Following on from our first part of Robot’s PAX Panel review we now move on from looking at the studios history to present day to looking at some of the interesting prototypes they have been working on in-between OMD2 and OMDU. For the first time we get a glimpse at some of he games that could have been from the creative minds at Robot. Read more
Some of the bots from Robot Entertainment have been hanging out at PAX Prime this weekend, hosting their very own PAX panel titled “An afternoon of fun with Robot Entertainment”. In our first part of our two part series we cover the first part of the panel which looks at Robot history including their time at Ensemble Studios and the games that lead up to Orcs Must Die! Unchained. For anyone who was in attendance there were plenty of free things being given out including a bag, poster, buttons, t-shirt, band and “Founders PAX” access to the Closed Beta. Read more
If you’re a Steam user you have have seen for a while prominent features of Age of Empires 2 HD and Age of Mythology Extended Edition available to play on Steam. Its great to see these classic Ensemble titles back in the game for purchase. Joining Age of Empires 3 which is also available for purchase on Steam there are now three major games in Ensemble’s legacy in the modern day Steam store and audiences both old and new can enjoy these great games. Read more
Next month Age Community will be closing after 8 years. It’s been a great 8 years and Age Community has progressed a lot since its inception. Unfortunately Microsoft has decided that change is a-foot and we’ll no longer be able to use the Age Community forum by mid next month.
Now is the time to celebrate all of the great years we’ve had on Age Community. Thus here we present the Age Community 8 years awards! Having teamed up with Robot Entertainment we’ve got some great prizes to award to members of the community to give Age Community the send off it deserves. Read more
Age Community was the excellent online community started 8 years ago by Ensemble Studios back in 2005. The site was set up as the official community website for Age of Empires so that fans could enjoy all Age content in one single place. News, forums, statistics, ladders, account tools and patches were all available on one single website aptly named Age Community. So how did it all go wrong? Read more
Great news for Age of Empires 3 fans! Today Microsoft Studios have announced the release of the compete Age of Empires 3 collection on Steam. The full collection includes Age of Empires 3 and both expansions, The Warchiefs and The Asian Dynasties and is available on Steam today with a 50% discount on the price. The standard price is £29.99 but the game is £14.99 with this time limited launch offer. Currently the complete collection is available in stores for around the £22 price range so there is good value in picking up the Steam edition with the discounted price. Read more
Unfortunately, the time as come for Robot Entertainment so sign off on Age Community and hand over day to day support for community operations to Microsoft Games Studios. The transition starts today, with Ryz0n taking the reins as community support moderator. Ryzon commented:
The folks here at MGS are transitioning into supporting the AOE community. Along those lines, I’ll be working on forum administration, account support, and generally keeping everything running as well as possible. Our goal, as we move through the transition period, is to make the user experience change very little and have the service chug along without any issues into the foreseeable future. I’ll be coming up to speed and working with Robot on the community, server issues, and support for the titles. Read more
Hot on the heels of Ian Fischer’s blog about AOE-O design and Dave Kubalak’s blog about the vision behind the new Age of Empires game, long time Age of programmer come lead programmer at Robot Entertainment, Rob Fermier talks us through the history of the Bang engine which has powered each Age game since 3D graphics started with Age of Mythology. Before the bang engine came along Ensemble Studios were using another in house 2D engine called “Genie”. By around 1999 and before Ensemble acquisition by Microsoft, Ensemble were playing around with a new 3D engine which later became known as Bang. This engine was first used with Age of Mythology taking the Age series into 3D for the first time:
The first iteration of the Bang engine produced these graphics in Age of Mythology
The same Bang engine was used again for the expansion pack Age of Mythology - The Titans. When Age of Empires 3 came along the engine underwent significant improvements:
For Age of Empires 3 (2005) it received some major upgrades – a modern shader-based rendering system, physics integration, new particle effects, and numerous unit sim improvements. Several expansion packs also were built to enhance those games, leveraging the extensibility and flexibility of the Bang engine.
After the extensive work put into the engine Age of Empires 3 turned out graphics looking more like this:
But its not all about graphics, a game engine comprises of many different parts which make up the whole thing. For example you have graphics, sound, music, UI, AI, scenarios, triggers, databases and more. There is alot going on behind the scenes of an Age game. In fact the engine is over 1.2 million lines of code. Although not all these lines are serious pieces of code, as Rob points out there is Ensemble humour buried in the code. -
(Click to enlarge)
I am certain this Ensemble style humour will continue into Robot Entertainment’s edits of the engine!
The blog finishes up with a few words about the future of the engine with Age of Empires Online and the new features it brings:
As you play Age of Empires Online (sign up for the Beta here), the technology powering your game experience is a mix of brand new online tech, new gameplay systems, and battle-tested core RTS mechanics that we have been constantly improving for over a decade. It is always amusing to come across a comment from yourself in 1999. Game technologies are often abandoned after a few years, so it has been very rewarding to work with this particularly robust game engine for so long.
As always, this is just a summary of the full blog post and I recommend everyone check out the full posting on the Robot Entertainment for more information and “fun facts”!
Ensemble Studios’ Age of Empires III and all the the expansions are now offered as a single download on the Games for Windows Live platform. Priced at $39 the download edition supports a basic level of Games for Windows integration including easier installation and Windows Vista support with the games explorer. Its always good to hear of Ensemble games being released on as many distribution vehicles as possible.
I am sure many readers of this blog are familiar with Ensemble’s Age of Empires legacy.. but just in case you have forgotten here is the official low down from Microsoft:
Immerse yourself in the award-winning strategy experience. Microsoft Game Studios brings you three epic Age of Empires III games in one monumental collection for the first time. Command mighty European powers looking to explore new lands in the New World; or jump eastward to Asia and determine the outcome of its struggles for power.
Playable Asian civilizations. Lead one of three unique Asian civilizations Japan, China or India to expand its empire and fight for control in the Eastern world. Each Asian civilization, led by powerful leaders, will have unique groups, armies and wonders, as well as buildings that reflect the culture s architectural style. New game-play elements. Extending the innovative game-play of Age of Empires III, Age of Empires III: The Asian Dynasties and War Chiefs will introduce new ways of winning and trading, random map styles that feature remixes of classic Age of Empires game styles, 15 Asian Wonders and New World adventures. Exciting new single-player campaign. Returning to the historical, civilization-based single-player campaigns, Age of Empires III: The Asian Dynasties will offer gamers who enjoy the solo experience a chance to engage in strategic combat with Japan, China or India through several engrossing scenarios. Or lead New World expeditions with War Chiefs. Expanding a successful formula. Age of Empires III: The Asian Dynasties is the second expansion pack for the massively popular Age of Empires III, one of the fastest-selling titles in the franchise history, leading and innovating the real-time strategy genre through exciting and revolutionary game-play features.
For more details and to purchase the download visit http://www.microsoft.com/games/en-us/GAMES/Pages/ageofempires3.aspx.
The ESO team at Robot Entertainment ban hundreds of players at a time for account stealing and people logging into shared accounts. Make sure you NEVER log into any account other than your own or you will be banned and you will lose your rank.
The number of threads on the Age Community website about account stealing has increased recently and I encourage readers to be vigilant about thier ESO account usage.
Dont get caught out, play by the rules and enjoy the ESO expierence.