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News Archives - November 2005

Scoring and How It Works

AoE3 lead designer Greg "DeathShrimp" Street gave some insight on how scoring in Age of Empires III works over at the Age Community, and how it's calculated in-game. Surprisingly, kills don't count for scores (maybe I was the only one who thought this? ;P). Very interesting stuff. Quote...

Score is pretty much the value of the resources you have + the value of the resources you own in units, buildings and improvements. If a player has a higher score than you, he or she has more resources, more units, more buildings or more improvements.

Kills is not part of the calculation, so you can and will win games over opponents over higher scores than you.

It's also important to note that because improvements can never be lost that score can never reach zero, even if a player is starving and has lost most of their stuff.

Use score as a gauge to see who is ahead. It is a pretty good value of how stong an economy a player has, which has a strong effect on (but does not ensure) victory.

Special thanks to the folks at Planet AoM for spotting this!

DeathShrimp on Trample

ES_DeathShrimp has posted his thoughts regarding Cavalry's "Trample" mode in a General Discussions forum thread. Trample is a micromanagement-mode that allows the horsemen to inflict extra damage on enemies while inflicting damage on themselves (so generally they're attacking themselves). But how effective is it really? Here's the developer's take:

Trample may indeed not be effective enough. As has been well documented, we changed combat pretty late in the game from locked formations to more AOK-like formations. As a result we erred on the side of Trample being too weak.

Trample is going to hurt your cavalry. You have to keep that in mind. As such, it's almost never going to be effective in just beating infantry, and in fact that is not it's role. You are supposed to use Trample in 2 situations:

1) You are going to lose the cavalry anyway. This is particularly true when mobbed by Pike or Muskies. Because Trample does less damage per unit, but more damage total, you can inflict a lot of damage on a lot of units quickly. Think of it as a self-destruct -- you are going to lose the horses, but you were going to lose them anyway, so at least you can take out a bunch of enemies with you.

2) You absolutely have to kill a certain target, usually a Mortar or other artillery. It's hard to kill a Mortar or Cannon defended by say Halberdiers without Culverins. Charging Hussars in will just kill the horses before they even reach the artillery. Again, you want a self-destruct situation where the horses likely die, but take out the Mortars with them. This is not a cost-effective situation -- it's a situation where you want to keep your Fort alive or want to keep yout TC standing for a juicy shipment coming in, or want to keep the AI from getting your Fixed Gun.

Again, perhaps Trample is not as useful in these situations as it should be, in which case we can patch it.

Check out the thread in our forums!

Brian "Vega" Dellinger Interview

Age of, a Swedish fansite, has posted up an interview with Ensemble Studios balance team member Brian "Vega" Dellinger. It provides very interesting information for those of you interested in ES patching procedures. Quote...

"Talking about patches, how does a patching procedure work? And usually, how long does it take?

People think that patching is a very easy process, but infact its a very time consuming issue. First you have meetings on what should be included in the patch. Which can take a bit of time. The easy part probably is getting the changes into the patch, but the part that takes soooo long is the testing part. We have testers that look over the game ALL over again everytime there is a new patch. It has to be done. We have to make sure we didn't introduce some bug/crash with the new patch. It's kinda funny too, because I'll read on the forums people complaining about a bug/exploit.. but infact we already fixed it.. just waiting on test to approve it." ...

AoE3H Gets a New Cherub

I can't handle everything when it comes to news, so what's better than hiring help? Congratulations to our newest Cherub, Nausicaa! She will be our new news editor (with plenty of Aro-assistance), as well as moderator of our Community forum. Welcome to the team, and best of luck! Congratulate her in our forums.

Watch this space -- more to come...

Poll Round-Up!

Three strategies dominate AoE3: the Rush, Boom, and Turtle. Last week we asked which was everybody's favorite. The majority of voters preferred an economic boom as their main gaming strategy, while turtlers come in second place. In last place is, surprisingly, the rushers.

Rush (641)
Boom (1088)
Turtle (709)

This week: What do you think of the AoE3 Campaign? Vote in our poll!

Complete Ottoman Strategy, Anyone?

hippocrack has made a Ottoman strategy and posted it in our Strategy Discussions forum. It's an Ottoman rush called the "G-Spot", a more refined version of your typical rush. He not only gives details, but pictures to help you out. Quote...

"Why this strat was made:

Players these days are very used to the Otto rush and it simply is not as effective as it used to be due to how common it is. While it is still very powerful, many good players can deal with the normal rush fairly easily - even when Otto rushers do a kamikaze approach to a fault, so I don't want to mislead you to think this is going to put anything "crazy-like" in your opponents base. But it will give them a handful (depending on your skill level) and leave you with a excellent economy for fast fortress times or -->more uber units! So in this respect - this will help the beginner with a explicit build-order and also help give veterans another Ottoman option." ...

Saturday + Forum Party = Fun

And there you have it. The reason I'm doing so well in math! It's obviously a result of playing too much Age of Empires III.

Anyway, there's a forum party tomorrow if you hadn't already guessed. Check out the forum party thread for more information!

Most Played Civ... France?

According to the Age Community statistics page, the French are now the most played civ, beating the British by somewhere around 2%. What does this mean? Considering the French are now know to be OP (overpowered) by even the Ensemble Studios, their popularity could increase quickly as time goes on. At the bottom of the list is the Portuguese at 7%, by some considered an underpowered civilization.

French 21.20%
British 19.49%
Ottoman 16.77%
German 13.00%
Spanish 10.98%
Russian 10.37%
Dutch 8.24%
Portuguese 7.22%

Special thanks to Washizu for the news!

Having trouble with Portugal? Not I!

Ceres629, a 92% winner (also known as an 8 percent looser... just kidding...) has put together a very useful strategy guide for Portugal. Many people consider Portugal to be (at least currently) one of the worst civilizations. Ceres' great article should help you to be able to hold your own. To quote from the article:
Portugal are highly dependent on resource cards. Some people look down on resource cards as being noobish or useless, but resource cards are a must for Portugal. In able to utilize your 2 TC advantage for as long as possible you must send food shipments to allow you to pump villagers. Other civs get villager cards, Portugal don't. They must rely on the next best thing, resource cards and an extra TC to produce the villagers from.

Check out his thread to discuss and view his strategy!

Best Seller? No way!

Yeup, Age of Empires III has passed up games like Civilization IV and Call of Duty 2 to take up the top spot in PC sales. Here's the top 10:
1. Age Of Empires III - Microsoft
2. Civilization IV - 2K Games
3. Call Of Duty 2 - Activision
4. Star Wars Battlefront II (CD Edition) - LucasArts
5. World Of Warcraft - Vivendi Universal
6. The Sims 2 - Electronic Arts
7. City Of Villians - NCsoft
8. The Sims 2 Nightlife Expansion Pack - Electronic Arts
9. Battlefield 2 - Electronic Arts
10. Call Of Duty 2 Collectors Edition - Activision
A big congrats to Ensemble!

Hold on to your hats. I'll be covering some news for Aro, while he's unable to access his computer.

Also, thanks to ascari for the news!

Patch Information!

Ensemble has released information on the new patch. Nothing all that special seems to be included, but it does fix a number of bugs:


* New hotkey editor added to the gameNew large map set.
* 5 new large versions of popular maps have been added.
* Fixed a sound crash issue.
* Fixed a bug with sound being choppy
* Fixed some performance issues with boat battles.
* Fixed a D3D initialization error when launching the game.
* Fixed a bug where the auto-patcher text was impossible to read.


* Fixed an bug where disconnecting a player would lock up the game.
* Switching home cities unchecks all players.
* Quick search now uses the Standard Map set.
* Fixed an issue where a user would get in a state that they could not host or join a game.
* Fixed a number of multiplayer exploits.
* New ESO privacy.
* Updated a number of error and user messages.
* Allow users to turn off enter/left chat messages on ESO.
* New user.cfg commands to assist with router and direct IP issues.
Check out their page here!

UPDATE: From Age Community:
More Patch News for 1.02
You asked and we delivered. We wanted to make sure you all knew about 2 more changes going in to patch 1.02 another bug fix and a new feature:

Adding 5 Large Maps
Fixed lockup that sometimes occurred when a player resigned
This is on top of all the changes mentioned before plus many more that you can read about in the game updates section. The patch is going through final testing to make sure that it is up to our expected quality before release it to you our fans.

Find out all of the details in our games updates section.

Poll Round-Up!

Last week we asked which game type everybody enjoyed playing the most. Skirmish won by a huge landslide, with people playing both coming in second. Not too large of a surprise, of course, since most prefer building their empire from scratch. Here are the results:

Skirmish (1808)
DeathMatch (164)
I play both! (202)

This week: What strategy do you use the most? Answer in our poll!

AgeofWiki Featured Article

Well, we've set up a new feature for the Scenario Design community: Featured articles. Every "whenever I feel like it", we will post a news story about articles on the wiki that are really worth reading.

To start you off, here's an article entitled "What to do if triggers stop working". The article was originally started by Guardian, but don't let that stop you from editing it yourself! The entire point of the wiki system is that anyone can edit an article!

This article goes into detail about steps you can take to avoid running into a common problem: All at once, every single trigger in your scenario stops working. This is certainly something that has vexed new designers since the days of AoM, so this article is a must read.

Reyk's New Editor!

Reyk, best known for his work with modding the Age of Mythology editor, has now created a New Editor for AoE3, which he posted about in our Scenario Design forum. This has many usability features that have been lost since AoM:TT, including the complete pitch editor. Let's hope he continues to make updates on the editor so designers can unlock its full potential! Check out the thread for more information.

Forum Party Tomorrow

Who'd have thunk it?

I hope to see a bunch of you there tomorrow, last week's parties were a bunch of fun, and I don't see why this week's would be any different.

Check out the thread for more information!

The Worth of Outposts?

Are Outposts worth building? A discussion thread by Washizu in our Strategy forum got an interesting reply from pro-gamer TheGoodEvil, that gives plenty of reasoning behind their early-game value...

outposts are very useful for stopping all those raids and rushers people keep complaining about... build an outpost where you are resourcing and you don't have to worry about losing 10 vils to 4 cav while trying to run them back to your base.

They also buy you enough time to respond to a threat i.e. 30 enemy troops trying to take down your outpost will give yu enough time to either run your vils away or bring in your troops to defend it.

Add your own thoughts to the thread!

Strategy Directory, Anyone?

Shala_LoL has posted a thread in our Strategy forum that points out all of many important threads and articles, with links to strategies, unit guides, and more. Interested in learning the rushes for different civilizations, or want to check out guides for new players? Be sure to check the thread out!

ESO2 Maintenance Update

Over at the Age Community, ES has posted the latest updates on ESO2...

"Server Latency 21:30 GMT Tuesday (3:30PM Tuesday Central Time) - We are continuing our maintenance schedule on the servers at this time. Do to the popularity of Age of Empires 3, the large amount of accounts being created, and high level of server activity users may experience some latency. To help with the latency we may take the servers down fully for a short period of time. Any games that you play during the maintenance may not have their experience counted. We apologize for the inconvenience and we are working hard to make sure your ESO experience a great one."

If, when you try to log in to ESO, you may get a message about eso not supporting your game version. You are probably ok. This message can appear when there is a timesout connecting to the server. If the server is being restarted you may encounter these timeouts." ...

More updates are expected in the future, so stay tuned.

Poll Round-Up!

What's the favorite civilization in Age of Empires III so far? According to our Poll, the economic British are the favored civilization, with the Ottomans trailing far behind. The least popular civilization appears to be the Spanish at the moment. Here are the complete results...

Spanish (254)
British (639)
French (435)
Portuguese (323)
Dutch (409)
Russians (303)
Germans (369)
Ottomans (482)

For this week, we're curious: "What game type do you enjoy most?" Vote in our poll!

Patch 1.02 Update

Below is the news story for Age Community Site:

We have been hard at work getting ESO up to speed for all of our fans. We apologize for any inconvenience you have had while we work on the servers. Our team has been hard at work on a new patch and we will have it for you in the near future. We are looking at

Hardware Compatibility Issues
Sound Stuttering Issues
Fixes for Direct3D
Stability and Crash Issues
Hotkey Editor
We will post more information in the Game Updates section soon.

They also have a memory leak issue with the ESO Servers leading to certain people getting disconnected in 30 minutes or so. ES assures us that developers are working around the clock to fix that.

Here's hoping everything gets fixed as soon as possible.

Tips for Killing Mercs

Zifnab has posted a topic in our forums that will benefit the folks who have trouble fighting off Mercenaries, a shipment awarded to the higher-level Home Cities for a usually large price. The problem? They're usually stronger, faster, and harder to kill than typical units. Zifnab gives us some tips on eliminating them. Quote...

"4. This "should" be common knowledge, but NEVER EVER fight mercs w/ a unit that the mercs get a bonus against ie swiss pikemen vs uhlans.

5. Since mercs have such high Hp a good player will watch them carefully & pull wounded mercs out of battle to be healed. Concentrate your fire on ONE merc at a time so you ensure that you will KILL it. This way your opponent doesn't have a chance to heal them.

6. I find it preferable to throw large amounts of "junk" troops at mercs rather than smaller amounts of elite units. This is because mercs are as "elite" as units get and so in a 1v1 fight will always beat your top units (provided your unit doesn't have a significant bonus vs them). Masses of cheap troops can swarm mercs and concentrate ALOT of focus fire on individual mercs. Since mercs can only attack 1 unit at a time most of your units are free to FF them to death." ...

Check out the thread for the rest of the tips!

New Patch Soon - Server Issues Fixed Now?

Age Community reports that a new patch is on the way, and that the server problems we've been experiencing with ESO are fixed.

Some of the major fixes/additions included in the patch are hardware compatibility issues, sound stuttering issues, fixes for Direct3D, stability and crash issues and a hotkey editor. Apparently Ensemble will post more information on the path soon.

I'm going to go ahead and quote Ensemble's news on the server issues, as it seems a little contradictory:
17:40GMT Yesterday a serious issue with our load balancer was fixed. Users were being disconnected from ESO after 30 minutes and would be dropped to the main menu and told they had lost their connection to ESO. This also had the side effect of lost XP and stats. This issue is fixed.

Today at 19:30GMT a memory leak was found which resulted in the ESO servers being restarted. For more information please visit this thread in our forums.
Make sure to check out the thread they link to if you're having problems with ESO (or are just plain 'ol confused like myself).

Forum Party - Saturday, November 12th!

The weekly forum party is now officially weekly in that we're having the second party tomorrow.

I don't have much new to tell you aside from the fact that you should check out the thread. Now.

Hope to see a bunch of you there; last week's party was quite a bit of fun!

Scenario Pitch Editor!

RiderofEternity has created a modified Pitch Editor, editing the Age of Mythology version (with all due credit to CheeZy Monkey and Reyk) to adapt to the AoE3 environment. What is a pitch editor? It's a tool that allows you to change the camera angles and view points to create killer cinematics and movies within the Map Editor; this is a heavily simplified version that doesn't require you to spend an hour to create a single scene, unlike the trigger and file-based alternatives. Hopefully we will see futher developments in editor changes!

Download the Pitch Editor from our downloads section, or discuss it in our forums!

New Swiffle Audio Commentary

Over at MFO (the infamous MrFixit Online), pro player Swiffle has released a second audio commentary. The commentaries themselves are very game-educational and a must-have for any player. Download the commentary now!

Special thanks to LordAvenger for posting about this in our General Discussions forum!

Kevin "The Sheriff" Holme Interview

The Age Community has posted up their latest interview, this time with AoE3 expert and balance lead Kevin "The Sheriff" Holme. Quote...

What's the hardest part of your job?

I think the hardest part of my job is trying to convince the rest of the company that a given strategy is or isn't balanced. Because everyone has a voice in the game's design, we have to make sure that everybody is on board with the gameplay decisions that we make. Balance is a very subjective area, and there isn't always one right or wrong answer to a problem.
We also know that there are tons of casual players out there, and that sometimes changes that we make to balance the game for our hardcore multiplayer community could result in a worse gameplay experience for our casual players." ...

The interview gives some interesting insights on his job, and they include a recorded game of the ES tournament finals. Check it out!

Adding HC Characters to Scenarios!

And the Scenario Design news keeps rolling in: ToMyBoY has posted a thread in our Scenario Design forum about how you can add your own Home City object (buildings, units, you name it) to your scenarios. Of course, with every mod, it could cause OOS on ESO2, so make sure you back up the files. Read the instructions on how to in his thread!

Replace Unit

AnastasiaKafka has discovered that you can get access to cheat units within the scenario editor, using none other than the replace function. All that's required is for you to place an object on the map, and then use the "Replace Unit" function. Quote...

For the Replace Unit feature some of the more practical things for scenario design are; Crate of XP (this is a nice piece of candy too), CinematicRevealer, CinematicRevealerTo All, Arrow, ArrowFlaming, GroundDecalGP, GroundPropsAM (this is the fountain of youth but can be placed on land), HurariStronghold, InvisibleProjectile, InvisibleProjectileNoTracer, LazerBeam, LightingSetHelper, NuggetCave, and 16 more Nuggets (these are the Treasures), Power Ranger (This is one of the tiny gold arrows that circle around when Monks and Surgeons Heal), FortFrontier (this is the Fort's foundation), and perhaps a few more too.

Discuss in her thread!

The Galley Sling

Having trouble with naval maps? Maveric_LOL has posted up a strategy called "The Galley Sling" in our Strategy Discussions forum, along with a recorded game, that will possibly assure you a victory on water maps like Amazonia and the Caribbean. Quote...

"Essentially the galley sling is a rush (on a water map no less) that is even more evil than skeletor. If done correctly you can leave your opponent with no dock and more importantly no TC by the 8 minute mark, possibly even the 7 minute mark if you execute it perfectly." ... "This strategy is incredibly effective because people just donít see it coming and are simply floored by it. It works great in both 1v1 and team games, but be warned if you mess it up it can be quite hard to recover." ...

Check out the entire article!

Poll Round-Up!

The final stats are in for last weeks poll, asking "What previous Age game does AoE3 feel the most similar to?" A large majority told us it's unique compared to Ensemble's previous two games, with others thinking it feels more like Age of Kings (coming in a very close second):

Age of Mythology (662)

Age of Kings (696)

It's unique (1089)

Since many now have the game and are fairly well adjusted, it's time to ask what everybody's favorite civ is: "What's your favorite civilization?" Answer in our poll!

Forum Party Wrapup

Today's forum party was quite a success. I was only able to get in a game at each party because they took so long, but I talked to some others who played quite a few games. Overall I think we all had some good fun, and I'm very happy with the way things turned out (we should all be thanking our lucky stars that ESO was up during the parties - it was down, on and off throughout the day).

My first match was a 3v3 on Carolina, that had quite a bit of battling back and forth. The teams were pretty evenly matched, and it was an enjoyable match. Make sure to watch me get back at Flammifer's boats at the end.

The next match was another 3v3 that took place on islands... I don't have much to say about it except that it took quite a while (and that I played horribly), and I had to leave before we finished... islands tend towards stalemates.

So, yeah, if you haven't already guessed the party was a success. Check out the thread for more information!

On second thought, I played a third match, but someone dropped early so while it was fun it was unbalanced, and thus unfit for your pure ears.

New Blog! -- 11/4

Bruce Shelley has posted up a new blog! Topics this time? They give us plenty of pre-launch info, including sales, community support, ESO2 errors, and launch events.

Age 3 Best Selling: IGN reported NPD sales data for the week ending 10/22 that showed Age of Empires 3 as the best selling PC game in the US. They apparently didnít break out sales of the collectorís edition, as they did for other games on the list, so we arenít sure if the basic game alone sold well enough to take top honors. We look forward to more sales data from overseas where the game launches in many countries the first week in November. We just got a report from Taiwan that announced Age 3 and it collectorís edition together setting a new first day sales record there. Congrats to Grace Chou and her Taiwan team.

AoE3H's First Forum Party - Saturday!

Who'd have guessed? The HeavenGames tradition has carried over to its newest site. For those of you that haven't experienced these at other Heavens, basically what they are is a bunch of people from Aoe3H meeting on ESO at a set time to play some games for fun. Occasionally the parties are themed (ie only water maps, ect).

Check out the forum party thread for more information! I hope to have a blast; see you there!

More Unit Stats!

dustin_c1 has posted about his unit stats program for AoE3 in our General Discussions forum, all info taken from the internal data files themselves. It's very useful and looks really cool.

"As long as the schema doesn't change for future patches, I'll be able to update these detailed stats minutes after a patch is released.

This is an early version. I don't consider it finished. I still have some work to do, but I would like some feedback on this." ...

Real Gather Rates

parallax7d has posted an accurate formula for determining gather rates, which can prove useful to testers out there looking for the best early-game investments:

"Everything in the game is divisible by the second. Not a unit of wood, or XP or anything else. The only constant is the 1 second of gathering time a settler produces. All else stems from this, and it should be your common denominator.

I've been testing settler gather rates and have settled on some figures that I would consider their "real" in game gathering rates. Due to decay and walk time the gather rates specified by the game are grossly inaccurate.

Anyhow, I won't go into my methodology, cause you should really test it yourself. Assuming that you will use Trees for all your wood, Mines for 75% of your coin, Plantations for 25% of your coin, Hunting for 75% of your food, and Mills and Berries for 25% of your food over an entire game I came up with these values. (All based on un-upgraded settlers - but it scales relatively with upgrades...)

.6 food per second

.54 coin per second

.49 wood per second" ...

Check out the thread for more! Keep an eye on the thread, The worth of a shipment? I have a feeling we'll learn a lot more about the true value of shipments.

AoE III Number One in Sales

The NPD group released data on game sales for the week ending October 22nd and according to that, Age of Empires III was the best selling game for that week. This just includes the Standard Edition though. The next 4 slots were occupied by FPS games. List is:
1. Age of Empires III (Microsoft)
2. QUAKE 4 (Activision)
3. F.E.A.R. (Vivendi Universal)
4. F.E.A.R. Director's Ed. (Vivendi Universal)
5. QUAKE 4 Special Ed. (Activision)
6. The Sims 2 Nightlife (Electronic Arts)
7. World of Warcraft (Blizzard)
8. Black & White 2 (Electronic Arts)
9. Battlefield 2 (Electronic Arts)
10. The Sims 2 (Electronic Arts)

Lets hope the game continues this trend, which I am pretty sure it will for some time.

Downloads Section Open

Its been some weeks since the American release of the game and now its available in Europe too. That means Heavengames has opened its downloads section to now allow submissions for sceanrios/modpacks/Random Maps/Rec Games, etc for the full game. Check it out : AoE3H Downloads Section.

The Downloads Section provides a way for the fans to submit their form of creative work and allows other fans to rate and comment on those submissions. Heavengames will do its best to maintain the same quality in the Downloads Section as in its previous heavens. Have fun, and I am looking forward to seeing some quality work from the fans.

Editor Bugs?

ES_Bigdog, in response to one of our forumers, cleared us up on any rumors that the editor would not be fixed. Quote...

If there are flat-out bugs with the editor, just report them and we'll put them in the hopper to be fixed. That doesn't guarantee a specific timetable for a fix, obviously, but we will look at it.

For example, I'm not sure what the camera pitch bug is (didn't know there was one) and I'm not sure what triggers are missings (since we ported over every Titans triggers and added a bunch). Let us know what you guys want fixed and we'll look at it fixing it.

I don't recall who made the infamous "Don't expect a patch for the editor" statement, but I'm pretty sure they were referring to it being unlikely that we would be adding hordes of new features to the editor, etc. But, if there are bugs that are killing it for you guys, we want to fix those

Want to report an editor bug? Check out the Report Bugs thread for more info.