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May 22, 2011

AOEO and Orcs updates

Quite a few updates to make here for one post.. I guess I have been slacking and should of got these out sooner! I blame University for taking up too much of my time! In the last week we have had some new AOEO news and a new trap spot light for Orcs Must Die. So without further adue, here goes!

Age of Empires Online – Pro civilisation packs

Last week Microsoft announced plans to have a “pro civilisation pack” as a paid for booster for AOE-O. This pack would allow players with previous RTS or Age of Empires experience to get straight into the action by skipping tutorial and low level quests. The pack would start players at level 20 which is the half-way point up to level 40. The AOE-O community has since had alot of questions about the specifics of how this booster would work and how it would fit in with the free to play model. Luckily MGS Executive Producer Danan Davis is on hand to answer the communities questions.

Posting on the Age of Empires Online forums Danan or “nwgamedad” clarifies the MGS position about the pack in a detailed thread. Here are some of the highlights from the post:

To Free to Play or Not to Free to Play that is the Question

When we thought about the Pro Civs we debated a lot about whether the Civ should have a Free to Play component or not.  On the one hand, we stated before that all Civs would have a free component.  On the other hand, if we allowed players to try the Pro Civs for free they would likely attract non-experienced players who would have a less than stellar experience if they started out with a Pro Civ.  We purposely removed from Pro Civs all the early levels where a players gets a chance to be comfortable with the game’s features so experienced players could dive right in.

The basic summary of the MGS thinking behind having the booster pack as a paid for addition is that if the pack was offered for free then surely everyone would want a pro civilisation right from the beginning. After all, if you had a choice of  a standard or pro civilisation, both for free, what would you go for? If the pro civilisation booster was offered free this may result in “newbie” players using the pack to get ahead start in the game when they don’t necessarily have the skills to do so and would of had a better experience playing the earlier levels first. Making the pro civilisation paid for helps ensure that those who do buy the booster are more aware of how the game works and know what to expect from the booster, knowing that they will be missing out on those early levels.

What exactly is a Pro Civ Pack?

These are new Civs built specifically to be started at level 20.  They will contain a brand new tech tree, new art, new units, and a small number of new quests.

Pro Civs start off with their own Capital fully equipped with all the buildings you normally would have unlocked by questing up from levels 1-20.  You will be able to use Advisors, equip default gear, start Arena games, visit Sparta (the new PVP region), choose 2 crafting specialties, place maximum workshops, and have maximum warehouses all from the get go.  The empire building, equipment differentiation, and familiarization quests in early levels would be the only elements absent from Pro Civilizations.  Essentially, you start off ready to play everything at level 20.

Ultimately the pro civ pack does what it says on the tin. It lets players who want to get straight into the action who already know the ropes of an RTS or Age game. Players can get started with all the essential features unlocked and can keep levelling up from there. Perhaps one of the best things with Pro Civ pack offers is allowing PvP players to get started with each civ at a reasonable level to start PvP matches right off the bat. Meanwhile new players or those who enjoy the levelling up experience can stick with a standard or premium civilisations and can play all the quests until they feel ready to join the PvP action. The goal here is satisfaction all round and I think MGS are approaching the goal well with these ideas.

For more information about the Pro Civs and how they compare to the standard and premium civs check out the full posting on the AOE-O forums here:

Shopping with AOE-O

In other news, AOE-O Community Manager Kristin Reilly or “BatsyBatsy” on the forums is your guide for all the details on how players can shop in their AOE-O capital cities. As you may know your capital city in AOE-O is ripe for customisation. Infact you can customise the city pretty much to your hearts content. Check out some of these home cities from the AOE-O community:

Solartide spent his time creating a maze in his capital city

Alexastor demonstrates how a capital city can look when spending time carefully choosing and placing buildings

Players who enjoy customising their cities will be pleased to know there are a wealth of customisations offered. There’s even a vanity booster pack available on launch for the most creative of you! One of the things you will need to get started customising your capital city is knowing which stores are available to purchase things like materials, blueprints and other items. That’s where BastyBatsy comes in – her latest blog post details some of the stores available and the items they hold.  Check out her full blog post here:

Some more AOE-O animations from ChazBot

Charles Tinney has been continuing his theme of AOE-O animation details on his blog. Some of the latest animations include fishing boats, siege weapons (Palintonon’s are awesome in game!), caravans and a whole host of animals. My favourite has to be the donkey and camel caravans – very amusing!  Check them out here:

Joystiq reveals new Orcs trap the “Spring trap”

This week Joystiq had the pleasure of announcing the latest Orcs Must Die! trap spotlight. The spring trap is pretty simple, it predictively, springs the Orcs in the direction of your choosing. Of course, simple traps come at attractive prices, the spring trap is very cost effective allowing you to build more of them if you wish. One potential idea is to place spring traps at locations to ensure the Orcs end up in the path of your more deadly traps.

Seeing is believing so check out the trailer on Joystiq below:

And that’s a wrap.. I think! News is buzzing around Age of Empires Online and Orcs Must Die! at the moment. Gamers are in for an exciting time this Summer and Autumn with Orcs heading our way this Summer and AOE-O in the Fall. Both games are developed by members of Ensemble Studios and will be the first games from any ex-Ensembler’s to appear on the PC platform. Meanwhile, keep your eyes peeled for more news until these exciting games launch!


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