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September 24, 2011

AOE-O patch detailed, Dusty interviewed and first Orcs Must Die video blog!

Ian Vogel the design lead at Microsoft of Age of Empires Online has announced an overview of the  upcoming patch to Age of Empires Online. This patch has been in great demand of the community and the pressure has been on to develop this patch quickly. There has been some dis-content with the Age Online community about how long this patch has taken to develop and how it has potentially impacted on player numbers. Age of Empires Online was pitched as an “evergreen” game with the possibility of regular updates, its been a shame that updates thus far havent been pushed out in speedy time. Hopefully in order to ensure community continuity patches will be smaller and faster to release rather than this first patch which appears to be pretty large. There is indeed alot coming in this patch, from gear changes to PvP and Crete. Also mentioned in Ian’s latest post is that the Persians will soon be on their way as a playable civilisation, they are currently on schedule for October, so look out for them soon!

Check out the overview of the patch here:


Dusty Monk interviewed with Garage Games

Dusty has taken part in an interesting interview over at Garage Games who are the developers of the Torque 3D engine, which Dusty used to craft Atomic City Adventures. The interview talks about the game development and why Dusty used decided to use the Torque engine:

Jon: What software tools did you use to create the game?

Dusty: Well of course I built it on the Torque engine. I originally selected the Torque engine out of the desire to do a rapid prototype for the MMO. I really like Torque’s prototyping capabilities and I had just come from Ensemble and we were using the Unreal 3 engine at that time. Full blown, full license, professional/developer license. And I had extensive usage of that license and I was amazed even then how much easier it was to get things working in Torque. So that was a huge decider at that point. So Torque has the full engine and all the source, and it was only a hundred bucks.

Eagle eyed readers will pick up on the comment that Ensemble was using the Unreal 3 engine during its final years during their prototyping of games outside of the RTS genre, and outside of their Bang! engine. Ensemble was indeed working on more action / adventure games which sadly never saw the light of day. The interview also expands on the development history of the game. We had heard before that Dusty really wanted to create an MMO with the title, however it was unfortunate that he couldn’t get publishers on board with the idea. MMO games carry a reasonable amount of risk, and with Windstorm just a one man band it was difficult for Dusty to get things to fall in place.

Jon: So what was the development process like?

Dusty: Long. Basically when I quit, when I was laid off from Ensemble in late 2008 early 2009. I started building a prototype for an MMO at that time. I spent 6 months putting together this prototype, shipped it around to various publishers. Couldn’t get anybody to really bite off on the notion of a single man company or funding a company to build a team to build this prototype. So at that point, right around October or right around November, December 2009. I set about creating a single player game what I thought was a modest scope that would take about 11 months for production and 24 months later the game was finished.

So it took Dusty a little big longer to produce ACA than originally planned, but the time spent was well worth it. Looking back although he might have liked to do a few things differently he wouldn’t take back the time. I think its great to see someone set out and produce a game all by himself , taking up the role as programmer, producer, sound, art and everything else which goes into making a game. You really do need to be passionate about your idea to keep pushing it forward and that’s exactly what Dusty has done with Atomic City, it’s certainly an amazing accomplishment which Dusty should be very proud of. Working as a truly indie dev isnt easy and it produces a number of challenges compared to working for a publisher studio like Microsoft’s Ensemble Studios.

Jon: So you worked for Ensemble, how does it compare? Working for a big named publisher vs. indie?

Dusty: It’s like everything it’s a double edged sword. There are some huge benefits, but if you work for a studio of significant size that there are some days you just struggle to get something productive done. There are so many meetings and so many interruptions on your time and you feel like you’re being pulled so many different ways. And as a coder, programmer, and guy who makes codes it feels extraordinary liberating to sit down at your desk at 8 o’clock in the morning and crank the crap out of code until 8 o’clock at night and feel like you got a huge amount of work done. Which is one of the reasons I went indie in the first place, and it is extremely satisfying. The downside to that is you get from a company; you get less feedback, less information from your peers and you lose some of the benefits to building a cool game. And that I’ve discovered in the past two years, that is a pretty significant value in itself. I definitely some things I would do different but I would not take back the past two years.

Be sure to check out the rest of the interview over at Garage Games to find out more about Dusty and the development of the game. There is even mention of possible DLC with 3 more levels in the making! Check it out here:

Plus don’t forget you can pick up Atomic City today from Impulse right here:

First Orcs Must Die! video blog

IGN have their hands on the very first video blog to come out of Robot Entertainment. The Orcs Must Die! video blog features a number of the bots talking about the game and the decisions made during the development. Community bots, art bots. producer bots and even the CEO bot all make an appearance. Plus there’s a ton of gameplay footage no doubt edited by video extraordinaire, Duncan Stanley. This video provides us a clear insight to things like how the UI works for upgrades and how Weavers can help the player. In case you don’t know the Weavers allows players to upgrade certain elements of the game such as improving the effectiveness of certain spells or adding bonuses like allowing the rift to help fight back against to Orcs with lighting, just in case things start to turn a little bit too close of comfort!

You can see it all in IGN’s video below – definitely worth checking out! We’re only a few weeks away from mass Orc destruction! Exciting times!


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