News archive

September 28

Updated SLP Descriptions
The descriptions for the SLP files have been updated by Brian Yip. The SLP files are part of the AoE resource files and contain all bitmaps used in the game. The list will help you to create a new tileset for AoE, or just edit the pictures of the building(s) of your choice. If you have made a mod pack with new pictures, please send it in. It would be the first one (sound mod packs are not uncommon, though).

September 26

2 Man/Woman team tourney at IGZ
All right all you die-hard Agers... got AoE? Got a buddy/budette? Then hop on over to Microsoft's Internet Gaming Zone on October 1st and sign up for their Tribe Tournament. The format for this is a little different than most tourneys. Each tribe (team) will be assigned a plot of land. Then they will proceed to attack/defend against adjacent tribes until only one remains. Lose a battle and you lose a plot of land. Win, and conquer enemy territory. Sounds neat, but the contest is limited to 128 teams, so sign up early! If this kind of fight really turns you on, and you can't wait for or can't get into Microsoft's tourney, visit Age of Empires Heaven to participate in their Net Campaign hosted by Angel Wazishu. Either way, let the clash of arms begin!

Eggman

News from the world of RTS
The company Stainless Steel Studios has relocated to the happenin' town of Cambridge, Massachusetts, where they will continue to develop Empire Earth, which is touted as the next evolutionary leap in RTS. Here's some more on that topic:
"Stainless Steel Studios is currently expanding its staff, hiring some of the most talented programmers, artists and game developers in the industry to round-out and complete the development team for the company’s premier game, Empire Earth. “Within the next six months to one year, we plan to have two full development teams operating from our new offices. As for Empire Earth’s development, we’re right on schedule,” explained Rick Goodman, the president and founder of Stainless Steel Studios.

The new Stainless Steel Studios offices officially opened on September 15, 1998, although the company has been fully operational from a temporary office since January 1998. “We’ve spent months looking for the perfect office space that would provide the ideal work environment for our entire staff. My game development style involves the active participation of all company personnel in a game’s creation process. Thus, having everyone at one location, working together in a comfortable and highly functional environment, is win,” added Goodman."

Sounds neat, but let's hope that Empire Earth will live up to the hype. Let's just say I'm from Missouri! You can read their full press release or learn more at: www.stainlesstseelstudios.com.

Eggman

September 24

RoR is finished, CDs in production

"Microsoft announced today that Age of Empires® Expansion: The Rise of Rome, has gone gold. This means that the product is completed and is expected to start showing up on store shelves as early as November 5 in the United States."
According to this press release, the release date is still November 5 - although the production of CDs does not take that much time. This means that the game may be available in stores outside the USA at November 5 or shortly thereafter.

September 22

The Ads are here
Well it seems ES (or Microsoft, or somebody! ;-)) has started the ads up for the long waited RoR (always a good sign of imminent release... never mind Fallout or Ultima Online). The ad looks really good, and if any of you buy magazines just to scope the ads, then October's PC Gamer is a must have... ;-). Here's what ES has to say about it...

"You can find our Rise of Rome ad in the October issue of PC Gamer, Age of Empires: Rise of Rose Ensemble/Microsoft, Page 291.
Plus! PC Gamer did a review of their Oct Ads, and here is what they have to say about ours:
"The Rise of Rome expansion pack for Age of Empires is highly anticipated, and the ad is well done. There is an absolutely gorgeous screenshot across half the page, and the slogan "Rome took 520 to build; your results may vary" is catchy and relevant to this type of game."
You can find a larger image of this ad picture right here!
What are you waiting for! BANG! on over to PC Gamer for the full story on this Grade A AD review."
Eggman

September 20

Two weeks to go...
It is quite a busy time for me - my finals have started last week, and I will move in two weeks. I hope I can still keep the page updated till then ... Eggman will keep the page alive while I am away. I am still here for two weeks, though, and will do everything to get back online ASAP after moving.

September 18

IGZ open for RoR questions

There's been plenty of talk bandied about concerning how much of an impact the upcoming Age of Empires Expansion will have on Age gameplay. Now, here's your chance to get some of those more intensive questions answered. The Age of Empires News page on the Zone has now opened the doors for Age fans to submit brief questions about the Rise of Rome. In turn, the Zone will select a few and present them to Ensemble Studios, where game designers Bruce Shelly and Sandy Petersen will take time from their busy schedules to share their wisdom. Their answers will then be posted on the Zone for all to see!
Check the Gamesmania RoR question page as well - the chance that your question will get answered there is larger (because there are less questions and no secrets to hide here).

Alternative online services
Psycho_Napp has remembered the online game service in the USA: it is called Dwango, and is like Wireplay built on an extra network, so you will need another access provider for it. More information can be found at the updated lag page.

September 16

New strategy guide by Mr. Grinch

“Most good Age of Empires players understand the Bronze Age in the game. The secrets of mastering the Tool Age, however, remain largely misunderstood. Few players realize that you have a better understanding of what your enemies are doing during the Tool Age than at any other time in the game,” stated Goodman. “This unofficial strategy guide explains how to take advantage of this knowledge in order to beat your opponents.”

You can read the entire announcement, and download this strategy guide at Mr. Grinch’s Age of Empires Web Site (http://www.mrgrinch.com).

ES is still looking for programmers
Go to Ensemble's page if you are a programmr and would like to work as a Game Database Specialist, AI Specialist or Graphics Specialist (Graphics Programmer 3D). Again, speculations about 3D role playing games being developed at ES are welcome ;)
The only downside is that you will be bound to Windoze, as the new games do not seem to be ported to more powerful OSes.

ES crew
There is a page portraying the ES crew posted by Ensemble Studios. There is a list with each person's name, nickname, and portrait page. One of the few persons who does not have a page about himself yet is the webmaster (Mike) himself :)

September 13

Rise of Rome Q&A
More of your questions about ROR answered by our Age of Empires expert!
Gamesmania RoR answers: page 1
Gamesmania RoR answers: page 2 new
Many questions about the Fire Galleys were answered, and the page also had a listing of the technologies that each new tribe can get.

September 12

AoE ports to PlayStation and Mac

"Psygnosis Limited, the largest entertainment software developer in Europe, has signed an agreement to license and publish three of Microsoft's PC games for the PlayStation® game console. The titles, Age of Empires, Urban Assault and Motocross Madness, will be co-branded with the Microsoft and Psygnosis logos."
There is also some information about the projected release data for the Mac port that was announced a while ago: Age of Empires will be available during the first quarter of 1999 for $49.99.
I do not believe that AoE works well on the low resolution of a PlayStation (640 x 480); either the gameplay or the graphics will suffer. If a company other than Microsoft had been behind this, maybe they would have chosen Linux instead of the MacOS for a port. Linux is much more popular than the MacOS, and is also gaining acceptance among Mac users - it would have been rational to port to the OS with the larger user base, but of course Microsoft cannot admit that their nemesis is catching up :)

Answers to your RoR questions
It seems like the link to the answers of your RoR questions got lost; I have posted it now at the news section and of course at the RoR questions page itself. I also fixed broken links in some image map codes, I hope that there are no invalid links left now. As soon as I have the time, I will set up a bot to run through all links and check them.

New sound editor - feedback wanted
Juha Rako, developer of the new AoEwavEx sound editor, would like to have some more feedback on his work. He will post a new version soon with a minor bugfix (context help) and some enhancements.

Two things to download today
This news is off topic, but still important:
Maybe free MP3 encoders will vanish for a while. The German Frauenhofer institute who developed the algorithms decided to:
- Software encoder licenses against a per unit royalty starting at $ 25,00 and decreasing for high volumes; and
- Pay-audio licenses against a royalty of $ 0,01 per song or 1 % of the selling price.
So check all sites of MP3 encoders quickly, before you read more messages like: "This site is temporarily (?) offline... (It seems we have some trouble.)" (taken from 8hz.com)
The other thing is http://www.cnn.com/starr.report/ ;)

September 10

The true strength of chariots
Dark Druid has measured the conversion times of chariots and compared them to other units. He has compared it with the statements of the errata page. Obviously chariots are indeed roughly 7 times tougher than other units, even though the manual tell us they have only "tripled resistance against conversion." While the exact numbers are not yet 100% sure, it has now been measured and proved non-upgraded priests have big trouble against chariots :)
In a normal game, you cannot tell this well, since the conversion time varies randomly, and you have other things to do than watching a stopwatch ;)

RoR box cover
RoR box coverThe Rise of Rome box cover has been published - it looks even more spectacular than the Age of Empires cover. Like in the AoE cover, I miss the name "Ensemble Studios" on it - they did all the work and Microsoft gets the credit for it :(

September 10

The true strength of chariots
Dark Druid has measured the conversion times of chariots and compared them to other units. He has compared it with the statements of the errata page. Obviously chariots are indeed roughly 7 times tougher than other units, even though the manual tell us they have only "tripled resistance against conversion." While the exact numbers are not yet 100% sure, it has now been measured and proved non-upgraded priests have big trouble against chariots :)
In a normal game, you cannot tell this well, since the conversion time varies randomly, and you have other things to do than watching a stopwatch ;)

RoR box cover
RoR box coverThe Rise of Rome box cover has been published - it looks even more spectacular than the Age of Empires cover. Like in the AoE cover, I miss the name "Ensemble Studios" on it - they did all the work and Microsoft gets the credit for it :(

September 8

Award winning scenario here!
Finally the award winning single player scenario designed by David is available. Thanks to Elvii and Jeff for sending it to me. I have also posted a new multi player scenario at the scenario page.

Scenario testing
Scenario testers are again welcome! There are always some scenarios or campaigns ready for being reviewed. Just send me a mail and tell me whether you play single or multiplayer games. New scenarios and campaigns are of course always welcome.

Low lag games
Wireplay is a gaming service that is built on a different technology than the Internet, and run by the British Telecom. You can get low lag games since the connection works like a phone call rather than a normal remote network connection. The downside is that you will have for it, and cannot play against people outside this network. There are similar services in the USA, but I have forgotten where you can get them (if someone knows it, please help my weak memory).
If you live in or near a large city and play often, this may be a good option to get low lag games. Thanks to David for the information.

Last showcase at ES's page
Continental map The continental map is the subject in this week's last showcase:

The Continental map consists of a single large island surrounded by a fairly wide expanse of water. Because of the lack of elbow room, the "extra" random goodies are sometimes clumped into "super-piles" of resources, where a single screen holds 6-7 elephants or whatever. Look for these. Your enemies don't deserve to have them, and you do, so be sure to aggressively fight over such deposits.
Sandy Petersen


September 7

RoR tech tree
Riukas has sent me a copy of the RoR tech tree (.zip, 11 KB) in Rich Text Format. It does not contain any unpublished information, but gives you a nice overview about which civilization will have which technology in Rise of Rome. If someone can convert it into good HTML, please send it to me.

Bruce Shelley awards a scenario

"Bruce Shelley and Sandy Peterson to answer X-Pack questions -- The designers of the game have agreed to take pity on us and leak a bit of information. Watch the Age of Empires News page next week, where we'll be sending out a call for brief questions." (IGZ newsletter)
More on that when the page goes up. Until then, you can ask the Gamesmania crew everything about RoR.
"Download award-winning scenario to conquer ancient Iberia -- "Fight for the Conquest of the Iberian Peninsula") was the winning entry in a recent Age of Empires scenario-building contest judged by Bruce Shelley. (...)
Seeing that Spain isn't used much as a setting for computer games, David decided to create an Age map of the Iberian Peninsula, complete with major rivers and mountain ranges, the Straits of Gibraltar, and the horn of Morocco." (IGZ newsletter)
Unfortunately the download link was bad, so if anyone gets that scenario, please send that scenario to me. You can of course also submit your own scenarios.

September 4

NewHoo Cool Site award I have won an award!

The website http://age.gamesmania.com/ has been designated a Cool Site in the NewHoo Games/Computer_Games/Strategy/Age_of_Empires category at http://www.newhoo.com/Games/Computer_Games/Strategy/Age_of_Empires/
Hi. I wanted to let you know that I've chosen your site as the best Age of Empires site in NewHoo, and you've won the NewHoo cool site award. Nice site!
elvii

NewHoo is a searchable index (like Yahoo) and maintained by volunteers. Unlike Yahoo, everyone can be a reviewer there. The fact that the pages are reviewed by actual surfers makes me especially proud to have that award :)

Interview with Bruce Shelley
Computer Games Online has an interview with Bruce Shelley, designer of AoE. Here is the most interesting part of it:
"CG Online: How far do you plan to ride this Age of Empires horse? What's after Age II?
Shelley: We'd like to start another whole genre of games. That's a big discussion point with us. (...) I don't want to speak too specifically, because we don't know where we're headed, but we think that we need to get something else going. As far as Age of Empires, I think it will depend on how Age II does. If it sells a million units, I think we'd be silly to just throw it away.
CG Online: Are you planning on sticking to the general ballpark of things like strategy?
Shelley: I wouldn't say that. We have a strong contingent of younger people who work for us, and they're big into first-person shooter...my guess is that we're not going to do a first-person shooter. Those ideas are being done by somebody else pretty well already. But I think there are some other opportunities, I think maybe a role-playing game, or some kind of hybrid probably."
At least we know that the new game is likely to use 3D technology (see yesterday's news) ;)  More companies producing RPGs certainly cannot hurt, as good RPGs are very sparse, indeed they have been almost-nonexistent during the past years (unless you count Diablo as an RPG).

New link
I have added a new link to the links section. Thanks to Adam for reviewing some links. I am afraid that sometimes the links were broken, so if your page has moved, please send me the new URL.

September 3

New Bronze Age guide
Ken Stanley has revised his guide to fast bronze times to make it more accessible to beginners. It is more accurate than before and though intermediate players may be bored by the first couple sections, anyone who cannot bronze consistently in less than fifteen minutes should read this guide.

Gigantic maps showcased
This week's showcase presents the Gigantic map size. They are good for people who love long games and hate early rushes; in these maps, you have the time and resources for building up a huge empire. They are less suitable for Internet games because the games will take more time and the demand for the network capacity grows, and of course you need a fast CPU to get the pathing calculation done in time. IMHO this map size is only needed for more than 4 players, and then, either a very fast connection or a LAN is needed for a lag free game.

Ensemble looking for 3D programmer
Ensemble Studios is offering many jobs, one if which being a 3D programmer ... this leaves much room for speculations on future games. While AoE2 has a 2D engine (i. e. an isometric 3D engine using 2D APIs/graphic adapters), the strategy games of the next millennium will probably all be 3D based.

September 2

Rise of Rome - the answers for your questions
Your questions from that form have been answered by the Gamesmania crew! Read which upgrade is the most powerful one, how strong martyrdom really is, and more. Head over to that page and check it out - and if your question is not there, just go to the form and ask it.

Rounded fog of war in RoR
If you check out this screenshot (28 KB), you will see that the fog of war looks nicer in Rise of Rome. The corners have been rounded, making the fog appear more fog-like :)

Help wanted
I am very busy in these days, so any help for the page would be very much appreciated. If you know some HTML and would like to contribute to this page, send me a mail, and you can join the crew.

September '97 - August '98

News from August 16 to August 31

News from August 1 to August 15

News from July '98
 
News from June 16 to June 30
 
News from June 1 to June 15
 
News from May
 
News from April 16 to April 30
 
News from April 1 to April 15
 
News from March
 
News from February 16 to February 28
 
News from February 1 to February 15
 
News from January 16 to January 31
 
News from January 1 to January 15
 
News from December 16 to December 31
 
News from December 1 to December 15
 
News from November 16 to November 30
 
News from November 1 to November 15
 
News from October '97
 
News from September '97

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