Archived News From November 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!

Posted by Thunder on November 30th, 2001 @ 11:40 p.m.
For those of you who’ve recently snapped up the Age II Gold Edtion for the Mac, a patch has just been released for it. The news comes from the man in the know at Ensemble Studios, Mike “Archangel” McCart. You can find out what’s getting patched as well as where to grab the patch from in this ES news post. …happy meal not included… ; )

Testing Frenzy!
Posted by Thunder on November 30th, 2001 @ 11:22 a.m.
Forumer Sir Marf of Ans dropped a heavy weight post in the forums last night. He performed a ton of tests to help answer the following questions:

“1.) How lousy the Koreans Cavalier is, even more-so than popular belief
2.) If Unique Cavalry units are effected by the persian cavalry bonus
3.) How effective the Persian +2 attack vs archers cavalry bonus is
4.) How useful the Goths infantry +1 attack vs buildings is
5.) Some facts about buildings that you might have not known about
6.) Which is faster for a japanese player to use, fishing traps or to farms
7.) Which is more effective for a japanese player to use, fishing traps or farms
8.) How effective the Saracens +3 cavalry attack vs buildings is
9.) How useful the Saracens foot archers +1 attack is
10.) If the Turks hidden stone mining bonus really exists
11.) Some tests to get you thinking”

Source – The first issue of Some Things to Think About

Go Marf! He’s posted the results of all of his testing, some of which may be a little surprising. A good post that will leave you with a few things to think about for your next game. …I scoffed at the Saracen CA bonus vs buildings until a bunch started knocking down my watch towers in a game…nasty! ; )

Major EEH Milestone!
Posted by Thunder on November 30th, 2001 @ 10:55 a.m.
Hearty congratulations to the crew of Empire Earth Heaven on reaching the 500,000 visitor mark! This actually happenned quite a few days ago, and being the drunken fool that I am, I missed it.

They have been a very busy bunch over there, as EE was released a few weeks ago. (no doubt you knew that) Pop on over and see what’s cookin’! …I sinned…no news yesterday…rest assured I’ll be punished… ; )

Raising The Bar…
Posted by Thunder on November 28th, 2001 @ 8:51 p.m.
The Ensemble Studios crew are always looking to improve their products. They’ve been consistently developing better and better games, thanks to their own talents and fan input. With that in mind, Clarissimus began an interesting post over at AOMH for things that players of Age of Kings would like to see changed or improved in Age of Mythology. He started things off in style with something many fans have asked for:

“1) Automatic Stance Assignment

There were four different stances in AoK. I used Defensive and Stand Ground a lot (mostly Defensive) and Agressive quite a bit too. I didn’t use No Attack very much, but it came in handy in certain custom scenarios. These stances were very useful because sometimes you wanted your units running willy-nilly all over the map, sometimes you wanted them to pursue an enemy but not get lured into an ambush, and other times you wanted those fiesty little guy to just STAY PUT!

But here’s the problem: every time your units are created, they are automatically set to Aggressive stance. So if I’m building an army, each time I click to troops, I have to change their stance if I don’t want them Agressive. This got to be a pain.”

Source – Problems in AoK that ES should fix for AoM

Have a beef with AoK and want to make sure it doesn’t creep up on you again in AoM? Well then make sure you stop in on this post and share your two bits. A little feedback can go a long way! …I lost a lot of AOK games…hopefully they’ll change this in AOM… ; )

Virus Warning…
Posted by Thunder on November 28th, 2001 @ 7:30 p.m.
Many of us here at HeavenGames are getting bombarded with e-mails sent from computers infected by a virus. The Badtrans virus has been busy over the last few days infecting unprotected systems or ones without any anti-virus software. Here’s that standard reminder again: Please make sure that you get some anti-virus software and keep it up to date. You’ll be doing yourself, everyone in your address book, and your fellow e-mail users a favour. …there’s even some decent freebie anti-virus software out there…FREE… ; )

The Discussion…
Posted by Thunder on November 28th, 2001 @ 1:27 a.m.
The big pow wow is underway in the scenario design forum. The topic, game balancing, and those taking part range from scenario designers to game designers. Several members of SSSI have stopped in already, including Rick “Mr.Grinch” Goodman, as well as members of the SCN Punk team. Check out the link below if you’d like to read up on the discussion!

Link: The Discussion 2001 – 1. Hardcore players vs. casual players

LKS Anniversary!
Posted by Thunder on November 27th, 2001 @ 3:34 a.m.
The members of the LKS Clan will be celebrating their first full year in existance on December 1st, we’re all invited to drop by and help them party! Here’s our official invite:

“We’ll be mainly at the zone and our forums at We will have balloons, confetti, and lots of fun. Games will mainly be AOK, but we also plan to play Unreal Tournament and Battleship (thats right, coolest game on the planet).

We hope to see lotts of people show up, we’ll be having a mini-tournament (just for fun!)” – LKS_Cheeselord

Yeow, December isn’t far off! If you have any pre-party questions or suggestions, just drop on by this post in the forums and let em rip. …party on! ; )

DeathShrimp’s Other Project…
Posted by Thunder on November 26th, 2001 @ 10:22 p.m.
Our congratulations to Greg “DeathShrimp” Street! He is now the proud father of a new little baby girl, born on the morning of November 20th. You can take a look at a photo of this little cutey on the ES news, along with her stats.

For those awaiting the new weekly AoM screenshot, Mike “Archangel” McCart also left an announcement of it’s delay and a hint about what we can expect to see in the same post:

“PS Monday’s Weekly Age of Mythology Screenshot will be late. So stop by tomorrow for a new Age of Mythology Screenshot (Yep, it’s Greeks this week).”

Source – ES News

Battle Of The Bay Results…
Posted by Thunder on November 26th, 2001 @ 8:33 p.m.
Not long ago, the sleepy little town of Sunnyvale, California, was rocked by an Age tournament. There was some pretty serious hardware up for grabs, and apparently a strong field turned out to try and take home the goods:

“Everything went very well and we had a fun tournament at Fry’s Electronics in Sunnyvale.

The competition was tough, but when all was said and done this is how
everyone stacked up:

FIRST PLACE: SoYoung_oG_ – Pentium 4/Motherboard combo provided by Intel + GXP T-shirt & fUnc mousepad.

SECOND PLACE: Mystic_AToM – Geforce 3 graphics card provided by Abit + GXP T-shirt & fUnc mousepad.

THIRD PLACE: _Johnny – GXP T-shirt & fUnc mousepad.

FOURTH PLACE: MaGiCSaNdS – GXP T-shirt & fUnc mousepad.

Event sponsors include Intel, Abit, Fry’s Electronics, fUnc Mousepads,
ADI Microscan and GXP Partner U-tron Technologies.

Pictures are up at – James “ThumP” Mecham

A fine looking group of gamers turned out, to what appears to be one heck of a massive electronics store. Do stop by and take a look at the photos.

Thanks to ThumP for the update! …I’d sell my gold fillings for a Geforce 3… ; )

Forum Party Wrap Up…
Posted by Thunder on November 25th, 2001 @ 10:46 a.m.
The big 2v2 ladder tournament was the major event at this week’s Forum Party, and it was quite a success! Dark Side of Day did a fantastic job of organizing things, and you can check out the round by round results in this post. Big congrats to the winners, Myll_Slaghter and Myll_Tani who defeated the very strong team of StorM_Country and WX_LittleDagger in the finals.

We also got to dabble in some fun games, which were mostly random civ affairs. In both of my games, high piercing armour units won the day. First it was those nasty Mongol Hussars and in my next game it was Gothic Huskarls. Both units are great for breaking economies, but Huskarls are very difficult to counter. A very nasty weapon in the Goth arsenal. Here’s hoping we’ll be seeing you next week for some more games! …drew Goths 2/2 random civ games…looks like my luck is back, I just need a little skill to back it up with… ; )

Game On!
Posted by Thunder on November 24th, 2001 @ 0:55 a.m.
If you’re in the UK area, you may be interested in this exhibition which will be opening next year. Game On will have some 250 exhibits, made up of ancient gaming artifacts from the 60s right up to a look at the future of gaming. Check out the press release (thanks Blues) for more information and start making your plans to attend! …a walk down memory lane for some of those elderly gamers out there… ; )

Forum Party Tomorrow…
Posted by Thunder on November 23rd, 2001 @ 9:58 a.m.

Looking for some long weekend activities? Well, our usual Forum Party will be taking place tomorrow, along with a 2v2 ladder tournament that Dark Side of Day is organizing. Check out this post for more information on that event, and stop in at the trusty Forum Party Post for all the poop on our weekly gathering. Drop on by for some games, and maybe some left overs!

Not to be forgotten this weekend is the Zone’s DM tournament! There’s still some time to get signed up for it, and it too will be taking place tomorrow. Good luck all! …some interesting reading…perhaps for the next time you sit on the throne: Singapore hosts toilet summit…thanks Angel Akavish ; )

Aussie GameSpot Interviews Bruce!
Posted by Thunder on November 22nd, 2001 @ 6:46 a.m.
That’d be Bruce Shelley, one of the senior designers there at Ensemble Studios. On his trip down to Australia, the folks at GameSpot down there had quite a lengthy chat with Bruce about his work, briefly about AoM, Galactic Battlegrounds, consoles, his career, and much more:

GS: It says here that you’ve been in the games industry designing and developing since 1980? Does that mean you have literally twenty years experience?

BS: Pretty much, yes. There was a short period of time where I moved to Chicago, my wife had a great job offer, and I left the game industry per se. But I ended up writing books about games during a couple year period where I was a freelance writer, I wrote like strategy guides, how to play a game really well. So I never really left the game industry. And in the middle of that period, Tony Goodman who is the studio head at Ensemble Studios was an old friend of mine, from twenty years previous. He started called me up and asking about the games industry. He was thinking about starting a game development software company. So I got back with him, he asked me to join his new company, so we started the new company in 1995 which became Ensemble Studios.”

Source – GameSpot AU Interviews Bruce Shelley

Bruce has plenty to say in this interview, so if you’re a gamer of any sort he’ll likely touch on a topic that’ll be of interest to you. He only briefly tackles on Age of Mythology, but we’ll forgive him. …thankfully, not everyone is on holiday…let’s all thank Australia for the great news the past few days! ; )

A Visit To The Studios…
Posted by Thunder on November 22nd, 2001 @ 1:13 a.m.
Things will likely be a little quiet on the news front for the rest of the week, as folks in the USA have a holiday tomorrow. With that in mind, Angel Alexander I has written up an article on a visit he paid to Ensemble Studios back in October. Alexander usually works the news over at HG Main, but he’s been traveling for the last couple of weeks. His journey took him from his pad in Colombia to somewhere near Dallas, where some form of bribery or blackmail took place and he was able to get into the Studios for a tour!

Alexander’s article not only contains his take on the ES workspace, people, and decore, but he also managed to snap some pictures for us. What would be the icing on the cake? Yes, he even spent some time playing Age of Mythology. Of course, he would have to hand over his children if he revealed any of the secrets of the game, but he was able to share his impressions on various general aspects of the game. Thanks for sharing Alex! Go on and sneak into the hallowed halls of ES with him.

Link: A Slice Of Studios Life

Tournament Movie!
Posted by Thunder on November 20th, 2001 @ 9:25 p.m.
If still pictures just don’t turn your crank, check out this footage from the MS International Tournament that was held back on November 7th. This movie was passed to us by the Ensemble Studios folks, and although all you’ll get to hear is some Age music, it really sets the scene well. You’ll be able to see the competitors in action, the crowds anxiously looking on, and that giant cheque for $50,000 once again.

The movie comes in two file sizes, so those of you with slow connections will also be able to check it out without having to wait an eternity. Drop in on this page if you’d like to snag the AVI file.

If you missed them ealier, be sure to check out our pictures from the event. They may help you figure out who is who in the movie at the very least. …whew, I’m takin five… ; )

Sandy’s Back For More…
Posted by Thunder on November 20th, 2001 @ 11:06 a.m.
The always witty Ensemble Studios designer Sandy “Sandyman” Petersen stopped in to share a few jabs and a bit of wisdom with forumers here. His latest Ask Sandy thread contains plenty of new fan questions, and thankfully plenty of answers too:

“Q) Will AOE III be made using your new engine
A) okay IF AoE3 is our next game after AoM, then yes I am certain we’ll use the new engine. Bang! works really well for RTS games.

Q) You’ve been mighty quiet on your smacktalk regarding your fabled AOM prowess. Have you been humbled lately?
A) Yes I lost twice last week. I also won twice. One of the two losses was to Alex Quintana who may possibly be the best AoM player in the universe so far. And one of the losses was to Paul Slusser whom I later beat, so honors are even.”
– Sandy Petersen

Source – ask Sandy 11

That Alex Quintana is the QA dude on AoM, and was mentioned as a damn good player by Kevin “The_Sheriff” Holme. (no small compliment) You can catch a glimpse of Alex at work in this picture, as he strolls by with a notepad during an AoM playtesting session at the studios.

Pop into the ask Sandy thread and pay Sandy a visit. If he can tear himself away from his work and his Xbox, he just may answer your question! …could bearly tear myself away from my pal’s Xbox…I got the boot shortly after 3am ; )

The End Is Near!
Posted by Thunder on November 20th, 2001 @ 10:39 a.m.
Can you believe that this year is almost over? It seems like just yesterday we were all trying to figure out what Ensemble Studios would be calling their mysterious project, which was code named RTS3. (turned into AoM of course) At this time last year there were a great many Agers waiting for the holidays with great anticipation to get ahold of the Conquerors expansion pack for AoK, which was released just a few weeks before fall.

That’s all not so ancient history now folks, and with the end of the year 2001 coming up quick, those ever popular “Game of the Year” votes are starting to spring up. The trench coat clad comrades at GameSpy seem to be first out of the gate this year. Stop by their Game of the Year vote and plug your favourite PC and console titles. It’s been a pretty good year for strategy gamers, with a very lengthy list of games in that category. It includes such heavy weights as Black & White, Civilization 3, Empire Earth, Kohan, Cossacks, Stronghold, Galactic Battlegrounds, and plenty more! Go on and pick a winner. You have until December 23rd to cast your votes. …a little early in my books…a few of the games listed are still on their way to the shelves… ; )

Upcoming Zone DM Tourney…
Posted by Thunder on November 19th, 2001 @ 6:22 p.m.
Feeling the need for speed? On November 24th, the Zone is hosting a DM tourney that is bound to make for some fast and furious action. You have until 1pm PST (3pm EST) on Nov 24 to sign-up. Here are the settings:

“1 vs 1
Game Type: Death Match
Map Style: Standard
Location: Random Map
Map Size: Tiny
Difficulty: Standard
Population Limit: 200
Starting Age: Post-Imperial Age
Reveal Map: Enable (Explored)
Game Speed: Fast
Victory Condition: Conquest
Lock Teams: Disable
Cheats: Disable
All Tech: Disable
Record Game: Enable”

Source – Zone DM Tournament

As with all Zone tourneys, this one is only open to those who are 13 years of age or older in the US and Canada. Best of luck everyone! …I guess they just made a special exception for the rest of the world for the International Tournament…I thought they’d have events for Germany, UK, France, etc etc now… ; \

Forums Back In Action!
Posted by Thunder on November 19th, 2001 @ 6:01 p.m.
The mighty Angel Zen has completed his work on our forums, so you can post on uninterrupted. There have been some new additions that you may have already noticed. A whole new set of community forums can now be found at HG Main, which includes the infamous OD forum from AOKH.

Happy posting all! …the world may be about to end…Roller Coaster Tycoon has finally fallen out of the top ten best selling games! ; )

Forum Downtime…
Posted by Thunder on November 19th, 2001 @ 10:08 a.m.
The forums will be going offline for some maintenance today. If all goes well, they will be back up and running smoothly once again later today. We will keep you posted on the progress. …please don’t be sending e-mails asking if you’ve been banned… ; )

Stronghold Heaven Launches!
Posted by Thunder on November 18th, 2001 @ 9:01 p.m.
The newest corner in Heaven is now open! The gang at Stronghold Heaven have been a busy bunch, creating walkthroughs and everything else you’ll need to make your fortress rock solid:

November 17, 2001 – HeavenGames LLC announced today that it has launched Stronghold Heaven ( ), the latest in its series of special-interest sites for city-building strategy games.

Current available in stores everwhere, Stronghold is a castle-building game developed by FireFly Studios, and published by Take2 Interactive. The game allow gamers to design, manage, defend their castles, and sieging others. It features an extensive 18-mission military storyline involving a country devided by four enemy war lords; your goal is to help re-unite the country and restore the rightful king, currently held to ransom in a foreign jail. Stronghold also includes a 5-mission economic campaign, numerous single-map missions, and a scenario editor.

Stronghold Heaven will be dedicated to featuring extensive coverage of Firefly Studio’s Stronghold and bring you the latest news, maps, strategies and walkthoughs to the game.”

Don’t know much about the game? Try out the demo! It gives you a pretty good idea of how the economics and warfare works. …setting the enemy on fire is a little too much fun… ; )

Forum Party Tomorrow…
Posted by Thunder on November 17th, 2001 @ 2:14 a.m.

This green knight isn’t looking for you to cut off his head, he’s calling you out to play a few games with your fellow forumers tomorrow! It is time once again for us to gather on the Zone and do battle. If you’re interested in hanging out and getting a little bit beat up in some games, you’ll find all of the important details in the ol’ Forum Party Post.

There’s no tournament planned for this week, but we’ll likely have an event together for a party in the near future. See you on the battlefield! …I could find better things to do with an Xbox… ; )

Creating A Game…
Posted by Thunder on November 16th, 2001 @ 2:56 a.m.
Forums are a pretty cool place. With so many ideas, thoughts, and flames flying about you never know what will happen. One example would be this post from our scenario design forum, where a group of creative folks have gotten together to create a game! You can really sense their energy and enthusiasm in every post. Go get em guys!

For more information on their project, or to get involved yourself, check out their website:

Weekend LAN Party…
Posted by Thunder on November 15th, 2001 @ 7:15 a.m.
Sheesh, there’s lots going on this weekend. Here’s a great event for those of you in the Denver, CO area. Rookkev has run these LAN events before, and they’ve met with great success! He’s inviting the locals out for some games this Saturday, here are the particulars:

“I’m having another LAN Party on Sat. Nov 17th. 6-10 PM Mountain Time @ again. Cost is $20 for 4 hours and free pizza. Also I will be demo’ing SWGB and BattleRealms at the party…as I picked up both this afternoon. Contact RookKev @ for details/confirmation… seats will be limited.” – rookkev

Make sure you join them if you can! Ya’ll have a good time down there. …Battle Realms isn’t quite my cup of tea…really cool graphics though! ; )

1on1 Showdown In California!
Posted by Thunder on November 14th, 2001 @ 8:23 p.m.
Are you going to be in the area of Sunnyvale, California this weekend? If so, you’ll have the chance to put your Age skills to the test in a 1on1 event that features some great hardware as prizes! Polish your arabia skills, here’s the goods:

“This Saturday, November 17th, GXP will be holding an Age of Kings tournament at Fry’s Electronics in Sunnyvale, California.

GXP sponsors include Intel, Leadtek, Abit, Creative Labs, and others. As prizes we’ll be giving away a Geforce 3 graphics card (provided by Abit) and a P4/motherboard combination (provided by Intel).

There are a maximum of 16 players. Sign ups are online at

Sign-ups are first come, first served and we’re about 1/2 full already.

For more information, check out” – James “ThumP” Mecham

That would be a sweet way to pick up a GeForce 3. Even if you aren’t one of the first sixteen to register for this event, if you’re in spot 20 or better you can jump in as an alternate if there is a no show or someone gets hit by lightning.

The settings are pretty standard, version 1.0c, arabia, 2-player map, pop 200. The only thing that might throw you is that you’ll have a time limit of one hour hanging over you, but on arabia, an hour should be plenty. Right? Good luck all! …many thanks to ThumP for the heads up… ; )

Game Balancing Discussion…
Posted by Thunder on November 14th, 2001 @ 7:00 p.m.
This is sounding like an interesting event, and apparently it’s taking place in our Scenario Design Forum. A group of game and scenario designers are going to be getting together towards the end of November to talk that all important talk about finding a balance in games and levels. The current list of participants includes Rick Goodman and several other members of the team who put together Empire Earth:

“The Discussion 2001:
Start: 23rd of November @900
Place: forums – Scenario design section

Wouldn’t it be a nice thing, if several outstanding designers met and discussed the very important and very interesting topic of game and level design? That was the question I asked myself this summer. Now fall is leaving and winter is close at the door, but I haven’t been idle. I have arranged a discussion with a score of interesting designers and related people, including Rick Goodman lead designer at SSSI (Empire Earth), Teut Weidmann CEO at Wings Simulations (Panzer Elite) and Andy Robson Head of Quality Assurance at Lionhead (Black & White). But what will be the topic, you might ask? Well I didn’t need to think long about this because the topic I’ve chosen is so important but so difficult to master that such a discussion was long needed. I refer to game balancing – the quality that separates the best games and levels from the merely good ones.

Questions that will be discussed include “Hardcore players versus casual players – for whom do we design our games?” ; “How to control the difficulty – limits, positioning the enemy, AI…?” and “How do game balance decisions correspond with the whole game / scenario ?”

If you want to become an official participant please email me.
( Due to the intended quality of the discussion not everybody will be accepted, although everybody will be able to read the discussion threads.

For further information, including a complete list of participants and
topics please take a look at
– Arno Scherhorn

This is definitely something to keep your eye out for if you’re interested in scenario/level design, or game design. Plenty of well known AoK scenario designers will also be sharing their thoughts on the subject, including Ingo van Thiel and a few of the gang from SCN Punk. We’ll keep you posted! …or Arno will…thanks for the note dude! ; )

What’s Next For ES?
Posted by Thunder on November 14th, 2001 @ 3:19 a.m.
As most people know, the Ensemble Studios crew is currently hard at work on Age of Mythology. Quite a few people were shocked when this project turned out not to be AoE III, and there have been more than a few questions about what ES will tackle after AoM. Stuart Moulder, head of Microsoft’s PC games department, has expressed his interest in seeing an AoE III, and with the way the Age series has been selling, not to mention the large following it has, no one can blame him. So what will be next, after AoM is finished? Well, Mike “Captn” Kidd has fielded this question over at AOMH, leaving us with some food for thought:

“We haven’t announced what’s next after AoM.
Since we (MS & ES) are now one, we own the Age series name. Given that it’s well-known, fun, and has lots of room for new games, I think an AoE III is a very likely next project.

With the work we’re putting into the AoM engine, I’d be really, really surprised to see us going back to a 2D engine. I can’t imagine that.

XPacks for AoM? AoM II? Who knows. We’ll have to see how AoM goes, what ideas we could come up with for a sequel or XPack, and what we all want to work on, too. Waaaaayyyy to early to tell.

Personally, I hope we do an AoE III next, and my favorite period would be the Age of Discovery, but those conversations won’t even be starting for quite some time yet. Now, back to my AoM work….” – Mike Kidd

Source – Age of empires III after AoM???

Yes indeed, way too early to tell, but never too early to speculate! As always, our many thanks to the members of the ES team who stop by the various fansite forums. …AoM teasers welcome… ; )

LadyWoogy’s Tournament Thoughts…
Posted by Thunder on November 13th, 2001 @ 9:34 p.m.
Another of the MS International Tournament participants has shared the story of that grand journey to Redmond for the finals. DaRq_LadyWoogy has made the leap and posted her experiences at She had to deal with a super long flight, compared to most of the others, and a botched wake up call:

“Next morning we were all meant to get a wake up call at 8.00am and all met down the lobby at 8.45 to get on the bus to go to the tournament rooms. At about 8.45 I got a phone call from Mike Kidd asking if I was coming… Im like awww shiate. This was the fastest ever time that I have taken to get dressed. whole 4 minutes. “ – LadyWoogy

Source – LadyWoogy’s Tourney Story

It’s a grand post, many thanks for sharing! I’m sure other folks visiting the US will appreciate your warnings about the local brew. …well, it’s not all bad…just the cheap shhtuff… ; )

Tournament Photos!
Posted by Thunder on November 12th, 2001 @ 10:58 p.m.
A long last, our photographs from the MS International Tournament are up in a lovely little gallery. There aren’t a ton of them, but we did manage to capture Mike “Captn” Kidd, maimin_matty, Grunt as well as most of the other competitors. Only the short ones escaped our lens! …careful if you run into Grunt now…he’s armed with a dirty big sword… ; )

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Forum Party Wrap Up…
Posted by Thunder on November 12th, 2001 @ 3:42 a.m.
It was great to get back to playing some games, it had been awhile due to organizing tournaments and the like. My first game shall go unmentioned. Although it was a win, I was pretty useless and rusty. The second game was quite a fun nomad match. The teams were 3 vs 3 vs 1 with Petard_Rusher being the solo player. Earlier he won a nomad tournament, and he outplayed everyone in this game to be sure. The teams of three beat up on each other for a bit, but Petard_Rusher soon put an end to that with his Woad Raiders backed by Cavaliers. He took the win, but not before I got to take out a player and have some fun. GG all!

Next week, we hope you’ll join us for some more games, and if you do run into Petard_Rusher, be sure to flare his position for all to see. …bah, anyone can win a 3 vs 3 vs 1 game…even I’ve done that… ; )

North’s Tourney Story…
Posted by Thunder on November 12th, 2001 @ 3:30 a.m.
Sharing his tournament tale, SHS_North has left a lengthy post at for us to check out. It seems he was lucky just to make it to the event:

“My trip to Seattle kind of got off to a bad start when on the normally 25 minute journey to the airport I got stuck in a huge traffic jam following an accident and I eventually arrived only just in time for the flight. I was so late I actually phoned my housemate to tell him I would be coming home!!

Once on the plane I just settled down and chilled for a couple of hours and enjoyed some in-flight chardonnay, mmmmmmm J When I got to Seattle my driver was waiting with Elf (I recognised him from the CoT Benelux piccies) and it turned out we were actually on the same flight!” – SHS_North

Source – North’s Tourney Story

Another competitor, CID_REDSTAR who was the Swiss champ at the tourney, also dropped in to share some thoughts in the same thread. Thanks for sharing fellas! …tourney pics here tomorrow…I got a few of North doin his thing against a couple of players… ; )

FOPT’s Farewell Results…
Posted by Thunder on November 12th, 2001 @ 3:20 a.m.
The FOPT folks have wrapped up their final tourney for good ol’ AoK. The results are up, and show a very talented field did battle. Here’s the wrap-up from FOPT_Strawberry:

“FOPT’s “Farewell AOK -Cup” – Tournament (2v2 Arabia) has been finished and once again a tournament hosted by FOPT was a great success. Almost 100 players, all of them rated 1700+ in AOK: The Conquerors, checked in for 6 hours of competitive gaming on Saturday evening. Winners are _riZen_Glory_ (The_Steam_) and _riZen_Dust (french player Pepin) who defeated SeVeN_SoX_ and SeVeN_mozart_ in the final match. To give you an idea of the high level of competition let me just mention that from the quarterfinals only players rated 2000+ remained in the tournament.

You can view all match-ups and results and download recorded games from the final rounds on the FOPT-Site.”

HG Zoo Tycoon Review…
Posted by Thunder on November 12th, 2001 @ 3:11 a.m.
Those of you who have dabbled in tycoon titles before may be thinking about picking up Microsoft’s newly released venture into this crowded market. To give you a better idea of whether or not it’s worth your money, you can take a read through our Zoo Tycoon review. It could make for a nice change of pace, is it for you? …will you run the zoo, or will your zoo run you…I got run… ; )

Iron’s Tournament Recollections…
Posted by Thunder on November 11th, 2001 @ 11:39 a.m.
The competitor for the USA in Microsoft’s International Tournament, Gx_Iron, shared his thoughts, impressions, and experiences in a great big post over at It is a pretty cool account of the whole event, including the moment of truth, when the brackets were drawn:

“We stop off in the banquet room of the space needle for an open bar and a banquet dinner. We have a couple drinks and sit down for dinner. Before dinner most of us head to the top to the observation deck. What a site this was. SUD_Tkenobi and I take a snapshot with the entire lit up city of Seattle at our backs. Awesome. We are freezing from the wind so we went back inside. We ate dinner downstairs, then came the moment of truth. Up to this point everyone was pretty relaxed and calm about the tourny, but now you were going to know who your enemy was. The random draw took place as we each took a number out of a hat.

Before hand, everyone was nervous about getting Grunt in the first round, and everyone also knew that a couple other guys were gona have a very hard first match. This was bound to happen, it had to. People started drawing, with Ladywoogie going first. Number 6. Next person. It went on for about 5 people, then Gary__Payton made the first matchup by drawing number 4. He would face Loko. We had our first matchup and you could feel the tension start to mount. Next up, Elfanor. Grunt had choose number 11, so 12 was the unlucky number. Elfanor gives the number to Rick at the microphone. Elfanor from Belgium gets number 12. Everyone signs relief except him. He was the unlucky contestant. Everyone both felt bad for him and relief for themselves at the same time.”

Source – Gx_Iron’s Tourney Story

Things got real quiet real fast during the random draw all right. Several of us poured over the brackets immediately after they were set looking at the match-ups. No one was going to have an easy ride in that field of players! Iron’s post is a great account of what went on, take a walk through the big event in his shoes.

On a bit of a side-note, my pictures from the tourney will be posted soon. I didn’t rattle off a lot of them, as there were a ton of great games to watch, but there’s a few good ones. …talked to Crexis for a bit after his loss to Myth_Osiris…he was pretty subdued…disappointed in how he played, but not dwelling on it…everyone was a great sport! ; )

Forum Party Tomorrow…
Posted by Thunder on November 10th, 2001 @ 3:51 a.m.

It wouldn’t be much of a Saturday without a Forum Party! All are invited to join in on some fun games tomorrow with fellow forumers. You can find all of the information on how you can get involved in the Forum Party Post.

There are no plans right now for a mini-tournament this week. There will still be plenty of games going on, standard settings, weird settings, the works. …NOmad anyone? ; )

ES Spotlight On Shooter!
Posted by Thunder on November 9th, 2001 @ 5:18 p.m.

I’m running a little behind on the Ensemble Studios spotlights, but it would be mighty hard to overlook David “Shooter” Cherry. We’ve been seeing some of his fantastic artwork for awhile now, such as the famous image of the AoM god Thor that’s popped up everywhere. David is the man behind that and a great many other gorgeous images for that game:

“Full Name: David Alan Cherry
Nick Name: Sometimes called Shooter
Joined Ensemble Studios: June 2000.
Job Title: Artist
Home Town: Born in Lawton, OK; lived most of my life in Oklahoma City, OK; now living in Dallas, TX.

Favorite Computer Games: The Conquerors, Diablo, Rogue Spear: Urban Operations [and looking forward to Ghost Recon], 007 Goldeneye, and The World is Not Enough.”

Source – ES News

You’ll definitely want to check out this picture of David’s office, where he gives us a look at some of his AoM related art. As Kevin “The_Sheriff” Holme told me a few days ago, the process for creating these images involves other artists as well. A sketch artist will whip up the rough image first, and then David tackles it with his paintbrushes. For the full spotlight on David, stop in at the ES News page. …I recommend the Sharnnara series of books to anyone, they are a fun read…and thanks to The_Sheriff for the artsy info, I was paying attention… ; )

MS Tournament Recorded Games!
Posted by Thunder on November 9th, 2001 @ 2:23 a.m.
We’ve finally got our hands on all of the recorded games from the International Tournament held yesterday in which Grunt triumphed! The first zip file which was sent out by the MS folks was missing quite a few games, including the finals, but they have since tracked down the missing records. You can now find the whole works in our recorded games section.

The giant zip file has had the recorded games renamed to indicate who is involved to makes things a little easier on you. …North vs Haslebo is a pretty good game to watch…and of course the finals ; )

Tournament Coverage…
Posted by Thunder on November 8th, 2001 @ 6:32 p.m.
You can take a look at some pictures from the MS Tournament here at the Ensemble Studios site. There aren’t any of the sword Grunt got as a trophy, but there is a few images of him, one with the giant cheque complete with a giant signature by Bill Gates.

Over at, they tracked down one of the many interviews done with the competitors. Gx_Iron (Jerry Terry) and Darq_LadyWoogy (Tanya Cowan) had a talk with a dude from Wired about their athletic past. In addition, they’ve also got the play-by-play provided by Mike “Captn” Kidd and Kevin “The_Sheriff” Holme in their tourney coverage. While we wait for the recorded games, that’s the next best thing to being there. …off to get my pics developed in just a few minutes… ; )

And The Winner Is…
Posted by Thunder on November 8th, 2001 @ 0:20 a.m.
__Mossar (Korea) aka grunt defeated Kaohen (Taiwan) on a Highland map that was without a river! The game was short but had plenty of Feudal Age fighting, with both players raiding the other’s town. The RoR champion, Matt “maimin_matty” Scadding was on hand to present the winner with a sword, and of course a cheque for $50,000.

Big congrats to __Mossar!

Recorded games? We’re working on tracking them down, all of them, and hopefully they will soon be posted on the fansites. …on my way home tonight…took some pictures, will try and get them developed for tomorrow… ; )

Semi Results Part II!
Posted by Thunder on November 7th, 2001 @ 11:14 p.m.
Most people picked __Mossar (Korea) aka grunt to win the tournament, and he doesn’t disappoint. He excels on water maps just as well as standard Arabia. He has just advanced to the finals, defeating GX_Iron (USA) on a medi map.

The finals are a Korea versus Taiwan match-up on the Highlands map. They are currently setting up for the game, stay tuned!


Kaohen (Taiwan) versus __Mossar (Korea) aka grunt

Semi Results!
Posted by Thunder on November 7th, 2001 @ 10:53 p.m.
In the first semi-final game Kaohen (Taiwan) defeats SHS_North (UK) in a hard fought game that went right into the Imperial Age. North has to settle for something like $7500, while Kaohen is now at least $20,000 richer. He’ll be taking on either Gx_Iron or grunt in the finals, as those two are just preparing to play now. …I think the turning point in that game was when Kaohen beat North to Castle and took the seas…it had been a very close galley battle until that point… ; )

On The The Semi-Finals!
Posted by Thunder on November 7th, 2001 @ 10:05 p.m.
The last set of games they played were on Arabia, so they were finished fairly quickly. There were some major Hun battles, skirmie wars and the whole bit. Here are the guys with mad skillz who have moved on to the semi-finals:

1) SHS_North (UK) defeats H_Haslebo (Denmark)

2) Kaohen (Taiwan) defeats Myth_Osiris (Netherlands)

3) __Mossar (Korea) aka grunt defeats DjiNN_crouvex (Germany)

4) GX_Iron (USA) defeats NG_DeathKnight (France)

Once again, 1 plays 2, 3 plays 4. This sets GX_Iron (USA) against grunt, which should make for a great game. The first game of the semis is just underway, with North vs Kaohen! …off to watch…this round the map is mediterranean… ; )

MS Tournament Results!
Posted by Thunder on November 7th, 2001 @ 8:58 p.m.
Here are the results from the very first round. There were a lot of close games, and several went right into the Imperial Age. The map was Archipelago, which in 1 on 1 games is essentially islands. The winner from 1 (SHS_North) plays 2 (H_Haslebo) and so on:

1) SHS_North (UK) defeats SUD_Tkenobi (Argentina)

2) H_Haslebo (Denmark) defeats PN_Gary__Payton (Brazil)

3) Myth_Osiris (Netherlands) defeats Crexis (Canada)

4) Kaohen (Taiwan) defeats SeekDefeat (Singapore)

5) DjiNN_crouvex (Germany) defeats Darq_Ladywoogy (Australia)

6) __Mossar (Korea) aka grunt defeats Elfanor (Belgium)

7) GX_Iron (USA) defeats CID_Redstar(Switzerland)

8) NG_DeathKnight (France) defeats _ZhaZ (Sweden)

It’s well worth stopping into the Zone Chat Theatre as they are updating the results live right now, and will continue to do so through to the finals! grunt tried to trannie Elfanor early but was caught…he didn’t take the sea, but managed to trannie a little later and hit Elf with archers, then knights…Elf never made it to Castle Age…_Zhaz and NG_DeathKnight played a long game that was very close…they had a massive naval battle with Galleons, each with 50+…stay tuned for more ; )

MS Tournament Brackets!
Posted by Thunder on November 7th, 2001 @ 6:36 p.m.
Last night, during a dinner at the Seattle Space Needle, the folks from Microsoft had the sixteen finalists draw their spot in the bracket. Here’s how they match up:

SUD_Tkenobi (Argentina) vs SHS_North (UK)

H_Haslebo (Denmark) vs PN_Gary__Payton (Brazil)

Crexis (Canada) vs Myth_Osiris (Netherlands)

SeekDefeat (Singapore) vs Kaohen (Taiwan)

Darq_Ladywoogy (Australia) vs DjiNN_crouvex (Germany)

__Mossar (Korea) aka grunt vs Elfanor (Belgium)

GX_Iron (USA) vs CID_Redstar(Switzerland)

_ZhaZ (Sweden) vs NG_DeathKnight (France)

Games are going to get underway here shortly. Remember, starting at noon PST (3pm EST, 8pm GMT) you can log in at the Zone Chat Theatre for live updates on the action. …there’s a whole press team here of about five guys from Korea following grunt‘s every move… ; )

MS Tournament Update…
Posted by Thunder on November 7th, 2001 @ 1:28 a.m.
Tis the night before the tournament and all sixteen qualifiers in the MS International Tournament are here in Redmond. They are currently busy setting up their mice, keyboards, and getting in a few practice games. None of them look particularly nervous, eventhough some $100,000 is up for grabs tomorrow.

Among those who snuck in to watch the event are Kevin “The_Sheriff” Holme and Mike “Captn” Kidd of Ensemble Studios, and Matt “maimin_matty” Scadding.

I believe that you’ll be able to stop by the Zone Chat Theatre for live coverage of the tournament (12 noon – 3pm PST), but if you aren’t able to attend, you’ll find the latest here on the news. Player_Theta, my pal, flew back from Hong Kong for this event…she’s working on getting some pictures for us…. ; )

ES Spotlight On DeathShrimp!
Posted by Thunder on November 5th, 2001 @ 7:54 p.m.

Very well known in the Age community, today’s Ensemble Studios spotlight features designer Greg “DeathShrimp” Street. He can occasionally be found posting in fansite forums, but generally he’s working on that lil’ game called Age of Mythology:

“Full Name: Gregory Townsend Street, Ph.D.
Nick Name: DeathShrimp
Joined Ensemble Studios: 1998…I think.
Job Title: Game Designer Home Town: Temple, Texas, USA

Currently working on: Game balance, cultural differentiation, myth units, god powers, random maps and overseeing playtesting for AOM.”

Source – ES News

The complete spotlight article can be found here at the ES site. It includes a great picture of Greg’s office, where you can check out his exhibitor passes from past E3 shows hanging up, and get an eye full of Greg himself. …interesting sketches on the board behind him…hard to make out though…where’s Zen when you need him? ; )

WCG Updates…
Posted by Thunder on November 5th, 2001 @ 4:15 a.m.
Here’s the latest word on the USA qualifier that was being run over at They have their three qualifiers for AoK, who will be winging their way to the US finals in Los Angeles in mid-November. They are:

  • [mK]Dante
  • STALlN (Randy)
  • Knight31

The Canadian qualifier wrapped up today, with a little bit of confusion over the results. _RCF_Joe, who finished 4th in the event, says that Christhebest stormed out of the losers bracket in maimin_matty comeback fashion to win the event! In the running for second and third were none other than Crexis and _riZen_Magi. Rounding out the top five was Youngunz, drinker of girlie drinks. …congrats to Chris! ; )

Forum Party Wrap Up…
Posted by Thunder on November 5th, 2001 @ 3:40 a.m.
Well, it wasn’t for lack of trying, but I didn’t make it to the Forum Party this week. The problem was with my ISP, so I didn’t even get a single game in. Just for that, I’ll be extra rusty for next week, here’s hoping you’ll stop by and make me pay for not attending.

If you’ve got a war story to share from the party, or a recorded game, drop a line in the Forum Party Post. …thank goodness my ISP decided to have problems this week, when I wasn’t organizing a tournament…that may have resulted in quite the lynch mob… ; )

Forum Party Tomorrow…
Posted by Thunder on November 3rd, 2001 @ 2:12 a.m.

You may have already noticed that we’ve had a bit of a forum merger here today. Our Strategy Forum and General Discussion Forum have been combined into one giant forum for both. It is also where you’ll find all of the details on our impending Forum Party, which will take place tomorrow! Everyone is invited to join us for some fun games and a little friendly competition. Drop in on the Forum Party Post for all of the particulars.

Here’s hoping we see you there! …was a little lost looking for the strategy forum myself… ; )

ES Spotlight On Swanson!
Posted by Thunder on November 2nd, 2001 @ 7:29 p.m.

Plugging along with their spotlight series, Ensemble Studios has today featured a vital member of any development team, the UI (user interface) designer. Karen “no nickname” Swanson is heading up this task on Age of Mythology, and apparently she’s doing quite a good job:

“Full Name: Karen Swanson
Joined Ensemble Studios: July 2000.
Job Title: UI Designer
Home Town: Louisville, KY

Favorite Computer Games:
Age of Mythology, of course. I hear it has a great user interface.

Currently working on:
The design of the user interface for AoM. I also conduct usability and playtests on AoM to make sure that the user interface is easy to use and the game is fun to play. Before you email me to ask, I’m not in charge of the Beta Program.”

Source – ES News

No doubt we’re still quite a ways from seeing any sort of beta of AoM, so why not pass a little of the time reading up on the latest spotlight article. It’s good for what ails ya! …as long as your ailment is AoM related… ; )

Heads Up About Hotmail…
Posted by Thunder on November 2nd, 2001 @ 7:52 a.m.
To all users of the ever popular free e-mail service Hotmail, here’s a bit of a change to one of their policies. Users who do not log into their hotmail accounts once every 30 days will have their accounts deactivated. This means you will lose any e-mails stored in your account and all incoming e-mails will bounce back to the sender.

One of the requirements of being a member of our forums is having an active e-mail account, so please make sure that you are logging into your hotmail accounts regularly and leaving space for incoming messages. Check out the Hotmail FAQ for more on reactivating your account and space limits.

Forumers who have been with us for any length of time will tell you that no, we don’t send out SPAM or hand out e-mail addresses to anyone else. …Yankee fans out there must be on cloud 10… ; )

Posted by Thunder on November 2nd, 2001 @ 3:00 a.m.
One of the finalists in the MS International Tournament, NorthWarrior (aka, SHS_North, UK qualifier) dropped a link to an image of the hotel he’ll be staying at in this post over at The little ol’ Hyatt is quite a sight!

The finalists will be arriving in Seattle in just a few days to get settled and set up for the finals, which will take place on November 7th. The winner walks away with $50,000 and perhaps a bit of fame as well for having defeated some of the best players in the world. We’ll be doing our best to keep you up to date on all of the happenings next week, so stay tuned. …I’d pay to sleep in the lobby, let alone a room… ; )

Chris Rupp Interview!
Posted by Thunder on November 1st, 2001 @ 11:05 a.m.
Better known as Swinger, this lucky fellow is currently at work on Age of Mythology at fabled Ensemble Studios. He works in the exciting world of Quality Assurance, making sure that everything in games works the way it’s supposed to. He’s made the lengthy journey to visit Xiphoid at Planet AoE and have a chat about AoM, life at the studios, and all of that good stuff:

[Xiphoid] Just how easy will it be for a player to transfer his/her skills from Age of Kings to Age of Mythology?

[Chris “Swinger” Rupp] It will be both very easy, and very difficult. It is an Age game, so many elements will feel familiar to people, but at the same time, its COMPLETELY different. The focus of the game has shifted away from our previous games. There are far more strategic elements to AoM than AoK (which says a lot considering how complex AoK was). Imagine your reaction when you see a couple of Persian War Elephants in your opponents army, and how you have to adjust to meet that. Now take that reaction, and apply it to ALL of our myth units and god powers, and you can begin to see how much depth there is to the game. The challenge of switching between the games is not going to be in how well your incredible micro skills transfer over (although those help), but in your ability to adapt to new situations. We’re trying very hard to make sure Chinese Arabian skirm wars don’t happen, and I think we’re succeeding pretty well.”

Source – Planet AoE Interviews Chris Rupp

Those lovely little gameplay details about AoM are still off limits, but he does provide us with a sense of what working at ES is like, and in the role of QA dude. Twelve questions with the Minnesota kid await you! …”The path to reach expert level is…” …apparently one that leads to Minnesota… ; )

Still Askin’ Sandy…
Posted by Thunder on November 1st, 2001 @ 10:36 a.m.
You have to admire his dedication. Ensemble Studios designer Sandy “Sandyman” Petersen has be dropping in on our forums for quite some time now to tackle questions from us fans. In the latest batch of responces, Sandy delves into the usual wide range of issues, including this mention of AoE III:

“Q) Is it true that Ensemble plans to make Age of Empires III ?
A) Unlike many companies, we do not make plans that far ahead. While AoE3 is certainly on the list of possibilities, the RTS game we do after AoM is NOT decided. Or even thought much about. I guess we live for the moment. On the other hand, game companies that plan ahead don’t do much better — when I worked at id Software, the plan for quite some time was to do a flight sim after Doom (I’m not making this up). So much for prognostication.

Q) What were some Civilization bonuses that were scrapped? Why?
A) Letting a civ build temples in the second age. This was scrapped because it turned out AoK’s tech tree was too rigid to permit it easily. Another scrapped bonus was one that made super-skirmishers. There were others.”
– Sandy Petersen

Source – Ask Sandy 10

Perhaps development is not underway on an AoE III yet, but it is certain that Microsoft wouldn’t mind seeing that game made. Few RTS series have sold as well world-wide as the Age series.

If you have a question for two for the Sandyman, stop in and visit the Ask Sandy post. …but don’t tell him I sent you… ; )