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Bruce Shelley page 4

Bruce Shelley

Age III Manual, Fans, and More


Age III Manual Receives Recognition: In early January we received notice that our manual and Quick Reference Card had received from the Puget Sound Chapter of the Society for Technical Communication a Distinguished Award for technical writing and editing. These game components are now eligible for national and international Academy Awards voted upon by technical writers and editors.

Manuals and reference cards are not particularly exciting to work on and the better they are the less they are noticed. They are most likely to get attention when they suck and prevent players from easily finding out what they want to know.

Our user education materials are created in Redmond by a team that does similar excellent work for all MGS games. We did some of the writing and a lot of proofreading, but the congratulations for the work belong to our colleagues in Washington. The award brings recognition to some of the effort that goes on behind the scenes when preparing a major game for being published.

Age Fans Keep Turning Up: When we make room reservations in Dallas for visitors to our offices we use a nearby hotel with which we have built up a relationship over the past several years. The lady that handles most of those hotel arrangements for us just discovered we were famous J. She found out because the son of her best friend thinks our games are the greatest. He can quote when they were all published, the details about them, and keeps up with our news. He was very impressed that his mother’s friend worked with us.

One of my relatives sought some help at her company when she wanted to buy a high-end laptop for her husband. The IT professional asked her what he would be doing with the PC and one requirement she set was that it had to run Age III, which I had given them. When the IT pro found out they were related to someone who worked at ES he was also very impressed. Age of Empires III is his son’s favorite game.

Everyone at ES has similar stories. Fans are amazed to find out that games are made by real people, with only a few degrees of separation.

Halo Wars MoCap Tests: Bill Jackson and Woody Smith from the Halo Wars team recently conducted some motion capture tests at a studio in Los Angeles. Actors were wired up and computers recorded the movement of their bodies from the points where they were wired. The clearest example of this I’ve ever seen was a video of Tiger Woods in a MoCap suit that captured his swing for a golf game.

Our test involved mostly actors simulating driving using only some chairs, a steering wheel, and some plywood. Then the data was incorporated with the 3D model of a Warhog in real-time. Bill says it was very cool how quickly that was brought on screen and that Woody was a natural in the director’s chair.

Halo Wars Trailer- 1 Million Downloads: reports that our trailer has gone over this milestone. Of the top 20 trailer downloads they list, Assassins Creed was in second place with just under 500,000.

An ES’er’s New Year’s Resolutions: Like many of you I was asked by friends about my resolutions for the New Year and that got me thinking about resolutions as an employee of ES. Here are a couple I thought of and will try to stick to.

Play and Give Feedback: Now that ES is divided into three teams it is easy to concentrate on your own project and lose touch with the others. I resolve to play each when possible, read any documents distributed for comment, and give professional feedback. Playing and giving feedback has been a core responsibility for employees here for years, but not everyone is good at it, or has put effort into it. I/we can do better.

See the Glass Half Full: Yes, we play games for a living but games that are only partially finished, buggy, slow, unstable, and often ugly (stand-in art). I resolve to see what is there and comment constructively, and get past the idea that the game is not as polished as the hot game of 2006 that has been patched multiple times.

Play outside My Genres: Some of our new projects are in genres or styles with which I have little experience. I resolve to play outside my box and get a feel for games that are part of the inspiration for our new projects.

Meet the New People: Our studio grew rapidly in the past year and I bet many of us would be shocked to hear what percentage of our employees had never worked on an Age of Empires game. We have come a long way from that day in 1997 when the entire staff of 20 sat together in one room and decided that Age II would be about knights and castles. I resolve to do better about looking for new faces in the halls and introducing myself.

Age III Board Game Still Alive: The company that was set to publish a board game based on Age of Empires III has gone out of business, unfortunately. We really liked the design of the game so this was a big disappointment. The future of the board game has been in limbo for several months but we have hopes now that it is getting a second life. We will report an expected publishing date when we have one.

ES Work Life- WoW is Back (as a Card Game): A bunch of our people are really into the WoW card game and there was a flurry of excitement as new cards sets arrived this week. You can find the game being played at lunch and after work. This is what happens when you recruit people who are passionate about games.

Bruce Shelley

Posted Thursday, February 01, 2007 8:57 PM | (Comments Off)

Filed under: Age III, Board Game, Halo Wars, Fans, Play, Trailer, WoW



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