News Archive: July 2003

Discussion on Germany in our Forums

A thread in our forums has been active with discussion on the connection between Germany and Britain, since it was previously believed that Germany would be an offshoot of Britain starting in WW1. Even though they aren't an offshoot, Germany does still seem to have some kind of link with Britain, and the thread is still active with discussion on the subject. Check it out!


New screenshots are up over at Gamespy still warm the oven...or, in this case, Stainless Steel Studios. They came from Activision's Activate 2003, and I'm hoping to see more screenshots from the event in the coming days. I might be the only one hoping for it...are you? Nah, who wants new screenshots of one of the coolest RTS's ever?


Everyone visiting this site, I hope!

Make Your Desktop Pretty!

With Warbird's new Empires wallpaper that he posted in the forums recently. It's pretty cool looking, as you can see; be sure to get it!

Poll Roundup

Last week's poll question was What is the ideal game length for you when you play an RTS? It looks like most people like games around the middle of the range for the poll: 1 to 2 hours. I agree with the majority on this one, my favorite games have been around that area as well. However, a reasonable number of people apparently like really long games, longer than 4 hours. Here are the full results for the poll:

[3%] 15 minutes
[10%] 30 minutes
[14%] 45 minutes
[26%] 1 hour
[21%] 2 hours
[7%] 3 hours
[20%] 4+ hours

Total Votes: 291
Our next poll question comes right from the man himself again, Rick Goodman: What is the you favorite map type? Open flatlands, easily defendable chokepoints, what type of map do you most enjoy playing? Be sure to answer in our poll!

Glimpse of Empires at GenCon

GameSpot got a chance to play a bit of Empires while they were over at GenCon and were able to play two scenarios from the singleplayer campaigns: one from the Richard The Lionhearted campaign and the much anticipated D-Day scenario. The brief article on this didn't give out any new information, though it's an interesting read nonetheless. Here's an excerpt:

We then switched over to the major US operations on D-Day in World War II, and watched three major beach offensives, followed by an inland battle. Unfortunately, in the first few battles, the Americans were devastated by the German King Tiger tank--the most powerful tank in the game, hands-down. However, we watched later battles that involved combined efforts from American GIs, who have the unique "charge" ability which causes them to move more quickly and deal more damage in combat, along with US Army Rangers, who have the ability to call in long-range artillery strikes...

Imperial Review

Like the new name for this week in review news post? It was suggested by forumer Guardian, I like it!

There really wasn't any particular event last week that stood out among the others, though we did have a lot of developer activity in our forums. Hank's scenario planning thread has begun quite a lot of conversation and thought amongst the designers and non-designers alike in our forums. There are several really interesting ideas that I'd love to see go into scenario-form; check out the thread yourself to see! The foruming machine that I like to affectionately call Hank also made quite a lengthy reply in a thread about the use of Nukes in RTS games; his post - of course - addressing the use of Nukes in Empires. Gordon Farrel reported on how well the singlplayer editor's cinematics were progressing in the game, and Hank & Angel Z talked about the sheer coolness-factor of Empires' D-Day scenario. Who wouldn't love a good D-Day scenario? I mean, an amphibious landing with tons of fighting and mayhem...what could be cooler?

On the preview front, activity upped a notch from last week. GameInfoWire.com and WorthPlaying had screenshots released, and Kompjuterske Igre, The Armchair Empire, GameSpot, IGN, and PCGamer had new reviews to read. Most notably of which was the GameSpot interview, I'd read that one if I were to read just one; a lot of great new information packed into it.

What's coming next week? Not a clue. Hmmm. I'll keep you guys updated on everything nonetheless.

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

New PCGamer Interview & Ad

Although some of you might not have a subscription to PCGamer, AzN has given us the scoop on the basic schtuff concerning Empires that's coming with the September issue of the magazine. The four page long ad has a couple new units, and the interview with Rick Goodman didn't cover much new information besides an overview of the Russians and French. Here's a bit of what AzN had to say in his thread:

The new ad is four pages long. It is similar to the previous ad in PCGamer, except it has new units. The units in this set of Ads are: Flaming Pitch (English), Turtle Boat (Korean) and Zeppelin (German)...

But things I noticed in the September issue of PCGamer:
  • Fog color seems to be affected by sun color.
  • Rick Goodman's favorite civ is France.
  • Water has a spiffy sun reflection.

    Also, the skybox in Empires seems to have a better looking texture. If you can't see the screenshot, imagine a Battlefield 1942 sky. And if that is not possible, just look outside near dusk.
  • Development on Greece's Gaming Ban

    Although this isn't directly related to Empires, it's still pretty big news. If you haven't been aware of the situation, I'll get you up to date: Last year, Greece began a ban that basically banned all video games in the country (inadvertantly or not); causing quite a stir in the gaming community as well as other European states, apparently. Well that stir apparently started action in the European Commission, which threatens to become involved in the situation. I'm sure most gamers are hoping that this ban is lifted in Greece, because I doubt many of you reading would want something like this to spread to other countries. Here's a snippet from the news article in ZDNet:

    The Greek government has been warned by the European Commission over a law it passed last year that seemed to ban all computer games. The law stirred up anger and disbelief after it resulted in several arrests and the closure of Internet cafes.

    Although Greece later clarified that the law only prohibits gambling-related games, the EC was "unsatisfied" with the response and has sent a formal notice requesting more information. The commission said it is also concerned that it was not notified about the law while the law was still in its draft stages, which in this case was a requirement.

    Nukes in Empires

    A very popular thread on Nukes has sparked quite a lot of conversation among the forumers, each voicing their opinions on how nukes could/should work in RTS games. Many RTS games have put these highly-destructive weapons into the gameplay, and Empires is no exception. Here's some what Hank says nukes are like in Empires:

    Nukes are really only a small part of a huge game here. They only appear in WWII and usually not until the later stages of a game. They are expensive and are not fool-proof in their delivery. Things can go wrong...such as getting your bomber shot down...

    Usually nukes need to be used in conjunction with a ground assault. A nuke or two will not obliterate the enemy, and if you are playing against a good opponent you need to have the offensive power to follow up a nuke attack and finish him off.
    Although not game-changing, fairly easily-countered nukes in Empires do seem to pack a pretty hefty puch and should cause quite a lot of destruction if they hit their mark; I'm eager to see them used in the game.

    IGN Previews Empires Again

    IGN PC has also released a updated preview of Empires. It looks like Rick is making a tour around the different gaming sites. The preview covers a single page and doesn't appear to come with new screenshots, but it still does have some useful information about the French and Russians. Here's one quote:
    All French buildings are also garrisoned with extra troops who'll come out attacking if the building is destroyed. Crews will even jump out of destroyed French vehicles to fight on. We saw one great scene where Rick called in a number of bombers. Flying high over the German base, the bombers fell to the fire of the massive 88s. As the planes crashed, the crews parachuted out to continue the fight on foot.
    Empires has so many little features spread across all the civs, I can only imagine there'll be a lot of mouse clicking and micromanaging during the large scale battles. The rest of the preview can be found on this page here.

    New Video Interview @ Gamespot

    GameSpot also has a new 70 meg video interview with Rick Goodman. Unfouruntely, it is only viewable by the GameSpot Exclusive members, those who pay a monthly fee. I'm currently trying to find someone with one and see if the interview contains any new information. You can see it here for those that do have membership, please tell us in the forums if anything new comes up.

    New Gamespot Preview

    Gamespot has a new preview of Empires along with new information and screenshots. The preview is packed with 2 pages of good information. For example, here is a new building that the French have exclusive access to:
    The French have a number of useful military units to supplement their armies, including the stationary surveillance post, a small tower that is disguised as a tree and equipped with a powerful transmitter that grants nearby line of sight. As you'd expect from the cunning French, this tower is completely invisible unless it's approached very, very closely.
    The preview also mentions the French saboteur, smoke bombs, garrisonable bunkers, and a whole lot more. The preview also covers a good deal about Russia, one of the civs that hasn't been talked about too much along with a mention of a Russian campaign, perhaps the tutorial campaign:
    As for the Russians, we were able to take a look at their World War II campaign to free Stalingrad.
    This is definitely a good read for anyone, be sure to read the rest of the preview here.

    Scenario Plans?

    Well, it's never too early to start. The HG communities have always had some great designers, and this one is no exception. So Hank from SSSI has a query on the settings and concept some of the designers in our community have planned for scenarios when they get their hands on the game. Suggestions and thoughts are coming up in the thread, and it's a great place to see what some people are planning as well as to work out some ideas; anyone interested in scenario design or just playing custom scenarios should definitely check it out!

    New Screenshot

    Worth Playing has screenshots of Empires: Dawn of Modern World. There are only 6 screenshots, and some of them are old. The last screenshot definitely looks new though with what I guess to be British forces attacking a German base. I can only wonder if that white flag in the background serves any purpose. You can check them all out here. I'll also be updating the screenshots page later today.

    The Armchair Empire Previews Empires

    The Armchair Empire's preview of Empires doesn't really give out any new information for the game, but it does provide a little amusement while reading the preview. You can read it for some entertainment, but you won't learn too much from it. Your call. If anything, I'm sure you Monty Python fans will like the reference in the preview! Ni, ni, ni! ;-)

    One of the silliest moments in cinematic history involved a cow, catapulted over a castle wall at King Arthur's troops in Monty Python's The Holy Grail. That said, Empires: Dawn of the Modern World does not intend to be a silly game; cows, in this title, will be launched at enemies with earnestness and devastating force.

    Poll Roundup

    (I was supposed to be gone to the orphanage starting today for the rest of the week, but they've been having a lot of problems with their water and plumbing so I'm only going to go a couple hours a day for several more days. Oh well, now I'll be able to still make updates this week. :-)

    Last week's poll question - and the first poll question for EH - was Will you be playing multiplayer scenarios? The results from the poll were quite varied, though the most votes came from those that do everything. Here's the poll results:

    [21 votes] Only reason to buy the game!
    [38 votes] Sometimes, if they're any fun
    [20 votes] RM and DM are the only way to go!
    [38 votes] Play, Design, Distribute, All of the Above!
    [40 votes] I prefer playing offline
    [13 votes] Who said they exist?
    [50 votes] Whatever, I do everything

    Total: 220 Votes
    This week's poll question comes by request of Rick Goodman: What is the ideal game length for you when you play an RTS? Be sure to give this poll an answer, I'm sure Rick will appreciate it!

    A Bit of Editor/Singleplayer Info

    Not the biggest news around, but a couple of the folks from SSSI have been posting in our forums on how the singleplayer and scenario editor in Empires is. From what he's reported so far, both will be awesome; a treasure for most scenario editors and gamers alike. The cinematics in Empires are apparently an impressive sight, as reported by Gordon:

    In fact we have a team of four guys who are specializing in nothing but cinematics built from the in-game engine. Wow are they doing some awwwwesome work. The first time I saw an interior scene set inside a castle I practically fell out of my chair. But forget voice overs --- we've got lip-synching!
    In another thread, Hank and Angel Z attest to how fun Empires' D-Day scenario is; something that most people can't say about said scenarios from many other RTS's.

    New Screenshots at GameInfoWire.com

    GameInfoWire.com has released 10 screenshots of Empires on their website. Although most of the screenshots have likely already been seen by most of you, there are a couple new ones which I'm sure you'll like. Check 'em out!

    Kompjuterske Igre Preview

    Thanks to Empires Aeon for spotting this: Kompjuterske Igre wrote up a preview of Empires late this past June. It doesn't cover any new information, but it seems to be pleased with how the game is turning out. Here's an excerpt:

    Just like Empire Earth, Empires: Dawn of the Modern World will strive to present and describe a large part of humanity`s history. Actually, this is going to be a real-time strategy game and it will take us through several centuries, stressing the most important events in the human history. Considering the fact that a man called Rick Goodman behind this game stands - for those who don`t know it, the person who did the design for the already mentioned Empire Earth as well as for Age of Empires, and therefore one of those great men who took part in the creation and establishment of the real-time strategy genre - the expectations are great with a good reason. But, let`s see what will this new game have to offer…

    Week In Review

    Well hey, it's Angel Soc! If you do some visiting around other parts of Heaven, you might recall my name from AoMH where I spend most of my time...planning for my global takeove- er, webmastering the site. I'll be helping out around here for while, updating the news and such.

    If you visit AoMH, you might also recall that we have "week in review" news posts called "Battlefield Briefings", that pretty much just sum up the past week's happenings in a single news post. Well, I'd think up a catchy new name for this site's week in review news post...but I can't think of any. So I'm just calling it the "Week In Review". Catchy, eh?! I sure do think so. If you've got an idea, just send it over.

    Well anyways, I've finally decided to stop the rambling and start the summarizing. I'd say the biggest news this week by far has been the opening of this very site. It's some great work from all of the staff here at Empires Heaven (including the newly promoted Angels AzN and Matt), and I'm sure the site will be successful and active for a long time. Hey, if you keep visiting, we'll keep updating. Good deal, eh?

    Upon the opening of this site, a great interview of Rick Goodman was conducted by EE France and translated for posting on EEH. The interview seems to have improved many people's opinions towards the game, it's a great read that includes a lot of information that you just might want to know. Rick has been quite the popular fellow, with HomeLan Fed also interviewing the RTS legend. Check it out!

    Previews previews previews, we always see these babies in abundance prior to the release of a game. And Empires is no exception, with reviews from GameSurf, Meristation, EE France and UGO popping up in the past couple days.

    What's coming next week? Well, I really don't know. I'm going to be leaving to help out at a place with physically/mentally disabled and abused kids for the whole week while I'm here in Mexico starting Monday, so I won't be able to do any updating until I get back on the following week. But I'll be sure to keep you all updated when I get back.

    That's it for this week!

    United Kingdom Overview and more

    As I said yesterday, I would get the United Kingdom Overview done before I leave. You can find the United Kingdom Overviews in our Civilizations section. Again, it contains all the updated information from various interviews and previews.

    Also, Gordon Farrel has posted a follow up to Angel Park's news post. Here is what he had to say:
    Let me explain a little bit more about how interiors work. They aren't pre-existing, and they aren't attached to specific buildings. To create interiors, you will take a portion of the map and build your own room (or even a series of rooms, dungeons, hallways, whatever you want).

    Another portion of the map is dedicated to exterior settings --- towns, villages, castle exteriors, roads, forests, etc. You will create a trigger so that, when a unit approaches a specific building, the unit is transported to the interior you created.

    In fact, if you want, the whole scenario can be interior!
    You can find his Get Ready for the New AoK! thread here. Gordon also commented on the Medieval campaign:
    I didn't mean to say that the whole game focuses on medieval. If I gave anyone that impression, I apologize deeply. What I meant to say was that the medieval era (as with all the eras) has so much depth to it, you'll be able to do everything you can do in AoK, plus tons more, and it will look as good or better than the AoK artwork. If you're a hardcore medievalist, you're going to get a HUGE kick out of building medieval campaigns in EDMW.

    English Overview and more

    The English Overview is complete, you can find it in our Civilizations section. As usual, it contains the most up-to-date information about England at this time. Tomorrow I should be able to finish the United Kingdom section. And if you have not noticed, the Civilization section got a little upgrade. It should be much easier to navigate to related sections now.

    Changes were also done to our Previews page, adding an older PCGames.de preview. As you can see, we have not stopped working since the launch to keep this site as updated and complete as possible.

    However, we all need our rest. So this weekend, much of the staff will be going on short vacations. I too am going on a vacation, I will be back August 4th.

    In other news, EmpiresRTS is very close to finishing it's England and United Kingdom sections. It seems that they are only missing the Special Units for England. You can find it here. If you need to contact me, leave a message by ICQ. My mailbox will be locked.

    HomeLan Fed Interview with Rick Goodman

    Early this Morning (some can consider it last night), HomeLan Fed put up an new interview with Rick Goodman. The interviewer asked a good set of questions. For one, Rick Goodman personally confirms all the civilizations. This interview also explains each campaign in detail:
    The first campaign takes place in Medieval England as young Richard the Lionheart seeks to ascend the thrown of England amidst conspiracies, plots and intrigue. As the second eldest of four brothers, he must defend England against France and discover who is plotting against his father to overthrow the Empire.

    The second campaign takes place in Korea during the Gun Powder Age. In 1592, the Japanese launched a 100,000 strong invasion force to seize the country and you must find a way to defend the homeland against 100 to 1 odds. To be successful, the player will have to lean the strengths and weaknesses inherent in the Korean civilization, which are entirely different from that of the English civilization in the campaign before this.

    The final story puts you in command of Patton’s tank corps in WW2. You plan and execute a strategy to defeat the axis and win the war using combined air, land and sea operations. You will command forces at Sicily and D-day as you attempt to liberate Europe and sweep into Berlin before the Russians. But there may be German double agents in your midst…
    Also, multiple new units are mentioned, such as the Berserker, which can attack multiple enemies at once, hide in forests and attack from them, the Montgolfier Balloon, which demoralizes troops below or the Crusader, a knight which can fight and covert enemies. Apparently, there is a mystery Chinese "flying unit":
    According to our research, the first “flying unit” was actually invented by the Chinese, several hundred years earlier. In the game, the Chinese can build this device and I think you’ll be amazed when you see it.
    Other things mentioned are abilities such as Russian Communist Propaganda and English Prospecting. Also confirmed are vertex and pixel shaders, along with bumpmapping
    Empires: Dawn of the Modern World is built on a second-generation graphics engine, incorporating many cutting edge features, such as vertex and pixel shaders, bump mapping and multi-texturing. These provide for real-time shadows, night & day, trees that sway in the wind, underwater caustics and environment reflection mapping. We have incorporated an all-new advanced physics engine, so tanks recoil and soldiers caught in an explosion are blasted into the air.
    You can find the interview here. I was right about the vertex and pixel shaders! Thanks Sunshine!

    Community & Site Fire Side Chat

    Empires Heaven will soon be 3 days old, and the world has yet to crumble to ashes

    Looking through past websites, I found it strangely ironic that Age of Mythology Heaven was born just 2 years ago on this exact day, which was webmastered by Thunder, who now is PR Director at Big Huge Games.

    Currently, the two top threads in our General Forum appear to be Lighting, reflections and shadows and Are there berry bushes in Empires?. Azn has discovered quite an interesting find:
    Vertex shaders will be used in everything including lights, shadows, the shore, fog, terrain, water and trees.
    Pixel shaders will be used to bumpmap damage decals, terrain and fog. While this is not certain, I can assure you the Unit Viewer comes with files describing these actions.
    For the ones who're not great with tech information, this means the game will look very beatiful and detailed. Azn also found proof that the textures in Empires are indeed much more detailed, hopefully meaning no more blocky heads. Be sure to post your thoughts about the game as well in the forums.

    Also, Gordon Farrell, one of the scenario designers for Empires, recently posted at AOKH, introducing Empires to the fans there. The discussions seems to be on going with over 50 replies, but there was one gem that he posted:
    All graphical effects from the game will be made available --- smoke, fire, glowing units, special markers, all sound effects, all explosions, tons of ambients.

    And you're going to fall over when you see how easy it is to create fully-realized, gorgeous cinematics, interior and exterior. Yes, you can create full interior scenes, inside the castles, with dismounted units interacting in medieval rooms that are fully dressed out with interior furnishings!
    While it is unlikely that all or even most buildings would have, it would still be wonderful to even have a single inside building. No more outside chats with the King, now we go to his throne! You can rest the rest of what he said in this thread.

    The site is contiously being updated although you might not exactly see it. For example, since launch there has been 3 new screenshots, a new UK Units page, new navigation bars added to the pages, and more. I personally along with some of the other staff will be gone for a few days/weeks, but we'll continue giving you the best and up to date information that there is to offer.

    New Empires Preview at UGO

    UGO recently did a preview on Empires: Dawn of the Modern World. It starts out highlighting the improvement of Empires, over other games of it's genre. Further on in the preview, it gives a quick overview of the more notable features of some of the civilizations. The author seems to be pretty excited about the game, concluding with:
    It's quite an impressive feat to be able to pull off graphics in an RTS that, a couple years ago, would have been serviceable in an action/adventure game. If you're one of the many who enjoyed the Age of Empires games, you should definitely be looking forward to Empires: Dawn of the Modern World.
    It is definitely worth the read. You can find the preview here.

    Empire Earth France Preview

    Recently, Swim of Empire Earth France did an article (preview, really...) on his time in Paris, at the Empires: Dawn of the Modern World presentation. Free translations of the page are horrible. However, I've managed to dig out several new facts:
    ∙ Camera Zoom and Rotation can be done with only two mouse buttons.
    ∙ The French will be economically powerful. Soldiers and buildings will automatically heal/repair. Also, the French have the ability to mobilize their citizens to fight the enemy.
    ∙ The French have Saboteurs, which can plant explosives in buildings. They also have a Motorcyclist, which is used for scouting and the Flamethrower.
    ∙ French Tanks and Airplanes, when about to be destroyed, will evacuate infantry.
    ∙ When a Russian unit dies, the owner recovers a part of the money spent.
    ∙ Russians have a very powerful Marksmen (sniper). A Russian unit, the Commissar "descends coldly on one of the Russian units in front of him". When this is done, other Russian units become motivated by fear and perform much better.
    The preview also includes two civilization cards: England and Germany and the Holy Grail of Historical Gaming. You can find the preview at Empire Earth France.

    The civilization cards provide complete information on that civ's special unit, abilities and technologies. The Holy Grail seems to hint a future expansion by the use of question marks. Apparently, the Holy Grail also shows the transformations of each civ. If you look at it however, it does not show England's transformation to Germany. It appears that Korea will transform into Russia and China to the United States. Odd?

    Update: Empires Aeon has translated this preview to English. You can find it here. Also, it may not be new, but EmpiresRTS has an English / United Kingdom section. You can find it here.

    Civilization Confusion Cleared

    Stainless Steel Steel QA Lead, Scott "Tso" Macmillan stopped by the Empires Aeon forums and posted this little message:
    Now that the civs are all out there, here's why the confusion between 7 and 9...

    You have Franks/France and England/UK. So sometimes it was called 7, counting those sets as one civ, sometimes 9 when people looked at it as two civs.

    Hope that makes sense.
    That would lead us to believe the Franks will eventually change into the French. However, he did not give which age this occurs (likely not World War I like England). Feel free to post your thoughts at our Forums!

    BTW, Guardian_112 posted a cleaned up version of the GameSurf preview in our forums. You can find it here.

    France Confirmed by Previews

    While the news a little bit old, I thought it would be worth posting.
    The first preview comes from the Spanish network Meristation, where Rick Goodman and a few other representatives from Stainless Steel Studios presented Empires: Dawn of the Modern World. Here is an excerpt from the translation:
    In one of the NetGaming rooms of Madrid, the equipment of Stainless Steel Studios with Suzanne Panter, Dara-Lynn Pelechatz, director of operations and Rick Goodman did a small demonstration of their game, showing to us two new civilizations which was not known until now, the French and the Russians.
    You can find the preview here or the summary in our Previews Section.

    Another preview was recently done by Tiscali Games' GameSurf. Again, this preview confirms France and Russia as the final civilizations. The preview is also the first to explain some of the techs for France and Russia. Mentioned is the French ability to "Embargo", which stops enemies' unit production for a period of time. Also mentioned is the Russian ability to "Mobilize", which instantly creates all queued units. You can find the preview here or the summary in our Previews Section.

    We are working hard to get civilization pages up for these newly known civs. For now, you can comment on these very informative previews in our Forums.

    Giggles heard in Empires

    Let's give a nice, warm welcome to Angels AzN and Matt (formerly known as Cherub The Blue Mist). They've both been hard at work putting the site together prelaunch along with Angel Aro, Angel Park, and myself. AzN will be the news editor for the site, while Matt will be our community relations manager.

    Welcome to Empires Heaven!

    An Exclusive French Interview with Rick Goodman

    In order to celebrate our brand new Heaven Site, luck happened to shine on my electronic inbox.

    Swim from EE France shared with us an audio interview with Rick Goodman, founder of Stainless Steel Studios. I was able to transcribe it entirely for all you Empires hungry fans. There're a ton of new things like advanced AI difficulty, improved camera/cutscene creation, and more! You can read the interview with Rick here, but why stop? Keep reading the past ones avaiable in our interviews page. There's a ton of useful information for you new fans. We'll be including the actual audio interview soon. Discuss your reactions over in this new thread.

    Welcome to Empires Heaven!

    Thanks for stopping at this new section of HeavenGames! We will be working hard these few months to bring you the latest news and content for Empires. We've a long time until the release of Stainless Steel Studios' Empires: Dawn of the Modern World, so make yourself at home. Take a few minutes to browse our in-depth Game Information section, vote at the polls or participate in our Forums.

    We have a very talented staff working this site. You can view them all here. If you have any comments or suggestions, be sure to let us know!

    As you see, I'm not very good at these introduction things.... heh

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