Ask Sandy VI

Article written by Sandy Petersen
Originally published on 10-27-1999 ; updated on 03-13-2017
Tags: General Info, Ask Sandyman, Interviews

Q) A good idea for the expansion pack would be if you could have a seprate listing of villager population and military population

A) This is already available. Click on the mini-map filters. You even get the villagers & military broken down by job.

Q) In real history, however, in the begining of 16th century, the knights were already not the main battle force. Even smaller groups of pikeman and hand canoneers could devastate a knight only army.

A) Not hand-cannoneers, but pikemen could. Hand-cannoneers (i.e., musketeers) were still regularly broken by shock cavalry in Napoleonic times, when they had bayonets.

Q) have you considered various African civs for AoKs Xpac?

A) Yes, they have been considered. Trust me. We've considered every possible civ for the X-Pack. There have been no suggestions from the forum about possible X-Pack civs that we had not already carefully pondered. If what you want is reassurance that we thought about your faves, you have it.

Q) Have you ever read Lord of the Rings

A) Of course

Q) Did you guys know what was going into the x-pac before the game went gold?

A) no.

Q) What was the intro like before you cut some stuff out

A) Too long and flaccid.

Q) What was the name of Alexander the Great's favorite Horse?

A) Bucephalus was his most famous horse. I have no idea if it was his favorite.

Q) What are some good books concerning battles and the civs during the time of AOK?(I'm looking more for story books than historical fiction.)

A) I read extremely little historical fiction.

Q) Is your favorite thing to do when you get home from work read answer these questions

A) No way.

Q) Do you think that more UU's [gad, I love those] will be added in the ex.?

A) At least one for every new civ, right?

Q) Do you think Psyke should get a smaller sig?

A) I can skip over as much text as he wants to post.

Q) Coke or Pepsi?

A) I prefer Coke, but do not think this is a universal law.

Q) How many 'multiple arrows' do the E. Longboat and the Longboat shoot? Do they both shoot the same amount?

A) four. Yes they both shoot the same amount.

Q) What is one thing you would take out of the game if you had the choice to do it?

A) berry bushes

Q) I'm just wondering, I dont see the Scorpion as useful as the old Ballista/Helepolis... How come they made it so weak?

A) we didn't like the sight of huge armies of war machines dominating the field.

Q) When an infantry attacks a building, they get an 'attack bonus vs buildings', how much more attack bonus do they actually get? Do different infantry get more attack bonus?

A) Different infantry units get different amounts of attack bonus. Example: a militiaman gets +1. A Champion gets +3.

Q) Do you play much deathmatch or regicide?

A) Yes. No.

Q) Which do you consider the most fun in your opinion... deathmatch, regicide, or random map?

A) Random map, in general, but playing random map exclusively is kind of like eating nothing but hamburgers at every meal because you like them.

Q) When you tested the game, do you test death match too? If so under how much pop? 75 pop?

A) We tested deathmatch under a variety of pop caps. However, we realized that it is impossible to balance AoK at all pop settings in all game types and map types.

Q) What happened to Nomad setting? Did you guys not like it?

A) Correct. It may return, however. It was a major screw if you were Chinese, with 6 villagers wandering aimlessly about to keep track of.

Q) Always remember quality is better than quantity!

A) This is true. However, a certain minimal amount of quantity is essential for us to be able to continue quality.

Q) My little sister is at a pyjamas party, she sleeps over there, and, listen here...THERE ARE BOYS AT THAT PARTY!!

What in all holy **** should I do?? Maybe go there and beat some of them up?

A) Contact the relevant boys before the pajama party and tell them you will rip out their lungs if they mess with your sister. Also make sure that your parents know that your sister is going to sleepovers with boys. It is primarily their responsibility, after all. Don't worry that this will make you a "fink" - it's okay for siblings to rat on their younger siblings. Even expected.

Q) BTW, do you have 10 kids?

A) No, I have 5 kids.

Q) I would say beating them all up is a bad idea.

A) Obviously this is from one of the boys in question. Don't listen to him, Daniel. Stick to your guns. Also remember that since this is your little sister you're talking about, the boys should be younger, punier, and less ruthless than you. And don't beat them up in front of your sister for crying out loud, that will make them heroes to her. Beat them up in private behind a dumpster. She need never know.

Q) Do you know the origin of the days of the week? ie the names, Monday,Tuesday

A) In English, yes. They are named after a variety of different things -- Moonday, Tiw's Day, Woden's day, Tyr's Day, Frigg's Day, Saturn's day, and Sunday.

Q) Being a (mostly) former board wargamer

A) You too? I'm glad to see other wargamers enjoying AoK.

Q) When will we be able to watch AOK games real time instead of through "recorded game" mechanism?

A) I am not a programmer.

Q) What is the theme of the X-Pack?

A) I haven't even officlally admitted that there is going to BE an X-Pack yet.

Q) You hate my favorite band

A) I probably sounded more negative than I really feel about them. It just irks me on occasion when someone praises some newbie death metal band and knows nothing about the history and roots of hard rock.

Q) I'm glad to see that you've become very moody lately,

A) Hmm. Actually, my last two postings were made when I was sick with a cold, which probably influenced my world outlook.

Q) You said you are currently working on an unannounced top-secret (I added that part) project of ES. Is this unannounced project AoK related, or a seperate game ES is working on?

A) Nice try. I'm not THAT sick (as to be tricked into answering this question).

Q) How was it hearing your pals @ work recording themselves in many languages?

A) The non-English language stuff was not done in house. It was done by people who actually (supposedly) spoke the languages in question. In Ireland.

Q) Can you make a unique archer unit that can kill any alive unit with one shot, but with really low accuratcy, and expensive to produce.

A) Certainly. It's called a trebuchet.

Q) One more thing, can some tell me where Sandyman answer these questions?

A) I answer them from Texas.

Q) Do you at least realize Nirvana started all that is today's modern music?

A) ?? How about the Beatles? How about the Rolling Stones? Tom Waits? There are bands far more influential than Nirvana. I do admit that Nirvana is pretty influential though.

Q) What war or event do you think marks the end of the Age of Kings period and the begining of a new era?

A) It is not just one single event, but a multiplicity that take place over a century or so:

1 - Byzantium falls
2 - America is visited by Columbus and the colonization craze begins, to the detriment of the non-European world.
3 - Martin Luther begins the Protestant Reformation
4 - the Feudal system dies as cities & merchants rise in importance
5 - modern-style diplomacy appears in Italy and starts to create the concept of the modern nation.

Q) I believe Sandyman is wrong when he says Nirvana won't be around in ten years

A) I said 50 or 100 years not ten years. Nirvana will still be listened to in ten years. The Beatles will still be listened to by my grandchildren, though.

Q) Did you like the 80's movie Flesh & Blood by Paul Verhoeven?

A) I did not see it. If it has Rutger Hauer in it I'll have to look for it. I love Rutger Hauer.

Q) Since expansion pack CDs require much lesser storage space than the original game would it be possible to put the full length intro video on the expack CD, if possible in a little higher res?

A) I'll ask.

Q) What I really would like is that for multiplayer all players don't need a CD anymore so I could play my own music CDs for background music as well

A) You only need the CD at the very start of the game. You can then replace it with your own CD. It starts playing on track 2, tho.

Q) Your movie lists are decent, but i think you have to have All Quiet on the Western Front (original 30s) and Heaven and Earth, not the english but the Japanese war saga. Das Boot, decent but kinda German

A) My list was supposed to be medieval movies. I do agree that All Quiet on the Western Front (original) is the best war movie ever made. Except maybe for Duck Soup.

Q) what are your fav games?

A) Banjo & Kazooie, Dungeon Master, Ultima III, World in Flames, RuneQuest, and Cosmic Encounter are some of the most important games in my life.

Q) It's nice to see someone else who appreciates Bauhaus.

A) Are we so rare? I played Stigmata Martyr for my son and he was blown away. "This was written before I was born?" He couldn't believe it.

Q) I've been arguing with a friend about Ronald Reagan.

A) I think he was a below-average domestic president and a good foreign one. We've had plenty worse domestic presidents, though (worst of all was James Buchanan), and I think he was better both in foreign & domestic policy than the men who ran against him. I admit he was no genius, but intelligence is no guarantee of a good presidency. (Carter & Wilson were among our brightest presidents, and their terms were near-disasters.)

Q) is there a hotkey for stuff such as loom, or wheelbarrow

A) I don't think we have any hotkeys for research items in AoK, because they generally are very expensive, and you can only do them once, so we want you to be sure you're getting it.

Q) what is your opinion on a seperate limit for villager population

A) I think it removes one of the fun balancing bits from AoK.

Q) Since the Age of Empires series is selling so well right now, I think, do you think that the series will extend to the modern age?

A) The game's style does not well fit the modern age. Starting out with a town center and a few villagers just doesn't seem right for a WW2 sort of game. Certainly we could make changes to better fit AoE to the modern times, but these changes would have to be so broad that it would no longer be an Age game, in my opinion.

Q) Hey you ignored me this time

A) Read the topic heading - I reserve the right to ignore any questions at any time by anybody for any reason.

Q) during history, the weather has played a major part in the outcome of some battles

A) This is true, but weather is a random element not under the control of the participants and therefore invariably unfair. Also, weather is not such a big element in medieval and ancient wars, because they tended to campaign only during the good season.

Q) Are you a Republican? Whom do you want to be president?

A) I'd rather not bring modern politics into the forum, only the politics of history.

Q) Sorry if I sounded offensive or cynical towards you Sandyman.

A) Hell, how can I take offense from such an attitude? I'm notoriously sarcastic and if I couldn't take it as well as dish it out, that would be a fine kettle of fish.

Q) How do you feel about the Clintons? How do you feel about Bill Clinton? Do you cringe when you see him? Have any of your friend's met him (I could have, but chose not to. My friend and his family did choose to meet him and his family however)? Do you think Hillary (sp?) should be running for office in my state? Do you think she should win? Do you think she will win?

A) well, I didn't want to bring up modern politics, but I believe that Bill Clinton is a personally despicable individual who has had generally benign domestic policies, and some significant foreign successes. To quote the Book of Mormon, he "did justice unto the people, but not unto himself." I believe that when the facts came out last year he should have resigned his office - Gore would have continued Clinton's policies, Clinton would have been a heroic martyr instead of a power-hungry jerk, the Democratic party wouldn't have had to suffer all those logical flipflops, and the country would have avoided the impeachment carnival. I think Hilary is a remarkably competent and intelligent woman many of whose policies I personally disagree with. In general, I try to vote for a person who I think is competent rather than for his or her policies. I know that's kind of aberrant - nowadays in the USA you're supposed to vote for the slogans. But I'll vote for a person I disagree with if I think the person is honest and competent.

Q) I think Wilson was a great president in terms of Domestic and Foreign. It was the senate that hurt him at that time.

A) I absolutely disagree. He made his own enemies in the senate. Lodge agreed to _approve _ the League of Nations, if certain provisions were attached. Rather than compromise, Wilson let the League bill die. In addition, he ran for his second term on the basis of "He Kept Us Out of War" and immediately plunged us into one of the most idiotic and bloody wars of the century. He was a terrible president. He meant well, and he tried to do good, but he was unable to carry out his plans.

Q) Just please try to limit the joke questions you reply to.

A) Those are the ones I enjoy answering the most.

Q) Do you ever spell favorite with a u?

A) Never. I completely reject the British style of spelling English words. Heaven knows the American style of spelling has plenty of flaws but it's a little closer to phonetic than the British.

Q) do you ever anticipate being hauled before a congressional subcommitee to answer charges that you have created a product that causes mental health problems?

A) Games I worked on have already been shown in Congress as examples of wickedness and turpitude in the game industry. I do not think I'll be personally ever hauled before a subcommittee - I'm not a game company owner, and congress seems to be of the impression that the guy owning the company somehow knows all about what that company does.

Q) I love the book "Art of War in the Western World"

A) Me too. Archer Jones is one of my favorite military authors.

Q) will you stop answering questions about age of kings if your "ask Sandyman questions" topics continue to generate so many off aok topic questions?

A) Ask Sandyman does not have any off-topic questions. No question is off-topic in this thread.

Q) I often come across idle computer villagers and units.

A) villagers should be idle only briefly between tasks, except when the computer is thinking really hard. In the worst case (i.e., biggest map, highest pop cap) the computer should never have to think more than a minute or so before tasking an idle villager. Computer military units are often idle, waiting for the order to attack or defend.

Q) the campaigns are great; how are the expansion campaigns coming?

A) If we had admitted to doing an expansion pack, I would be able to tell you that the campaigns are among the slowest things to do, so they would not be very far along yet.

Q) do you like Buffy the Vampire Slayer? do you watch Mystery Science Theater 3000?

A) I never watch TV.

Q) What do you see in technology in the next 10 years ?

A) I expect computer games will be replaced by internet-savvy high-power console machines. And of course DVD will be everywhere.

Q) What are your views on MP3s ?

A) I, personally, listen to CDs instead of MP3s.

Q) What are your views on PC software piracy ?

A) It's an excellent way to ensure that PC software will be 1) expensive, 2) low-quality, and 3) unoriginal.

Q) The Beatles or the Stones?

A) Beatles. The Stones did as much or more for rock music as did the Beatles, but the Beatles did it earlier and better.

Q) Since you DID read Lord of the Rings, what did you think about it?

A) I loved it.

Q) Do Heated Shots have any effect on seige weapons against water units? against land units?

A) Heated Shot only affects towers.

Q) What's the story between ES and Ireland?

A) Microsoft's localization group is located in Ireland. That's where they do their translation work.

Q) Are there any plans to make a program either added in the expansion pack or posted free for download that would help create AI scripts?

A) No. AI scripting is immensely complicated and is only used by a tiny handful of people. It would be an enormous amount of work to generate a program to help create the AI, and since we're already moving to an utterly different AI system for our next game, it would be largely wasted.

Q) Have your ever read The Prince?

A) Many times.

Q) Do you think Machiavelli would concur with you on Burger King over McDonald's?

A) He would prefer Burger King's food, but admire McDonalds' gall.

Q) Is Burger King a man-thing with meat cooked on fire, cause my wife and every woman I know prefers McDonald's?

A) McDonald's has cleaner stalls and more polite personnel. Women don't care about food quality. Therefore the fact that Burger King food is far better holds no weight with them.

Q) I'm having problems knowing how to get the enemy to come straight at you in the map editor when doing unit testing.

A) If there's only one enemy unit, it will try to act as a scout. Give the enemy a scout cavalry somewhere on the map (it will always pick a scout cavalry to use as its scout if it can), and the remainder of the units you give the CP will behave more courageously.

Q) Sounds like you go to BK without the wife civ too. Is it a Stone Age thing of eating charred, flaming meat, or do we men like so merely because our wives do not?

A) Actually, when I eat out with my wife I prefer to go to a regular nice restaurant and eat Thai or Indian food. Fast food doesn't cut it for a date night for us middle-aged guys.

Q) is the real reason Centaurs were left out of the game because MS didn't want them eating dolphins?

A) Centaurs were left out of the game because the MS guys thought we were making fun of them. What with having humans who were also horse's rear ends, you see.

Q) Would it be possible to draw each unit differently for each civilisation?

A) No.

Q) why there are no design credits in the AoK manual?

A) I think it's stupid, too, and MS has been told so.

Q) can I get a new flappy thingie where you see all the techs, civ bonus if I'll spilled coffee over it?

A) Try MS. They print and distribute the things.

Q) no major battle happened in Tours. you should probably refer to the battle of Poitiers in 732 where Charles martel beated and stopped the Maurs invasion. i am correct or should i learn my french history again ?

A) The battle of Poitiers in 732 is called Tours in most of the English-speaking world. There is a battle which we anglophones call Poitiers, but it refers to an English victory during the 100 years war.

Q) all archers have a probability to miss their target; is it the same for all civs, in particulary japanese ?

A) Yes.