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Archive for September 3rd, 2010


Microsoft Game Studios details the AOEO Beta invite process


NWGameDad of Microsoft Game Studios has commented on Age Community detailing exactly how the beta process is going to work for Age of Empires Online. Good news for those who have not been invited to the beta yet – Microsoft looks at the possibility of adding new players to the beta weekly so there is a good chance you may be invited soon. The full post can be found below:

Hello Age Community!

I wanted pop in and answer some questions about the Beta.  Age of Empires is a large successful franchise with millions of fans, and the response to our announcement of the new game at GamesCom a couple weeks ago has been phenomenal.  The number of sign-ups we had for the Beta were quite large, so try to understand the scale of things when you don’t get the invite you’ve been dying to receive in Wave 1.  There are just a large number of people that want into the Beta and we can’t accommodate everyone right now (see 1. below) To answer some specific questions on the Beta selection and invite process:

1. Every week we evaluate if we’re ready to add more people to the Beta from the sign-up pool.  We are building an online game and the Beta is helping us not only get feedback on gameplay, but also to test our server environments.  When we add new people each week, we need to test and analyze the results of new people joining to ensure the server environment is stable and able to handle another wave of people.   If we find bugs with the servers then that may mean we have to skip adding new folks that week  in order to fix problems.  This is a big reason why Batsy Batsy has been so non-committal on when Beta invite waves will happen.  We don’t want to definitively state a week we’re adding people, then that not have that happen because of bugs.  In an ideal situation we will have weekly Beta invite waves, however, Betas are not ideal by their nature of not being done, so expect that we will be at least evaluating whether we can add more Beta Testers each week.

2. As some have noted in various posts, we don’t invite exclusively from one segment of our fan base so that we get a good cross-section of feedback from players.  I know it may feel like we haven’t invited enough hardcore RTS gamers, but honestly I can say the hardcore RTS gamers are well represented in every Beta wave invited.  In fact, we did a special fast track of several RTS gamers recommended by Robot about a week ago to insure we were getting that voice in the Beta.  The reason it may feel like it isn’t enough is quite simply because the pool of fans is just so large.  As we expand the Beta more and more of you will get invites.  We certainly are not ignoring all the great players from past Age games.  There’s just that scale of numbers thing to pay attention to right now.

3.  This is a Closed Beta still.  That means that those of you that are invited are under NDA and are not allowed to speak about the Beta outside of our private Beta forums.  We do this because we are still working on the game and it just isn’t ready for everyone to know every last detail.  A lot is still changing and although we want Beta feedback we still need to keep stuff under wraps to allow us the freedom to develop a great game.

Hopefully this helps you all understand a bit more of our process around the Beta.  I am really excited that for this iteration of Age of Empires we can have such a long and large scale Beta compared to past products.  It allows us to really build a game that I think you’ll love and you will have had the chance to check it out and give feedback on before we launch.  The feedback we received from our Alpha Testers and now our Beta Testers has been really helpful.  I look forward to seeing more of you in the Beta.


Executive Producer

Microsoft Game Studios

Join in the discussion at:

Side note: It is pleasing to see Microsoft is using the Age Community website after the concerns that were previously raised regarding Age Community utilisation.


Dave Kubalak talks about AOEO art style. Plus news about PAX


Robot Entertainment’s art director Dave Kubalak has been blogging about the art style in Age of Empires Online. There is no denying that the art style is very different in AOEO compared to Age 3 and even Age 1 which was set in the same time zone. If you would like a trip down memory lane the below screenshots compares the Age 1 days with the new look AOEO. 


(Click to enlarge

The excellent blog describes in detail Robot’s vision plan for the game and how the changes make the experience much better for the user.  The vision plan is as follows: 

  1. Create a timeless, bright, and visually appealing game that can technically run on a wide range of PCs, and still look good for years to come.
  2. Create a bold and more graphic look with a lot of character. That means a lot of different things.
  3. Less obstructive user interface and a more ‘graphic look’ to our iconography
  • Make the terrain vivid, but less ‘noisy’ so the buildings and units ‘pop’, and are easily identifiable.
  • Explore exaggerated and unique silhouettes to create a large variety of units and buildings. This helps give even inanimate objects more character and appeal.
  • Use animations, in addition to the units’ unique proportions, to better differentiate and emphasize roles and classes
  • Give the world and its inhabitants character and ‘life’, creating a digital terrarium for the player to control

Looking at the various in game screenshots it is clear how these points have been addressed. Units are now much bigger and are intentionally not in proportion to the size of buildings.  Buildings are much more unique with a very distinguishable look making them much easier to identify at a glance. Animations of units are also very unique and the amount of screen view has vastly increased with the removal and transparency of the UI. 

You may be wondering how these changes impact the user, for that you should head over to the full blog on the Robot Entertainment website where Dave goes into alot of detail about the changes  – a must read for any Age fan! 

Read the full blog


In other news.. PAX 

Two of the Justin’s from Robot Entertainment, Justin Korthof and Justin Moe are on the way to PAX this weekend. Community Manager extraordinaire Justin Korthof will be hosting his own community manager panel titled “So I have this website”. The panel includes Justin Korthof from Robot Entertainment and a number of other Community Managers including Jon Goff from 343 Industries who looks after The blurb of the panel is as follows below as found on Justin’s blog at 

You’ve spent the time and money building your community site, and now you’re looking to take it to the next level. Maybe you want to get a job as a professional Community Manager, or maybe you’re just looking for tips on how to get publishers to pay more attention to your site. Whether you’re just starting out, or have been running a site for years, this panel is the best place to get your questions answered. Together, these community managers have represented some of the biggest franchises, developers, and publishers in the game industry, and most of them started out just like you – running a fan site. 

Panelists include: Justin Korthof [Community Manager, Robot Entertainment], Matthew Pruitt [FPS Community Manager, Electronic Arts], Jon Goff [Community Manager, 343 Industries], James Stevenson [Senior Community Manager, Insomniac Games] 

Place/Time/Date: Sunday, September 5th, 12:30pm in the Wolfman Theater 

I wish Justin the best of luck with his panel and look forward to reading more about it. There is no doubt about Justin’s passion with online communities and this is evidenced by the outstanding job he has been doing at Robot Entertainment so far in team work with Duncan Stanley and others. 

Age of Empires Online will be playable at PAX so anyone lucky enough to be going should check out booth number 670 for a chance to play with six stations in total.

 A note about AOEO beta invites

There have been concerns on Age Community and other sites about the way the process works. Currently the first wave has gone out and if you were in the first wave you should of had an email by now advising you of your download key. The waves are a random lottery irrespective of the answers you put in the questionnaire, providing that you are 18+ years of age everyone has an equal chance of getting in. The second wave is expected soon. MGS is stated that they plan to do waves over the coming months so I would expect there to be a wave every month so keep your eyes peeled.  If you did not get a key this time keep an eye out for another wave soon. I’ll keep this blog up to date with all the beta invitation information and wish you all the best of luck getting in!