HeavenGames

News Archive: July 2004

Patch 1.02

Well, Stainless Steel has released the second patch for Empires on its official site. It fixes a issue encountered in the multiplayer Gamespy lobbies, though no balance fixes. Here's the skinny on it:

"Version 1.2 - July 2004
Please Note: This upgrade is for the 1.01 Upgrade version only. Please do not attempt to apply this patch to any other version of Empires.

Features
Stainless Steel Studios has fixed an issue involving redundant server queries. This should improve performance in the GameSpy Lobby."

Forum Party Tomorrow! July 31

Summer is coming to an end with only a few weeks left until Back to School. Not everyone can make the Saturday morning parties anymore, so we've decided to bring back the night parties. Park and Adder will be hosting the night parties, which will start around 7PM EST unless otherwise noted. The morning parties will be held at 11AM EST. Check the Forum Party Thread for any updates. Now you guys have a choice on which session to join, so hope to see you there!

Empires for 10 bucks?

Yeup, Eminent reports that Aeon forumer carlrock...reports that EBGames is selling Empires for a mere $9.99. If you haven't bought the game yet, now's just as good a time as any because it's probably not going to get any lower than this.

Scenario Design Library Submission

Talon Karrde has most certainly been busy lately. He's written another article, this one is on Cemeteries. Check it out, it's a good article with a couple of very cool screenshots. Here's an excerpt:
You want the atmosphere to be as spooky as possible. This means that its best for the cemetery visit to be at night (preferably the darkest possible). Mist is also nice, but remember that since mist migrates, youíd better make the cemetery visit early on in the scenario. Spooky sounds, such as some sort of haunting whispering or something, may also be good, depending on whether or not youíre making a fantasy scenario.
Remember, the Scenario Design Library is always looking for new articles, if you have an article you would like to submit you can email it to me and I'll format and upload it for you.

Your Dream Scenario/Campaign

I'm sure all scenario designers have had a dream scenario or campaign that they've always wanted to do but never got the chance to for whatever reason. Eminent wants to know what yours was and tells his to start things off:

"Al Ghouti is a campaign based on the trilogy of historical novels tracking the life of Arn Magnusson, born in 1150 to an aristocratic Swedish family. You follow Arn from boyhood to his participation in the crusades. It gives a truly unique insight into the historical realities of the day, from papal influence to pagan kings, the rise of Islam and militant Christianity and their crossroads in the battles for control of Jerusalem. The fictional characters are well developed, the historical detail legion and the intrigue spun like the finest tapestry of the time round plots and subplots with a firm thread holding it all together, making the books pure pleasure to read and a ideal foundation for an epic and engrossing campaign."
What is your dream scenario? Talk about it in the thread!

Huge Authentic Map of Stalingrad

For whatever reasons (ranging from personal interest to scenario designing), many Empires fans would probably find a real map of Stalingrad pretty cool. Well, UNKNOWN SNIPA has found one created by Soviet generals in 1941, and it's gigantic (1401x1511 pixels). Check it out!

Poll Roundup

Last week's poll - If you got the offer, would you work at SSSI? - had the expected results with "In a heartbeat" getting the most votes, though 20% still say that they wouldn't take the job. Here's the poll results:

[43%] In a heartbeat
[19%] Sure
[18%] Dunno
[20%] Nah

Total: 141 votes
HG's preview of Battle for Middle Earth reveals a lot of information on the game, at least enough to make an informed idea of how it will turn out. What do you think of Battle for Middle Earth? Answer in our poll!

Mechanics of the Boom

Cherub DoJo_AntiAmi has written a great article on booming. Booming is an integral part of becoming a better player. Knowing when to do it and how to do it can determine the outcome of a game. Be sure to read the Mechanics of the Boom article written by DoJo_AntiAmi.
"Booming is the exact opposite, itís when you focus on your economic build up for the first portion of the game, often forgoing military supremacy until the very end when you can amass tons of units and destroy your enemy. And thatís what I will talk about in this article."

Imperial Review

Wow. The week of the 18th has very easily been one of the busiest weeks of news for Empires in months. Most of the news has come from the scenario design community, which is as active as ever; two articles by Talon Karrde were added to the Scenario Design Library: How to make a Middle Eastern town and How to make tropical swamps. Both of them are high-quality and worth checking out if you yourself are in the design realm of Empires.

In addition to Mr. Karrde's work in the scen design community, Park has started to gather questions for the most complete FAQ for designing in Empires. So far there are a number of good questions, but if you have one that you'd like to add, please do so!

What's coming next week? No clue, hopefully even more news from the community!

That's it for this week, see you 'round the empire!

Forum Party Tomorrow! July 24

The night parties may be brought back next week, depending on what you guys think. So be sure to tell us if you would like to have a night party, which would likely be held around 7PM EST or whatever time fits best. However, don't forget about our morning parties which will be held tomorrow at 11AM EST in the Tournament Room. So check out the Forum party Thread for every detail. Hope to see you there!

Scenario Design Article

Another new article by Talon Karrde has been uploaded to the Scenario Design Library. The article talks about how to make a swamps that I think have a Morrowind quality about them. Here's an excerpt:
Tropical swamps take some extra effort to create if you want them to seem as genuine as possible. Personally, I have found that there are pretty much only three terrains to blend together for the actual terrain of the swamp: sand wet, grass undergrowth, and water deep. Personally, I think about half should be sand wet, and the rest about evenly split between grass undergrowth and water deep. Elevation should also stay between -2 and 3 or 4. Finally, a tropical swamp will need a lot of GAIA objects such as ferns and bushes, and youíll have to be very creative if you donít want the player to feel like heís just walking through the same area of swamp over and over again when heís actually not.
Check it out here!

The Scenario Design Library is always looking for new articles, if you have an article you would like to submit you can email it to me.

Declining PC Sales not due to Piracy?

Park has run across a very thought-provoking article on JoeUser.com concerning the quality of PC games, declining sales, and piracy. The article was written by a computer game developer, but he seems to be on the side of the gamer rather than the publishing company. Among other reasons, he blames unpaid royalties to developers as a primary reason why many PC games are released unfinished and below the quality that console games are; definitely interesting to read.

"We don't do this because we're nice. We do it because it is good business. If the competing technology (consoles) can't be updated with new stuff after release, then you should exploit that advantage. And that means add new features, not use the Internet to supply updates that finish the game!

I'm not against copy protection schemes on the PC because I'm some sort of flower child developer. I'm against them because they're bad business. They discourage people from buying PC games in the first place. Once you make someone have to hunt down a CD crack, you've set them on the path of pirating the whole game and future games."

Origins of Scenario Designers

Many of the scenario designers in the Empire community have come from the designing of other various games in the past (probably the Age of Empires series in particular), so RTEHistDesignll has asked what their first scenarios were and what came as a result of their early designing. Quite a few veteran designers have given mini-biographies of their time here in the design community; they're pretty interesting, check 'em out!

"Just wondering especially for all the veteran scenario designers out there, what was the first game you created in any RTS editor? And how has that game influenced you to continue designing? Was it positive feedback or just someone flaming your design that motivated you to continue? I think hearing your experiences will possibly motivate other future scenario designers to so call carry the torch when you guys retire :)"

New Scenario Design Article

A new article by Talon Karrde has been uploaded to the Scenario Design Library. The article talks about how to make a middle eastern town. Check it out here! Here's an excerpt:
This article will detail how to create a fine looking Middle Eastern style town, which is a challenge because you only have four buildings with which to work with (the minaret can hardly count as a building in itself). The two most important things you need to know is that rotating is very, very important, and the graphic enlargement effect will be used a lot as well.
The Scenario Design Library is always looking for new articles, if you have an article you would like to submit you can email it to me.

Poll Roundup

As the results of What do you think of Empires' engine? indicate, people love the engine that Empires runs on. It's tough to disagree with that, considering the quality of the graphics and the low system requirements that the game has. It's an impressive programming feat, to say the least.

[48%] I love it!
[38%] It's alright
[9%] Indifferent
[5%] Don't like it

Total: 122 votes
While initially many of you would accept a job at SSSI without a second thought, I do wonder how many of you would be willing to leave your friends, family, and life where you live for what just might be one of the coolest jobs you can have (well, besides a Mime. Those guys have it made.) If you got the offer, would you work at SSSI? Answer in our poll!

Gathering Questions for The Complete Empires Design FAQ

Park has begun to gather questions for an extensive FAQ about scenario design with the Empires editor. This project should prove to be a very useful resource for future scenario designers in the Empires community, so you oughta see if you can contribute at least one or two questions to help us out!

"I've been thinking of ways to somehow improve the design community here and improve/accelerate the learning and help for new and old designers. As of right now, they are simply still thoughts in my head and a few emails across the net.

In complete honesty, doing these type of services are nearly pointless unless some feedback and help come back. It's like beta testing a scenario for hours and then the scenario never goes to public, and designer disappears. So I'm asking all designers and potential designers to help out here, and give me a good gauge for future services/ideas."

Imperial Review

Wow, this has got to be the busiest week of news in months. We had a couple SSSI folk post in the forums, first giving us a tiny sneak peek into what SSSI is working on now; their newest technology that is "OMG amazing." I can't wait. Later on in the week we learned that Stainless Steel might be hiring a couple people to work for them, so fans should be pretty happy from this news. Who knows, maybe you'll end up being the newest member of the Stainless Steel Studios team?

Our forums as a whole have been pretty active with some interesting threads, one of which details something that scenario designers can do to get help to test their custom scenarios on gamespy; you can learn about it by checking out the thread in Scenario Design Discussions. EH's forumer awards had its awards ceremony this week, recognizing the most notable and helpful members of the community. Congratulations to everyone that won!

What's coming next week? Couldn't say, I'll keep you up to date, though.

That's it for this week, see you 'round the empire!

Forum Party Tomorrow! July 17

Make sure you guys join our Forum Party tomorrow! Many people did not show for our last Forum Party, which ruined much of the fun. Hopefully more people will join us this week. If so, we will surely have a great time. It will be held in it's usual place at 11AM EST in the Tournament Room. Be sure to check out the Forum Party Thread. See you there!

More Job Openings at SSSI?

According to my buddy Valdraz, there just might be a couple more job openings at SSSI for anyone that's interested in getting into the game industry with an experienced developer such as Stainless Steel:

"On the topic of jobs rumor has it that a couple more are going up soon. Check the website for updates."
I guess we'll just have to keep our eyes peeled for that news, I wonder what jobs they'll be.

EH Forumer Awards

The EH forums have been pretty busy this week with its forumer awards; the community's way or recognizing the most notable members in a fun event. Adder wrote up the awards ceremony presentation in our community forum in a humorous dialogue; here's a bit of it:

"Adder walks onto the stage and stares out into the crowd that fills... the first row? Adder thinks he must have drunk too much in "preparation" for his presentation but quickly realizes that he's underage didn't actually drink anything.

Adder: Hola, mis amigos!
AzN : English is the official language of our forums because it is the common language between our moderators and users. Because we can not moderate conversations in a foreign language, you may not hold a conversation in the forums in language other than English.
Adder: Bah. Hello, my friends!
Crowd: Hello!
Adder: I can't hear you!
Crowd: HELLO!
Adder: I still can't hear you, seriously, I'm not kidding."
Congratulations to all of the winners!

Testing Custom Scenarios on Gamespy

Oftentimes scenario designers can have a bit of trouble in getting their projects tested by people with different systems. To solve that problem, there is a thread in Scenario Design Discussions where anyone can post information about the scenario needed testing and the aspect that needs to be tested at the specified time on Gamespy.

Pretty cool thing for designers, you're free to use it!

The little things...

Oftentimes it's the tiny nuances of a game's art that really make it look completely polished and top quality, and Empires seems to have quite a bit of those; Park has started a thread to list off all of your favorite aspects of Empires that you wouldn't normally notice without a close look. Here's his:

"Was in the middle of trying to craft the perfect WWII paratrooper cinematic when I was thinking, "It would be cool if the C-47's door actually opened, and you saw men jumping out of it." Suprise suprise, the C-47's back transport door does actually open when the paratroopers drop out. That'll make it look even better :)"

A tiny bit of insight into what SSSI's working on

SSSI programmer Major Glory posted in one of our active threads in the forums concerning the engine Empires uses. In his post, he commented on their "newest technology" that they're working on:

"Right on! Empires was built on our EE engine, which is 100% our own technology. Our newest technology (not available to the public eye) is OMG amazing, and I can't wait until you guys get your hands on it!"
Sounds intriguing, I do wonder what it is though...an engine or some other tool for game development? I guess we'll have to wait and see.

Poll Roundup

While all of the civilizations in Empires have a rich and diverse history (a big reason why they were picked in the first place), according to Which civilization's history intrigues you the most? more people find Germany's history more interesting than the others. Understandable with their huge involvement in both World Wars and other major conflicts in the past.

[12%] China
[18%] England / United Kingdom
[8%] France
[29%] Germany
[5%] Korea
[15%] Russia
[13%] United States

Total: 235 votes
With Empires being one of the first second-generation 3D games, it has a pretty developed and polished engine. What do you think of it? Answer in our poll!

Scenario Design Article

An article by Philip Dunscombe has been uploaded to the Scenario Design Library. The article talks about how plot. Here's an excerpt from the article that details an underlying plot type; blackmail:
A very common theme in any plot, maybe a not so nice character has found some information in the players past or tricked them into something. The enemy uses this information to force the player to take actions they would normally not do. The player must end the blackmail make sure the enemy gets whatís coming to him and keep him non the wiser well doing so. Maybe the enemy is blackmailing more then one person and can become perspective allies of the player.

Go and check the article out here!

The Scenario Design Library is always looking for new articles, if you have an article you would like to submit you can email it to me.

Armies of eXigo Preview

As you know, last week Electronic Arts held an Armies of eXigo University; an event to help publicize (and get some feedback about) their latest operation: a fantasy-based RTS game that they're creating with the Hungarian developer Black Hole Studios. Many of the top RTS sites were invited to event including yours truly, and we learned a heck of a lot about the game, getting hours of hands-on time with it to really learn the ins and outs of it. Now that I'm back from sunny San Francisco, I've got a preview (4 pages, as always) of the game, several screenshots, and a number of photos on the event. Enjoy!

"Since the dissolving of Westwood Studios a couple years back, countless Real Time Strategy developers have been scrambling to join Blizzard and Ensemble Studios in the triumvirate of legendary-quality Real Time Strategy developers. Some have said that the little-known Hungarian based Black Hole Studios has a clear shot at that goal with their recently announced Armies of eXigo, a fantasy-based game created entirely for the hardcore, old school RTS gamer. Now this hardcore, old school gamer wouldn't make such an assumption that it would be the next C&C at this point, though the game does look promising."

Transparent Collaborative Desktop Developed

You know those futuristic shows with the transparent computer screens and the ability to interact with other people via that computer screen? Well, that technology is finally here in a reasonably cheap manner; researchers at the University of North Carolina have created just that, it should prove to be very useful for businesses that need their employees to collaborate on a project. Here's part of the news article from Wired.com:

"Now researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have designed a new system that cleverly blends a video-conference feed with a transparent image of a computer desktop into one full-screen window.

Called Facetop, the system simultaneously transmits a video feed of users along with a shared, transparent image of the desktop. It allows two colleagues to work on the same document, Web page or graphic, while communicating face to face."

Forum Party Tomorrow! July 10

Make sure you guys join in on this week's Forum Party. Every week we have a few great game that are surely memorable. Tomorrow's Forum Party should be no different. I should be able to host pretty long, as I don't have to work until much later. So if you are interested, be sure to come at 11AM EST to the Tournament Room. For more details, see the Forum Party Thread. Hope to see you guys there!

New Scenario Design Article

A new article by myself has been uploaded to the Scenario Design Library. The article talks about how to use the right size maps when making scenarios. Check it out here! Here's an excerpt:
Using the right map size in your scenario is a very important thing. If it's too large it'll probably lag your system while you're designing and other people's systems while they're playing. If it's too small you'll realize, when you're about halfway done that the map is too small and that you have to redesign the whole thing.
The Scenario Design Library is always looking for new articles, if you have an article you would like to submit you can email it to me.

Away for a Press Event

Hey all, just thought I'd notify you that I'll be away the next couple days as I'll be in California for another press event, this time in San Francisco and this time covering a game called Armies of Exigo; you can get the gist of the game from the official Electronic Arts site, though I'll be giving you guys some more comprehensive coverage of the game when I get back. See you guys then!

Poll Roundup

Though most of the votes in How would you rate Empires' graphics? (scale of 1-10) were in the higher numbers, the most votes went just above the middle; the majority think that the graphics in Empires are good. Here are the results of the poll:

[18%] 11 out of 10, mind blowing!
[36%] 9-10 out of 10, superb!
[37%] 7-8 out of 10, good...
[3%] 5-6 out of 10, not so good
[6%] Less than 5 out of 10, need much work!

Total: 174 votes
With Empires having 7 of the most important civilizations in the past thousand years, surely you must be interested in one of them. Which civilization's history intrigues you the most? England? Russia? US? Answer in our poll!

Imperial Review

Last week was a slow week for news, most things going on in the community seem to be the interesting threads that pop up in our forums occasionally. Our community forum's popular word associations thread has finally approached 1,500 posts, making it the biggest thread in EH's forums. SirWatsonII had a thread in our strategy discussions forum about the basic strategies you use with the civilizations in Empires, it started some interesting conversation.

What's coming next week? Couldn't say, though I'll keep posting what comes up.

That's it for this week, see you 'round the empire!

Battle for Middle Earth Preview

In the Battle for Middle Earth community day held a couple weeks back, a heck of a lot of information was given out about the game; what better use for that information is there than a good old-fashioned preview? I've got a nice, thick 4-pager with just about all of the information I was able to pick up during the event, in addition to 40 screenshots and 5 miscellaneous pieces from the game. Be sure to check it all out!

"In case you've been living in a cave for the past several years (I guess a room lit only by the warm glow of a computer monitor could count as a cave), you should've noticed that Middle Earth mania has been sweeping across the country with a fervor last seen when Hanson released their hit song Mmm Bop. Now, it may be arguable whether or not three bleached-blond one-shot wonders are more satisfying than gigantic battles involving magic, elves, trolls, and pterodactyls mounted by zombies, but note that Hanson didn't have God-knows-how-many games released about them (Hanson: Sleepover Time Interactive Adventure notwithstanding; please buy it from our affiliate)..."

Forum Party Tomorrow! July 3

It is July Fourth weekend and I'm sure most of you are at home firing up the grill (at least I am). So between those fireworks celebrations, drop in to our Forum Party for a few great games. It will be held in the Tournament Room at 11AM EST. For more details, be sure to visit the Forum Party Thread. Hope to see you there! Have a great 4th of July!

Basic Strategies with Various Civilizations

Each civilization - with its own unique attributes - are built for different strategies and ways to fight a war. SirWatsonII has posted a thread about all of the major strategies with each civilization, asking if there are any others that exist as well as discussion about the ones listed so far. Take a look!

Are you interested in Rise and Fall: Civilizations at War?
Yes
A Little
Not Really
 

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Empires: Dawn of the Modern World is a game by Stainless Steel Studios and published by Activision.