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Ask Sandy archive

Here you can find a complete archive of Ask Sandy posts on the Age 3 community:

Posted: 1/16/2006 11:22 AM

  ES Moderator
Total Posts: 6505
Last Post: 2/7/2007
Member Since: 9/26/2005
Subject: Ask Sandy Archive
For easy reading the below is an list of the answers and questions Sandyman has posted in the “Ask Sandy” thread(s).


[Edited on 1/16/2006]


Posted: 1/16/2006 11:23 AM

  ES Moderator
Total Posts: 6505
Last Post: 2/7/2007
Member Since: 9/26/2005
1)What do you consiter to be the best civ in the game?
A – I have a different take on this from normal players. Since I was tasked with maintaining balance, when a civ is more fun or superior to another, then to me, this civ is the “worst”, and I strive to pull it back into bounds.

2) How historically accurate is the game itself (not including campaign)?
A – well, it depends on how closely you examine it. For example, the Germans really did field soldiers called Doppelsoldners, but they never fought in that style in the New World. So I guess I’d say that the game uses realistic units and assets in what is sometimes an unrealistic manner.

3) The game has been out for over three months now. ES have some good testers in matty and the sheriff. Did they envisage things like abus guns being too good, mercs being too much in the game and the Fast Fortress destroyng colonial fighting?
A – we did envisage players finding new strategies. That’s what the game’s all about, right?

4) In AoEIII, Why the french have the option to have 2 forts? it has a historical or game-balance reason?
A – besides the fun factor, it was because the French had the benefit of the military genius Vauban, who turned fortification-building into a science. His rules are still used today.

5) Are you aware that French cav are OP?
A – I deny that French cav are OP. French hussars and dragoons are the same or even weaker than those of other civs. And our balance tests demonstrate that cuirassiers are in fact slightly weaker, per cost, than hussars.

6) Do you know when French cavalry will get nerfed?
A – this begs the question. Who said French cavalry had to be nerfed? Look, I agree that the French are probably slightly too strong at this point (they have a 54% win factor, which is hardly astronomical). And I agree that cuirassiers seem dominant. But as a unique unit, you can’t separate the cuirassier’s dominance from the French civ as a whole. Perhaps cuirassiers seem so strong because coureurs are resistant to rushing, permitting a French player to get by with fewer resources spent to defend vs. a rush, and this gives them more resources on cuirassiers. If this s the case, then perhaps weakening the coureur is the right answer, instead of the cuirassiers. Or perhaps it’s because French light infantry & artillery are so good – these neutralize enemy heavy infantry & dragoons, which are the natural predators of cuirassiers. So cuirassiers seem strong because their enemies are fewer in number. You see that it’s a complex issue. Nerfing the cav itself may not be the right answer.

7) How exactly will French be nerfed?
A – we are examining every possibility, from changing starting resources to unit stats to politicians even. We would be remiss to do otherwise.

8) Will Dutch get any better lv 25 cards other than mediocre bank upgrade cards?
A – you mean besides a team privateer shipment (Harbor), large groups of halberds or skirms (Academy), or 16 crates of wood or food (NTSC)?

9) Do you know if walls will favor the defenders?
A – I can’t imagine any way in which walls would favor attackers.

10) Will there be any new ways to defend an Otto rush, specifically mass abus guns in age2? (Hussars are way more expensive and harder to make, in age2.)
A – Hussars do cost more than abus guns, but they are also better unit for unit. We are examining the Ottomans just like we are looking at every other civ in the game. As with cuirassiers (discussed above), it’s impossible to differentiate a unique unit from the civ as a whole.

11) Will anything be done about Cav Archers? They suck right now.
A – cav archers have high hit points, but low attack, which makes them slow at killing cav, but on the other hand they stand up longer to crossbows & skirms. The bottom line is that the cav archer civs (Ottoman & Russian) probably don’t need an extra boost, so we’d only improve cav archers if we somehow introduced a corresponding weakness into these civs.

12) What will be done for more accounts per cd key?
A – I have no idea.

13) Can you possibly explain why the role of the villager was scaled back to being almost non-existent in AoE3, when compared to the previous AoE games?
A – The villager still does everything he did in the previous games. He builds, he gathers, he fights better than ever before. You even start with far more of them, and more types of them (coureur, settler wagon). I guess what you’re talking about is that the home city is also an important part of your economy. That’s not really the same as saying settlers are “almost non-existent”/) Trying playing a game of Age 3 and don’t train any settlers. See how far you get.

14) Have you seen some of the ELO rating sites for AOE3 and what do you think of them? If there was a similar type of rating system on ESO2 that could be used as an option for quickmatch to increase our chances of having evenly skilled player matchups on ESO2? Will there be any type of adjustments to the quickmatch system? Possibly could include options that allow us to change the map or select a subset of maps? Specially, I would like to see an option to remove water maps from the quickmatch system.
A – I am personally not very interested in rating systems or quickmatch so I don’t pay much attention to them. I prefer playing games with people I know, just for fun. That said, there are a bunch of guys here at ES (such as Kevin Holme) who care very deeply indeed about this issue and spend a lot of time looking at it.

15) Are elevation bonus’ going to be added to the game?
A – almost certainly not.

[Edited on 1/16/2006]


Posted: 1/16/2006 11:23 AM

  ES Moderator
Total Posts: 6505
Last Post: 2/7/2007
Member Since: 9/26/2005
16) Are more/better formations going to be added to the game?
A – such as? (I’m not making fun – I’m asking what you’d suggest)

17) Do you think, either in a patch, or an expansion pack, each civilization can have more attacking units? At the moment, each civilization has 3 main units, infantry, cavalry, and artilery, and within that we have different types of units, can you add more to it? More choice?
A – like a new kind of musketeer? How would that make the game better? I mean, the new musketeer would either be better than the old musketeer, in which case you’d use it exclusively. Or it would be inferior to the old musketeer, in which case you wouldn’t use it. I think we’ve covered most reasonable unit roles in the units available right now.. Look at the British, for example. Not counting ships, they have 11 different unit lines, plus they have access to natives, mercenaries, the explorer, special shipments, etc.. I think that’s a lot of variety. A typical AoM civ had only 9 army units, plus 3-4 myth.

18) Defensivly, and this is the main problem for me, we need more! The out-posts, we can only have 7, and they just do not do enough to defend, battles are no longer in battlefields, there in players town areas, better walls could be an options? Walls with holes in them with shooters with guns? To actually defend an attack!
A – Why would we want games to take longer and be slower? That’s what better fortifications would do.

19) As it stands, the enemy just comes along with cannons, breaks the wall down, and its game over
A- yes, if you defend on your walls or forts to save the day. Look at what people actually DID in the 17th-19th centuries. No one just sat behind fort walls – or if they did, they were sorry! Cromwell knocked down almost evey Royalist castle in England with his artillery – those castles NEVER held out against his guns. The way to hold your walls is with cannons or troops of your own. That’s what culverins are for. Look at the Alamo. The defenders were outnumbered around 20 to 1, yet because they were heavily armed with artillery (they had 18 field pieces, while the Mexicans only 2 – Santa Anna didn’t want to wait for his siege train.) they were able to inflict casualties out of all proportion on their attackers. It wasn’t the walls of the Alamo that hurt Santa Anna’s army so badly – it was the cannons & rifle-armed frontiersmen.

20) We know the french villagers gather faster than the others and they are stronger too.
I would like to know Why are they too strong?

A – they’re not “too strong”. They’re just stronger than other civs. Every civ has some advantage. Germans get free uhlans. British spawn settlers from their manors. Unless you want all the civs to be the same, we have to have SOME way to differentiate them. We chose the famous coureurs de bois for the Frrench, because they were a real asset to the French in, for example, the French-and-Indian War.

21) I think a lot of us would like to know the future plans for the French Coureur and Curisassier, as well as the Ottoman Abus Gun. I would like to know the rationale behind each of these units as they stand today. For example, in terms of balance how do you see these units “fitting in”?
A) It’s quite simple.

Coureur – Every civ has an economic bonus. The coureur is the French bonus. As simple as that.

Cuirassier – as has been stated earlier in the thread, the cuirassier is actually weaker for cost than most other cav uints. But of course it is individually quite strong. We think it fits in very nicely, especially when you consider the multiplicity of units that are effective at killing cavalry.

Abus Gun – without the Abus gun the Ottomans have a real challenge facing light infantry. The purpose of the Abus gun very simply is to give them a unit to counter enemy skirms and their ilk.

22) Why is it easy to look at my opponents deck in the game, but I can’t as easily look at their deck in a replay
A – this was not a game design decision, just a result of how the replay code works.

23) economic score, military score, trading posts, native posts, and deck. Providing all of his information in a replay is nice, but I don’t think it should be exposed in game. I was wondering if you have access to a rationale behind this.
A – we are always caught in a quandary about how much or how little information we should show the players in a game. You feel that we show too much. On the whole, we’d rather show (slightly) too much rather than too little, because at least a player armed with information can use his knowledge to plan a superior strategy. If you’re playing in the dark the game becomes much more random.

24) Is the ability to play custom games on ESO2 a top priority at the moment/can we expect to see this soon?
A – you can play custom random maps, no? It’s true you can’t yet play custom scenarios. Regardless of what happens, it’s highly doubtful that we will ever let you play a custom map in a rated game.
2) What are the top five Civil War books you recommend?

A – First – American Heritage History of the Civil War (Bruce Catton) is the best one-volume coverage. It’s what I recommend to n00bs.

Second & Third – The Red Badge of Courage (Stephen Crane) and The Killer Angels (Michael Shaara) are the two fiction books I most recommend.

Fourth – The Battle Cry of Freedom (James McPherson) is an excellent one-volume history of the war for people who already know a little about it, and want to focus in more. It’s not for total n00bs though.

Fifth – Abraham Lincoln (Carl Sandburg) – a huge multi-volume set, but you can get by with just the volume covering the War Years. That’s the part of his life that really mattered after all.

[Edited on 1/16/2006]


Posted: 1/16/2006 11:23 AM

  ES Moderator
Total Posts: 6505
Last Post: 2/7/2007
Member Since: 9/26/2005
25) Both Abus Guns and Grenadiers do Siege damage. this means that both of those units (Abus in particular) are strong against Cannons. Is that an intended feature or a bug? (it almost seems like those two units were originally artillery and then converted to infantry.)
A – This is (A) not a bug. The Abus gun was never Infantry (the grenadier was, briefly, but it didn’t do Siege damage at that time).
4) Are you aware that abus guns, in their current state, counter falconets
A – we know that they beat them on a cost basis by a few percent. We don’t consider abus guns to be a particularly good counter to falconets, considering that hussars (for instance) beat falconets by 60% or more.

26) Why are you telling courassier are worse then hussars when you have spend same ammount of resourses on them? It is pretty clear that courassier have splash damage and hussars not. So small groups hussars will be better, but in large groups courassier are FAR better.
A – we do our tests with large groups. Equal resources spent on Hussars vs. Cuirassiers (of equal upgrade level) indicate that the hussars win. In small groups the hussars win even more (as you indicated).

27) curaisers cannot be countered by the ottomons
A – both cav archers & janissaries defeat cuirassiers at ratios of at least 3:2. So they do have the units they need to beat cuirassiers. They might have a problem producing enough of those units, or getting them to the target area on time or something, but it’s now a flaw with their unit mix at any rate. Anyway your post indicated you were getting pwned when you boomed. You ought to be pwned if you boom against a rush. Duh. Put up some towers – they do double damage to cuirassiers, and the cuirassier splash damage is worthless vs. them.

28) Why are mercs so powerful?
A – because you can only get a particular type of merc maybe once in a whole game, so they need to be strong enough to make an impact.

29) How do you beat group of 3-4 different type of mercs without getting mercs yourself too?
A – this one is easy. If your opponent has shipped 4 types of mercs, he’s had 4 home city shipments and spent 4800 resources. Logically, you should have 4800 resources to spare, plus 4 third age shipments of your own – typically worth 1000 resources or so. This means you should have around 9000 resources to stop his four merc buckets. Let’s say you’re both French. This means he has 13 swiss pikemen, 12 jaegers, 9 landsknecht, and 8 black riders. With your 9000 resources, you can easily be Fourth Age, upgrade your skirms to Royal Guard, and have 40-50 voltigeurs facing down your enemy’s mercs, most of whom you counter. Will 50 voltigeurs beat all those mercs? Depending on tactical circumstances maybe not, but when the remnants of his merc army stagger into your town you’re STILL 4th Age, and can KEEP producing voltigeurs. His bolt is shot.

That said, there is one big advantage the merc-sending player has – he can pull off his strategy pretty fast. And we are actually investigating that aspect of it. Until we reach final conclusions, though, you’ll have to plan ahead.

30) For what eason was no general ladder impletmented?
A – the truth is, with the innovation of the home city, we weren’t really sure how the best ladder ought to be organized. We DID know that no matter what we decided, it would be imperfect and the marketplace (that means you guys in the forums) would quickly figure out a better system. So instead of putting in something halfassed, we decided just to leave it out and wait to see what the forums said. Plus we felt that in the interim, the fact that you got to see your win percentage and home city level would sort of make up for it.

31) French early skirms. do you not feel that this makes france “dutch but better”?
A – Well, I think there’s more to the Dutch than just the early skirms. And the French early skirm shipment is Team, which is quite different.

32) Are you aware that germans on maps such as great lakes can hide behind three towers, with their free uhlans etc, go FF, and get out a single squad of jeagers/black riders AND THEN GO ON TO WIN EASILY
A – a single squad of jaegers can easily beat you as Russians? Why don’t you go FF, and get out a squad of manchus or highlanders? If he’s building 3 towers, you should have 750 resources more than him.

33) What combination of units/buildings would you use if you were British, and the enemy was a Ottoman rushing lunatic, bringing a combination of janissaries and grenaiders at 5 minutes?
A – well, I’m not the greatest expert that ever lived, but I asked two of them on your behalf – the Sheriff, and MoonGoat. MoonGoat recommended that if you’re British facing Ottoman to send a bucket of 300 food and go to 2nd age as early as possible. Once you’re 2nd age, produce longbows and cav. When he attacks your town, defend with longbows, and raid his town with the cav. He has few, slowly-produced settlers and this can really hurt him. The MoonGoat is a really good raiding player … The Sheriff said that his strategy was “bizarre”, but I’ve never seen it lose. He produces mostly (not all) longbowmen, buys greatcoat & blunderbuss, and swamps the janns & grenadiers with his vastly superior numbers of settlers, backed by longbows. So there are two strategies which have won as British vs. Ottomans. Of course if the Ottoman player is better than you no strategy is perfect.

[Edited on 1/16/2006]


Posted: 1/16/2006 11:23 AM

  ES Moderator
Total Posts: 6505
Last Post: 2/7/2007
Member Since: 9/26/2005
34) Which person from colonial times is your favourite and why?
A – if we’re restricted to Americans, believe it or not, it’s boring old George Washington. I like him because his moral center, his common sense, his leadership, and his military ability not only enabled us to survive as a nation (it’s clear to me that without him the Revolution would have been lost), but he also put us on the right course from the very start. Almost every other great liberation/revolution eventually ended in a grim dictatorship (Haiti under Louverture, France under Napoleon, Mexico under Iturbide. Even Simon Bolivar ended up president-for-life.). But Washington managed to prevent such an event. I realize he didn’t do it alone, but he was one of the central figures.

If you’re asking who is my favorite from 1776-1820 world wide it would probably be Napoleon though. Despite his personal flaws he is just so interesting.

35) How are French Curassiers not OP? French gather fast and therefore will have a huge economy in late game, which is when Curassiers take place
A – that’s precisely my point – if anything is OP it’s not the unit, but the civ.

36) are ports going to be boosted?
A – we are still undergoing tests but almost certainly yes.

37) Is it possible to get forts to actually look like a star fort when you click on the star fort upgraded?
A – we used to do that. The problem was that the fort can’t actually suddenly get “bigger” on the map – think about it. What if you had a building next to the fort and it enlarged? Would your building “pop”, or what? And making a little teeny star fort the size of the current fort’s footprint would look dumb. We used to have great big forts, but they filled the entire screen and were very difficult to place. The current fort doesn’t look nearly as good, but at least it’s playable.

38) Will we ever have a Stand Ground stance? Should we keep our hopes up at all?
A – don’t give up hope.

39) In the Collectors Edition of AOE3 it list 3 NEW Maps to be Released: California, NW Territory, & Andes; When are they coming out!?!?
A – we do not yet know when they are coming out. However you may be pleased to hear that there will be more maps than just those three, so hang tight

40) In previous Bruce’s Blog he mentions that there was to be orginally 12-14 civs in AOE3, now why did it get cut down to 8?.
A – to let us spend more time on balance, so the civs we have would be as well-balanced as possible. I realize there are shouts and screams about how OP the ottomans or french are, but compare their win percentages to our previous games. 54% for the French is hardly carte blanc to win every game. This is the best-balanced game we’ve released and part of the reason is because we focused for the start on seeing game balance as a central aspect of our production process.

41) What are they?
A – well when I joined the team there were 10 civs. So I don’t know what the 12-14 would have consisted of. We cut Swedes and Italians. The Swedish bonus was supposed to be that their units auto-upgraded over time. The Italian bonus was stolen from them and given to the Dutch (villagers cost gold).

44) Is the reason the Unit Patch is taking so is because ES is trying Balance the old units with the New possible expac units that were cut out in AOE3 October release?
A – no

45) i still think that you should work off a few pounds and asnwer to our portuguese questions
A – let’s not get too personal here. Would you like ME to comment on your poor English skillz?

46) What UNIQUE lv 25 cards will dutch get?
A – why restrict it to level 25?

47) AOE3 is currently generating more players than other popular games such as Half Life 2 online. What plans are you making to even increase this number?
A – the main thing we’re trying to do is have an actual physical post-ship team releasing patches in a timely fashion to improve ESO and adjust game balance. Do you have a suggestion for something else we could do?

48) What do you think can be done to improve the playability of Portugal?
A – well three of the issues we’re looking at are (1) starting resources/units, (2) cassadors, (3) organ guns. Probably the most important of these is the first.

50) How far is ES in bringing out a rating system of some sort to ensure that games played using the Quick Search feature are fairer?
A – we are well along, I am told.

51) Is there a way play as “The Circle”?
A – I sure hope not.

52) Why arent there any stance modes like Patrol or Guard unit from AOE II?
A – you look at things and say “Why?”. But I say, “Why not?”

53) The British rocket are currently weaker than a heavy cannon
A – it is being looked at.

54) you intend to nerf the coureur des bois/french eco?
A – if we do, it will not be by making the coureur gather more slowly.

55) Do you intend to nerf the otto rush and perhaps make them stronger mid-game?
A – let’s look at it this way. “ES is doing a balance patch. Which civs do you think they will nerf and which will they boost?” Answer “They will nerf the civs that seem the strongest and boost the civs that seem the weakest.”

56) Why do British start with one less villager than other civs?
A – believe it or not, at one time British were by far the best civ in all our games at ES. Removing one settler was one of several ways we balanced them vis-à-vis the rest.

57) What is your ESO password?
A – my password is eight blank spaces.

58) Will the expansion involve new european countrys, like some people are asking for, like Sweden, Austria and Italy, or will it aproach another kind of theme
A – jeeze, friend. Wait for an announcement.

[Edited on 1/16/2006]


Posted: 1/16/2006 11:23 AM

  ES Moderator
Total Posts: 6505
Last Post: 2/7/2007
Member Since: 9/26/2005
59) as for the Star forts, why not have it so when you first place the fort, it has to leave room for the star fort upgrade
A – because then the normal fort would be very difficult to place on the map. This isn’t surmise on my part – that’s how it was for a long time. The reduction to the small fort came only after months of playtest.

60) don’t you think Outposts, walls and forts should recieve possibly a third/fourth upgrade or at least be a little more effective
A – no. I think that they should be superceded in 4th age, so games can reach a close.

61) do you plan to support AoE3 with any cash/hardware tournaments?
A – Yes, certainly. However, such a tournament does take some dev time, and right now we’re really obsessed with getting the patches out. You wouldn’t want to play in a tournament till after the balance patch anyway, right?

62) if the Sheriff is such an expert, why does he have only 61 wins with an 81% win percentage?
A – two reasons. First, he never plays n00bs. If he’s in a room and he sees that the other players have less than like a 75% win rate, he quits out and looks for another game. So he only takes on top players. Second, he is often called into meetings or consultations here at work. If he’s in a game at that time, he usually has to resign early, lowering his win percentage.

63) could there ever be an option added to allow us to increase in the population limit?
A – only if we increased the minimum hardware requirement.

64) Is ES going to make cuirassiers weaker or aren’t they?
A – look dude, you are missing the entire point of what I said about cuirassiers. They are a unique unit. No other civ gets them. This means that you cannot separate the issue of cuirassier quality from the overall French problem. If we were to nerf the French economy, for instance, this could make cuirassiers acceptable, because then they’d be rarer. If we were to nerf the French resistance to rushes, this might make cuirassiers into line, because they’d be forced to spend resources early on anti-rush gear, and cuirassiers would be a late game luxury. Maybe nerfing cuirassiers IS the way to go for French, but you have to understand that there are a lot of ways to bring the French down from their mighty 54% win ratio, and nerfing them six different ways from Sunday is not the solution.

65) Are there any plans to boost Russia?
A – Look. If we nerf the civs that are currently stronger than Russia, we don’t NEED to boost Russia, right?

66) why is that such a great game as AOE3 has so many bugs and technical problems ?
A – go find me a similarly-elaborate game with fewer bugs and I’ll take you seriously.

67) Is the game made in C++ plus DirectX?
A- um. I think so. I’m not a programmer.

68) Whats the relation between M$ and ES?
A – they own us lock, stock, and barrel.

69) how many games have you played online and with what civs have you played the most?
A – Not very many. Usually I play my Russian civ.

70) Would it be safe to assume to “not give up hope” on other controls like seek and destroy, explore, hold fire, etc?
A – Don’t expect every single “missing” formation to someday make it into the game, but it’s reasonable to expect some.

71) Was there any real historical meaning to giving the ottomans free villagers?
A – they had a tightly organized system of control over their towns and hamlets, with local bureaucrats watching everything that happened. This system made things work smoothly,, but made it difficult for the Ottomans to respond rapidly to changing social or political events. The
“settlers are free but you can’t control their production directly” bonus of the Ottomans reflects this system.

72) I’ve been suggesting that making the explorer’s One Shot ability be made to kill anything in the game instead of just Treasure Guardians.
A- this used to be in the game. It was Not Good and got removed. One effect of it was that no one ever tried to rush with hussars or grenadiers, because one of your expensive dudes got popped first thing when you rode into town. So everyone used pike & crossbows so the explorer couldn’t kill as much value of unit. That distorted early unit balance.

73) you think that it would be prudent to simply lower the French Courier’s hitpoint to that of an average Settler?
A – I think it’s better to fix a bonus rather than eliminating it.

74) About Swedes and Italians, what were their unique units and what unit did they replace?
A – the Swedes had “Fusiliers” and the Italians had “Elmeti”, “Merchants”, and “Architects.” Fusiliers replaced Musketeers, and Elmeti were a heavy cav unit like the cuirassier or oprichnik. Merchants & Architects replaced settlers.

75) Italians bonus was that villagers cost gold, what would replace that bonus when they are to be released?
A – what makes you think they would ever be released?

76) Is it true the AOE3 team prefers oriental food over pizza’s when working over time?
A – sadly no. I do, though.

77) Is it true ES employees volunteered to join the game balance crew, just to play the game before anybody else?
A – not exactly. ES employees are required to playtest the game, though.

78) Is it true a love affair between employees started at the companies’christmas party?
A – well two of the workers here got married but I don’t know if the romance started at the Christmas party

79) Is it true the game ‘went gold’ just in time to get the dev team their ‘on time’ bonus, though deep in their hearts they wanted at least another 12 months for this already superb game?
A – we did not get a bonus for finishing on time. And no one wanted to work another 12 months on Age 3, that’s for absolutely certain. Sorry ?to burst your bubble.

[Edited on 1/16/2006]


Posted: 1/16/2006 11:23 AM

  ES Moderator
Total Posts: 6505
Last Post: 2/7/2007
Member Since: 9/26/2005
80) Is it true the German Civ was only added because Germany sells the most PC games in Europe? (As the Germans were never involved in ‘conquering the New World’)
A – not at all. The first governor of New York was German. The first books printed in Virginia were done by a German. The colony of Jamestown had Germans. Early government documents in the fledgling USA were printed in German as well as English. It’s true that Prussia and Austria-Hungary didn’t launch a formal colonization attempt in the New World the way that, say, the Dutch and Russians did, but Germans made such an enormous contribution to the early settling of the New World we would be remiss to leave them out.

81) Is it true there’s a list at the coffee machine which holds the most weird game adjustment/balancing suggestions?
A- the list moves around.

82) How hard is it for ES employees NOT answering to at least 80% of the questions : “Geez, you’re clueless about game designing and the real world economy”
A – Geez, you’re clueless about game designing and the real world economy.

83) Isn’t Sandy a girl’s name?
A – Sandy Koufax. Sandy the Scotsman. Sandy Vandenberg. There are heaps of men named Sandy. At worst, it’s an “intersex” name like Kim or Casey. That said, when I named MY kids I made damn sure that every one of them had a name unequivocably gender-biased. I didn’t want them to go through the purgatory I had growing up.

84) What is the average age of the AOE3 team?
A – probably a little over 30

85) Is it true that an actual picture of Bill Gates was used as a model for one of the game characters?
A – Maybe.

86) Is it true there are at least 20 other ‘cheat codes’ for the single player mode?
A – I never discuss cheat codes.

87) Is it true that no less than 50% of the AOE3 crew is already assigned to developing AOE4?
A – not a single person here at ES is currently developing AoE4.

88) When do you get new glasses?
A – once every two years. And I don’t pick the style I wear – my wife does. I figure she has to look at them, not me. So if they’re too retro blame her.

89) AoE3 is, sum total, the best video game ever made. Agree or disagree.
A – strongly disagree.

90) You can say a noob spanish vs an expert otto isnt a real game, but thats what happen the most
A – friend, there’s no game balance on earth that can fix the problem of a n00b vs. an expert.

91) Sandyman lost all crediblity when he claimed that Hussars can defeat Cuirs
A – do it on the cost/upgrade basis. Take 30 veteran hussars vs. 20 veteran cuirassiers. Cost & upgrade level is the same. You see if I’m not right. One v One the hussars lose of course as they should.

[Edited on 1/16/2006]


Posted: 1/16/2006 11:23 AM

  ES Moderator
Total Posts: 6505
Last Post: 2/7/2007
Member Since: 9/26/2005
Subject: Ask Sandy Archive: Part 2
———-Part 2—————-

1)I seem to find the water map games lag more than land maps, is this correct
A – if you use the highest-quality graphics, water lags more than land maps. Of course this will be the case if anybody in the game is using the good graphics.

2) can I know why a tower with the last upgrade do less dommage then a simple falconet?
A – a tower is not the same as a falconet. Why should it’s damage be the same?

3) is there any plans to make the ‘junk’ tribes better?
A – one man’s junk is another man’s treasure. You mock the seminoles for only having one upgrade – but they have two, and the second, “Guerrilla Wars” triples their siege damage, something I’ve often seen useful. We see that the Nootka are the least-liked tribe overall, but it’s popular here, not least because they’re funny. The tribes don’t directly compete with one another. It’s not like you have to worry about whether Cherokee is better than Maya – they don’t appear on the same maps. Some time will be spent ensuring that tribes that DO appear on the same map will be comparable, though different.

4) Are you going to fix the scenario editor?
A – yes. It impacts OUR scenario designers too, you know.

5) why is that diplomacy is limited to fixed teams at the start of the match?
A – I’m told it makes the AI far easier to design (which is one reason that our AI is so much superior to our past games). And the number of games we saw with 3+ teams on AoM and AoK was so miniscule it didn’t seem worth impacting the AI to provide this feature. I realize that every feature has its fans – I, personally, am a fan of the non-fixed teams and in fact asked for it’s inclusion – but sometimes choices have to be made.

6) I’m wondering if ES is aware of a bug that makes it impossible to ungarrison one’s units when placed in an ally’s buildings?
A – Yep.

7) Ok, name a better (video) game (than Age3)!
A – I’ll do better than that, I’ll name three – two of which I worked on. Civilization, Doom, and Super Mario 64. To me, as a designer, one important feature of a video game is whether or not it breaks new ground. Doom and Super Mario went where no game had gone before (at least, not successfully) and showed the way for others. Civilization is rather old-school now, and I think that RTS is way better than turn-based, but in its day it was quite the product. Note that I DO think that Age3 breaks new ground as well, with the Home City for instance, which I’m very proud of (on behalf of ES).

Somone mentioned RPGs. My favorite one of all time Earthbound. Far superior to any of the Final Fantasy lot.

8) i dont think you guys should give port an extra vill at the start. its not historically accurate.
A – Portuguese couldn’t send 7 guys across the ocean?

9) Concerning the balancing patch, how much effort is going towards balancing DM? Given that Ottomans and French are already being tweaked for Supremacy, are you going to weaken them in some ways that will influence Deathmatch as well? (similarly, are you boosting Ports in ways that will boost them in DM?)
A – we are probably not focusing on DM as much as we ought, but we are trying really hard to get the patch out ASAP. The changes we are making to the Ottomans & French & Portuguese will affect DM as well as the normal game though.

10) Why was Tsar Ivan the Terrible chosen to be Russia’s leader?
A – I agree that Peter the Great would be a good choice too. Ivan the Terrible however had the advantage of a terrific honorific and gave us a great AI personality. Also, it’s boring to have too many “The Greats” in your list of leaders.

11) Ottoman economy in age3 is really need a strengthen
A – I suspect that boosting the Ottomans in any way right now would not be very popular among most fans.

12) Why is your company name “Ensemble Studios”?
A – because we try to work harmoniously together for the common good.

13) Are u going to change/edit some of the map
A – yes.

14) Why is there a limit on the amount of units you can select at one time
A – it is a performance/pathing issue. The designers always argue for the limit to be as high as possible (for player convenience), and the programmers always want it to be as low as possible (so the game looks and runs well). What you see in the game is our compromise.

15) what is the meaning of life?
A – Man is, that he might have joy. (This includes women too.)

16) how do u switch home cities on online matches[/b]
A – just go to the city tab on the left. If you’re wondering where your singleplayer home cities are, they can’t be used in multiplayer.

17) i think british would be in a whole new boat with one extra card
A – it would be extremely difficult to add a new shipment in a patch.

18) Earlier you said that the elevation bonus would most probably not be added, why not?
A – because it would change the tactical game a lot, make the maps suddenly more unbalanced, and make lots of people ask me questions like “why can’t my hussars kill the enemy longbows” without telling me necessary info like “they were charging up a hill.”

19) The average review rating for aoe3 is abut 8.5.
A – we have never been the darling of the game review community. Look how much higher they rated Total Annihilation than us. Or Myth. With a few stellar exceptions, they hate us. They rated Age1 really low before even seeing it, on the basis that it was being produced by Microsoft. So while we like getting awards and good reviews, the main boost to our self-esteem comes from you guys directly.

20) Sandy, I love you. Would you marry me?
A – since your name is AGE_MAN, and same-sex marriage is not legal in the USA, my answer must be no.

[Edited on 1/23/2006]


Posted: 1/16/2006 11:23 AM

  ES Moderator
Total Posts: 6505
Last Post: 2/7/2007
Member Since: 9/26/2005
21) Coke or Pepsi?
A – Coke. I’m still mad at Pepsi because one of the VPs dissed my country on a trip to India last year. My only recourse when I’m mad at a large powerful company is to boycott its products.

22) are they gonna do anything to the spanish in the next patch?
A – we’re not doing anything directly to the spanish, though some of the changes will affect units or techs they use. We’re kind of using Spanish as a baseline – trying to push back the overstrong civs and pull up the weak civs to the Spanish level. So messing with the Spanish doesn’t make much sense at this time.

23) a user named “sandyman” played the vast majority of his games with Ottomans
A – that user is not me. I have never played Ottomans on ESO. I am ES_Sandyman

24) Sandy, in one of Bruce’s earlier blogs he said that himself and other casual gamers lost to the AI on hard difficulty but later during development he says that the AI was less difficult and he could beat. My Question is why was the AI made less difficult?
A – he might have just started fighting against a civ with more-complete AI. Initially the Ottoman AI (for instance) was much weaker than, say, Napoleon.

25) Why does Ottoman have so few arms?
A – They have few infantry units (only 1), but they make up for it by having more artillery & cavalry units than most civs. Plus we liked see lots of janissaries on the screen.

26) why arent u answering any of our questions?
A – ha! Here I am answering them right now!

27) What ever happened to the lazer bear and the George Crushington cheat codes?
A – I never answer questions about cheat codes.

28) Why do bank cost food? Is there like deer meat hanging off the walls?
A – Dutch like bacon I guess.

29) Conplared to aok would you say the aoe3 is better of worse?
A – I like it better, and I think the Home City is a work of genius. I wish AoK had a Home City.

30) Will ES increase the limits of ships?
A – send the Admiralty shipment, y’ cheapskate.

31) Is ES going to make walls strongers? Is ES going to increase the build limits of towers?
A – no. We don’t want the game to be more defensive and siege-like.

32) Why can’t you build ships on the map w/ all the little rivers
A – basically you can’t build ships on any maps where there’s no fishing.

33) what do you think of the Dutch?
A – My best Dutch friend is named Tressy, and I’ll probably be seeing her this year when I go to the Tentacles convention in Bacharach. Did you know that the Dutch are the tallest people on earth (I kid you not).

[b]34) Would it be possible to add an option to Quickmatch and game browser games that would allow us to randomly choose our HC?
A – well, obviously it would be “possible”. Do you think a lot of players would really like to find out they were now playing their Level 3 British city instead of their Level 60 Spanish?

35) Who are you? If you are working at ES you must have some purpose…. dont you?
A – I like to think that I have a purpose regardless of whether I’m at ES, but my job here is as game designer. Currently I’m a lead (and have been in the past). I was not a lead on Age3, however – my job then was primarily balance though I did lots of other things.

36) Customer always right. agree?
A – you mean, I have to be wrong ALL the time?!

37)I’m just curious as to WHY Sandy won’t pass any ideas/questions he thinks are worthy enough to other ES personnel?
A – I don’t want this to be the “how to contact any ES person” thread. This doesn’t mean I don’t discuss stuff with other ES personnel.

38Why do buildings gains so much LOS when you age up??
A – units get numerous upgrades to attack & hit points. Buildings have few such upgrades. The LOS is one way to try to help the buildings keep up.

39)Do you think dragoons-like units kill raiding?
A – what would be the other purpose for having a dragoon-like unit?

40)Are you aware of the bug with Longbows
A – we are aware of probably every bug in the game.

b]41) Why is a person who has played 3 games on ESO2 (and has even lost one), with a newbish average Colonial time of 07:56 answering our questions about balance-related things..? [/b]
A – gee, I don’t know. Maybe because I’ve spent the last eight years working on RTS game balance? But I suppose if you’re the kind of person who feels that anyone who EATS a lot of food must be a good cook, and hires racecar drivers to fix your car, then you’d want to talk to someone else.

42) Will you consider making fighting in Colonial Age more beneficial, especially against a Fast Fortressing opponent?
A – we don’t have any particular attachment to the Colonial age. What we want is for the game as a whole to be fun. We think that Fast Fortress is a perfectly valid strategy and don’t want to render it inoperable. That said, we certainly want to have alternatives to Fast Fortress.

43) do you feel that AOE3 has taken a step back from AOE2 in some ways?
A – no, unless you feel that multiplicity of features that almost no one uses is more desirable than spending focus on new, popular, ones.

44) are you happy with the current replay system?
A – No.

45) why did you close the first sandy thread and then just open another one a couple days later?
A – I didn’t want the thread to get so long that it was tedious for someone to read through the whole thing. This is what I used to do with the old ask sandies, and will continue this habit.

[Edited on 1/23/2006]


Posted: 1/16/2006 11:24 AM

  ES Moderator
Total Posts: 6505
Last Post: 2/7/2007
Member Since: 9/26/2005
46) can you give settlers more awareness?
A – it’s just a matter of how much time your CPU spends looking at settlers that have already been tasked and how much time it spends pathing units or targeting, and so forth. If computers were infinitely powerful, settlers would instantly react to any event.

47) I know you arent a programmer or anything, but what Graphics Cards you do use daily playing Age of Empires III on?
A- I really don’t know. They change it around every few months here at the office.

48) Any Expansion in the works?
A – trust me, if we were ever to do an expansion for Age3, you wouldn’t find out about it in a random thread – ES would announce it from the rooftops!

49) How do you plan on improving Skirmish Single Player AI? Hard, and espcially Expert levels feel a bit to easy, especially if compared to AoK.
A – I have to argue that the AI is vastly superior to AoK’s (and I was the guiy responsible for most of AoK’s AI!). AoK’s AI was riddled with exploitable holes and Age3, while I admit not perfect, is much smarter and more efficient. It is actually superior to most humans at running an economy (something we never pulled off before). It’s only real weakness is tactical, and even there he’s smarter than in the bad old days.

50) Is there any real reason for cutting off 2v2v2 team games, neutral diplomacy settings and such?
A – when you say we “cut them off” it sounds like we villainously plotted and took the time to actively remove an existing piece of the game. This isn’t the case at all. Look, when we make a new game, part of it is adding new stuff. But part of it is removing old stuff that was rarely-used or interfered with some of the new concepts. Design isn’t just a process of accumulation. And when any old concept isn’t reworked to fit into the new, then someone will be sad because it was their favorite feature.

51) why does it seem that ES bombed on the maps, so small and random it hurts.
A – in the first place, these maps are larger than those in AoM (however, units move faster, have longer range, and there is way better exploration, which may be why they feel small to you). In the second place, they are more fair than any maps we have ever done in the past. In the third place, we have been receiving complaints that the maps aren’t random enough.

52) I’m disappointed that ES overvalues asthetics and undervalues gameplay and functionality
A – you should probably buy some other company’s games then.

53) Have you read any GK Chesterton? If so, what do you think of him?
A – I absolutely adore G. K. Chesterton. He is one of my favorite authors of all time. I even like his poetry.

54) Is the game designed to have balanced 1v1 between different nations?
A – yes.

55) Did ES think about the “<2 minute resign – no rated game” abuse when there is a power rating system?
A – we thought about it, sure.

56) Are you planning on making it so that you can watch recorded games from previous versions of the game?
A – probably not. The problem is that recorded games aren’t really “recorded” – we just save the various keystrokes and mouseclicks. This means that if, for instance, a unit’s stats change, it will change the outcome of the recorded game. Over time these small errors accumulate until the final outcome doesn’t resemble the original at all.

[Edited on 1/23/2006]


Posted: 1/16/2006 11:24 AM

  ES Moderator
Total Posts: 6505
Last Post: 2/7/2007
Member Since: 9/26/2005
Subject: Ask Sandy Archive
57) What was the justification of the Dutch economy having the least amount of production late game?
A – the fact that the Dutch economy is very compact and easily defended, combined with the fact that they can get the very biggest army by them (150 army pop available instead of 100). Don’t you see a useful tradeoff there?

58) will you ever improve the recording system?
A – ESO is aware that people wish the record game system was better. They are working on the next patch as we speak. Will it include improved Record Game? I have no idea.

59) U always say that ES discuss the posts on this forum everyday! Does this also apply for important posts on fansites?
A – it depends on the fansite and how big the post is. Our definition of “important’” might not be the same as yours, too.

60) Do u also feel that ES is ignoring their hardcore gamers/fans in favour of the n00bs??
A – actually I think that we spend too MUCH time on the hardcore gamers at the expense of the noobs. Consider – the noobs are probably around 95% of the people who buy the game. If they’re not happy, our sales go down the toilet. Yet we rarely hear from them – many of them never play online, for instance, and they rarely post in forums. So the hardcore guys, who are a tiny microfaction of the people that buy the game, are the ones we’re always hearing from and responding to, disproportionately.

If you doubt that the n00bs are 95% of sales, consider this. Yesterday we had 5800 people on ESO. But we’ve sold more than a million Age3s. This means that about 0.58% of all the people who’ve bought the game were online. Even if we assume that the people on ESO yesterday represented only 10% of all the experts, that’s 5-6% of our total sales, tops.

61) Will ESO sponsor AOE3, hosting tourneys and championships?
A – almost certainly yes. But not until after we’ve gotten at least the next patch done. It does take programmer time and concentration to put together the tourneys.

62) You previously said that 2vs2vs2 (aka “more than two teams”) feature was removed because it wasnt popular. Where do you get this statistic?
A – off ESO1.

63) All I’m looking for is a: “ES thinks France as a whole is fine.” Or “ES thinks France as a whole should be toned down.”
A – jeeze dude, I’ve said like eight different times that we’re looking at France and/or the cuirassiers. Why the heck do you think we’re doing that? To boost them? Get a grip.

64) how long did aoe 3 take to make? also how is this compared to past ES games
A – we worked on it from the time AoM shipped. All through the Titans we were doing Age3, up till last September. This is the single most colossal game we’ve ever done, with the biggest team.

65) why was the replay system from AoC not used in AoE3?
A – totally different engine means that system would not have worked.

66)While alot of us who bought AoE3 are noobs to the series, doesn’t mean we want a disposable game.
A – well of course neither do we. We want the game to sell for years and for us here at ES to be feted like geniuses. Part of our master plan towards accomplishing this is to make sure the n00bs buy the game, and the other part of the plan is to try to keep the grognards happy over the long term. It would also be nice if some of the n00bs turned into grognards over time.

67) I do think it is foolish to say that AI hasn’t improved A LOT since AoK. However, all that added sophistication is worth very little due to a number of somewhat minor flaws, problems that look simple in face of the high refinement of the script. Things like letting half a city be blown by three Mortars and a dozen of horseman.
A – I guess I just hav eto disagree. You only lose half your city to the mortars and a dozen cav if you’ve built no army (which are trivially easy to kill) and no defences (which do bonus damage to cav). Our intent, which I know you may disagree with, was to make it easier to destroy a late-game city in Age3 than it was in any of our previous games. One of the features we didn’t like about AoK and AoM was that in many games, about a half-hour or so through it became clear who was going to win, but it was going to take him another half hour or more to actually accomplish this task. Why prlong that kind of agony? It’s not fun even for the guy who wins, and it’s certainly not fun for the loser. The existence of mortars and the ability to KO a defenseless enemy city in short order is working totally as we intended.

68) do you think that they should revise Aoe2 so that it can have the graphics and all that AOe3 has now?
A – who is the “they” who would do this? I guess what you really mean is should ES’s next game be set in medieval times. We actually considered that for Age3. Well, actually what we considered was setting it in Ancient times, back with babylon & greece again. Still, same principle.

69) Is it true that you guys are making AOE4 and AOE5?
A – I’m not really supposed to talk about our future projects but I guess it’s safe to say that not a single person here at ES is currently working on Age4 or Age5.

[Edited on 1/26/2006]


Posted: 1/26/2006 11:29 AM

  ES Moderator
Total Posts: 6505
Last Post: 2/7/2007
Member Since: 9/26/2005
70) Why cant you just admit that the french and the ottoman are overpowered?
A – holy cow, haven’t I done just that ten times by now? What more do you want?

Look here is, once and for all, what I’m going to say about the game’s balance.

I can’t answer how we’re going to do to fix it because at this very moment we are working like mad trying to figure out what the best fix would be. For example, let’s take the much-vilified French. They have good defenses, a fine economy, and terrific unit flexibility. How could we nerf them? We could make the coureur less effective in combat – that would make the French player more vulnerable. We could slow down the French early economy by giving them fewer starting resources or settlers. We could slow down their late economy by capping their settlers at 75 or 70 instead of 80. We could weaken their units by making cuirassiers more expensive or slower or taking away their splash damage. But if we did ALL of this, the French would probably instantly drop to become the WORST civ in the game. That doesn’t do anyone any favors. So we have to pick the changes that iron things out the most smoothly.

Then we have to consider all the changes we’ve made in other civs. For instance, take the Ottomans. One big Ottoman advantage is the Janissary hand attack. If we nerf this, then the Ottomans will be forced to rely more on cav archers to stop enemy horse. But if we decide to improve the Russians by boosting cav archers, this will affect Ottomans too, and possibly cancel out the nerf we did on the Janns. Everything is linked together in a great wonderful ecosystem.

I’m not complaining, or making excuses. I’m not saying “ooh it’s so hard to balance”. I’m just giving you some of the scenarios we have to consider while doing the balance, and trying to make it clear why you’re probably not going to hear the specific nerfs or boosts until very shortly before the associated patch is released.

71) would you tell me what units the Italians had before you took em out
A – just to clarify, I didn’t take them out personally. Deathshrimp did that. But their unique units were Elmeti, Merchants, and Architects. They had pike, halberds, musketeers, and dragoons, and all “normal” artillery I believe. Oh yes I think they had the Organ Gun back before it became a Portuguese Unique unit.

72) Why dont musketeers have swords?
A – because “musket” is their primary weapon. Hence the name.

73) What is the average players age (Their age) on ESO 2?
A – how would we have any way of knowing?

74) Are you in any ways boosting otto?
A – not in any major way.

75) Why has Grand Conquest been taken out?
A – because it was a gigantic, complicated system which no one started working on until it was too late for it to succeed. We were better off scratching it and moving on with the rest of the project. Incidentally, for you guys who think we only cater to n00bs, Grand Conquest was specifically aimed at the singleplayer experience, and not the hardcore. So it’s the n00b feature we squished, not the hardcore ones. Just so you know.

76) Is there any chance of enhancing British?
A – British has a really weak win ratio, but it’s our balance team’s opinion that (A) a huge percentage of n00bs and first-timers play British since it’s at the top of the civ list, and (B) almost no one plays British “correctly”. Some inexperienced players try to “house boom” for instance, which just doesn’t work. But the British have the tools they need to be able to win – they can ship settlers from the HC, they get bonus settlers early on, and they have a pretty flexible military. So we don’t think they need any huge enhancements. They are getting some minor ones.

77) How exactly did the Native American Treaties card wind up so powerful
A – it was initially really weak, and so it got boosted quite late in the game’s progress. If you’re set up with tons of trading posts it’s probably too good as a result. So I assume because of this experience you’re fine with us taking the time we need to make sure the balance patch is good, right?

78) With this said, we can imagine n00bs have never patched their version of AoE3 since they aint online in anyway.
A – well of course. Duh. The patches are only for the hardcore. But the question was whether we listened to the n00bs too much and my answer was, and still is, “no”.

79) Just a few skirmish AI questions I have…
A – the next patch is a balance patch, not an AI patch. I have forwarded your AI comments (along with others) to the relevant folks so we’ll see if anything is able to happen.

80) I’m interested in your thoughts on why the AoE series’ commercial success overshadows its critical success by so much. Your initial thoughts about hype and the Microsoft badge might make sense until you put them next to Halo 1 and 2. Sold like crazy, but also solid gold with the critics.
A – Initially, the critics hated us (IMO) because of the Microsoft taint. This is back in 1997 I’m talking about. Halo was done by Bungie, a company that the gaming press already loved. Also, the press tends to love shooters a lot. Remember the gushing praise when they fawned on Serious Sam? I mean, Serious Sam was fun, but it wasn’t the Second Coming. Shortly before Age3 came out, there was a whole mess of articles by different journalists about how the RTS genre was dead and there was nothing new under the sun. They couldn’t very well say “we love RTSs now” after writing that kind of stuff. Finally, the press is all about innovation. While I think it’s safe to say that ES has forged soime new paths, by and large the reason our game sell is because we do traditional, conventional RTS really really well. And that’s just not sexy to the media. Something like Myth or Black and White seems way cooler.


Posted: 1/30/2006 1:30 PM

  ES Moderator
Total Posts: 6505
Last Post: 2/7/2007
Member Since: 9/26/2005
81) What do you know about the gaming press?
A – as much as the average guy in the industry I guess.

82) How much contact do you have with the gaming press either personally or just Ensemble’s SOP for dealing with them? What do they expect from you, you from them, and why don’t they recognize your work as by far the best in the RTS genre?
A – I don’t have much contact on a day-by-day basis. They prefer to deal with the marketing guys. Sometimes we fly some of them in to show off our stuff if they’re going to do a major spread on it. I think that what they want is something new, and when we present something polished, but old-fashioned, they are not always happy.

83) The entire concept of leveling up a home city has ruined the game for me and the majority of my online friends.
A – well I’m sorry to hear that.

84) you should set up defaults of level 99 HCs
A – we’ll do it when World of Warcraft sets up default level 60 characters for people to play.

85)How did you get introduced to ESO?
A – well, we were at this dance together and … “introduced to ESO”? I worked here at ES from before ESO was any more than a glimmer in Dick Gyger’s eye.

86) Why hasn’t there been any Indian civs?
A – It’s not some kind of conspiracy, if that’s what you’re wondering.

87) was wondering if you could give us just a little taste of what the changes will be?
A – well you can expect the OP civs to get nerfed a bit, and the weakling civs to get a boost. I realize you want more specific stuff than that but it’s still being tested. I mean, what if I was to tell you that, for instance, we’d given Portuguese an extra starting settler, and then, later on, we decided that was the wrong change and instead made settlers train faster? Then you’d all think I’d misled you. You’d complain to Thunder, I’d lose my job and take to drink. Eventually I’d end up eating discarded fast food out of dumpsters, and all because I talked too freely about The Patch. You wouldn’t want that on your conscious, would you?

88) This is an RTS, the entire point of the game is to get fun and competitive games going where player skill decides who wins, the home city level is nothing but an obstacle preventing this
A – I’m sorry to disagree. Luckily for you, there are many many RTS games out there (in fast all the others) which don’t have Home Cities at all. If Home Cities ruin your fun, you have a simple recourse.

89) Too bad Grand Conquest was taken out, it looked really cool, with quests
A – since I was in line to design it, I feel your pain. Even more so, maybe.

90) Sandy didn’t answer my question
A – a possibility I allude to in the header to every single Ask Sandy thread.

91) The only way to beat a Fast Fortress is to do the same yourself, but slightly slower (30 seconds).
A – this doesn’t exactly make sense to me. So if I’m going Fortress in 7m30s, you beat me by going in 8m? Why don’t I go in 8m30s and beat YOU instead? Because you might be going in 9m?

92) Does ES have any plans to slow down a FF or at least make a FF beatable by a rush from any civ?
A – but … I thought everyone hated rushes? Seriously, though – my understanding is that the big use of the FF is so you can send mercs. So yes, we are trying out something with mercs that will lessen the utility of the FF and make it easier to defend against them or rush while they’re doing it.

93) I find that the mercenaries are overpowered
A – mercenaries need to be overpowered or they won’t be worth getting. Remember that they don’t get unit upgrades. The true cost of a shipment of 8 Black Riders is the same as training 12-14 dragoons. The advantage isn’t that the mercs are OPed – the advantage is that you can get them far more quickly compared to their normal counterparts. Example: player A has a problem with enemy cavalry, so he ships Black Riders. In 40 seconds he gets his shipment and kicks butt. Player B has the same problem, so he (a) builds a stable and (b) trains 12 dragoons. This will take him approximately 170 seconds, if he starts from scratch and only uses 1 builder. Clearly, player A would have the advantage and it has nothing at all to do with mercs being OPed. So yes, we are looking at how to fix mercs, but we probably won’t do so by making them fewer, weaker, or more expensive. We kind of like mercs, and we don’t object to a world in which every high-level game includes some merc shipments.

94) The resource shipments are too big and too many.
A- we actually like the fact that resources shipments take some of the pressure off players to do some kind of micromanaged super-economy.

95) would you think an expansion would be good for AOE3?
A – we can look at previous expansions and see what they did. They all seemed to increase sales of Age in the long run. The goal in all of them was to enhance the original game and make it more fun, and I think they all succeeded to a degree. For instance, they all added new civs and new scenarios, which added variety if nothing else. On the other hand, it splits the audience. We never did figure out a way to let player A with an expansion play against player B without it. So presumably there would be two different factions on ESO2 – the expansion players and the old-timers. That would be bad.


Posted: 1/30/2006 1:32 PM

  ES Moderator
Total Posts: 6505
Last Post: 2/7/2007
Member Since: 9/26/2005
96) I heard that you are making new maps.
A – I don’t think the next patch has any maps. Perhaps this summer.

97)Are strelets going to be boosted?
A – I think we’re pretty happy with strelets as they are now.

98) Are cassadores going to be boosted?
A – It’s our opinion that cassadors are underused and we plan to do something to make them more popular.

99)Are longbows going to be given auto fire to the extent of their range?
A – since we just spent a bunch of effort trying to tone down skirmishers and abus guns, we have no interest in making longbows the new screw-of-the-day.

100) Is the great plains map going to be less rusher-friendly?
A – don’t you think that some of the maps SHOULD be rusher-friendly?

101) Finally, are you going to include the ability to wall over trade routes?
A – not in this patch, if ever.

102) Why would an expansion require higher computer standards?
A – depends on what gets added. Example – if we were to increase the population limit to 300, far more powerful processors would be needed to keep the game from lagging like crazy.

103) Why did you take out the “Hold some trading posts for ?? time and you win” victory option?
A – there wasn’t time to polish it to an acceptable level.

104) do you plan on adding more AI to the existing ones, so there’ll be like, 2, per civ?
A – man, you’re mean. I had to write many of the AI dialogues. You want me to write 8 more?

105) Will ES be making tools for the modding community?
A – I don’t know.

106) when making a balance patch do u look at potential OPness after the patch is put out?
A – well of course.

107) how do you plan to prevent people from becoming OP with German after otto and french get nerfed?
A – um … by leaving the German economy still crappy? By changing mercs?

108) Is ES going to make an english patch?
A – If I understand this question correctly, the answer is that we are not significantly boosting the British civ.

109) Is Es going to make AoE Remake?
A – not in the near future.

110) Will there be more then 3new maps?
A – yes

111) How is ES going to make an Andes map, with that less textures?
A – the Andes map will require new textures and art.

112) we all have farms and plantations for food and coin, but wut about wood?
A – Humanity never invented an equivalent of a farm or a plantation for wood. Unless you count the “national forest” concept, which isn’t really the same.

113) Will ES ever include the formations shown to us in the demos
A – we are looking at formations

114) If u going to nerd ottomans in rushing aspect. i hope that u ES help them out in the later stages
A – Our dream is that we’ll able to nerf the ottoman rush to the point that, while it won’t take out an opponent, it will slow them down enough for the ottoman to catch up economically. We just want ottomans to be pared down so that their win percentage is back at 50% of so. We don’t want them to be the new anti-screw.

115) Why does ESO2 stll have major problems such as matchmaking failing, clan bugs, and mismatches still after 3 months?
A – That’s not a question – it’s a diatribe. You don’t expect an answer – you’re just venting spleen. Any large and complicated system is going to have errors, weaknesses, and failings, particularly one based on inter-computer connections. I’m sorry I can’t make the world perfect. We are trying to fix these things as thoroughly as possible. ESO2 is here for the long term.

116) What’s your favorite channel on TV?
A – I never watch TV

117) why is the dutch flag wrong?
A – The old-time dutch flag a few centuries ago had 6, 7, even as many as 11 stripes, arranged red-white-blue-red-white-blue. The modern dutch flag has only three stripes, we know. But all the flags in the game are old historical ones. Look at the Spanish flag to see what we’re talking about.

118) Are your Q/A threads part of your job or are you doing this purely to be nice to us?
A – this is emphatically NOT part of my job, and I’ll drop it like a rattlesnake the moment it starts to be more pain than pleasure.

119) Any chance we could get a way to see peoples win%/xp/HClvl from the game listings instead of having to join a game to view them?
A – I know they’re looking at doing something so you can figure out how good a player is before joining a game.


Posted: 2/6/2006 11:58 AM

  ES Moderator
Total Posts: 6505
Last Post: 2/7/2007
Member Since: 9/26/2005
120) Will the dutch get a boost if their primary unit is nerfed.
A – we are aware that sometimes a nerf aimed at one civ echoes throughout others, and the Dutch are going particularly intensive testing right now.

121) Is there going to be a patch that converts the game into English
A – I guess I don’t understand this question.

122) Will there be any way to have Custom RMS usable on ESO so that they will generate XP?
A – yes, there’s a way, but it would be too easy to set up an unfair custom RM or one just designed to gift all players 30,000 XP right at the start.

123) Do you think that the population could/should be highered to 250-300?
A – only if you guarantee me that everyone who buys the game will have 3 gigaherz machines with 6800 video cards

124) What civs are you going to nerf/boost
A – we are going to modify the civs & units that …. drum roll … people on the various forums have been complaining the most about! Or at least the complaints that are the best-supported and most valid. In some cases, a change to one civ has ramifications to others. For instance, we are toning back the skirmishers, because their shoot-and-scoot ability is clearly too powerful. As it happens, this affects the Dutch, a civ that under normal circumstances we probably wouldn’t touch (doesn’t seem too weak or too strong). So we probably need to do something with the Dutch to make up for the new skirm cutbacks.

125) did you like the prolonged siege like features when people attacked your watch towers and castles showered them with arrows them down and then it would be there safe and also it would take longer for the enemy to destroy you.
A – Good Lord no, I thought those were incredibly dull.

126) in these times of war the economy as the most important thing in this era
A – actually not true. The economy didn’t become the dominant feature in war until probably the 20th century.

127) (with reference to my comment that I watch TV) So you spend all day on the computer? Do your eyes end up hurting?
A – well I am looking at my TV screen quite a lot – just not watching television shows. I play console games on it, and watch DVDs.

128) Why do ranged units always hit their target no matter what?
A – because the amount of damage that a ranged unit does in Age3 skyrocketed over earlier games, particularly with artillery. We didn’t want a player to feel he’d lost a fight because the damn game made one of his culverins miss one of his shots randomly.

129) longbows are almost useless at the moment because their auto-attack range is the same as a crossbowman
A – ah yes now I understand your question. I apologize. I am told that every unit in the game has exactly the same auto-attack range (except cannons, apparently) and that this would be extremely difficult to change, not to mention changing unit balances across the board. So you will just have to keep being pro-active with your longbows for now.

130) Why is there a “You can’t build near the enemy’s first towncenter” rule?
A – obviously, to hinder initial tower-rushing which none of us here at ES enjoyed. Remember that settlers in Age3 are very weak against buildings, unlike previous games, so tower-rushing would be exceptionally effective.

131) I was wondering if you guys actually run trough the math on this (on terrain affecting combat)
A – we are well aware that terrain and restricted areas affect combat, generally benefiting ranged units at the expense of cavalry.

132) Can you tell us something about the project ES started to make but were cancelled?
A – we have worked on several cancelled projects. None of them ever got announced, but some of them might some day be resurrected.

133) Do you think the French ever had a chance of winning the French and Indian War in America? Or was it all Montcalm’s fault with his negative attitude toward the native allies and his pushing for a conventional European style of conflict where they were always outnumbered by the British?
A – yes I think the French could have won – not in the sense that they could have “conquered” all the British territory, but they could certainly have kept Quebec and expanded their possessions. In retrospect Montcalm’s plan didn’t work, but his point of view made sense – he felt that the natives wouldn’t stand up to artillery (which was perfectly true), and yet the final conflict would involve a siege train. So in the end natives would prove unnecessary. Now, it’s easy to poke holes in this plan – for instance, if you keep on the move, your natives don’t HAVE to stand up to artillery, but it’s not like Montcalm was the dumbest guy on the field. He was just following normal 18th century logic. If he’d been a Francis Marion or a Mosby or a Lettow-Vorbeck, he would have gotten a lot more use out of his natives and almost certainly won his war. But it’s harsh to condemn a man for not being on their level. Wolf’s plan was certainly a very daring one, and could easily have been bungled – in fact should have been, giving the pathetic state of British staff work at the time. I guess. Lucky him.

134) I have an idea of making the explorer have upgrades to make him better what do u think sandy
A – I think this is a fine idea.

135) Can you edit out seeing huntables such as deers dieing through fog of war
A – we really hate this too. The “radar zone” that people use to spot your hunters is just a drag. It’s very hard to stop, but we are looking into it every way possible.


Posted: 2/6/2006 11:59 AM

  ES Moderator
Total Posts: 6505
Last Post: 2/7/2007
Member Since: 9/26/2005
136) does germany have any weaknesses you can explain?
A – their crappy economy? Their over-dependence on cavalry? Their super-costly anti-cavalry (doppelsoldners & war wagons)?

137) If its possible, could you implement a map filter on quick search so that you can choose playable maps becuase there are some maps that are just plain stupid IMO
A – the problem is not everyone agrees on which maps these are.

138) Do you think there might ever be a second exspanion to aoe2
A – nope.

139) Is there any way of slowing down a FF
A – well a FF partly depends on the map. It’s just plain harder on some maps than others. But the main trick used to do a FF is sending crates and it’s hard to nerf crates. It’s our balance team’s opinion that even with the slightly-nerfed natives, a good native rush will still stop a FF. That said, we have also taken a couple of steps to weaken the FF just a bit – not eliminate you understand, just weaken it.

140) Can we have some information regarding healing speed for Priests and Hospitals (and any other healing units)?
A – I think priests heal somewhere around 400 hit points at a whack. Hospitals give a steady boost of about 1-2 points a second.

141) Were the Zouaves really French?
A- no, they were a North African tribe.

142) Is the Orient in store for an expansion?
A – pal, we haven’t even said we’re doing an expansion yet.

143) Elmeti are a sort of Lancer with knight’s armor right?
A – that’s what they were going to be, yes.

144) Why was the German economy made so bad?
A – hmm, earlier in this thread someone asked if Germans had any weaknesses at all. You should talk to that guy. But the reason they have a bad economy is because they have such good shipments. A typical German shipment is worth 300-600 extra resources after all.

145) According to what i’ve heard the Swedish was to become a civ in AoE3, why didn’t you include it, and what was its unique features/units etc..?
A – I answered this in a previous Ask Sandy

146) Does “Elevation Bonus” going to be considered for the Expansion? any chance you could improve the “Hard” AI and create a new none cheater “Very Hard” AI (for the expansion)? For the expansion – Are you going to increase the population limit to 300? What are the chances that the Expansion is going to be released before the end of the year?
A – No Expansion Has Been Announced.

147) Right now, stretlets are kind of weak, as they are supposed to be, but the real issue is population
A – yes, I totally agree. This was the case before we shipped the game and was discussed a lot here at ES. The current strelet situation is pretty much how we wanted it to be.

148) Will ES continue to make improvements to the skirmish AI for the computer players?
A – to some extent.

149) I’m playing as British and my friend is Dutch. What stradegy would you take against him? Our matches go two hours because he turtles up and never runs out of resources
A – I’m sure plenty of guys in this forum will have good advice for you, but I would recommend rushing him early and targeting banks or woodcutters, then in 4th age using mortars to wipe out his town.


Posted: 2/9/2006 1:28 PM

  ES Moderator
Total Posts: 6505
Last Post: 2/7/2007
Member Since: 9/26/2005
Subject: Ask Sandy Archive Part 3
1) Whatt next gen console system do you think will be the best?
A – I have no insider information, but my money’s on the X-Box being the best, but Nintendo owning the individually most interesting games.

2) has ES, if it is possible, adjusted the Advanced Trading Post card so it can’t be used until age 2?
A – we are concerned about the Advanced Trading Post shipment. However, we can’t change the age it appears in, because that would unacceptably mess up people’s decks. Other changes are possible though.

3) Are you going to adjust the dragoon arsenal upgrade bug?
A – I’m not sure if this is going to be in patch 1.05. It might be – I just don’t remember. We have over 100 changes in it.

4) Are you going to do anything about the ottoman’s 25 wood advanced trading posts?
A – the Ottomans are in general getting nerfed. We don’t necessarily intend to remove every single advantage they have as a civ!

5) Is it possible to make the 2 culverin shipment an age three shipment?
A – no. Culverins are getting a boost, though.

6) Can you guys make the plantation upgrades cheaper?
A – sadly, we think the cost of these upgrades is about right.

7) there a way to make a church upgrade or something that allows the banks + 50 villagers to compete with someone who has 99 villagers?
A – friend, you have an army 50% larger than theirs. Go wreck their city instead of trying to compete economically.

8) Any chances of seeing AOE III (or another ES game) on one of the next-gen consoles?
A – in general I will have to admit that not many RTS games seem to make it to consoles. No one is currently working on an Age 3 console version.

9) I know you’ve stated that you most likely won’t be adding the ability to wall over trade routes
A – because it’s a major programming task for what we feel is a minimal result. The UI would certainly be clumsy. Yes, there is a campaign scenario with walls, but these were painstakingly placed by hand.

10) Is there going to be a patch that allows to change between the languages wihle playing?
A – you mean the string-tables. No, there is not going to be such a patch.

11) Can you tell us which projects were aborted?
A – I’ve been asked not to.

12) I would like to read your thoughts about the Congreive Rocket unit. I enjoy using the British, but think that the rockets aren’t up to snuff.
A – agreed. I’m not sure if patch 1.05 is addressing it – we might have decided that British are pretty good as is. In our tests the British do just fine.

13) how come cossacks cost 150 res but get 1 pop when unlans get 2 and cost the same amount?
A – it’s a cool Russian bonus.

14) i was at one time on and there were near 6000 people and it didnt work but i rebotted to go online and it worked then. wut do u think about this sandy
A- I think that it would be good if ESO always worked perfectly. We have have several of our very smartest programmers working full-time to try to get it to this stage. What else would you have us do? I doubt adding more guys would let us fix things faster – it doesn’t always work that way in the code universe.

15) Why do the Germans have bad ranged infantry besides age three skirmishers
A – the Germans and Austrians were famous for their pikemen, doppelsoldiners, and other hand infantry. As late as the Napoleonic Wars, German insurrections against the French often used swords, maces, and flails instead of guns. The German military in general didn’t get well known for their prowess with firearms until like 1860, which is actually after our time frame.

16) Mokon did a nice analysis, and finds that Germans have around 19,634 villager seconds in 10 minutes, while the French only have 18,096.
A – did he incorporate the fact that the French get 25% more production out of their villager-seconds?

17) do you feel that Russias main advantage is Military or Economic?
A – their army is, cost for cost, the best in the game. However, they are definitely NOT at their best if both sides are at max pop. They need to keep the attrition machine running.

18) Is it really difficult or not cost-effective to make and release new maps?
A – releasing new maps is easy. We have several on the way. The problem is that releasing new ART for new maps is difficult, because the art typically makes for giant downloads, which we like to avoid. Anyway, we have maps coming down the pipeline. In fact, one of the upcoming maps is an Age 3 version of The Unknown! (Remember it?) It’s a good example of a map that’s complicated to design, but requires no new art. Perfect for us to release in a download.

19) Have you seen Waldo?
A – an interesting book by Robert Heinlein, no?

20) are ES going to add in some filters to game browser?
A – not in the balance patch. Maybe later.

21) What was the motive behind letting explorers have 3000 or so hitpoints in the late game?
A – it was a partially-failed attempt to get explorers to stay relevant in Age 4.

22) Why did you guys remove shore fishing?
A – it’s not historical for our time period. Europeans didn’t really do that.

23) Do you have any children?
A – I have 1 daughter, 4 sons, a son-in-law, and two grandchildren.


Posted: 2/20/2006 10:25 AM

  ES Moderator
Total Posts: 6505
Last Post: 2/7/2007
Member Since: 9/26/2005
24)What are the news for the dutch players in the 1.05 patch?
A – right now, we are testing them with an additional starting gold crate. It seems to be working very well.

25)rockets are far worst than heavy cannons,and they are 1 of just 2 unique brits units.arent u really planning on change this for patch? longbows not very effective.
A – we are looking at the civ as a whole, not just at its unique units. B ritish play very well in our tests.

26)maybe brits do good in your test,but online they are one of the worst civ
A – I assume you’re referring to their poor win ratio online. Consider this, my friend – the British are the first on the civ list, so they are the most common civ chosen by new players, or by people who just try out ESO once or twice then drop out. This is the reason for their low scores, not any inherent weakness to the civ.

27)have you got any kind of hate to brits?
A – as a good part-Irish American, of course! But that doesn’t extend to making their civ crappy in Age 3.

28)Why aren’t hoop throwers from the campaign available on ESO?
A – because none of the civs make them. They’re pretty much a very specific anti-Ottoman unit.

29)why are u able to send a, let say 9 pop military shipment with only one pop space left?
A – we like bending the boundaries of our system.

30) Might we see the Regicide mode back
A – I think it is unlikely.

31)What was the rationale behind limiting the availability of Grenadiers to only 4 of the 8 available civs?
A – it was all just about balance.

32)The dutch are currently the second worst civ to portugal.
A – good thing both these civs are getting a boost in the patch then, eh?

33)there was the comment that AoE 3 was Colonial based and not on World War II because of the thought that players would feel more attached towards losing a human soldier than a tank. What’s your opinion on that statement
A – that’s purely Dzvid Pottinger’s opinion. My opinion is that I get just as attached towards a 3-D pixel tank as a person. (I.e., not very much.)

34)It was 3v2 expert computers and both my teammates left the game. When they left the game the AI stopped playing
A – my guess is one of the teammates was the original host – it was his computer that was actually “running” the AI, so when he quit, the AI stopped.

35)Are you guys hiring? I want to start a career in the gaming industry. Would you be able to help me out?
A – No ES is not hiring. Check out this website for help

36)Will priests be fixed to be like the field hospitals
A – No I think they’ll still heal the normal way.

37) Age of Kings DS: Did ES have any role, even advance consultation or anything, on it whatsoever? Have you played it?
A – I don’t think we had much to do with it. I have looked at it. It reminded me a lot of Advance Wars, which I really like.

38)Will there be any new features implemented regarding team players who have been dropped/resigned
A – I don’t think we have any plans along these lines at this time. Part of the problem is that the entire point of the game is to get the other players to resign, so it’s not clear that we should water down the benefits received by doing this. I realize that if you’re only a few minutes into a game and a player drops it’s an issue.

39)Do we have any hope of seeing the new pause window go away?
A – you don’t like it?

40)will we be seeing advanced formations in any of the patches or expansions
A –changes in the formations are in the works. Watch the skies.

41)are you doing anything about the age 5 explorer upgrades?
A – Do you think it’s even possible to make an explorer strong enough to be worthwhile in Age 5?

42)there going to be something on the next patch that might add a new option to multiplayer gameplay that you can play unrated games just for fun?
A – why not just play rated games for fun? Everything counts towards the ladder.

43)Why are there sync errors, why do they appear at such random times and is there anything I can do to prevent them?
A – a wide variety of reasons. Because they’re accidents. Only the ones that are your system/connection’s fault.

44)Don’t you think your nerfing french a little hard?
A – dude if we didn’t nerf French we’d be bashed six ways from Sunday about how we don’t listen to the forums. Anyway, we think French is in line for some nerging.

45)Do you seriously think nerfing german mercs 20 seconds in train time will take their spot away from the best civ?
A – yep.

46)British need a small boost
A – we disagree. Look, when we do a balance patch, we don’t change every single civ – that would be madness. Some of the civs are the “control” civs.

47)Skill wise, how do you think ES’s balance testers compare to the community ?
A – they are absolutely top-notch.

48)What kind of boost are russians getting?
A – they are not getting any significant boost.

49)We know ffs are popular, but does adding 1000+ hitpoints to tc have any point
A – it weakens the ottoman grenadier rush.


Posted: 2/20/2006 10:26 AM

  ES Moderator
Total Posts: 6505
Last Post: 2/7/2007
Member Since: 9/26/2005
50)In what way are Culverins being tweaked?
A – they’re getting more range

51)Will the new patch include any more cards for the player to choose from?
A – no, but a whole bunch of old cards are getting adjustments

52) will winning percent and current statistics reflecting skill be reset?
A – your past history will be taken into account in the power rating

53) Why dos Dutch have such an limited military choise?
A – they get 3 rax units and 2 stable units. Same as Portuguese & German. British are the same, but do also get Grenadiers.I don’t see that Dutch are the most limited in their repertoire. Heck, the Ottomans have only one rax unit.

54) Do you know if any maps are coming that are kind of like a desert?
A – in what way? We have desert terrain in Sonora.

55) Sandy, nobody plays with ports. What is Ensemble goin to do about it? increase cassadors cost. Well done, thats really gonna work it out
A – what the heck are you talking about? They used to cost 25 food 90 gold. Their new cost is 80 food, 35 gold. That’s exactly the same total resources, plus food is far quicker to get than gold, plus the cassador no longer completes for resources with artillery. Jeeze.

56) Have you looked at German FF + mercantilism?
A – yep

57) im just curious on when you say ‘british do good in our tests’ what exactly those tests are
A – they are full-on british vs. other civs. Both on-line and off.

58) Will there be a way to minimize the lag that the Dutch army (carabineers) creates when they are being played against?
A – much of the reason for the lag I suspect is due to the fact that ruyters, unlike other cav, only count as 1 pop, yet are as hard to animate as the other, 2-pop, cav. I suppose if we bumped ruyters up to 2 pop apiece that would fix it, but the Dutch players would rightly rave.

59) What is the origin of the War Wagon?
A – the Hussites

60) Why are you guys nerfing Germany rather than taking a closer look at France and the Ottoman Empire
A – we’re nerfing France and the Ottomans. Who says we’re not? And if you look around you, you’ll see lots of people worried about Germany’s strength. We are, too.


Posted: 3/2/2006 3:27 PM

  ES Moderator
Total Posts: 6505
Last Post: 2/7/2007
Member Since: 9/26/2005
1)French may be OP in noob games (for a variety of reasons) but 95%+ paleyrs that have a cuetech rating of 1900+ all know that french are balanced right now (before patch). What do you think about this statement?
A – I think it’s untrue.

2) In my expierence lower-skilled players whine much more about game balance then better players do
A – in my experience lower-skilled players mostly just parrot the whines of the experts, which are self-fulfilling for lower-skilled players. I.e., a n00b hears that the Ottomans always win for the advanced players, so he tries them out. If he wins, he thinks, “OMG it’s true, Ottos are a total screw.” If he loses, he thinks, “Hmm I guess I didn’t use them correctly.” And tries again. So that civs that would probably be balanced for the low-level players become perceived as unbalanced.

3) In my expierence lower-skilled players wine much more about game balance then better players do
A – sorry I don’t agree. We are still getting good results with them after the so-called nerf. Surely you’ve noticed how much we’ve gotten lambasted (in this very thread) for NOT nerfing French enough (for not nerfing cuirassiers, for instance).

4) howcome german econ improvements like refrigeration costs pop, while other civ deosn’t?
A – because you get uhlans with the German improvements.

5) cigar roller and textile mill gives the same bonus, but textile is only available at age 3. is textile mill suppose to give more bonus or is it suppose to be a weaker card than cigar roller?
A – if you’re only going to ship one of these upgrades, send cigar roller. If you’re going to send them both, we don’t want you to have super-upgraded plantations until 3rd age. It’s not like it matters much – how many plantations do you plop down in age 1-2?

6) Did it occur to Ensemble that players wouldn’t want to play handicap games online because it won’t let them gain any levels?
A – frankly, we didn’t care much. Our perception of the handicap games is that they are for people who know each other who want to play together despite the fact that one of them (say, a girlfriend or a kid) is a weaker player. If people want to use the handicap system to boost everyone’s economy to super-powered levels that’s kind of interesting, but that’s not the original intent.

7) I understand that in this coming patch livestock pens are going to be cheaper in order to encourage players to use them. Is that correct?
A – yep. I think the cost has been dropped to either 150 or 200, don’t remember which.

8) If I select 10 or more ranged units and right click on one opponent unit (that is among other enemy units).
For the first shot, will all my units shoot only that one unit? isn’t that a waste?

A – yes. Yes.

9) Maybe the AI can be improved to calculate how many units it takes to kill that one unit, and if not all units are needed for that, then maybe the remaining units can target the rest of the opponent’s units
A – the intent is to reward the player with the better micro and skills.

10) Is there any chance that the limit of 20 cards per deck is going to be increased at some point?
A – yes.

11) Is there any chance that the 200 population limit is going to be increased at some point?
A – this is based solely on the level of machine & video card that our customers have. In other words, it’s up to you guys, not up to us.

12) there are better civs than brits by far
A – well I guess I just have to disagree. I think that the British, if played correctly, are an extremely strong civ and definitely do not need a boost.

13) Are Tercios better than halberds in the imperial age (both imperialized)?
A – um. They’re cheaper. One for one they’re still inferior.

14) Where do i get the Roger’s Rangers bonus for british?
A – in the upgraded church, after shipping the “Glorious Revolution”.

15) Are Longbowmen the equivalent to skirms for the brits?
A – not exactly. They’re more like a super-powered crossbowman. If the British are having trouble with enemy infantry in the 4th age I’d suggest grenadiers.

16) Do you believe in miracles?
A – unequivocably yes.

17) What’s your opinion on Rasputin’s death? Was it all too exaggerated?
A – well, the people who reported it had no reason to lie – in fact, the reported death tends to magnifiy Rasputin’s supposed powers, which you’d think his assassins would not be keen to do.

18) The thought that 666 is the devil’s number, 777 is heaven, and 555 is earth doesnt make sense to me because earth is between heaven and hell soo 555 should be devil and 666 should be earth, do you agree?
A – all this is based on the single statement in the Book of Revelation that the number of the beast is 666, and it is the number of a man. It NEVER says it’s “Satan’s” number. Also the number 777 & 555 are not found in the same sources as 666 so they don’t have the same degree of acceptability. I don’t believe in them, for one. Speaking of this, when I lived in Maryland, my friend Brian Reynolds (currently president of BigHugeGames) had the telephone number 666-EVIL. He liked it, because it was easy to remember. Sadly, he had to have it changed because he kept getting irritating phone calls (not from Satanists, either)

19) The other day my principal said stuff about “responsibility” but he basically said shut up you Republican – Christian dogs, should he be a pricipal or is he too “underachieving as a school advisor?”
A – I think that one’s politicial and religious beliefs should not be much of an issue in making you a school principal. Unless those views are so extreme as to hinder the job (example: if you belong to a church that believes children under 8 should exclusively be homeschooled, you may not be a suitable choice for an elementary school administrator).

[Edited on 3/2/2006]


Posted: 3/2/2006 3:36 PM

  ES Moderator
Total Posts: 6505
Last Post: 2/7/2007
Member Since: 9/26/2005
20) what is ES going to do about the bad Portuguese siege ability?
A- hope that the boosts the Portuguese are getting in patch 1.05 will make up for it. We don’t want all the civs to be equal in every way. We LIKE having some civs be weaker in siege, or economy, or cavalry, etc.

21) are you aware German FF + mercantilism/ATP is stronger than FF + mercenaries?
A – duh. It’s the first thing we tested.

22) Why do all outposts shoot cannonballs at ships but not all shoot them at regular units?
A – they actually have a different attack for their anti-ship combat.

23) why doesn’t the fort change shape when upgraded to star fort?
A – we ran out of art time and decided that this was something that didn’t happen often enough to require special art. If we do an X-Pack though, I bet we fix this.

24) For convenience, are you planning on posting everything changed from the patch? [/b]
A – not me, personally. I’m sure such posts will be rife throughout the internet an hour after the patch is released.

25) Do you ever get sick of ansering questions?
A – not yet

26) are you going to change the 4 cav archer shipment for Russia in fortress
A – wow good catch. I think we’re going to have to examine the whole cav archer issue at some point. They just don’t seem to have enough oomph.

27) will aoe v1.05 be capable of playing previous recorded games???
A – I am told yes.

28) We are trying to figure out what Tufanci and Tupcu Corps mean
A- the “Tufanci” was the Turkish name for their musketeer corps, and “Topcu” was the name for their artillery corps. That’s all.

29) why are the Portuguese UU skirmishers called “cassador”?
A – the English term for these units is cassador, since English doesn’t have the C-with-a-squiggle used to represent the third letter.

30) Why isnt our harbor called “torre de Belém”?
A – not every civ has every building get a customized name. Sorry.

31) are you guys doing anything to the Spanish?
A – not anything gigantic.

32) Why aren’t the Swedish in the game?
A – we couldn’t include everyone. The Italians, Poles, and Moghuls were left out too, after all.

33) What happend to the ‘four of a kind’ victory condition?
A – we ran out of time to balance it properly. One of the issues was that it was vey easy on some maps – hard on others. Another issue was that it was difficult to balance in a 1v1 as opposed to a 4v4. We are still trying to get a version of it that will be fun for everyone. Watch the skies.

34) Any thoughts about boosting Rodeleros?
A – hmm. We were pretty happy with them. I mean, they make enemy cavalry very sad, and they can do most of the things cavalry can do, without the vulnerabilities.

35) Any chance of having cavalry stand toward the back of formations rather than in the front?
A – we actually like having the cav in the front, because as a hand unit, they need to be closer to the enemy, and when the musketeers start fanning out to fight, it’s a pain to have to path the cavalry around them to get into action.

36) Will cassadors be boosted?.
A – yes

37) Could you guys make a winged hussar unit for scenario purposes?
A – sorry

38) Would you say that the earth arrived in the industrial age in time?
A – ? I would say that the Earth today is beyond the industrial age, as depicted in AoE. We are now in a transportation-information age.

39) I understand the Abus-gun nerf, but why is the Janissary going to be nerfed?
A – because janissaries defeated their counter-unit – skirmishers – when set to hand-to-hand combat. We hate that.

40) Is Germany going to have grenaiders in an upcoming patch?
A – no, and purely for game balance reasons, not for historical ones. We obviously are aware of the existence of German grenadiers throughout this time period.

41) I recall you stating that ES is not hiring. I also recall that ES dosent have the most employees. I was wondering why this is the case.
A – er … our goal isn’t to have the “most” employees.

42) are culiverins going to be useful against more then 1 unit
A – yes

43) Will you need enough pop-slots before you send a shipment (so you dont go over your max-population) in 1.05?
A – I know this was a big issue with the balance guys. I’m pretty sure we’re doing something about it.

44) Why does a musketeer have 20% resistance against melee and a harlberdier (packed with armour) only 10%?
A – resistance represents more than physical armor. Note that the halberdier has 20% more hit points, for instance. By doing it the way we did, we achieve the result of having the musketeer be more vulnerable to skirmishers & crossbows, and yet still be resistant to enemy cavalry.

45) What was the reason behind giving ruyters an artillery bonus
A – to make them different from dragoons.

46) Wich Royal Guard units had the Italians and Swedish? What were their Church techs?
A – I think the Italians had the Elmeti and Halberdiers. Swedes I think were Hussars and I don’t recall the other. Might have been Fusiliers. Their church techs were scattered among the other civs, so they’re still all actually in the game. The Spanish Corsolet tech used to be Italian, for instance, as did the Dutch Waardgelders (both under different names of course).


Posted: 3/2/2006 3:38 PM

  ES Moderator
Total Posts: 6505
Last Post: 2/7/2007
Member Since: 9/26/2005
47) are you guys at ES happy with Ronin? They have big siege and rape cav, but they don’t have tons of hp to take the punch and speed to run from battles like the Mamelukes. Are you going to boost them/their quantity or are you happy as they are now?
A –I would have to say we are happy with Ronin. They lose some of the time, which is a requirement, and they can win big in the right place, which makes them useful. You seem to be asking us to change them into a unit that has no weaknesses whatsoever.

48) Why is the longest-ranged unit a boat, and not (at least fixed) on land?
A – because boats get a very restricted range of fire – to make them useful vs. land targets they need a huge range.

49) Why is your avatar the NATIVE from the CAMPAIGN?
A – I like the way she looks. Don’t you?

50) why aren’t the Sioux a native tribe?
A – Lakota = Sioux

51) is there going to be new maps in the 1.05 patch?
A – no

52) will we ever be able to change the POP limit from 200 to 175, 150, 125. etc?
A – not in Age 3

53) Is the Advanced Trade Post card being looked at for balance or you guys happy with it?
A – we don’t mind some of the HC cards being better than others. That said, the patch has addressed some of the Advanced Trading Post issues.

54) Any natives being boosted or weakened?
A – some of them.

55) Did ES thought of nerfing Abus gun by giving them a setup time like other artillery?
A – we thought that would be too annoying.

56) I understand that the cost of livestock pen is going to be reduced.
Are there any other changes to encourage the use of livesock pens?

A – I think we are making some of the livestock HC shipments bigger.

57) Does ensemble plan to make some changes to encourage the use of fishing boats?
A – we’re pretty happy with them as they now stand. We don’t think that fishing boats need to be a big 1st age strategy, and yet they can be very useful later on.

58) Why are the Nootka terrible?
A – probably because they mostly appear on maps with the Cree – their direct counter.

59) Does Brock Meade like Green Day?
A – boy, I sure hope not.

60) Multiplayer using ‘Direct IP’ or ‘ip2ip’ behind NAT routers. Will it be fixed?
A – this is an excellent example of the kind of question I usually will skip over. Not because I don’t respect the question, but because I really have absolutely no idea. I’m not a programmer, and I understand almost none of what the questioner is trying to say. So you have my apologies, but I’m not a good person to ask about this.

61) Would you like to see military units in AoE3 have the ability to turn the tide against a civ that has marginally more resources/units at their disposal via the use of tactics? AoE3 basic play right now is a resource sim with a combat mini-game
A – well it’s my belief that you are in fact totally wrong about this. Victory on the battlefield with a numerically smaller army is FAR easier to achieve in Age 3 than it was in any other Age series game. Sometimes a well-used God Power could turn the tide in AoM, but that’s about it. AoE and AoK were totally about the economy. In fact, one of the internal complaints about Age3 was that we didn’t emphasize the economy enough. Not only can a smaller military defeat a larger army when properly used (take 20 strelets up against a pair of falconets to see what I mean), but a fairly sizable portion of the Age 3 economy is actually the Home City, which is largely driven by battlefield success.

So if you’re asking for even more tactics at the expense of the economic stuff, I think you’re asking for a game style so different that it might no longer fit within the Age series.

62) Do you believe that air units can be achieveable in an expansion?
A – for a game that takes place from 1500-1850? What kind of “air units” are you thinking about?

63) Are the Veteran crossbowmen good to mass versus Veteran skirmishers or are they inferior?
A – I believe skirmishers often defeat crossbowmen when compared on a cost basis. Also crossbows have a higher Pop cost vis-à-vis their resource cost so they are a worse buy in that regard.

64) Why do the Portuguese have Ronins, they seem far from the Eastern world
A – because of their extensive Asian trade network.

65) Will Spahis ever be a produced unit?
A- I think it is highly unlikely.

66) Is an economic item that can produce wood in store for future x-packs or a patch?
A – I assume you mean besides the factory. We consider a wood-production building every once in a while – but what would it be? We can think if no logical historical (or even modern) construction which does this. Even a tree farm isn’t really the same as a “building”.

67) Is India a civ to be considered, even though they cannot eat cows and meat?
A – well in the first place I’m not sure why their diet would forbid them to be a civ. In the second place, people in India eat plenty of beef – in fact they eat more beef than any other animal except fish. They also eat a lot of buffalo meat, which I assume is no better from a religious perspective. Of course, much (but not all) of this meat is eaten by Dalits, Christians, Moslems, and among the so-called lower castes.


Posted: 3/2/2006 3:44 PM

  ES Moderator
Total Posts: 6505
Last Post: 2/7/2007
Member Since: 9/26/2005
68) Was Rome still around in the time period of AoE?
A – it’s around even today! If you’re referring to the Roman Empire, its last vestiges were wiped out in 1453 – a few decades before Age 3 is supposed to begin.

69) will there ever be an option to turn off native tribes when doing custom games?
A – I hope not. We feel that the natives are an important part of the game, and removing them would be like removing town centers, or tech upgrades, or some other central feature.

70) So my question is would it be possible and/or desirable to increase the PopulationCount from 3 to 4 when a cuirassier is upgraded to Imperial?
A – we are in hopes that the changes to the French will pretty much rescue us all from the dread Cuirassier screw.

71) Why do cannons which need 2 men to hold them take up 5 population?
A – a unit’s pop count represents more than the number of people in the unit. It also represents the amount of support and infrastructure it takes to maintain it. In addition, the reason that only 2 people show up pushing the cannon around is not for realistic reasons, but because we couldn’t show the real numbers without messing up the game – it actually takes 5 guys to crew a single falconet-type cannon.

72) Why are cannons so quick to reload + nearly 100 percent accurate? If the fast firing is lessened and the win percent, but they only take up 2 population and hit more damage, wouldn’t this rebalance it and make them more realistic also?
A – no. A slow-firing weapon which often misses would be random, not fun. And it wouldn’t be more realistic – it would lead to massive armies of cannons being produced in Age 3 in a totally bogus way. Why would we want to “rebalance” cannons anyway? We like the way they work. We like having them be kind of rare, and also having a huge effect on battles.

73) will mercs ever be able to be sent infinate times?
A – don’t you think that would make them less special.

74) I am a big fun of the AOE series for several years now, and I also live in Dallas, TX. I would therefore love to visit your office and meet you and other Ensemble employees. Would that be possible?
A – anything is possible. E-mail Thunder and ask him to forward it on to me. Be sure to mention your nickname.

75) When they power rating goes live, are you worried that people are going to become even more picky about who they play in advanced setup?
A – yes

76) Can you tell us anything about a possible expansion pack?
A – Not yet

78) can you tell me a bit about the history of the abus gun? Also the ruyter.
A – they’re basically a really big musket. Similar weapons were used all over Asia, and were popular in China clear up to the Boxer rebellion. Ruyters represent the early use by the Dutch of pistol-armed cavalry. I think the word “ruyter” just means “rider”.

79) Why are all of the best Portuguese in age 4?
A – ?

80) Why do Ports have so many bad cards?
A – their civ underwent changes later than the others. Probably the infamous “bad cards” result from the fact we were able to spend less time testing them than the others. We’re trying to address this in patch 1.05

81) Does the Port “Early Dragoon” card work on WWs?
A – no, but I agree it should

82) What natives will get boosted in 1.05?
A – I don’t remember. There were something like 80 total changes.

83) what is it about the german economy that causes u to say it is crap?
A – look, the Germans are overall a fine civ. But their basic economy is simply less flexible and slower than that of the French, British, or Dutch. That doesn’t mean they can’t compete. But their economy certainly isn’t a great strength.

84) the unit’s names are written wrong: Spahi should be Sipahi and the Landsknecht (merc) should have the name Dopplesoldner and the Dopplesoldners (german UUs) should have the name Landsknechts
A – no they’re not. The English term for the “sipahi” is Spahi. And how can you say that the Doppelsoldner and Landsknecht are wrong? The Doppelsoldner has the two-handed sword in the game, and the historical Landsknecht was most definitely a mercenary, as he is in the game. So I saw we got it right.

85) Will a future patch include the ability to limit/prevent the use of technologies e.g. no docks games or no mortars?
A – no

86) Is there going to be another competition (eg. map making contest) prior to the balance patch?
A – I doubt there will be time.

87) Are there going to be more Native American tribes in an incoming patch?
A – not in a patch. The problem is that to include more tribes requires a new unit, which requires new art. Typically when art is included in a patch, it forces the patch to become really huge, so we are reluctant to do so. Which is why (for instance) most of the maps we plan for release don’t have new art.

88) Can the “Bandeirantes” ever be a Portuguese UU?
A – they are, sort of. I mean you can have up to 4 units that each have a crack shot. I’d say that was pretty effective.

89) You forgot that Portugal reached all continents
A – well sure they did. So did almost every other nation included in Age 3. This was the Age of European Domination.


Posted: 3/2/2006 3:45 PM

  ES Moderator
Total Posts: 6505
Last Post: 2/7/2007
Member Since: 9/26/2005
90) What do you suggest is a proper way to play as Germans?
A – look online. You’ll get lots of advice. Some of it from people complaining about them (FF w/mercs, for instance).

91) will cows be able to made from the livestock pen in the new patch?
A – no.

92) the fact that most civs get musketeers AND crossbowmen is interesting… most players would make musketeers because of their low cost (food is usually the resource you collect the most of) and slight advantage in HP. are crossbowmens really helpful for anything other than the beginning of the game?
A – crossbows cost less resources than musketeers, even if you include the wood problem. Also, in the patch crossbows cost less wood (and more food – total cost is still 80). You are correct that it is our intent that in the later game, crossbows tend to disappear. After all, how many crossbows were used by Napoleon’s armies?

93) Will the Carib natives be put on a standard map?
A – We have a map or two coming up featuring the caribs in which you don’t have to transport to attack the enemy.

95) Why do French have an early Skrims card?
A – because they were one of the early adopters of this kind of warfare.

96) Is there any historical reasons that spanish and russians have only 1 factory?,
A – they were late in doing industrial, so the whole “robber barons” thing didn’t sound as reasonable.

97) Do you not like Green Day?
A – I am not their biggest fan, no.

98) Do any ES artists ever make units just for fun and include them in the next patch?
A – no – it makes the download a LOT bigger if units or textures get included in it.

99) Do you feel that the 700 resource cards in colonial somewhat eliminate the usefulness of harrassing enemy settlers?
A – the effect of harassing enemy settlers is exactly the same whether they get 700 resource cards or not. I mean, their economy is decreased by the same amount. But if your question is whether this helps promote the FF, I would have to agree it does. Nerfing the Colonial cards however is not the solution – that would just make a guy who went FF even further superior to someone who stayed Colonial. Probably nerfing Fortress-age cards would have more effect.

100) are cuirassiers still going to have splash damage against buildings?
A – sure.

101) How long it would take you (if would) the normal xpack to do?
A – who are you, my boss?

102) Doublesoldners should be the mercenaries and the Landsknechts (without two-handed swords) should be UUs of the Germans
A – sorry. I don’t agree. Nothing more clearly reeks of being a mercenary than “Landsknecht”.

103) do you like deer hunter?
A – no.

104) do you like fishing too?
A – yes

105) Is Dopplesoldner, Landsknecht, Strelet, Cuirassier, Oprichnik, Ruyter, and Fluyt the English way of saying these units too?
A – some of these names are the same in English. Some of them are different, and yes we used the English version (notably for the streltsi and oprichniki). For Doppelsoldner and Ruyter, there was no English version, so we used the German & Dutch versions. If there had not been the English term “Spahi” used in multitudes of historical works referring to the Ottomans we would probably have called them “sipahi” since there wouldn’t have been an English word for them.

106) Why is there a fortress age card that ships 2 falconets (10 pop), and to ship 2 culverins (8 pop) we need to be in the industrial age?
A – some people look at the world and say “why”. I prefer to ask “why not?”

107) dont you think that units could come from the trade post on the trade routes?
A – what units? Tinkers?

108) Will it be possibe in an x-pack or patch that you can tranport units from one TP to another TP
A – we actually used to have this in the game, and it caused so much trouble we had to remove it. So trust us, it’s been tried.

109) Now, what was the reasoning behind the skirms nerf? If you say “because they were outrunning cavalry” isnt a very good response. If the enemy can’t manage to build hussars to kill your skirms, then I beileve they deserve to lose. Hussars counter light infantry, correct?
A – you contradict yourself in your very own question. Obviously we nerfed skirms so that hussars could hunt them down and kill them. If they can outrun cav, then how the heck do hussars counter the suckers?

110) Do you know anyone you could forward these questions to?
A – I don’t forward questions I receive in this forum because I don’t want to become the mailbag guy for ES. Trust me that the people who know the answers to programmer and website and ESO questions keep tabs on these forums. I’m not your only line of feed into ES. If you bring up an issue in the regular forum (as opposed to this thread) it will be seen by someone who cares.


Posted: 3/7/2006 1:28 PM

  ES Moderator
Total Posts: 6505
Last Post: 2/7/2007
Member Since: 9/26/2005
1) I notice that cacadores and strelets still have their speed of 4.5. Why didn’t you just nerf the skirms to 4.5?
A – strelets only have a range of 14 (skims are 20). Cacadores only shoot once every 4.5 seconds (Skirms shoot every 3 secs). In our tests, Skirms needed the stronger nerf.

2) what is your reasoning about cuirassiers Sandy? What units do you believe counter them? do you think the massive 1000 HP they get at imperial is reasonable?
A – To answer your question in reverse order. No unit is supposed to be “reasonable” in Imperial – that entire Age is supposed to be a screw. It is my theory that dragoons, musketeers, halberdiers, and pikemen all defeat cuirassiers, at least when equally upgraded and in similar pop count. Finally, my reasoning about cuirassiers is that some unit in the name has to be the biggest and baddest. If we’d chosen to make that unit the Doppelsoldner or the Ruyter, then I’d be answering questions about it instead. I think it’s interesting for the French to have an expensive, high-pop unit that is really powerful.

3) Did ES think water maps would be used as much as they are right now.
A – you may have noticed that we only included two (2) “water maps”. So yeah, we expected them to be less popular.

4) 1.) In a 4 vs 4 game (all human), if I delete one of my buildings (for any reason entirely my own) which one of my opponents get the XP?
A – all of them divide it equally.

5) How does ES feel about pikemen and rodeleros? Sometimes it feels as if they’re two units which take each other’s role so there’s no point in making both.
A – actually they have a number of differences. Pikemen do vastly more damage to buildings, and are more effective against cavalry. But rodeleroes are so fast, they can effectively be used as a kind of cavalry unkillable by the normal counters. That said, I would expect a Spanish player in a typical game to use only one of these units, not both. Which he would choose would depend on the situation.

6) Why is the Portuguese explorer standart name Ferdinand Meggelen or whatever instead of the Portuguese version “Fernão de Magalhães?
A – Ferdinand is how he’s known in English language textbooks.

7) Is ES going to give the Portuguese grenadiers?
A – I think it’s very unlikely. It would involve massive changes to the Portuguese home city, for instance.

8) will the FF be more nerfed in a patch?
A – almost certainly yes. Unless in the next few weeks some strategy comes out that toasts it.

9) was Henry the Navigator a blond?
A – looks kind of dingy brown in the one contemporary painting I’ve seen.

10) Does anyone at ES listen to rap?
A – yes

11) Are you or any of your ES buddies looking forward to Titan Quest, the new RPG being made by former ES guys?
A – I think our attitude is “cautious optimism”. We wish Brian Sullivan well.

12) I’m curious about the spies upgrade in the Capitol. how is the price calculated?
A – it’s based on the number of units the enemy player has. Not buildings; units. So if he has 20 settlers it will cost more than if he only has 2.

13) Is there any chance that you will (through a patch or exp pack) add “no rush” as a gametype?
A – we are aware of the popularity of this type of gameplay and are looking at ways to incorporate it as a standard feature. Issues here include how to keep it from being exploited by antisocial types, and the fact that the rush doesn’t seem to be a big play feature right now, with the dominance of FF. Of course, if we can weaken FF, then the rush will come back …

14) My question is how is the proccess inside Ensemble Studios when it comes about taking all the content you extracted from your research and bringing it into the gameplay?
A – basically it’s in the hands of the designers. We do it three or four different ways – providing sample art to the artists to work from, or at least sending them in the right direction; putting together scenarios based on historical events; design documents; databases; etc.

15) last year´s GDC Will Wright said something interesting about making content for AAA games. He said the cost of making content is getting too high and when he said that the first thing that came into my mind was Ensemble Games, always very rich in terms of content with obvious deep research behind them. What do you think of his statement?
A – we are very flattered.

16) How come there was no change to to Rockets in 1.05
A – we had only so much time to test every change, and without changing rockets, we had the British about where we wanted them. We were afraid that boosting rockets would put them over the edge. Maybe we were being too cautious.

17) What made you change from a campaign that took a stratergy, skill and numerous attampts to find the right solution to beat one level and feeling proud once you beat it (without cheats, they ruin the game) to a campaign where you can beat it in one day, the whole thing?
A – erm … lots of complaints by people who couldn’t finish any of the campaigns?


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