News Archive: February 2004

New Article in the Scenario Design Library

The Scenario Design Library is growing, I have just uploaded a new article created by myself that covers all of Empires terrain in detail, it includes pictures of all the terrains that you can use to create scenarios, and some of the best uses of the terrains. Check out the article here.

I learned a couple odds things while writing this article; the base grass appears under five different names and coral terrain also appears under five different names.

Floating Cow Monsoons...What?

...yeah. Apparently _o0XxX0o_ has discovered how - through an interesting process - to make a neverending monsoon that has a forever-floating cow and a lightning storm in it. The whole point of it is to be able to manipulate the weather in scenarios. It's a pretty weird idea as a whole, take a look at the thread for yourself.

"-just have trigger create about 50 units; family helicopter
-start the scenario, save it immediately
-open the scenario in the editor, there shoud be a monsoon present(with some balloons and zepplins too)
-remove everything created except 1 monsoon
-select on map the monsoon
-have triggers give graphic effect the cow and remove graphic effect high_altittude_rain to the monsoon
-unit name banner the monsoon
-have a timed looping trigger cast calamity mother of lightning world player on any specified object in range of the monsoon
-speed up the velocity of the monsoon or increase the range of it too"

Forum Party Tomorrow! February 28

Tomorrow is Saturday and that means another Forum Party. Join us in our weekly party in the Tournament Room at 11AM EST and 7PM EST. There were some inconsistent arrival times last week, which caused some problems. Hopefully this week will be better. See the Forum Party Thread for the complete details. See you there!

Review at GlobeTechnology

GlobeTechology has a new review of Empires, giving it a 4 out of 5 and being rather complimentary of it. Here's an excerpt:

"The Good: Detailed graphics; extensive research/unit trees; good game play (leans more towards combat than economic management); good mix of brute force and stealth units.

The Bad: AI could be smarter, a simple build-and-rush strategy often wins; character auto-navigation sometimes runs into problems.

The Verdict: Not a ground-breaking real-time-strategy game, but it looks great, plays smoothly and should appeal to any RTS fan."

Interview with Beran Peter

The very first person I interviewed at Stainless Steel Studios was Beran Peter, SSSI's production manager and liasion to Activision. Read on in the interview to learn about Stainless Steel's interaction with their producer, exactly what else he does on the job, plus a couple extra amusing or interesting bits of information!

Socvazius: How do you like working in your dealings with Activision?

Beran: I love it; I mean I have a unique position in SSSI because I bridge the gap between our internal development team and an external publisher. So I get to see what’s going on in both worlds and get involved with those; so I go to LA and visit with them. I have a perspective that’s top-down, so I see all the departments, all their schedules, and I actually create documents for every milestone. That’s an internal document that we use and say “hey this is what we delivered on this milestone in our game.” The same thing is true as we handed it off to Activision and said “this is what’s in the game so far, and this is what’s not in the game.” It’s really nice to see a top-down picture of the game coming together.

Auto Battle Generator

AzN has posted information he learned from "a little bird" about how to access the auto battle generator in Empires. As the name suggests, it's a battle simulator for the game which could be very useful for a wide range of things, though scenario design and strategy come to mind foremost. Here's the scoop from AzN:

"The Auto Battle Generator is likely something used by Stainless Steel to balance and test units. It creates a set of tiggers when ran pits units in a duel and logs the results, which include health and time to kill. Its really very amusing when you set up mismatches such as King Tigers vs Conscripts. I'm sure Automatch players can use this to effectively test units and see what is better. Scenario designers can not distribute it, however, because something is written to memory which makes it one time only. At least I haven't been able to distribute it.

To get it, open up the scenario editor and hold Ctrl + Alt + Shift then press B. A menu drops down which allows you to select two units."

Poll Roundup

It looks like most of the people that answered the poll question of What would you think of a more complex economy in RTS games? were in favor of the idea, just a relatively small percentage didn't like it. Here are the results:

[68%] I'd love it
[17%] I'd hate it
[15%] Don't care

Total: 151 votes
This week's poll question comes as a suggestion from Rookierookie: Does HG affect your choice of games? HeavenGames covers quite a few games in the strategy and citybuilding genres, but does it actually affect what games you end up buying? Answer in our pol!

Imperial Review

This past Sunday we released an exclusive interview with the expert player Pillars for everyone's enjoyment; the talk with the expert convered a lot of information about Pillars as well as Empires. It's a very good read, I'd recommend it to anyone.

Around the forums, things have been keeping up with activity; the supply and trade thread in the General Forum is still rolling along with some lengthy replies by many of those that posted in it. I'm interested to find out what the next big thread will be about, there seems to be one every once and a while.

What's coming next week? A feature from EH that you're sure to love, keep your eye peeled for the news on that!

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

Forum Party Tomorrow! February 21

Remember to join us in our weekly forum party! It is where forumers gather to have a few good games of Empires and discuss what we normally discuss on the forums, but now backed with a army of King Tigers! We had a great time last week and hopefully we can continue the tradition. Find all the details in the Fourm Party Thread. As usual it will be held in the Tournament Room at 11AM EST and 7PM EST.

Also this week, Mob Freako released his Hitman scenario, a remake of the Age of Kings Hitman which was excessively fun. Be sure to download it in our Downloads Section.

Supply and Trade in Empires?

This subject has sparked quite the conversation in our forums in the past week; the possiblity of a complex supply and trading aspect of RTS economy does seem attractive to some, and possibly not so much for others. Here's some of what Gordon Farrell had to say on it:

"I know it strikes many of you as unwieldy, but adding a more challenging economic component to the game could have the same effect as adding national borders had in RoN --- shaking up our basic concepts of tactical strategy, and adding a stronger sense of grand strategy to the game.

And be sure to keep this in mind: Even if an econimc component were added, there's no reason why you couldn't choose a multiplayer game style that didn't use it! In other words, the option of playing w/out the economic component could still exist for adrenalin junkies!

As far as implementing this idea, I do think it's important to distinguish between trade and supply, as they would entail entirely different sets of problems. I think the place to start is developing a more challenging trade component first."
What do you think about a more complicated economy for RTS games? Love it? Hate it? Post in the thread!

Newest Angel: The Adder

The newest Angel to Empires Heaven's ranks is The Adder, a well-known member of the scenario design community. What job will he take, you ask? Why, the most appropriate one: the Scenario Design Library administrator. Aro has decided to leave EH for personal reasons, so we need a replacement and Adder seems to be a very appropriate pick.


Poll Roundup

Last week's poll question was How often do you play custom maps on GameSpy? 69% voted for less than 5% of the time, so it seems like most people don't play them all that much. Here are the full poll results:

[6%] 75%-100% of the time
[3%] 50%-75% of the time
[8%] 25%-50% of the time
[7%] 10%-25% of the time
[6%] 5%-10% of the time
[69%] Less than 5% of the time

Total: 130 votes

The Laser Reviews Empires

Giving Empires probably one of the lowest-scoring reviews yet, The Laser's review of Empires isn't particularly complimentary to the game, scoring the game as a C-. This is in stark contrast to other reviews that have given it some of the highest ratings possible; interesting how people can have such varied opinions on a game. Here's an excerpt:

"While its a decent game for the most part, Empires: Dawn of the Modern World just didn’t have the same spark as with other similar games within the RTS market. While the graphics and overall gameplay were good, the control systems of the game felt muddled and extremely difficult to jump into...If you can actually figure out how to play the game right, Empires: Dawn of the Modern World might be able to provide gamers with a decent RTS experience. If you have the time, get to it…otherwise, save your money for the Rise of Nations expansion pack."

Imperial Review

Not all that much happened in the past week; probably the biggest news was the nomination of Empires for the Interactive Achievement Awards under the category of PC Strategy game. In addition, Tsunami Studios reopened their TSUniversity, a site dedicated to articles on scenario designing. We saw a review of Empires on television this week, with TechTv's X-Play going over the game and giving it a score of 4 out of 5. Pretty cool stuff!

What's coming next week? Not a clue, actually. I'll keep the news updated on anything that does come up, though.

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

Exclusive Pillars Interview

Resident staff member DoJo_AntiAmi did an excellent interview with Pillars, undoubtedly one of the most talented RTS players around. He has been ranked number one on the Empires Ladder since the release and has not lost the title since. The lengthy interview starts with Pillars' humble beginnings in StarCraft to his current career as a professional gamer. He also gives various tips on how to play Empires and discusses some of the current imbalances.
Additionally, mid-level players need to realize that there is no one 'strategy' that wins games. So often I see people on the ladder that develop [or copy] a single build, and repeat this build game after game after game. they barely scout their opponent, and even when they do they rarely use the information they acquire to help impact their in-game decisions.

Players need to be *flexible*. They need to understand what their opponent is doing, and take specific measures to counter them.
Be sure to check out the full interview. Thanks to Pillars for spending the time to do this!

Empires Nominated for Interactive Achievement Awards

The Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences have announced their nominees for their yearly Interactive Achievement Awards. Out of the list of nominees, Empires can be found in the PC Strategy game category. It's up against some pretty big titles, but I think it has just as good a chance to get the award as them; it will be interesting to see who ends up getting it in the end.

Ride of Nations Big Huge Games Microsoft
Command & Conquer: Generals Electronic Arts Electronic Arts
Homeworld 2 Relic Entertainment VU Games/Sierra
Empires: Dawn of the Modern World Stainless Steel Studios Activision
Praetorians Pyro Studios Eidos Interactive

TSU Grand Opening

Storycreator, from Tsunami Studios, has informed me of their grand opening of Tsuniversity. Another great resource for help in desinging your campaigns. I'll let him explain:
The Tsuniversity

The Tsuniversity (TSU) is a satellite of Tsunami Studios, a design team for RTS games like Age of Kings and its successors, Empires: Dawn of the Modern World, etc.

It is our goal at the TSU to serve the design community by writing tutorials and articles on various aspects of design. Helping both new & experienced designers with quality articles on various subjects.

We do not only write articles on our own. We also encourage everybody who wants to share his/her knowledge to send articles to us. We promise to present them in a professional way so a large community will profit from your work. And above all, we will credit you as the author, and not ourselves.

Look on the TSU as an excellent source of knowledge and ideas when designing your scenario. Many experienced designers have written the already comprehensive lists of articles we have, and this list is growing all the time. So next time you are looking for inspiration, how to do that trigger trick, or just looking to broaden your horizon, then pay The TSU a visit. I assure you it will be time well spent. And don't forget to add The TSU to your favorites.

Forum Party Tomorrow! February 14

Be sure to join us this week at our forum party. We had a great time last week and will continue the tradition this weekend. Check the Forum Party Thread for the complete information. In case you are lazy, it will be held in the Tournament Room at 11AM EST and 7PM EST. Remember, the password is hg. See you there!

Tournament at Manningup

Thanks to Empires Aeon for this bit of news: Manningup is holding a 1 vs. 1 Empires tournament this Sunday:

"We will be hosting an Empires 1on1 Tournament on Sunday February 15th at 4 pm EST time. This tournament will take place in the Medieval Age."
Be sure to check out all the information on the tournament and sign up at the Manningup site!

ELiTeD Reviews Empires

ELiTeD has posted a review of Empires on their site. Although they didn't give any rating or score of the game, they did seem to find it to be a good game for hardcore RTS players. Here's a snippet from the article:

"If you are new to RTS games then run away quickly. However, fans of Age of Empires and Empire Earth will want this title. You have three story-based modes, another 5 eras and 7 civilizations, random map generator, and both single and multiplayer game modes. Enough to keep you busy for hours and hours. The best thing about a sequel is that the developer can look back and see what needed to change."

Poll Roundup

Although the majority of those polled in If SSSI produced a game with a fantasy or sci-fi theme, would you buy it? picked "Maybe", the most interesting part of the results were the exactly equal percentage of people that said they would and would not. It appears as though the community is split 50/50 on the issue, here's the results:

[29%] You bet!
[36%] Maybe
[29%] I don't think so
[6%] I dunno

Total: 252 votes
Custom multiplayer maps are always used in popular multiplayer game such as Empires, but How often do you play them? Answer in our poll! Thanks to Matei for the poll suggestion!

TechTV Review

The popular gaming and technology channel TechTV has posted their review of Empires: Dawn of the Modern World. The reviewer was very impressed with the level of detail in Empires. Overall he gave Empires a 4 out of 5 stars. Here's a bit from the review:
"The environment in DotMW is a fully realized, 3-D world. The camera rotation and zoom scales are impressively wide, and the graphics withstand close-up inspection surprisingly well. Although it's of little use during the heat of battle -- especially during multiplayer games -- the close-ups reveal remarkable model detail, from overlapping armor pieces on your knights to battleship rivets. The designers have done an excellent job of creating distinct designs for each of the nine playable civilizations."
You can find the review at TechTV. Additionally you may watch it tonight on TechTV at 11PM EST or tomorrow at 2AM or 4PM.

Empires Panel Designer Discussion

I'm proud and pleased to introduce the Empires Designer Discussion that took place the majority of January 2004. These discussions were intended to bring together many of the well known designers for Empire Earth and Empires into one private medium where they may could give their in-depth opinions about various issues and topics surrounding scenario design for RTS games. Some of these great designers include Gordon Farrell, Hank, and Eggman, all of whom designed for Stainless Steel. I'm sure everyone should be able to benefit from it, at the very least learn what the word halcyon means.

Think we should of covered different topics? Maybe have a multiplayer discussion? Well, send all your opinions through email or in our forum thread.

Proper Use of France

Fellow staff member DoJo_AntiAmi has written an extremely in-depth strategy on how to use France in competitive play. The article is quite long, covering every aspect of the France civilization. It concludes with some very useful build orders and tips that everyone should try to follow. Overall it is an excellent article which veterans and rookies alike may learn from.
"France is a good civ, nice and flexible, which is why I like them. There are many viable strategies with them, and you need to know which one to use and when. The French can be very potent in 1 vs 1 matches, and can be invaluable in team games. So, in this article, I will show you how to truly use the French to the fullest."
You may find this article in our new launched Strategy Section. Be sure to check all the articles out!

Forum Party Tomorrow! February 7

Tomorrow we are having another forum party. It of course will be a patch 1.01 party, so make sure to download the patch. Last week we had some hosting problems, but they all seem to be solved by now and I should be able to host. The party will be held at 11AM EST and 7PM EST in the Tournament Room. The password is hg. Be sure to check the Forum Party Thread for the complete information. So join us this week and I'll see you on the battlefields =).

X-Play Reviews Empires:

X-Play, the gaming show from the popular cable technology channel TechTV will feature a review of Empires in their next episode that will air Monday 2/9 at 11 pm and Tuesday 2/10 at 2 am and 4 pm EST. So be sure to check out that episode if you get the channel!

"In the world of computer games, a few developers have achieved the notoriety of rock stars. Rick Goodman, of Stainless Steel Studios, is not one of them, though he's quite popular in real-time strategy circles thanks to his hit "Age of Empires." Now he's back with a new RTS, "Empires: Dawn of the Modern World." Join us on "X-Play" as we examine Goodman's affinity for all things imperial."

Khabal Gaming Reviews Empires

Giving an 8 out of 10 to Empires in their latest review, Khabal Gaming really only seemed to be disappointed in the game's sound where they gave that section a score of 7 out of 10 as opposed to the 8 or 9 that the other aspects of the game got. Read on in the review for more details about that, here's an excerpt:

"This game, however, has a lot of good points. The campaigns themselves will take quite some time to complete, and your objectives can change as the game progresses. There even are objectives that might be totally optional, if not just to give yourself another challenge. The AI itself has presented quite a challenge, effectively maneuvering its units into advantageous positions."

Review at DreamStation

We haven't seen one of these rascals in a while; DreamStation posted their review of Empires just recently, giving it a solid 8.5 out of 10. Here's a snip:

"Empires: Dawn of the Modern World is a great RTS which was very well thought out with a tough AI. The soundtrack could use a little work, but other than that it's a great game. If you are a fan of RTS's you will not be disappointed."

GameSpy's Top 10 RTS Games

GameSpy has unleashed their Top 10 RTS List following after their fan forum thread with over 500 replies. All the greats are listed, but I was especially happy to see Empire Earth and our brother sites, Rise of Nations and Age of Empires make the list. The #1 spot was a complete surprise for me. No, Starcraft got number 2 for all time best RTS. Maybe, Empires will make the list another 5 years from now, it definitely has the "stuff".

US vs France

A lot of talk has gone on in the forums about the ability that the United States has in defeating the French in WW1 and WW2. Many people think that the US has a considerable disadvantage against the French, but Messiah believes otherwise:

"USA can cream france at the start of the game. A simple build order to achieve this is first 4 guys on berries, put up that settlment as fast as possible. Once it's up immediately get the berry upgrade and wood upgrade. Next 3 guys on wood. Have one of em build a house on your front line. Next 2-3 go on gold with probably another settlement. Get the gold upgrade. Meanwhile, the second you have 2 settlements and a house up, and 140 wood, use all wood builders to put up a rax on the front line and start recruiting. If you do it right you will have constant villager production and will now be able to pump out infantry continuously also..."
Do you agree with his points, or other forumers'? Feel free to add your own two cents in on the conversation, it's a pretty good one thus far!

Eye Candy Thread Nears 100 Screenshots

EH's eye candy thread in our active Scenario Discussions forum is bursting at the seams with screenshots; almost 100 pictures of some of the more gorgeous things the Empires editor and engine can make. If you've been dabbling in eye candy yourself, be sure to post your own eye candy screenshot in the thread! Here's a couple of the current shots that you can find in the thread:



Poll Roundup

Rate the patch from 1(awful) to 5(stunning). Most people decided to rate the patch a solid 4, a good addition and change but it might've been improved in certain area. In any case, it certainly was an extremely extensive patch, and I think that just goes to show how much SSSI is willing to do things for the online community.

[11%] 1 (awful)
[7%] 2 (poor)
[24%] 3 (average)
[40%] 4 (satisfactory)
[18%] 5 (stunning)

Total: 246 votes
Fantasy and sci-fi themes for RTS games seem to be just as popular as historical ones; if SSSI produced a game with a fantasy or sci-fi theme, would you buy it? Answer in our poll!

Are you interested in Rise and Fall: Civilizations at War?
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.