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Posts tagged ‘Justin Korthof’

16
Oct

Robot Entertainment art blog voting closes and website data loss

Its all over! After a week (and a few more days!) the voting for the art blog has completed. There were plenty of votes cast and in the end it looks like the winning art was Nate “N8″ Stefan with his awesome military spider drone:-

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4
Sep

Age of Empires community fragmentation begins as new forums launch

 

As announced previously Microsoft is continuing with its new community venture for Age of Empires Online and has announced the launch of a new community website at www.ageofempiresonline.com. As a result of this launch this will see the immediate fragmentation of the Age of Empires online fan base where by there will be two official forums for the Age of Empires series, one for legacy games such as Age 3 and Age of Mythology and another for Age of Empires Online. Why Microsoft has chosen this path is bizarre as having two forums for one franchise can only offer fragmentation. It would be like Halo Reach detaching from Bungie.net and setting up shop somewhere else (Edit: Halo Reach actually does have multiple community websites). Or Lionhead breaking away its Fable 3 forum from its website. It doesn’t happen with other IP but its ok to do so with Age of Empires.

In the past Microsoft has typically treated Ensemble developed games poorly in terms of community investment. Since the closure of Ensemble Studios, Age Community has suffered a number of bugs with modern browsers resulting in the website looking terrible in , including  in Microsoft’s own Internet Explorer 7 and 8. Images are cut off and out of alignment and despite launching a new game in the Age series Microsoft has still not invested money into making the website look suitable, and even usable in the cases of cut off web buttons. The website looks rough and patched together and does no justice to the Age franchise. Then we also have Halo Wars which was promised “exciting things to come” when Microsoft’s 343 Industries took over. The result was community madness with almost no moderation and no ”exciting things” has ever been forthcoming.

It is a no brainer that by splitting up the community for the same franchise is bad for the community. Age Community has been incredibly successful, particularly at Ensemble Studios and boasts almost 90,000 users at the time of writing. Now all these 90,000 users will be forced to setup another account on a totally different website should they want to discuss and hear news about Age of Empires Online in an official environment. Moreover, those who check forums often will now have to flick between the two as some may not realise Age Community is not the official site for Age of Empires Online. Especially seeing as Age Community purports to be the official community website for Age of Empires as a whole based on its domain name and branding.

The whole process seems messy, unthought out and has negative impact on Age Community. Despite having a dedicated community team at Microsoft they have completely missed the massive oversight of the community fragmentation having two forums will bring and have been unsympathetic to the Age Community by not investing in that website going forward and over the past year knowing that another Age game was around the corner.

Microsoft are hiding behind legal and technical issues which had apparently required them to develop a new community. However both these explanations are questionable seeing as the new website runs on the same software as Age Community. Having looked at the website closely it offers no benefit whatsoever other than to fragment and duplicate community content. The gamertag integration could easily have been implemented into Age Community as evidenced by Ensemble’s work with HaloWars.com which shares the same community software again. The supposed “legal issues” are also dubious and Microsoft have not been forthcoming about what these issues were. Robot Entertainment has worked on Age Community and Halo Wars after Ensemble’s closure so there has been no problem before using a third party developer to look after community websites. I have not been able to determine what the legal issues could possibly be and can only assume it comes down to poor decision making and lack of attention to the fan base of Age Community that has resulted in this ill advised decision.

Age of Empires looks like a great game but the community management is way off course for Age of Empires best interests in my opinion as you may have gathered from the tone of this blog post. I am very disappointed.

Robot Entertainment has stated that they will continue support of Age Community for as long as Microsoft allows and will continue to look after the community going forward. Microsoft has not given clear indication of plans for Age Community and no-one from either company has updated the Age Community homepage beyond just an announcement so far. For reference I include comments from both Robot Entertainment and Microsoft below:

“Microsoft does have a community team in place to support Age of Empires Online, but that doesn’t change the fact that Robot Entertainment is very interested in and dedicated to all players who are a part of our community and who play the games we develop. Dunkman/Aloysius and I will continue to support and maintain AgeCommunity.com and the players there until such time that Microsoft decides to change direction with the site.”

- Justin Korthof.  Community Manager at Robot Entertainment


The decision to make new forums for AOEO wasn’t simply, “we want to fragment the community”. This was never the intent but there are legal issues that arose (which I am not at liberty to talk about) that made it necessary for MGS to create new message boards for AOEO. I have every intention on keeping AgeCom updated with AOEO content. AgeCom wont be recognized as an official outlet – as AOEO.com will be – but will be up-to-date with content. I can’t tell you exactly right now how AgeCom is going to be utilized in the future, but AgeCom will not be forgotten about and abandoned to the wasteland.

 Robot Entertainment’s community team isn’t being utilized for AOEO – but they do still run AgeCom. While they’re not “officially” the community team we (Cosy and myself) ARE in constant and close contact (if it assuages your fears any – I’ve been friends with the Robot team since before I took this position) and have no intention on changing that. Our (the MGS team) main concern as a community team is the community.

- BatsyBatsy.  Community Manager at Microsoft Game Studios

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3
Sep

Dave Kubalak talks about AOEO art style. Plus news about PAX

  

Robot Entertainment’s art director Dave Kubalak has been blogging about the art style in Age of Empires Online. There is no denying that the art style is very different in AOEO compared to Age 3 and even Age 1 which was set in the same time zone. If you would like a trip down memory lane the below screenshots compares the Age 1 days with the new look AOEO. 

 

(Click to enlarge

The excellent blog describes in detail Robot’s vision plan for the game and how the changes make the experience much better for the user.  The vision plan is as follows: 

  1. Create a timeless, bright, and visually appealing game that can technically run on a wide range of PCs, and still look good for years to come.
     
  2. Create a bold and more graphic look with a lot of character. That means a lot of different things.
  3. Less obstructive user interface and a more ‘graphic look’ to our iconography
  • Make the terrain vivid, but less ‘noisy’ so the buildings and units ‘pop’, and are easily identifiable.
  • Explore exaggerated and unique silhouettes to create a large variety of units and buildings. This helps give even inanimate objects more character and appeal.
  • Use animations, in addition to the units’ unique proportions, to better differentiate and emphasize roles and classes
  • Give the world and its inhabitants character and ‘life’, creating a digital terrarium for the player to control

Looking at the various in game screenshots it is clear how these points have been addressed. Units are now much bigger and are intentionally not in proportion to the size of buildings.  Buildings are much more unique with a very distinguishable look making them much easier to identify at a glance. Animations of units are also very unique and the amount of screen view has vastly increased with the removal and transparency of the UI. 

You may be wondering how these changes impact the user, for that you should head over to the full blog on the Robot Entertainment website where Dave goes into alot of detail about the changes  – a must read for any Age fan! 

Read the full blog


 

In other news.. PAX 

Two of the Justin’s from Robot Entertainment, Justin Korthof and Justin Moe are on the way to PAX this weekend. Community Manager extraordinaire Justin Korthof will be hosting his own community manager panel titled “So I have this website”. The panel includes Justin Korthof from Robot Entertainment and a number of other Community Managers including Jon Goff from 343 Industries who looks after HaloWars.com. The blurb of the panel is as follows below as found on Justin’s blog at www.sixokay.com 

You’ve spent the time and money building your community site, and now you’re looking to take it to the next level. Maybe you want to get a job as a professional Community Manager, or maybe you’re just looking for tips on how to get publishers to pay more attention to your site. Whether you’re just starting out, or have been running a site for years, this panel is the best place to get your questions answered. Together, these community managers have represented some of the biggest franchises, developers, and publishers in the game industry, and most of them started out just like you – running a fan site. 

Panelists include: Justin Korthof [Community Manager, Robot Entertainment], Matthew Pruitt [FPS Community Manager, Electronic Arts], Jon Goff [Community Manager, 343 Industries], James Stevenson [Senior Community Manager, Insomniac Games] 

Place/Time/Date: Sunday, September 5th, 12:30pm in the Wolfman Theater 

I wish Justin the best of luck with his panel and look forward to reading more about it. There is no doubt about Justin’s passion with online communities and this is evidenced by the outstanding job he has been doing at Robot Entertainment so far in team work with Duncan Stanley and others. 

Age of Empires Online will be playable at PAX so anyone lucky enough to be going should check out booth number 670 for a chance to play with six stations in total.


 A note about AOEO beta invites

There have been concerns on Age Community and other sites about the way the process works. Currently the first wave has gone out and if you were in the first wave you should of had an email by now advising you of your download key. The waves are a random lottery irrespective of the answers you put in the questionnaire, providing that you are 18+ years of age everyone has an equal chance of getting in. The second wave is expected soon. MGS is stated that they plan to do waves over the coming months so I would expect there to be a wave every month so keep your eyes peeled.  If you did not get a key this time keep an eye out for another wave soon. I’ll keep this blog up to date with all the beta invitation information and wish you all the best of luck getting in!

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30
Aug

More AOE-O questions answered over at Heaven Games

Justin “SixOkay” Korthof of Robot Entertainment has been sitting down to many questions from fans over at Heaven Games answering a whole bunch of AOEO related questions. The thread is well worth checking out as you may find some interesting new facts or some questions you may of had have answered.

Take a look at: http://aoe3.heavengames.com/cgi-bin/forums/display.cgi?action=ct&f=33,10,,10

Don’t forget if you have a burning question, ask! Other people may well have the same question that you do!

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23
Aug

Robot Entertainment responds to AOE-O community questions – will continue to support AgeCommunity.com

 

In follow up to my previous blog post Robot Entertainment’s Community Manager, Justin “SixOkay” Korthof has reached out to provide us with clarification on Robot’s position. Unfortunately, while a separate MGS AOE-O community will be forming Robot Entertainment will not be maintaining that community due to reasons beyond their control. They will however continue to support the AgeCommunity.com website for as long as Microsoft allows. Justin’s comment is as follows:

“Microsoft does have a community team in place to support Age of Empires Online, but that doesn’t change the fact that Robot Entertainment is very interested in and dedicated to all players who are a part of our community and who play the games we develop. Dunkman/Aloysius and I will continue to support and maintain AgeCommunity.com and the players there until such time that Microsoft decides to change direction with the site.”

- Justin Korthof.  Community Manager at Robot Entertainment

It is pleasing to see continued commitment from Robot Entertainment who will provide two places for AOE-O related discussion at AgeCommunity.com and at RobotEntertainment.com. While we may be disappointed about the limited community exposure Robot will be getting with this game it is great to see that the community team at Robot keeps steaming ahead. If you haven’t been on the Robot Entertainment website recently then you have been missing out on lots of Age Online related discussion and pictures from Gamescom head over there now and join in!

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18
Aug

Follow @RobotEnt today on Twitter for Gamescom updates!

 

Robot Entertainment Community Manager Justin “SixOkay” Korthof is on the tweetverse at Gamescom tweeting about Age of Empires Online with pictures of the Age of Empires Online booths and staff! There are 12 booths for Age at Gamescom so if you happen to be lucky enough to be at the event stop by and give it a try! Plus should you bump into Justin a Robot Entertainment T-Shirt could be yours!

Follow @RobotEnt on Twitter for images like these!

The Age of Empires booth at Gamescom

 

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16
Jul

Justin Korthof on new Robot website plus Ian Fischer’s role at Gamesauce

Robot Entertainment’s Community Manager Justin “SixOkay” Korthof has published his first blog on the new Robot website design reflecting on the launch and re-assuring fans there is much more in the pipeline for the website including new features and bug fixes.

Hello again. It’s been a while since we last talked. Now that we’ve got the new website up, that’s going to change. Since we put the new site up about a week and a half ago, you’ve all been kind enough to sign up and take it for a test drive. And we’re glad you did! Thanks to you guys, we’ve already started making updates to the site. We’ve been fixing bugs and improving various little features. And we’re not stopping any time soon.

We’re currently doing a little under-the-hood work, but soon we’re going to begin work on some great profile improvements, as well as adding and improving forum features. Is there anything you’d like to see? If so, be sure to let us know over in the Suggestions Forum.

Justin also discusses Robot’s Lead Designer – Ian Fischer’s role at the Gamesauce conference in July 19th. The conference is a place where developers can inspire other developers with unique and interesting ways about making engaging games. At this conference Ian will be speaking on “the role of emergence in gaming and the part it plays in the future of the medium.” Justin expands to clarify further:

It’s about the future of the gaming industry. In it he compares the first 60 years of games to the first 60 years of films to support the idea that despite the game industry’s immense accomplishments, we’re only just starting to get really serious about making games. If you’re interested in the presentation, I’ll see if we can snag a video of it, or perhaps make a blog post out of it.

Exciting stuff. It is always good to see Ex Ensemble employees giving talks as they are veterans in the industry. You can also catch Bruce Shelley and Paul Bettner giving talks soon too at the GDC. We also look forward to seeing some more developments on the Robot Entertainment website so keep your eyes peeled on RobotEntertainment.com and if you haven’t already sign up on the forums

Read the full blog from Justin at Robot Entertainment

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14
May

New forum enroute to RobotEntertainment.com as SixOkay introduces himself and future plans

 New Robot Entertainment Community Manager Justin “SixOkay” Korthof has posted his first blog on the Robot Entertainment website introducing himself and updating fans on some community plans going on at Robot. After some requests by members particularly on Age Community SixOkay has today announced plans to launch a new web forum on the homepage of RobotEntertainment.com in an effort to refresh the site and add more community features going forward.

 I’ve seen a ton of requests over the last few days specifically for us to open up a new forum. I’m happy to announce that one of the updates we’re working on for the new site is in fact a new message board. Soon, you’ll be able to come by and speculate to your heart’s content about upcoming Robot projects, interact with our community team and development team members, and generally stake your claim as a hardcore Robot Entertainment fan who was there since the beginning.

This is excellent news as this will provide a new platform for fans to engage in speculation on new Robot projects. With input from Community Manager Justin and Community coordinator Duncan Stanley I expect there will be lots of discussion and interactivity. As Robot gets closer and closer to being public about games they are working on its exciting to see investment in a new online community in the interim.

If you are asking “who is this SixOkay chap?” then you have been out of the loop for a while. SixOkay, or Justin may just be announcing his becoming a Robot on the website now but has been in the role for about five weeks already.

I’ve been working here at Robot for about four weeks now. A lot of my time has been spent catching up on the many awesome things that the developers here have been working on for just over a year. If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you already know that we’re working hard on two really amazing projects. Looking around the web, I have seen a ton of interest from the avid Age of Empires fans, as well as from other gamers, about what exactly we’re working on. We love that you’re all so interested, but this is the part where I ask for your patience. I wish I could give you all the details right now, but we’ve still got some time before everything’s ready to come out of the oven, so to speak. I did want you to know, though that we have been reading your comments and forum posts, and we’re just as eager to announce things as you are to read about them.

Stand by for more information about future community happenings at Robot. While I try to update this blog as fast as I can its always a good idea to follow Robot Entertainment and other studios on social networking sites such as Twitter so that you can get the latest information about Ex Ensemble Studios as it happens. I have created a Twitter list to help fans dig out their favourite studios on Twitter.

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1
May

Age Sanctuary interviews SixOkay, Robot Entertainment community manager

Addac from the Age Sanctuary community has recently conducted an insightful interview with Robot Entertainment’s new community manager Justin “SixOkay” Korthof. Addac who had previously interviewed Aloysius in February of this year has now posted a similar interview with SixOkay.

Justin has been in the gaming industry for about 4 years and in that time has worked on a number of titles and community websites. Starting with working at EA-LA and then at Microsoft with the Gears and Halo franchises before ending up at Robot Entertainment.

When the Robot Entertainment opportunity came up, it felt like a really great time and a really great place for me to get back to doing the online community management work that I love to do.

When asked what Justin would bring to the table at Robot Entertainment the message was perfectly clear – creating a new fantastic community website for new games that echo the quality of previous Ensemble offerings.

What do you feel that you personally bring to Robot Entertainment that will help them make the best Aoe4 possible?

Well, I can’t speak to any specific games we’re developing, but I feel like I bring a ton of intense passion for online communities to the table. I’ve been working with community experiences online for about 18 years now, since I was in middle school. I live and breath this stuff, and I can’t wait to start building opportunities for a Robot community to come together. Obviously there were and are a lot of passionate Ensemble fans out there, and I think that we can build up that kind of excitement and community all over again around Robot Entertainment.

 You can read all about it over at the Age Sanctuary forums. From work to personal life and some random questions Addac’s got it covered:

http://agesanctuary.com/index.php?portal=TAD&showtopic=138356

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12
Apr

Justin “SixOkay” Korthof joins Robot Entertainment as Community Manager

Good news for Robot Entertainment fans as the studio increases the size of its community team. Justin Korthof who has previously worked as a Community Manager for Epic’s Gears of War is more commonly known under his alias “SixOkay“.  Justin will be joining Duncan “Aloysius” Stanley in the mission to build and maintain excellent community websites which engage fans of the games and studio.

As Robot Entertainment continues to work hard on developing new games its very pleasing to hear investment is being made with community ventures. Keep an eye out for SixOkay on the forums and be sure to give him a warm welcome.

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