Archived News From January 2004

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!

Outposts – Useless or Useful?
Posted by Aro on January 27th, 2004 @ 6:04 p.m.
Blake has posted up a thread in the General & Strategy Discussion forums asking “Does anyone use outposts?” Outposts don’t cost a lot and have a great LOS range, but are weak and can only be used for keeping a look out (unless your really creative :-P). Here’s a quote from the thread…

I personally like the idea of outposts in AOC, but I never have the excess resources to build them in the dark age if I want to rush to fuedal (which I always do) and soon as I get to fuedal watch towers are available and outposts become obselete.
Also, I have never seen them used on any multiplayer game other than the odd use of them on Michi maps, so I was wondering, does anyone out their use outposts???

What do you think? Are Outposts useless versions of Watch Towers, or can they be used in other ways? Feel free to add your own comments in the thread.

MCSN Wrap-up
Posted by CrystalCrown on January 25th, 2004 @ 3:45 a.m.
Tonight was a rather uneventful evening for MCSN, mainly due to lack of available participants and technical problems. Tonto_DaVe could not connect to MSN Zone and was unable use IP to play either. For some unknown reason, ax_man1 had a high latency problem, which prevented him from joining the game. However, I did manage to find some TOAO members, Railroad and TOAO_Emerald_, as well as a fellow DGDN member, Danthered, to play with. We decided to play Yoshi Blood, yet another variation of Castle Blood, on random settings. The differences were that the map resembled a Yoshi egg, and there were power-up options available for purchase as well. I was teamed up with Railroad against Danthered and Emerald. I thought I was rather lucky to end up with Saracens, a generally formidable civilization, until I found out that nobody had any cavalry. Railroad managed to get the Japanese, but we were outciv’ed as our opponents were Teutons and Mayans. We did have an advantage though, because for some reason, I was given an extra Furious the Monkey Boy. Armed with this unforeseen bonus, I quickly took out all of Danthered’s castles. Just as the game shifted in our favor, however, my dial-up modem had a connection lapse and terminated my gaming prematurely.

Perhaps you want to help us make next week more successful. Please do not hesitate to register or submit a scenario. We are always looking for new members!

Your Worst / Most Humiliating Loss?
Posted by Aro on January 22nd, 2004 @ 6:35 p.m.
Ever have a “Most Humiliating Game” while playing AoK? Ghosthic has posted up a thread in the General & Strategy Discussion forum asking forumers to post up their worst loss they have ever had while playing a game, whether it was online or offline play. There’s already been quite a few posted up already. So if you have a game that you wouldn’t mind talking about, feel free to post it up in the thread.

Siege Towers in Scenario Design
Posted by Aro on January 21st, 2004 @ 6:28 p.m.
axe_man1 has posted a thread in the Scenario Design forum telling everyone about an idea he had for making Watch/Guard towers into siege towers that are able to move, which would be interesting when used in an LotR-based scenario.

This idea came to me while I was brushing my teeth a few minutes ago: why not use a Watch/Guard Tower as a siege tower? The reasoning behind this: it would make any LOTR Minas Tirith battles more realistic (maybe), along with anyother fantasy or fictional battle.
How would it move?
Triggers. Using the create/remove object triggers, one could make the illlusion of a moving tower. To make it more real, have your ‘troll’ units (like a TK) follow right behind it. Once two or three step on the square right behind the tower, the tower ‘moves’ forward a tile.

It sounds like it would work, but there would be a lot of issues to solve in order make it give the siege tower illusion. What do you think about this idea? Go ahead and post your own comments and add-ons.

AI Cheating – Advantage or Not?
Posted by Aro on January 20th, 2004 @ 11:04 p.m.
Lord_Fadawah has posted up a thread in the General & Strategy Discussion forums saying that any AI that cheats doesn’t really have an advantage if it faced a good player, and can make a lot more mistakes than human players can. Here’s a quote from the thread…

Why do people make such a big fuss about AIs that use cheat codes? IMO, there is nothing wrong with cheating AIs. In case you haven’t noticed, the AIs are not as clever as human beings.

I’m not just talking about the ES AI — all AIs have feet of clay, to an extent. Even the best AIs make mistakes that no newbie would ever do, stuff like farming in the dark and early feudal ages, wasting resources on useless units and techs, slowly trickling units to their deaths, blatantly ignoring all early attack laws, trying to counter paladins with skirmishers, etc. Frankly, you could script AIs until you go grey, and you still wouldn’t have an AI that is a match for a good human player.

What is your opinion on cheating AI? Feel free to leave your own comments.

MCSN: Relaunched
Posted by CrystalCrown on January 18th, 2004 @ 3:27 a.m.
To kick off the revival of the MCSN thread, I decided to host a session today. It was a slow start, but we did manage to play a round after being 30 minutes late. Darkmaster, Metallica_AJ, and I played the first game against Creon, Professor, and Hairic in SMOSH Blood. I ended up being the pocket player as Darkmaster attended to Professor, and Metallica_AJ entertained the other two. Darkmaster and I overwhelmed Professor, and Creon soon fell next. After some 3 vs. 1 against Hairic, he too was defeated and that game was over.

Dark_Warrior_1_ and Artifex Chalybis then joined us for some You’re the Prey after that. The map had some serious balance issues, though. Hairic, being the hunter, controlled over 1000 units. However, we soon found certain areas on the map that would constantly increase our HP and attack. In no time, we had 5000 HP units with 2000 attack against his army. He soon resigned as we continued to hunt his remaining units in this lopsided game. We finally won after about an hour.

It was a rather successful evening considering our inactivity for some time. Interested and want to join us for the next session? Check out our thread and sign up now!

Blacksmith Feature
Posted by Anastasia on January 17th, 2004 @ 10:37 p.m.
The Fall of Artal by Talon Karrde is a fantastic single scenario campaign and an extremely fun to play RPS challenge! The game plot/story stands out as being possessed of extraordinary originality and constitutes one of the most remarkable oeuvres (written works) in imaginative scenario design. It’s not a ‘happily ever after’ tale though, but rather a blood spattered real time challenge to face death with honor!

A classic scenario, with raw features that relies totally on the conventional, and no fancy tricks and audio extras decorate this design. However, one is so completely immersed in the incredible game play and map nothing more than victory is desired. The city of Artal is superb from a pretty map standpoint and many of the buildings and locations have been named too, but the players tour will be hastened by the sword and the thrown axes of the ever increasing enemy. Many locations are memorable and most notably the plazas and the palace grounds, yet they are likely to be remembered for the tactical or strategic aspects than for beauty, and Artal is a blood bath with a scenic route!

The story is housed in the game’s forwarding and aftermath messages only, and an imagination which is bound by the aim of wish-fulfilment, as in much romantic and heroic fantasy, could not begin to match The Fall of Artal for story as it relates to the game play. I suggest reading the story with intent because it adds incredible depth to the experience. Players play as Taemyr, Troilus, Dinait, Llandon, Gwydyr, Tyndarius, Gyrdrol, Athamys, and Androklan. Nine bound by honor, and to their Order — The Order of the Flame. Players will probably identify with them as a whole for each of their roles is to spite the enemy and death itself.

The game play is a perpetuating battle for time in a maze of obstacles and choke points. The scenario designer taunts us in his description page to use the cheat ‘aegis’ so that the enemies spawn faster. I am not ashamed to say that I was unable to meet this challenge on the Hard difficulty using the cheat. Totally satisfied with achieving victory on Moderate (with cheat) and Hard (without the cheat), I plan to try again the compelling challenge that gives the scenario a high replay value. There is some monotony in the last 10 minutes of play that is of course one has struck upon a winning strategy, and this most likely will take several trips to the losing aftermath and achievement screens before this is experienced.

The Fall of Artal is a must play campaign challenge and the one classic scenario has already entered the Best of AoK of our AOKH visitor reviews. The only sad aspect is that long time designer Talon Karrde of Woad Creations design team has indicated that this will be his last project for AoK:TC. Decidedly, he seems to have saved the best for last, and leaves us inspired as scenario designers and as AoK single player enthusiasts ultimately challenged!

Multiplayer Custom Scenario Night
Posted by Aro on January 17th, 2004 @ 5:56 a.m.
Cherub CrystalCrown has given the Multiplayer Custom Scenario Night thread a new look, which closely resembles MSN Zone’s current look. What is MCSN? Here’s some information from the thread…

Due to the difficulty of creating, testing, and perfecting a multiplayer custom scenario, MCSN believes that by helping discuss and test multiplayer custom scenarios in a friendly atmosphere, we can encourage more creative multiplayer custom scenarios, enhance by playtesting, and ultimately enrich our MSN Zone gaming experience.

Feel free to post up your Zone name and a request to join if you want to participate in the weekly custom scenario games.

Favorite RPG Unit
Posted by Aro on January 16th, 2004 @ 3:18 a.m.
Lord_Fadawah has posted up a thread in the Scenario Design forum asking one question: “What is your favorite unit to use in RPGs?”

One of the funnest things in making an RPG is how you get to choose who the player’s main character will be. Some folks use regular units, others heroes. That super-fast axe-throwing beserker (his name eludes me) seems to be popular, but what other units make good main characters?

From my experience in attempting to design RPGs, the main character I choose should fit in with the story (such as a Paladin main character in a “You’re the General” type scenario). Do you have a preference when it comes to designing an RPG? Feel free to post up your favorite unit.

ModPack Unit Creation Tool
Posted by Aro on January 14th, 2004 @ 10:20 p.m.
dark_blade and other 9 members of the MUCT team have started to created a ModPack Unit Creation Tool project that might prove to be very useful for the AoK ModPack Community. According to the MUTC thread in the ModPack Discussions forums, they are 80% done with the interface and will soon be working on the other sections of this tool. dark_blade was kind enough to give me a description of this tool and how he came up with the concept to create it…

MUCT Interface

The Modpack Unit Creation Tool (MUCT) is a tool that we are currently working on, with the goal of opening the world of modding units up to many scenario designers. A lot of campaign designers use previously created (ES) units to represent their characters. So I came up with this notion:
What if a campaign designer could use an easy modding tool to create a main character that would look like they wanted it too? Something that would make a new unit that you could insert into the game in about a minute, rather than spending hours and hours creating each frame. So I sounded the idea of creating such a tool off to the Modpack community.I had a very positive response, and we set about laying the groundwork in place for the tool. Then someone suggested language translations too, so we agreed that once the final system was in place we would draft a couple of people in for language translation. (We are hoping for English, French, Spanish and German. These will be included in downloadable language files, rather than compiled into the program). Currently, we have got a lot of groundwork done, a basic interface designed, and drafted in a 3d graphics expert to help on the team.

Please stress that we don’t need any input as to what races, clothing etc should be included. We have set that for version 1 and this will not be changed at the moment. We do have a need for programmers, and possibly artists. We also need help with SLP and DRS files.

This tool, when finished, will be an excellent resource for all new AoK modders and make it much easier to create a unit mod. If you would like to help out the team (for the jobs listed above), feel free to leave a post in the official MUCT thread.

MFO Smackdown on Saturday
Posted by Aro on January 13th, 2004 @ 11:13 p.m.
Mr. Fixit Online is holding another Smackdown, this time with the Regicide game type. Here are the settings as shown on the MFO website…

Game Style Custom
Location Land Nomad
Map Size Medium
Difficulty Standard
Resources Normal
Population 200
Reveal Map Normal
Starting Age Castle Age
Victory Time Limit 700 years
Record Game Yes
All Techs No
Allow Cheats No
Civilizations Only 1 of the same civ on each team.

To find out more about this, head to the MFO website or check out this post for additional information. The Smackdown starts on Saturday (the 17th).

AoE III: The Age of… Emperors?
Posted by Aro on January 12th, 2004 @ 10:31 p.m.
scheming_monk has made a lengthy post about his idea for a new AoE game, which would be called “AoE III: The Age of Emperors”. It looks like it would be an extension of AoK. Here’s a quote from the thread about his ideas for more terrains and roads…

3) Terrain and roads
———————————————————— ———————————-
Units can now move in woods and there should be different types of
All units will move a little slower and maybe the Los could vary
with civs, forrest type and type of unit, that would be interesting I think.

The wood will also upset the bonus system between military units
slighly, cavalry will move slower, archers have less LOS and accuracy,
infantry might get some kind of bonus etc.

If you feel this would be too complex we can tune it down.

Wells and streams are added to cure fatigue. They also makes animals
grow faster (o).

Feel free to add your own comments and ideas.

JuNo Cup Tournament Winner
Posted by Aro on January 11th, 2004 @ 10:37 p.m.
At long last, FoPT Clan’s 128-player JuNo Cup tournament is over, with L_Clan_Bender being announced as the winner. Here’s some information from FOPT_Strawberry on the FOPT clan website…

In a thrilling final L_Clan_Bender defeated his Clan Mate L_Clan_Wrath on Arabia and Team Islands for a cash prize of $250 and added another trophy to his personal Ageography.

On behalf of the sponsors, Noorse and Justice, the Admin Team and FOPT I would like to congratulate both finalists and thank all other players for their participation.

Download the final games here (must be registered and logged in):

Congradulations to L_Clan_Bender! Check out the FOPT site for more information about the JuNo Cup tourney.

AoKH Links Page – Design Teams
Posted by Aro on January 11th, 2004 @ 7:32 a.m.
I’ve added a new category to the Age of Kings Heaven Links page called “Design Teams”. This will be there to list as many design teams that are currently designing for AoK as it can (so if somebody is looking for a team, they will have a page to be referred to). If any design teams want their links added, feel free to post their url and team descriptions in this thread in the Scenario Design forum or send them to me at aro at heavengames dot com.

Blacksmith Feature
Posted by Anastasia on January 10th, 2004 @ 8:45 a.m.
The Battle of Lechfeld by aMa is an excellent historically based single scenario campaign portraying the siege of the Bavarian City of Augsburg, and the events of the few days in early August 955 AD, when the Germans under King Otto I expelled the invading Magyars (Hungarians).

The game play is a mix of strategy, and enhanced fixed force with limited build. The one scenario is fast paced and challenging. Players relive the history through several objectives that place the emphasis on the different main characters and events as they unfold. Players begin as Margrave Gero and set out for Augsburg with a message that King Otto’s Army is on it’s way. The direct route to Augsburg is blocked by a large Hungarian force and so the small troop must make its way through the countryside and that also has it’s dangers. Once at Augsburg the player is given the defense of the town with many special objectives to meet, while playing for time. The siege is intense and players must train units and acquire resources to counter the Hungarian attack and hold up until the German army arrives. Players then are given the King and Army to crush the Hungarians on the Lechfeld. Historically the Hungarians attempted to encircle the Germans and players are given yet another German hero Konrad the Red and King Otto’s main guard to employ a strategy of counter-encirclement. The history reveals that this cleared the way for an attack that broke the main Magyar force. Players must destroy the Hungarian main force and encampment on the Lechfeld. From this point the objectives are less of challenge and created to portray the subsequent historic rout. The scenario remains entertaining and players will want to be sure to seek out the objective extra Brother Petarde for a very entertaining experience. Since the player is given two objectives as a choice at this point I suggest ending the game with an attack of the fortified castle of Horka Bulcsu, and use the ‘Brother Petarde’ Objective extra.

The creative aspect of the scenario is second only to it’s exciting game play. An impressive cut-scene firmly places the player in the historic past and spirits them into the game play. The audio extras are superb and include great voice over messages. Designer aMa, is the voice actor and his unmistakable German accent and professional delivery add to the realistic ambiance created. The exquisite map design and creative effects combine to create one of the most memorable designs in AoK TC.

The Battle of Lechfeld is a must play scenario with phenominal features. Remarkably it was originally a German design that has been translated into English. I did find one fault in the tribute feature that is given at the defense of Augsburg. The constant racket of the tribute jingle left something else to be desired. However, from researching other player feedback I seem to be alone with that sentiment. Regardless of that, The Battle of Lechfeld is one of the best historical scenarios that I ever played and one of the best single scenario campaigns there is at the Blacksmith.

AOKH Official Reviewer Tanneur99 offered these interesting observations about the design and designer aMa in his excellent Review of The Battle of Lechfeld; ‘It is an update of a 2001 Microsoft design competition winner.’ ‘Andreas Marscheider is the producer of the most popular German fan site of AoK, Age Arena (Age Arena – German language only) and its best designer. The dc version, the directors cut version, of Battle of the Lechfeld is an improvement compared to the winning contest version, especially for balance.’
Check out Tanneur99’s 5.0 Best of AoK Review of The Battle of Lechfeld.

RTS League – Season 9 Sign-Ups
Posted by Aro on January 4th, 2004 @ 9:54 a.m.
Over at the RTS League, FOPT_Strawberry has posted up news about their upcoming season of RTS-League on their main site. Sign-ups for Season 9 are now open for all clans that are interested in joining. How do you sign up? Here’s some information from their site…

– Clans who already played in Season 8 only have to confirm if they want to play again (remember to update your Clan Profile and your Players-List).

– New Clans or clans that have paused in Season 8 have to fill the following application form (just reply to this topic – remember you must be registered in our forums to be able to post):

Please keep in mind that clans/teams which don’t meet the minimum requirements (at least 6 active members, website with forum) will not even be looked at.

The estimated start date of Season 9 is on Monday, January 19th. For more information, visit their site or this post.

AoE III Campaign Ideas
Posted by Aro on January 2nd, 2004 @ 7:10 a.m.
jwholey has posted up a thread in our Age of Empires III Discussions forum asking if anybody had any ideas on what kinds of historical campaigns Ensemble Studios could add if they were to make a new Age of Empires game. Here are some ideas forumers gave…

Napoleonic Wars (maybe the first scenario could be the French Revolution)
US Civil War
A Lord Nelson Naval Campaign
A Russian/Muscovite Expansion Campaign
Campaign of Chandragupta Maurya, and the forging of the Mauryan empire.
Campaign of Skandagupta, emperor of Gupta empire, against the Hephthalites (White Huns).

It would depend which age you think AoE III should be based in. Feel free to add your own comments and ideas.

Happy New Year!
Posted by Aro on January 1st, 2004 @ 7:06 a.m.
Happy New Years day everyone! It has been a great year at AoKH, with the annual Pretty Town Contest that took place in June-July breaking it’s old entry-submission record and a wave of new forumers that have swept across our forums. What will happen now that this new year is upon us? Expect many updates on the current content, and maybe a few new content additions on the site.

I hope everyone has a great 2004!