Archived News From May 2001

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!

E3 Gallery & More To Come!
Posted by Thunder on May 31st, 2001 @ 7:20 p.m.
The first of our E3 Photo Galleries is now online! It presents a recap of most of the first day at E3 in addition to some images of the Age of Mythology booths and the convention center itself.

Still to come, a summary of playing Empire Earth, lots of pictures of Studios people and fellow Agers, some thoughts on other games, and whatever else we can throw in there.

Link: E3 Gallery #1 …whatever else we can throw in there…that isn’t wearing very much… ; )

Wallpaper Contest Reminder…
Posted by Thunder on May 31st, 2001 @ 3:21 a.m.
The deadline for entries is fast approaching in the Through The Ages Conquerors wallpaper design contest. Ogre, from yonder site, threw a note my way –complete with stone attached– reminding one and all about the details and deadline:

“The deadline for the Game Tropics Network and Through The Ages Conquerors Wallpaper contest is coming up fast. All entries must be in on June 1st at 9PM EST. After 9PM EST on June 1st no more entries will be excepted. For more information on the contest, please check out the events page at Game Tropics Network. Below is a summary of what the contest is about and the prizes that winners can receive.

‘Do you think you have what it takes to make computer desktops around the
world burst of nothing but Age of Empires II Expansion: The Conquerors!
Well here is your chance to show how artistic you can be. Game Tropics
Network along with Through The Ages have put together a contest for you to
express your creativity. All you have to do is design a Microsoft Window’s
wallpaper based around an Age of Empires II Expansion: The Conquerors theme. There are only a few guidelines for the contest that must be followed for your entry to be judged.’


1st Place Winner
– Age of Empires II Expansion: The Conquerors T-Shirt.
– Behind The Scenes of Age of Empires DVD.
– A copy of Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings and Age of Empires II
Expansion: The Conquerors.
– Wallpaper posted on Ensemble Studios and Game Tropics Network websites.

2nd Place Winner
– Age of Empires II Expansion: The Conquerors T-Shirt.
– Wallpaper posted on Ensemble Studios and Game Tropics Network websites.

3rd Place Winner
– Wallpaper posted on Ensemble Studios and Game Tropics Network websites.”
– Ogre

It will be nice to have a look at the winners and spruce up ye olde desktop. As always, best of luck to all participating! …might have to put my AoM wallpaper away for a lil bit…just reminding me of the loooong wait for that game… ; )

AoM In July’s PC Gamer…
Posted by Thunder on May 30th, 2001 @ 8:22 p.m.
According to forumer siuolly, in the July issue of PC Gamer you’ll find more Age of Mythology materials! Some new screenshots are shown that depict units wading in the water, and watching carefully for Crocs I’m sure. Check out siuolly’s PC Gamer post for more of what he has to say.

Unfortunately, it looks like they are just showing the contents of the May issue on the PC Gamer site right now, so if the magazine isn’t in your area you’ve got a little while to wait. siuolly must have a subscription to be getting the issue this early….will be awhile until it’s available on store shelves… ; )

The Mideast Is Ours!
Posted by Thunder on May 30th, 2001 @ 6:43 p.m.
Just released today at Ensemble Studios is the latest in their collection of real world maps! (scroll waaay down to the bottom) The Mideast map centers around what is currently Saudi Arabia, and as always it is totally blank, awaiting you to load it up in the scenario editor and make it gorgeous.

I believe that the last real world map to be released is Iberia, which, according to Mike “Archangel” McCart, we can expect in a week or so. …saving the best for last I suppose… ; )

Matt’s Chat Transcript!
Posted by Thunder on May 30th, 2001 @ 10:30 a.m.
If you didn’t catch the chat with maimin_matty that was held yesterday evening, the gang kept detailed notes. Their pencils are smoking and wrists are sore, but they have the chat transcript, and colour coded no less!

I arrived about half way through the chat session and the room was just packed! Everyone and their mother, including Matty, was waiting in the queue to ask Matty a question. (wonder what he was going to ask himself?) If a similar event is organized, hopefully they’ll have more time for questions. …the chat host seemed to have a ton of his own… ; )

Game Critics E3 Award Nominees!
Posted by Thunder on May 30th, 2001 @ 2:36 a.m.
The list of the best and brightest has been completed and we shall soon see the winners of the independentGame Critic awards best of E3 2001! As you would expect, the nominee list is loaded with the most anticipated titles. Age of Mythology made the cut in the strategy category, but check out the competition:

Best Strategy Game
– Age of Mythology (Ensemble Studios/Microsoft for PC)
– Battle Realms (Liquid Games/Crave Entertainment for PC)
– Civilization III (Firaxis Games/Infogrames for PC)
– Empire Earth (Stainless Steel Studios/Sierra Studios for PC)
– Republic: The Revolution (Elixir Studios/Eidos Interactive for PC)
– Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos (Blizzard Entertainment for PC)”

Source – Game Critic Award Nominees

Interesting to note that Nintendo’s Gamecube is nominated for the biggest award, Best of Show, while the Xbox didn’t make that list. All of the winners will be announced on June 18, so we’ve got a couple of weeks to bite our nails. …check out the platform the nominees in each category are made for, PC or console…PCs dead, ha! ; )

Matty Events Tonight!
Posted by Thunder on May 29th, 2001 @ 9:46 p.m.
Tonight the Zone is hosting a chat and tournament with big bad maimin_matty! He is quite a formidable player, having been around since the days of the original AoE. Sign ups for the tourney start at 5pm PST (8pm EST) and the chat will take place just before the fighting gets underway. For the complete details, check out the Zone tourney page and, best of luck! …would be neat to see some of the ol’ RoR experts show and have a showdown with matty… ; )

Dallas Developers & ES Testing…
Posted by Thunder on May 29th, 2001 @ 7:35 p.m.
A recent article in the Dallas Morning News discussed the large number of people applying for various positions at game developers. Dallas is the home of Ensemble Studios, so naturally they had a chat with some of the ES folks on the topic:

“Applicants at Ensemble spend about 50 to 60 hours in the application process to make it through all the phases of technical competence testing and interviews. They then face a companywide vote where any one of Ensemble’s 75 employees can veto the hiring.

‘The hit-to-miss ratio is pretty extreme,’ said Chris Rippy, a producer at Ensemble.”

Dallas Morning News: Applicants are plentiful…

There are also comments from Tony Goodman and Dave Pottinger of the Studios crew.

On another interesting note, Mike “Archangel” McCart mentioned this morning on the ES news, the picture of Mr.Goodman that’s included with the article features him standing in front of a bank of monitors in their 16 player testing center. Remember back when Microsoft was doing testing on the Conquerors? There were teams at MS and at ES working on testing, but according to Kevin “The_Sheriff” Holme (talked to him about this briefly at E3), who was on the MS testing team for the xpack, the Studios is now taking on all the playtesting. This will result in quicker turnaround, as all of the testers will be in one spot, with the designers, artists, and programmers. Another benefit brought about by MS aquiring ES. …tons of great game developers in Dallas that make quality games…no surprise to me they are doing very well… ; )

Conquerors RM Forum Tourney!
Posted by Thunder on May 29th, 2001 @ 9:52 a.m.
It’s tourney time in the forums! Angel MeatLoafX is organizing an RM Tournament for us locals which will get underway on June 9th. There’s some cool Age items that will be awarded to the top finishers, as well as some random prizes to dish out! The settings should prove to keep things very interesting:

1 v 1
Random Map Game
175 Population
Random Location
Standard Map Style
Random Civilizations
Tiny Size
Standard Resources
Reveal Map: Normal
Starting Age: Standard
Standard Victory

Source – RM Tournament Information

Head here to sign up, and start praying to those Gods of Randomness. There’s a little under thirty registered players right now, but some very talented players who’d kicked my tail at Forum Parties are getting set to fight for top spot!

Best of luck to one and all. There will be some grand battles no doubt, but make sure you’ve registered before the deadline of June 7th! …if you’re playing against someone from a far off place and need to figure out the time difference to arrange a game, check out my fav page: The Time Zone Page… ; )

Tavern: Something’s Different…
Posted by Thunder on May 29th, 2001 @ 9:18 a.m.
If you’ve stopped into the Tavern recently, you’ll notice that Angel Chris has really changed things around in a re-design! It is looking quite spiffy indeed, and he’s also promised new bar stools in the coming days.

The Tavern is the place to hear about the goings on in our many forums, from hot topics and Forum Parties, to strategy posts. …whew, swanky…the kinda place that’d throw me out… ; )

Sixteen Players, Sixteen Colours?
Posted by Thunder on May 28th, 2001 @ 11:11 p.m.
It’s a holiday today in the US, so the developers and many news sites are quiet today. A grand day to be sifting through the forums!

An interesting question was brought up by WhoAskedU in this post in the Age of Mythology forum. We know that there will be support for up to sixteen players in AoM multiplayer games, but WhoAskedU noticed that having enough different distinct colours to identify each player may be a struggle. How will they get around that one? Colour combinations? Unique player symbols? Stop in and brainstorm. …I’ve already got enough troubles telling apart orange and red… ; )

Tavern: Cockroaches & War Stories…
Posted by Thunder on May 28th, 2001 @ 4:02 a.m.
No, no, the Tavern is not infested with cockroaches, but could Age of Mythology be? There’s some interesting ideas flying around regarding what the Studios folks will do with their cockroach recordings in the AoM Forum, and there’s also plenty of war stories from yesterday’s Forum Party. See you on the Battlefield next week! Put on your roach stomping boots and drop by the hissing Tavern. …has anyone made a “Bug Hunt” game? Hunting roaches is a real challenge…those suckers can haul! ; )

At Long Last, Essay Contest Winners!
Posted by Thunder on May 28th, 2001 @ 1:17 a.m.
Despite some troubles wrestling the judges into getting down to it, Angel Dimitrios sends word that a winner has finally been decided in the Life of Khan essay writing contest! Make way for Dimitrios, and a drum roll please:

“The winners of ‘The Life of Khan :: History Essay Contest‘ are finally being announced. We apologize for the long wait to find out who the winners were, but they are here now, and I’d like to Congratulate mpgalvin for his first place essay, ‘Khan101.’

A congratulations goes out to lestat for his second place essay, ‘THE WRATH OF GENGHIS KHAN.’
Both those essays are displayed here.

I’d also like to thank every one who entered; it was a very very close contest.” – Angel Dimitrios

Nicely done! Stop by and check out both of the entries and find out a little more about this Mongolian who shaped world history. …fantastic quote to start off your essay with lestat! ; )

Reader’s Choice Vote!
Posted by Thunder on May 27th, 2001 @ 2:04 p.m.
Well Age of Mythology was nominated by enough people that it snagged a spot on Voodoo Extreme‘s poll: What is your pick for the best game of E3? The poll is located on the left of their site, and is currently being dominated by FPS games. There’s twenty great games to choose from, stop in and cast a stone for you top pick! …the dark side attempts to unbalance SW: Galactic Battlegrounds… ; )

Tasty Mythological Shrimp…
Posted by Thunder on May 27th, 2001 @ 8:50 a.m.
Our Age of Mythology Forum has been paid a visit by ES designer Greg “DeathShrimp” Street who left quite a few posts on various topics. He answered some questions about AoM and left behind a heck of a great one liner:

[Q] Now my question is, will one civ be more military than economy? And vice versa?? Let me know.

DS: Probably. In AOK, this didn’t work so well, because a strong economy was so much more valuable, particularly in the early game (the Byz eventually came around if you let them build long enough). We have some clever solutions for making this more even. Here is another lesson we learned from AOK: civs with expensive, late-game bonuses aren’t fun. They blow in the early game, and then they roll over everyone in the late game. Doesn’t make for very dynamic battles.”

The clever designers at ES have paid attention to the draw backs in AoK’s gameplay and are working to make sure that AoM is a better product:

“Booming is a little too powerful in AOK. While there should always be a strategic decision about whether to focus on military or economy, going with the economy is usually the best choice in AOK. Part of this comes from players playing at 200 pop cap, where it is possible to have 100+ villagers.

AOM should have a better balance between economic and military strategies (and there will even be some more tactics).” – Greg Street

Source – Age of Mythology Forum

Thanks muchly to Greg for stopping by, and you can check out his posts in the AoM forum. He also left a great line in this post regarding the scale of buildings: “AOM is a game first and foremost. Anything that hurts gameplay will be blindfolded and shot. …ehehe, I can’t top that… ; )

AoM Preview & Reader’s Choice Awards…
Posted by Thunder on May 27th, 2001 @ 3:54 a.m.
First off, we have GameFirst, who’ve written up a preview of Age of Mythology that also contains pretty much every available screenshot of the game. It is a nice little read, although there’s lots of booze flowing to the press at E3, so take it with a grain or two of salt.

On a bit of a side note, Voodoo Extreme is looking for readers to nominate the games that tickled they’re fancy from E3. Drop by their site to find out how to send them your nominees. …Game First guys said they saw “scorpion men, griffins, chimeras, and trolls”…what demo were THEY watching? I tell ya, gotta keep the press sober… ; )

The Return Of Theseus…
Posted by Thunder on May 26th, 2001 @ 11:50 p.m.
The one and only Ogre, the brain and brawn behind Game Tropics plus creator of Through The Ages, sends word that he’s been inspired by all this recent talk of mythology to break out one of his school projects for a re-design:

“Age of Mythology fever has been sweeping the net lately. Last night the bug bit Ogre as he was working on something else. Every website he went to last night seemed to be talking about the upcoming title from Ensemble Studios. As you probably have guessed it, Ogre doesn’t visit many sites that are not game related. Well seeing this everywhere made me think about one thing. And that is the game that I helped create for school project. Please note that AoM has inspired me to work on this and that I can hardly wait for AoM to come out. I don’t want this to look like I am trying to make an RTS game here hehe. Nope Theseus II will be all adventure.

The game was entitled Theseus. It was based on the Greek myth with the
Minotaur in it. Ogre begs for forgiveness, he can not remember the name of the myth the Minotaur is in. But anyway, Theseus was a 3D adventure game which was designed using the 3D open source engine Genesis3D. So all of this by now made Ogre decide to break out the CD with the game’s source code and editor files on it. Ogre took a good look at the game and thought how cool it would be to make it better.”

You can drop in on Ogre‘s Theseus II page for more information or to drop him a line with an idea or suggestion. …snuck in one Forum Party game between school work…I think my team was stacked a bit, but GG all! I’ve never had a truly bad game with Huns… ; )

Tavern: Party Time…
Posted by Thunder on May 26th, 2001 @ 8:23 a.m.

It appears the drunkard in the Tavern had a wee bit too much E3 ale and is a little late posting up the information for our weekly Forum Party. Be sure to stop by both the Tavern and our party tomorrow for some fun and frenzied games of The Conquerors! …LA, the only town where people order Guinness with a knife and fork… ; )

AoM Earns Editors Choice Award!
Posted by Thunder on May 26th, 2001 @ 3:49 a.m.

It’s never to early to start earning awards I suppose! The GameSpot crew has posted their picks for the Top 20 PC Games of E3, and you don’t have to search long to find Age of Mythology among them:

“Age of Mythology plays on the most successful parts of the Age of Empires series and strides forward in terms of gameplay. It also helps that the game’s mythological premise makes a lot of sense and opens up a lot of dramatic new ground. For all these reasons, Age of Mythology was perhaps the most surprising and promising real-time strategy game we saw at E3.”

Source – GameSpot’s Top 20 PC Games of E3

Among their other picks is Battle Realms, which has popped up on a few awards pages now, Civilization III, Dungeon Siege, which looks like a huge leap beyond Diablo II, and Republic: The Revolution, which we tried real hard to see but no dice. Check out their impressions of these games and more that were the hit of E3! …press should be made to go sober for the duration of E3…on an E3 report on another site a writer was comparing AoM to Simcity…ha! What demo was he watching? ; )

Zone DM Madness!
Posted by Thunder on May 26th, 2001 @ 0:57 a.m.
If you’re quick about it, you can sign up for the Zone’s DM tournament that gets underway shortly! There’s slightly less than 150 registered players at the moment, so not a huge field. Best of luck to one and all and check out the Zone Tourney page for the latest on the maimin_matty chat and tourney coming up on the 29th. …that’s Mr.Matty to you… ; )

GameSpy’s Second Look At AoM!
Posted by Thunder on May 25th, 2001 @ 8:16 p.m.
Having recovered from their hangovers, the GameSpy gang take a second sober look at Age of Mythology. Designer Greg “Deathshrimp” Street gave them the demo run through and shared some of their AoM design plans with them:

“As of E3, Ensemble is planning on having close to 30 different mythological units in the game with each civilization having only five or six. And these mythological units are limited to land; the game will have Griffons in the air and Giant Squids in the water. ‘We also have a Leviathan unit which will open it’s mouth so your units can go in it (much like a transport) then it will spit them out where you want.'”

Source – GameSpy’s Age of Mythology Preview Part II

A well written piece, as you’d expect for the Spy, click on over and give it the full read. They have the usual screenshots posted, the ones that were released during E3.

If you’re looking for some new images from the game, be sure to check out Angel Zen‘s great photographs in our Age of Mythology Preview. …he burned through eight rolls of film for those pics… ; )

Which New RTS Tickles Your Fancy?
Posted by Thunder on May 25th, 2001 @ 9:17 a.m.
There’s an interesting poll running on GameSpot at the moment, which you will find at the bottom of the right hand column on their site. The question being, “Which of these real-time strategy games shown at E3 are you most excited about?

Your options include almost all of the big name strategy games under development –I’m not sure how they missed Empire Earth. The runaway leader at the moment is Warcraft III with close to 50% of the votes! Star Wars Galactic Battlegrounds, the RTS from Lucas Arts that uses the Age II game engine, is in second and Age of Mythology is currently breathing down their necks in third place. Pop over to GameSpot and cast a stone for the RTS you’re looking forward to the most.

One interesting note regarding this poll is that IGN’s pick for best strategy game at E3, Battle Realms, is in dead last. If the game is truly great, gamers appear not to have noticed. …Battle Realms is even getting beat by “Other”…that must be where all those Empire Earth votes are going… ; )

HG’s Age of Mythology E3 Preview!
Posted by Thunder on May 24th, 2001 @ 10:12 p.m.
If you weren’t walking through the hallowed halls of E3 this year, or hounding the Ensemble Studios crew for answers at the Age of Mythology booth, Angel Zen has a little something for what ails you. He has written up a walktrhough of the AoM demo, complete with many of his photographs of the game in action! Beyond a list of features, Zen also shares his impressions of seeing this game up close and personal.

Age of Mythology E3 Preview …Zen even captured how Greek buildings change when you research a new age! ; )

ES’s E3 Crunch…
Posted by Thunder on May 24th, 2001 @ 9:52 p.m.
Little sleep and a lot of work. Making games is not a lot of fun when you’re working overtime to get done. Ensemble Studios programmer Dusty Monk shares what went into making the Age of Mythology demo build a slick, bug free, crash free experience in the lastest entry of the ES programmers journal:

Friday, April 27

A full week of crunch behind us. We’re all feeling the pinch. Many, like myself, are not going home before 2 or 3 am, and then having to get back up around 6 am. Let me tell you. More than a week or so of three to four hours of sleep a night start to wear on you. Ballistics is pretty much behind me now. There is still a whiteboard full of notes to myself on things I want to add, but Dave’s got the minotaurs butting, the cyclops throwing, and arrows are arcing nicely. It’s good enough for now and pathing still awaits. Anubites though, are still falling through the terrain. What’s up with that?”

Source – ES Programmers Journal: What a month.

Squashing bugs and dealing with those demanding designers, sheesh! I always like to hear a good bug story, especially involving units being hurled off maps by Cyclopes. There’s something you don’t see…at all. Drop in and check out Dusty in crunch mode and the super Cyclops. …E3 is over for him, but the press will be writing articles on happennings there for weeks to come… ; )

IGN’s Best Picks From E3!
Posted by Thunder on May 24th, 2001 @ 12:15 a.m.
On the last day of E3 these little signs began appearing at selected booths. The little elves from IGN had been making the rounds and slapping up award nominee signs. Age of Mythology, Empire Earth, Warcraft 3, and a host of others were all nominated! So who walked away with the Best PC Strategy Game award? Battle Realms.

That was kind of a shocker! Just about everyone I was talking to had AoM and or EE on their minds, including myself. We certainly took a look at Battle Realms, but I suppose we had been spoiled by AoM’s amazing graphics because it didn’t look that impressive. At anyrate, it sounds like there’s really something to this game, so hopefully it will not be overshadowed by big titles when it hits the shelves.

The winner of the most awards, including Best PC Game of Show was the massively multiplayer Star Wars Galaxies. Stop by the IGN E3 awards page for their complete list of winners. …hmmm, seems IGN are big Battle Realms fans…they’ve done a 12 part history of the game…they must know something we don’t… ; )

AoM Mania!
Posted by Thunder on May 24th, 2001 @ 7:00 a.m.
Well the Gamesmania guys have probably won the award for the most original title for an Age of Mythology preview. They have compiled an article that details their AoM findings from E3, and it appears that Lead Designer Ian Fischer gave them a personal demo. By all accounts, it looks as though they liked what they saw:

“The game may have divine inspiration, but the same fundamentals of AoE are there. You’ll even get a map editor, with all the tools Ensemble uses to make the game. Fischer said they’re even working to make the editor more stable than previous versions.” …

“We saw a lot of strategy games at E3, and like the other genres, they all sort of blur together after awhile. But at the end of they day, this is the game we’re writing about. C’mon, it’s from Ensemble. Millions of satisfied AoE players can’t be wrong.”

Source – Gamesmania Previews Age of Mythology

The article is worth the click over to read it. There aren’t any new screenshots or pictures from E3 to be had, but they’ve detailed the game quite well indeed. …more of Zen’s pics from E3 coming soon… ; )

MFO’s Shows From The Big Show!
Posted by Thunder on May 23rd, 2001 @ 10:56 p.m.
Armed with his trusty camcorder, _KaBan_ from Mr.Fixit Online jumped into the action at this year’s E3. While the MFO folks are working on their post event articles, they’ve supplied us all with several movie clips which include developers such as Brian Reynolds, Sandy Petersen, and Rick Goodman. You’ll also get to see the MFO crew messing about with Empire Earth.

Butter your popcorn and catch the clips in blue_myriddn‘s movie post. …the EE booth was great fun since they let us play multiplayer RM! ; )

Destiny Of A Dynasty Downloads!
Posted by Thunder on May 23rd, 2001 @ 7:39 p.m.
The winners of our recent scenario design contest were just announced a few days ago, and my congratulations to our winner Zanzard Lothar!

You can now download all of the entries from this contest including the winner and runners up from this page, put together by Angel Spineman. As you can see by those final scores, it was a close race for top spot! Download them, and see what kept the judges working overtime to decide a winner. …hopefully we’ll soon hear who’s taking home the new computer in ES’s scenario design contest! ; )

HG Main: Newer And Bluer!
Posted by Thunder on May 23rd, 2001 @ 7:23 p.m.
There has been quite a massive re-design of the main HeavenGames site, courtesy of the tireless Angel Zen. Pop in for a look at the slick design which includes soothing clouds, blue skies and a swanky 3D HG logo. …best of luck to AAI on finding a new perch… ; \

Age Of Mythology FAQ!
Posted by Thunder on May 22nd, 2001 @ 10:00 p.m.
The Ensemble Studios crew had to field a ton of questions from Angel Zen and I at this year’s E3. We hit them with everything from “How many players can play a multiplayer game?” to “Will there be female villagers?“. Thankfully they were quite happy to answer and gave us plenty of information regarding resources, units, and more.

A compilation of these questions and answers can be found in our Age of Mythology FAQ!

In addition to the answers, we’ve pointed out a few of the Greek buildings including their Barracks and Fortress. …thanks to all the forumers in our AoM forum for supplying or inspiring many of the questions… ; )

AoM Center Flicks The Switch…
Posted by Thunder on May 22nd, 2001 @ 6:15 p.m.
They are off and running at the AoM Center which is just a few days old. Their forums are up and running, the design is slick, and they’ve been doing a good job keeping on top of things so far! Drop by, have a poke around, and wish the webmaster, DisturbedRoach, all the best. …even smells like a new site… ; )

E3 Picture Sampling!
Posted by Thunder on May 22nd, 2001 @ 0:28 a.m.
Well the film is back from the developers and Angel Zen is furiously scanning in his mountain of photographs! You’ll see many of them in upcoming articles, but to help tide us over until those are done, here’s a few of the ones that we’ve got completed.

There’s plenty more where that came from! Zen tells me he’s got about 150 scans to do and he’ll also be writing up his impressions of Age of Mythology. …AoK is a lot of work to play on PS2…a mouse is a must! ; )

Fresh Out Of The Package AoM Site…
Posted by Thunder on May 21st, 2001 @ 7:01 p.m.
A note from Zoner_Nick revealing his Age of Mythology site has worked its way here. It is only a few weeks old, but they’ve got screenshots, concept art, the official press releases, and links to the latest previews. The site has forums and a chat room in the works as well. Stop in and pay them a visit at: …good luck with the site fellas…stick with it! ; )

E3: We Came, We Saw, Our Feet Got Sore!
Posted by Thunder on May 21st, 2001 @ 7:51 a.m.
Really really sore, but it was so worth it! Angel Zen and I hounded the Ensemble Studios crew for several demos of Age of Mythology as we kept coming up with new questions. A big thanks to all the ES folks who answered questions, hung out with us, and showed us all sorts of cool little things they are working on or trying out for AoM. On the final day we caught the big demo of the game by Bruce Shelley, Ian Fischer, and Greg Street which was great because we could see the reaction of a large group of people to the game. The Cyclops, which gets tired of swinging his big club and picks up squirming infantry and hurls them, drew a big reaction as did many of the other Mythological units.

We are currently working on several articles on AoM and E3, which will be available in the coming days complete with pictures!

One great thing about the show this year was getting to meet a lot of Age players (past and present) such as Player_Theta, Younggunz, from MFO blue_myriddn, _KaBaN_, and dustin_c1.

Just home from the show as well is Greg “DeathShrimp” Street, who reminds us of three important things to keep in mind when checking out previews and articles about AoM at this stage of its development:

“Just got home from E3. We had a really great response to what we showed of AOM which has made us that much more eager to get back and work on it some more!
I know the information will continue to flood in here for a few days, but I wanted to make a couple of points perfectly clear:

1) We have not announced a ship date. As you all know, we playtest the heck out of our games before we release them and we will not release a game just to meet some arbitrary quota.

2) We have not announced minimum system requirements. You cannot infer anything about the systems we used at E3 as to whether the game will run on your home machine or not, for a variety of reasons (such as the fact we haven’t optimized the code yet, still have a lot of debugging tools turned on, don’t know the resources needed by all the art, AI and pathfinding yet, etc.) Our statement continues to be that we had lots of AOK fans with low-end machines, and we will continue to support that portion of our audience. AOM is being designed to work on $1000 machines and $10,000 machines.

3) The game is not finished. Virtually any feature you have heard about will continue to go through rigorous scrutiny before we ship. As we say in all our internal design docs: nothing is set in stone.

Thanks to everyone who stopped by the MS booth at E3 and special thanks to the guys from the fansites for hanging out with us at the show!”

Source – New AoM Info

Talking to the ES guys about the game made some things really clear. Many of the features are “still up in the air”, which is a phrase we heard quite a lot. Even things listed in the CGW article about AoM, which is quite recent, have changed since its writing.

We’ll give you the latest word on AoM direct from the ES crew and our impressions on it and many other games! Keep your eyes peeled for those upcoming articles. …Anubis leaping over cliffs to get to units were too cool…OOOooo, and a BIG thank you to Angel Reckless Rodent for minding the shop while we were out and about! ; )

AoM v. EE
Posted by Reckless Rodent on May 20th, 2001 @ 5:25 p.m.
Saw whilst browsing Blue’s that GamersPulse has posted a comparison between AoM and EE, looking at their various potential strengths and weaknesses. Here’s a quick snip to get you going:

Now, the games are quite different once you get into the details of their operation, but with a casual glance at the surface, the two seem remarkably similar. The graphical style of both games are quite similar, both sharing the AoK look, albeit at higher quality. Game mechanics will also seem quite familiar with either of these titles for veterans of the AoE series of games, with one of the AoM developers going so far as to say that if you had played Age of Empires you could sit right down and pick up Age of Mythology.

More E3 AOM Previews
Posted by Reckless Rodent on May 19th, 2001 @ 5:09 p.m.
Thanks to Jaguarundi for letting me know that GameSpy has posted a preview of Age of Mythology based on what they saw of the game at the Electronic Entertainment Expo which, as we all know, is currently underway in LA. Click here to take a look at it.

If you want the E3 experience but were unable to make your way there for any reason, then take a look at this image gallery posted by GamersPulse (thanks VE) – there are even a few shots of the AOM stand .

AoM Screenshots @ HG
Posted by Reckless Rodent on May 19th, 2001 @ 1:33 p.m.
Angel Zen is clearly suffering from insomnia tonight, as he’s just posted up this thread, containing no less than 12 Age of Mythology screenshots from the MS Press Kit, all in glorious 1280×1024 resolution.

While you’re at it, why not also take some time to check out the AOM Factsheet, which has also been posted by Zen in the forums.

Zen Wants Your Questions!
Posted by Reckless Rodent on May 19th, 2001 @ 12:39 a.m.
Angel Zen, is still enjoying himself at E3, but that hasn’t stopped him thinking of you guys (lucky people ). He has started up a forum thread where you can leave your questions for ES – click here and let Zen know what you want him to ask by midday EST today and he’ll drop by to pick them up before he heads off to the show.

Zen has also dropped by the thread I mentioned yesterday to provide some more AoM info to complement that which he posted yesterday.

Posted by Reckless Rodent on May 19th, 2001 @ 11:48 a.m.
The boys and girls at IGN have been providing some great coverage of E3 this year, and have now posted their impressions of Age of Mythology (thanks EA). The preview contains wise words from not only AoM lead designer Ian Fisher, but also from Bruse Shelley. Well worth checking out if you’re at all intrested in AOM (and you are, right ?).

SW:GB Info
Posted by Reckless Rodent on May 18th, 2001 @ 10:18 p.m.
Not strictly AOK-related, but it’s close enough .

Thanks to Xynon for letting me know of a couple of previews of Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds, the upcoming LucasArts title which uses the AOK engine, have made their appearance on the Net. First up, there’s a 20-meg SW:GB movie available for your viewing enjoyment at GameSpot. There’s also a preview at IGN PC, written based on a viewing of the game at E3. Here’s a little snippet of the IGN piece, just to get you in the mood:

Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds will include six campaigns spread out over 14 environments with 50 terrain types. These six campaigns will be split into six missions each, with you controlling the action with six familiar civilizations: the Rebel Alliance, Trade Federation, Gungans, Royal Naboo, Galactic Empire, and everyone’s favorite furballs the Wookiees. Anyone familiar with the Star Wars movies will recognize most of the locations and story behind the battles as they will be pulled right out of the Star Wars saga, extending through all four films, effectively both series — classic and modern. Each campaign also includes an additional “what if?” mission, such as what if Anakin Skywalker didn’t destroy the Trade Federation mother ship or what if Darth Vader found out that Lando saved Luke from Bespin.

Bruce Shelley on TechTV
Posted by Reckless Rodent on May 18th, 2001 @ 8:21 p.m.
Ex-Angel Ogre of Through The Ages dropped me a line to let me know that Bruce Shelley was interviewed by TechTV on the subject of Age of Mythology (what else?).

Click on over to TTA to find out why ES chose a mythological rather than a historical setting, and why 3D was preferred over the standard isometric view we’ve learned to love in AoE and AoK.

New AoM Info
Posted by Reckless Rodent on May 18th, 2001 @ 11:07 a.m.
With E3 underway, there’s all sorts of new information about the upcoming 3D RTS from ES, Age of Mythology, popping up around the Net. For example, check out this forum thread. It contains news on some of the 20 special units which you’ll encounter in AoM, as well as info on the user interface and some tidbits on the game’s graphics.

You should also keep an eye on Microsoft’s E3 site (Flash required), which is chock-full of more AoM goodness.

Articles Galore
Posted by Socvazius on May 18th, 2001 @ 0:08 a.m.
Several articles have been recently added to the University. They include a couple Death Match articles by Cherub BiggN, along with an interesting overview to the Chinese civilization. They’re pretty good reads, go ahead and check them out.

  • The Chinese (By Derok)
  • Persians in 3v3 Arabia (By Cherub BiggN)
  • Hun Rush (By Cherub BiggN)
  • Franks vs. Mayans (By Cherub BiggN)
  • The BiggN Modified Korean Strategy for Huns (By Cherub BiggN)
  • Destiny of a Dynasty Winners
    Posted by Reckless Rodent on May 17th, 2001 @ 8:51 p.m.
    Angel Rasher has posted the 3 winners of his Destiny of a Dynasty contest:

    Grand Prize Winner: Zanzard Lothar
    In recognition of his excellent campaign Emperor Wendi, First of the Sui, which received a 4.58 score, shall be taking home a ton of cool stuff, winning by a **very** narrow margin over the runner-up:

    First Runner-Up: Stan (aka The Conquistador)
    Who’s campaign Glory of the Tang, receiving a 4.54 score, narrowly misses taking home the grand prize in what proved to be an amazing race!

    Rounding out the three finalists was another top-quality entry, this one by:
    Second Runner-Up: Andres_age
    His campaign Three emperors and two dinasties managed to hang in there for third place, receiving a score of 4.25 from our judges.

    Congratulations to all the winners! You can download the campaigns either from the links in this post or the links in the forum post.

    Got News?
    Posted by Reckless Rodent on May 17th, 2001 @ 10:17 a.m.
    While Angel Thunder’s away at E3, I’ll be your news updater in residence here at AOKH. So, if you see any newsworthy gubbins while you’re surfing around, please drop me a line and I’ll put it up .

    Off To The Land Of E3…
    Posted by Thunder on May 17th, 2001 @ 7:52 a.m.
    Off we go! Angel Zen and I will be catching our flights shortly to head off to Los Angeles for E3. A laptop computer is making the trip with Zen, so with a little router luck we will be able to share some stories while we’re down there!

    Thank you to all who provided us with their questions and dreams of what they want to see from E3, we’ll do our very best for you.

    Of course, we’re not the only ones leaving. My thanks to Angel Washizu for all the help he’s given us Agers over the years! He’s been a big part of Heaven and the Age community for a long time. He may have left HG, but he’s still an Ager. Take care buddy. …look out LA…I’m drinkin’ for two!!!! ; )

    So Long, and Thanks for all the Shore Fish
    Posted by Washizu on May 17th, 2001 @ 3:54 a.m.
    I’m sad to say that after much deliberation, I’ve decided to leave HeavenGames for personal reasons. This brings an end to my 3 year run at Heaven starting out as a lowly cherub and eventually rising to a top position. There are others things for me to conquer now that I’ve graduated from college. You can be sure I’ll be checking out AOKH (and soon, AOMH) for news on Age of Mythology all the time, as it looks better and better every time I see it.

    First, I’d like to thank the entire past and present Heaven staff, especially Thunder, Spineman, Zen, Hamlet, Alexander, Reckless Rodent, Draco, Jayhawk, Park, Rasher, ET Flavius, Socrateius, Chooch, Dimitrios, Gustavia, Chris, Samurai, Winston, THS, AoErat, Omnivac, MacRat, Mack, Azoic, Jaytan, and all the rest.

    Second, I’d like to say good luck to all the other Age webmasters, especially Xiphoid, MrFixit, blue_myriddn, Ogre, Mithras, Rookev, theWill, and Xynon.

    Third, the past webmasters and killer Age players who made the community a cool place to be: Chuck, BravenIrish, Smog, SimMayor, Da Stimulator, The_Sheriff (I hear he has a good gig going these days), maimin_matty, and all the rest.

    Fourth, I’d like to thank the Ensemble Studios team members and various friends I’ve made because of this job, including Satan, Phaseburn, Brell, Allen Grey, Dragon, Guttyr, Evan Bangs, Stormbringer, Rich Laporte, Duane Santos, Don Gagen, Herb Ellwood, Mike Kidd, Bruce Shelley, Sandy Petersen, Greg Street, Karen Sparks, Dave Pottinger, Leslie Goth, Sean Wolf, Chris Van Doren, Paul Bettner, Mark Teranno, Ian Fischer, Thonny Namuonglo, Harter Ryan, Matt Pritchard, and Tony Goodman.

    Fifth, I’d like to personally thank Steve “Vidguy” Cherrier and Mike “Archangel” McCart for making my life a living Heaven during my time here. I hope Microsoft and Ensemble know how valuable you guys are, because without you two, the Age community would not be as large and vibrant as it is today.

    The last people I want to thank are all the fans who have come, gone, and come back again over the years. You guys make everything webmasters do worthwhile, and offer the best suggestions on improvements (here’s a hint: Those who offer the best suggestions in a constructive manner tend to become webmasters themselves more often than not).

    Your friend,
    Angel Washizu

    P.S. To place gold or stone in the scenario editor, set the player to gaia.

    SW: Galactic Battleground Preview…
    Posted by Thunder on May 17th, 2001 @ 1:59 a.m.
    For those you are loving the idea of playing a good Star Wars RTS that uses the Age II game engine, that GameSpot crew has just pumped out another preview!

    “LucasArts has done the unthinkable. It is returning to the real-time strategy genre with another Star Wars strategy game. Considering the poor reception given to Force Commander less than a year ago, this is a surprising move. But what’s really shocking is that LucasArts is seeking outside help for a game that’s being developed internally in order to ensure that it gets this second attempt right. It is all part of the plan to finally make a good RTS that truly lives up to the Star Wars name. This game is Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds, and it uses the Age of Empires II engine as its backbone. The news bodes well for those who always wanted a fun Star Wars strategy game, and who better than Ensemble Studios to assist LucasArts in making a great real-time strategy game.”

    Source – GameSpot’s Star Wars: Galactic Battleground Preview

    There’s some really cool new screenshots posted and six pages of information on this game. It should be hitting store shelves sometime this fall. Storm Troopers are still too cool… ; )

    DeathShrimp Posts On…
    Posted by Thunder on May 16th, 2001 @ 7:49 p.m.
    Designer Greg “DeathShrimp” Street, who works at lil’ ol’ Ensemble Studios, popped into our Age of Mythology Forum to respond to the large number of questions and comments generated by the recent AoM preview. One thing about what we’ve seen of the game so far is that everything has been frozen into a screenshot, preventing us from witnessing animations or wave action. According to Greg, we definately haven’t seen the game at its best yet:

    “2. The 3D screen shots I have seen, have the same problems most 3D games had had. The Art is blocky. While, this may not seem such a big deal, I really LOVE non-blocked 2D art.

    DS: Ah, but one of the differences between 2D and 3D is that 2D units must have every animation rendered out seperately and then substituted on the unit, kind of like a flip book or the way cartoon animation is done. 3D allows for a much greater range of fluid movement. So I suppose you could say that, in general, 2D may offer the chance for more detail, but 3D offers the chance for better movement. And you guys haven’t seen anything but static screenshots yet!”

    Source – Reaction to Article

    Click on ye olde source link above to check out a whole host of other responces from the DeathShrimp covering balance and other gameplay issues.

    Perhaps in the media released during E3 this week there will be a gameplay movie? If not, GameSpot may include a movie or some animations with their future updates and civilization showcases! Hopefully we’ll be hearing more about when that series will take place not too long after E3. …any questions directed to DeathShrimp or Sandyman will go unanswered for the next few days…they are attending the big show, E3! ; )

    AoK Nations Cup…
    Posted by Thunder on May 15th, 2001 @ 8:19 p.m.
    This event has quite a lot of potential! TheWill at was handed a note from the crew running a team event called the Nations Cup. Teams representing various nations will battle for top rung in the ladder which gets underway the first week of June. Sign up information and the official settings are to be found at the Nations Cup page, and best of luck to all involved! …they should name the cup after the nation that captures it… ; )

    The AoM Preview Bombshell…
    Posted by Thunder on May 15th, 2001 @ 1:10 p.m.

    The dust is beginning to settle from the blast that took place just about twelve hours ago now. GameSpot’s Age of Mythology Preview went online with new screenshots and a boat load of new information on the game! They ran down to Ensemble Studios to get a preview of the build of the game that will be shown at E3 later this week and were not disappointed.

    It’s no surprise that the preview has created a buzz in the forums, centered largely in this post by Cherub petard_rusher announcing the preview to the world. theferret posted the bits of information or quotes that caught his attention and he really posted some great ones such as this paragraph regarding a major difference in naval combat:

    “Ensemble is changing the way naval combat works. Now, instead of many different ships, there will probably be one ship type per civilization. The ships in turn will change depending on what you put on it. If you put siege weapons on the ship, it will become a siege ship. If you load the ship with archers, it will become a warship. If you put infantry on the ship, the infantry will become oarsmen (and you’ll see the ship suddenly sprout dozens of oars), thus making it faster. Ships are thus now more like floating castles or towers. Rather than being separate units themselves, they conform to the units you place in them, becoming speedy transports, sluggish siege engines, or powerful warships at your choosing.”

    Source – GameSpot’s AoM Preview Pg 7

    There’s a small part of how the gameplay has evolved from the standard AoK game! Certainly another major evolution is the 3D engine, and the following description really helped to paint a great picture of just how detailed the worlds it creates will be:

    “When standing in the snow, units expel frosty breath. When standing idle, they rub their arms and shiver in the cold. Units in the hot desert wipe their brows. As farmers walk through cornfields, they push past the corn stalks, which wave back and forth as they walk through. When buildings are destroyed, their columns topple inward, and roofs collapse. When storms cause lightning to hit buildings or land, fires will spring up exactly where the lightning bolt hit. The detail even extends to representing each unit’s upgrades onscreen. When you research upgraded iron shields, your units actually sport shining iron shields. When they get better swords, you see them wielding the same swords you just researched. Because the programmers can attach objects in real time to units, you’ll see each upgrade appear on the units. Visually, you’ll always be able to tell just how advanced your opponent’s troops are–and vice versa.”

    Source – GameSpot’s AoM Preview Pg 2

    Units will be representing more than just an attack number and some hitpoints, they’ll actually reflect how advanced you are when it comes to technology, or what is aboard your ship! Who knows what other surprize details they have in store for us? Jump into our AoM Forum and share your two bits on these latest revelations! …that preview has kept me awake all night…Fire Giants, Frost Giants, Trolls oh YES! ; )

    Another Arcade Upgrade: v1.07g
    Posted by Thunder on May 15th, 2001 @ 12:24 a.m.
    Just when you thought the upgrades were winding down, the crew at GameSpy Arcade found some more glitches to fix and some new stuff to throw into the latest version. Some of the improvements are apparently “Super secret” and will not be announced for awhile. For more info or to download, you’ll find what you need at …hard to get excited about “Super secret” improvements… : \

    Alliance Francophone’s!
    Posted by Thunder on May 15th, 2001 @ 11:34 a.m.
    A perfect time to be launching an Age of Mythology site no? Hot on the heels of the first ever AoM preview –find it here at GameSpot— comes news of a major AoM site launch:


    Already known for it’s websites AoK-Conquerors.Com and EmpireEarth-France.Com , Alliance Francophone is proud to announce the opening of, a new website dedicated to the forthcoming 3D RTS game from Ensemble Studios.

    Providing in-depth articles, exclusive information, animations and screenshots, this website already covers most aspects of the game. Take a seat, have a drink and join us in the forum discussions

    They’ve already got quite the collection of images and information going. If it’s AoM related, they’ve got it! The site itself is very easy on the eyes, incorporating the breathtaking screenshots of AoM into their design.

    Of course, the site is en francais so dust off the French verbs and conjugate your way over there to check out the newest AoM fansite. …French class is one of those that’s actually useful in life…this site will inspire those of you taking French to do your very best! ; )

    Age Of Mythology Preview!!
    Posted by Thunder on May 15th, 2001 @ 1:33 a.m.
    The Gamespot crew wrangled a preview of Age of Mythology before E3 by running down to Dallas, and they’ve got a seven page write up and new screenshots of units in action:

    “Recently, GameSpot visited the headquarters of Ensemble Studios in Dallas, Texas, to get an exclusive look at its next offering. Age of Kings was a universally lauded game, and it will take an incredible effort to exceed it, but from what we saw, Age of Mythology should do just that. We got an exclusive look at the new 3D engine for the game, the improvements to game design, the unique civilizations, the three pantheons of gods that influence the gameworld, and a whole host of other game features. Over the next few months, we’ll be taking a closer look at the nine different civilizations with individual civilization showcases. But first, we begin with a full preview of the overall game.”

    Source – Gamespot’s AoM Preview

    It’s just astounding! The screenshots are breathtaking and feature many of the new mythological units. We can look forward to civilization showcases to help pass the time before the release as well, which is great news. …must run back to class… ; )

    Return Of The AI Tournament League!
    Posted by Thunder on May 14th, 2001 @ 10:25 a.m.
    All of the scheduled events in the AI Tournament League wrapped up back near the end of March, but Angel Bingmann has announced that he’s bringing back the League with a new slate of ladders:

    “The AI Tournament League announces the start of the AI Script Ladders!

    The AI Tournament League is returning to the bread and butter of AI scripts for the first group of AI Script Ladders: Arabia Random Map. The ladders are divided into three divisions: 1 AI vs 1 AI (Division 1), 2 AI vs 2 AI (Division 2), and the massive 4 AI vs 4 AI (Division 4).” -Angel Bingmann

    Source – AI Tournament League – AI Script Ladders

    Great to see Bingmann back in the saddle once more! If you’re up for the challenge, check out the AI Tournament League page for more information. Suggestions or other comments are of course welcome, drop in on this post in the forums and throw in your two bits. …Bingmann’s no slouch when it comes to AI scripting…check out the League page for some tips! ; )

    Heroes Of The Ages Deadline…
    Posted by Thunder on May 14th, 2001 @ 10:12 a.m.
    This contest being held by Ensemble Studios has generated a lot of interest, but in just seven days the deadline for entries in their Heroes Of The Ages Contest will pass! You can’t win any of the great prizes being awarded if your scenario is not entered before the deadline, so make sure your hard work has a chance at being rewarded. The official deadline is midnight CST, 21 May, which is at 1am EST on the 22nd and 6am GMT also on the 22nd. …rumour has it that a winner from our own chinese scenario design contest will soon be announced… ; )

    Tavern: Post Party & Pre-E3…
    Posted by Thunder on May 14th, 2001 @ 1:17 a.m.
    A couple of new morsels can be had by pulling up your stool to the Tavern today. We’ve got tales from our recent Forum Party, including a couple of hard fought recorded games from the gathering! In addition, you’ve still got a few days left to tell our lucky Angels who’re heading to E3 on Thursday what you’d like to see and hear about from that big show! Time is a tickin’ on that one, so don’t delay. …have to catch my plane at about 6am…that’s gonna hurt… ; )

    Featured Scenario: The King’s Best Men!
    Posted by Thunder on May 13th, 2001 @ 7:41 p.m.
    After sifting through the mountain of campaigns and scenarios in the Blacksmith, Jerusalem, who’s now earned the big angels wings, brings us a great work by Ingo Van Thiel. Congrats on your new wings Jeru, take it away:

    The King’s Best Men” by Ingo Van Thiel

    Description | File | Review

    A while ago, in the Scenario Design forum, there was a thread entitled “POLL: What SCN in the BS is the most classic?”. Immediately upon sight of the title I knew what my reply was going to be: Ingo Van Thiel’s “The King’s Best Men”, undoubtedly my most favourite campaign of all time. Let me share why.

    “The King’s Best Men” takes place after Ingo’s prequel, “The Quest”. While in The Quest you, (Charles and Siegfried) must reach King Bernard’s capital city and assist him in defeating a villain whose name eludes me, in the first scenario of TKBM your friend King Bernard becomes your enemy, following something rather stupid that Siegfried said in drukenness…

    Each and every one of the five scenarios is so fun, you will want to play it again. And again. To see how the plot changes, according to the paths you take. Do you remember those old “Choose your own ending” books for kids? This campaign is just like it. It shows that the designer spent countless hours completing each of these elaborate and highly enjoyable scenarios.

    Continuing the tradition of mentioning humourous Picks of the Weeks, I must commend Van Thiel for cracking some hilarious jokes in each of the scenarios! ROFL half of the time, I guarantee. I would tell you one or two of the jokes and puns, but I wouldn’t want to spoil your surprise…

    Well I won’t stall you any longer, and I’ll just summmarize all the rest by saying: One who has not played TKBM has yet to play AoK to it’s fullest.– Angel Jerusalem

    High praise there, but this is one of the few Campaigns that I’ve tried and it is quite a bit of fun! Ingo weaves quite the tale and creates an atmosphere that’ll make the map almost come alive. …it’s no cake walk adventure either…nice work Ingo! ; )

    Tavern: Incoming Party…
    Posted by Thunder on May 12th, 2001 @ 1:47 a.m.

    It’s Friday! Head to the Tavern for the details on our weekly Forum Party which will take place tomorrow. All are invited to attend, just make sure you bring your party hat and your best game!

    If your best game isn’t so good, try checking out the University where you’ll find more than a few strategy articles. …a lil’ practice never hurt either… ; )

    New AOM Screenshot!
    Posted by Washizu on May 11th, 2001 @ 7:38 p.m.
    This is definitely the best looking screenshot so far, and it doesn’t even have any units! Check out the lighting on that huge Greek building. The water lapping up on the beach adds a really nice touch as well. Also, notice the 3D fire effects on the torches. I’d like to see them animated!

    You guys wanted Ensemble to throw us another bone, well here it is! This new greek screenshot should hold us over until E3 next week, where a TON of info and screens should be coming out. We’ll have a few Angels attending the show, making sure you get the info you’d like to know. If you have any burning AOM questions, post them in the forum, and we’ll try to get them answered. Ensemble has also redone their official AOM site with a cool stone theme! methinks Thor likes his new home!

    Down & Dirty DM II…
    Posted by Thunder on May 11th, 2001 @ 2:09 a.m.
    Simple default settings and some head to head action, prepare for the second coming of our Down & Dirty DM tourney! Cherub BiggN is now taking sign ups for this event, but make sure you enter soon as you’ve only got four days to do so. The settings:

    Death Match
    Tiny (2 player)
    Post-Imperial Age
    Record Game”

    Source – Down & Dirty 2 (The DM Tourny) Sign Ups

    It’s still quite early, but the field already contains some great talent including the champion from the first Down & Dirty tourney RomanGladius, the finalist who took on RG orangepanter, and pG_Bravo. We’ll keep you posted with results and eventually, recorded games! Good luck Agers! …ya may not make the finals, but with a field like that you’ll surely learn a thing or two! ; )

    AOEH’s 4th Anniversary!
    Posted by Thunder on May 10th, 2001 @ 10:24 p.m.
    The site that started it all, Age of Empires Heaven will shortly be celebrating its fourth anniversary! Angel Socrateius is going all out, conducting interviews with old timers like Mike “Archangel” McCart, who started the site before going to work for Ensemble Studios, and former ESer Rick Goodman, who worked on the AoE design team! Digging deep into the Heavenly archives, Angel Socrateius has also put together a timeline of AOEH’s history, going right back to the beginning in 1997. It’s quite a history lesson!

    Head over to AoE Heaven for more information on all of the events in store for this celebration! …Soc it to me… ; )

    E3: One Week And Counting!
    Posted by Thunder on May 10th, 2001 @ 8:12 p.m.
    Next week is going to be HUGE for the gaming industry! The 2001 Electronic Entertainment Exposition (E3) will be getting underway in just seven days in Los Angeles, California. This is the place to see games and hardware that will hit the market over the following months or year, and of course, this includes Age of Mythology.

    A couple of us Angels will be flying down for the big show next week, complete with cameras and other spy tourist equipment. If you have a question you’d like answered, something from the show captured on film, or really would like to read about anything in particular, head to this post in our AoM forum and I’ll certainly do my best to make it happen.

    If you’d like to get a little nostalgic, check out Angel Washizu‘s collection of photos from last year’s E3. …had the batteries in my camera die about an hour into E3 last year…DOH! ; )

    DeathShrimp Answers Your Questions
    Posted by Washizu on May 9th, 2001 @ 7:31 p.m.
    Age of Mythology Co-Lead Designer, Greg “Deathshrimp” Street has been answering lots of different questions concerning what ES’s goals are with Age of Mythology. It’s hard to keep up with this guy!

    Fan: Heros. Bad. Heros = way too much problems in a RTS game. No time to think, and thus management of heros be strong.

    Deathshrimp: If any of our ideas don’t pan out as expected, I promise they will be cut.

    Fan: NOW, I also think that 3D is not the way to go for isometric RTS games. I DO NOT like Myth or Myth II even though it was cool 3D. Practically, I want to SEE the huge map, and be able to respond. The 3D pictures are NOT as cool as 2D artists drawings would be. The catapult does look strange after the really nice way it is presented in AoK.

    DS: Wait until you see more screenshots of AOM. It makes AOK look pretty bland.

    Fan: I honestly hope that someday the AOK designers like Bruce and Ian write an article about some of the wild stuff that had to be cut from AOK because it wasn’t fun, or feasible to do in a game situation.

    DS: That’s a good idea. Maybe we can do a designer’s journal on it.

    Fan: I am happy that ES are moving on a slightly different tangent continuing on particularly at this stage into AOK3 is too close to Sprite changing (yes I know a few things would be chucked in). Lets see the talent explored and exposed in a a new format. Rather than being constrained and stifled by the Legacy of AOE-plus.

    Deathshrimp: That’s our logic. We could probably get fans to buy AOE3 and AOE4 and AOE5, but when we’re up to AOE17, I think even the most hardcore among you is going to ask “Can’t you do anything else?”

    Fan: BTW…3D is not a buying decision for me Gameplay/Strategy is.

    Deathshrimp: We would never make a 3D game just because it is 3D. Gameplay always wins.

    Super Boom Contest…
    Posted by Thunder on May 9th, 2001 @ 7:09 p.m.
    A note just came in from TS_Arkon of the french site Temple des Stratèges announcing this new contest:

    “The site of ” Temple des Stratèges ” ( French site of Strategy ) organize a great contest.

    Your target will be to obtain of population 200 with only a peons, and all in a record time ( the map is mandatory : ARABIA )

    For more information, please use the link ( contest = concours in french )”

    The contest page is under construction right now, but you’ve got got enough information to attempt that big boom to 200 villagers. I think that the MFO folks did a similar contest awhile back and the best time was in the low 20 minute region!’s ATG Contest Winners
    Posted by Washizu on May 9th, 2001 @ 9:50 a.m.’s theWill has announced the winners to their Anything Goes Contest. Agers were allowed to submit whatever they wanted to enter the contest. Scenarios, random map scripts, wallpapers… anything Age related was allowed. The winning entries were:

    1) Len G., who wrote a random map script titled, Elrod’s Mountain.rms

    2) Christian S., who entered a wall paper.

    3) a story by Duncan Y. called “From the Perspective of a Villager.”

    4) Yedy C. placed 4th by submitting an Mp3 player he wrote!

    To check out the winning entries for yourself, head over to’s contest page. The winners received some cool prizes, courtesy of Microsoft.*wonders if AOKH could have been submitted into the contest*

    MS Plans For ES: More From Moulder…
    Posted by Thunder on May 9th, 2001 @ 0:49 a.m.
    There’s a very interesting article on (thanks ES) in which Stuart Moulder, head of PC games at MS, comments on Microsoft’s future plans for Ensemble Studios:

    “Ensemble, whose acquisition by Microsoft was made public last week, will focus initially on improving the online multiplayer experience in its upcoming title Age of Mythology, says Stuart Moulder, Microsoft’s general manager of PC games. But in the longer term, “Ensemble will be the driver of our online technology,” he says.”

    Source – Microsoft Outlines Ensemble Plans

    Not only will ES be pushing the online envelope, but Mr. Moulder goes on to say that he expects ES to continue expanding into two product teams. Just how many more employees they’ll be hiring is not touched on.

    Tony Goodman did mention the possibility of ES doing a massively multiplayer game, and it looks like MS would back such an online venture. Click the source link above for the complete article, a great read. …ES already had plans to grow to two product teams…perhaps they’ll even be growing beyond that! ; )

    The Story of Tony Goodman
    Posted by Washizu on May 8th, 2001 @ 6:02 a.m.
    Yahoo has an article about the recent aquisition of Ensemble Studios by Microsoft, and includes an abreviated version of ES President Tony Goodman’s life. He sure has some impressive accomplishments under his belt, and is an American success story:

    Goodman’s love of computers and videogames started early in life. He began learning basic programming as a grade-school student in the early ’70s under the tutelage of his father, a professor of business and computers at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. As a young adult, he became a self-described “videogame nerd, always hanging out in 7-Eleven.” After high school, he attended the University of Texas at Austin but dropped out after two years and quickly picked up a job as a freelance programmer for Nations Bank. A year later, Goodman turned that gig into a small consultancy of his own called Ensemble, which produced Paradox-based software products, grew to 100 employees over the following six years and, in 1998, was acquired by Internet consultancy USWeb. Around this time, Goodman had started to work closely on the idea of creating a game-development studio with a childhood friend named Bruce Shelley, who had been in a war-game club (think Dungeons and Dragons) with! Goodman back in the late 1970s. Shelley, who is well-known in the gaming community as the co-creator of Civilization (what some consider to be the Citizen Kane of PC games), handled the game development; Goodman handled the business strategy.

    Cultures != Civs
    Posted by Washizu on May 8th, 2001 @ 5:07 a.m.
    A issue that has been hotly speculated on and debated in the AOM forum has been whether there will be only 3 civs in Age of Mythology. Co-Lead Designer Greg “Deathshrimp” Street cleared up all doubt:

    There is some confusion between “civs” and “cultures”. The cultures in the game are the Norse, Greeks and Egyptians. Think about these as equivalent to AOK’s different art sets, though this time around they will have some gameplay mechanics and strategies in common as well.

    There are probably going to be 9 civs in the game, though we are still evaluating exactly how this will work. In AOK, there were often very subtle distinctions among civs. The differences among the civs in AOM will be dramatic, though still balanced to the best of our ability.

    The important elements are the civilizations. Using the word “culture” just confuses the issue.

    There it is folks. There will be around 9 civs in Age of Mythology, split fairly evenly among the different cultures. The collective cheer can be heard throughout the community. I wonder if two civs of the same culture worship the same Gods, or are they different copies of each set… time will tell.

    Testing 1,2,3….
    Posted by Thunder on May 7th, 2001 @ 11:13 p.m.
    It looks as though the QA Lead position at Ensemble Studios is still open, although with their lengthy interview process they may have some candidates in mind. There’s a short but interesting article on game testers at that gives you a feel for what bug hunting is like. Could it really be like work? Definately. A group of us visited the poor MS testers who were working on the Conquerors last year after they put in an 80 hour week, ouch!

    For the full list of positions open at the Studios, stop by the ES jobs page. There’s quite a number of openings right now, see if you can’t get your foot in the door. …still waiting for my Custodial Engineer posting… ; )

    Sandy’s Slant…
    Posted by Thunder on May 7th, 2001 @ 10:58 p.m.
    Game designer Sandy “Sandyman” Petersen has been continuing to stop in on the Ask Sandy post in our forums to tackle questions from Age fans. In his latest batch of answers he comments on Microsoft purchasing ES and a wide variety of other topics:

    “Q) Was there anyone at ES that was oppposed to joining MS, and having them publish AoM?

    A) If so, they’ve kept their opinion well-hidden in a very un-ES manner. We’re generally quite outspoken here about things we don’t like, a cultural phenomenon that our management fosters. A cynic would believe that our managers like us to be outspoken because it means if we ever leave ES and go to another, conventional company, we wouldn’t last a week, speaking the way we do here to our bosses here.

    Q) What are your favorite greek, egyptian, and Nordic mythological characters/creatures, I am not asking for a unit from AOM, just your favorites overall whether or not it is from AOM.

    A) Greek – Hector; Egyptian – Sakhmet; Norse – Huginn & Muginn” – Sandy Petersen

    Source – Ask Sandy

    Thanks for the visit Sandy! Drop by the Ask Sandy post to check out his other responces or ask him a question or two. …my fav of recent memory was bout what kind of coffee maker ES used…Sandy did quite an investigation… ; )

    RoR Tournament Prize Update…
    Posted by Thunder on May 7th, 2001 @ 9:42 a.m.
    There has been some significant movement at Age of Empires Heaven thanks to some generous donations! Just added to their prize list for the Age of Darkness Tournament are a couple of great games (including the award winning MechWarrior 4) and another TC cap. Check out the tourney page for the full prize list as well as registration information for this Rise of Rome event.

    Just a reminder that registration deadline is just a few days away, on May 10, so make sure you’re in the running! …to all students who are about to be starting the summer semester at your school…I’ll be joining your ranks starting today…here’s hoping it’s quick and painless ; )

    Conquerors Wallpaper Contest!
    Posted by Thunder on May 7th, 2001 @ 4:06 a.m.
    You don’t even need a copy of the Conquerors to enter this contest, but if you do have it, all the better. Game Tropics and Through The Ages present the Conquerors Wallpaper Contest which will test your artistic skills and offer up some nifty prizes:

    “Do you think you have what it takes to make computer desktops around the world burst of nothing but Age of Empires II Expansion: The Conquerors! Well here is your chance to show how artistic you can be. Game Tropics Network along with Through The Ages have put together a contest for you to express your creativity. All you have to do is design a Microsoft Window’s wallpaper based around an Age of Empires II Expansion: The Conquerors theme.”

    Source – Conquerors Wallpaper Contest

    Make sure you stop by their contest page for the guidlines and that prize list which includes having the winning wallpapers posted on the Ensemble Studios site. Good luck all! …don’t have the game, just snatch some conquerors screenshots off the web and go for it! ; )

    Tavern: Party Endings & AoM Takes Off…
    Posted by Thunder on May 7th, 2001 @ 1:43 a.m.
    Our Forum Party went off without the crazy crowds we had last week, thankfully! There are several recorded games and war stories to be found in the Tavern from the event, and check out the party thread if you’re up for sharing a tale of your own. You can also pull up a stool and share in some interesting questions and observations regarding flying units in AoM. Grab a pint of your fav beverage, and head to the ol’ ol’ Tavern

    Imperial Games Opens for Business
    Posted by Washizu on May 7th, 2001 @ 1:13 a.m.
    Forumer IClan_Emperor and a few others have created their own gaming network. Some of their cooler features are clan forum hosting and one of the first Age of Mythology fan sites. The best of luck for them in their new endeavor.

    Announcing the Official Opening of the Age of Mythology Archive and Imperial Games

    After half a month of retooling, reworking, and redesigning, the RTS 3 Archive has emerged from its long downtime and has been reborn as the Age of Mythology Archive. The Age of Mythology Archive, is the flagship site of the Imperial Games Network. Both were founded and are run by myself, IClan_Emporer (

    The Age of Mythology Archive features a deluxe, augmented, YaBB Forum, with many additional features. What’s more is that the IG Network hosts a forum network, featuring forums for the fansites within the network (Age of Mythology Archive Forum), the main IG site itself (Main Imperial Games Forum), and as an additional feature, Clan Hosting, in which clans and teams can elect to be hosted, for free, with forums within the Imperial Games forum network, and with full access to the IG member base.

    Imperial Games has a small staff list, including Chief Technical Officer, Andy Goder (, and Forum Moderators Flaming Arrow and Wheezy. It is their sentiment that IG will grow and more staff members will be hired on as time goes by; which is an inevitability when considering the pro-growth policies and plans in place for forums, and the numerous prospective fansite plans.

    As of time of writing, other staff members are working on prospective IG sites, including the near-completion Zeus Archive, and the pre-production Empire Earth and Cossacks Archives.

    Turkey: The other Middle Eastern Meat…er, Civ
    Posted by Socvazius on May 6th, 2001 @ 2:21 a.m.
    Micr0boy has written and submitted an article to the university, an extremely informative guide on the Turks. It details all of the aspects of the civilization: their defensive and offensive capabilities, their UT and UU, and the civilization herself.

  • The Turks(By Micr0boy)

    Be sure to check out this great article, it’s a good read.
    Edited: I think I need to take Geography I again;)

  • Fanstock 2001 Recap and Sigma Preview
    Posted by Washizu on May 5th, 2001 @ 9:58 a.m.
    I spent 3 days up at Microsoft last week for their annual Fanstock event, checking out this year’s upcoming Microsoft games. Part 1 focuses in on my first day there with great detail, and finishes with a preview of Relic Entertainment’s exciting new RTS “Sigma: The Adventures of Rex Chance”. Sigma is being published by Microsoft and is scheduled for a Spring 2002 release.

    Tavern: Incoming Party…
    Posted by Thunder on May 5th, 2001 @ 4:01 a.m.
    A sobering update from the Tavern announces that our weekly Forum Party will be taking place tomorrow in the usual place and the usual time! Drop by for some games with AOKH staff and forumers, or just to chat and say “Hi”. Find all of the details in the ol’ Town Tavern. …off to a Tavern myself…night all! ; )

    More FOPT Festivities…
    Posted by Thunder on May 5th, 2001 @ 3:55 a.m.
    The celebration of FOPT Clan‘s first birthday continues this week with more events! Here is the latest note on how their Quiz contest is going and an upcoming tourney from FOPT_Strawberry:

    “Our quiz is a great success so far. Although the questions are everything but easy > 300 entries have been counted yet and it’s still open (till sunday night).

    For Saturday May 5th we have scheduled another event which might be of some public interest: the “Day of the Champions” – tournament, a 1 vs 1 Arabia tournament with 11 top-notch AOK-players from 11 different countries such as Kaiser_Willhelm (Sweden), Myth_Ares_ (USA), Myth_Osiris (Netherlands), _IamChris (Canada), pG_FIRE_ (Germany), … hosted by FOPT.

    Without exaggeration you can say this is the – skillwise – best AOK-tournament in 2001 so far.

    Grab details on the tournament here:

    Some big names going to go head to head there! You can be sure they’ll be sharing the recorded games with us. Actually, on a side note, they’ve got a great recorded games section with plenty of experts at their best. …can’t wait to hear who comes out the winner in that event…whew! ; )

    Scenario Pick Of The Week!
    Posted by Thunder on May 5th, 2001 @ 2:48 a.m.
    We sure missed this feature last week, but the good Cherub Jerusalem is back up on his horse and delivers another find pick from our Blacksmith, home to a boat load of campaigns and scenarios! His choice this time around is something that’ll tickle your funny bone:

    Kevin, The Unlikely Hero

    Description | Review | File

    “Northern England, a tranquil place of rolling hills and gentle valleys. Our hero, Kevin, is tending the flock on a hill above his village. As he stands there thinking unpure thoughts about Trace (the village beauty), a young boy, Arnold, rushes up to him. “Kev, the village is being attacked by huge men with horned helmets, what are we going to do ?” “Do ?” says Kevin,” I know what I am going to do, I’m a lover not a fighter, I’m off !” With those cowardly words ringing in his ears the young boy rushes back to the village
    to pitch his 100 pounds against the strapping 210 pounds of Viking muscle.
    “Bloody idiot” thinks Kevin, and leaving his sheep he runs off as far from the village as he can manage. And here our epic tale of love, betrayal, heroism and downright stupidity begins…….. or to be more
    blunt, a few battles whilst wandering around a vast amusement park !”

    This is how the scenario “Kevin, the Unlikely Hero” starts off, one of the only scenarios in the blacksmith which the word “hilarious” does not begin to describe. Vikings who attempt to invade your town,
    Baddies who want to do, *ahem*, something cruel to you, a gypsy fortune-teller who keeps trying to tell you your sexual preferences and a gate-keeping elephant are only some of the vivid characters you
    will encounter as you walk about this mad house — or should I say, “mad map”?

    I must admit that the humor of this scenario kind of reminded me of the old Monty Python movies. In particular the human cannonball show, along with the Bible Bashers civilization at the south corner of the
    map. (They’re out looking for Noah’s Ark, but it’s just a couple tiles away from them!)

    The few disadvantages that I can find in Kevin, The Unlikely Hero is that some jokes might be a bit too mature for some gamers, which was my main concern when I was debating whether to make this this week’s Pick of the Week.

    Another thing that you may not like about the Kevin scenario is that the walks between one place to another can be a little too long. The map gives the impression that it was laid out bit by bit, rather
    than planned out and then brought into implementation.

    Otherwise, I really can’t point out anything bad about this masterpiece of comedy…

    Wishing you an amusing experience in this mini-asylum, Cherub Jerusalem

    Long walks and “mature” jokes, sounds like quite a riotous adventure! A nice change of pace from the more hectic scenarios that are centered around battling tooth and nail for the duration. Cherub Jerusalem: “Sorry about missing last week… Alas, RL came in the way. If only I could do this all the time” …no worries buddy! ; )

    AOM Preview on IGNPC
    Posted by Washizu on May 4th, 2001 @ 7:26 p.m.
    In his third appearence, Stuart Moulder stopped by IGN and gave them some info on the recent aquisition of Ensemble Studios by Microsoft with IGNPC, and what it means for the Age series. He also discussed some of the cool features we’ll be seeing in Age of Mythology. Moulder is the General Manager of MS Games and I met him briefly at Fanstock last week. Nice guy

    The game will make great use of so-called normal units. On the Egyptian side there will be plenty of chariots, the Greeks will have hoplites and triremes and the Norsemen will have berserkers and such. The idea is to make the units recognizable from an intuitive standpoint. The learning curve for a game like StarCraft is much higher for instance due to the fact that the units are all pretty alien. Age of Mythology will lower the curve a bit by including lots of basic unit types.

    But since this is a mythological game, there will be plenty of imaginative units as well. But as with the historical units, the idea behind the units should readily be apparent. For instance, Greek minotaurs will be the equivalent of heavy infantry. Their counterpart on the Norse side will be Valkyries. Egyptians will make use of mummies and various beast-headed units. But these units should not just be though of as more powerful versions of regular units as they will each have unique abilities. Stuart told us that these units will be a bit rarer than the special units in most strategy games. The idea here is that you’ll have a massive regular army supplemented by a handful of special units.

    Moulder Interview on GameSpy
    Posted by Washizu on May 4th, 2001 @ 4:48 p.m.
    GameSpy Daily has an interview with MS Games General Manager, Stuart Moulder on topics rangings from the licensing deal with LucasArts, concessions made by Microsoft, and whether or not we’ll see Age of Empires for the XBox. Sorry, you won’t find out how much Microsoft bought Ensemble for :

    GameSpyDaily: During the discussion phase of the acquisition, were there any concessions that Microsoft had to make? Was there anything that they specifically asked for as par of the deal?

    Moulder: Well, certainly for Ensemble to do an acquisition there were certain things that made sense for them.. certain things they would never do. You know if we’d said we’re going to buy you and your not going to work making games anymore, that wouldn’t make any sense for example. So it wasn’t really an issue of concession per say, but when we sat and talked about what made sense for them and what made sense for us there were a number of things they put on the table. They weren’t really an issue for us. For example, they wanted to say in Dallas, they wanted to stay under the current management, they wanted to stay intact as a creative entity/as a studio, they wanted to be the primary driver of what kinds of games they did.. and those were all things that weren’t really a point of argument so i’m not sure they were a point of concession, but they were definetely requirements for Ensemble in order for an acquisition to make sense for them.

    Microsoft’s Stuart Moulder Comments On ES Deal…
    Posted by Thunder on May 4th, 2001 @ 3:48 a.m.
    The newly appointed general manager of Microsoft‘s PC games division had a chat with the gaming gurus at GameSpot today regarding the purchase of Ensemble Studios and what that means for the Age of Empires series. Despite much of MS’s focus in the games arena being placed squarely on their Xbox console, they seem to have been determined to keep the award winning PC game franchise Age of Empires going strong. Not only does this mean the acquisition of AoE developers Ensemble Studios and the publication of their new RTS game Age of Mythology, but as revealed in comments made today, it will also mean an Age of Empires III somewhere down the road:

    “While the Age of Empires series is historical in nature, Age of Mythology will be focused more on mythology, as the name implies. The game mechanics and style will be familiar to those who have played the Age of Empires series, but the game is not considered the next installment in the Age of Empires line. Moulder noted that we can expect to see Age of Empires III sometime in the future, but that Ensemble is focused completely on Age of Mythology at this time. “

    Source – GameSpot: Microsoft comments on Ensemble deal

    Also revealed in this article is MS’s projected release date for several games, including Age of Mythology! It looks like there will be a break with tradition and we will have to wait until spring 2002 until we can snatch a copy off store shelves.

    The talk with Stuart Moulder also contains intriguing details on plans to provide frequent updates over the internet for MS games in the future. This is a definate change from the norm, where getting a patch/update out of MS was much like trying to get blood from a stone. The frequent updates may well go beyond patches to larger add ons, and may even include smaller items such as units or scenarios. Check out the brief but revealing article for the entire scoop. …frequent updates…I really like the sound of that, coupled with ES having more control in the patching process, this whole deal is really looking good… ; )

    Posted by Washizu on May 3rd, 2001 @ 11:28 p.m.
    The Age series fan sites and forums are buzzing with the big news of the day, and now that the cat is out of the bag, some details about the deal have surfaced:

    A possible Age of Empires 3 is seen far on the horizon:

    AOM is not AOE3. We want to preserve the historical focus of the Age of Empires seires. Age of Mythology is a new series.

    As part of MS, we will be able to largely control the patch process for our own games.

    Look, one way to think about this is that ES had to spend a lot of time dealing with a search for a publisher and then MS and ES had to spend time negotiating deals for every game. Now we can all just focus on making great products. In fact, our interests are now lined up perfectly.

    If you had a restaurant you liked eating at so much that you decided to buy it, the last thing you would want to do would be to fire all the chefs and change the menu! – AOM Co-Lead Designer Greg “Deathshrimp” Street

    Where AOM fits into the Age series:

    No, it’s still Age of Mythology. We think of it as a branch on the AoE tree, but not AoE III.

    I’ll leave it to the marketing folk (on both sides) to decide how or where or AoE will be mentioned, if at all.

    I’m glad we can finally talk about this, but we still can’t say much about AoM yet. More good games, less time spent worrying about signing a publisher! – AI Designer Mike “Captain” Kidd

    More from, on what ES got out of the deal:

    Well, good for ES employees and customers, for sure.

    We’re now on the same team and they’ve structured the responsibilities so that, among other things, we have a lot more control over patches and related budgets. It used to be a pure MS cost.

    But beyond that, there are SOOOO many things where a developer and a publisher naturally start with the opposite point of view. MS was good to work with, but being in the same family makes it so much easier. – AI Designer Mike “Captain” Kidd

    The overall goal in this deal is to make better games, which is nice, because my personal goal is to play better games! Say what you want about Microsoft and their history, but their games division has been putting out killer titles on a regular basis for the past few years (Asheron’s Call, Crimson Skies, Midtown Madness, MechWarrior 4, just to name a few besides the Age series and the ever popular Flight Simulator).

    Imperial Age research completed.

    Microsoft To Acquire Ensemble Studios & Publish AoM!
    Posted by Thunder on May 3rd, 2001 @ 6:26 p.m.
    A double whammy of press releases this morning dealing with Age of Mythology and the partnership between the folks at Microsoft and Ensemble Studios. Hot out of the inbox:

    “REDMOND, Wash. – May 3, 2001 – Microsoft Corp. today announced that it had reached an agreement to acquire Ensemble Studios Inc., the games developer responsible for the top-selling, award-winning Microsoft® “Age of Empires®” game franchise. Under the terms of the agreement, Ensemble Studios will continue to create titles from its Dallas headquarters as part of Microsoft’s growing pool of top-tier development talent.

    Microsoft and Ensemble Studios have worked closely during the past six years to develop the internationally popular “Age of Empires” franchise for the PC. To date, the “Age of Empires” series has sold approximately 8.5 million licensed units worldwide and has won five Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences awards, including Strategy Game of the Year three times (1997, 1999 and 2000) and PC Game of the Year (1999).

    “We are thrilled to bring Ensemble Studios under the Microsoft banner,” said Stuart Moulder, general manager of the Games Division at Microsoft. “The depth of talent and the leadership of Tony Goodman is a winning combination, and this acquisition will help strengthen our mutual commitment to remaining a PC games industry leader.”

    The agreement comes on the heels of other successful games developer acquisitions, including FASA Interactive, creator of the best-selling “MechWarrior™” game franchise; Access Software Inc., creators of “Links®” golf simulation games, the most popular PC golf franchise; and Bungie Software Products Corp.

    “This announcement today is a natural evolution from the relationship we’ve had with Microsoft,” said Tony Goodman, president and CEO of Ensemble Studios. “Both companies have tremendous respect for each other. This deal gives Ensemble and Microsoft a long-term strategy for doing what we do best: working together to make world-class games.”

    The “Age of Empires” real-time strategy series comprises “Age of Empires,” “Age of Empires Expansion Pack: The Rise of Rome,” “Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings®” and “Age of Empires II: The Conquerors Expansion,” as well as packaged sets of those games.”

    It looks like both parties involved agreed that they’ve done really well working together and wished to continue that partnership. This isn’t a big shock, as MS has been buying development houses quite frequently over the last year or so, as mentioned, including the makers of Halo, Bungie.

    This means of course that we’ll be seeing Age of Mythology at the MS booth at E3 in a couple of weeks. Here’s another release regarding what we can expect to see:

    “REDMOND, Wash. – May 3, 2001 – Microsoft Corp. and Ensemble Studios announced today the development of its latest PC game, titled “Age of Mythology.” “Age of Mythology,” a real-time strategy game, is set in a mythological past when heroes battled monsters of legend and gods intervened in the affairs of mortal men. “Age of Mythology,” a branch of the “Age of Empires” franchise that has sold over 8.5 million licensed units worldwide, features a new proprietary 3-D engine enabling stunning visual effects, animated water, mythological characters and hundreds of on-screen units.

    Using familiar elements of classical mythology, “Age of Mythology” casts players as ancient Greeks, the Norse and Egyptians. “Our game puts players in those ancient civilizations where praying for luck in battle, fighting Cyclopes or petitioning Zeus to call down lightning bolts on the enemy are real occurrences,” said Bruce Shelley, co-founder and senior game designer for Ensemble Studios.

    “Age of Mythology” incorporates Ensemble Studios’ trademark features from previous “Age of Empires” games, including a compelling economic model, a massive army and battle system, unequaled computer artificial intelligence, random maps, intuitive gameplay and extreme attention to detail.

    “‘Age of Mythology’s” 3-D engine delivers an experience beyond anything we’ve been able to create previously,” Shelley said. The new engine allows for impressive graphical detail in a fully 3-D environment, including realistic terrain and lighting adjusted to produce the look of any time of day. In-game cinematics create a seamless, story-based and character-driven campaign. In addition, the game features incredible special effects, including fluid ocean waves, waterspouts, infernos, lava, tornadoes, earthquakes and smoke with astonishing levels of detail.

    “Age of Mythology” will be shown for the first time in Microsoft’s booth at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles on May 17-19, 2001.”

    How do you like that? The dynamic duo together again, MS and ES. The Age of Mythology Forum awaits, pop in and share your two cents. …not sure there’ll be room for anyone else at E3…the MS Games area will be HUGE… ; )

    Evil Avatar: “AOK:TC is the Expansion of the Year”
    Posted by Washizu on May 3rd, 2001 @ 2:35 a.m.
    It’s no surprise to anyone here that AOK:TC won Evil Avatar’s award for Expansion of the Year. Evil Avatar and his crew (most notably Xynon) are well known to be big fans of AOK, and this award confirms it. The rest of the winners are as follows:

    Evil Game of the Year Awards!

    Game of the Year: The Sims

    Role-Playing Game of the Year: Baldur’s Gate II

    Action Game of the Year: Soldier of Fortune

    Strategy Game of the Year: Red Alert 2

    Racing Game of the Year: Midtown Madness 2

    Flight Sim of the Year: Crimson Skies

    Expansion Pack of the Year: Age of Empires II: The Conquerors

    Coaster of the Year: Daikatana

    Honorable Mention for Game of the Year, RPG of the Year & Action Game of the Year: Deus Ex.

    I don’t think I would have given the Sims a game of the year award, but it certainly outsold everything else on the market. It’s definitely a good game, but I don’t see it holding up to Baldur’s Gate 2 or AOK:TC. Granted, the Sims has a massively widespread appeal, but I find it really surprising that the hardcore PC gamers at Evil Avatar found it so “addicting.” all a matter of opinion, though

    May Zone Events…
    Posted by Thunder on May 2nd, 2001 @ 11:09 p.m.
    On May 9th, the folks at the Zone will be unveil an upgrade to their site. This upgrade is going “to streamline navigation, improve the look and feel, and help us promote more great events and content.” Not a lot of specifics, but hopefully it will include more regular events for Agers outside of the US and Canada.

    While you’re circling May 9th on your calendar, you’ll want to stop by the Zone Tournament Page for a look at what’s coming up this month. Both a RM and a DM event will run later on this month, giving us all some time to get into game shape! …both May events are US & Canada only…always read the fine print… ; )

    Ton O’ Taunts!
    Posted by Thunder on May 2nd, 2001 @ 10:13 a.m.
    Over 150 new fan submitted taunts have been added to our massive collection over the last few days by our hard working Angel Spineman! The downloads section section is bursting at the seams with all sorts of Age stuff, and now there are more taunts than ever to throw at players. …just added: “You’re ugly and your mother dresses you funny”…”You dirty double-crossing rat”…and my personal favourite, “Nice”… ; )

    The Road to Being a GameDesigner
    Posted by Washizu on May 2nd, 2001 @ 10:02 a.m.
    Slashdot has an news story that asks the question, “How Does One Become a Game Designer?” Check out some of the many great comments they’ve gotten from people in the industry, and especially the mod communities. sometimes all you need is a PhD in Marine Biology

    MFO’s Hall of Fame
    Posted by Washizu on May 2nd, 2001 @ 9:54 a.m.
    Just a reminer, MrFixitOnline’s Hall of Fame vote continues with such categories as “Best Recorded Game”, “Best Random Map”, and even “Sexiest Male/Female Gamer”. After voting, you can sit through and check over all the people who have voted so far, and even who they voted for.

    Age II’s Distant Cousin…
    Posted by Thunder on May 2nd, 2001 @ 3:37 a.m.
    As was announced some months ago, Lucas Arts has been working on an RTS game that uses the Ensemble Studios‘ game engine that powers the AoE series. You can now get a look at this new game, Star Wars: Galactic Battleground, in a sneak peak of what the press will get to see at E3. This game is being developed by Lucas Arts, and if the screenshots are any indication, the game is coming along very well!

    Comments? There’s quite a buzz about this game in the forums, check out this post by stew on the subject and throw in your two cents. …thank you to everyone who pointed this one out…to quote Angel Zen…*drool* ; )

    FOPT Ages!
    Posted by Thunder on May 2nd, 2001 @ 3:22 a.m.
    Congratulations are in order to members of FOPT Clan as their one year anniversary has come about. FOPT_Strawberry sends word that they are holding a number of events this week to celebrate! Here’s how you can join in:

    “To celebrate the first birthday of the FOPT-Clan and -Fansite we are running several events from Wednesday, May 2nd to Sunday, May 6th.

    Today i want to point out our quiz, where you can win a copy of the upcoming realtime-strategy highlight Empire Earth, signed by Game Designer Rick Goodman himself !

    All you have to do is

    1.) go to the FOPT – site (
    2.) enter either the english, german or french language version of the quiz
    3.) answer the questions
    4.) and send the solution words via email to FOPT.

    That’s it. FOPT wishes you all fun with the questions and good luck!”

    The quiz that’s up right now is eighteen questions long, and covers AoK, Age clans, Empire Earth, and expert players. Our congrats on getting a year older FOPTsters! …party on! ; )

    GameSpy Arcade v1.07d…
    Posted by Thunder on May 2nd, 2001 @ 1:01 a.m.
    As a result of fan feedback, the programmers at GameSpy Arcade have churned out a new version with some tweaks and fixes. Users of Windows 2000 will be happy to know that this version will install smooth as silk.

    To snag the latest version of the program or find out more about it, head over to, and those lil’ green folks will set you right up. …a lovely place to gather with friends for some AOK…on the downside, it’s not as busy as the Zone, but on the upside it’s not as busy as the Zone… ; )

    Tournament At Age Of Empires Heaven!
    Posted by Thunder on May 1st, 2001 @ 8:50 p.m.
    Quite a few Agers still love to play good ol’ Age of Empires: Rise of Rome, where fleeing villagers had no place to hide. Dust off your copy of RoR and check out AoE Heaven! Registration has begun in the Age of Darkness Tournament:

    “Age of Empires Heaven has announced a new Age of Empires: Rise of Rome Tournament, The Age of Darkness.

    Possibly the last great AoE tournament, The Age of Darkness will pit players and teams from the gaming world against each other, in a fight to attain the title of the greatest AoE: RoR Random Map player and Team of the Dark Ages. It will be held on the GameSpy arcade, starting on the last Saturday of May, the 26th.”

    Source – Age of Darkness Tournament Site

    Registration is only open until May 10, so get your team together, or go it alone and register in the singles bracket. For more information on the settings, prizes, and how you can sign up, head to the tournament page. Best of luck! …the good ol’ days…when villagers used bones to fight back instead of arrows fired from TCs… ; )

    CGW Sneak Peak!
    Posted by Thunder on May 1st, 2001 @ 6:26 a.m.
    The June issue of Computer Gaming Magazine has already found it’s way into the hot hands of a few lucky Agers. There’s apparently seven or eight pages of Age of Mythology information, including plenty of hard hitting game details! One of the lucky few, forumer siuolly, offers a sneak peak in this post with a short but revealing quote from the issue!

    A few facts:
    -Three cultures will be Greeks, Norse, and Egyptians
    -Three ages, not four
    -You’ll have a choice of three deities in the first age, each offering different benefits

    The June issue of Computer Gaming Magazine will be on store shelves on May 8, pick it up for the full preview which includes screenshots a plenty. …huzzah! A change to the standard start…thanks siuolly! ; )

    Scn Punk: Get Your Foot In The Door…
    Posted by Thunder on May 1st, 2001 @ 1:07 a.m.
    For anyone looking to join the talented team at Scn Punk, you’ll definately want to take note of the latest news there. Here’s the description of the position that Ex-T gave:

    “For all those who wished to join AoK PUNK team this is your chance!!! We are looking for someone who can show deep interest in the AoK map making community, and can find some good news here and there and post them.
    -Fluent English.
    -Great Writing skills.
    -Great knowledge of AoK Map Making community.
    -Great Map Making Skills.
    -Be a well known person(At least 2 maps in AoK Blacksmith and at least 6 months of ‘AoKH Map Making’ forum posting.
    -Posting Daily(Every Second day will do) AoK PUNK news with community content(like new masterpiece in blacksmith, new design team appear, some design team is hiring, new Best AoK Map, new contest etc,etc.)”

    Source – Scn Punk

    Pay a visit to those punks for more information on how you can get involved in their team, or check out their latest scenario creations! …the bigger your foot, the more doors you can open…ol’ family proverb… ; )