Archived News From December 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!

Year End Tournament Results!
Posted by Thunder on December 31st, 2001 @ 8:20 a.m.
Our thanks to lummir for organizing one heck of a tournament! The big year end bash took place last night and involved some very strong teams, but MoFo_Revolution and MoFo_Losey walked away the champions! They managed to defeat Time_Itself and Flammifer in the final game as well as a few other great teams. Congrats!

Hopefully a recorded game or two will surface from this event, but until them you can stop in on this forum post to see how the brackets unfolded.

While I remember, a very big HAPPY NEW YEAR to you all! Many thanks to those of you who’ve hung out with us here at AOKH for the last year, especially those who’ve been organizing and taking part in the tournaments of late. You rock! …c’mon guys, don’t make me beg for recordings, it’s not pretty… ; )

Training Camp!
Posted by Thunder on December 30th, 2001 @ 8:00 a.m.
We could all use a little friendly advice to help improve our games, no? Well, newly appointed cherub, Dark Side of Day, has arranged a program that will be of interest to those players who are looking to take their games to a new level, the AOKH Training Camp:

“Each forumer will have there own goals that they want to achieve from this program. It might be to obtain a 1700 rating on the zone. It might be to reach the High Inter or even the Expert category on the AOKH Forumers Ladder. Or it might even be as simple as being able to beat that friend that has always defeated you in AOKTC. Whatever your goal might be, this program can help you achieve it.”

Source – AOKH Training Camp

A couple of great players are currently signed on to help coach us. Many thanks to Myll_Barka and Myll_Slaghter, who’s trashed more than a few forumers around here, for lending their time to help us out!

Don’t be shy. If you want to get involved, either to be trained or to help coach less experienced players, just pop into the Training Camp, and you’ll find all of the details. …s’pose this will mean fewer wins for me at forum parties…thanks DSOD… ; P

Forum Party Tomorrow…
Posted by Thunder on December 29th, 2001 @ 3:47 a.m.

This will be the very last Forum Party of the year 2001 for us, so stop by and join in on the fun! There won’t be a tournament running this week, so we can have a few big team games and the like. All of the details, such as where and when, can be found in the Forum Party Post.

For those of you who are eager for some tourney action, lummir has you covered. This Sunday he’ll be running an end of the year event, with a 2on2 theme so grab a partner. Best of luck! …saw the LOTR movie today…New Zealand made for some great scenery, woooow…. ; )

Deathwish Tournament!
Posted by Thunder on December 28th, 2001 @ 8:07 p.m.
Can it be true? Yes folks, for those of you do don’t enjoy venturing into the crazy field of multiplayer, or are unable to do so, check out the AOKH Deathwish tournament. The idea is simple, (and borrowed from the AOKcc fellers) survive! Here’s the pitch:

“Now this is a unique idea for a tourney, because it’s not actually a multiplayer tourney. You play, in fact against seven AI players [using the custom AI, Tiger RM], on DM resources, on a tiny map. The objective: to survive as long as possible. The winner of the tourney would be the one who has the recorded game submitted with the longest time with a unit or production buildings still standing. If by some unprecented occurrence, you should BEAT the seven AI players, the person who does this in the shortest period of time will win.”

Source – AOKH Deathwish Tourney

Drop in on the AOKH Deathwish post to find out the latest fastest time, or where you can download the AI file from. Best of luck everybody! …current leader: TheShadowDawn: 31:25 … ; )

AOKH Ladder Standings…
Posted by Thunder on December 27th, 2001 @ 10:30 a.m.
It’s been awhile since we’ve taken a look see at our ladder standings, but this should be more frequent in the months ahead. Dark Side of Day has been doing a bang up job of keeping this updated, and he’s got all of our thanks for his dedication! If you’re interested in joining the ladder, just pop into the AOKH Ladder post to find out how.

There are quite a few new faces that are now climbing the ladder since our last look at the top ten, but the current ladder champion has been at the top a few times before. The old timer is hanging tough in our latest look at the standings:

  1. 146: _Final_Boss
  2. 144: Evil_Viking
  3. 139: Doink
  4. 138: StorM_Country
  5. 137: cow_gone_mad
  6. 134: Flammifer
  7. 133: Darq_LadyWoogy
  8. 123: TITAN_Perun/123: TML_Dopeman
  9. 120: StorM_Front
  10. 118: NS_Smack

Source – AOKH Ladder

Yes indeed, there are still a few familiar names in the top ten, including _Final_Boss, who will have to work hard to keep the top rung to himself with the likes of the StorM folks and LadyWoogy around. We’ll have another updated top ten for you next week, so those of you involved have some time to make a run on the top ten, or the top spot. …the StorMs have been gaining a great many points thanks to the team tournaments…quite the dynamic duo there… ; )

Games Of The Year!
Posted by Thunder on December 27th, 2001 @ 1:00 a.m.
The end of 2001 in definitely in sight now, and many gaming sites have been working out their picks for the best games of the year. Among them are the big boys, GameSpot and GameSpy.

GameSpot’s picks also include some interesting categories such as the most disappointing game of the year, and their top ten games of the year list. They are also looking for your picks for the best games of the year, and have included a ballot at the end of the feature article for fan picks.

GameSpy’s picks have been slowly revealed over the past few weeks, and they’ve included their console picks in the same list. It seems after a slow start, there are a lot of really good PS2 titles out on the market now. …holly hell…hard believe Gspot’s #1 pick for their top ten list…it was just a crazy little shooter! ; )

Saracen Guide
Posted by Socvazius on December 26th, 2001 @ 6:10 a.m.
Darth_Malice and his comrades have written a new Saracen guide to replace the older one that was put up some time ago. This guide gives a good overview of the civilization, focusing on 2 strategies, the SNUFF and SMUSH, along with the general UU, tech tree, units, etc information. If you’re just starting out with the civilization, or you’re needing to review, this guide is a great one to check out.

Forum Party Wrap Up…
Posted by Thunder on December 24th, 2001 @ 0:40 a.m.
Another big thank you goes out to Time_Itself for organizing another tournament for us all! The 2on2 event was great fun, even for those who got the boot early as many hung out and played some friendly matches. The winning team was Blacky_CN and H_Haslebo (aka Loko, Danish rep at the MS tournament) who managed to defeat Deimos_CN and XK_Strife in the final match. Good show folks!

There likely won’t be much in the way of news for the next couple of days, so happy holidays to all! …take care everyone… ; )

Forum Party Tomorrow…
Posted by Thunder on December 22nd, 2001 @ 1:45 a.m.

The holiday Forum Party will be taking place tomorrow, complete with another tournament organized by Time_Itself! Grab a partner for the 2on2 event, or just stop in for some fun friendly games. You’ll find all of the details in the festive Forum Party Post.

Hope to see you all on the battlefield tomorrow! …if you play against my team in the tourney, make it qvik and painless please… ; )

ES Spotlight On Natedawg!
Posted by Thunder on December 21st, 2001 @ 10:52 p.m.

This guy is fresh out of the package! Nathan “Natedawg” Stefan only recently joined Ensemble Studios, found by talent scouts in the wilds of Canada. He is one of the many artists currently at work on Age of Mythology:

“Full Name: Nathan Stefan
Nick Name: Natedawg
Joined Ensemble Studios: Sept. 20 2001
Job Title: Artist
Home Town: Burford, Ontario, Canada

Short Bio: Born in the old country (Canada). After leaving the backwoods I went to school at Sheridan College for five years, taking an assortment of art related courses. Shortly following graduation the first time, I left for a summer and worked at a television production studio. I then went back to school and took a computer course while some friends went to work in Dallas. I was lucky enough to join up with them a year later.”

Source – ES News

Stop in a check out the full spotlight feature. See if you can find anything interesting on the dry-erase board behind Nathan in his photo.

I believe that news will be a little slow from now until after the 25th of December, as the ES folks run off to celebrate the holidays. Have a good one! …humbug…if they worked weekends and through Christmas we’d have the game sooner… ; )

ES Spotlight On IronToe!
Posted by Thunder on December 20th, 2001 @ 10:59 p.m.

Another member of the Ensemble Studios programming team has put his best foot forward, or toe as the case may be, and entered the spotlight. Richard “IronToe” Gyger is a long time member of the ES team, and gives us a look into how he got into programming as well as his personal picks for fav computer games:

“Full Name: Richard Gyger
Nick Name: (Internet Handle) IronToe
Joined Ensemble Studios: June 1997
Job Title: Programmer
Home Town: Hemphill, TX

Interests / Hobbies: PC gaming, building the ultimate LAN Party box, spending time with my family.

Favorite Computer Games: Many and varied. Currently: Age of Kings (of course), Quake III, Baldur’s Gate II, Max Payne.”

Source – ES News

The full spotlight article includes a short bio, and a little bit on Richard’s current project at the studios. …da Toe…sounds like a mobster… ; )

Newest Cherub!
Posted by Thunder on December 19th, 2001 @ 9:36 p.m.
A big welcome aboard to Dark Side of Day, the latest addition to the AOKH team. He has been doing a great job managing the AOKH Ladder and organizing tournaments, and we’re happy to have as part of our team here! …nicely done… ; )

ES Spotlight On MrPinchy!
Posted by Thunder on December 19th, 2001 @ 9:13 p.m.

Programmer John “MrPinchy” Evanson has stepped into the spotlight today over at Ensemble Studios. He has been working on Age of Mythology for several years now, and currently is up to his elbows in the random map generator. His spotlight covers how he got his start, and a little on the early start on AoM:

“Full Name: John Evanson
Nick Name: various (MrPinchy, an obscure Simpsons reference, is a common one)
Joined Ensemble Studios: June 1997
Job Title: Programmer
Home Town: Bethany, CT.

Currently working on: Right now I am working on the random map generator for AOM. I can’t spill the beans too much, but I think the new system we are working on is very cool and much more flexible than the AOK random map generator. I expect fans will make random map scripts that will surprise us even more than the high-quality fan-generated maps we’ve seen for AOK.”

Source – ES News

Be sure to stop by for the full feature here on the good ol’ ES site. …MrPinchy…Homer’s lobster… ; )

Mod: Lord Of The Rings…
Posted by Thunder on December 19th, 2001 @ 9:42 a.m.
Yes, the movie is in theatres now, and my hat goes off to Angel Zen who has just returned from a midnight screening. (he loved it btw)

Tolkien’s books create a wonderful world, and so to will an ambitious modpack by Josef_Bugman, inspired by the Lord of the Rings. This project has been underway for quite sometime now, and is progressing beautifully as you can see by these images included in forum posts. He is out to recreate everything from hobbit holes to Orcs! The LOTR project page at Wildfire Studios outlines in detail just how all encompassing the completed modpack will be.

If the new movie has you in a frenzy, keep your eyes open for news on this wonderful mod. …sift through the forum post for progress updates and even more images/screenshots of this amazing project! ; )

ES Spotlight On topaz_monkey!
Posted by Thunder on December 18th, 2001 @ 1:58 a.m.

The latest Ensemble Studios spotlight features none other than young Matthew “topaz_monkey” Hemby. I believe he mentioned he’s the youngest member of the whole ES team, and he’s working on the quality assurance end of AoM. He mentions several parts of the game he is currently working on, which makes for some interesting reading:

“Full Name: Matthew Hemby
Nick Name: topaz_monkey
Joined Ensemble Studios: Just in time for the 2001 E3 crunch
Job Title: AstroChimp / QA Core Tester
Home Town: Greenville, TX

Currently working on: Testing AoM! We’re gearing up for another milestone, and lots of incredible things are coming online at a feverous pace (as always… has anyone mentioned how incredible this team is?). Specifically, I’m currently testing an in-house tool for build management, as well as AoM-specific goodies like the Sound and Music Engine (and content), the MiniMap, Save/Load/Record-related stuff, and the Scenario Editor. Let me speak to my testing areas a bit for you. The sound engine is solid, and the in-game tools associated with it are incredibly slick and easy to use, and just wait until you hear the stuff we can do with music. The MiniMap surpasses the pinnacle of MiniMap goodness that is AoK — it’s sharp, easy to read, informative, and has a few tricks up it’s sleeves. The Save, Load, and Record game-stuff is dressed to impress, and it too has some features that would get me in trouble if I were to snitch. The RTS world hasn’t seen anything like the AoM Scenario Editor; the ease at which worlds are created is almost silly. Prepare to be blown away.”

Source – ES News

It sounds as though they are tweaking and adding to a great many standard parts of RTS games, this should be interesting. The full spotlight article is available here on the ES site. …ES needs to hire a few snitches to keep us fans happy… ; )

2v2 Tourney!
Posted by Thunder on December 17th, 2001 @ 9:37 a.m.
He’s back on his horse once again! Time_Itself is getting ready to set up another tournament for this Saturday, December 22nd. It will be a 2v2 event this time around, but not all of the settings have been decided just yet. If you have a map suggestion, or other insightful comments, pop in on Time’s Tourney Post in ye olde forums and give him your two bits. …team glaciers might be kinda festive… ; )

Forum Party Wrap Up…
Posted by Thunder on December 16th, 2001 @ 10:41 a.m.
Well a big thank you first of all to Time_Itself for organizing our 3v3 tournament and Dark Side of Day for helping to run it! Hopefully those involved had some good games with their pals, but of course there could only be one team on top when all was said and done. There were quite a few very strong teams in the running, but Gary__Payton (Brazilian rep for the MS tournament), Korean2003, and KGB_Blink182 were victorious in the final game versus _Willy_Wonka_, H3LLR41S3R, and RIP_UNDERTAKER. For a look at how the brackets filled out and how the final game played out, drop by this post in the forums.

It’s unlikely we will be having another tournament next Saturday, but we will keep you updated on that situation. …that was a looooong tourney…glad to see most stuck with it… ; )

Posted by Thunder on December 15th, 2001 @ 11:11 a.m.
Congratulations to Jerry “Iron” Terry, who is now one of the members of the Ensemble Studios crew! He earned the right to represent the USA at the MS Conquerors Tournament back in November, getting knocked out in the semi-finals by Grunt who went on to win the event. He posted the exciting news here over at MFO, which is a good place to leave him your congrats.

Iron joins the likes of Kevin “The_Sheriff” Holme and Chris “Swinger” Rupp on the ES quality assurance team. No doubt he will soon be up to his elbows in Age of Mythology! …can’t call him lucky…takes far more than that to get a gig with ES…congrats dude! ; )

Attention IE Users…
Posted by Thunder on December 15th, 2001 @ 10:15 a.m.
Those of you making use of Internet Explorer 5.5 or 6.0 should take note of this article by the fine folks at ZDNet regarding some major security holes in the browser and an available fix:

“Microsoft said customers using Internet Explorer versions 5.5 and 6.0 should install the patch immediately. The patch, released Thursday, can be found on Microsoft’s Web site.

The Redmond, Wash.-based software giant, which in recent months has patched a wide range of security holes in its Web browser and Web server software, said the patch eliminates all previously known security problems affecting the two versions of IE and plugs three new holes”

Source – ZDNet: Microsoft to users: Patch IE now!

Passport Q&A…
Posted by Thunder on December 15th, 2001 @ 9:54 a.m.
Those dudes over at GameSpot have had a brief Q&A session with a Microsoft rep about the recent switch over to the passport log in system on the Zone. They discuss several issues, including “WHY? WHY? WHY?” and security.

The new system was not implemented in a smooth fashion, but it seems that most of the bugs have been worked out now. If you gave up trying to play on the Zone earlier in the week due to sign in problems, give it a shot now. …you get what you pay for doesn’t seem to apply here…paying subscribers were having the same problems with passport… ; )

Forum Party Tomorrow…
Posted by Thunder on December 15th, 2001 @ 0:21 a.m.

The end of another week is upon us, which means that we will be gathering on the Zone tomorrow for some games. Time_Itself will be on hand to run a 3v3 tournament, and we will also be messing around with our usual layed back party games. Stop in for a little holiday cheer, and a few games. More information on the where and when of both the tournament and party games can be found courtesy the fattening Forum Part Post.

Best of luck to all of you looking to be crowned the tourney champs! Our past winners have generally all been clan folk. Myll, Storm, Nomadz. It will be interesting to see who can win it all in a 3v3 event. …”Shhlighty too muchsh egg…or not enough nog, take yer pick” – my boss at the Sears company Xmas party… ; )

ES Spotlight On Sandyman!
Posted by Thunder on December 14th, 2001 @ 10:56 p.m.

The final ES spotlight for the week falls on Sandy “Sandyman” Petersen, another of the studios game designers. Although he is working on a top secret second game, as you can see by his picture, he is still helping to put Age of Mythology through its paces. Here’s the basics from his feature:

“Full Name: Carl Sanford Joslyn Petersen
Nick Name: Sandyman & Honcho
Joined Ensemble Studios: June 1997
Job Title: Game Designer
Home Town: Rockwall, Texas

Interests / Hobbies: Horror films, games, military history, reading, zoology, chasing wife around bedroom, annoying my children

Currently working on: A totally separate project from Age of Mythology. This project has yet to be announced.”

Source – ES News

Ahhh, tis a fine read, and his article includes a nice bio mentioning the many places and projects that he’s had a hand in. Do stop in for the full read. …and looky there, he even spelled “Beatles” correctly, unlike some other shmucks out there…*cough*me*cough* ; )

ES Spotlight On Crow!
Posted by Thunder on December 13th, 2001 @ 10:19 p.m.

Another artist has stepped into the spotlight over at Ensemble Studios, but this time around it is a veteran of the Age series. Brad “Crow” Crow has been with the ES team since those early days, and in a great variety of positions:

“Full Name: Brad Crow
Nick Name: (Crow)
Joined Ensemble Studios: 95
Job Title: Animation Lead
Home Town: Houston

Short Bio: Luckily I stumbled into Ensemble in 95, helped develop the art team and contributed to first Age game as a Lead Artist. Contributed to Age of Kings as a Lead Artist. Served as Lead artist, External Cinematic Lead, and Animation Lead at various intervals of Age of Mythology project. Hoping to be ‘soft drink’ boy next, or whatever I benefit the team most as! :P”

Source – ES News

He’s obviously a busy bloke, but did manage to drop a few interesting lines in his spotlight feature. …jeez, you’d expect an ES vet to have some grey hairs… ; )

3v3 Tourney Saturday!
Posted by Thunder on December 13th, 2001 @ 2:53 a.m.
Forumer Time_Itself is gearing up for this big event. He’s just posted the official rules and settings for the 3v3 RM tournament he will be running this Saturday. Grab a few of your friends and get your act together for this showdown:

“The Tournament will begin SATURDAY, DECEMBER 15th at 3PM EASTERN STANDARD TIME, with sign ups starting at 2PM EASTERN STANDARD TIME, in Agincourt. I will be in Agincourt taking signups, and you can also contact me via ZMs, my zone name is Time_Itself.”

Source – The Official 3v3 Tournament Thread

Now, for those of you elsewhere in the world, 3pm EST is 8pm GMT I believe, so that should help give you an idea of when to show up. Make sure you stop by the official post for the full rules and settings list!

Of course, hopefully the folks at the Zone will have all of the bugs with the sign in system fixed by then. If you’re still having problems, you aren’t alone. The transition has been anything but smooth. …I’m sure that comes as a total shock to everyone… ; )

ES Spotlight On MSync!
Posted by Thunder on December 12th, 2001 @ 7:18 p.m.

A brand new ES spotlight feature has just been posted on the Ensemble Studios site. Artist Mark “MSync” Sinclair is the victim for today, even recounting his post embarrassing moment for us. What a sport!

“Full Name: Mark Sinclair
Nick Name: MSync
Joined Ensemble Studios: July 15 2000
Job Title: Animator/Concept Artist
Home Town: Ottawa, Canada

Currently working on: Concept art and in-game animation for AOM.

Most Embarrassing Moment: Calling my 3rd grade teacher ‘Mom’.”

Source – ES News

Drop on by the news page for the full feature on the man, the myth, the legend, MSync. …no doubt he’s working in Dallas for free…anyone from Ottawa would to escape the winters… ; )

Double Double ES Spotlight…
Posted by Thunder on December 12th, 2001 @ 3:39 a.m.

The Ensemble Studios guys have not only spoted two spotlight articles today, the second introduces us to a pair of fansite webmasters. Rodrigo “FOX_Alien” Demarch and Fábio “FOX_ghost” Silveira manage the great Brazilian website FOX Clan:

“Full Name: Rodrigo Bornhausen Demarch (on Left)
Nick Name: FOX_Alien
When did you start playing Age: I joined Age of Empires world in 1997.
Job Title: FOX Clan Webmaster
Home Town: Jaraguá do Sul — SC — Brazil

Full Name: Fábio Silveira (on Right)
Nick Name: FOX_ghost
When did you start playing Age: Well, considering my first contact with Age of Empires series, let’s see, 1997.
Job Title: FOX Clan Webmaster
Home Town: Jaraguá do Sul – SC – Brazil”

Source – ES News

Both of these fellas are medical students, and obviously know what they are doing when it comes to websites. Drop on by the FOX Clan page when you get the chance. …”No! Try not. Do! Or do not. There is no try.” – Yoda…classic… ; )

Captn_Kid’s WCG Game Summary…
Posted by Thunder on December 11th, 2001 @ 8:35 p.m.
The AoC final at the World Cyber Gamers between KmKm and Grunt was an impressive game to say the least. Mike “Captn” Kidd of Ensemble Studios has put together a great summary of the game, including screenshots and lots of observations on how it all played out in the ES Team Journal:

“The final game in the AoK:TC tournament was amazing. If you’ve ever tried to do a Feudal rush and not quite succeeded, this game (IMO) defines the art form.”

Source – WCG Final AoK:TC Game Overview

If you had trouble viewing the game from the WCG site, you can also download the final game via a link on the last page of the article. …the game is a must see! ; )

ES Spotlight On the bab!
Posted by Thunder on December 11th, 2001 @ 7:51 p.m.

One of the talented members of the Ensemble Studios music department is the current man in the spotlight. As you would expect, music is a big part of Kevin “the bab” McMullan‘s life, and a big part of his spotlight article too:

“Full Name: Kevin McMullan
Nick Name: Constantly changes, but I am fond of “the bab” right now.
Joined Ensemble Studios: 11/15/99
Job Title: Music/Sound Artist
Home Town: Houston, TX

Currently working on: Sounds, sounds, and more sounds. Hooray for hissing cockroaches! The music has come together nicely. Will be doing some more in the coming months. Almost ready for the Voice Over actors. Good times, good times!”

Source – ES News

Ahhh the dreaded voice actors. They are largely unappreciated, until you play a game with bad voice acting, which can kill a great storyline. No doubt they will be spending a great many hours playing around with this part of AoM. …just like they are playing around with a new AoM screenshot right now…we should see it sometime today! ; )

Getting In The Game…
Posted by Thunder on December 11th, 2001 @ 1:23 a.m.
There’s an interesting feature at by Kenn Hoekstra on getting your foot in the door of the games industry. The article, entitled You Can Get There From Here, is filled with comments from some of the lucky folks who’ve made it into the industry, including their own advice and experiences on how they managed it. Inlcuded among the group is Herb “Captain Insano” Marselas of everybody’s favourite game developer, Ensemble Studios:

“Degrees in computer programming, management computer systems or computer science pale in comparison on your resume to actual, finished game code. Whether it’s an original idea or a clone of an existing genre, producing your own game demo shows potential employers that you are familiar with games and what makes them work.

Ensemble Studios Programmer Herb Marselas knows firsthand the value of demo work. “Producing a demo game is key,” he says, “because it shows you really understand how to put together the basic parts of a game. If you’re interested in graphics, you should concentrate in doing a simple game with knockout graphics. If you’re into Artificial Intelligence, your demo game doesn’t need to look so hot, but it needs to show off your great AI programming skills.”

Marselas says he spent much of his spare time for almost a year working on demos and trying to learn as much as he could about how games work, and after sending out a bunch of resumes, he finally got an interview at MicroProse in Hunt Valley, Maryland and was finally hired as a tools and general game programmer. He’s now been in the industry for more than six years.”

Source – You Can Get There From Here

There is plenty of advice and great tips to be had in this article, as well as a fantastic picture of Richard “Levelord” Gray. Not to be missed! …”Arrrr matey”…he could pass for Captain Morgan… ; )

Zone Passport Q&A…
Posted by Thunder on December 10th, 2001 @ 11:34 p.m.
Tomorrow is the day of the big log in change over on the Zone. They will be using the passport system starting tomorrow, so be prepared! The Zone folks had a Q&A session back on December 5th to help us Zone users to get an idea of what to expect, and you can read through some of the many helpful answers that they provided thanks to this chat transcript:

“+AngelCat@MPlus> Should I get a .NET Passport prior to Dec. 11th?
+ALP@ZONE> Sure! You don’t have to get one now, but you can. Just visit and follow the instructions there to get a free .NET Passport. You can also get a lot more information about .NET Passport specifically at that site.

+AngelCat@MPlus> What is going to happen to of our user names?
+ALP@ZONE> All of your Zone Names will be available once the update is finished. You will have to go through a one-time process to claim these names so that you are subsequently identified correctly on the Zone when you sign in with your .NET Passport.”

Source – Zone Passport Chat

It’s a good Q&A that’s well worth reading if you’re confused. Hopefully the change to the new system will be smooth, and we’ll see you on the Zone for a few games. Angel Zen was #11 in line to ask a question at this Q&A session and they dropped him like a bad habit…poor guy… ; )

ES Spotlight On Forkboy!
Posted by Thunder on December 10th, 2001 @ 9:19 p.m.

The latest Ensemble Studios spotlight features an long time member of their team. Artist Don “Forkboy” Gagen joined the ensemble back in the mid 90s, when they were hard at work on the original Age of Empires title:

“Full Name: Donald D Gagen
Nick Name: Forkboy
Joined Ensemble Studios: 5/13/1996
Job Title: Artist
Home Town: Baltimore, MD

Currently working on: Icons, icons, icons, and…more icons”

Source – ES News

It looks like he’s got icons, icons, and more icons of the AoM variety on the wall of his office too. Stop in and check out his spotlight article for the photo, and to listen to his harrowing tale involving, Menudo! …Menudo…*shudder* where Ricky Martin got his start… ; P

Forum Party Wrap Up…
Posted by Thunder on December 10th, 2001 @ 2:54 a.m.
Thanks to all of those who stopped by Agincourt yesterday for some games. Dark Side of Day was busy working on the ladder tournament, which was won by the team of StorM_Country and StorM_Front. They took out Doink and baron_ZA in the final game, which can be found here in the recorded games section. The game has a little of everything, including a major Feudal attack by baron on Country, which he is able to weather, so to speak.

A few forumers are currently working on organizing a 3 vs 3 event for next week! If you have some ideas on maps or other settings, stop by this post and give them your two bits. …couple of good records just posted…glad I declined DaRq_LadyWoogy‘s invite to play, she was giving Valan all he could handle… ; )

WCG Final Record…
Posted by Thunder on December 9th, 2001 @ 11:52 a.m.
“Ho hum”, you may have been thinking, “another tourney final game.” I just got through watching it, IamKmkm_tw vs wargrunt_kr for the $20,000 first prize, and it is definitely a must see. Nearly all of the fighting is in the Feudal Age and neither player really stops to catch their breath, it’s just all out war.

Check out the finals, and the other records from the winners bracket here. You’ll have to use the process I outlined earlier in the week to view the recordings, but if you missed the lecture you can grab the notes here. …was watching the players fight in one or two areas of the map, and missed several fights elsewhere…so much happenning so fast! ; )

WCG Champion: IamKmkm!
Posted by Thunder on December 9th, 2001 @ 7:09 a.m.
It certainly wasn’t a walk in the park for the champ, as he had to take on wargrunt_kr (aka Grunt, the MS tourney champ) in the final game, but IamKmkm walked away the winner! [brackets] Congratulations to the 2001 WCG champ. You can take a look see at his profile here.

Do gaming and politics go hand in hand? Silly question, some may say, but IamKmkm hails from Chinese Taipei, and apparently some flag waving has created a bit of trouble. Check out this statement by the WCG people on the “incident”. …whoa, loosen up fellas… ; )

WCG Finals!
Posted by Thunder on December 8th, 2001 @ 9:33 a.m.
The final pair has been decided in the World Cyber Games Age tournament! The brackets tell the story as chun_yu_hk suffers two losses in a row, first to IamKmkm_tw in the winners bracket and then to wargrunt_kr in the losers bracket, to be eliminated. wargrunt_kr has emerged from the losers bracket to meet IamKmkm_tw for the final match! Best of luck gentlemen.

wargrunt_kr, the man who walked away with $50,000 as the MS tournament back on November 7th, was actually knocked into the losers bracket by none other than chun_yu_hk. He then had to defeat Iwillwinyou_ca as well as chun_yu_hk to get into the final match. (top prize $20,000!) He certainly must be considered the favourite going into the battle for the big cash. Keep your eyes peeled for the results! …kind of a maimin_matty style comeback eh? ; )

Forum Party Tomorrow…
Posted by Thunder on December 8th, 2001 @ 2:23 a.m.

It will be a busy day tomorrow as Dark Side of Day runs his 2on2 tournament, and our Forum Party stumbles on into the day. You’re all invited to stop by for the tournament, or just some fun friendly games. The details on both can be found in the every trendy Forum Party Post.

We’ll likely be holding a holiday tournament next Saturday as well. Stop in on the party post to share your two bits on what settings you think would be fun. …see ya for some games tomorrow… ; )

ES Spotlight On Big Al!
Posted by Thunder on December 8th, 2001 @ 1:55 a.m.

The man behind the music, Stephen “Big Al” Rippy is the latest Ensemble Studios team member to step out into the spotlight. He’s been working on the audio aspect of the Age titles since those early days, when villagers hauled around large bones to beat people with:

“Full Name: Stephen Rippy
Nick Name: Big Al
Joined Ensemble Studios: Part time: Way back when. Full time: May, 1998
Job Title: Music and Sound Director
Home Town: Spring, TX

Favorite Computer Games: I like that one where you get to move the thing around and stuff explodes. “

Source – ES News

It’s short, but ever so sweet. Stop in and read up on Big Al, who does a brief take on a Beattles tune. …whoa, broad taste in games… ; )

WCG Records & Results!
Posted by Thunder on December 7th, 2001 @ 1:57 p.m.
There is no way that anyone could have predicted the way that World Cyber Games tournament in Korea is unfolding. Pretty much every player who has been predicted as being a possible winner has been eliminated, including Koven and Mozory! The double elimination brackets set up some really tough matches. You can check out the winners bracket here and the losers bracket here. Things have really gone quickly, and we are down to wargrunt_kr (Grunt) vs Iwillwinyou_ca (Christhebest) in the losers bracket and chun_yu_hk (???) vs IamKmkm_tw (of the same name) in the winners bracket.

The WCG folks have also rigged up a way for us to watch the recorded games as well. I’ve tried it out, and it worked like a charm. Here’s a simple run down on the steps to get this working:

“1. Download the file below, and save in C:\ directory.
2. Choose “Start->Run” menu and type “regsvr32 -u C:\WCGview.ocx” (without the quotation marks).”

Source – WCG Viewer’s Guide

Once you run the .ocx file, goto this page and click on the play button of a match-up you want to see. You’ll probably get a weird window pop-up about “Running on Air”, just be patient. AoK will launch on it’s own, and you’ll find the record listed when you click on the save and recorded games button. (look for “WCG”) Launch it, and away you go! I just watched Iwillwinyou_ca play an Aussia bloke, in a pretty crazy Arabia style match. Hopefully the winner and loser bracket games will be available for viewing shortly. …I’ve never heard of chun_yu before…if he goes by another nick, that might be more familiar to us all, please let me know… ; )

2v2 Ladder Tourney!
Posted by Thunder on December 7th, 2001 @ 1:56 a.m.
With the last ladder tournament being such a success, Dark Side of Day is now busy organizing another one! Grab a partner and get ready for some 2 on 2 games this Saturday. You find out how to sign-up and find more information in this forum post.

It will be interesting to see if the Myll clan will show up in force once again to defend their crown. At anyrate, best of luck all! …those who lose in the early rounds can hang out and play a few friendly games with us forum party goers… ; )

TTA’s Impending Tourney & Forum Fix!
Posted by Thunder on December 6th, 2001 @ 10:41 p.m.
You know how this goes. Brick, note attached, my window, broken, and we all get to blame Ogre, chieftan at Through The Ages. He’s been pretty busy over there working on their forum issues and putting together a funky tournament that we’ll be able to sign-up for shortly. Here’s the good word right from the monster’s mouth:

“The Ogre promised last week that he would talk more about a tournament that he would like to run here at Through The Ages. Well the time is here for him to finally mention what’s up about it.

Many know about the coop feature in the Age of Empires series of games. This is exactly what the tournament will be all about. You, along with a friend, will battle on the same team, using the same resources, against another coop team.

More details are to be released tonight or tomorrow on the rules, how to sign up, and most importantly the prizes involved.

Oh and he would also like to mention that the forums are finally back and working again at Through The Ages.

Ogre would like to report the forums are finally back to normal. They are back to how they use to be, just in a different place of course. Sorry again about that. If you signed up on the IB 3 version of the forums that were up for about a week, you’ll have to reregister. – Ogre

ES Spotlight On harterfaster!
Posted by Thunder on December 6th, 2001 @ 9:54 p.m.

Yes, the crew at Ensemble Studios is back on their spotlight horse! If you haven’t noticed, there is someone new working the news over at the ES site. After a great many years, it seems that Mike “Archangel” McCart‘s job focus is taking him more towards marketing junk for print magazines and such. At anyrate, Rayzak has been posting up a storm over at ES, including a spotlight on none other than Harter “harterfaster” Ryan, Mr. Producer man himself:

“Full Name: Harter Ryan
Nick Name: harterfaster
Joined Ensemble Studios: Labor Day, 1997
Job Title: Executive Producer
Home Town: Wherever I am currently.

Currently working on: Helping keep all our two development teams focused and on target. I hope they agree. I also run management interference for our QA and IT groups when problems pop up.”

Source – ES News: Harter Ryan Spotlight

He’s got a very interesting bio written up, that’s well worth the read. It confirms that former top secret ES project “Nemesis” is a dead duck, and they’ve since launched head long into yet another top secret project. Makes for some good reading! …not quite a Bond novel…but just as cool since it involves games… ; )

Zone Passport Chat Tonight…
Posted by Thunder on December 5th, 2001 @ 12:32 a.m.
No doubt there are a few of you out there with questions about the upcoming changes to the Zone as a result of the new Passport system. Well, tonight at 6pm PST (9pm EST, 2am GMT), the Zone staff will be on hand in the chat theatre to answer questions about this impending alteration to nicknames and the way we log in to play games.

Watch for the new passport system to take effect on December 11th, less than a week away. …I’m afraid of change… ; )

WCG Underway!
Posted by Thunder on December 5th, 2001 @ 12:24 a.m.
Over in Korea, the World Cyber Games are officially open, with players from all over the world battling for some major cash prizes. According to the official website, there are a total of 49 players from 23 different countries in the Age II tournament, a very strong field. The full list of players can be found here. Even Ensemble Studios‘ own Bruce Shelley has made the trip to this event, but no doubt he’ll doing more public speaking than gaming.

If you stop in at the Official WCG site, you’ll be able to take a look at live broadcasts of the events. You just need to register, and take a look at the events schedule. …my registration seemed to go ok…but my ID keeps getting rejected…who told them I was coming? ; )

Posted by Thunder on December 5th, 2001 @ 12:07 a.m.
Several frequently asked questions articles have been updated or created in the past few hours to help us all find our way in this big ol’ Age world. If you’ve got questions about scenarios, modpacks, or any of those odd abbreviations you’ve seen people using, here’s a good place to start:

  • FAQ – the classic AOKH FAQ article, recently updated. It covers general questions about the game and this website.

  • Blacksmith FAQ – covers what to do with the scenario files we offer for download in the Blacksmith once you’ve got them in your hot little hands.

  • Scenario Design How-To’s – have questions about triggers, resources, units, or map designing? You’ll find helpful tips and or links to general questions on all of these topics and more in this FAQ.

  • Modpack FAQ – answers on creating and using AoK mods. It’s just that simple.

  • Abbreviations – all of those little shortcuts that make up Agespeak. Don’t know a TC from a TK? At last, answers!

Mac Age Wins Award!
Posted by Thunder on December 4th, 2001 @ 8:56 p.m.
The recently released Age II Gold Edition for the Mac platform has already been honoured with an award. The fruity folks at selected the game to be inducted into their 2001 hall of fame as the best strategy game of the year! (thanks ES news) You can take a look at some of their other hall of fame picks as well as their thoughts on the Gold Edition in this article by Peter Cohen. …can’t believe RoR never came out for the Mac… ; \

Interesting WCG Ruling…
Posted by Thunder on December 4th, 2001 @ 1:35 a.m.
With just a few days before the World Cyber Games is about to begin (Dec 5th), the AoK community has wind of an interesting announcement. As posted on MFO, event organizers have made the decision to offer the winners of the previous year’s WCG events automatic trips to the next event. This means that Koven will be participating this year afterall. He had been previously knocked out of the Korean qualifying tournament and was thought not to be taking part in this world wide tournament, but the new decision has ensured he will be.

You can read through the full announcement which explains some of the reasoning behind this decsion in this post by blue_myriddn. Whether or not you agree with the decision, it has certainly stirred things up as is evident by player responses. …verrrry interesting… ; )

Mark Stoker’s Nyctophobia!
Posted by Thunder on December 3rd, 2001 @ 10:59 p.m.
A top notch scenario designer has just completed a new campaign that is worth checking out. Mark Stoker is a member of the SCN Punk team, and has been creating fantastic AoK scenarios for quite awhile now. His latest work is entitled Nyctophobia, and has already been rated as a perfect 5.0 campaign! Here’s a bit of the story to help wet your whistle:

“The mighty city of Chichen Itza had prospered for many generations. Under the rule of a succession of strong and competent kings, Chichen Itza’s influence spread across the Mayan homelands, making the city the most dominant in all the Yucatan.

Then came the day the prophets had been forewarning about for hundreds of years: the day the barbaric Toltec invaders first arrived from over the horizon. With the Toltecs came despair and destruction never witnessed before by the Mayans. The grand city of Edzna, under the rule of the great King Nopaltzin, fell to the Toltecs without a struggle. Edzna was razed to the ground, and all its inhabitants, including King Nopaltzin, were sacrificed to the gods.

When news of this horrifying defeat spread throughout the Yucatan, King Gucumatz of Chichen Itza knew he would not be able to hold off the Toltecs himself; he would need support from the rival Mayan city-states to defeat the Toltecs. Without more ado Gucumatz sent messengers to all of the rival Mayan kings, asking for help. The other Mayan kings were reluctant to form an alliance with Chichen Itza, but they knew too well that it was their only hope for survival. Eventually every key Mayan city joined the alliance with Chichen Itza: Uxmal, Izamal, Sayil, even Chichen Itza’s archenemy Mayapan joined the alliance. And thus began the bloodiest war in the history of the Mayans…”

Source – Nyctophobia – Story

If you’re in the mood for some great single player fun, this would be a great campaign to snag. You can grab it here, from the Punk’s site.

If you’re not convinced that it’s worth the download, check out BrandNewCar‘s review. …90% finished downloading it myself… ; )

Forum Party TODAY…
Posted by Thunder on December 1st, 2001 @ 8:07 a.m.

It’s late, I know. Sorry folks, we had some technical problems with our server today which forced the delay of our Forum Party announcement until now. Here’s hoping you’ll still be able to make our regular weekly event, the first for December! (where did November go??) You’ll find the details on where and when to show up for some fun games of AoK in the not so trusty Forum Party Post. Here’s hoping we’ll see you there!

There won’t be a tournament this week, but rest assured we’ll be having a new event at our weekly party coming up. …if you have ideas for settings, let me know…. ; )

More Zone Changes…
Posted by Thunder on December 1st, 2001 @ 6:30 a.m.
The folks at Zone are making some more changes, and this time around it’s their log in and nicknames that are being modified. They are bringing their passport system to the Zone, and have made a full list of the changes we can expect on this page. This is quite a major alteration, and it will be implemented in less than two weeks:

“On December 11th, the way you sign into the Zone will be changing! Read this article and then attend our .NET Passport Zone Theater Chat, December 5th at 6 p.m. Pacific Time where Zone staff members will be on hand to answer your questions.

The Zone is becoming a .NET Passport-participating site. This means you will sign into the Zone with your .NET Passport acco.unt, although you will still be seen throughout the Zone with your Zone Name (to be called MSN Nickname). So you can now use your .NET Passport to play your favorite Zone games in addition to using it for other great sites like MSN Chat, MSN Money, and MSN Music.”

Source – The Zone and Microsoft(R) .NET Passport

Make sure you stop in on this page for the particulars on the upcoming change in the Zoner’s status quo. …hmmmm, hope that chat on Dec 5 doesn’t get ugly… ; )