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Posts tagged ‘Age Community’

10
Sep

Are you a Vintage AgeCommer?

Have you been a member on Age Community before February 2009 when Robot Entertainment took over the reigns? Well if you were you can now get your very own “Vintage” badge on the Robot Entertainment forums. It looks pretty snazzy as below:

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8
Sep

Correction: Halo Reach has multiple forums

 

For those who have read my ranty post regarding the new AOEO forums I have received an email advising of an incorrect fact regarding the following text:

“It would be like Halo Reach detaching from Bungie.net and setting up shop somewhere else”

As it turns out Halo Reach has multiple community sites as follows:

That’s right, there are three official community hubs for that one game and its franchise. Personally, I feel having three official community sites for a franchise is a negative as it splits the community three ways unless people have three accounts for checking three separate forums. It is my opinion that one centralised community for a game series developed by the same (or similar) developer helps keeps the community together and increases the audience size.

Nonetheless readers should consider the above information when reading my previous blog post.

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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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24
Aug

Age of Empires Online Q&A with Aloysius!

Get your Age of Empires Online questions at the ready as Robot Entertainment Community Co-ordinator, Duncan Stanley is poised to answer your questions! A thread has been set up on AgeCommunity.com where you can find existing Q&A’s people have already asked and if your question hasn’t been covered – ask it! If you’re thinking about something there is a good chance other people might like to know the answer too, so don’t be shy join in at:

http://forum.agecommunity.com/forums/thread/895649.aspx

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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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20
Aug

Robot Entertainment not officially involved with Age of Empires Online community

 

Some disappointing news has been revealed today over on the Age Community forums. BatsyBatsy the Community Manager for Age of Empires Online has stated that Robot Entertainment’s community team will not be utilized for AOEO. There seem to be some legal issues having Robot Entertainment manage the community output directly which is a great shame. Those who may of thought Robot Entertainment were building new community websites for its new projects may well be disappointed to hear that future AOEO community content will not be derived from the studio.

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 of Microsoft Game Studios.

Additionally, not having Robot as the source of community content also relegates AgeCommunity.com into unknown territory. AgeCommunity.com was established by Ensemble Studios as the hub for all things Age of Empires and has been the website supporting both Age of Empires 3 and Age of Mythology. Despite Ensemble’s intentions as having this as the one stop shop Age of Empires website it will no longer serve as the official AOEO community website. Instead Microsoft will setup their own forums at www.ageofempiresonline.com and will be managed by a community team at Microsoft and not the team at Robot who many members will be accustomed to.

BatsyBatsy of Microsoft Game Studios (MGS) explains that there were legal issues although it is slightly confusing as to what those issues may be. At first thought it would appear that because Robot Entertainment is a third party developer for MGS, Microsoft is required to protect the continuity of the Age of Empires community and by having community operations in house they can ensure the website is managed in a way they feel fit and are not dependent on a third party company for maintaining a community for the highly regarded Age of Empires IP. If Age of Empires Online was developed by Ensemble Studios as an internal MGS studio, the Ensemble team would of been able to continue the AgeCommunity.com legacy as they would be apart of Microsoft and thus automatically fulfilling Microsoft’s communtiy goals.

There are slight mixed messages with the above theory. Robot Entertainment was contracted as a third party developer to support the HaloWars.com community and the community for Age of Empires 3. If Microsoft cannot legally have third parties managing thier community games why was Robot responsible for both these IP’s? Why can they not continue with AOEO? Unfortunately these questions will probably go unanswered.

As a result of these ill-advised decisions at Microsoft Game Studios the Age of Empires Community faces fragmentation as both the “Age of Empires Community” and “Age of Empires Online” community run side by side. In the past Microsoft’s taking over of Ensemble communities has faced backlash from members owing to poor community management. (See the Halo Wars fiasco here and here). However, because the Age Online team at MGS is different to 343 Industries the ageofempiresonline.com website may well recieve better treatment and attention than Halo Wars.

Despite having no “official” involvement with the Age of Empires Community, Robot Entertainment continues to have its own independent discussion boards at RobotEntertainment.com. This will enable fans of the series to reach out to the developers at Robot Entertainment. 

Readers may have gathered from this post that I am very much in favour of developer run communities. Looking at internal MGS studios Lionhead and Rare, they both have thriving communities for their games managed by the studios directly. The community websites created at Ensemble Studios were always full of information and excellent management. It is a great shame Robot Entertainment will not be able to continue this legacy with AOEO on an official AOEO website. I am extremely disappointed that Microsoft is treating Robot Entertainment as what would appear to be a ”purely the developer of the title” stance.

Should any more information become available or statements received from either MGS or Robot I shall update this blog post.

Update: Robot Entertainment responds to this article

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1
Jul

AOE3 forums on Age Community gets renamed “Age of Empires Forums”

Eagle eyed visitors to the Age of Empires 3 forums on Age Community might have noticed the heading text has changed from “AOE3 Forums” to a more generic “Age of Empires” forums. Could this indicate that the forums will now be used to discuss more than one Age game and not just Age 3? One might deduce that this could indicate that a new Age game is on the horizon and the forum name change allows Robot to utilise the Age Community address (www.agecommunity.com) to support both Age3 and Age4(?).

Of course, this is all wild speculation but one must wonder why the forums have been renamed all of the sudden. .

Note: Only the heading text and page titles have changed –  graphics remain to be Age 3 related – so no getting too excited! – its been a slow news month so I thought I would post something to get peoples inquisitive minds thinking again :)

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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
Mar

Robot Entertainment confirm working on two projects

One of the recent blogs on the Robot Entertainment website by community manager Duncan Stanley talks about Robot Entertainment one year on from its conception. You may remember it was this time last year Robot Entertainment said “Hello world“. Although there has been no announcements exactly what projects Robot has been working on, we have known that there is at least one project based on new IP going by the initial company press release:

Robot Entertainment is working with Microsoft Game Studios to develop additional content for Halo Wars and support online gaming and community for both Age of Empires and Halo Wars. Additionally, Robot is developing its own original IP.

While there has been much speculation on various forums that Robot may have been working on more than one project it is only now we have a qoute from Robot confirming the existence of two projects.

After a year, I can say that it definitely is a great place to work.  We’ve worked hard on our two unannounced projects, had some really awesome parties, and only a couple of late nights.  Those late nights were offset by the completely out-of-character-for-Dallas snow days.  We’ve got another awesome year set in front of us and we can’t wait to show everyone what we’ve been working on.

We know one project is based on new IP, but what about the second? Could this be based of already existing IP such as Age of Empires or Age of Mythology or is it also another game based on new IP again?

With Robot Entertainment no longer supporting the operations of Halo Wars and 343 Industries confirming that no new installments of Halo Wars are currently planned for the near future, it would seem if any existing IP were to be worked on the Age series would make the most sense. With Microsoft as the publisher for at least one of Robot’s projects this could be a perfect fit.

But when will we know for sure? Hopefully not too long. The recent job openings for additional community managers and web development staff indicate a plan to launch a brand new community website for at least one project.

For now, its food for thought but you may want to check out the full blog from Duncan which talks about the first day at Robot Entertainment.

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28
Feb

343 Industries takes over Halo Wars Community support

 

As of March 1st 2010 343 Industries’ Halo Waypoint team will take over support of both Halo Wars and the Halo Wars Community at HaloWars.com. Community Manager Jon Goff from 343 has made his introductions in the general discussion.

Hey everyone,
 
As most of you know, Halo Wars and HaloWars.com are transitioning more closely into the Halo Waypoint family.
 
As of this weekend, Halo Waypoint will oversee both Halo Wars’ matchmaking and stat tracking servers, as well as HaloWars.com as we continue to bring the Halo universe together as never before.
 
Before I continue, the Waypoint team would like to thank the amazing group at Robot Entertainment, who have spent the past year working closely with the Halo Wars community, helping to build a vibrant, dedicated fan base, and we look forward to supporting the Halo Wars community as the Halo universe continues to expand and evolve.

Jon then continues to expand on some of the most frequently asked community questions – whether or not there will be a Halo Wars sequel of even any additional DLC. The response is as expected – no.

Will there be a Halo Wars 2?

There is currently no information to share about the possibly of future Halo Wars games. We understand the desire from the Halo Wars community for another installment of Halo Wars, but for now the focus in regard to Halo game titles is squarely on supporting Bungie as they prepare to launch Halo: Reach this Fall.

Will there be more Halo Wars DLC?

Likewise, there is currently no new information on additional Halo Wars DLC. 

The transition from Robot Entertainment to Halo Waypoint indicates Microsoft’s reduced commitment to the title for the near future as Halo Wars loses its developer. It is currently unclear whether some small bugs outstanding from the last title update will be resolved. Two of these include the issue that units can use the Y-Ability across the entire map and secondly there are missing cut scenes in the Halo Wars game menu. Robot Entertainment has advised that these issues are now the responsibility of Halo Waypoint.

Whats next for Robot Entertainment?

Losing Robot Entertainment in the Halo Wars community is a sad thing. No one is better placed to support the game and its community than the games developer and Robot had the majority of people from Ensemble Studios working on the titles support. However, this is not the end of Robot’s community presence on other games. Robot will continue to provide support for both Age of Empires and the Age of Empires Community. Also expect Robot to be hard at work on a brand new community for thier upcoming video game project. Robot are expanding thier community team to no doubt make the future community as, or even more vibrant and exciting than ever before. Stay tuned.

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