News Archive: March 2004

Poll Roundup

While 55% of the voters in Have you beta tested a game before? haven't beta tested a game, a surprising 35% have indeed tested one. That is surprising considering the usually low amount of people beta tests include, but not too surprising for such an online community as this.

[35%] Yes
[55%] No, but I want to
[10%] No, not really interested

Total: 160 votes
E3 in May is the place where many developers announce and showcase their newest projects to the press, Do you think SSSI will have anything at E3 this year? Answer in our poll!

Attribute Mathematics with Scenario Design

ZyN's thread on attribute mathematics in scenario designing has started a pretty interesting conversation in our forums, with a couple designers putting in their thoughts on the best way deal with attributes in Empires. Here's what ZyN thought on how to go about things:

-Create an effect that increases P1's Variable0 by his gold (use the PA reference*)
-Put the effect in a trigger
-Create a condition: Player 1's Variable0 > 0
-Create an effect that increases P1's Variable1 by 1
-Create an effect that decreases P1's Variable0 by 2
-Put the condition and the two effects in a looping trigger.
-Create a condition: Player 1's Variable0 < 2
-Create an effect that increases P1's gold by Variable1 (use the PA reference again*)
-Put the condition and the effect in a trigger
-Check the "conditions true for" checkbox and increase it by 1

Branching Dialogues

Talon Karrde has submitted another article to the Scenario Design Library. This article explains how one would create branching dialogues through triggers. Go on over and check the article out!

Forum Party Tomorrow! March 27

Welcome to another installment of our weekly forum party! We had a few great games last week and this week we should be doing the same. A few people felt they were too new to join our forum party. Nonsense! Your slack will be picked up one way or another (either that or you lose =P). So everyone, join us Saturday for another forum party! It will be held in the Tournament Room at 11AM EST and 7PM EST. Check the Forum Party Thread for the complete details. See you there!

Dawn of Fantasy Dawns...Again

DeKont has reported in our forums that the developer - consisting entirely of amateur gamers, many of which came from the Heaven community - Reverie Entertainment has started up the development of their game Dawn of Fantasy again after a break in its creation. From the screenshots that they've released so far, it looks pretty darn cool; I'm interested to see the final product or the beta version when it's released late this year.

"Reverie Entertainment was established in 2001 as at first, a virtual game design studio. Our staff - some of the best amatuer scenario designers and RTS enthusiasts, united by the goal of creating a great RTS title, working part-time at their own expense. Winter 2002 we started on our first project The Dawn of Fantasy, a classical RTS on an epic scale (thousands of units) with numerous RPG elements, such as dungeons, heroes, leveling, changing weapons, and changing armor. Powered by our own competitive 3d engine, Dawn of Fantasy is scheduled for a beta test in fall 2004. A game made by players, for players."
If it ends up as epic and well thought out as it sounds, I bet Dawn of Fantasy will be a pretty good game. Definitely check it out!

Gamespy Contact List

It's been up for a bit now, but if you're looking for any Empires Heaven buddies to play with online, you oughta check out the contact list that's been compiled by The Adder. Right now it has 31 names, maybe you could add yours to the list!

Poll Roundup

It looks like people don't use mods very much at all as shown by the results in the poll question Do you use mods in Empires? It makes sense, as there aren't a huge amount of mods for Empires, especially ones that change various graphics. Check out the results:

[10%] Yes, a number of them
[10%] Yes, some
[80%] No

Total: 125 votes
Have you beta tested a game before? Many different games have had public or private beta tests before their release, have you gotten the chance to test one of them? Answer in our poll!

Imperial Review

Wow, things really picked up on the week of the 14th with the forums having a couple pretty interesting threads that were active. Expansion pack ideas pop up everywhere any time a game is released, and EH's compiled version of that would be a thread just about people posting their ideas for Empires' hypthoetical x-pack. Another thread was started up by ShoGuN_X_, this one being an offer to review recorded games for people; that's a pretty good deal, as things like this can be a help to people's gameplay.

EH got a couple articles added to the site as well, Talon Karrde's Creating a Shieldwall article being the first one; it shows people how to - as the name suggests - create a shield wall in the Empires scenario editor. He followed that one up with another article about how to use triggers to create "new" buildings. The next duo of articles came from Democritus, both written with the intent of helping newer players get good at the game. Check all those articles out!

What's coming next week? Surely more happenings around the forum, it always seems to be active to some degree nowadays.

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

Two New Strategy Guides!

Long time forumer Democritus has written two excellent articles aimed at newbies hoping to master the game. They are part of a series of newbie-targeted articles he is in the process of writing. The first two can be found in our Strategy Central. The first article deals extensively with your early game and how to survive it. The second article deals with combat tactics and unit balance. The two articles are very in-depth and any "newbie" should learn a great deal from them.

We are always looking for more strategies from you guys. So if you have an article of your own you would like to submit, don't hesitate to shoot me an email.

Forum Party Tomorrow! March 20

Another week, another forum party. Join us as we celebrate the weekend with a few games of Empires. We usually have a few great games a week. We certainly have our highlights from last week and hopefully this week will be no different. So if you are no too busy this Saturday, join us! It will be during the usual times of 11AM EST and 7PM EST in the Tournament Room. See the Forum Party Thread. See you there!

Also, after the forum party will be the DoJo 1 on 1 Tournament. It will be held 12PM EST, also in the Tournament Room. So if you want to participate, be sure you check the Tournament Thread. Good luck to all participants!

Another article!

I've just uploaded another article by Talon Karrde to the Scenario Design Library. This article tells how to use triggers to create "new" buildings. Check it out here!

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

Return of Empire Earth Heaven!

Empire Earth Heaven, just a few months short of four years ago, was born at HeavenGames. At the time, I was actually managing EETC (which had also been around for 2+ years) on the same host as HGS, so it was more actually a secret transfer from EETC to EEH.

After lots of fanfare, it has been secretly reborn once more with great help from our Angel Philistine. So, all you old and new Earthers have a home, take good care of it.

Creating a Shieldwall

Talon Karrde has devised a rather interesting way to create a shieldwall in Empires using triggers. The article that Talon wrote on the subject has just been uploaded to the Scenario Design Library. Here's a little excerpt:
In the middle ages, a shieldwall was a strategy devised to keep an enemy army at bay. It was inspired by Roman tactics and the last recorded use of it in western Europe was in the Battle of Hastings in 1066. Basically the frontline of the army would lock shields together by overlapping the shield of their neighbor (hence the name). This way a nearly impenetrable wall was created; it was nearly impossible for cavalry to breach such a wall. There is a way to create a workable shieldwall in Empires, for those of you who have quested for such a thing...

Head over and check the article out!

Have your recorded games reviewed!

ShoGuN_X_ has started a thread looking for people willing to have their game reviewed. He will review one a day, totaling seven a week. So if you have any games you would like criticized (constructive criticism of course!), be sure to read his thread. This is a great way to improve your skills!
"I want some new automatch games to review one a day, so post me a link, I will be truthful and be as accurate as possible. If I come off harsh or to critical its not on purpose. Post away the first 7 automatch games I will review."

Expansion Pack Ideas

After the release of a game from a developer, there is always speculation as to what will come from its expansion pack - even if the x-pack isn't announced. Such is the same here at EH, where a thread has become rather packed with various ideas that people have for an Empires expansion pack; some of the ideas are actually pretty good and I'd love to see them implemented in the game. Here's a bit of what Hank thinks:

"If I had to guess, whatever is next on SSSI's 'to do' list is likely going to occur in the ages before Medieval.

I'd like to see the future of the SP campaigns mix both scenarios AND the world map. Sort of like RoN's SP mode but not as generic. Where what you do in the strategic map can appear in the tactical map. I believe Rome: Total War is doing something like this. There could be provinces that make up Europe, and each province would act like an individual scenario. These provinces can be dynamic, essentially being molded by the world, events and player/computer actions. Imagine each province being a pre-made scenario. It has its own shape, trees, mountains, lakes, rivers, etc. Any buildings created in the world map would appear in this province, and could be interacted with while a battle is going on there."

Poll Roundup

I guess most people don't buy games magazines for Empires info, according to last week's poll of Have you bought a games magazine for Empires info? Here are the poll results:

[8%] Yes, several
[11%] Yes, a couple
[81%] No

Total: 166 votes
Mods are popular custom additions to games, in particular RTS and FPS ones; Empires is no different. Do you use mods in Empires? Enjoy the modifications to graphics or whatever other aspect of the game that they provide? Answer in our poll!

Imperial Review

People experienced in programming surely found this bit of news the most notable this week: Stainless Steel Studios is currently looking for a couple programmers to add to their already amazing team. The requirements might be a little steep for some (five or more years experience with C++), but it's only to guarantee the grade A quality of the games that they release.

The news of Gordon Farrell's first post-SSSI scenario definitely got the attention of many scenario designers and gamers in general as it is guaranteed to be of the best-quality; Gordon has one of the best credentials of any scenario designer in the community, I'd recommend checking out that scenario as soon as possible!

What's coming next week? I'm not sure that anything will happen around EH, but I'm gonna be going on a trip to Big Huge Games in Baltimore this next weekend; you're sure to see a lot of cool stuff from RoNH following that trip.

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

Two New Design Articles

I've just finished uploading two new articles to the Scenario Design Library. One of the articles, written by Mob Freako shows how to create realistic maps, you can find the article here. The other article is about using water and it is written by me. You can find it here.

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

Oh boy, the pilgrim has a switchblade...

Gordon Farrell has just released what could be the most anticipated "fan-made" scenario for Empires yet: The Norman Campaigns Book 1: Pilgrims With Knives. Although he was part of the team that designed the original scenarios in the Empires singleplayer, this is his first one outside of work at SSSI. It looks like a very interesting scenario, and by the looks at its designer's credentials it should prove to be an amazingly fun one as well.

"Half a century before the Normans conquered England, adventurous sons of landless Norman lords scoured the Medierranean for fortune and glory. And in 11th Century Italy they discovered a land fraught with turmoil -- a land full of opportunity for men who knew how to use their wits and their weapons. Fighting off the Byzantine Empire, Saracen raiders and local outlaws, they laid the groundwork for an alliance that in the coming years would be the foundation of a new kingdom they would carve out of this foreign land for themselves. The first Norman Conquest had begun."

Forum Party Tomorrow! March 13

Tomrrow is our weekly forum party and we encourage everyone to join us. We've been having these for a while now and every week we have some great games. This week should be no different. Join us in the Tournament Room at 11AM EST and 7PM EST and play a few games of random civilization, random team, and random map games. That will surely make for some interesting results! See the Forum Party Thread for the complete details. Hope to see you there!

Expansion Pack Ideas?

Solo Fighter has started a thread which has gotten some attention. In his Expansion Pack Ideas thread, he discusses his pick of civilizations and ages for an expansion to Empires: Dawn of the Modern World. Another forumer, Cow_Marine438, has posted quite thorough list of what he wishes for. We like to hear (and SSSI too!) what you guys want for a expansion pack. Join the discussion.

Programmer Wanted!

Thanks to the resident news contributer Eminent, we know that Stainless Steel Studios is now hiring! If you have a few years of programming behind you (five of more of C++) and experienced in programming with Direct3D, you may have found your dream job! The job description including requirements can be found at SSSi. Here's an excerpt from the page:
"Experienced C++ 3-D graphics programmer needed for real-time strategy game development on the PC. If you love games and are the best in the field, send us your resume now.

Graphics programmers are responsible for the technical direction of the rendering engine, implementing cutting edge 3-D features, working closely with the art team, and maintaining existing code and tools.

Demonstrated proficiency in C/C++ and Direct3D is required.

The ideal candidates will also have experience in team and task management and have a passion for playing real-time strategy games. All candidates should make available for our review a 3-D sample program and source code. Enthusiasm and self-motivation also required. No degree is necessary."
Good luck to all those who apply, this may be your big break!

Poll Roundup

I must say I'm surprised by the results of What kind of internet connection do you have? It turns out the majority of the visitors have Cable, rather than dialup like I had assumed. Overall, most people have some kind of high-speed internet, which makes dialup users like myself green with envy, hehehe. Here's the results of the poll:

[19%] Dialup (56k modem)
[43%] Cable modem
[33%] DSL
[5%] Other

Total: 151 votes
The two major mediums for game media is the internet and magazines, though access to one medium doesn't guarantee the use of the other. Have you bought a games magazine for Empires info? Answer in our poll!

Creating Hybrid Buildings in the Empires Editor

Gordon Farrell is one of the people that has discovered how to create hybrid buildings like what's been seen from the scenario editors of the Age series of games and other such RTSs. This technique for making "new buildings" should prove to be rather useful in creating some original-looking scenarios in the future. Good find, Gordon!

So lots of us have figured out at this point that fooling around with either the Replace function, or graphic scale, can produce cool-looking new buildings. I've been working primarily in graphic scale alteration, and I wanted to share a couple of pix I took...

By combining wall units with enlarged buildings, the two types fuse together to create more menacing-looking fortresses. One way cool side effect of this is that when the building is destroyed, the walls remain like ruins of the demolished structure.

Forum Party Tomorrow! March 06

The weekend is upon is and that means another forum party. We will be holding it tomorrow in the Tournament Room at 11AM EST and 7PM EST. Check the Forum Party Thread for the complete details. Be sure to join us!

We will also test out The 100 Years War scenario, designed by the very talented ScnPunk Team. The objective is to capture at least 8 enemy cities around the map in BF1942 style. Enjoy!

Railways in Empires?

Midgard Eagle posted a rather interesting idea concerning the implementation of railways in real time strategy games, in particular Empires. As railways were used extensively during WW1 and WW2, it would seem reasonable to add them into a fairly historically-accurate game set in those time periods. Some forumers disagree with what Midgard had to say, and others agreed. Here are some of his thoughts:

"My main issue with trains is the fact that rails are, realistically, very easily destroyed, and it takes only one destroyed rail segment to keep a train from moving from point A to point B. I simply do not know how to deal with this in a way that feels good and realistic, except to have the player patrol the rail lines and discouraging building of railroads too far away from your base.

As to trains being undefended against land units, well, I like to compare them with British APCs. Lightly armed, but with a gang of Tommies inside ready to jump out when needed.

I don't expect trains to be released in a patch (I'm not that dumb), but as an expansion pack add-on, they'd add a lot to the game."

Empire Earth Tournament from Empires Allance and the RS Clan

Empires Alliance and the RS Clan have announced an Empire Earth tournament between the organizations, with the prizes being Age of Mythology plus The Titans as well as Rise of Nations. The game copies will be in french, but free non-english games are still pretty good, methinks. Here's the scoop from Swim:

"Just wanted to tell you that Empires Alliance and the RS clan are organizing a great tourney on Empire Earth, just to remember the good old time ;)

It's going to take place on March 20th, and a collector pack of Age of Mythology + The titans x-pack and Rise of Nations (both french versions) will be given away to the first and the second !

You can find all the details here: http://loic.vauvrecy.free.fr/tournoi/"

Poll Roundup

More people voted No on Does HG affect your choice of games? than Yes, though a decent amount still voted for the latter option. Interesting to see just how many people HG affects as far as game choice goes. Here are the poll results:

[37%] Yeah
[53%] Not really
[10%] Don't know

Total: 164 votes
Although everyone viewing this has an internet connection, the quality and type likely varies greatly. What kind of internet connection do you have? Dialup? Cable? DSL? Answer in our poll!

Hybrid Buildings

Not to be outdone, Gordon Farrell is showing off some eyecandy from his latest creation, The Norman Campaigns, Book 1. In his Hybrid Buildings thread he shows off some creative building placement that create a nice fortress.
"So lots of us have figured out at this point that fooling around with either the Replace function, or graphic scale, can produce cool-looking new buildings. I've been working primarily in graphic scale alteration, and I wanted to share a couple of pix I took...

By combining wall units with enlarged buildings, the two types fuse together to create more menacing-looking fortresses. One way cool side effect of this is that when the building is destroyed, the walls remain like ruins of the demolished structure."
Excellent work Gordon!

DoJo 1v1 Tournament

The DoJo clan, headed by our own AntiAmi, is holding a 1v1 tournament this weekend, March the 6th. It will be double elimination, which means you can have only two losses before being eliminated. The starting age will be Medieval to World War II with a 3000 pop cap. There will be no prizes for the winner of this tournament (except bragging rights ;), but if participation is high, maybe there will be in the future! You can find the complete details and how to sign up in his thread.

Review at Stratos Group

The folks at Stratos Group have a review of Empires at their site; they didn't give the best score (3.7 out of 5), but it's not a horrible score either. Here's a snip:

"Summary: 3.7 / 5.0
In sum, Empires: Dawn of the Modern World is a good, but not outstanding, RTS. It is a relief to see a game that takes historical progress as more than simply a stage to pass through on your way to tanks and planes. After the cornucopia of choices available in Rise of Nations (18 cultures), the four early and five later cultures of Empires may seem a little small..."

Are you interested in Rise and Fall: Civilizations at War?
A Little
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Empires: Dawn of the Modern World is a game by Stainless Steel Studios and published by Activision.