Ask Sandy XIV

Article written by Sandy Petersen
Published on 04-12-2000
Tags: , ,

Q) When is the patch coming?

A) Before the X-Pack is released.

Q) What’s your favorite civilization from the
Middle Ages?

A) Never really thought about it. A
“favorite”? Maybe the Byzantines, because I love the Romans so

Q) Have you tried Sid Mier’s Gattysburg! or

A) Gettysburg yes, Antietam no.

Q) Will the patch change something for the TC

A) Well, duh.

Q) or a better balance of the civs?

A) there will not be a great deal of
civ rebalancing per se in the patch. The civ’s relationships will
obviously change, but that’s kind of a side effect. For instance,
since we’re significantly changing the TC, this will obviously
have an impact on the Britons & Teutons.

Q) Since changing the TC would hurt tuetons
(Make em seriously expensive) and Britons. Is there any plans to
make up for thier loss with another tech/skill/etc?

A) Our tests show that the Teutons and
Britons are still perfectly viable civ. Just because
they’ve lost the advantage of their big screw doesn’t
mean they aren’t still highly competitive.

Q) Unlimited Farm REsources. Farm not built
farms of allies to infinity

A) Fixed.

Q) The +2 Attack on Tuetons TC aint

A) Fixed.

Q) Is it fun playing a game that you

A) I’ve liked playing all the
games I designed. I can’t speak for every designer,

Q) will we have a kind of horseman armed with
a lance in the X-Pack?

A) No. The attack animation looks lame
when you have someone who ought to charge just sitting there and
poking at you.

Q) where will the new civs fit?

A) One is infantry-oriented, another
is archer-oriented, the third is cav-archer, the fourth cavalry,
and the last a generalist.

Q) In the new campaigns, will the scenarios
have the openings?

A) Yes, the new campaigns will be as
complete and as well-organized as those in AoK.

Q) Why don’t pikeman have pikes?

A) Because pikes were 20 feet long and
would look incredibly dumb in the artwork.

Q) Will there be any signifigant change to
the map editor?

A) There are changes, but not
“significant” ones.

Q) Will the cds work as they did in aoe-ror
where you could use either cd?

A) Sadly, they won’t. You will need to
use the appropriate CD for the game you want to play.

Q) Will there be any changes to the market,
such as new techs?

A) Yes, there is a new tech in the

Q) Will there be extra ai personalities

A) Kind of.

Q) Will there be premade maps for multiplayer

A) No more than there are now. But a
lot of the changes we’re making are aimed at

Q) Will there be another defensive civ like

A) Yes. Two of the new civs are

Q) Is there any chance for an editor that can
set up home-campaigns like the official ones?

A) We will not be providing the
ability to add the lead-in sequences & voice-overs, if
that’s what you’re asking about.

Q) What’s your take on the Battle of

A) I assume you’re referring to
the Second Battle of Adrianople, in which the Romans faced the
Goths, not the First Battle of Adrianople, which cemented
Constantine’s emperorship. It’s pretty clear that the
Gothic cavalry won that battle, and that the Gothic infantry did
the work of actually killing the Romans. I think that this battle
exploded the theory of Roman invincibility, what was left of it.
After all, Fritigern didn’t even seek battle – he was
terrified of the Roman advance and tried to negotiate with
Valens. But when he was forced into it, the Ostrogoths &
Visigoths sure did a number on the legionaries. The campaign also
showed the stupidity of recruiting barbarians into the legions
– a vast swarm of Gothic legionaries deserted the Roman
forces to join Fritigern in the weeks before the fight.

Q) Why do so many people know about the Roman
Empire, but so few know about Byzantium?

A) Because western Roman ruins are in
western Europe, and the eastern empire’s ruins are in
countries where western Europeans rarely go. Also, many of them
aren’t even ruins, but are still in use (like Hagia

Q) Why did the West fall and the East

A) The East covered a smaller area,
was further away from the main barbarian migrations, and thus was
easier to defend.

Q) Can the East after 476 still be considered
“The Roman Empire?”

A) Sure. THEY thought they were
Romans, and I see no reason to dispute it.

Q) Who’s the coolest Goth, Alaric, Theodoric,
or Theoderic?

A) Alaric did that cool thing on his
horse before the battle, but Theodoric the Goth was The Man.

Q) Are there going to be any improments/new
units on gunpowder?

A) yes.

Q) Are any of the new techs going to
radically alter play?

A) We hope not. Our intent is simply
to address balance issues between civs and to encourage the use
of some of the less-popular units (like battering rams & cav
archers). We like the basic nature of AoK play, and think it
works fine. Our plan is that the only “radical”
alterations you’ll see will be with the new civs. THEIR
bonuses ought to raise some eyebrows.

Q) How many of the new map types will be
excluded from the “Random Map” selector?

A) Zero. In fact, we’re adding
all the old map types into the Random Map selector, making it
truly random. However, we’re adding a new selection, titled
Random Land Map, which will never give you an island-type map.
(Including team islands, archipelago, crater lake, etc.)

Q) How many MSFT shares do you own?

A) I have no idea. Probably none.
Almost all of my investments are in mutual funds.

Q) In the X-Pack, is it possible that you
will bring back the ability to start as Nomad?

A) Mmmmaybe.

Q) Did you itemize your deductions and do you
get to write off computer games by rival companies as legitimate
business research costs?

A) Yes.

Q) Do you think that in the long run Russian
society would have been better off under the Tsars or the
Communist leadership?

A) They were better off under the
Communists. The Tsars would have lost WW2.

Q) Do you think the Janissary’s pointed
(actually it is round at the top as far as I can see) hat should
have been taken out of the game at the sake of historical

A) No. I think that changing the
Janissaries’ hats was ridiculous.

Q) since you cannot ell us the new civs or
their UU’s, could you tell us the UU types, please?

A) One is infantry, another is a foot
archer, a third is cavalry. That’s all I can tell without
giving away stuff. Oh yes at least one of the new civs gets two

Q) in your review of the playnow you said
that all civs get at least one new unique tech. Does that mean
there are one or more civs that have more than one unique

A) Yes. In fact, there is one civ that
gets two unique techs. The Goths.

Q) Why are there no stars in the Apollo 11
moon landing video?

A) Because the camera’s
light-gathering power was too weak to pick up starlight.

Q) A while ago you said that the Aztec sword
the obsidian (which is made of the igneous rock of the same name)
was an amazing weapon – very powerful. I know obsidian looks good
but if it was really as great as you said why did the spanish not
drop their steel and use the obsidians, oh and why did the
Spanish steel destroy the Aztec Obsidian in battle

A) The Spanish tried to keep their
distance from the Aztecs, and used crossbows & handguns
against them. They feared the obsidian. Also, the obsidian-edged
blades were not simple to make, and did not last as long in
combat as a steel blade, though they were far sharper. They
required constant upkeep. Finally, it wasn’t Spanish steel
that destroyed the Aztec obsidian, but Tlaxlacan obsidian that
destroyed the Aztec obsidian – in the big battles vs. the
Aztec, there were typically many tens of thousands of native
Tlaxlacan allies helping the several hundreds of Spanish vs. the
Aztecs. The Tlaxlacans were the backbone of the Spanish army
during this campaign.

Q) what was your favourite book, Military
history, and other?

A) The Bible.

Q) Do you tire of reading posts by people who
say “this civ should be in the x-pac” or “this isn’t historically
correct” or “I demand this in the x-pac!”?

A) Yes.

Q) Will the “BANG!” engine be capable of
generating Random Maps?

A) Yes.

Q) Will there be anymore goldless units in
AoK: TC?

A) Yes.

Q) Sandy are you known as a celebrity?

A) No.

Q) Will RTS3 be at next year’s E3?

A) Yes.

Q) Will the X-pack incorporate any new
modifications to the RM and/or DM AIs? Does ES consider AI
improvement a worthwhile endeavour?

A) Yes, to both.

Q) Will there be any real way to win
besides A) Rushing the opponent then booming
with massive TCs B) Booming with massive TCs

A) This is not a question, but a rant.
I have answered this question literally dozens of times over the
last few months.

Q) Khan_Ali,you say that bogatyrs are saga
and fairy tale heroes, not troops, that the Rus actually
had.Wouldn’t you say the same about vikings’ berserks?

A) NO! Berserks and Ulfsarks were very
real. They were also not nice people.

Q) Did you know that you can garrison dead
enemy villagers inside light cavalry and bring them back to a
town center?

A) I do now, but I sure don’t
want to have it fixed. I think it’s great, don’t

Q) Sandy, if you had to fight in a grand
medieval war, which part of the army would you rather be in?

A) Camp follower — I want to be one
of the guys who loots the corpses after the fighting is all

Q) The only way any of your suggestions
become a reality anytime this century is if you stop playing the
game. For every day Microsoft and ES sees the Age of Kings zone
population 4000 and above, they see no real immediate benefit to
making a patch. ES_Sandyman will spew any number of excuses it
takes to get you guys to continue being suckered into a very
boring game. It is the harsh truth, and unless a substantial
number of people actually take a stand, NOTHING will happen.
Flame away, but you’re doing so at your own cost.

A) Get stuffed, you paranoid moron.
This is possibly the most idiotic counter-intuitive thing
I’ve read in the forum. You are saying that if people STOP
playing AoK we’d do a patch? No way – patches
aren’t done for dead games, only for living ones. The
steady success of AoK is the ONLY thing that enables us to FORCE
MS to publish the patch that we’re doing Right This Minute.
You obviously have no ideas how business, capitalism, or the game
community works.

Q) Will elephants be less susceptible to
pikemen, camels and monk?

A) No. We like them as they are
– powerful, but vulnerable to the right counters.

Q) Could we please get a unit that has a
great attack bonus against walls, and only walls ?

A) Hmm. How about a battering ram?

Q) could you name all the UT’s that won’t
reveal the civ that get them? you don’t have to say what they do,
just the names

A) The names, obviously, give away the
civ. I mean, if before AoK I said one of the civs was getting the
“berserk” you’d know Vikings were around.

Q) Is there any new unit that is stronger
than an ETK or a paladin?

A) Not exactly … there is a new
unit which is stronger than an ETK on a cost-effective basis.
Paladins still rule – we like it that way. How could we do
a medieval game that didn’t have powerful heavy cavalry?
That said, Paladins don’t rule quite as despotically as
they used to.

Q) Is there any new important tech which you
think everyone will get, one time or other, in all of their

A) This is a good question. It made me
think hard. But I guess the answer is no. None of the new techs
will become a “must-have”, though all of them are
useful at one time or another.

Q) Is there another counter to infantry? one
that would be useful to stop the champ flooding

A) We like the champ flooding.
Infantry is the Queen of Battle, and finally we got the Age
system to work, so that infantry are good. But yes, there are a
number of scary challenges to infantry supremacy. Here’s a
few: 1) we have improved cav archers. 2) we have improved
scorpions (so their bolt continues on past the first guy they
hit). 3) we have improved arbalests to make them more popular. 4)
at least two of the new units have anti-infantry biases. None of
these are going to make infantry useless or even rare, and we
don’t want that to happen, especially with all the
infantry-based civs in the game. But they will make it harder to
produce nothing BUT an army of champs and still survive.

Q) AoK rewards players for committing
genocide and ethnic cleansing, with emphasis on killing the
civilian population first Is this a morally acceptable activlty
for people to engage in? Is exposing people to the fun of mass
organized violence somehow a good thing?

A) I urge you to follow your
conscience and cease playing this reprehensible game at once.

Q) In the map editor there is a button
accessing ‘heroes’. One of them is the French Paladin. I made a
map and put one on it for my civ… and then when I went to play
the map everything works as usual except I couldn’t get that
neato French Pally to do anything! OK, that’s it! How do I get
that French neat guy with his lance high in the air to fight? Or
do anything beside stand there and look good? Does he have any

A) I have no idea what you’re
talking about. I’m able to move him around the map and get
him to fight and so forth. Sure he has stats. Just click on him
and it says he has 175 HP and an attack of 15.

Q) How do you restrain yourself from fits of
laughter when morons give you veiled (and very hollow) threats
that they plan to go back to ROR or play SC/WC?

A) Luckily I am sitting here in my
office. The door is closed, and I have Randy Newman singing
“Great Nations of Europe” on the stereo. No one can hear me and I
can chortle as loudly as I like.

Q) Do you give any credibility to those that
claim *all* of their friends ditched AOK for ROR?

A) My theory is that they are unaware
of the fact that RoR is also from ES, and so it pays our bills

Q) Which is your favorite X-pack unit?

A) The Khmer barking spider.

Q) the second goth UT does it affect their
defensive capabilities?

A) Goths aren’t about

Q) will the new market tech increase trade

A) It increases the speed of trade
vehicles. This not only increases the amount of gold you get from
them, but obviously makes them less vulnerable, since
they’re harder to catch.

Q) Will the Expansion Pack include the
ability to turn over troops to your Allies?

A) No. We fear that if this was
possible, it could be abused in all kinds of ways.

Q) Is there going to be any new european civ.
in the x-pac? Preferably scandinavian.

A) While we are adding at least one
new European civ in the X-Pack, it won’t be scandinavian
– that’s what the Vikings are for.

Q) Do you think that in the movie the 13
Warrior (if you saw it), those weird cave people were actually
exciled Berserks in the real-life account of that Arabic guy
(forgot name).

A) No, I think they were left-over

Q) When the Mongols attacked Hungary, it
seems like they easily could’ve kept going and annihilated the
entire country but for some reason they stopped and never seemed
to come back. I was wondering to exactly what I owe the survival
of the Hungarians, since I’m partly Hungarian myself

A) You owe your survival to the
untimely death of Ogatai, the Great Khan back in Mongolia. The
inflexible law of the Mongols states that all candidates for the
Khanate must return to the ancient capitol to decide upon the new
leader of the empire. Three Mongol princes were helping command
their forces in Europe (under the leadership of the brilliant
Subotai), and so they and the army had to return all the way back
to Karakorum. And they never came back.

Q) What would be a good unique unit if the
Hungarians were to be included in AoK or in the x-pac even. And
would they be more infantry, cavalary or archer oriented

A) The magyars would have to be
cav-archers, in which guise they were the bane of Europe for many

Q) will the “archer” civ have a unit that
compares in range and strength with the longbowmen?

A) No. Longbowmen will still be the
longest-ranged missile unit.

Q) do you continue to deny that AoK contains
nicotine and is habit forming in face of numerous scientific
studies and reports to the contrary?

A) AoK is full of all-natural fiber,
and is good for your colon.

Q) Do the Teutons will get faster units or
better range units in the X-pac ?

A) No. That would change the whole
nature and basis of their civ. We aren’t changing the civs
by fixing their weak points – we’re trying to
strengthen their good points. If we were to make the Teutons as
fast as everyone else, with good ranged units, then they would
become a boring generic civ. No way.

Q) Will the range of this feature increase
when upgraded to Heavy Scorpion, or chemistry and other range

A) the scorpion’s range has been
fiddled with a lot. Heavy Scorpions do have a longer range. I
think that at this time in the X-Pack barracks range upgrades
don’t affect the scorpions.

Q) Are there a certain number of targets or
HPs that the bolt can go through or is it entirely dependent on
the range?

A) Range.

Q) Is there any new Techs in the castle?

A) The Unique Techs are in the

Q) With the new farm queue, if you have farms
queued up, will the “farm is dying” sound still trigger when a
farm expires or will the prompt be skipped?

A) You do not hear the farm death
sound if the queue is in operation.

Q) you said that arbalests were improved. Am
I correct in assuming that this improvement affects either the
range or attack? And if I am correct, wouldn’t any improvement on
either end make them almost indistinguishible from

A) The arbalest improvement does not
affect their range or attack.

Q) has the Cataphract bonus against Mamelukes
be/been removed?

A) Yes.

Q) No more AoK music then?

A) After the game starts up, you can
take out the Conquerors CD and put your AoK CD in. Or Warren
Zevon. Whatever you want.

Q) the Mongol Mangudai directly benefit from
either a new XPac Tech or the Mongol UT?

A) The Mangudai is really terrifying
in the X-Pack and we have actually taken some steps to tone them
down ever so slightly.

Q) It would be useful to refresh those new to
the forums as to what features will be exclusive to the X-pack,
and not available in the patch.

A) The patch is not yet finished. My
personal belief is that the patch will have no new techs, new
civs, new units, nor new features such as ram garrisons or farm
queues. The intent of the patch is to fix broken old stuff, not
add new stuff.

Q) Yes, I am saying if people lose their
interest in AOK, their would be more incentive for a patch to
come out.

A) A dead game can’t be
resurrected. What you’re saying just doesn’t make
sense. If the game isn’t played any more, no one will do a
patch for it. I haven’t seen any patches coming out for
Dark Reign lately, have you?

Q) What cool thing did Alaric do on his
horse, Sandy?

A) Oops, just went back and looked it
up. It was a different Gothic commander I was thinking about.

Q) Do you think the Goths “originally” came
from Scandinavia, like my history professor?

A) Your history professor came from

Q) Why do you think the Goths were so scared
of the Huns, since they appear to have such potent military might
at their disposal?

A) Obviously the Huns kicked major

Q) I have yet to find a good Castle Age
counter to LBows mixed with a few knights.

A) How about: skirmishers mixed wth a
few pikemen; lots of knights; war elephants. Ask around. I bet
other players will have come up with plenty of solutions to
castle-age longbows & knights.

Q) Has your team at ES ever discussed
modifying the Technology Summary to include the techs researched
by each player and the corresponding times?

A) Not really.

Q) How vulnerable are cav archers to lag

A) Lag has the same effects on them as
it had before.

Q) If the byzantines can be counted as Roman,
then the Russians can, does that mean the Roman empire didn’t end
until the czars were gone?

A) The Byzantine Empire can trace back
a direct line of Emperors back to Augustus Caesar. The Russian
imperial house tried to take to itself the cachet of being the
proper spiritual heir to the Byzantines. But the Byzantines were
the actual, physical descendents.

Q) With improved arbalests, will the brit
arbalest be better than the longbowman?

A) No.

Q) how close did the Swiss come to making the
final cut?

A) If we’d decided to place it
in the Renaissance, they would probably have gotten in. But they
were never seriously considered once we decided on the theme of
the Conquerors.

Q) I think you just killed champions. You
improved Arbalest, Cav Archer, Scorpian, and more gun powder
units.. and more anti-champion units

A) One of our most important concerns
in playtest & design was that old units which were good would
not suddenly be weakened to the opint of uselessness. It is true
that champions are relatively weaker than before, because of
improvements aimed at other units. But they are very much still
worth building.

Q) When your farm que runs out, and your
farms start expiring, can you rebuild them just by adding to the
que, or do you have to manualy re-assign villagers to re-build
the farms that have expired?

A) A villager will only rebuild a farm
if there is still wood left in the farm queue before his farm
expires. If you wait for the farm to expire, and only then add
wood to the queue, he won’t rebuild.

Q) Will the new units in the X-pack be
available in the dark age?

A) There are no new units to train in
the dark age. However, at least one of the new civs gets a new
unit in place of the scout in the Dark Age. So the new units kind
of make an appearance.

Q) Do you enjoy answering questions here?

A) Most of the time. Actually, almost
all the time.

Q) Is the music for TC already finished?

A) I think so. Most of it is done for

Q) Will the new civs have military oriented

A) Just as with AoK, our goal is for
every civ to get at least one military bonus and one economic
bonus. Of the five new civs, only one does not get a
directly-applicable bonus to its units, but that one civ is also
a highly aggressive and flexible powerhouse.

Q) Have you started making the box cover for

A) They’re working on it.

Q) Do you ever get a good laugh after you’ve
looked at someone’s prediction at an X-pack unit, or for that
matter get inspired by what they say?

A) Yes and Yes. I am continually
amazed by the obscure nature of the civs people suggest. But we
get inspired too. Many’s the time we’ve watched some
thread or another and decided that the solution people were
talking about was the right one.

Q) is there any chance that, hypothetically,
pressure from the Korean govt, etc, would make you leave out that

A) If the Korean government threatened
legal action of course we would drop a hypothetical Korean civ
like a hot potato. But I don’t think that problem will
arise again. We now watch all of our localization efforts
carefully so are optimistic we’ll be able to handle similar
problems in the future.

Q) Whilst making AOK and its x-pac, was there
any civ which took lots of tweaking in their bonuses to work?
Which one? Old or new civ?

A) Yes, a number of the civs took
colossal tweaking, Both new and old. To my recollection, the old
civs which required the most tweaking were the Britons, Franks,
Saracens, and Mongols.

Q) iF the goths have 2 UTs, what slots will
these UTS occupy in the castle orders menu

A) They are side-by-side. You can
research one of them and not the other.

Q) do you prefer to have amongst thy troops
byzantine monks with 3x heal speed, or teuton monks with farther
healing range but 1x heal speed?

A) Since I’m not particular good
at micromanaging, the teuton monks work better for me, because I
don’t have to remember to move them up as often. But for
more skilled players, I suspect the byzantines are better.

Q) I am from Greece and i want to say that
Byzantines are not Romans

A) Don’t argue with me, argue it
with the Byzantines. THEY said they were Roman. They were never
even called “Byzantines” until centuries after their
demise. They always called themselves the Roman Empire up to the
very end. Other European nations also viewed them as the Romans,
and called them such. I’m willing to admit that some
Byzantine citizens were Greek, but this was also true under the
full Roman Empire.

Q) Are all of the X-Pack civilisations
mentioned currently in the History section of AoK?

A) I sure hope not.

Q) The X-patch in my opinion should include
morale in battle. For example if a group of champions were
flanked by some cavalry the cavalry should get and attack bonus
and the champs an attack deficeit, and if your men were being
slaughtered they would begin to run, and be slightly less
responsive to commands(but the samuria would not run, because of
honour.), etc

A) Our experience is that players
really hate having control of their units taken from them.

Q) Have you read Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six? If
so, did you like the book?

A) I have not read it. I’ve read
many of Clancy’s books though. I finally reached the point
where I couldn’t stand reading them anymore.

Q) About the feature where your able to steal
your enemys farms i was wondering is this a bug or was it put in

A) It is deliberate.

Q) Any changes to bombard cannons in the

A) Yes