Ask Sandy XXI

Article written by Sandy Petersen
Originally published on 05-03-2000 ; updated on 03-13-2017
Tags: General Info, Ask Sandyman, Interviews

Q) How will the Aztecs and the Mayans be able to counter hit and run attacks from say the Huns with their cavalry archers as they lack their own cavalry. Also, what will they do when confronted with Onagers? as they lack light cavalry to hunt them down?

A) they have fully-upgraded skirmishers & pikemen to handle cav archers. And they are probably better off facing onagers than civs with light cav, because they have a certain specialty unit which is visible on the screen shot on the left-hand side.

Q) What do you think about the siege of Vienna by the Ottoman Turks where a Polish army (including those great Winged Hussars which)along with the Germans defeated the Turkish armies pretty badly).

A) I don’t really have time right now to go into this in detail, but it was one of the great moments in Polish warfare. I am proud to have the hussars in the game now, even though we don’t have poles. See my thread in KoRTto see why not.

Q) I'm thinking about taking Anicnet/Medieval History in College/University, but I also would like a job in either Aerospace or Computer Software, what do you think is a good way to go?

A) Gee, when I was 14 I still wanted to be a spaceman.

Q) What sorts of jobs do you have at ensemble for people who have graduated from college or university but lack experience but allow a person to get promoted to higher rank and wage?

A) None, right now. I can’t say what might open up in 6 years.

Q) Do either the Aztec or the Mayan UU's have any sort of peircing armor bonus?

A) No. The Mayan UU, as a foot archer, doesn’t particularly need it though. The Aztecs make do with skirmishers & the aforementioned specialty unit (who has good pierce armor, but not as good as huskarls).

Q) Will there be tweaks to each of the existing civs?

A) Not every single civ, but a lot of them. We certainly considered every single civ as to whether we should tweak it or not.

Q) How many UTs will there be to each civ?

A) 1.056 (really)

Q) Will there be an upgrade to paladins?

A) No

Q) In other words petards are just a unit that throws grenades? right?

A) No, petards were meant to actually physically attached to a wall or gate. They were never thrown. They were more like demolition charges.

Q) Do u ever think ES will break away from microsoft?

A) It’s not a forced arrangement, you know. We actively courted MS.

Q) Is their any reason why Russians weren't in included in aok or aok:tc other then that they won't be as fun as the other 5 civs?

A) See my thread in KoRT to see why

Q) Do you ever answer stupid questions?

A) I prefer answering them.

Q) What do you think happened to the Mayans? They never got conquered did they? They simply dissapeared.

A) I think Shub-Niggurath got them.

Q) Do you believe in ghosts?

A) When I was 10 years old, I saw a Thing which was the same as whatever people who see ghosts see. I’m not saying there’s any way to prove it was a spirit of the dead, but it was certainly uncanny. How can I say there are no ghosts after seeing that?

Q) Do you play AoE/AoK a lot? or does anyone in the studio? i have never seen ES people playing, or do they "smurf"?

A) We play it every day. We mostly play in-house though because we enjoy playing the X-Pack.

Q) What kind of music do you listen to?

A) Right now I’m listening to Bauhaus. When I look over my CDs, I see Cirque du Soleil, Nits, Laibach, Huun-Huur-Tu, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, and Tom Waits. I also love classical music. So what does that say about my listening preferences?

Q) Do you like politix?

A) I don’t “like” it particularly, but I think it’s vitally important.

Q) What do you think about teens doing drugs?

A) I think it’s idiotic. I ought to know, having done them myself when I was a teen. :P

Q) Do you think Russias attack vs. the Chechnya rebels was a crime against humanity and that it violates human rights?

A) No.

Q) Do you think Americans would lose more people if they actually tried to take over a city?

A) Look how we did in Lebanon & Somalia.

Q) What would you do to get Russia back on its feet?

A) I think draconian measures are called for.

Q) Do you like pretzels?

A) Yes. I like the thin hard ones shaped in the traditional pretzel fashion. I also like those new-fangled pretzel chips. Once at a German restaurant I had “pretzel bread” in the shape of buns. That was awesome.

Q) Would you build your entire non-land attacking fleet out of TurtBoats, or combined with fst ships?

A) I would make it only out of turtle boats if I was winning. If I was losing, I’d make demolition ships & fast fire ships. I would also build cannon galleys if I was winning. Oh, and trade cogs.

Q) Would you use your Jaguar Warriors instead of champs?

A) I would use them both, because Jag Warriors are only produced at the castle and so I can’t get enough of them.

Q) Do either of the MesoAmercs get Halbs?

A) The Mayans.

Q) Are you proud of how AoK has turned out?

A) Yes. It is much better balanced than AoE ever was, and it has even better artwork, and its sales have been phenomenal. I am proud to have been associated with it.

Q) From my knowledge, petards were dangerous and almost usless, it that true?

A) They kept using them for a hundred or more years, they must not have been totally worthless.

Q) are any new changes to the scn editor, or AI files?

A) Yes. One big change is a trigger that lets you change the stats of units.

Q) I heard that korea is in and moors are out....did u ever think the moors were a potential x-pak ciV?

A) The moors were considered for a long time. I hate to admit it but the reason they finally got dropped was because we already had 4 civs using the middle-eastern art set.

Q) What is the best counter to the Turtle Boat?

A) Superior numbers. Also bombard cannons & towers are fearsome to them, since their range is short.

Q) Will camels be more useful against cavalry?

A) Camels have been improved in the X-Pack. They are now a much more popular unit.

Q) How many civs (old and new), will have two Unique Units?

A) Three

Q) In a battle between Mongols and Huns, who has the better cavalry/cav. archers?

A) Hmm. Mongol cav archers are better, but Hun cav archers are cheaper. Hun knights are better, but Mongol hussars are better. The Hun UU is weaker against units than Mangudai. Huns are basically a cav civ (supported by cav archers), and Mongols are basically a light cav & cav archer civ (supported by siege), so that’s the main difference. They make terrific allies, by the way. I hate it when I’m in a team game opposed by Huns & Mongols.

Q) In the Atilla campaign, are the Western Romans represented? How? With the Byzantines?

A) Well … yes. We had to … But when you click on one of their units it says “Roman”, so our dark secret is concealed.

Q) In the Atilla campaign, is there a Pope hero?

A) How could we leave out Pope Gregory?

Q) In your opinion, which campaign from AoK and AoK:TC is the hardest?

A) I have purposely not played them much. I hear that the El Cid campaign is pretty tough, tho.

Q) Do the people at ES like playing the "all land" random maps a lot? Do you think the average player is going to play those a lot, too?

A) Yes and yes. They’re not completely land, you know. They just always have land or shallows connections between you and the others. So Continental and Baltic, for instance, are in the “all land” category.

Q) You have said the Spanish receive many techs and are comparable to the Byzantines in their technology tree. Are they also missing some glaring tech like the Byz miss Blast Furnace for balancing?

A) They are missing siege engineers & crop rotation if that helps you any.

Q) You said that we would be seeing towers alot more in the xpac...then we will see lots of fighting done with towers. What do you think about this whole building warfare? Most people seem to adore fighting with buildings, TCs, Castles and towers in the xpac...etc. In the middle ages...really in any age it was about: troops, armies and more troops. You cant just smack down 5 towers in a row in the opponnents base.

A) Towers are mostly used defensively in AoK:TC. You can use them offensively, but you have to send troops along with them if your enemy has any army at all. So armies are far more common. Incidentally, in the middle ages a lot of fights were determined by fortifications, and fighting was less about armies than constructions than at any previous time in history. So there.

Q) You said that the Korean Wonder will be the tallest. What will that Korean Wnoder be? A statue, a tower, temple/(some kind of religious building) or something else?

A) It looks like a big temple to me, but what do I know? It might be a government building or something. I bet a Korean would recognize it in an instant.

Q) Are fishing boats tweaked at all in the x-pack?

A) Fishing boats are pretty much unchanged in the x-pack. They pretty much work the way we wanted them to. I realize that not everyone agrees with this decision on our part.

Q) Will there be a gamespot civ spotlight thing this time around?

A) I really don’t know. It seems like an excellent idea to me, seeing as the X-Pack won’t be out for quite a while. Gamespot (or some other site) doing showcases would be a great way to give out info, screenshots, etc. But the decision is up to the MS marketing pundits.

Q) Can you shed any more light on the ranged siege weapon improvements? Such as the new setup for scorpions? Will mangonels be less likely to cause as much friendly fire damage as they do now?

A) Scorpions are no helped by the Archer attack upgrades, but their bolts always penetrate a tile or two past the initial strike point (so you don’t have to micromanage their shots to hit the back rank). Mangonels won’t auto-target an enemy unit if the shot would cause friendly fire. However, if you purposely select a target that would cause friendly fire, the mangonel will shoot, and will then continue to shoot, happily hitting friendlies, until all enemy targets are gone. If you stop the mangonel’s shooting, though, he returns to his previous “no friendly fire” stance. Of course, if the mangonel shoots and a friendly walks into the beaten zone, he’ll still get hit. The whole setup works pretty intuitively.

Q) What do you mean when you said the aztecs "have super-monks"

A) They have a good monk civ bonus.

Q) Will the Saracens be improved much in the x-pack?

A) well, since cav archers & camels are improved, and they rely heavily on those two units, I would say so.

Q) you said the mayan UU is a foot-archer. how will it go up against Elbows or chu ko nu (i guess that is how you spell it)

A) The Mayan UU is unusual. He is quite effective against other archers, but less effective against other targets. Thus, the Mayan UU will defeat an Elbow, but is inferior to an Elbow vs. infantry, cavalry, monks, etc. He does NOT have special anti-archer damage. It just works out by the nature of his hit points, armor, attack strength, etc. Greg and I are pretty proud of this unit, actually.

Q) will a aztec champ beat a viking champ 1 on 1?

A) In an unscientific test, 51 post-imperial aztec champs were almost exactly equal to 59 post-imperial viking champs. However, aztec champs lacking their civs UT are clearly inferior to viking champs.

Q) Is the Korean unique unit a monk or martial arts monk?

A) Of course not. Don’t be silly.

Q) There are 11 new units.

A) Two of the new civs get 2 UUs.

Q) Will wall building be improved in the x-pack?

A) Colossally. The new smart villagers feature means that if you assign 2 villagers to build a wall segment, they start on opposite ends of the wall and work their way to the middle. If you assign more than 2 villagers, they space themselves out evenly. So wall-building is way better. Unfortunately, if you forget and only assign 1 villager to a wall, they build as before. (This happened to me last game. I got hammered by Mike Kidd as a result, and deservedly so.)

Q) In designing AOK, was it ES's intention that beating 7 AI civs at hardest comprise the highest level of achievement if playing against the computer, and (b) has anyone at ES done it?

A) Yes, if you play DM against them. Defeat 7 AIs at hardest on DM and you’ll have done the best imaginable vs. the computer. Has anyone at ES done it? Not by playing “fair” (i.e., the same way you’d play against a human). But if you use the computer’s failings against it, you can do pretty well. Even so, I don’t think anyone has beaten 7 hardest AIs on DM here. Also start in Dark Age and on an Archipelago map for the worst case.

Q) If you place a stable in the scenerio editor when using the meso-american civilization under which title set will it appear.

A) Eastern European, I’m afraid. The same is true for bombard towers.

Q) Can you elaborate on your supernatural encounter further? Did this influence you in designing Call of Cthulhu?

A) Well, the second question first. It might have influenced some of the things I did in Call of Cthulhu, but I have always loved horror literature, films, and the theme in general, so it was only one of many factors. What happened was that the local kids, including myself, had gotten ourselves kind of worked up into a ghost “fad” in which we half-convinced ourselves that the abandoned house across the street was haunted, and kept hoping to see spooks. But of course we didn’t. Then one night, when I was walking home, the fog was kind of misty, and when I looked down the street I saw a tall figure of a woman in a full dress, the kind they wore in the 1800s. She looked like she was carved out of mist (and she was huge, like 10 feet tall). I couldn’t make out any features. I just stood there and stared at her. She seemed to be gliding towards me effortlessly, but she never got any closer as the fog flowed around her. Was it a figment of my imagination? Maybe. I got a couple of my friends to look at it, and it was still there. One of them said he saw it, the other didn’t. Was it an effect of the streetlights on the fog? Maybe (but I doubt it). All I know is I consider it extremely likely that when other people have seen what they call ghosts, they saw something like what I did.

Q) I saw a history channel show featuring cannibalism. An excerpt included a product called "Mummy" which European armies harvested from the fat of the dead bodies of opposing armies. What do you know of this practice and its use as a European folk medicine before people figured out what it really was?

A) Originally they were supposed to use real egyptian mummies, and many thousands of them were ground up and used for medicine in the Renaissance. I imagine fake Mummia (the apothecary’s name for the substance) was pretty common, though.

Q) Do you think we'll see more monasterys in the x-pack?

A) With three new techs, two civs with considerable monk bonuses, and a reduced “wait time” before conversion? You bet.

Q) Will we get one of those neat foldout sheets describing which civs get which techs and the civ bonuses?

A) I wish. Greg Street and I argued really long and hard with MS about putting one in, and we finally reached a compromise which I hope satisfies you – there is a file on the CD-ROM which you can print out which makes excellent tech trees for every civ in the game. Also the manual does list which civs get which techs, and includes complete tech trees for the new civs (plus the new civs show up on the CD-ROM print-out. Incidentally, during all our playtests & gaming here at Ensemble, even during AoK time, we always used print-outs like this.

Q) You said that one of the meso-American tribes have good monks (I can't remember if it was Aztec or Mayan,) anyway, are their monks as good as the Byzantine or Spanish monks?

A) Well … let’s just say they’re different. Were Egyptian monks better than Korean ones?

Q) Are halberdiers upgrades of pikeman or a seperate unit?

A) The former

Q) I'm guessing the Spanairds have an excellent navy tree. Am I correct?

A) You better believe it. Plus a nice naval civ bonus. They pretty much rank up there with the Koreans, Vikings, Byzantines, and Saracens.

Q) Wouldn't it have been cool to make an Alexander Nevsky campaign. I don't know how you'd guys do it but it would be cool

A) If we had done Slavs as one of the civs, Alexander Nevsky would almost certainly be the Russian campaign. I adore that movie. And the music is to die for. (For those not in the know, Sergei Eisenstein, one of the world’s greatest directors, directed “Alexander Nevsky” and Prokofiev himself, the great composer, did the music. It is quite possibly the greatest medieval movie ever made.)

Q) I'm not sure if you have strayed away from the subject, but i'm intensly interested in how my favorite civ, the Goths, have been helped in the X-pack. Is there any change in the pop. limit bonus?

A) There is no change in the pop limit bonus. I asked for it, but it turns out that making the pop bonus a percentage is not as easy as it sounds. It’s possible, just not easy. So we boosted the Goths in other ways instead, like making their boar bonus worthwhile (I agree it’s not so great at the moment, but it’s good in the X-pack).

Q) Is the civ that got 2 UU (excluding goths and koreans), is a new or an old civ?

A) The old civs have not had any new UUs added.

Q) Is the "unrevealed" civ that got 2 UU got them both land units?

A) Yes, it is the only civ that gets a non-boat extra UU.

Q) Did ES ever consider adding a boat with the rams feature?

A) Yes.

Q) Is this possible to build bridge now ?

A) No. That involves actually physically changing terrain tiles, and that is not possible using the Genie engine. Well, I guess it would be possible if we made massive changes to the engine, but we didn’t.

Q) You replied that, yes, you did get some ideas from forumers from this site. Well, can you finally tell us what those ideas were?

A) Good heavens, that was months ago. I don’t remember every single idea that originated from forum members. All of them were at least modifed by us. Let me think, maybe I can come up with some. Okay – part of the change in the TC was originated by suggestions from the fan forums. The outpost LOS was improved thanks to the fans. We instituted a shimo-friendly game type in response to this (and other) forums. The major way we decided whether a UU was “good” or “bad” (and thus needed improvement) was via the forums. Lots of general themes came from forums, too. However, I will say that the units & civs we picked were not influenced by the forums.

Q) is there a 'Random Teams' option in multiplayer?

A) Yep. It works great, too. Basically, when you’re clicking on the “team number” box, one of the results is a “?” mark, and if you pick that, then you’re letting the computer pick your team for you. What we usually do is put the two best players (or the two worst) on opposite teams, and then everyone else chooses random team.

Q) will the ships in the Xpack have formations?

A) Kind of. They sail about in formation, but you can’t pick from a menu of formations like you do with land units.

Q) will the Turtle Boats outrange all ships except the cannon galleon?

A) No, the turtle boats actually have pretty short range. 5 tiles is all I think.

Q) Will the meso-American CIVs have STONE WALLS?

A) Well, of course. In fact the Mayans have a wall bonus.

Q) Have palisades been improved with more hitpoints?

A) Nope. We like the way palisades work now and don’t want to change them.

Q) Do the Spanish have good gunpowder troops?

A) They don’t have a gunpowder bonus, but they get all gunpowder units.

Q) Will the Aztecs/Mayans have really good infantry... as in cheaper infantry or more hitpoints/armor?

A) The Aztecs have good infantry, the Mayans only adequate.

Q) Was ES or you, in anyway tempted to throw in a grossly inappropriate, totally off the scale, but still very nice, Napoleon Bonaparte hero in the editor?

A) I can truthfully say that the thought never even occurred to us for an instant.

Q) So petards are like suicide bomers?

A) Yeah, pretty much. I mean, real petard-users didn’t ALWAYS get blown up by their bomb (but pretty darn often), but even if they weren’t, the bomb was gone, and they couldn’t use it again.

Q) Could you plz tell us more about the new techs?

A) Okay, one is named Caravan, is available at the Market, and improves trade cogs & carts.

Q) As far as I am concerned, I've gotten over Slavs not being in X-Pack. No hard feelings there. When you get called "stupid" however, there'll be hard feelings though

A) I apologize for implying that you were stupid. It is notoriously easy to misconstrue someone’s intent in electronic media and I usually try hard not to do so. In my defense, my foot (still healing from recent surgery) was especially painful last night and so I was more grumpy than the response warranted.

Q) Did my constant bickering about outposts being weak help you in your decision?

A) I don’t know if it was you in particular, but the many remarks about outposts helped.

Q) "How could we leave out Pope Gregory?" I would ask the same thing, being that Gregory is obviously a superior name, but will Pope Leo be in the game too? And is this an attempt to kill the MS lawyers?

A) Oh heck I’m sorry. I named the wrong pope. The correct one is in the game of course, and Attila has to meet him at the end of the scenario after ravaging all of Italy. Then the Pope has his secret private conversation and the scenario ends.

Q) Will ES make monetary reparations to the various forumers who have been caused grievous mental anguish over the inclusion of the Aztecs and Mayans in AoK: TC? If so, I'm feeling betrayed and angered be this decision, and I'll require immediate and very costly trepanation to remove the evil tumors

A) Just drop by the office, I’ll be glad to perform the trepination personally.

Q) Do the Loch Ness Monster, Big Foot, Yeti and Bobby Fischer really exist?

A) After doing a great deal of research on the subject (I’ve always been really interested in monsters), I am convinced that the Yeti for sure exists, that Bigfoot and the Loch Ness monster might exist (i.e., I’m not sure), and that Bobby Fischer is clearly not for real. What a loser.

Q) Does MS/ES have any plans to market a line of action figures based on AoK?

A) We have talked about it.

Q) You don't seem to think Lee was quite all he was cracked up to be. Do you think Albert Johnston was overrated by his contemporaries as well? You mentioned Pea Ridge in a previous post, do you have a particularly favorite battle of the Civil War?

A) U. S. Grant has a really good evaluation of Albert Sidney Johnston in his biography, and I agree with him. He feels that Johnston was strategically timid during the campaign for Forts Henry and Donelson, and certainly the Confederate battle line he set up for Shiloh was rotten. But his blunder at Shiloh was canceled by the Union’s idiocy in getting surprised, so the fight was still a fair one. My favorite battle of the Civil War is probably Missionary Ridge. That was great. I especially like the part where the Union soldiers disobey their commanders, and charge to the top of the hill, winning the battle despite their orders. I also like Five Forks.

Q) Do the Mangudai take their name from Mangu Khan or another source?

A) There was a band of suicidally reckless Mongol warriors that were named Mangudai, and who terrified enemies by their daring attacks. The name has several spellings.

Q) Can we safely assume there will be more X-Packs?

A) We are not currently planning another X-Pack.

Q) Vienna was saved not only by Polish, but by Ukrainian Cossacks under Polish command as well. And Winged Hussar is no better than Cossack!

A) Winged Hussars are a very different type of soldier than Cossacks. Just because they’re both dashing mounted warriors doesn’t make them the same.

Q) What would it take to convince ES to include Slav civ in x-pack?

A) It is Too Late Now. It was always too late. We made our decision with very careful thought and planning.

Q) I don't want to walk in the shoes of Mayans. Aztecs is plenty.

A) Don’t play Mayans then. It’s no skin off my nose.

Q) As I am programming AI's it is interesting watching monks trying to convert buildings they are'nt supposed to (i.e. monasteries) and transport ships which dont get near enough to the coast to deploy their troops. Did you know that and if not could you tell the programmers about?

A) We have attempted to fix these bugs for the X-Pack. I say “attempted” because it’s hard to be sure, but we have not seen these unacceptable behaviors at all for several months now.

Q) Did you (ES) at least kill the "walk through gates" bug?

A) We thought we had, and then we saw it again just a few days ago so I guess it’s back to the grindstone.

Q) What improvements to the AI have we to expect?

A) He builds up his economy much much more efficiently and quickly.

Q) Ever thought about making bloody style (cant build a TC) implemented into the game?

A) Bloody style emerged kind of late for us to incorporate it, and we felt that it was mainly a response to the TC wars, which our changes have already fixed. But we do have four new game types, including a shimo-friendly style (we even contacted Shimo himself to ask for suggestions to improve it).

Q) About how much work would you say it takes to add things like map types, units, civs, and technologies relative to each other?

A) Map types are the hardest. Units are hard only because it takes a long time to do the art properly (we’re picky). Civs and technologies are quite easy. However, play balancing them is really hard.

Q) Is there a new map type that is comprised mostly of shallows?

A) actually, yes. We almost pulled it out of the game because it looks kind of ugly, but I argued for its retention on the basis that it would be an interesting different kind of place. I warn you though, some people really hate it. But others like it. My feeling was that even if only 10% of the fans enjoyed playing on it, it didn’t hurt the other 90% to include it.

Q) Will the Viking UT help Longboats and/or Berserkers?

A) Yes.

Q) Can you tell us what general area the Korean team bonus affects?

A) all of the new civs have really good team bonuses (our little way of making sure they get used). The Korean team bonus affects siege.

Q) Why is the Cataphract more popular in the x-pack

A) The Byzantine UT is really nice. In fact, it was SO nice that we had to tone it down after Byzantines romped over all opposition for a couple days in a row.

Q) what is that number when you press Ctrl+S at main window?

A) Wow I never noticed that before. I went and asked a programmer, and he thought it was the internal Microsoft version number.

Q) Do Vikings get halbs?

A) No, because we feared Viking halberdiers would rule late, gold-less games.

Q) Will there be another civilization with all units like the Byzantines?" If this is still correct, does this mean that the Koreans get camels since you have already let us know that each of the other new civs is missing something?

A) Actually the civ I was thinking of was the Spanish, who don’t get camels, so I guess I misled you. Sorry. What I meant is that the Spanish can function effectively with cav archers, cav, infantry, or gunners.

Q) Do the Huns ( a civ even more primitive than the Goths historically) get stone walls?

A) Yes.

Q) Do the Meso-American civs (one or both) get any kind of skirmisher bonus or a unit similar to but stronger than it? Just guessing from some of your responses. Did the American civs still use an atlatl for throwing spears at this point, or was that only prehistoric? I understand that spears thrown with an atlatl had tremendous range and force.

A) They still used atlatls, even in warfare, but we did not give them a special bonus for this. Probably we should have.

Q) Did ES ever consider doing unique artwork for every unit for every civ?

A) No, because we knew how long it takes to do the art. It’s not a question of it being cool or not cool. AoK has about 65 different units. If we had done different art for, say, the infantry, cavalry, and archers (i.e., not changing the siege or ships), that would have added 20-odd more units to be done. We would have had to either delay the game by several months (which means you’d only be getting it now), or dropped the Unique Units. Or something worse. The reason we got the cool new meso-american monks was because one of our artists got inspired and did them on his own time, if you can believe it.

Q) could you tell us some other cool feature or unit not mentioned yet?

A) You can buy, sell, or tribute resources in lots of 500, or all at once.

Q) Do you like Cookies Sandyman, and if, what kinds of cookies?

A) I like raisin oatmeal, lemon squares, oreos, and fig newtons. Also windmill cookies. Also chocolate chip (but only if home-made). I would not say that I am a huge cookie fanatic, though.

Q) Why didn't you include Wyoming in the X-Pack!!!

A) We did. That’s why all the maps are square.

Q) If in the viking campaign, you will let the vikinks against eskimosos. If yes what style sheet will they use?

A) I fear I lied. After playing the scenario again, I realize that there are no eskimos in it. Instead, there is a hostile Viking colony in Greenland. When you get to Newfoundland, though, after passing through the Sea of Worms, there are Skraelings. We use Celts to be the Skraelings.

Q) Will RTS3 be announced at the E3?

A) I doubt it. It’s years away.

Q) Will elephants be stronger?

A) Elephant hit points, armor, and attack are unchanged.

Q) How long from the initial idea of a game until ES begins the programming phase?

A) Well, for RTS3 we started the programming about a year before we figured out the idea for the game.

Q) Who has final say when at an impasse regarding a civ or design?

A) We work as a team. We strive really really hard to reach a joint decision. When it can’t be done, the designer is in charge of the design. However, when it comes to civ choices, this is partly a marketing decision (example: if all the civs in AoK:TC had been Hindu, our president would have pointed out that total sales would be slim). Not that we base civ choices on where our fans live, but we do base them on the “coolness” factor. I.e., I thought it would be really cool to be Huns or Aztecs, and I managed to convince the rest of the team. Moving onto your point even more. Design decisions are made by the lead designer. Programming decisions are made by the programming lead. Art decisions are made by the art lead. Sometimes these conflict (example: a design decision that requires programming). Then the producer has the final say.

Q) Will the x-pac make experts or rookies better players?

A) Probably initially experts will lose a little of their edge, because they’ll have to learn some new skills. But after a month or so, I predict experts and rookies will retain the same relative standing.

Q) Do you believe the vikings made it to the great lakes and interacted with the iroqois? Do you believe the chinese made a trans-pacific journey to mezo-america and influenced mayan culture?

A) I have no opinion on either of these. If someone shows me hard evidence for them beyond wishful thinking I will believe it.

Q) Will the american Civ have a diferent navy?

A) They have a different set of sails, like the other navies.

Q) If hi have a line of Pikes (in stand ground) in front of a line of Scorpions, will the scorpions fire?

A) Of course. Why would they not?

Q) Can the Friendly fire be a optional combat stance?

A) Oh I see, you are confusing scorpions with mangonels. The Mangonels do not get friendly fire as an optional combat stance, because that would make them more confusing and hard to use for beginners. The new Mangonels work quite easily and nicely and do not require a lot of micromanaging.

Q) Based on the screenshots released, depicting the TC stats, it has been deduced that the TC fix is basically that the arrow upgrades does not affect TC range. Is this true? If so, commendations for a simple, elegant and effective fix.

A) I accept your commendations on behalf of the entire ES staff. Thank you.

Q) Will relics make gold any faster?

A) As a matter of fact, they do. This was originally suggested by fans in some forum or another (probably this one). So thanks for the idea.

Q) Longboats wont be able to be used as tranports, eh?

A) Good heavens no. How many transports do you build in a game? Two? Three? Why waste programming time installing an option that 1) would almost never be used and 2) would make transport ships useless to Vikings?

Q) Might you yet factor in a spear thrower as a tech upgrade for the Mayan UU or skirmishers in general, or is everything pretty balanced as it is?

A) We’re pretty happy with the current balance. In any case, new bonuses & upgrades are no longer possible.

Q) Before the Turtle Boat was first mentioned on these forums, had you or anyone else at ES considered them or even heard of them?

A) I knew about Turtle Boats even before I came to work for ES.

Q) Have you seen U 571 yet?

A) It’s a fine WW2 action movie. When I see a historical movie, I find it best to breeze by any inaccuracies. I get no joy in mocking Hollywood guys – it’s shooting fish in a barrel. So I look for the things that are fun and don’t bother to nit-pick errors. The things that bug ME in a film are bad acting, illogical plots, and other things that I would expect a film-maker to have a handle on. Even so, the depth charges going off 20 feet from the sub and not sinking it made me cringe a teeny tiny bit.

Q) Have you considered including Thracians in AOE or ROR

A) I consider the Greeks or Macedonians to include the Thracians.

Q) Or at least have you considered including PELTASTS?

A) Sure. They almost made it into Rise of Rome. But they didn’t. And they don’t fit in Age of Kings.

Q) Do the Aztecs make good allies with the Spanish in multiplayer?

A) Perhaps ironically, they make terrific allies.

Q) What civ would you pick against the Huns on a land map?

A) I would pick one of the good “turtle” civs, button up tight, and expect to get rushed fast and hard.

Q) will halberdiers fair better against champions than normal pikemen?

A) Yes, but they still get their lunch eaten.

Q) how have the teutons been downgraded (besides tc) at all?

A) Not.

Q) You mention that Vikings will not get Halbs... for fear of ruling gold-less games. So then, in gold-less games, vikings will be stomped? Halbadiers will beat viking pike.

Q) Aztec Champions beat Vike Champions 1 on 1. That also means, since Jaguars beat Viking Berserks... that vikings are knocked down quite a bit in strength. Having weak Cav will mean that infantry vs infantry, Vikes lose now

A) Poor Vikings. I wonder why they are now one of the most popular civs among our playtesters, including both MS & ES.

Q) As to Robert E. Lee, Do you not think that the combination of being on the defensive and having defensive placements increased Lee's ability to win?

A) I do not consider R. E. Lee a defensive commander. He was almost fanatically aggressive, in my opinion to the detriment of his cause. While Stonewall Jackson added to his effectiveness while on the attack, Lee was the person who chose to attack. Look at his record after Jackson’s death – he invades the North in the Gettysburg campaign. He prepares an offensive trap at Mine Run for Meade (who is too smart to be caught). He counter-attacks again and again in the campaign vs. Grant. He sends Jubal Early to raid Washington. He kept attacking & attacking clear up to Fort Stedman. But I do agree that the South’s defensive stance was generally highly advantageous to them, especially in a war in which the defense was nearly as strong as in WW1.

Q) I believe that in the beginning of the war the south had a huge advantage of people who were better soldiers and the north had the (dis)advantage of having the old school trained soldiers. It took quite a long time to weed out the incompetent leaders in the north (McClellan, Hooker, etc). Grant LOST every battle resource wise, but since the North was a 10:1 resource leader at least, that is why Lee had to surrender. Agree? Disagree?

A) I strongly disagree at least about the last factor. Grant not only won many battles resource-wise, in the four major campaigns he undertook, three ended with the entire enemy force surrendering to him. You must count that in the equation. In addition, Grant always maneuvered and attacked with an eye towards demoralizing the enemy force and getting his soldiers to desert. By the end of the war more than half Lee’s army had deserted, and these should also be counted towards Grant’s total. The only campaign which he didn’t end by capturing the enemy lock, stock, and barrel was his campaign in eastern Tennessee, and he won every battle taking fewer casualties than his opponent there. So Grant was no spendthrift. Also the North didn’t have any 10:1 in resources. The average southerner owned approximately twice as much property as the average northerner. The North had 3 times the white manpower, but the South was able to field a higher percentage of its people in the army because slave labor took up the slack. The South also had the massive advantage of fighting on the defensive, on interior lines, and NOT having to waste much of its army guarding lines of communication or conquered territory. Despite the theoretical manpower advantage of the North, throughout the war, the North on the average was able to get armies into battle that were about 1.35 times that of the South’s. And that is not enough for a war as strongly favorable to the defense as the American Civil War.

Q) Will the age advancements cost the same amount of resources as before?

A) Yes. Why mess with success?

Q) Any new techs at the Archery Range?

A) Yep

Q) Will the menu interface look different?

A) If you mean the main screen, yes.

Q) Do you like the book "Dune"?

A) Yes.

Q) Is there going to be an Admiral Yi Hero in the x-pack?

A) Kind of. It’s sort of hard to explain.

Q) How close did the Khmers come to being in the x-pack?

A) Only two civs came closer without being included. (Moors & Italians)

Q) Do you like Cav Archers?

A) I don’t know, I’ve never eaten any.

Q) Is any of the new monk bonuses a reduced conversion time

A) All the new monk bonuses are brand-new never before-seen bonuses.

Q) Are any of the new techs from the stable?

A) Yes.

Q) will any units take up more than one pop. slot?

A) No

Q) Do you think war elephants will be used more?

A) I guarantee it.

Q) If Farms are automatically rebuilt with the farm que, doesn't this make Crop Rotation and the Chinese farm bonus (+ 45 Food) basically worthless in the X-Pac?

A) Why? You still get the benefit of more food for the wood spent. Auto-rebuilds don’t change the amount of wood blown on farms.

Q) will the petards be good at taking out trebuchets as well as walls?

A) Yes. They have a general siege bonus. It is pretty much only used on trebuchets & rams though. While in theory they can kill onagers, bombards, & scorpions in practice you never see this.

Q) Do you think scorpions will be used more often in the X-pack?

A) I guarantee it.

Q) Are bears included in the X-Pack?

A) No.

Q) You said that if in the Scenario Editor you give to Mesoamerican stables or Bombard Towers, they are going to be with the eastern style, right? Why can't you make Bombard Towers just like Mesoamerican Keeps, but with a Cannon

A) We didn’t want to spend even the miniscule art time it would take. Perhaps that’s why our artist could find time to do the new bonus monks. I’d much rather have them than a special bombard tower used only in all-tech games.

Q) Whose voice did ES use for the taunts?

A) Almost everyone at ES participated.

Q) Will the Xpac be more centralized to economy or military or will it be balance?

A) I don’t understand this question.

Q) Will there any be new units for the turks?

A) Yes, they get hussars & petards. And their petards even get the Turkish gunpowder bonus, as I recall.

Q) Exactly how powerful did you make the Winged Hussar?

A) I really am not able to answer this question at this time ...

Q) How does the Winged Hussar stand one-on-one against a Cavalier?

A) He gets stomped. He should, though, seeing as he only costs 80 food as opposed to the Cavalier’s 60 food & 75 gold.

Q) Am I right in assuming the Cataphract has a UT that makes it considerably cheaper?

A) No. None of the UTs decrease any units price.

Q) Why do the Mayans and Aztecs, who had inferior armor to the Spanish and Europeans in general, get all armor upgrades

A) Game balance plus the fact that the Spanish themselves stopped wearing metal armor in the Meso-American climate. A guy wearing full-plate would soon get heat stroke, not to mention fungus infections and his armor would rust. So the high-end armor is considered to be “the best armor usable in the current climate”. Since we know for a fact that the Meso-Americans [i]could[i/] work iron (having found iron implements in their storehouses), the assumption is that iron was not used widespread because there were few good iron mines in central america, plus it rusted fast. Therefore, if the Aztecs had been in a northern european landscape like, say, a Baltic map, they would have had & used iron.

Q) Is the Mayan UU in fact not an archer at all, but some super-skirmisher?

A) No, he’s really an archer. It’s just that the way his hit points, armor, and attack works out he’s especially good vs. archers and especially bad vs. other types of units. He really doesn’t get any hidden bonus vs. archers.

Q) When you make one of your funny, sarcastic responses to peeps with dumb or annoying questions, how long does it take you to think up your response?

A) Those answers are always off the cuff. I make them up as fast as I type. When I spend time thinking about a question, it’s not one of the dumb ones.

Q) In order for the TC to retain it's defensive capabilities, and be bad with offense, and the fact that you mentioned that rebuilding your city is alot harder with TCs than it currently is, should I assume that the TC fix is just that the TC is a ton harder to place on the map?

A) No, because that would be annoying to the player.

Q) I know the voice of one taunt in the x-pack, rather not a voice, but a laugh. The sound file is called "HerbLaugh" or something, so I figured it was Herb Marselas, and later confirmed it with him. He sure as hell has a kewl laugh!

A) Yes, Herb’s laugh is quite famous here at ES. I’m serious.

Q) why the Aztecs and the Mayans but not the Incas. As you can sse by my name, Im concerned by your lack of attention for my powerful people

A) I’ve explained it about twenty times. Don’t you read any of my threads? It’s for two reasons. 1) To give the Aztecs someone else to pick on in their campaign besides the Spanish. 2) Because we wanted to re-use the beautiful meso-american building art, and the Incas had totally different architecture.

Q) Is the Mayan wall bonus give it more hitpoints than a Byzantine wall?

A) Why would we want to re-use an old bonus? More hit points has been done. We want to do new, exciting bonuses.

Q) The Mayan UU will defeat an ELBOW!!!!? NNNNNOOOOOOOOooooo..... my poor longbowmen!!! What have you done!

A) Don’t worry, longbows are still better against every other non-bow-wielding target than the Mayans. No need to throw away those clothyard shafts ... but you might want to back up your Elbows with cavaliers or onagers to make the Mayans sad.

Q) Is their a new map with more gold on it then a Gold Rush?

A) No. We want to do maps that have cool new stuff, not re-hashes of old ideas.

Q) So it never crossed your minds to sneak Napoleon in? But...But... why not? Wouldn't it have been a pleasant suprise to everyone

A) Hey, I’m not arguing with you. I agree. We just didn’t think of it.

Q) Why were arbeques (you know, those next version muskets) decided against for The Conquerors?

A) We had limited art resources, hand-cannoneers weren’t popular anyway, and a new unit that only appears in the late Imperial age wouldn’t have much effect on the game.

Q) If you were offered the opportunity, would you go and visit Napoleon's tomb?

A) Certainly. Despite the fact that he betrayed many of the ideals of the French Revolution, and in my opinion threw away his gains when he could have won, he is still one of the most amazing men of all time.

Q) Why havent you considered the Ninja as an important or attractive enough aspect of Japanese Society to include it as a Unique Unit together with Samurai?

A) We’re not trying to model japanese society. Just their strategic warfare.

Q) Could u tell us if the Spanish gets any economic bonuses in dark age? if so, which ones? For what i've seen from ur previous answers the Spanish are very much like the Byzantines: full cav (no camels, though), full infantry, full gunpowder, good navy, nice tec tree, great monks. Could we say that they are the "offensive byzantines"? What, in ur oppinion, is the main difference between this two civs?

A) I don’t think they’re much alike, frankly. The Spanish are not particularly good in defensive, but they have a LOT of offensive oomph. The Byzantines, on the other hand, are superb defensively, with their super-buildings and their cheapo counter-units, but they don’t have a really good attack, seeing as they’re missing the top-end attack upgrade and some other important bits. Even their UU is kind of a counter-unit. The Spanish UU is definitely not a counter-unit, and their civ bonuses and tech-tree are clearly aimed at destroying other players. The Byzantines and Spanish, while they are both flexible civs, are more like the light-side/dark-side. Despite superficial similarities, they are really almost opposites. I predict that players who love the Byzantines will not care for the Spanish and vice versa.

Q) How many diff places have you been?

A) I have been to nine different nations on three continents. One of them, though (New Zealand) I was only in for a couple of hours so it probably doesn’t count. I bought some Kiwi-fruit candy, though.

Q) Do you like Danish?

A) I have always wanted to visit Denmark. I actually have relatives there whom I’ve never met.

Q) Will Britons still retain their 50% cheaper TC cost or will TC be so crummy it won't be a good bonus to have anyways

A) They still retain their bonus, and it is still worth having, but it’s not as good as it used to be. Good players still build more than one TC. Just not more than two or three anymore.

Q) What will the main purpose of the Hussar perform?

A) He does just what light cavalry do only better.

Q) Is there will be on the X-pac a unit to counter the champs?

A) Yes.

Q) I'm doing a report for school on Medieval warfare, can you please give me at least 10 good sources of information?

A) I do not have the time right now to do a proper job. But I recommend “INFANTRY WARFARE IN THE 14TH CENTURY” by Kelly DeVries. I also recommend THE ART OF WAR IN THE WESTERN WORLD by Archer Jones, at least the Medieval Warfare section.