Ask Sandy IX
Published on 01-03-2000
Tags: Ask Sandyman, General Info, Interviews
Q) Who do you think is better, Stout, Chandler or Hammett?
A) Hammett is the best writer of the three. But Stout is great
fun to re-read, not so much as mysteries, but just for the
interplay between Wolfe & Goodwin
Q) How about Spillane or Thompson?
A) I think Spillane is a hack, and have read very little
Q) Also, in “And Be a Villain”, how did Nancylee Shepherd know
that the Meltettes were poisoned? That has always bugged me.
A) Hmm. I just read that last month. Did she _know_ they were
poisoned? I always assumed she was just giving them a taste-test,
just in case.
Q) In Aok how were unit costs assigned? Was it a process of
playtesting and then determining a price that “seemed about
right” or did you have tables of costs for hit points and attack
A) We started out with the latter, and then modified it by the
Q) can you supply us with the exact formula concerning a monks
single conversion chances ?
A) He has a 33% chance per second. However, he MUST chant for
at least 4 seconds (15 seconds vs. a building) before conversion.
In effect, this means he frequently gets the guy in 4 seconds,
because the chance to succeed is being checked during the first
few seconds and if it works, after the 4-second time limit is up,
he gets the conversion immediately.
Q) Also how does faith and any other civ bonuses affect
conversions as well as how much harder are specific units with a
built in resistance to convert ?
A) Faith, being a Teuton, and being a light cav/scout all
affect your chances of conversion by halving them.
Q) What is the formula for determaining conversion chances
when using multiple monks?
A) Each monk checks for success independently, but there is
still a 4-second time limit.
Q) what is the purpouse of this thread?
A) I am a full-time employee of Ensemble Studios. Many
forumers like to ask me questions, so much that it was suggested
(months ago) that I set up a special “Ask Sandy” thread in which
they could do so conveniently. So I did. Many of the questions
have to do with our games, but by no means all.
Q) Could we have a program for editing AI in a future
A) I fear we possess neither the time nor the inclination to
construct a program for AI editing. You’re on your own.
Q) When designing, did you consider a ‘flag’ unit or
structure, that could be used for marking territory?
A) No. We probably don’t play enough free-for-all games to
have thought it worthwhile. You can use an outpost for this
purpose, of course.
Q) When designing, did you consider adding more ambient
A) This would not be a design consideration, but a sound/music
Q) when playing multiplayer with friends against a team of
computer opponents, that the computer will gang-rush the player
with the highest score (me!) consistantly, which gets tedious
A) Sorry. I asked to have it changed, and the change would
have taken so much time to do that I found other things for the
programmers involved to do instead.
Q) Did you/are you considering an upgrade like ‘Logistics’
from RoR, that would allow twice as many barracks units?
A) No. The Logistics research was an explicit attempt to make
barracks units useful in AoE, in which they rarely made an
appearance (unless you were Choson). It is our belief that
infantry are plenty fine in AoK, and are no longer the puny,
rarely-used weak sisters of AoE.
Q) Can you pls tell us how much more effective the elite chu
ko nu is than an arabelest?
A) An elite Chuck does a basic 8 damage with its initial shot,
then 3 more points of damage on each of 4 successive shots. If
you have at least 2 points of piercing armor, the “bonus” shots
will only do 1 point each. An arbalest does a basic 6 damage,
with no additional shots. The arbalest has a 90% chance to hit.
The Chuck has an 85% chance (which means that at least one of its
five shots usually misses). The Chuck shoots once every 3 seconds
(but remember, this is a volley of five shots), the Arbalest once
every 2 seconds. The Chuck has a shorter range, and more hit
points, than the Arbalest. Now you know.
Q) How did you find out that the Winged Hussars of Poland were
light cavalry and not heavy cavalry?
A) Well, technically it depends on how you classify “heavy
cavalry”. Since the winged hussars were shock troops, they could
be considered heavy cavalry. But on the other hand, since they
were lightly armored (and their horses weren’t armored), they
could be considered light cavalry. I guess the bottom line is
that in the middle ages, they would be light cavalry (they were
more lightly armed & armored than knights, cataphracts,
cuirassiers), but in Napoleonic times they might be considered
heavy cavalry. Does that make sense?
Q) How come there aren’t riders on the persian elephants or
people pushing rams or trebs?
A) If you’re talking “realism” we’d need a crew of 50-200
people for a trebuchet! If you don’t care about realism, then the
treb looks fine as it is. Incidentally, why don’t you think there
are people pushing the ram? They’d be standing under the cover,
after all. The elephants don’t have riders because we thought
they looked better without.
Q) What’s your favourite food?
A) Thai or Indian.
Q) How did you decide to put wild boars into the game as a
food source? why not some other animal?
A) We wanted an animal that was instantly recognizable as
edible, but which was also instantly recognizable as potentially
dangerous. How many such animals are found in Eurasia? The wild
boar seemed perfect.
Q) Why would I use light cav. instead of paladins in imperial
unless I lack gold?
A) Wait, don’t tell me. Let me guess … hmm. Because they’re
faster than paladins? Because they are resistant to monks?
Because they have a huge line of sight?
Q) Will you put any other food resources on the X-Pac?
A) It depends on how you define “food resources”.
Q) What about cannibalism on AoK?
A) ES_LordSoth and I have tried and tried for years to get
cannibalism into the game. No luck so far.
Q) Mr. Petersen, aside from faith, how can one say that a soul
A) One cannot say, aside from faith, that a soul exists.
Q) Do you think there’s a possibility that we are only
A) No. I do not believe that a purely biological creature
would even wonder if it had a soul.
Q) If there’s a civ that doesn’t fit into a themed expansion
pack, what is your feeling of how any company might or might not
approach the issue, should they do an expansion pack for a
popular RTS game?
A) This question is too vague for me to answer well. A company
doing an expansion pack ought to do the best job they can.
Q) Why was there no directions for using the scenario editor,
when it seems there are so many complicated questions about it?
Just too much time?
A) The scenario editor is the same exact tool that we at ES
use. Think of it as a nice extra bonus.
Q) Do you personally feel that the samurai unit is
underpowered or not useful enough?
A) I think it could be somewhat tougher and yet not upset game
Q) How goes the ‘Teuton Solution’ you’re testing?
A) It works like a charm. Teutons are still worth playing, but
we see very few TC rushes. Towers are once again important,
Q) For an X-Pack, would there consideration to units that are
A) Always. Consider how I did Rise of Rome – I did a number of
things explicitly to assist underused units – notably barracks
units, the war elephant, and the chariot.
Q) Would ES actually consider adjusting characteristics of
A) We would prefer to fix units with other means, but are not
above changing characteristics.
Q) In the design of the game, did you look at the idea of
tributing units to an ally/enemy?
A) We dumped the idea because we didn’t like the concept of
the “inept” player building his units and giving them all to the
“skilled” player to be used. We want all players to have to get
their hands dirty and actually play.
Q) How will changes made in a possible future X-Pack effect
people playing with the old version? ie If the Teuton Town Center
is scaled back as many predict how will that be enforced on
people who don’t upgrade or patch their copy?
A) As with any change to the basic game rules, you will not be
able to play vs. a person who does not have the same version you
do. Of course, as with RoR, you will be able to maintain two
different versions of AoK on your system so you can play with
anyone you like.
Q) I’m predicting the theme of the X-Pack will be conquest of
the New World with civs like Spanish, Incas & Mayans. Do I
receive a free copy if my prediction is correct?
A) A trick question! If I say “Yes”, everyone will assume that
obviously the New World is NOT the theme for the X-Pack. If I say
“No”, they’ll assume that it must be the theme. Either way I’m
screwed. Unless I don’t answer.
Q) alternatively can I get a free copy if I don’t ask another
question about possible future X-Packs?
A) Yes, but only if you also prevent every other person in the
forum from asking questions about possible future x-packs.
Q) Is there a forum for discussing AOK addiction??
A) I hope not.
Q) Would it be possible for ES to publish a list of all the
‘hidden’ stats in the game, like unit attack bonuses, conversion
chances for Teutons and Light Cavalry (is a Teutonic allied Light
Cav with the faith tech also immune to conversion, or does it
just take an average of 6 seconds to turn him?), and unit upgrade
A) Aren’t all these published somewhere on the net?
Q) Do you want to discuss game balance issues in these
Q&As at all?
A) I’ll respond to some of them. A lot of them I don’t respond
to because they seem silly or because someone else responds on my
behalf. Or because the questioner seems unduly hostile, or
because I’ve already responded on that point.
Q) Certainly, it seems that Camels, skirmishers, and scorpions
are all underused.
A) I agree that camels are somewhat underused. Which is not
the same as being useless. I seem to see plenty of skirmishers,
though. Scorpions are a specialty unit which, in my opinion,
should NOT be the backbone of most armies.
Q) What did you think of the movie Braveheart?
A) I thought it was very entertaining.
Q) Why do Turkish elite cannon galleons not benefit from the
Turks’ +50% HP to gunpowder units when non-elite cannon galleons
Q) Is the language spoken by the mongols in AOK the exact same
as that of modern mongols?
A) I have absolutely no idea. My guess is that it probably is.
It’s hard enough for MS to find a Mongolian speaker, let alone a
Medieval Mongolian speaker.
Q) If you would do a game set in the 16:th+ century, you’d
most certainly include the Swedes, right?
A) It depends on how many civs I got to have.
Q) Have you played Darkstone? If not, you should. It
A) A little.
Q) Do your kids get ES games for free? 🙂
A) Not even _ I _ get ES games for free. But they only cost me
Q) Do you want me to hook you up on a hot swedish girl?
A) I am a happily married man, I’ll have you know.
Q) You really make everyone feel that there is a meaning in
A) I strongly encourage any forumer who seeks meaning in their
life by reading MY column to hook up with a hot Swedish girl
Q) Would it be possible to allow villagers who are shore
fishing to deposite their catch at a dock?
A) It might be possible, but there are other
Q) Also is there anything that can be done to make the monk
techs more attractive to use in the x-pack?
Q) Why is there no corpses in the scenario editor like in
A) Make your own corpses, you necrophile.
Q) What was the trade workshop going to be used for in AoE and
A) I answered this question quite recently. Either this thread
or the last one.
Q) Do you think you sounds cowardly when you are apologizing
to the person that said you are a …$..t?
A) I continually strive to remember that courtesy is not the
same as cowardice.
Q) Would it be a good idea to create a topic that mocks so you
would say, “Your pal, Sandyman”.
A) You don’t think I mock people enough as it is? Or are you
talking about a topic that would mock ME?
Q) back to AoK, Why didn’t ES redo the cliff, I thought that
looked so ugly.
A) The artists whined so much (they hate the cliff, too, but
it’s really hard to redo) that we caved.
Q) Is it possible to make Aoe 3? Because airplanes comes into
the game very soon
A) In the first place, who says AoE 3 takes place following
the Middle Ages, and in the second place, even if it does, it’s
easy enough to cut it off at 1800 or 1900 A.D. And in the third
place, I have full confidence in our ability to make airplanes
Q) Who would be eligable to join ES?
A) Look at our web site. Job opportunities are listed.
Q) Do you like Bill Gates?
A) I have never met the man.
Q) I would like to know why water cannot be elevated?
A) Because it looks funny.
Q) What’s your current job?
A) I’m not allowed to say what project I am currently
Q) I would like to see computer using TC rush. It’s cool!
Would you make a patch which enables computer to use it?
A) Since we just took major steps to handicap the TC rush,
Q) whose voice do we hear in the taunt “I’ll beat you back to
Age of Empires”?
A) Roy Rabey
Q) I am playing Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Again. Do you find it
at all depressing? I mean when you grab the master sword it all
goes bad. I just get depressed going from a happy go Lucky world
to one filled with despair and doom.
A) Gee, I love the switch in worlds. We must have very
Q) when I was in the Navy, Me and my bud’s used to debate
whether a person who went back in time _COULD_ actually change
the time line. Now, by my understanding of time-line
modification, someone CAN’T change the time-line. Which means
Link didn’t actually do anything, This is kinda annoying, What
are your thoughts on this?
A) Well, obviously the assumption of Zelda is that the
time-line CAN be modified. My own theory is that a timeline COULD
be modified, but that if a time machine were ever invented, there
would be so many modifications to the time-line that eventually
every single possibility leading to the invention of a time
machine would be eliminated. Meaning that once the last
time-machine possibility is gone, the time-line could no longer
be modified after that. Which is, of course, our current
Q) Do you feel the Longowman/Elite Longbowman needs be toned
down in any way?
A) I, personally, do not.
Q) Do you think Skirmishers should be improved in any way,
speed, piercing armor?
A) Not really. When you consider that 1 for 1, the
inexpensive, vastly quicker-produced skirmisher is nearly a match
for the mighty elite longbowman.
Q) Are AoK graphics 256 colors, or have you raised the
A) I’m flattered that you asked this question. There are only
256 colors in AoK.
Q) What’s the difference between the use of the hand canoneers
and the archers? Which one has more advantages against what?
A) Hand cannoneers get more accurate as their targets get
closer. Archers don’t. Hand-cannoneers have a bigger attack,
spaced further apart, than archers. This means hand-cannoneers
tend to be superior vs. targets with lots of piercing armor.
Example: in 10 seconds of attacks, an arbalest will do 5 points
of damage to a galleon, but a hand-cannoneer will do 24
Q) Do you consider doing anything about wonders ? They are
under-used because useless.
A) We like the wonders fine. We know that there are heaps of
folks who like them, and we know there are heaps of folks who
hate playing with wonders. That’s fine with us. The game is
supposed to support multiple play styles.
Q) If dishonest ppl crack cd’s anyways? why not make it easier
for us honest folk by not have the requirement of having cd in
A) You’ve convinced me. Now convince MS. (Actually, we here at
ES agreed with you all along.)
Q) Does the AI action cc-add-resources only work if the
computer player is Post-Imperial?
A) No. It should work all the time.
Q) Do many third-party scenarios get seen in Ensemble’s
A) No. We mostly play things that haven’t been released (or
Q) Are you considering to include a Civ from the Adriatic
coast into the X-pack?
A) We are planning to ONLY have civs from the Adriatic coast
in the X-Pack. Namely, Albania, Dalmatia, Austria-Hungary, and
Montenegro. Hope you like them.
Q) Free Will or Cause and Effect?
A) Chaos math & quantum mechanics both make free will
Q) I’m not trying to be a smartass here, but why couldn’t a
biological creature wonder if it had a soul? Especially if he
created that notion because he was unable to explain the self
A) Why would a purely material (I’m going to use “purely
material” instead of biological, because obviously humans are
biological) creature have a sense of “self”? Why is science even
a consideration here? “Science” is a formal discipline which has
not been used for very long – 3-4 centuries, tops. It is
certainly not a fundamental truth – it is, rather, a methodology
which attempts to look at certain aspects of the world, and only
those aspects. Science makes no attempt to explain self, nor does
religion. Philosophy makes a stab at it, but (in my opinion)
generally fails. Every person that lives knows what consciousness
is from personal experience, and not one of us can explain it to
I believe in the soul because there are too many things that
humans do that are inexplicable to me otherwise. Why do humans
like to look at flowers and sunsets? What possible biological
function could this serve? Why does every human culture in the
world have special formal rituals to do with religion? No other
species has empty ceremonies of this sort. Why do humans like to
tell stories? While carefully-constructed and rather thin
explanations can be invented for each of these mysterious facets
of humanity, they ring hollow to me, and collapse under the
strain of credulity.
Q) it is NOT illegal to crack games you own, right? As well as
it is not illegal to burn them on a CD for private use, right? Or
A) I am not a lawyer. My _belief _ is that you can crack a
game you own and burn CDs for personal use only.
Q) The music in AoK is absolutely fantastic! I can’t resist
turning up the volume when I play! Who did this masterpiece?
A) Stephen Rippy, who was so flattered by your comment that he
may respond to you yourself.
Q) Have you read any of Henning Mankell’s books?
Q) one thing disturbs me very much. The fact that the computer
always runs around with scouts inside my base, no matter how many
of them I kill.
A) You have my condolences.
Q) You must’ve read Lord of the Rings, right?
A) Certainly. I think it’s a fine work. One of the twenty best
works of fantasy penned this century.
Q) Is there a way to speak to someone at ES personally by
phone/i-phone or the like?
A) Well, obviously we all have phone numbers. You presumably
have some kind of motive for asking this question, such as
wanting to call us. I don’t want to trivialize your desire, but
obviously we are reluctant to put our phone numbers out onto the
Q) Archangel is a cool guy.
Q) Would it be possible for you to post the list of civs not
in the x-pack again?
A) No. I can’t even say there is to BE an X-pack. But someone
else can post the list with my blessing.
Q) Were the Catholics considered for the x-pack?
A) Never. We don’t consider “Catholic” to be a civilization,
but a religion. Depending on the time period, it’s shared by the
Teutons, Franks, Britons, Celts, etc.
Q) Why are some of the wonders so small and some so large?
A) They all have the same footprint on the ground. Don’t you
like having them look different from each other?
Q) I know this will sound bizarre, but would it be remotely
possible for the x-pack to include a “Civ editor” in which we
could take a civ and their bonuses, and then mix and match the
buidlings that we liked and didn’t like?
A) Not even remotely possible, sorry.
Q) You said that you are planning to only have civs from the
Adriatic coast in the X-Pack, like Albania, Dalmatia,
Austria-Hungary, and Montenegro. Well, Dalmatia, and most of
Albania were once part of Serbia. And Montenego still is.
A) Dang. I guess we’ll have to drop Dalmatia & Albania,
then. Montenegro, too.
Q) For us humans, we are “the crown of creation”. Impossible
to think otherwise.
A) I deny this. The fundamental bedrock of religion is that
humans are NOT the crown of creation and that beings exist that
are vastly superior. The old wheeze that religion is an attempt
to place humanity above the rest of creation is simply not
The parallel wheeze that humans invent religion out of fear of
death is also false. There have been (and are) many religions
which deny the persistance of consciousness after death. Belief
in god and belief in an afterlife seem to have nothing in common.
For that matter, there are plenty of philosophical systems which
deny the existence of a supreme being, yet accept an
Q) If the Polish are in the/an x-pack what would their UU be
in your opinion and why?
A) If I did an X-Pack and the Poles were in it, I would
probably put in those awesome two-handed axemen that slaughtered
the Germans at Tannenberg.
Q) how influential were the civilizations from the Adriatic
A) They were extremely minor. No offense to any Croats, Serbs,
Dalmatians, Albanians, or Montenegrans on the forum, but the civs
on the east coast of the Adriatic had only local impact.
Q) what do you think of the ending? Once agian I think its sad
to, because you take the sword back and they are off
A) I think that very few roleplaying games have reall good
endings. Zelda 64 is no exception.
Q) What is strange is why did Link start this quest?
A) To save the world from Zelda, which he succeeded at. He got
no glory for it, but that’s pretty common in reality. Who
remembers Georgi Konstantinovich Zhukov? But he probably did more
than any one other person to save the world from Hitler’s
madness. Was he thanked for it by his masters? Not hardly. His
postwar career was a litany of degradation, false accusations,
Q) What is your definition of “rush?”
A) I define a rush as a style of RTS play which relies on a
formalized and strict pattern of build-up in order to construct a
large number of some single unit and overwhelm your opponent with
a combination of speed & numbers, rather than tactical or
Q) Do any of your children want to get into game design?
A) All of my sons think they’re going to be game designers
when they grow up, except maybe for the oldest son, who is
starting to suspect he might be happier as a world-famous author
or rock musician.
Q) What are some of the most fun times you have had playing
AoK? Any memorable battle stories?
A) I had a pretty terrific game this very morning. We were
playing 4×4 on a map which had a C-shaped land mass. My town was
located way out in the middle of nowhere, while my allies were
all bunched together on one arm of the “C”. I’d chosen Random
civ, and gotten stuck with Byzantine (which was a problem because
in this playtest, cataphracts were forbidden – don’t ask why, I
can’t tell you). I decided to use horse archers as my main unit,
walled in, and started pumping them out. I went up fairly quickly
through the ages, and the enemy did not attack me, though I was
in their midst. Instead they amassed their armies against my
allies. I sent help to my pals in the form of fully-upgraded
heavy cav archers, but kept losing to huge swarms of vile enemy
chu-ko-nu. About an hour into the game, the enemy decided to wipe
me out, and came after me with everything they had. I screamed
for help, but my allies were (apparently) busy with something
else, and no one came. So I evacuated my town ASAP, running my
villagers off to a new town center foundation. Tragically, my
villagers ran right past two unseen enemy castles, and I lost
them all. Except 1 single lonely woman in a friendly town, mining
gold. I had one unit left in all the world. It looked pretty
grim. I had her build a town center, and start pumping out
villagers – I could do it, because my opponents hadn’t destroyed
all my houses (once I cut and ran, they figured I was out). I had
plenty of food (over 2000), and started mining & chopping
wood, as well as pumping more horse archers out of my
(undestroyed) archery range back in my old town. I also started
making light cav to handle the enemy chucks. I was able to build
up a big army, and participate in the final destruction of the
foe. But my timeline sure looked lame – I shrank to nothing
halfway through, then grew back out to a huge force.
Q) What happened to Dave Pottinger?
A) He got promoted to Director of Technology.
Q) You stated this without backing it up with any examples,
therefore, could I not say with equal validity, that all evidence
points to the theory of creation being correct, and there is no
reason to assume humans don’t have a soul?
A) No. Just because I didn’t state the evidence doesn’t mean
it doesn’t exist. I lack the inclination to point out why
creationism is amazingly flawed and invalid, but there are plenty
of other sites which do so. In any case, I am (kind of) on your
side. Though I believe in evolution, I also believe in the soul.
I just don’t believe that “only humans” possess souls.
Q) Evolution implies that the fossil record should show a
general pattern of creatures slowly, incrementally transforming
into more sophisticated creatures.
A) This is absolutely false, and is NOT what evolution says.
Ever. Read Darwin. The theory of organic evolution states that
organisms change over time. They can grow more simple as easily
as more complex. They can change quickly (if the environment has
changed quickly) or slowly or not at all. The idea that evolution
always moves in the direction of progress is a gross
misunderstanding of Darwin, and is, in fact, a product of
Q) why would I use the chu ko nus rather than an
A) They have more hit points, cost less gold, and do more
damage. Even amortized over their slower fire rate, I tihnk
you’ll find they do more damage.
Q) How old is your daughter?
Q) Is your daughter beautiful?
A) Other people have told me so.
Q) Are you rich?
A) Compared to what? How much income do I need to be rich? Is
it net or gross income that determines whether I am rich? If it
is net, then I am poor, for I am currently in debt. If “rich”
means do I have a million dollars, then I am not rich. I consider
myself upper middle class.
Q) Have you ever thought about making a trip to Turkey?
A) Many times. I would love to go to Turkey someday.
Q) if I have 4-5 or more questions to ask, should I list them
in a single post or make many posts with one question on
A) This is not covered by my rules, but it is probably better
to put them in a single post because that way it won’t use up the
150-post limit to the thread
Q) Some people say that the Chinese invented the gunpowder not
the Turks. You know anything about it?
A) They had gunpowder weapons (NOT handguns) centuries before
anyone in the west.
Q) Does your daughter have a boyfriend?
A) She just moved to another state four months ago, and has
been incredibly busy starting college, getting a job, etc. She
tells me she has had no time for a social life at all, which
suits me fine for this period of her life.
Q) what did you like better: The epoch when game design teams
could consist of 2-3 people doing all the programming, graphics,
gameplay development, music etc. OR today’s time when huge teams
of specialists work together on an x-million $ project?
A) Well, I like working on big projects with lots of talented
Q) don’t you ever silently weep when you think of titles like
“M.U.L.E.”, “Elite”, “The Bard’s Tale”, “Civilization”, “Ultima
IV” or “Dune2”?
A) Those were great games. But some of them at least had
bigger teams than you might suspect (Civilization, for one). I
can’t help think that if Dan Bunten had done M.U.L.E. with a
bigger team, the game might have been even more fun. The problem
is not in a big team, it is in having big managerial
interference. This can happen even in a small team, though.
Q) I think you need to adopt TheInsane and keep him in a
locked room in your basement
A) I’d love to but I don’t think I can – he’s not a U.S.
citizen. Even worse, I don’t have a basement. He’d have to live
in the secret room in my attic.
Q) Weren’t sheild walls a heavly used thing in the dark
Q) Would it be feasible to further distinguish the
civilizations in AoK by making each of the 4 geographical regions
have unique art for their units?
A) The unit art is a gating item for us – only a few of our
artists are able to do units to our satisfaction, and they
basically spend all their time from the game’s start to its end
doing units. So if we quadrupled the number of units, we’d
quadruple the length of time the game takes.
Q) Do you have a Dreamcast?
A) I refuse to purchase any gaming system which has a game
named “Seaman”. (Non-English speakers may not understand why, but
Anglos will certainly sympathize with me.)
Q) Besides the point at the risk of sounding reptitive and
making you mad, is there a reason you chose to stay away from the
shield wall tactic of fighting, or is it just not possible?
A) I don’t get mad when I see a question I don’t want to
answer any more. I just don’t answer it. You can ask such
questions as often as you like.
Q) Science is only a few hundred years but I think of science
as a culmination of hundreds of years of thinking.
A) Think of it as you please, but it is still NOT the
culmination of hundreds of years of thinking. However, science
does have the sense to (usually) use wisdom from past ages.
Q) Are you satisfy with the scenario editor?
A) Yep. It works fine for me.
Q) Which “Games creating company” is the biggest enemy of
A) Whichever one makes the crappiest games. Any company that
produces good games is our friend, because we think good games
help the entire gaming industry. Companies that produce flaccid,
empty games (or worse, vaporware) hurt the gaming industry.
Q) What’s your zone name?
Q) How do you manage your time?
A) ?? I’m not sure how to answer this question.
Q) Which archer is the best? (that can defeat all other
archers in the game)
A) It depends on the circumstances. And who it is fighting
against. The longbow has to be a strong contender, though.
Q) Why does skirmishers have minimum range?
A) To make them even less effective against infantry.
Q) Have you ever play Brood War or StarCraft?? How is it?
A) Yes. It’s a fine game, and demonstrates well both the
advantages and the disadvantages of going with a game background
derived wholly from the imagination.
Q) Why are you in debt?
A) Because I dropped a bundle last year when I took my family
(5 kids, remember) and my parents to Disneyworld for over a week.
I’ve not finished paying for it yet. Also last fall my lovely but
costly daughter started college and that’s an ongoing non-trivial
Q) Is there anybody that is better than you on AoK?
A) Emphatically yes. In fact, most game designers are not
particularly expert in gameplay. To have the kind of mindset that
makes a good designer, you also get a mindset that prevents you
from becoming too obsessed & skilled with any one game.
Perhaps the problem with us is that we’re too concerned with
having fun and analyzing gameplay than with figuring out the
nitty-gritty details of exactly when to produce our 7th
woodcutter. Basically, the designers at ES are all in the mid- to
upper-mid range of quality, compared to our co-workers. Tim Deen,
who will soon be demoted to designer from programmer, has in the
past been an expert player, but I fully expect his play skills to
begin deteriorating once he makes the switch.
Q) Why are Byzantin buildings the same style as Turk, Saracen,
and Persian? They wouldn’t be so historically
inaccurate(especially monastery) if you gave them more like
Teuton buildings look.
A) It’s historically accurate to make Byzantine buildings look
like northern Germany buildings?
Q) (shows a picture of King Milutin of Serbia presenting the
charter of the Hilandar monastery on Mt. Athos to his
father-in-law, Byzantine Emperor Andronikos II, 1320) See, Serbs
were not as minor as you think
A) Looks pretty minor to me. Just because the Byzantines in
1320 (at which time they were a tiny shadow of their former self
– they were completely exterminated only a century later) married
off their daughters to the Serbs is hardly evidence of colossal
Serbian import. Note that the Serbs themselves, in only 50 years,
fought the heroic but doomed battle of Kosovo and were conquered
by the Turks.
Note that just because I think the Balkan states were only of
local importance doesn’t mean I think they were inferior or
uninteresting. The battle of Kosovo was one of the great heroic
conflicts of history. For that matter, the U.S.A. was of only
local importance from 1784 to about 1917, and even the vaunted
kingdom of England was basically nothing until about the year
Q) do you believe in mans evolution? or dont you think that we
are the decendants of apes?
A) Yes, of course I think that mankind evolved. Technically,
we’re not descended from apes, because apes & man have a
common ancestor, but on the other hand, our common ancestor
looked pretty anthropoid, so that’s only a nit-pick.
Q) Can you pleasse tell us how fast samurai/elite samurai
A) They attack once every 2 seconds, modified by their civ
Q) What would you consider to be your favourite/most
interesting battle in medieval history?
A) I don’t really have a favorite. Manzikert is pretty cool,
though. Also Bannockburn and Castillon. Not to mention the Battle
on the Ice, where Alexander Nevsky kicked Teutonic behind.
Q) I have never heard of the battle of Tannenburg? What
A) Tannenburg is the German name for Grunwald.
Q) is Ensemble looking to hire any interns over the summer
A) We have never hired any interns. Most game companies don’t.
We don’t really have temp jobs that can be filled for a summer
and then let go. We’re not like “normal” companies. We need
full-time personnel only, except during final playtesting season,
and that hardly ever happens to occur during the summer.
Q) in your opinion at what point did Europe change from the
Middle Ages to the Renaissance?
A) I think that three things marked the change over into the
Renaissance. First, the Protestant Reformation. Second, the
discovery of the New World. Third, the rise of the cities &
Q) Was William Shakespeare a popular playwright during his
life or were his plays only popular after his death?
A) I have always been led to believe that he was a big hit in
his lifetime as well.
Q) Do you think Shakespeare was really a “ladies man” like
portrayed in the movie “Shakespeare in Love”?
A) No. I think he pretty much stuck with Ann Hathaway.
Q) Why didn’t you include Knight Templar as the Frank unique
unit instead of the boring axemen?
A) We like the Axeman. And the Templars weren’t French. Well,
some of them were, but they were an international
Q) , I find that I keep hearing the soundtrack during
non-gameplaying times. I’ve noticed a few mentions of a CD. Is
there such a creature and where can one find it?
A) You will soon get a super-secret e-mail from Big Al
Q) Would it be to much work to put lost units into the
A) I think most of them ARE in the scenario editor, though
often under different names (many are now heroes, for instance).
The ones that are not, are often just ugly. Or were changed due
to MS sensibilities (like the janissaries).
Q) if your Zone name is Sandyman, why haven’t you played any
A) I never play AoK on the zone. I mostly only go there for
Contract Bridge (and I haven’t done that for six months or
Q) why do u want us to pay $50 for a game that we can get for
A) Because if you pirate a game, for ANY cost, that means that
we, the game developers, get nothing. Zero. Squat. We labored on
the game for two years, working overtime, and you then steal a
copy. Would you walk into a store, stuff a game under your coat,
and then sneak out without paying? If not, you should not pirate
the game either. On the other hand, if you are willing to steal
for a living, then I have nothing more to say to you.
I ask you, why should we do games if they’re going to be
stolen? Would a farmer keep tending his orchard if people kept
coming by and stealing 75% of his crop? That’s the exact
situation that computer games are in nowadays – depending on the
country, from 50% to 95% of the computer software used worldwide
is pirateware, i.e., stolen. This is total software – the
percentage for games is higher. We do games because we love
games, but we also love our families and we have obligations to
them, too. If you don’t think a game is worth $50, don’t buy it.
But don’t pirate it.
Piracy hurts gamers. The best games get pirated the most. If
you live in a foreign country, think on this – the games which
companies work the hardest on, to get into your country (i.e.,
making translations of the text, localizing other things), are
the games which are hurt the most by piracy in your homeland. You
are punishing people for doing good quality work and caring about
their games. The ultimate result is that we either stop doing
games and start doing something that can turn a profit, or else
we start putting enormous amounts of ugly and time-intensive
anti-piracy stuff into the game. Which has already started to