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Posts tagged ‘Tim Deen’

22
Aug

Age of Empires IV announced, plus remasters of Age II and III

The legacy of Ensemble Studios continues as this week we learn that Microsoft has announced a brand new Age of Empires game – Age of Empires IV, a continuation of the main series unlike some of the other games released in recent times. Relic Entertainment are set to carry the torch as developers on this new game. The Sega owned studio is similar to Creative Assembly, another Sega studio who worked on Halo Wars 2. There is no release date set for Age 4 just yet, there is however, a very awesome new teaser trailer! Read moreRead more

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11
Nov

Halo Wars Title Update 4 balance feedback sought

halowars

Robot Entertainment balance staff Tim “Timotron” Deen and Community Manager Duncan “Aloysius” Stanley have informed the Halo Wars community that the fourth title update for Halo Wars is now in consideration and the balance team at Robot Entertainment are now looking for feedback on the following proposals. So far the first draft of the proposed balance changes is as follows:

1. Buffing the Scarab from a fully upgraded tech level 3 Covenant unit to a “super” tech unit on par with Grizzly’s, Hawks and ODST.

2. Buffing the Hunters Assault Beam upgrade so that Hunters can track fast moving vehicles like warthogs.

3. Fixing the Grunt squads needler upgrade so that they keep their damage bonus against Air craft.

4. Nerfing the Arbiter during Rage so that he takes more damage from attacks.

5.  Nerfing the Gremlin by adjusting the vehicle and its upgrades up one tech level, making Gremlins a tech level 2 vehicles with the first upgrade available at tech 3 and the final upgrade at tech 4.

6. *New* Buffing Brute choppers auto-cannon damage to do more damage to air units at the same rate as other scout units.

There are also a number of bug fixes being looked at including:

1. Cryo Glitch
2. TrueSkill display glitch
3. Y-Ability cooldown glitch
4. DLC Leaderboards Display Glitch.
5. Multiplayer Lobby lock up glitch.

 Check out the discussion on the official Halo Wars community website to see how players are responding and feel free to leave any comments you think about the proposed changes there. The link to the thread is: http://www.halowars.com/forums/thread/769843.aspx

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12
Aug

Matt Pritchard in classic Gamasutra Age of Empires interview archive

age_of_empires_coverart

Gamasutra has lifted the lid on a classic interview with Ex Ensemble graphics engine programmer Matt Pritchard. Matt joined Ensemble in the early days of Age of Empires development, so early that the game was called “Dawn of Man” before being renamed “Age of Empires” later on. The archived interview is an excellent read for Ensemble and Age of Empires fans. Reading the article you should recognise many names including Tim “timotron” Deen who has worked at Ensemble since Age 1 right up until Halo Wars and the studio disbandment. Tim Deen is now working at Robot Entertainment. Matt Pritchard went on after Age of Mythology to work on BlackSite: Area 51.

The interview talks about some of the choices made at Ensemble about the games design, multiplayer and testing along with details about how the game was programmed. Matt’s primary role was developing the “Genie” graphics engine which powered Age of Empires 1 and 2. Matt’s efforts with the engine managed to increase the initial framerate of 7-14FPS right up to 55FPS. The remainder of the interview discusses things that went well such as the games database driven design, staying in close contact with the publisher (Microsoft) and how Ensemble’s management truly respected its employees. Many of the good points that Matt talked about in the article remained true right up until the end of the studio including the database driven design and employee morale, maybe not so much the publisher relations aspect, though.

Of course a large scale game development like Age of Empires comes with its bugs and these are also talked about in the article. A late beta test, lack of multi player testing on residential modems and not planning for a patch rank highly. In the original release of the game some players found online play unsustainable due to lag time and drop outs over slow 56k modem speeds. Due to the whizzy and fast equipment at Ensemble Studios the testing which took place internally did not necessarily reflect the speeds players would get on the outside. Luckily the good communication with management at Ensemble and Microsoft allowed for the creation of the 1.0a patch which duly rectified most of the multiplayer issues.

Alongside a retro article comes a retro picture of Ensemble Studios staff in 1997. See if you can spot some familiar faces in the picture below:

ensemble team 1997

Looks like Christmas!

I encourage all fans to have a read of the Gamasutra article below, delving into some history of the studios early days. Ensemble Studios is sorely missed. :(

http://www.gamasutra.com/php-bin/news_index.php?story=24767

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24
Jun

Tim “Timotron” Deen reveals (nearly) final patch list for Halo Wars

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Tim Deen has updated his feedback thread on HaloWars.com with the soon to be final patch notes. The title update is now in its final changes of testing and unless there are any sudden imbalances to be found you can take the notes below as pretty much being the final patch notes. Discussion on these should be directed to this thread where Robot will be looking over for feedback. The patch notes follows:

*** Note: Updated with final patch notes for the balance changes that I am sending in for final function/ bug testing ***

Balance changes:: 

1.  Gauss warthog gauss cannon damage bonus against units with heavy armor (Scorpions, Wraiths, Scarabs, Locusts) reduced so that tanks will stay as a viable option to counter warthogs.  

Final:: Gauss damage with a 0.6 modifier (down from 0.8), which is a 50.0% damage boost instead of a 100% damage boost against tanks over earlier warthogs.

 

2.  Warthog build time slightly increased to restrict how fast players can mass and replace warthogs during the game.

Final:: Warthogs will take 3 additional seconds to the build (25 seconds).

 

3.  Anders bonus to tech build rate reduced to further balance the leader. 

Final:: Anders research bonus changed to be 75% of the base time to research techs instead of the previous 50%.  (the cost reduction remains at 50%)  

 

4.  Base turrets attack and health boosted slightly to increase turret viability in early and late game.

Final:: We finalized on a 5% boost to base turret health and damage after extensive testing we feel that a small buff was warranted but that overall the turrets can function just fine in the early game but the player has to choose to use them and sacrifice some supplies.

 

5.  Elephant health increased to improve survivability and viability as a unit.

Final:: Elephants gain a 20% boost to health, which when combined with the infantry grenade buff works out rather well.

 

6.  Grenade/ Plasma grenade / RPG damage against medium armor (warthogs, ghosts, choppers, wolverines and cobras) increased to both better balance marines/ grunts against warthogs and to improve marines overall against players who try to turtle with wolverines and cobras.

Final:: Grenades gains 25% additonal damage against medium armor ground vehicles.

 

7.  Recycle basic cost return fixed to be 50% for constructed buildings.  (While a technically a bug, this directly impacts many slightly exploitive strategies)

 

*** Other items we have investigated internally ***

8. Investigated changes to the Arbiter rage power for heal and strength, but with internal data and looking closely at what we had time to do for the upcoming title update, we have decided the data did not warrent a change to the Arbiter at this time.

9. Investigated mainline infantry base damage against air but looking at the numbers and the data from games played, we feel that the infantry are within bounds for their role at this time.

10. Investigating reports of shield generator exploit that causes shields covenant base shields to re-raise during combat, we have a repro (thanks to those that sent in the repro steps) and we are looking at a fix now to hopefully include in the title update.  

11. As I have noted before the reinforcement exploit with cutter MAC blast is fixed in this title update.

*** One additonal change which impacts balance ***

12. *new*  Locked down bases when unlocked will now release units inside very quickly, which means that when under attack a player can now build a fighting force while locked down and then release them all at once instead of having them destroyed peacemeal.  Fighting off a rush or hiding what you a building against scouts is now a viable choice for both the UNSC and the Covenant.

 

note: there are other bug fixes in the title update as well but those will be covered when we wrap up the title update and write the final patch notes. 

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10
Jun

Players invited to discuss Title Update 3 for Halo Wars on official community forum

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Never say the Robots dont listen! Tim “Timotron” Deen has kicked off a discussion thread on the HaloWars.com forums to announce some of the intentions Robot has for balancing the game in Halo Wars title update 3. The changes suggested so far are as follows:

1.  Gauss warthog gauss cannon damage bonus against units with heavy armor (Scorpions, Wraiths, Scarabs, Locusts) reduced so that tanks will stay as a viable option to counter warthogs.

2.  Warthog build time slightly increased to restrict how fast players can mass and replace warthogs during the game.

3.  Anders bonus to tech build rate reduced to further balance the leader.

4.  Base turrets attack and health boosted slightly to increase turret viability in early and late game.

5.  Elephant health increased to improve survivability and viability as a unit.

6.  Grenade/ Plasma grenade / RPG damage against medium armor (warthogs, ghosts, choppers, wolverines and cobras) increased to both better balance marines/ grunts against warthogs and to improve marines overall against players who try to turtle with wolverines and cobras.

7.  Recycle basic cost return fixed to be 50% for constructed buildings.  (While a technically a bug, this directly impacts many slightly exploitive strategies)

Any thoughts? You can let Robot know by posting in the official thread over here:

http://www.halowars.com/forums/1/618956/ShowThread.aspx

See you in the discussion!

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28
Apr

Tim Deen discusses Halo Wars combat system

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Another developers blog appeared on the Halo Wars website today. Tim Deen a Halo Wars designer and Ensemble veteran discusses the damage system in Halo Wars and how things like accuracy and range affect the damage units dish out.

I will be continuing to mirror blog posts from Robot, Bonfire and others so that fans of Ensemble Studios can continue to find blog posts of their well respected developer in one place.

Blog post from HaloWars.com follows courtesy of Community Manager, Aloysius:

Under The Hood of the Halo Wars Combat System

Published Monday, April 27, 2009 2:37 PM by Aloysius 

Intro

The simulation system of any RTS can at times be hard for the players to unravel exactly what is going on so today we are taking a quick look at the core systems comprising the Halo wars combat system. 

 

In Halo Wars every combat unit has an armor type and at least one weapon (often more), while each weapon has its individual damage, damage type and accuracy stats.  Every attack in halo wars has a specific weapon associated with it even special attacks such as grenades or canister shot have separate specific weapons just for that special to use.

 

Accuracy

The first item we will look at it is the accuracy system in halo wars and how individual projectiles are directed when fired at the enemy.  Every weapon has individual accuracy ratings that determine how accurate the attacks it makes are; the first rating is a straight chance to have the projectile be fired true while the second rating is used to determine how far off the aim is if the attack is not perfectly accurate.   After the projectile is fired all that is left to find out is what unit is actually hit as a weapon can “roll” a miss and the enemy can move into the projectiles path.

 

Damage

After a projectile actually hits a target comes stage two of combat where the armor type of the unit being hit and the damage type being applied are used to look up a damage modification.  The final damage is calculated by multiplying the base damage by this damage modifier. 

 

A simple example of this is a marine firing on a scorpion with his rifle which for this example we will say does 10 base damage, now then the scorpion is armor type “Heavy armor” and the rifle does damage type “small arms fire” so we cross reference small arms fire and heavy armor on the table and get 0.4 modifier.  The final damage will 4 damage done to the scorpion tank, calculated by taking the base damage (10) and multiplying Is by the modifier (0.4).

 

Wrap up

Overall the damage system is relatively straight forward with the main complexity coming from the number of armor and damage types but where feasible like type weapons share like type damage types.  The machine gun on a scorpion does the same damage type as on the warthog for example.  Also most game units have a fairly straight forward armor type except for a few special cases I will not be covering (but they are not important for this article).

 

Timotron


Some base Armor types in Halo wars

·         Light infantry:                    Marines, Grunts, Jackals, brutes, Elites

·         Heavy Infantry:                 Flamethrowers, Hunters, Cyclops

·         Medium Armor:                     Warthogs, Ghosts, Choppers, Wolverines, Cobras

·         Heavy armor:                     Scorpions, Wraith, Elephants, Scarabs

·         Aircraft:                                Hornets,  Banshees, Vultures, Vampires

·         Building:                               Bases, Buildings, Turrets

 

Some example damage types

  •  
    • Plasma pistols and rifles
    • Plasma cannons on ghost, banshee and wraith
    • Heavy machine guns on warthog, scorpion and hornet
  • Heavy MG and plasma

  •  
    • Wolverine anti air missiles
    • Turret anti-air missiles
    • Vulture anti-air missiles
    • Vampire heavy needles
    • Turret anti-air needles
  • Anti air missiles/ needles

  •  
    • Marine grenade/ RPG special attacks
    • Grunt plasma grenade special attack
    • Warthog grenadier
    • Wolverine grenade mortar
  • Grenades

  •  
    • Rebel snipers
    • Jackal snipers
  • Sniper attacks

  •  
    • Flamethrower
    • Flame mortars
    • Covenant anti-infantry plasma mortar turret
  • Flames

Damage type/ armor type lookup table (real numbers from the Halo Wars database)

 

Light infantry

Heavy infantry

Medium Armor

Heavy Armor

Aircraft

Buildings

Heavy MG and plasma

160%

120%

120%

40%

180%

40%

Anti air missiles/ needles

120%

120%

100%

60%

300%

60%

Grenades

80%

60%

160%

120%

80%

160%

Sniper attacks

400%

300%

40%

20%

40%

20%

Flames

300%

200%

40%

20%

40%

40%

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16
Apr

Tim Deen talks about Halo Wars unit counters in detail

halowars

The official Halo Wars website has the second developers blog online and this time comes from Tim Deen who is the Lead Technical Designer on Halo Wars. Halo Wars players might recognise the resemblance between Tim Deen and Fort Deen, which is a 3v3 map on Halo Wars- a possible connections methinks!

The summary on the Halo Wars website reads as follows and you can click the link below to read the full blog entry.

“…a detailed look at the Halo Wars RPS reveals that it is a layered system of 3 RPS systems with a specific order of priority in application. Also each RPS system provides a different flavor to the game and serves to provide a specific combat flow purpose. Additionally the RPS relationships are split into the two separate buckets of “soft kill” and “hard kill”, “soft kill” relationships are where the units have a medium advantage in combat and “hard kill” is where units have a very strong advantage in combat. “

> Read the full blog.

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