Ask Sandy XV

Article written by Sandy Petersen
Published on 04-18-2000
Tags: , ,

Q) What is the deal with AOE3? I heard it was
only coming out for the xbox? This is piracy!! Blackmail!!
Evil!!! Is it true? And if so, what is aoe3 all about?

A) our next RTS game, whether it be
AoE3 or something else, is so far in the future that absolutely
NOTHING is set in stone for it yet. Not even the platform. It is
way too premature to have an opinion on.

Q) Will units be upgraded better and be

A) No. The intent of the X-Pack is not
to provide even more powerful stuff, but to make the
already-available stuff even more fun. Adding a new, tougher ram
adds nothing to the game play. Letting people garrison inside a
ram makes for some interesting decisions and choices, whether you
are defending against the rams or using them to assault an enemy

Q) Do you know the rest of Lord Byron’s

A) Probably not.

Q) What units are being tuned down?

A) No units are being tuned down.

Q) Why do all the pretty girls hate me?

A) Because of your low

Q) is Anarchy a Military or economic

A) Mostly the former.

Q) Is the other Goth one something to the
effect of “Democracy” or “Monarchy”? being that you only have the
option of one or the other,

A) In the first place, you
can research both Goth unique techs. I’m not sure
where the theory you could only get one or the other arose. In
the second place, who would want to play democratic,
liberal-minded Goths? That would spoil all the fun.

Q) Who’s better: Letterman, Leno, Conan,

A) I almost never watch TV. I urge you
to do likewise, before it’s too late.

Q) Haven’t you all but admitted that a new
civ will be Korea?

A) I hadn’t thought so.

Q) Have you played Myst, Riven, or anything
like that?

A) Of course.

Q) Will you change the Celtic sheep bonus?
Don’t you think the Celts should get a armor bonus because they
are attributed with the invention of chain mail?

A) We like the Celts fine as they are.
The X-Pack isn’t going to change the existing bonuses
except for a very few cases.

Q) Do you like the new Budweiser ‘Whasssssup’

A) Even back when I DID watch TV, I
didn’t pay any attention to the beer commercials.

Q) You said you made the Saracens better. Did
you help the mameluke in any way?

A) Indirectly.

Q) AOE3? I have heard it was coming on the
XBOX. I also heard it would be a 3d ver. of AOE1. Please tell me
neither of these is true!

A) See previous answer to similar
question, this column.

Q) What do you think of the X-Box?

A) I see no reason not to give it a

Q) Will the TTC “problem” be solved in the

A) It sure as heck better be.

Q) Do you think it is possible to rush with

A) I’ve always thought of them
as a fast civ.

Q) What will be the lowest requirement
(computer processor speed) in order to play the x-pack?

A) I believe the intent is that if you
can play AoK, you can run the X-Pack.

Q) Why wasn’t light cavalry able to upgrade
to heavy cavalry?

A) Because light cavalry is not simply
an inferior version of heavy cavalry. Light cavalry performed
different tasks, used different weapons, were used differently
both strategically and tactically, and even rode different breeds
of horses.

Q) Do you smoke weed?

A) Of course not. My brain is loose
enough on its hinges already.

Q) Isn’t it annoying to get asked stupid
questions and flamed?

A) Yes, I find it detestable. I
suspect I get more flames than I deserve else because I’m
the lone rep of MS & ES here on the forum and therefore all
the built-up peeves people have against those companies get
focused on me. Also I have numerous British & American
friends and do not think that Brits are superior. Both nations
have their drawbacks. You just have to live with the poison
you’ve picked.

Q) blondes or brunettes

A) Depends on complexion & lip

Q) Will there be any units fighting with
picks & hammers?

A) No.

Q) Are you sure the ex-pac is balanced?

A) It will be as balanced as all these
extra months of testing and development can make it.

Q) Can the whole mangonel line destroy tree’s

A) Use your trebs on the forest.

Q) How Come you never post in the scenario
design forum?

A) I didn’t design any of the

Q) My brother is addicted to poke’mon. Shall
I beat him up?

A) Yes, and take away his cards and
mail them to me, so I can give them to my son to make him stop
begging for more.

Q) your responses to the relative weakening
of champs due to archer and seige improvement is disconcerting.
Im afraid that these anti champ units will make it more like AoE.
Can you allay my fears?

A) Obviously not, since I’ve
striven to do so a couple times and you’re still going on
about it. I know that people who are far more skilled at AoK than
me are using champions regularly.

Q) is there any chance that Pikes and
skirmishers can be altered so they only take up 1/2 a population

A) We don’t want to do this
because we don’t like games going on forever. If an enemy
comes into your town with 150 paladins, you deserve to lose, and
lose badly.

Q) Will the Japanese be improved?

A) The Japanese are one of the few
civs that have received outright improvements above and beyond
the generic bonuses that everyone gets (like unique techs or new
units). Specifically, we have noted that the mighty samurai is
not especially useful in his main task of UU-killing. So
we’ve upped his movement speed a tad (the same as a
pikeman) and increased his anti-UU damage. You still may not wish
to build them in preference to champs when you’re facing
certain enemies, but by golly they’re better.

Q) Will the Japanese UT affect Samurai?

A) Actually, no it doesn’t.

Q) Will there be a new art set?

A) If there isn’t a new art set,
something equally spectacular would have to be in the X-pack to
replace it.

Q) Are the Koreans definitely chopped from
the Xpack?

A) What’re all these worries
about the Koreans? I’ve never said they were in or out or
anything. All these worries are built upon a house of straw. If
the Koreans were in the pack a month ago, they’re still in
it as of today. And if they weren’t, they still

Q) Are the Khmers possibly in the Xpack?

A) Mmmmaybe.

Q) When you say the Japanese are being
outrightly improved, does that mean they have a new civ

A) Nobody gets a new civ bonus.
Everybody gets new techs and units. The Japanese, in addition,
get to have their Samurai improved slightly. This makes them
better vis-à-vis other civs than they used to be.

Q) Does anyone at ES still play AoE at the
company building?

A) I doubt it very much. We play AoK
all the time, however.

Q) are you going to improve multiplayer
demplomacy or comunication in anyway?

A) How about color-coded chat

Q) are their going to be any new game types
besides king of the hill?

A) Yes.

Q) shouldn’t fortress be a game type rather
than a random map.

A) No.

Q) what are you doing to the onager line?

A) They are now worth building. We see
onagers quite frequently now, whereas in the old days they were
rare. However, a “big army” of onagers is still
something like 5 – giant forces of onagers, even in the
high-pop-cap games we’re playing now, don’t pay

Q) how are you changing the ai

A) It gets up through the ages much
more quickly, is the main thing.

Q) can i get my hands on the beta game, i
liked their castles better

A) Good luck. I won’t stand in
your way.

Q) I’m trying to piece together what will be
included in the free patch as opposed to the Conquerors

A) We are not yet sure which things
are going to be in the patch, since it is not done yet. Certainly
the outstanding bugs are going to be fixed, along with (at a
minimum) the TCs being toned down.

Q) Is the Khmer barking spider venomous?

A) All spiders are venomous except for
some rare burrowing spiders of East Asia and some Pholcids. But
only a few spiders are able to harm humans. That requires a
combination of strong enough fangs to pierce human skin (most
spiders can’t), and strong enough venom to affect a human
(spiders inject an almost microscopic drop of venom). Remember
kids, Spiders Are Our Friends.

Q) Maybe they thought you could only pick one
or the other because you told them they could only pick one or
the other. Quote:

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

A) What I meant, and which I thought
was clearly said, is that you do not have to research one of them
in order to get the other. The original questioner asked if you
had to get one of them first. And I was answering him.

Q) Has your team at ES discussed modifying
the Keep in any way?

A) Nope. Keeps have improved in value
since the emasculation of TCs, so we see no need to work on

Q) have you ever thought to do away with the
whole unit upgrade system and instead attribute increases in unit
statitistics to combat experience, life-span, researching better
weapons and armor, etc… if no, why not?

A) We want the player to be in charge
making the decisions.

Q) Is it true Stalin isn’t the big mass
murderer his thought to be?

A) I’m sure Stalin was just as
big a murderer as he is believed to be. He didn’t
personally sign the death-warrants of the tens of thousands of
Soviet officers who died, nor did he personally chose the kulaks
and Ukrainians who were to die in the government-caused famines.
But he ordered these events to take place, and clearly approved.
This is a man who was so paranoid that after world war II he
arrested the city leaders of Leningrad and had them tried and
executed, solely because they had done such a heroic job of
saving their city from the Nazis. This made them heroes, so he,
in his murderous madness, killed these harmless old men who could
never have threatened his power in a million years. But for all
that, Hitler would have been worse.

Q) Hey Sandy, did you hear about Age of Kings
getting nomainated 7 times for the AIAS awards, more then any
other game. Did you gloat and brag to other game developers when
you heard the news?

A) There were many self-congratulatory
e-mails circling the ES offices because of this.

Q) What game do you think should win the game
of the year prize?

A) Donkey Kong 64. It is a terrific
game. I recommend it unabashed.

Q) should I infer that the Vikings, Celts and
Goths are not meant to be able to counter Frankish Paladins at

A) Don’t sweat it. Almost
everyone’s abilities to counter Frankish Paladins
(specifically including the civs you mentioned) is frighteningly
enhanced by the X-Pack.

Q) Can a Male Vill and a female Vill mate and
make a baby Vill??

A) This is a FAMILY game, buster. So
… of course.

Q) What technology(ies) or advancement(s) do
you think had the greatest effect on warfare?

A) Domesticating the horse.

Q) Arbalest is going to be somewhat improved.
If so, why is this being done, since the Arb is already almost as
powerful as the Elbow? Also state which unit is more worth it in
your opinion?

A) Well, gee. The difference is that
elbows can grow up to be Elite elbows, which are way better than
arbalests, what with better armor, longer range, more damage, and
even costing less gold.

Q) Have you ever compared playing computer
games to watching television?

A) Even if you’re only playing a
singleplayer computer game, you are interacting. You are
constantly thinking, planning ahead, trying to remember important
stuff. When you are watching TV you are totally passive, a human
jel waiting to be imprinted.

Q) How related are the new civs?

A) Not very.

Q) if you had only one mill and all of your
other farms were around TCs, and you had numerous farms queued
when that lone mill was destroyed, would you lose the
farms(and/or the invested wood) already queued?

A) You do not lose the queued farms,
and in fact your farmers will continue to replant farms as they
expire. However, until you rebuild a mill, you won’t be
able to add new farms to the queue.

Q) Do you think it is ridiculous how
off-track the “Silla Kicks Butt” thread got?

A) I don’t know. I stayed out of
it after my last post. I could tell blood was going to flow.

Q) Will any of the UTs be a defensive tech or
will they be all economic and offensive?

A) The UTs are almost entirely
military in nature, but they vary as to whether they are
offensive or defense. The line of attack/defense is kind of
blurry in AoK anyway. Is a mangonel a defensive or offensive
weapon? How about a tower?

Q) Do either UTs affect the civs military?
Does the celtic UT effect its infantry, siege, or cavalry?

A) The Teuton bonus is kind of hard to
explain without giving it away, but it definitely affects their
military. The celtic UU affects their siege.

Q) will all the info on the x-pack be
revealed at E3?

A) I sure as heck hope so. I’m
tired of tantalizing you guys.

Q) You said to use the Treb on the trees. I
thought they don’t take down forests.

A) This might be a bug we fixed in the

Q) I know you don’t watch a lot of TV, but do
you have/watch the History Channel?

A) I don’t even have cable.

Q) how about an “official” pair of dates or
years that ES uses to determine what fits in AoK and what

A) The “official” dates
are 500-1500 A.D. But we certainly slop over the line at both

Q) Would it be unreasonable to have the
magyars in the x-pack? What I mean by that is, would they be out
of place?

A) They would most certainly not be
out of place. They were considered, and were strong

Q) How many of the 5 new civs are *not* civs
that originated or settled in Europe?

A) Three and a half.

Q) How many new units are there in the

A) Four

Q) If the khmer will be in TC what would
their UU be?

A) elephant archers, without a

Q) If the koreans were in TC what would their
UU be?

A) turtle ships of course.

Q) Will there be any new siege weapons in the
caslte or siege workshop?

A) No.

Q) Is the bombard cannon being made stronger
or weaker

A) the former.

Q) Is a stealth unit in the making?

A) No. Such a unit is kind of
inappropriate for a game like AoK, in which the emphasis is on
national economy & military strategy.

Q) Since things are on Fire, can a building
on Fire, slowly lose points unless that Fire is put out?

A) They used to, in the game’s
early stages. This feature sucked so bad and was complained about
so bitterly by playtesters that it was finally canned.

Q) Since Vills can fire arrows why not other
units in Castle?

A) For unit balance. Archers are
almost worthless shooting at fortifications, but they’re
useful inside them. This makes them more interesting.

Q) Will the new game types like king of the
hill be multiplayer only?

A) No.

Q) At ES, have you considered making bigger

A) The maps are pretty colossal
already … bigger maps would just make machines chug even
slower. We want the game to be playable by the same level
machines that could play AoK.

Q) I noticed that the Beserk unit has spiked
helmets. From what I’ve heard the vikings have never had spiked

A) We are perfectly aware that the
Vikings by 800 A.D. only wore horned helmets for special
occasions, if them (they actually have found at least one horned
helmet in a Viking ship burial), but we are happy to kowtow to
the modern Hollywood concept and give our berserks horns.

Q) Will units be faster?

A) Play on a smaller map.

Q) Will resources regenerate randomly?

A) Nope. Think how much fun it would
be to have a gold mine randomly appear in your enemy’s town
after you’d just spent 45 minutes walling him off from
useful resources.

Q) can units fire out of the ram.

A) No, they’re busy pushing.

Q) Will rams be faster than foot units?

A) Depends on the ram, the size of its
garrison, and the foot unit.

Q) If you are retreating your men and you
need to save your villagers will the rams be able to take them
away safely?

A) Villagers cannot garrison inside a
ram. It’s obvious why not if you consider the implications
for forward-building.

Q) Will any of the new units in the X-pack be
some really good Knight killers?

A) what does everyone have against the
poor knights? AoK would be one heck of a poor medieval strategy
game if armored knights were NOT at the tip-top of power.

Q) Will there be any new monk techs?

A) More than one.

Q) Will there be any UT that affects

A) No, but some new civ bonuses affect

Q) Is there any reason to destroy building
with archers when there are rams and trebs?

A) It just gives you one more option
that you can take advantage of if you want. No one is making you
use the archers vs. the buildings.

Q) Will any of the new civs have Siege
onagers or Bombard towers?

A) Yes.

Q) Do bombard cannons have more HP’s, or more

A) HPs

Q) Which is your favorite meal

A) Pad Thai.

Q) What do you think about the
Mexican-American war of 1847?

A) I think it was a naked attempt on
the part of the Polk administration to add a new slave state
(Texas) to the Union. It was also a pretty impressive military
operation. Most people dismiss it today as just another example
of a big country beating up on a little one, but what they
don’t know is that the Mexican army was far larger than the
American one, and that the Mexicans declared war on the US, not
the other way round. It is true that Polk provoked Mexico,
though. But it’s also true that Santa Ana felt certain of
victory. The very best account of the war is the one in U.S.
Grant’s biography, one of the early chapters.

Q) What do you think about Magic: The

A) A clever, fun game that has too
many fanatics playing it.

Q) will there be any changes to the title

A) Yes.

Q) will the new campaigns be in a seperate
area (where you choose what campaign you want to play)?

A) When you select Singleplayer you
see separate menu selections for “Age of Kings
Campaigns” and “The Conquerors Campaigns”.

Q) If a random map, regicide or DM is set up
in a game in the X-pac, and all players choose to play random
civ, will each player receive a different civ, like it happens in
the AOK without x-pac?

A) Yep.

Q) Is any of the new real-world maps
(britain, france, japan, etc.) based in aregion where no civ in
AOK or x-pac lives?

A) Yes.

Q) Why is it that there are no more whales in
AOK, as in AOe there were Whales? is MS opposed to whale hunting
as well as dolphin eating?

A) Ricky Racoon says “Whales are
our friends. We shouldn’t hurt them. Not even in
let’s pretend.”

Q) What are thy thoughts on archaic

A) I think it should stay in Great
Britain and Canada, where it belongs.

Q) does the AI of TC still speak archaic
english, as he does in AOK nowadays?

A) MS specially asked me to make it
archaic. It wasn’t, originally.

Q) Will either the X-Pack or the patch
increase the number of units that can be in a group?

A) I know they’re looking at
doing this. I requested it, as did others. It will be done unless
such large groups break something unexpected deep in the

Q) Have you considered adding an “earthworks”
technology/”building” – both for reinforcing walls and for
creating terrain barriers?

A) No, because I was the project lead
when we were deciding what to include and I dislike walls.

Q) Any chance of making mangs/onags smarter
so that they won’t fire if friendly troops are too close to enemy

A) Already in. We call ‘em
“smart onagers”. Basically, they won’t
auto-target an enemy if a friendly would also get hit. However,
you can cause the onager to attack by clicking on the enemy, and
that “turns off” the inhibition – he’ll
keep attacking all enemies he can reach until no more are
visible. Then he reverts to “smart onager” mode.

Q) Is my friend sane, what should I do about
his “affliction”?

A) The only thing you can do with the
French is to love them or shoot them. It’s incurable.

Q) Have you made any changes in the wildlife
or resources in the x-pack?

A) Yes.

Q) did you at some stage consider using for
of a civ2 model for the tech tree – e.g where some techs are
dependant upon others being researched first

A) Yes. It’s all over the place
in AoK. You can’t research Iron Casting till you have
Forging, for instance. We didn’t use the full version
because in an RTS game, speed is important, and most players hate
looking up stuff in the manual when they’re under attack
(“Murder Holes …. was its prerequisite Squires or

Q) Will turkish Jannissarys, well be improved
to where they can take 300 hits from a Britons longbowman?And
withstand 5 hits from a siege onager?

A) Yes, but you can only train one
during the course of the whole game.

Q) Can there be a Lord of The Rings compaign
in the future?

A) Only if we spend a vast amount of
wealth on licensing fees.

Q) Do you think Britons should be banned?

A) From the Forum or AoK?

Q) Do the changes in the x-pac make men at
arms and longswordsmen more viable in the feudal/castle age?

A) The combination of weaker TCs and
garrisoned rams makes men-at-arms pretty popular at the

Q) Is the toning down of the TC dramatic
enough that it allows for real feudal age warfare which isn’t
necessarily a “rush” or is getting to castle and growing
exponentially still the dominant strategy?

A) You have to push it pretty hard to
wipe someone out in Feudal, even with our changes.

Q) If hitler hadnt attacked the Soviets in 41
and instead decided to somehow invade England or he sat and built
up armies, could the nazis won the war ?

A) Hell, he could have won the war
even AFTER attacking the Soviets, if the Soviets & Allies had
made more mistakes than they did, and if he (Hitler) had made
less. WW2 could easily have ended in an Axis victory. Which is
not the same as saying they’d have ended up ruling the
world – I think THAT outcome extremely unlikely. But a
Europe dominated by nazi Germany and an East Pacific
Co-Prosperity Sphere were real threats.

Q) What battle do you feel was most important
in the second world war?, El Alamein, Midway or Stalingrad?

A) Kursk. Let’s examine the
other three, though: El Alamein was the defeat of one single
corps of the wehrmacht. This is not to say it’s unimportant
– if the Germans had triumphed and taken the Suez, England
would have been on the ropes. The victory here was essential to
the British. But not to the Germans. Midway was important to
defeat the Japanese, but fundamentally the Japanese were not the
greatest threat in the war. If Midway had been lost by the US,
the war would probably have been prolonged by a year or more, or
perhaps ended in a negotiated peace. But until Germany surrenders
or wins, the war would have gone on. Stalingrad marks the spot
where the old Panzer tactics first got used against itself
– the German advance stopped. But Kursk is where the long
retreat began. The German army lost spectacularly more troops and
equipment at Kursk than Stalingrad. They lost domination of the
air, they lost their most experienced officers, and they never
stopped retreating after Kursk. Every German soldier sent to the
East Front after Kursk was a martyr.

Q) Are there any other certain aspects, unit
qualities, functions, features hidden, embedded or otherwise in
the AOE/ROR/AOK game series yet to be discovered by us that you
or the team at ES know about but haven’t told us?

A) Probably .

Q) Who at ES actually suggested Russians as
one of the civs?

A) Me. Though actually I wanted to
call them “slavs” so we could use a broad category to
include all manner of Slavic nations in the same group.

Q) I have a feeling that I allways get more
female villagers than male villagers.

A) Lucky you. For me, it’s
totally random.

Q) What do you think of having archers being
able to garrison in walls, so they are on higher ground and have
more attack?

A) It would suck bad trying to find
and ungarrison them all.

Q) Will the single play be improved in the
X-Pack, or will the zone (or multiplay at large) remains as the
only place to get a decent game??

A) The singleplayer has been improved,
but if you absolutely hate & despise the current AI
you’ll still be happier in Multiplayer.

Q) Should I take Einstein’s word and these 22
cases as proof that light has been slowing down over the last x#
of years, or go along w/ my traditional thinking and completely
ignore this info?

A) I would always take
Einstein’s word on ANYTHING connected with physics over my

Q) Will chariots return?

A) Who used chariots in the middle
ages? Japanese chariots? Saracen chariots? I don’t think

Q) Will Harold Hardraada be a different

A) Probably, since (I think, I may be
misremembering) he shows up in one of the scenarios.

Q) Who was your favorite webmaster from the
ones that came to Fanstock 2000?

A) I wasn’t at Fanstock 2000

Q) What is your favorite strategy when
playing AoK?

A) The late-imperial villager

Q) In TC will the AI be better on higher
population limits? Will the AI build more villagers?

A) Yes. Yes.

Q) Will there be a mode harder than

A) No.

Q) How come the fifth resource (ore) was
removed from AoK?

A) It added complexity at the expense
of entertainment. More is not always better.

Q) I saw some old pictures of AoK and noticed
that deer were much bigger than they are now in AoK. Why were
they shrunk?

A) Everyone was asking why there was
giant elk in AoK. We decided ordinary deer would be better.

Q) What would happen if those webmasters at
Fanstock 2000 posted on their sites what they saw from TC?

A) Ask Mike McCart, ES’s

Q) How far along in development is the

A) Final balancing and tweaking.