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July 16, 2011


Age & Orcs Must Die updates and some information about Zynga acquisitions

Ok, so its been a while since the last update! Apologies for that! So what’s been happening lately? First off, the beta testing for Age of Empires Online has come to end. Microsoft and Gas Powered are now wrapping up the game with final touches before launching this August 16th. It wont be long now until eager Age fans get to play the next great game in the Age series which has sold over 20 million copies under Ensemble Studios. Luckily the bulk of the work on Age of Empires Online has come from prestigious ex Ensemblers at Robot Entertainment.

While Microsoft is busy getting things ready for launch, Rogan Knight is also busy stopping by as many community people as possible before finally arriving at Robot Entertainment HQ. Fans may remember back in February of this year, avid forum-goer RadioKenny came up with the fantastic idea of sending a figurine of a knight to various Age fans around the world before ending up at Robot Entertainment when the game launches. Originally, notes were included for the developers to read but unfortunately some of these have been lost. A map has been made available detailing Rogan‘s destinations around the road so far. These include Hurst Castle in the UK with Remember ES along with Spain, Italy, The Netherlands and some states in the US. Check out the map of the Journey of Rogan Knight here:

In other exciting news for the Age of Empires Community, many will remember the iconic MrMilo. The legendary community member was once part of Ensemble Studios where he posted numerous guides for players of all skill levels to improve their strategy skills. The highly competitive MrMilo also took part in numerous community games. MrMilo exited Ensemble a few months before the studios official closure. As of today, Microsoft Studios have announced that MrMilo will be returning to the Age Community to work on the balance team at Age of Empires Online. The return was announced by Ryz0n on the official Age Community website:

Age of Empires 3 has seen several different administrations over the years and those with a blue name are rarely forgotten.  MrMilo is one of the original moderators for AOE3, and quickly became a household name within the AOE community.  To this day I hear stories about his guides within the community, how he’s helped others, and vignettes from people who have played with or against him.  For Age of Empires Online, I am pleased to announce that MrMilo is joining us to work on the balance team here at MGS! Our balance team works both internally, as well as with Gas Powered Games, to make certain civs are designed fairly, and to tweak units to ensure exciting battles between players.  We’re thrilled to have him on board to help make Age of Empires Online an amazing game!

I am sure many members wills be thrilled with his return. Apparently, MrMilo has already been pitched against ZutaZuta in a game of Age of Empires, although it is not known which of these pro players came out on top! Join the the discussion on AgeComm

Aside from Age of Empires there has been a whole hive of activity going on with Orcs Must Die with the announcement of further genius and menacing Orc traps! First up we have the “Steam Trap”. This is something that can be placed on the floor and used to shoot Orcs upwards into the air. Orcs take damage from the fall back down to the ground, but flying Orcs does bring extra Orc busting ideas – project an Orc into the air and they are in prime position to be dealt with by the War Mage’s crossbow.

Another trap that has been announced is the “Pounder” and much like it sounds involves alot of pain for the Orcs. These traps can be placed on ceilings and walls where they will cause some serious damage to an Orcs head! Headaches galore, no doubt. Devious readers may have discovered that both the Steam Trap and the Pounder could be used together, how about pushing Orcs up into the air and then pounding them across the map? Sounds good doesn’t it – the bots at Robot have the idea check out the below video at 23 seconds in and you’ll see the combined Steam and Pounder devastation!

Finally, a quick word about Zynga – the huge social gaming company which has acquired both Bonfire Studios and NewToy. Zynga has recently been offering stock as the company is growing greatly in size and profits. Understandably so with the huge boom in social gaming and the acquisition of some excellent talent, including iconic Ensembler Bruce Shelley. In the news article it is also discussed how successful the NewToy take over has been.

The biggest acquisition, Newtoy, had itself formed back in 2008, with its two founding brothers Paul and David Bettner having quietly released a casual iPhone title – Chess With Friends – under the group’s name.

Zynga said in financial documents that its mobile audience has soared since November 2010 acquisition of Newtoy. Under Zynga, Newtoy was able to double the daily active users for Words With Friends in the first four months after the acquisition.

Its great to hear how NewToy has helped Zynga greatly improve their mobile market presence. The extra investment Zynga has been able to give to the NewToy team has doubled the active users for Words with Friends which is fantastic news for the studio. Congratulations are in order for the NewToy, or rather, Zynga with Friends team!

Check out the full article on Develop:

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