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Posts tagged ‘Matt Pritchard’


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


Age of Empires 1 to get definitive edition re-release

Ah, now this is a blast from the past! Age of Empires 1, the very first Age of Empires game and first title shipped by Ensemble Studios is set to be re-released in HD (4K even) on PC later this year. This follows in similar HD re-releases of Age of Empires 2, Age of Mythology and Halo Wars. Essentially almost all of the Ensemble Studios catalog has recently been re-released. Certainly a testament to Ensemble’s outstanding legacy.

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Matt Pritchard in classic Gamasutra Age of Empires interview archive


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. 🙁