HeavenGames

News Archive: August 2003

Imperial Review

Probably the biggest news this week was on the demo for Empires, as we learned that they demo may come out in around a month. However, beyond the release date, we really have no idea on any other details concerning it…it could possibly be like a closed beta or just a typical demo to the public, I guess we’ll have to wait and see. On a slightly different subject, the cover art for the Empires’ strategy guide was released, which could also be the box art for Empires itself. It looks really good, I think it’d be a good choice if it was the box art. The ESRB rating for Empires was released as well, and the game will be rated “Teen”. Good news for those that would have some trouble purchasing the game if it was rated higher.

There were several previews this week as well, the first one being from the latest issue of the British gaming magazine PC Zone, with some new information and a lot of compliments on the game. oPPonent made his own preview of Empires, based off of the information he got when he went to the ESGL League in Lepzig, Germany. Speaking of the league, you can check out the official site for loads of information on the exciting event that left WW_Insane as the champion. Wirtualna Polska – a Polish gaming website – wrote up a preview, you can translate it using Poltran. Though it wasn’t exactly a preview, GameSpy released a Developer Diary on Rick Goodman, which had a lot of new information; fairly representative of all of the Dev Diaries from GameSpy. And finally, Gamers.com previewed the game as well, though the article was fairly short.

What’s coming next week? Possibly some more news on the demo, but you never know. We’ll see, I’ll keep you update in any case.

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

More Demo News?

There has been a lot of talk of a possible demo in the forum like PC Zone releasing a demo next month, and Rick telling us fans will be able to buy their own copy at retail stores for only a few dollars. Swim from EE France forwarded over an email he had with David Boghan adding more fuel to the fire:
"Activision has a team of beta testers called the “Visioneers.” They are conducting a closed beta and unfortunately they are all full up. However, I have heard that the demo should be out there in a month or so."
I wouldn't get your hopes up too far. Who knows this demo could possibly be a closed beta or perhaps truly a demo for the public. The suspense kills us all. Going way off topic, but SSS also released some unit descriptions and pictures so I can update the Russian unit pictures taken from screenshots.

citixen on Zoom

citixen made a quick stop over at Empires Aeon. The thread he replied to related to zooming in Empires: Dawn of the Modern World. In one of the posts, oPPonent posted how to reset your zoom:
"double click both Mousebuttons and you will be out again"
citixen was quite surprised by this statement, as it seems this information was not disclosed to the ESGL players. Here's what citixen had to say:
"oPPonent - I'm psyched you figured that one out! It can be kind of tricky to pull off so you can hit the home key on the keyboard as well to return to default max zoom out. Also of course you can use the scroll wheel or the keyboard keys ("]" and "[" I think) to zoom in and out too. In Empires we have added a few new "zoom modes" and default view angles that the player can choose between to customize how the camera behaves when zooming. I know some of our multiplay testers prefer a more overhead type of view and like to use that mode."
Finally, we've got a email from Dave Boghdan about the Beta and the Demo:
"The beta works as followed: Activision has a team of 2 or 3 hundred testers that they call "Visioneers." Unfortunately, it is a closed beta. The good news is that the demo should be right around the corner. My hope is that you will be able to demo it within a month."
That would put the demo some time late September (what a birthday present, for me!) or early October. As the demo draws near, you can expect some major updates from the major networks such as GameSpot and IGN. You can also expect updates on this very site. You can be sure we'll update you on any news related to the Demo!

Gamers.com Previews Empires

Gamers.com wrote up a fairly short but complimentary preview on Empires, giving the very basic idea of the game and what they thought of it. It's an ok short article, here's an excerpt:

"This ambitious game traces the rise and fall of many of Earth's great civilizations in five different ages, including the medieval era, the Renaissance, World War I, and World War II. It features between five and 10 playable civs, including the British, Chinese, Germans, and Koreans. Instead of similar units with different skins and a few stat modifications, each side is unique and has distinctive units like the Korean war ox, which is basically a bovine explosive. (As anti-PETA as it may sound, the war ox is historically accurate.)"

Methos on Empires' Multiplayer Server

Methos - one of SSS' excellent game designers - has given us a bit of a "sneak peek" into the kinds of things we'll find in Empires' in-game multiplayer server. It has pretty much everything you'd ever want in a multiplayer server, and then some. Here's what he had to say about it:

The new multiplayer gaming service is leaps and bounds above what we had in Empire Earth. We have buddy lists, a built-in ranking system, an automatch system, and several other improvements. We also track lots of cool game statistics. A player's rating, record, total units killed, player speed, and pretty much everything imaginable. Players can see how they fare on certain maps or with certain civilizations. There is also a high score board that lists the top players in every category imaginable.

These are not future promises, but rather features that are already programmed and working.
Sounds absolutely awesome, I'd love to see it in action. My mouth is watering... ;)

New Developer Diary with Rick Goodman

GameSpy has a new Empires Diary with Goodman himself covering a solid 3 pages. Rick describes a number of the units and powers found in Empires from Gunpowder to World War II along with just how truly different each civilization is. Here's just one piece of the diary:
Like all submarines, the U-Boats are visible only to aircraft, but their special attack ability sets them apart. The limited, but powerful, "torpedo run" deals a massive (and usually fatal) strike that can take out the mightiest battleship...

Of course, the dangers of bailing out of a flaming aircraft are quite well-known. Try as they may, French crewmen don't always make it, occasionally plunging to their death instead. Seeing this happen to your crew is tragic, funny and realistic, all at the same time
There's no doubt that each civilization will have noticable advantages and disadvantages. I'm sure every player will find their right civilization that matches their style. Read the rest of the developer diary here.

Comments from the ESGL

The ESGL tournament was great on releasing information on Empires: Dawn of the Modern World. After the participants played, they posted some of their comments on ESGL.net's forums. These are great sources of new and amazing information on Empires. Angel Peter and Cherub Tanneur99 managed to help us translate some of the more interesting posts (we would have like to translate the whole forum! :P). You can read them all in our forums. Much of the information is related to the earlier ages. Information mentioned are the starting resources and some viable strategies for some of the civilizations. It's quite a good read.
"Insane and I applied the same strategy: he won while I lost all games – the individual playing capabilities make a huge difference. That’s the ideal breeding ground for hardcore gamers."

New Polish Preview

Thanks for the folks at Empires Aeon for this one. Wirtualna Polska - a Polish gaming site - wrote up a preview for Empires. If you'd like to read it, you'll probably have to use an online translator like Poltran (unless of course, you know Polish). The translator isn't even close to being guaranteed to give a perfect translation...but I think you should be able to get through the article decently. Here's a rough translated excerpt:

"But, this time that for we curious too Rick Goodman wypichci. At first it worked upon Age of Empires, then, < sweat > it has departed from firm and personal team has made - Stainless Steel Studios, it has made good with which (who) very ( though, that strange, there be not bestseller ) Empire Earth. There would be logical continuation next game, amuse (play) to structure of empire on area of century (age) in real time allowing < allow > and Empires they will be – surprise Dawn of the Modern World title - such exactly. "

Now Playing: Empires Box Art

Empires Box Art
Empires Aeon has recently spotted the box art for Empires: Dawn of the Modern World. As many have speculated, it is the same as the cover of the BradyGames strategy guide. You can view it at EBGames.com.

If you haven't noticed, the box does give Empires a "Teen" rating, so some of our forumers can breath a sigh of relief. However, this rating cannot be certain until Empires goes gold. It seems though, that Empires should keep it's T rating, says Viktery from Stainless Steel:
"ESRB gave us a Teen Rating, your correct Shag, unless this for SOME odd reason (stares at the exploding cows) changes."
Personally, I love the box art. It truly represents the scope of Empires, covering a thousand years, from 950 AD to World War II in 1945. The Empires: Dawn of the Modern World logo looks really good. I can't wait to see it all glossed up and printed on a box ;).

Leipzig ESGL Report

The ESGL or European Stategy Gamers League held an Empires: Dawn of the Modern World Tournament in Leipzig, Germany, from August 22nd to the 24th. The first two days were used for practice while the big competition was held on the 24th. The tournament was split into two groups. The groups were as follows:
Group One: ]I[Garth, pG_Lance, sCa^oPPonent and WW_Tazz
Group Two: SiA_Hilbi, WW_Insane, a-L.MSI|plah and TU_Asgardus.
At ESGL.net you can find tons of information about the tournament. You can view mugshots of the participants, the rankings before the Semi-Finals and what happened in the final rounds. You can also find some new pictures that oPPonent never showed in ESGL's gallery. In the end, WW_InSAnE took the competition by defeating pG_Lance in the Finals.
1. WW_InSAnE
2. pG_Lance
3. SiA_Hilbi
4. ]I[Garth
5-7. sCa^oPPonent, WW_Tazz, a-L.MSI|plah (tied)
8. TU_Asgardus
Considering pG_Lance comes from an "Age of" background, it's quite amazing he got 2nd place. Congratulations to the WW_InSANe on winning and best of luck to all the other competitors in future tournaments! More about this major tournament comming soon!

Poll Roundup

Last week's question of What are your favorite MP game types? had an overwhelming majority vote for team games in which each side is made up of 2 or more players. I really enjoy that kind of multiplayer game also; half the fun of multiplayer is really interacting with other gamers.

[7%] Standard head-to-head (1 on 1) where each side is attempting to achieve individual victory
[65%] Team games in which each side is made up of 2 or more players
[17%] Human vs. computer where the humans and computer are on separate teams
[11%] Regicide where players need to protect a hero or leader from being killed

Total: 151 votes
This week's question is What Multi-Player features are most important? An in-game matchmaking server, random maps, lots of game options, which are the most important? Answer in our poll!

Demo in October? Ruins?

It was recently reported by our UK friend, Cherub SNR that PC Zone magazine promised the Empires: Dawn of the Modern World demo for their November 2003 issue. Since magazines are always a month ahead, late September or early October is when we can expect this magazine to be distributed. So does this mean we can expect the demo as early as September? You can find his thread in our forums.

Finally, Tim "Hank" Scott stopped by our forums and enlightened us about how buildings will have "gradual destruction". It's much the same as units and their torn clothing. Quite interesting:
"There is a good selection of ruined buildings. Also, keep in mind that every building has gradual destruction. This means, say in a scenario, you could drop any building down and make it have low to little hitpoints and it will look run down and affected by combat. Burn marks, bullet holes, etc will show up on buildings."
Visually stunning is all I can say! Never has this much detail been put into a Real-Time Strategy before! Thanks Hank for that great piece of info!

oPPonent's Preview - Part 1

As promised, oPPonent finished part one of his Empires: Dawn of the Modern World review. It's information loaded and a very good read. It mentions many parts of the game that you will not see covered in any other preview. Here's an excerpt:
"There is actually no game that seconds the effectiveness of the Armory in Empires. For example, in the Middle Ages you are able to research an attack and a speed upgrade as the Franks. After the upgrade has been researched, you can click on an icon representing that upgrade and drop it onto one of your units. Then that unit type (if you drop it on swordsman it and all present swordsmen will have that bonus). To make it more balanced, only one type of unit can be upgraded at a time. In addition to that, the enemy will be able to see what upgrades an enemy unit type has by clicking on the unit, and then a special symbol will appear in the lower left hand corner of the screen. After advancing an age you are able to research the upgrade again, but together with some new ones. The Armory is also used to build some of the better units in the Barracks and other production buildings. For example, if you are in the Middle Ages and if you are playing the Franks, you will receive the ability to build Berserks (Axe Throwers, Elite Infantry) and the Franks Crusader cavalry."
As you can see, it is quite detailed. Other bits of information mentioned are the starting resources for the Franks and the costs of citizens for the Chinese. You can read the full article at Empires Aeon. Empires sounds delicious. Can't wait to get my starved hands it :)

Back from Leipzig: oPPonent

oPPonent has recently returned from the tournament held this weekend (ending today) by the ESGL League in Leipzig, Germany. He brought back many new screenshots of the German version of Empires: Dawn of the Modern World, most of which were simply amazing. The screenshots include: the Menu, the Multiplayer Room, the Map Selection, End-Game Status Screen, all German units, a Volcano, the Fog of War (amazing) and every Frank unit. Also, this is the first time we get a close-up look at the user interface.

He is German, so his English is not perfect but understandable. He gave a quick synopsis of the event. He also promised he would write a full review tomorrow. You can view all of the screenshots in the thread at Empires Aeon. You can view a translation of the map names in our forums. Seriously, oPPonent is the luckiest person in the world right now :P. Now, when is that tournament going to come to, say... Florida? ;)

Wallpapers @ Element

Empires Element has recently announced that they are holding a wallpaper competition. The prize will include the English and German civilization cards (e.g. English civilization card) and a poster signed by Rick Goodman. Entries have to be submitted by September 15th and will be voted on by visitors. See Empires Element for more details.

Also, citixen from Stainless Steel Studios made a quick post at Empires NetCenter in relation to the Scenario Editor:
"Good news. There are now effects for changing not only the music song or turning it on/off but also for changing the action level of the music. So you can have it quiet down to background level or ramp it up with all the horns and drums going for a full action scene."
It seems that Empires: Dawn of the Modern World is getting better day by day! Can't wait to hear how the game will sound ;).

Shots of PC Zone Empires Preview

Cherub SNR over at Cossacks Heaven recently picked up a copy of the UK gaming magazine PC Zone, which happened to have a 5-page preview for Empires. Well, he was cool enough to send over pictures(scanner wasn't working) of each page of the preview. It's a really good read, talking about the extreme historical accuracy of the game (which I'll bet a lot of the fans are going to absolutely love), the smooth and easy interface, and just how great the game is in general. Plus, the article has its pretty funny moments too; I'd check it out if I were you!

   
 

Imperial Review

This week – just like last – had a whole bucketload of SSS posts in our forum; pretty much all of them informative and interesting to read. To start off the week, Messiah came through with another round of posting; the first of which being about bunkers and their weakness to flamethrowers. The second thread of Messiah’s was on tributing, and how it works in Empires. And finally, he posted over at Empires Aeon describing houses in the game. The second developer in our forums was none other than Rick Goodman himself, and he made a total of 7; his first being about the Russian airforce. Number two was more information on Empires advertising, the third one was on bridges in Empires, and the fourth was one planes in general. Graphics for ships was the subject of his next post, and how much Rick loved Empires was the subject of his sixth. And finally (whew! ;-) ), Rick summarized the Voice of America ability that the United States gets. Valdraz posted in our forums with more information on ship graphics, as well as friendly fire in the game. Hank commented on how dynamic playing Empires is, how it isn’t ever the same game twice. And the last developer post of the week was by Shag, who posted about how French units heal when idle and also talked a bit of the British Medic.

The cover art to Empires: Dawn of the Modern World Official Strategy Guide was recently released this past week, and it could possibly be the box cover for the game as well. If so, that’s great; I really like the art. While on the subject of the product, EBGames is offering free shipping with a preorder of Empires. Pretty good deal, it’ll probably save you around 6 bucks; not exactly pocket change.

What’s coming next week? I’ll bet more information released on the game, plus anything else that comes up. I’ll keep you posted.

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

More Shag to go around!

It seems that Shag from Stainless Steel made his way around much of the Empires: Dawn of the World community. At Empires Element, he talked a bit about the difficulty levels in Empires:
"The 10 difficulty levels do have names. They used to have intuitive yet rather boring names like Easy 1, Medium 3, etc. But Rick wanted to spice it up a little, so we worked out some new names. The lowest setting for the AI became Jester and the hardest was Emperor, with other names like General, Noble, etc. in between. The problem was, then no one could tell what settings were more difficult just by looking at the name! We'd hear things like, "Is Commander harder or easier than General?" So we added numbers in front of every setting so there would be a quantifiable way to compare difficulty levels. So now the easiest setting is (1) Jester, the next is (2) Footman and so on. We have the best of both worlds!

The difficulty levels have been tweaked and re-tweaked to make sure there's a difference between each level and the next. So every player can find that sweet spot where the AI provides a fun, but not overwhelming, challenge. And as you play more, it's fun to move up in the rankings, so to speak. Currently, I usually play 1vs1 games at the (5) General level and I win most games but lose some. It's great!"
Shag also stopped by Empires Aeon, posting about the terrain and game rating. It seems there is a bit of confusion and worry over the apparent M rating that Empires: Dawn of the Modern World has received at at EBGames.com. Here is what Shag said:
"My understanding - and I don't want to get people's hopes up in case I misheard this - is that Empires: Dawn of the Modern World will have a Teen rating. Again, take this with a grain of salt, but that was the word around our office this past week. Ultimately, as you know, it's not SSSI's decision to make."
In another thread which asked the existence of Snow, Shag confirmed grass and desert. However, he did not mention Snow:
"Empires: Dawn of the Modern World has 2 terrain sets: grass and desert. The Art Team did a tremendous job on them as well as the several hundred different units (total for both single and multiplayer), dozens of buildings, huge number of effects, outstanding UI, and lots of other stuff. The game really does look amazing.

EDMW also includes about a dozen different types of random maps, plus the ability to choose randomly from among them. Trust me, there's LOTS of variety!"
Finally, in more local news, we have updated the Screenshot Gallery once again. They are he screenshots from the 4Player preview that Stainless Steel has recently released for our site to use. Expect some more updates soon, especially new content. Thanks for the info Shag and Stainless Steel!

SSS_Shag on Healing Units

In a thread about units sleeping or resting, Shag commented on how the French units "rest" in that they heal and repair themselves while idle; something that would definitely come in handy during a lull in a game to basically have fresh troops from the healed ones. On that subject, he brought up the British medics; whose healing and revival abilities seem pretty cool. Plus the fact that reviving dead enemy soldiers brings them to your side...that's awesome :-D

While units in Empires: Dawn of the Modern World don't sleep, French units (that is, units of the Franks and France) do "rest." When idle, French units automatically heal themselves - in a sense, resting up and binding their wounds. And idle mechanical units repair themselves (or, as we like to say, their "crews" make the repairs). This is just one of the myriad ways the 7 civs in Empires: DMW differ from one another. All the civs can heal their units in one way or another and that's the French method. I don't want to give away too much, so I'll leave it at that...

Well, OK, one more thing just because I think it's so cool. Not sure if this info is already out, but the United Kingdom can train Medics, who not only heal nearby soldiers but can revive mortally wounded troops, too. A very useful unit to have! But the coolest part is that Medics can revive enemy soldiers, too - who then, in gratitude, join your side!

Free Shipping at EBGames

EBGames has a new promotion that allows you to get free shipping with any pre-order of Empires: Dawn of the Modern World. A pre-order allows you to guarantee yourself a copy of Empires with a small down payment, usually about 10 dollars or so. Once the game is ready, the down payment is subtracted from your total. As of now, Empires is advertised at $49.99. With a down payment of 10 dollars, you will only pay $39.99 once the game ships. You can find the promotion at EBGames.com. Thanks to Empires Aeon for this bit.
Enter coupon code EMPIRES in your cart to get free two-day shipping! Limited time offer. Continental U.S. only. One offer per customer. May not be combined with other offers.

Empires Box Art?

Empires Box Art?
Empires Aeon has recently discovered that EBGames has posted a thumbnail of the Empires: Dawn of the Modern World Official Strategy Guide cover. Could this also be the box art for Empires? If BradyGames sticks to tradition, this could very likely be the art on the front of Empires: Dawn of the Modern World! You can pre-order the strategy guide at EBGames.

More Stainless Steel Action

Early this morning, Stainless Steel made their rounds in our forums. They posted some answer to out most pressing issues. As a follow up to Rick Goodman's post, Stephen "Valdraz" Guberski further clarifies how realistic the models in Empires will be:
the dreadnought
"On modern ships there are so many details that we often have to make the hard decision of what to keep in/out. The most noticible details on Dreadnought from far away are
1)The huge forward mast
2)The two major smoke stacks

Another ship, the German Bismarck/Bismark has four HUGE guns on it, and a great camo pattern on the hull. We were sure to get those in there because they make such a difference in the profile of the ship.

In addition to the poly budget Rick mentioned, we have to try to make the units look different from each other so the players can tell them apart in a huge battle. These factors may also effect the artist's decision to keep/omit a certain part."
Valdraz also commented on friendly fire in Empires: Dawn of the Modern World:
"I actually requested that my teammate blow up the better part of my base as it was being overrun by massive enemy forces yesterday! They were going to take me out anyhow, so I figured why not take a few of them with me while they are all packed together so nicely."
Finally, Tim "Hank" Scott also stopped by to explain how different Empires will be each time you play it:
"Everyone also has to remember that each civ has their own special abilities too, so just because a US player has VoA doesn't automatically mean it will be unbalanced. You will have to see the myriad of special abilities and powers each civ has to truly see the dynamic aspect of warfare that will be in Empires.

Rick put it simply once..."Rollercoaster ride". The minute you may think victory is at hand, the tides can suddenly turn against you and vice versa. There is a whole new strategic aspect to Empires that goes beyond what units you make and even how well you micromanage them. It's really awesome!"

Rick Goodman Activity

Yesterday, Rick Goodman made several posts (a total of seven!) in our forums, enlightening us with various bits of new information. The first thread he posted in relates to the Russian airforce:
Royal Russian Airforce WWI
"In WW1, the Russian airforce can deploy the Anatra bi-wing fighter. In WW2, Russia can upgrade the fighter to the Yak-1.

Of course, this is nothing compared to the Chinese Gun Powder Age Airforce... But, I am sure you are all aware of this already, so I there is no need for me to cover this again."
In the next thread, Rick Goodman answers the question: How much input does Stainless Steel have about the advertisements? According to Rick, Stainless Steel has a lot of input on how Empires is being advertised. He states that their partnership with Activision is strong and even gives an example on how they choose the latest PCGamer ads. Here's what Rick had to say:
What do you think of the Ads?
"To answer your question, YES, we have a lot of input into the marketing plan, by month, by country. Activision is excellent about providing us input into every step of the process. We have a very solid partnership with them.

For example, we reviewed about 10 versions of the latest PC Gamer ad, before it was finally printed. We provided feedback on each and every version."
In his next thread, Rick Goodman answered the question: Will there be actual, sea traversable, bridges in Empires? Unfortunately, there will not be bridges that ships can cross, in Empires. However, there is light at the end of the tunnel. It seems that creating Bridges will be as simple as placing terrain:
something that always annoyed me
"Yes, I hear you. Real honest to goodness bridges are really cool. But, we opted to focus our resources on other equally cool features, this time around.

That being said, you will be conquering some pretty awesome looking bridges on June 6th 1944. Knowing that bridges are important to you, we put a lot of work into making these bridges look extremely realistic.

And, for those of you who want to create your own scenarios, you can use our bridge building tools to create bridges of any lengths & width to suit your scenario."
In post number four, Rick Goodman reveals how aircrafts in Empires will be controlled. He starts off by saying ejected French pilots can't swim if they land in water. After, he explains how hotkeys can be used to control planes, without having to look away from the battle! Here's what he said:
Do planes work like in EE?
"French Pilots can't swim, unfortunately.
Aircraft are controlled by use of the Idle aircraft Hotkeys. If you are familiar with the idle villager button, then you know how to use these:

Hotkeys
==========
F Fighter
B Bomber
P USA Paratroopers
N USA B-29

So, for example, say, your Sherman tanks are attacking a German town and you spot a Panzer tank ahead. Press B twice and right click on the Panzer. This selects the 2 nearest idle B-17s (either parked in the airport, or circling nearby) and orders them to attack the Panzer. The B-17s fly to the target and drop their payloads. And, because they are B-17s, they circle and drop a second payload before returning to base.

This works great because you never need to scroll away from the battle on your screen, nor do you need to lasso any fast moving aircraft.

And, when you need truly overwhelming firepower, press Shift-B. Every available B-17 in your entire airforce is instantly selected and awaiting your command..."
In the next thread, Rick Goodman explains a bit about the modeling of units in Empires. In Empires, units will be modeled for instant recognition. Here's what Rick said:
the dreadnought
"If a ship in EMPIRES looks different from here real life counterpart its because, we are working under tight constraints of our poly budget. Its the artists job to render as accurate a version of the vessel as possible. Even if its not possible to model every railing and AA gun, the most important element is that the completed ship will look nearly identical to her real life counterpart.
Instant recognition is the goal. Its true with all units in the game from the T-34 to the P-51."
In his sixth post, Rick Goodman explains why he loves Empires: Dawn of the Modern World. I couldn't summarize any better than he did, so here's what he said:
How? Just tell me how that's done..
"I love RoN. Keep in mind EMPIRES and RoN are different games. I am not going to compare the two side by side (I am sure many of you will do that when the time comes), but I will mention some of the things I love about EMPIRES:
-The unique civilizations

-You can spend a long time in each and every age, since each is bristling with units and strategies

-Non-RPS based combat. What does this mean? Even when both sides have identical forces, the player with the most skill is the victor in battle.

-Unique economies of each civilization. The economies of each Civilization differs substantially. This is important to me, personally, because I am a slower, Empire Builder style player.

-Technology Tree. All I can say is wow!

-Realistic, historical campaigns which cast you into 3 totally different exciting story-based adventures which unfold with over 90 minutes of in-game cinematics.

-Surprises. EMPIRES is full of surprises every time you play. The game is designed to give players thousands of combinations of special "Civ." abilities Special "Unit" abilities and secondary actions. Every game you play, your opponents use a new combination of tactics that you've never seen before. I am constantly amazed and thrilled by this. Even, when I lose, its always with a grin on my face, because, my opponents crafted a completely new strategy. Whether its based upon Britain's unique Battlefield Surgeon, or its Strategic Bombing ability, Frances Saboteur, or China's Stampeding Elephants + WarKites, every game unfolds with a new and unique set of fun and exciting surprises."
Finally, Rick Goodman helps summarize the Voice of America ability. You can use Voice of America on any unit, airplane or ship. Also, you can use it up to four times in World War II. Here is what was said:
New Civ Abilities Revealed
"What makes Voice of America so fun it that you can use it agiant any enemy unit type you wish. You can use Voice of America against enemy Infantry, Siege Weapons, Bombers, Submarines... you name it. The result is that a large number of those specific unit types will defect to your side.

YOU decide which enemy units will be the target of VoA. There are so many combinations of options for this one unique special US ability since you can deploy it against 6 different enemy civilizations its mind boggling. Make that 7, since you could play US vs. US in a skirmish game.

Combine this with the fact you can use Voice of America up to 4 times in WW2, and just think of the myriad of possibilities... Deploy VoA against massed Conscripts? Fully laden enemy naval transports, or Zeppelins? King Tigers, or devistating Katusha Rockets?"
In all, Rick Goodman revealed a great deal of new information and left us craving for more. We really appreciate Stainless Steel taking time and giving back to the community. We are now evermore excited about Empires: Dawn of the Modern World. Thanks SSSI!

Of worms, MSBlaster, and DirectX

If your computer is affected by the MSBlaster worm or its variants; or your computer hasn't been patched against the worm, we urge you to patch your computer as soon as possible. You can find out how on this page at Microsoft.

Also, it's highly advised you patch against another security hole that's asking for trouble: There's a problem with DirectX that allows a virus, trojan, or any malicious programs to infect your computer by simply playing an infected MIDI file. This affects all DirectX versions from 5.2 all the way up to 9.0. Thus, you can be infected by simply viewing an email or webpage that has an auto-playing MIDI file. You can find out more and how to patch this on this page at Microsoft. At least one other major media outlet has reported this.

If you haven't installed all the critical updates in Windows Update, it's probably a good idea to do so now.

Empires EGN Launches

New site fresh from the ove-no wait, that's not how it goes...

Eddyon recently gave me a holler (er, email) about Empires EGN, a new fansite dedicated to none other than Empires. One cool feature of it is Empire Gaming Concepts, a place where people can pitch their own ideas and opinions on how Empires' gaming should work, and people rate said ideas. It looks like a pretty cool fansite, go check it out!

Poll Roundup

The results from last week's question of What do you like most about RTS games? had the majority of the votes going to "building empires" - 33 percent of the votes, to be exact. Multi-player skirmishes came in at a close second, but here's the rest of the poll results so you can see for yourself:

[33%] Building Empires
[16%] Playing through Campaigns
[22%] Multi-Player Skirmishes
[9%] Single Player Skirmishes
[14%] Playing with friends
[1%] Pace of Game
[4%] Competition

Total: 214 votes
What are your favorite MP game types? largely addresses the 2nd highest ranking poll answer in our last poll (multiplayer skirmishes), and it's wanting to know what game type you most like to play in RTS games. Regicide? 1 vs 1? Team? Answer in our poll!

Messiah Returns

After Rick Goodman's posting frenzy, many forumers became hungry for new information. Many new threads immediately popped up and people had plenty of questions to ask. Early this morning, Messiah dropped by our forums to help answer some of these questions. The first thread Messiah posted in was in follow up to all the questions that came after Rick Goodman posted:
Bunkers -something I really missed in Empire Earth
"Yes, units garrisoned in bunkers shoot their own weapons. This means if you put grenadiers into bunkers which are very long ranged tank killing units, then the bunker will shoot out very long ranged tank killing shots.

Although flame throwers do not directly hurt units in bunkers, flame throwers are one of the fastest and strongest building killing units in the game. If several flame throwers attack a bunker, it will die within several seconds, leaving the infantry inside exposed for cooking."
In the next thread, Messiah gave a good overview of how tributing will work. The system will be very simple and quick to use, and will not detract focus from the game. Here is what he had to say:
Extent of Tributing
"You cannot tribute buildings at all. This is a balance issue. Some buildings have different costs for different civilizations, and some have unique functions which if given to an ally would be overpowered. There are also many other exploits that are avoided by not allowing tributing of buildings.

Tributing of units is very user friendly. There is a button in the unit UI for tribute, so in order to tribute units, all one does is highlight the units you want tributed, then click the tribute button which is right next to all the other unit buttons like change formation, change unit stance and use special powers. Hitting the tribute buttons causes all allied player numbers to appear, and clicking any of these numbers tributes the units to that player.

Tributing resources works the same way as in most other rts's. You simply go to the resource tribute screen and fill in the resources to be tributed. There is a heavy tax on resource tributes (something like 33%), but it can be done at any time to any ally."
Finally, Messiah also stopped over at Empires Aeon. He commented on how houses will work in Empires: Dawn of the Modern World:
Houses
"Houses in Empires have different uses for each civilization. Some civilizations don't need houses, such as France. The majority do need them, and they have many benefits. All houses do add to your pop cap, just like in every other rts. Houses can also be garrisoned inside to protect villagers during an attack. Beyond this, houses for nearly every civilization have special abilities. As an example, one civ's houses heal nearby friendly units, while another civ's lend morale, just like in Empire Earth."
Altogether, there has been plenty of Stainless Steel activity around the forums. It's great that they find time to post in the forums. The effort is wholly appreciated here at HeavenGames.

A new Seraph 'round these parts

Due to the fact that every part of Heaven needs his amazing skills, Angel Zen is stepping down from the Seraph (webmastering) position and I'm going to take the reins for the site. You guys probably already know me from posting news around here for the past month, but if not, here's a short summary just because I'm crazy and like to do this kind of stuff:

I first found Heaven almost exactly 6 years ago with Age of Empires Heaven; back when our good friend Rick Goodman was with Ensemble and hung out at AoEH from time to time. Years passed and I got a job at AoKH in the summer of 2000, and I've worked at 8 different sites on countless jobs during the time I was hired and now. Now I hope my past experience will let me do my job to serve the community and the site!

Imperial Review

I don’t think I’ve ever seen this much posting from developers in a single week during the entire time I’ve been in the gaming community. I mean, wow, we got so much new and interesting information released through the forums, there’s no way you could be unhappy with that. Among several other things, Stephen “Valdraz” Guberski talked about how the French observation towers work in the game, and how people use them; he also talked on the other attributes that make the French army so strong with ingeneuity. rawk - one of Activision’s playtesters –posted on the cool flamethrower tanks and atom bombs, Keith “Glavian” Patella said a bit on text formatting in the scenario editor. Messiah stopped by to inform us on the workings of epochs in Empires, such as how many epochs are gone through in a typical game and if you can limit a game to only a certain number. Scott “Tso” Macmillan posted over at Empires Aeon about how farming works, as well as the gather rates of some other food sources. And finally, Rick Goodman just posted up a hurricane (storm would be an understatement, ehehe ) in our forums, talking about subjects ranging from tanks to the advertisement of Empires. All in all, I’d say it’s a good week for our forums in terms of activity, ehehehe. I would elaborate on all of these developer posts, but I have to keep things short so the news post isn’t two pages long…that’s a lot to talk about :-p

My friend Rick Goodman was also interviewed twice, with the first one coming from the brand spankin’ new site Empires Element. The interview over there covers a very large range of topics, and should be a nice read for anyone. The second one is from the German magazine, PC Games. The interview included quite bit of intriguing information, as well as the vague reference to the “Empires Trilogy of 3 Games”, which no one quite knows exactly what it means. Expansion packs or separate games? Only time will tell…or SSSI ;-)

What’s coming next week? Well, if we assume that next week is after this news post…then there’s some reasonably big site news that should come out shortly. In other words, right after this one. I’ll keep you updated on everything else, though!

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

Rick Goodman on Various Topics

The head honcho himself, Rick Goodman has made several posts in our forums on many different topics, each time talking about quite a bit of information that pretty much everyone loves. The first thread he posted in concerned tanks and the power of the different tanks in the game. I couldn't summarize any better and any more succinctly than he did in a single sentence, so here's what he had to say:

Tanks in WW1
"It depends on the Civilization.

Thats right. The Germans and the French are classic examples. German WW1 Tanks are quite capable, while French Renault tanks are smaller and more mobile. Offsetting this German superiority, however, is a special tactic used only by the French. The French can execute Tank Overrun tactics and crush squads of enemy infantry and even citizens.

And you should also know something else about French Tanks. Once destroyed French crew clammer out of the vehicle with their rifles in hand and fight on. German crews, though afforded much more fire protection, cannot match French Nation's ingenuity for escaping the jaws of death -- just in the knick of time."
The next thread that Rick hit wasn't as much concerning the game, but more related to the business and advertising part; the reason you haven't seen many ads until now has been due to the smart advertisement plan of Activision. Basically, the company likes to wait out on putting up ads for their games until just a couple months before the release, so the hype doesn't die down and people lose interesing the game. Darn good plan in my opinion, here's what Rick has to say:

What do you think of the Ads?
"Thats more a testiment to the Activision process than anything else. Activision prefers to concentrate their World-Wide marketing effort closer to the launch date than some other Publishers. They also plan to extend the marketing effort out beyond the launch and through holidays. You'll see more advertising throughout these next 6 months.

Personally, I think this is wise plan. I remember eagerly awaiting a couple of other RTS game srecently, in which the Marketing effort lasted over a year. I think the excitement wore a bit thin by the time the game finally shipped. But, thats just me -- and I'm no marketing expert."
Number 3 on the list is a thread about the Empires demo, and how it's going to work in people getting their hands (including my grubby little hands, bwahahaha ;-)) on a copy of it:

SSSI give that demo now!
"I suspect you'll see a downloadable demo before the game is released. In fact, I suspect you'll be able to soon drop-by EB and buy the EMPIRES demo. B-u-y the demo, you say? Pay for a demo? Why would I do a thing like that? Sounds like a rip-off to me!

Perhaps.

At $1.99, though, I'll wager it'll be the best Christmas present you'll get this year. AND the cheapest. When you pickup the demo in the mall, stop by the ice cream shop. You'll pay more for one scoop of Rocky Road.

Seriously. If we didn't charge something for the demo, then, everyone would grab one. They'd all be gone in the first week. And, if you weren't one of the lucky few to get one that week, thenm you'd R-E-A-L-L-Y be mad at me."
The next thread was concerning the tree art and basically the art of most of the things in Empires. Rick attests to the fact that the artwork in Empires is awesome and from what we've seen in screenshots, I doubt there's many that would disagree with that!

Tree Artwork
"I believe Trees are about 120 polys, or triangles or faces (pick your favorite terminologly).
Like everything in a 3D game, you have to use your poly budget extremely wisely. In Empires we have been very careful about this all along. At the start of the project, about 2 years ago, we set standards for each unit, plant, animal, building, ship and aircraft. Throughout the project, the Art team stayed "on budget" so to speak.

Their job was to create the most realitic and exciting looking game possible, within the boundaries we set for ourselves. Honestly, when I play the game, I am often amazed by what the art team has accomplished. Ans as most sssi staff will attest to, I am a BIG MEAN TROLL who is not easy to please. :)"
And finally, Rick reveals some pretty darn cool information on the bunkers in Empires. Apparently, you can garrison troops inside bunkers, but the unique thing about the bunkers in Empires is that the troops fire with their own weapons. You don't see that very often in RTS games.

Bunkers - Something I really missed in Empire Earth
"EMPIRES provides bunkers for troops to fire from. You'll see bunkers in both the SP Campaigns, and the Multiplayer game.

For example, in WW1 I have a strategy in which I garrsion French Grenade Throwers in bunkers. These can help repel German armor, since French armor is at a marked disadvantage."
All in all, I'd say the posts made my Rick today alone has really wetted us gamers' appetite to play this game. It sounds awesome, and we all really appreciate his and the rest of SSSI's taking time out of their busy schedules to post in the forums and talk about their game. Thanks Rick and the rest of SSSI!

Tso on Farms

Scott "Tso" Macmillan recently posted at Empires Aeon about how farming works in Empires: Dawn of the Modern World. He also mentioned a bit about the gather rates of the apple trees, animals and farms. Here is what he had to say:
Sorry for the long wait time, it's been a wee bit hectic around here. Farms will work like this... you lay down a granary, and then the farm plots appear around it (8 total). Each farm can then be built. They don't have infinite food, but it's high enough that you'll never realisticly run out.

The farms have low hit points, so often a bunch will get torched when an army gets into your base. There's a Replant Farms icon/hotkey you can hit, and that will toss the plots down again in empty spaces around the granary, if you need them.

Also, you can rally from your TC to the Granary, and it will assign guys out to unbuilt/unworked farms.

As for the herd animals, they tend to get killed off relatively quickly. I see them get used a good bit, but they don't reproduce fast enough to stick around. You gather faster off them than off apple trees, and farms are the slowest of the three. I usually go for the trees, then hit farms as the nearby tree runs out.
You can find the full thread and discussion about farming at Empires Aeon.

Advertisement blow-out.. erm, fold-out!

Thank you, Mr. Subscription Man at PCGamer!

The October issue of PCGamer arrived today. It was a special Collector's Edition which included a DVD disc. On the front was printed "The Great Shooter Shootout". The issue came a good two weeks early. I opened the cover. To the left I was looking at D-Day, to the right I found the Middle Ages.

There was a fold-out. It was another D-Day scene. On the left listed the civilizations, the scene shrouded by smoke and gunfire. To the right, flamethrowers torch a pillbox while a commando evades entrenched fire. The sand was streaked by vehicles and wind. The advertisements were good, no, excellent. The fold out was combined to form a wallpaper (1280x1024), which can be found here. Be sure to check our frequently updated Screenshot Gallery for plenty of other scans. On the wallpaper, "Stainless Steel Studios" is distorted. No idea why, probably because it was wrinkled. Scanned them at 300dpi. Also note that each scan remains true to the actual colors.

New RTSUK Interview with Rick Goodman

Empires Element, the most newest fansite recently, has gotten an exclusive interview done by RTSUK.net with Rick Goodman himself. The interview covers a lot of broad topics, some already known as well as some new discoveries. For example there won't be any priests or any of those type once you hit WWI age.

The interviewer especially focuses Empires on past Age of Mythology and Empire Earth. Either way it is a good read for everyone. You can find the interview here.

Resources Up Close

Up to this point, we've never seen any good screenshots of the resources. The only screenshot that depicts resources is available in our Screenshot Gallery. However, the fine guys over at Stainless Steel Studios sent us a some high quality captures of the resources up close: Animals, Farm, Gold, Stone, Tuna, and Wood

Rick in Deutschland

It seems Rick Goodman stopped by the offices of the German magazine, PC Games, while on his European tour. oPPonent posted at Empires Aeon about this month's PC Games Magazine:
You can find a video interview with Rick Goodman on the DVD of the new German PC Games Magazine.

I've not seen it because I always buy the non-CD/DVD version but I've heard that Rick is talking about the Empires Trilogy of 3 Games who are completely compatible to each other.
These upcoming games are more than just add-on packs because of the mass of new content.

They will add new epoches and new civilizations in the other parts.
Does this mean Empires will have two expansions, or does it mean there will be three different Empires games? So it seems Empire Earth France's "Holy Grail of Historical Gaming" is not too far off. Check out the contents of this packed DVD.

We also like to wish good luck to everyone at the German Games Convention in Leipzig, where Activision, Stainless Steel and the ESGL League are having a Empires: Dawn of the Modern World tournament on the 24th. Now, how would little old me get a grubby hand on that magazine...

Messiah on Epochs

The cool folks over at SSS are just posting up storms everywhere in our forums, and Messiah is no exception. He talks about how deep each epoch in the game is, and how viable single epoch gaming is...as well as the likelihood of players advancing epochs in typical games. A lot of information in one post, check it out:

Will Empires do 1 Epoch Gaming?
"Every epoch in Empires will have a good number of new units in it, as well as upgrades from the older ages. It will be quite possible to play one epoch games if you wish, simply by setting the starting epoch and the final epoch to the same value. From the games I have played (this could drastically change once the game is released and everyone starts playing), 1v1's on average have 1 epoch up, but can also very easily end in the starting epoch or in the highest available epoch, even if the game began in middle ages. As more people play, the games tend to get higher. I'd say in most 2v2's starting in middle ages most people reach imperial at least if it is an even battle, and someone will usually at least reach ww1.

The number of epochs played is strongly dependent on how even the match is, how agressive the players are, the map type, and the starting epoch (since it is easier to epoch up in the early epochs than it is in the later ones). So basically, every game tends to be very different and there is no really strong standard as to how many epochs are played through."

The Little Things

Not much in the way of official news this week. Activity in our forums is still bustling though. A slew of questions were put on Stainless Steel's plate this week. One posted by Midgard Eagle, asked about text formatting in the Scenario editor. Lead Programmer, Keith "Glavian" Patella had this to say:
Text Formatting
Yes there will be a slew of text parser commands to use for instructions. i.e. centering, changing fonts, different sizes, transparency, color, etc....
In other news (be prepared for shameless plug), I have finished empiresToolbox, which might allow modding of Empires: Dawn of the Modern World. You can read all about the great features along with a tutorial in this thread. Welcome back to the forums, Glavian! Still remember a couple games ;)

D-Day Clip at HistoryChannel.com

For those of you history fans (hope that's most of you ;-) ) that are interested in the WW2 era and D-Day, HistoryChannel.com has a really cool video clip on their site that was taken during the landing. Empires is supposed to have a pretty good D-Day scenario for their WW2 campaign, and I'll betcha the realism is pretty close to that video; SSS has some darn good scenario designers on the team. Can't find the video? It's right below "What's New"...took me a little while to notice too ;-)

SSS Activity Continues

Empires: Dawn of the Modern World has reached it's testing phase, it seems. I am told that most of the art is complete. So between some testing and bug fixes, Stainless Steel gets a chance to participate in our forums, an effort we undoubtedly appreciate. Recently, forumer rawk began visiting our forums, bringing with him some very informative posts. Until today, many wondered how he knew so much. We now know he is an "Visionary", one of the playtesters at Activision. Welcome to the forums rawk!

You can find more of his enlightening posts in our General Discussions forum, but here's a few of his posts:

Flame thrower tanks?
If you actually see a flamethrower in action... it's pretty awesome... the pressure of fuel (usually a mix of kerosene and oil in WWII, later napalm) is extreme. the allied tanks of the WWII era were pretty scant on the armor, and to add to the danger, they used gasoline for fuel, which is much more flammable than diesel, which the germans used. if the just one shell in the tank were to explode, or the gas tank were to explode, you just hope you would go quick... As for the game, it takes a few salvos of flame tank to destroy other units unlike close combat... but it is still pretty effective.

Any A-bombs?
the nuke can be quite devastating... (as it is in real life) you could make 10 (or as many as you want) german rocket bases and fill them up with v2's... however you would have to sacrifice quite a few units to get line of sight, and hope the rockets dont get shot down by other planes/AA fire. but if you nail 10 or so v2's on an opponent... might as well just call it a day. same could be said for the allies nukes, though they have to be delivered by a bomber.

As Socvazius said, you don't see involvement with the community like this from just any developer. So drop by our forums and give thanks to the hard working guys at Stainless Steel AND Activision! Too much, sg? ;)

Poll Roundup

Last week's question of What do you like best about multiplayer RTS games? got most of it's votes for human opponents being more challenging than computer opponents, which usually is true for most multiplayer RTS games. Coming in a relatively close second place was the enjoyment of playing with other people, which is a great way to make people feel like they're part of a community and interact with people. Here's the full poll results:

[20%] Like the single player game and want similar experience against humans
[3%] Matchmaking service is easy to use
[41%] Human opponents are more challenging than computer opponents
[5%] Play to achieve the highest ladder ranking possible
[25%] Enjoy playing other people in Game rooms
[1%] Chatting with friends on-line
[5%] Other

Total: 150 votes
A similar but different question comes again from the fine folks at SSS, and it asks What do you like most about RTS games? Do you like the competition? How about building empires? The multiplayer gaming experience? Answer in our poll!

SSS Activity in the Forums

In case you weren't already aware, several people over at Stainless Steel Studios have been cool enough to take time out of their already busy schedules to post in our forums and answer some questions that our visitors have. Just today, yet another staff member over at SSS has started to post in our forums - senior artist Stephen "Valdraz" Guberski - and is posting up a storm like his other developer brethren. Here's just a couple things he's posted in the forums that you might find interesting:

i dont like this french civ
"If you are worried about falling victim to stealthy attacks, just make some planes and rally them over your buildings. They can spot hidden units, and are a pretty good way to defend your base.

French sabotuers are fairly easy to kill like this. The SAS operative can hold his own, but is not "stealth" as far as I know."


Question.
"Actually, I have tried to put a tower like this in an enemy base before. The usual result is that the enemy finds kills your tower rather quickly, and does the same with your citizen if you are not careful.

The observation tower (or whatever we are calling it now) is must useful to scatter around the map, in out of the way places that its less likely to be found in.

I'm not 100% sure of this, but I think the enemy can "Find" these towers if you get very close to them, so its best in my opinion to keep them off the beaten path, but within line of site to it"
If you want to find the rest of Stephen's (and the rest of the SSS staff's) posts, just head down to our forums, you'll probably find a developer post in a pretty large percentage of the threads you'll view. You don't see involvement with the community like this from just any developer, and we're extremely appreciative of the attention given to the community by SSS. Thanks guys!

Imperial Review

I finally got back from vacation earlier tonight (er, this morning...something like that. I don't know, I'm really tired! *chuckles*) with virtually no sleep in the last two days, so I'm just about to pass out on this keyboard, but this review is late anyway. Heeeeeeeeeere we go *sips coffee*

Interesting change of news activity from two weeks ago to last week. In other words, two weeks ago there was no news...and this week there was a whole barrel full of it. Not a barrel full of monkeys, a barrel full of news. News that jumps around and eats bananas and steals your money. Said news includes our beloved interviews with the folks over at Stainless Steel: first of which being from Richard Bishop. The interview wasn't exactly an interview and more a developer diary, but no matter; it included a lot of great info on the playing styles of the game. Numero dos was a scan of the Rick Goodman PCGamer interview that was mentioned previously. And the third one was the transcript of the older GameSpot complete video interview of the big cheese again, Rick Goodman.

Previews! They're like interviews, only with a different prefix. Isn't that nifty? Well, what's nifty is the fact that we got a couple cool ones this past week, from: CVG, 4players.de, and RTS Center. Interestingly enough, the last two out of those three weren't originally in english, so they had to be translated (here and here, respectively). Now what's better than a screenshot chaser for to finish thing one up? Nothing that I can think of, but I can't really think very much right now. CVG has updated their screenshots, and GenGamers has a ton of new fresh ones.

And finally, Empiresium - er - Empires Element opened up this past week. Best of luck to everyone at Element in their great new site!

What's coming next week? Some fairly big news for Empires Heaven will be posted. On top of that, I don't know. Wowza.

That's it for this week...see you 'round the Empire!

Special Abilities explained

Recently Tim "Hank" Scott and our very own Angel Z stopped by to explain how special abilities will be handled in Empires. As a follow up to Midgard Eagle's question, Hank had this to say:
Units which have special abilities have an extra icon you can select to initiate it. They are all ran by a mana bar. However, some units like the Battlefield Surgeon, can be put on 'autocast' so he brings back to life anyone he sees mortally wounded... or you can turn it off and do it yourself.

Also, when grouping more than one unit with a special ability ALL of the ability icons will be available to select. This will prevent you from having to search out each individual unit to use their ability.
Angel Z then added this comment:
Not *all* of the special abilities require mana. There are a few that are mana independent and can be used whenever you want.
You can find the thread in our Forums.

GenGamers play the Middle Ages


GenGamers recently posted eight new screenshots. The majority of the screenshots are based in the Middle Ages, with one being in World War II. Additionally, we see what interiors look like for the first time. So for those who are wondering how it will be done, these new shots are definitely worth the look. You can find the screenshots at GenGamers. Thanks to Empires Aeon for the update.

Another Star Rises

A star being a fansite of course. Empires Element has opened their doors led by webmaster Jim Binford. I'll let Jim explain himself:
Empires Element is now open!

Empires Element covers Empires: Dawn of the Modern world and hopes to
provide the best in community, strategy and information.

Empires Element can be found at http://www.empireselement.com.
They also have a new developer diary by Bishop, one of SSS best players & designers, about War Tactics. Be sure to check it all out.

A New Old Preview by CVG

We've seem to have missed this a while back; how I have no idea. The previewer describes his adventures while skirmishing with the one-and-only Rick Goodman. Also, the preview hails Empires: Dawn of the Modern World as having one of the best interfaces and describes a bit about it. Finally, there is some mention of the French ability, "Esprit de Corps" and other various units, such as the Harquebusiers. Additionally, there is this interesting bit:
Our triumph also left us in no doubt that Goodman was going easy on us. After all, there's no sense in sending a miserable games journalist home with no idea how the game works because he's just had his ego blown to pieces.

And yet, there is another reason why we held our own so comprehensively. Empires is so intuitive in the way it plays, it takes about five minutes to get the hang of. This is a game where 1,000 years of history is condensed into a few precise mouse clicks and what's more it's a pleasure to play.

If you've had any experience at all with RTS games you'll instinctively know which building to construct where, how many subjects you should have gathering wood, gold, stone and food, and more importantly where to place your defensive towers and how many troops it will take to guard it all.
The six page preview is well written and touches on many aspects of Empires that seems to have been ignored by other previews. You can find it over at Computer and Video Games or in our Previews section.

And if you haven't noticed, the Screenshots section has been updated with all previous scans of various Empires advertisements and articles. As the preview says:
If you want to see the full, unbridled effects of a German World War II aerial bombardment of a small French village (which incidentally includes numerous barbecued cows flying through the air) you've come to the right place.

GameSpot Interview Transcript and Snapshots


Last month, GameSpot released their second video interview with Rick Goodman. The video was only available to those who had a GameSpot Complete account. If you missed it and have a GameSpot Complete account, you can find the video here.

For those who don't have a Complete account, we've taken the liberty to provide you with a transcript. You can find the transcript in our Interviews Section. Here is an excerpt:
A Pro Gamer typically likes to rush, they like to find new ways to Age up as quickly as possible and to rush players as quickly as possible; and the game is much more designed for a quick conclusion, so you can end the game in 20 minutes, 30 minutes, at 40 minutes at longest. It's not necessarily about territory control, so for example, resources diminish very quickly, so it requires you to be thinking very carefully about your next move.
Also, Corporal McKee posted some snapshots of the newer videos at GameSpot. Notable features include shots of the new UI, of the long awaited D-Day scenario and various units in action. You can find his forum post at Empires Aeon.

Finally, while it may be old news, it seems many people have missed it. Included along the plethora of new, high quality screenshots that 4Players.de has released, is a sizeable trailer. This trailer can be downloaded without subscription and covers much of what was shown when GameSpot interviewed Rick Goodman. To the side is a snapshot of Russian Katyushas tearing down some buildings from the video.

New Wallpapers

It seems like the creation of Empires wallpapers is getting to be a popular pasttime in the forums; two new ones have been made recently. The first one is by our Angel AzN, whose wallpaper is and old-style WW1 scene. The second one, coming from Carro_LS, is another really cool wallpaper. Check them both out!

PCGamer Interview and Advertisements

As I have promised, I would scan the PCGamer Interview with Rick Goodman and the included advertisements once I returned from my vacation. Now that I have returned, I intend to keep my promise. Here are the scans:
PCGamer Rick Goodman Interview, July 2003
PCGamer Empires Advertisements, Set 2

The interview gives a good rundown on the two newer civilizations: France and Russia, France being Rick Goodman's favorite. The ads feature three new units: Flaming Pitch (English), Turtle Boat (Korean) and Zeppelin (German). Missed me? ;)

Soccy's Adventures in Mexico...Part 1

Yeah, I've finally gotten around to writing about this...Most of you are aware that I've been in Mexico for the past month on vacation, visiting family. Well, I've got a week left, so I figure now is as good a time as any to write about the first two weeks of my crazy and groovy adventures in the land of the sun. Not the land of the rising sun, just the land of the really hot sun. So read on, if you're interested in some exciting happenings in Mexico!

SSS Gives the Word...

...on the scenario editor screeshot that was released last week. Tim "Hank" Scott has a message about it, and it is as follows:

"Making your own movies in Empires is easier than ever. Create, adjust, and combine camera shots within minutes including the ability to preview your creation at any time!"
I really want to see the kinds of cool things that can be done with the cinematics; I'll bet 50 buc-no, 100 dollars that it will be absolutely awesome. Aw heck, I'll bet my life, the cinematics sound really really cool from what we've heard now and previously. I really have no way to segue into this, so I'll just say it: Keep your eyes open 'round these parts for some more information released by studios...I'm sure you'll love it.

Poll Roundup

Last week's question of What is your favorite map type? had a pretty large majority of the votes going to a map with all land with lots of woods, hills, and choke points; the perfect defensive map. This is probably representational of many gamers liking longer, more drawn-out games as opposed to short ones. Here's the full poll list:

[46%] All Land with lots of woods, hills and choke points
[16%] All Land open and flat terrain; no choke points
[6%] Woodlands
[6%] Small Team Islands
[26%] Large Team Islands

Total: 197 Votes
This week's poll question - like the last couple - also comes straight from Stainless Steel Studios. It asks What do you like best about multiplayer RTS games? Singleplayer? Multiplayer? Chatting? Answer in our poll!

Empires Preview at RTS Center

RTS Center - an Italian gaming site - has made a preview of Empires; a decently long one, I might add. It doesn't release a whole lot of new information, but it is a really nice read, and has some great new screenshots. Here's a snippet of the article:

Finally we will be able to see the single player, campaigns and multiplayer. Ingenious with regard to this the idea to divide it in two modality of game: "To fill up Builder" and "Action", before it will allow to construct in strategic way just the empire, the second one addresses to most warlike. When we will be able to test it with our hands? It will have to wait until close to the the days of christmas, prepared a place under the tree.
As with the 4players.de preview, this one wasn't originally in English; Italian, rather. So I've used an online translator to make a rough translation of the preview, you'll be able to understand most of it...though some parts may be difficult to.

4players.de Previews Empires

Thanks go to Empires Aeon for getting this tasty bit of news: the German gaming site 4players.de has written up a new preview of Empires that gives out a decent amount of new information on the game, including a whole lot of new screenshots that everyone loves. Here's an excerpt from the article:

"The French are considered fore example as a clever civilization with very good defensive abilities and options: They don't have to build houses to get pop, gets free farms and has strong walls, towers and shelters to help them. In addition to that the French got a hardly recognizable reconnaissance tower (scout tower), which looks like a simple three, but got a very big LoS (line of sight). Also the crew of French tanks and airplanes will save themselves if their vehicles are destroyed and continue fighting on foot. At last as a special-purpose force the saboteur comes into play and hunts opposing vehicles and buildings so they can place explosives on them."
Of course, that wasn't taken from the original that's in German, so for those that don't speak the language Aeon has the translated version for you as well.

Developer Diary at GameSpy

Apologies to everyone for the lack of news recently, I've been gone all this weekend because I went to another relative's house while here in Mexico on vacation...the relative didn't have the internet, and I almost died from withdrawls ;-)

Following up their preview on Empires, GameSpy has a Developer Diary from Richard Bishop. The Diary talks about how - although it's designed for both tactical and empire gameplay - SSS geared a lot of the game's playing towards tactical; through slowing down the speed of battles, decreasing the "rock-paper-scissors" idea of unit counters, and increasing the use of special unit abilities, among many other things. Here's a snippet from the article:

"The single most important resource in a real-time strategy game is -- you guessed it -- time. You only have a finite amount of time in which to both formulate a plan and execute it. This added dimension forces you to choose between the big picture and the little picture, because you don't have time to do both equally well. In our testing sessions and design meetings, we've found that many players relish getting down and dirty with their armies...We like that dynamic, and are working a lot of support for this detail-oriented approach into everything about Empires: Dawn of the Modern World."

Imperial Review

It's been a fairly slow week for Empires, most of the news being on previews and new screenshots. The most notable of said previews and new screenshots was release just last night at GameSpy. A large amount of reviews have only a couple bits of new information, this one has a lot more than that. Before they released their preview, GameSpy put up four screenshots of Empires taken from Activision's Activate 2003; all four screenshots weren't seen before and featured some pretty cool aspects of the game. On the subject of screenshots, EH got one from SSS that shows camera pitching in action; which has sparked a bit of conversation in the forums. And finally, GameSpot got a glimpse of Empires over at GenCon Indy, getting the chance to play two of the game's single player scenarios. Even though it was a relatively slow week, we did get our new information fix! ;-)

Not really much else happened this week...so what's coming in the next? Eh, not really a clue; I'll try to keep you guys posted on everything, though.

That's it for this week...see you 'round the Empire!

GameSpy Preview of Empires

GameSpy has a new preview of Empires. The preview is very in depth covering the civs, the single player campaigns, and many other facets of the game. One very interesting note was Empires breaks down the normal rock-paper-scissors counter balance effect with a more innovative way, for example:
In just one example, he showed us the balancing effect of American and Russian civilization abilities. One of America's deadliest, yet subtlest powers, is the "Voice of America," which makes enemy units defect. Train that sucker on Russia's peasants and you've got a pretty effective way to shut down their production. A Russian player can defend him or herself with the "Revolutionaries" power. This turns peasants into walking suicide bombers. It's not going to help the Americans much when all those new workers show up and proceed to blow up their factories. Destroying production facilities can be quite effective as a means of starving your enemies of men and equipment -- except to the English who use their "Lend-Lease" power to receive free shipments of men and material from abroad.
Very entertaining to hear indeed. It is a pleasure to read the rest of the preview which can be found here. Overall, the writer notes that Empires seems very promising but still a bit early to truely tell.

New Screenshot

We have a new screenshot of the in-game scenario in our screenshots gallery. The screenshot shows camera pathing in action. Check it out!


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