remarkably were his comments on Dungeon Siege:

Dungeon Siege will be the Diablo 2 killer in my books. The 3d engine looks great. The whole thing had me in a stupper when I watched the show. The world seems freakin huge. And if your a RPG fan like myself I think you will love this game. It was cool to see monsters attacking you with arrows stuck in them from your bow. The canyons looked like the went to the bottom of the earth. No loading times between area’s. Just a flat out killer game. – Lord Soth

These are words coming from a guy who was, as far as I know, a Diablo fanatic!

Well thats all I’ve got for today, I’ll get you more thoughts soon. I need to get out of here. Some of us are still beat to crap from all the partying and fun from E3. – Lord Soth

I hear you loud and clear on that one

Play Now Choice Awards
Posted by Washizu on May 17th, 2000 @ 4:52 a.m.
I got this from the folks at Play Now who want you to visit their site and vote for Age of Kings:

Age of Empires II – Finalist in the PlayNOW! Gamers’ Choice Awards

PlayNOW! (Australia’s No.1 Games Site) are currently running their 1st
Annual PlayNOW! Gamers’ Choice Awards. Nominations are now over and the voting phase has begun. Age of Empires II has made it to the finals in the following categories: ‘Best PC Game 1999’, ‘Best Strategy Game 1999’ and ‘Best Multiplayer Game 1999’. Age of Empires II stands a good chance of winning, so head over to PlayNOW! and help it get there. Once voting has finished PlayNOW! will be hosting an Online Awards Ceremony. At the ceremony we will be announcing the winners of each category and you will be given th opportunity to chat with some of the industry’s leading developers. Also if you turn up to the ceremony you’ll have the chance to win heaps of fantastic
prizes…(the comps will be open to people from all four corners of the world.) To vote and to get your official invite to the Online Awards Ceremony head over here.

Letters to Washizu
Posted by Washizu on May 17th, 2000 @ 4:38 a.m.
Here’s where I answer some the e-mail I get on this public page, in case anyone else has the same problem. The first e-mail comes from Dan.

In the game age of empires 2 you are supposed to be able to make your own taunts do you know if this is possible? Also, when you use the sound recorder, is it possible to onvert the file from “wave” to “mp3”. It would be really helpfull if you could help. – Dan

To convert from .wav files to .mp3, I use a program called GoldWave. It’s free and you’ll need to download one extra file from the site to convert to MP3 files. Once you have the sound converted, name it taunt003.mp3 or whatever number you want it to be called by, and save it in your taunts folder.

Firstly, Great Site (though I bet you’ve heard that before)

Secondly, I read a few months ago about trials for the AOK world tournament with the final taking place in Dubai or the UAE somewhere. What happened with this? Has it finished and is the Final available as a recorded game?

If you take the time to reply – Thank You

If you don’t – Thanks anyway for a first rate site. – Dickie

The Rise of Rome World Championships in Abu Dhabi recently ended on May 7th, with STALIN as the winner. Note, this wasn’t an AOK tournament, but one featuring Age of Empires: The Rise of Rome Expansion. The final standings were as follows:

1st Place: STALIN
2nd Place: BlackGrail
3rd Place: maimin_matty
4th Place: Jyden

Others present were Out4blood and ES designer Mark Terrano who I had a short talk with about the championships while in Los Angelos. One thing he remarked on was how many people were amazed that even though he helped create the game, he couldn’t defeat the players that flew in from around the world to play. The ROR World Championships were hosted by Mr Fixit Online, so check there for more info. Unfortunately, since this was a Rise of Rome game, game recordings are not available.

Hi! I love Age of Kings! It is the best. I was wondering how I could play over the internet with other players.
Please help! – Sydney

The best place to play right now is on the MSN Gaming Zone. Hope this helps!

AOK Battlefield E3 Pics
Posted by Washizu on May 16th, 2000 @ 8:27 a.m.
My buddy Thunder of the AOK Battlefield found the time to give you an intro to his E3 trip. His camera didn’t work as well as he had hoped, but he got some nice outdoor pics of the convention center. Read about it here.

Shimo style fans unite! Mr Fixit Online is holding a Shimo Style Tournament. Looks like it should be a blast!

For you German agers, Age of Empires II Deutschlan has given their site a new look, so check it out.

Sorry I haven’t been returning e-mails as much lately. I’m VERY busy trying to put together a great AOK:TC section. Look for it pretty soon.

I’m back!
Posted by Washizu on May 15th, 2000 @ 9:59 a.m.
Hey guys, I just got back from E3 and will be doing a huge write up of the whole thing pretty soon. First, I want to say thanks to Angel Reckless Rodent for covering for me in an excellent fashion. I also want to say thanks to everyone at Ensemble Studios and Microsoft for showing me a great time in LA. I had a fantastic time hanging out with the ES dudes, Thunder from the AOK Battlefield, and AOK experts The_Sheriff and Dennis “Menalaus” Stone. I even got to meet long time Age expert Methos over at the Empire Earth booth.

AOK won several awards, including PC Game of the Year, Best Strategy Ggame, and a Craft Award for Character Development, which they tied with Thief.

Here are some of the great things in Age of Kings: The Conquerors Expansion that I can talk about now:

The much anticipated TC fix is now public. TC’s now cost 100 stone in addition to the 275 wood and do not get attack range upgrades. There are a LOT of changes being made to the scenario editor, including triggers that can alter unit stats and NAMES. Heroes now regenerate their health like Viking Bezerkers. There will be random map scripting to create your own random map types, and we’ll of course have plenty of user created maps in our downloads area. Snow terrain is not only in the game, it is seen covering rooftops of buildings as well. Footprints appear behind units walking through the snowy landscape, and wheeled units leave wheel tracks which looks very cool!

I took a ton of pictures, and I’ll try and get them developed this week. In case you missed it, Microsoft’s FTP server has a bunch of AOK:TC screenshots for you to check out. I’ll get them posted here soon, but until then, check em out here.

Here’s a novelty…
Posted by Reckless Rodent on May 14th, 2000 @ 5:55 p.m.
…some AOK:TC stuff from E3 .

Pennywise has posted a load of stuff about TC, having had the chance to yak a bit with Bruce Shelley on the E3 floor:

Hey, everybody just got back from my second visit to E3. Glad to report that I have gained more details this time around (The original info was posted Thursday over at KoRT). Got a chance to question Greg Street for about a half an hour and in the interest of sharing this info with as many as possible, I am posting it here as well as KoRT. Okay, here’s the scoop:
As for the new civs:

Huns –

-As stated before they cannot build houses at all. As a result, they get 50 less wood to begin with.

-There cav archers are 50% cheaper and units are produced from the stable faster as well.

-Tarkans, their UU, get a bonus against buildings.

Click here to view the rest of the post.

More TC E3 Pics
Posted by Reckless Rodent on May 14th, 2000 @ 5:33 p.m.
Age of Empires Italia has posted some pictures of AOK:TC taken at E3 (which has now finished, so Angel Washizu should return to resume normal service within the next couple of days).

Thanks to Molix for sending the above in, and to Azoic for pointing out a little HTML whoopsie in my earlier post .

More E3 TC Stuff
Posted by Reckless Rodent on May 14th, 2000 @ 10:47 a.m.
A bit more E3 coverage, this time from GameCenter. They’ve posted 10 screenshots (brought to you here via VoodooExtreme from the upcoming AOK X-pack, as well as an interview with Bruce Shelley (spotted on ES’s site). Here’s a snippet from the interview:

Shelley, however, indicated that “one of the goals is to give value to the company,” and being able to apply resources to more than one title at a time would go far in doing this. To that end, Ensemble is looking to increase its numbers–selectively–by approximately 20 members. “Having two teams working on two different projects simultaneously is something we’re trying to do,” Shelley added.

Today On The Zone…
Posted by Reckless Rodent on May 13th, 2000 @ 2:10 p.m.
Tourney day again today, with the Conquer The World .. if you Dare Tournament.

It kicks off this afternoon at 4pm PST in Tournament Room 2. For more information, either hit the link above or take a peek here.

Toon Contest
Posted by Reckless Rodent on May 13th, 2000 @ 2:06 p.m.
Something I spotted whilst over at Azoic’s AOK Site

It’s time to recognize the “Tooner’s” who give us a laugh with their creative AoK toons. Ensemble Studios and Prima Games have generously provided some great prizes:

  • First Place:
    A signed E3 Conquerors Posters from the whole ES team!, an AoK Strategy Guide and a Age of Empires Strategy Guide.
  • Second Place:
    A Signed Conquerors mousepad, AoK and AoE Strategy Guides
  • Third Place :
    AoK and AoE Strategy Guides

  • Find out more and submit your entry here.

    More TC from E3
    Posted by Reckless Rodent on May 13th, 2000 @ 1:55 p.m.
    Thresh’s Firing Squad has kicked up their take on AOK:TC, which they managed to get a look at whilst at E3. Here’s a wee snippet about the Koreans:

    The Korean civilization specializes in the more expensive units. Their towers automatically upgrade themselves as the player advances through the ages. They, like the Spanish, are blessed with two unique units. One is the war wagon – a horse drawn cart that has tons of hitpoints. The other is the turtle ship. These tough boats are iron clad! Expensive but heavily armored so they can take a lot of abuse.

    TFS also have a preview of Dungeon Siege, which got Washy in quite a tizz when he saw it at FanStock.

    Another TC Preview
    Posted by Reckless Rodent on May 13th, 2000 @ 0:42 a.m.
    Thanks again to AoKingdom for letting me know about this…

    Gameglow Network’s Ogre has just finished up on his preview of The Conquerors, the Expansion to Age of Kings. Here is a snipplet.

    Many gamers, including myself, have been captured by the Age of Empires series for quite some time. The sequel to this already great game, Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings, has been doing well for months since its release. Well now an expansion pack is in development for it. The expansion pack has been given the title of Age of Empires II: The Conquerors. A plethora of new features have been added to an already great game.

    Click here for the preview.

    AOK to be ported
    Posted by Reckless Rodent on May 12th, 2000 @ 9:28 p.m.
    Also on ES’s site, I noticed that AOK is due to be ported onto the DC and PS2.

    More news about that is here.

    Awards for AOK!
    Posted by Reckless Rodent on May 12th, 2000 @ 9:25 p.m.
    Today is officially a Busy News DayTM here at Age of Kings Heaven. While I was over at ES’s site, I noticed that Age of Kings picked up a few awards from the board deciding the Interactive Achievement Awards, including the one for Computer Game of the Year.

    You can find out more here. Congrats to the ES crew !

    MFO Smackdown Tonight
    Posted by Reckless Rodent on May 12th, 2000 @ 8:57 p.m.
    While browsing Azoic’s AOK news site, I noticed that tonight is MFO Smackdown night. Here’s the post, yanked from MrFixitOnline:

    SMACKDOWN This Friday! (5/12/00) The Tournament starts at 8:30pm est. Come early to sign up! Stay for the party IF you lose and lets have fun!!

    More information can be found here.

    TC: Washy v. Thunder
    Posted by Reckless Rodent on May 12th, 2000 @ 8:50 p.m.
    While he was at Fanstock a couple of weeks ago, Angel Washizu got the chance to play Thunder of the AOK Battlefield at TC. The aforementioned Battlefield has posted a commentary on that game.

    Who won? Nah, that’d be telling . Thanks to Azoic and Eric for letting me know about that.

    MS on TC @ E3
    Posted by Reckless Rodent on May 12th, 2000 @ 10:59 a.m.
    Microsoft are getting in on the E3 act by stuffing their site full of E3-related AOK:TC information, including a 10mb video showing off some of the new units.

    You can check it out here (thanks, JABBAFETT). There’s an interview with Greg “DeathShrimp” Street there too.

    On a semi AOK-related note, Havoc2Chaos mailed me the following piece of info which might be of interest to those of you with access to PBS:

    I saw this in my TV Guide. This coming Tuesday, “The Lost Vikings: Secrets of the Dead” will air on PBS, at 8:00PM Eastern time. It sounds really cool. Well, I thought you may want to know this.

    ES & TC at E3
    Posted by Reckless Rodent on May 11th, 2000 @ 11:04 p.m.
    Marechal of the Empire spotted this article posted this morning at CGO which deals with the upcoming AOK x-pack and gives out some more information which was revealed at E3.

    Note: CGO are incorrect when they state that the Elite Plumed Archer is the Aztec UU. It is, in fact, the Jaguar Man. Thanks to Eric Cortez for pointing that out.

    If you’re wondering where Angel Washizu has gone, he’s in LA right now, heading HGS’s E3 coverage. Therefore, I’ll be standing in for him here on AOKH news for the next few days. If you spot and AOK-related news on the Net, then please drop me a line and I’ll post it (email addy is above this update).

    Gamespot AOK:TC Preview!!!
    Posted by Washizu on May 10th, 2000 @ 5:59 a.m.
    In a suprising move, Gamespot has released their Age of Kings: The Conquerors preview! It has a lengthy interview with Bruce Shelley and a bunch of screenshots to check out:

    GameSpot: What new civilizations are in the game? You said there would be five more.

    Bruce Shelley: Aztecs, Mayans, Spanish, Huns, and Koreans.

    GameSpot: Can you give us information about these civilizations? What are some of their technologies and unique units?

    Bruce Shelley: The New World civilizations did not have horses, so we are working on interesting units that have some of the characteristics of mounted units (mainly speed). We have eagle warriors that are very fast and good against infantry. The jaguar man is the elite Aztec unit. The Huns get the tarkan, which is a cavalry unit [that is] very tough against buildings. [It is] a good raider. The Huns do not need to build houses. The Koreans get two unique units – the turtle boat and the war wagon. The turtle boat is an ironclad vessel [that mounts] cannons, the first [such ship] the world ever saw. It was decisive against a Japanese invasion in the late 1500s, breaking sea supply lines. The war wagon is slow but has heavy missile firepower. The Spanish also get two unique units: the conquistador (mounted musketeer) and missionary (fast-mounted monk).

    GameSpot: Will there be an open beta-test period for the game?

    Bruce Shelley: This is a Microsoft decision, but I believe there will be no public beta test.

    Rock on! I can’t wait until after E3 when I can give a more detailed acount of what I’ve seen of AOK:TC so far

    Check out Gamespot’s preview and thanks to Seth for alerting me to it.

    MFO Event
    Posted by Washizu on May 9th, 2000 @ 6:22 a.m.
    Haha! I’m not gone yet, although I am a bit farther east for the time being. Those crazy MFOs have another event that just started. Head over to check out the recorded games:

    Battle For Supremacy, a DeathMatch 2v2 team tournament, has begun at with 85 teams and 218 players!

    Come see the recorded games and watch as the best DMers on the planet duke it out for over $1,000 in prize money!

    Man, those guys are made of $$ over there! hehe Sounds like a good time for Death Matchers everywhere.

    AOK Punk Trailer
    Posted by Washizu on May 8th, 2000 @ 3:57 a.m.
    Scenario designers extraordinare, the AOK Punk team has just released the MP3 music trailer for their upcoming Scenario, Rage of the Dutch Fisherman. You can read about it here in the scenario design forum.

    It seems AOK was a top seller among Gateway customers this year:

    Age of Empires is the top purchased entertainment program from Gateway computers. I discovered this on the gateway site: under the software section. Just thought I would let you know. – RaimonRdL

    One age fan encountered a common garrisoning problem

    I was wondering if you could help me on the AOK game. Over the course or time i have seen many of my enemies put knights in their stables,ships in their docks… etc….. I tried to do it, but it didn’t work. i followed what it said in the book but it still didn’t work. I even tried putting the gather point on another stable… but it didn’t work either. Anyway i was wondering if there was a special thing that i am supposed to do?….

    Your help or anyone you know that can help… i would appreciate it… – Terran

    You can only garrison units inside barracks, stables, archery ranges, etc. as they are created. Do this by selecting the building and then right clicking on it. Once the unit is outside the bulding, however, you can never put them back in. The castle can garrison any non siege unit at any time, and the town center/towers can garrison any foot unit. Hope that helps!

    There’s a new AOK site out there called the AOKingdom (clever name. Check it out here.

    Ok folks, this may be the last time you see me for a bit. I’m moving out and then heading to E3 on Thursday! If you’re lucky enough to have a ticket to E3 and you see some handsome devil hanging around the MS booth… ask him if he knows where I am!

    Plugging My Own Interview
    Posted by Washizu on May 6th, 2000 @ 8:34 p.m.
    Well, I guess some people appreciate the news I write up here every day, and the_cerebrum seems to think have some influence on the Age community. He interviewed me the other day for his Influential Agers section. There are now a total of 9 interviews with the likes of AOK expert maimin_matty, scenario designer Ingo Van Thiel, and more, including the two most recent interviews with myself and Thunder of the AOK Battlefield. Thunder will try and convince you he’s not a big name in AOK, but don’t let him fool you hehe. Anyway, here’s the link to the interview with me. You’ll learn how I got into Age in the first place, where the name Washizu comes from, and why I think AOE is a top seller.

    XBox Poll
    Posted by Washizu on May 6th, 2000 @ 2:08 a.m.
    Should Microsoft show off the Xbox at E3? They want to know, so they’re conducting a large poll with the help of fan sites to see just how much interest fans have in it. What is the Xbox you might ask? It’s a console gaming system being developed by Microsoft that will make it much easier for developers to create games, and with effects that will (supposedly) blow your mind.

    Anyway, vote to see if you think they should show it next week at E3. Please vote yes, so I can see it when I am there

    ES Hit by I LOVE YOU Virus
    Posted by Washizu on May 6th, 2000 @ 1:44 a.m.
    AOK developers Ensemble Studios were hit with the infamous I LOVE YOU virus that swept through the UK, the US, and most of the world. According to designer Sandy Petersen they lost a half days work on their next RTS project, but everything seems to be in order at the moment. If you, or anyone you know has this virus, check here for help on removing it from your system.

    I got some complaints about my suggestion to monitor the number of incomplete games people have to indicate how often they might purposely drop from a game.

    hey man, i disagree with u on the topic about the oos when u say to ppl
    to check the incompletes of the oponent.
    My name is FOX_Alien and i have more then 25 incompletes and most i got because of zone problems, like winning the game and just as it get
    finished i got an inc when i pressed the resume button. And that happens a lot, and to many ppl. So, if u dont play rated too much i think u should not say that, because its surely wrong.
    To prove im not talking bull*** u can talk to famous players like
    OoC_Malice, SHS_Slugur and many others wich are my friends and experts players who knows that incs doesnt mean guys are cheaters. The problem of oos are due to trainers that doesnt work and cause them. Thats my opinion. – FOX_Alien

    I see your point, and I understand that the system is _far_ from perfect, but when looking for an opponent and you see he has an 1800 rating and a large % of his total games are incompletes, you might want to think twice about playing him. Surely I don’t mean to not play someone if they have a small number of incompletes.

    And for all you wrestling fans out there, a friend of mine, ejustin invites you to come to his site and hang out.

    Archy’s Vegas Vacation
    Posted by Washizu on May 4th, 2000 @ 5:05 p.m.
    The Studios Jounrnal is a great place to get to know the fine people at Ensemble Studios. Two new additions were recently made, the first of which was ES webmaster Mike McCart talking about his trip to vegas! He seemed to do pretty well until the dreading 00 came up in Roulette (coincidently, I had my first gambling experience recently in Atlantic City… I made $80 playing craps ). 3D programmer Herb Marselas talks about a few random things, one of which was how to get into the gaming industry as a programmer. I think he gave better advice than anyone I’ve ever heard answer this question.

    If you’re in school, you really need to be spending your spare time working on a demo game that shows that you really know how to put the pieces together: graphics, ai, input, sound, networking, etc.

    Maybe not every piece is a work of art, but concentrate on your favorite area, and do enough to make the other areas “good enough” – Camptian Insano

    Here’s an open question to Herb… Which graphics API do you recommend learning first? OpenGL or DirectX?

    AOK English Class
    Posted by Washizu on May 4th, 2000 @ 1:56 a.m.
    Angel Alexander recently taught an English class using Age of Kings as a learning tool! He has some beautiful pictures of the surrounding scenery and the students in his class. Read about it here.

    Sandyman on Synch Errors
    Posted by Washizu on May 3rd, 2000 @ 9:56 p.m.
    AOK designer Sandy Petersen posted a thread today concerning the Out of Synch errors in the Zone’s rated rooms.

    Most people who engage in rated games on the Zone are aware of the existence of spoilsports, i.e., bad losers who unplug their modems to cause an out-of-synch, thus ending a game before the final denouement. This helps the losers because the game doesn’t get counted towards their score. Obviously, it is a form of cheating. I spoke with the programmers here at ES about doing something to fix it, and here is the scoop.

    1) It is not ES that decides that a game that ends OOS is a “draw”. The Zone decides that.

    2) in a two-player game, we cannot physically detect which player is responsible for the OOS. All we can tell is that communications have been cut off.

    3) if games were recorded, it might be useful to set up a sort of “court of appeals”, to which you could show the game up until the OOS, and prove that you were winning until then. Presumably the “court” would then award you the game. Then new problems arise of making sure that the recorded game that has been submitted was the real rated game, but I suppose the zone has ways of determining that.

    4) the Zone could institute something that simply awarded an OOS game to the guy who had the most points when it went OOS. This seems risky to me — cheaters would wait until they were a point or two ahead and then quick pull the plug.

    Anyway, just thought interested parties might want to know the facts, as to why it’s hard to stop the OOS spoilsports. – Sandy Petersen

    There doesn’t seem to be an easy way to deal with this, but its a good idea to keep an eye out for your opponents incompletes before you play.

    The Ager’s HQ has released the details for their party on May 6th:

    You’ve heard about it by now, the Ager’s Party, hosted by Ager’s HQ! We have loads of prizes for the competition, but only one will receive the grand prize. The list has come in, the prizes have been unleashed! As the original game, Who Wants To Be a Millionaire: AOK Style will have several levels. Levels are setup as listed:

    3 questions answered correctly, and player wants to stop: Agers Music CD!
    6 questions answered correctly, and player wants to stop: Age T-shirt!
    9 questions answered correctly, and player wants to stop: Age of Kings!
    All 12 questions answered correctly, and player wants to stop: Age of Kings: The Conquerors ordered for them! It will be shipped when the game is released! Thanks goes to AoKingdom.

    All this and more can be found at the Ager’s Party details, but here is still more! After the game, a random Ager in the chat will be selected to be given an Ensemble Studios cap! Lastly, don’t forget about our special guest, Herb “CaptainInsano@ES” Marselas!

    Sounds like fun! the_cerebrum continues his Influential Ager series with AOK scenario designer, Ingo van Thiel:

    The Lost Isle of AoE|AoK has just moved to a new host, and to celebrate, I’ve
    interviewed another Influential Ager.

    The newest influential Ager is Ingo van Thiel, who many of you probably know
    as a leading scenario designer.

    The Lost Isle also recently launched a new design, which many of you probably
    haven’t seen.


    Lost Isle
    Interview with Ingo
    Influential Agers

    One last thing, DungeonSiege.Org has posted a number of new Dungeon Siege screenshots here. This game is going to rock!

    AOK Trial Version Hits 1 Million!
    Posted by Washizu on May 3rd, 2000 @ 8:23 a.m.
    From the Microsoft PR machine:


    Microsoft today announced that the Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings
    trial version has been downloaded in excess of 1,000,000 times on the games site since it was first made available in November of
    1999. This figure does not include the number of downloads from many other
    gaming and freeware sites all over the world.

    In other news, the highly-anticipated Age of Empires II: The Conquerors
    Expansion will be unveiled at next week’s Electronic Entertainment Expo in
    Los Angeles. At that time, specifics about the pack’s five new
    civilizations and four new campaigns will be released. The Conquerors
    expansion pack will be available at retail this fall.

    Age of Empires II, developed by Ensemble Studios, features new and improved
    design features that quickly engage the casual player while offering more
    intense and engrossing gameplay to satisfy the hard-core audience.
    Beginning with minimal resources, players are challenged to build their
    nations into great civilizations and defeat the enemy by making strategic
    decisions throughout the game. Each of the 13 civilizations represented in
    Age of Empires II, including the Mongols, Celts, Vikings and Japanese,
    features distinctive attributes, buildings and technologies and a unique
    combat unit based on its historical counterpart. In addition, Age of
    Empires II features five campaigns based on the adventures of prominent
    historical figures, including Joan of Arc, William Wallace and Ghengis
    Khan, that draw players deeper into the game as they march alongside the
    hero to victory.

    More information is available at the games’s official Web site,, or on the Ensemble Studios Web site
    for developers at

    Pharaoh Heaven Exclusive
    Posted by Washizu on May 2nd, 2000 @ 8:25 p.m.
    My buddy Angel Reckless Rodent has landed an exclusive interview with Impressions concerning their upcoming game, Zeus

    Read it here. It’s
    the world’s first interview on the subject of Impressions’s follow-up to Caesar III and Pharaoh.

    New Forums and New Kids
    Posted by Washizu on May 1st, 2000 @ 11:31 p.m.
    First I’d like to congratulate Ralphedelominius of Gamestats on his new baby girl!

    Also, we have recently added two new forums to AOKH. The first is a history forum for, well, discussing history. This is for people who want to talk about AOK related historical events, but don’t want to be confined to talking about them in terms of gameplay, or don’t want to take away from strategy discussion.

    The second forum is an “Outside Discussion” forum, used for discussing things completely unrelated to AOK. Forum rules for warez, cracks, porn, profanity, etc. still apply, but no moderators will be monitoring the board as closely as the others, so beware!

    The two new forums can be accessed through the forum index page.

    Spanish AOK Contest
    Posted by Washizu on May 1st, 2000 @ 11:25 p.m.
    I recieved this from Imperio, who runs an AOK site for spanish speaking agers.


    “Since our fusion between Mercadillo de AoE and Clan SUD in Imperio SUD to create a community for spanish agers, we have grown a lot in all aspects. To celebrate the over 100,000 visitors that now we have, we are giving away an Age of Empires 2: The Age of Kings game, a Music of the Ages CD and an Ensemble Studios baseball cap, prizes are courtesy of our great host Gameglow.Com.”

    Imperio SUD



    Hasta la vista!

    Confirmation Made
    Posted by Washizu on May 1st, 2000 @ 11:22 p.m.
    Going along with recent confirmations by other ES employees posting on and the AOK Battlefield, AOK Desinger Sandy Petersen also confirmed that the information printed in the June issue of Computer Gaming World was true:

    I have not seen the latest CGW yet. My understanding is that they list the civs as: Aztec, Hun, Korean, Mayan, and Spanish. They reported describe four of the new units as the Halberdier, Hussar, Petard, and Turtle Ship. And they list the four campaigns as Attila, El Cid, Montezuma, and The Conquerors.

    These are accurate.

    Sandy has been posting a lot lately, especially concerning the lack of horse units in the American civs:

    Q) About the petards, are they generally available to the civs?
    A) Pretty much everyone gets petards.

    Q) Are those REALLY the civs?
    A) Yep. Glad you like ‘em. We knew some people would be sad that their pet civ didn’t’ get in, but we thought very long and hard about the civs we wanted in the game.

    Q) Are the Amercian civs good in DM even when they dont have cavalry?
    A) You only build cavalry in DM?

    Q)Are the Persians improved?
    A) A bit. Since horse-archers and camels have been improved, this naturally helps them.

    Q)Do the Spainish have strong cavalry?
    A) They have the full cavalry line & all upgrades. They do not get special cav bonuses, though.

    Q)Are any of the new UU cavalry?
    A) The Hun UU is cavalry.

    Q) Are you upset that this info on new civs came out early?
    A) Me? It is to laugh. I have been lobbying to give out information early all along.

    Q) It says the Koreans UU is the turtle ship, so do they have a UU to create in the castle as well?
    A) Of course. Their castle UU is especially Unique, too, if you know what I mean.

    Q) The lack of “horses” by the meso-american civs seems to be raising the most eyebrows. Will Aztecs and Mayans have a substitute for the trade cart?
    A) Well, actually, we didn’t bother to make a separate art set for the Meso-American trade cart. Sorry. They have donkey-drawn carts. You can pretend they’re dogs or something, though.

    Q) Will there be any reason to build an Aztec or Mayan stable? or research any of the barding armor techs?
    A) Aztecs & Mayans cannot build stables or research any barding techs. Those parts of the tech tree are simply closed off.

    Q) Will their foot units have a higher speed to compensate?
    A) Some of them.

    Q) Is the Woad Raider still the fastest foot unit in the game?
    A) No. But he’s much tougher in combat than one who’s faster.

    Read all this and more in Ask Sandy 4.0