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News Archives - September 2005

Age Community Launched!

Ensemble Studios has launched their Age Community site, with exclusive interviews and content. Their aim with the site is to give the fans a direct path to communicate ideas to their team, whether it be design or art related. Here's ES President Tony Goodman's message on the main page...
"I am very pleased to welcome you to Ensemble Studios' new community website. This website was built in direct response to your requests for more contact with us. One of the most exciting features is the addition of an Ensemble Studios monitored forum.

This will give the fans a direct path to communicate game ideas to our designers, programmers and artists. You will also find Age III statistics, downloads, news, developer blogs and more. This is just the beginning of our new commitment to creating one of the world's best online communities... and your input will be the key! I look forward to seeing you online." ...
Be sure to check out the rest of the site for features including player statistics (which is pretty much ES staff as of yet).

HG's Dev Chat with Jerome Jones!

Zen has just posted a transcript of our latest developer chat. This chat features a Q & A session with the man in charge of the AoE3 Single Player Campaign, Ensemble's 2nd Lead Designer Jerome Jones. Here are some discussion notes...
  • Home City and the editor
  • Removed AoM editor features
  • Adding pre-rendered movies to scenarios
  • Patches and playing online with custom scenarios
  • Editor support through patches
  • Post-Ship official campaigns
  • Multiplayer gaming and lag
  • Editor unit controls and features
  • Large story-driven campaigns versus smaller conquest campaigns

All that and more. Check out the full transcript!

Pre-Retail IGN Preview!

IGN has posted up a new Preview, with one last look before the final retail release mid-October. A lot of stuff we already know, but one interesting part is this...
"So what's next for Ensemble? Shelley says they've been doing Age of Empires for eleven years now, including the Age of Mythology spin-off, and they're ready to move on to other things. When asked if the next game would still be an RTS, Shelley couldn't divulge anything more than a mysterious smile, so it looks like the future is wide open. With a critically acclaimed and financially rewarding franchise under their belts, Shelley says Microsoft Game Studios trusts Ensemble to explore their avenues, a decision made smoother by recent departmental restructuring." ...
Check out the full preview!

Reminder: ES Dev Chat tonight!

Hey folks,

A reminder that the next ES Developer's Chat will be held tonight at 6:30pm EDT ("Forum Time").  Our guest tonight will be Jerome Jones, 2nd Lead Design on Age of Empires III. During the early development of the game, he spent a lot of time with the balance of civilizations and overall gameplay; but more importantly, he's in charge of the Single Player Campaign for Age III.

The chat will start at 6:30pm EDT ("Forum Time") and end at 7:30pm EDT. Because of the shortened length of the chat, we'll be using a different format so we can get in as many questions as possible.  We've enlisted the design community's help by asking them for questions they'd like to be asked during the chat. We're currently in the process of picking the best questions from the submissions to be asked during the chat.

The chat will be held in the #heavengames chatroom on www.slashnet.org - you may use their webclient or your favorite IRC client to connect.

C'ya tonight!

ESO 2: Clan Tags

Ever wonder how the clan member tag works, and if your clan will have a short enough name to get one? ES_slug has given an extensive explanation of clan tags in our forums. To quote him...

The clan tags can be up to five characters and then you can have an additional clan name of up to 30 characters. The clan tag is independent of your login and will be prepended automatically but the clan name will only be visible in a user's profile. For example, in the chat rooms, you'll see members listed like:.

[CLAN] - LoginName.

The clan tag shows up in the UI as the same color as the rest of your name mainly for consistency.

Clans can be created by any individual and once they're created you'll not be able to change the tag or name, but you can leave/destroy your clan and create a new one if you wish.

Also, your login name can be up to 16 characters.

New AoE3 Interview

Gamebiz.com has posted up a Bruce Shelly video interview (97.1 MB) from the Microsoft Developers Tour. There are also interviews from two upcoming Microsoft-produced games, the much anticipated Rise of Legends and Fable: The Lost Chapters. All three are definitely worth taking a look at.

Poll Round-Up

Last week we asked "What difficulty do you play the Demo AI on?" A majority of you said that you play on Moderate, with the next highest being people who play the AI at Hard. The lowest was Sandbox, which is expected. The transition from Sandbox to Easy is usually a quick one.

Sandbox (248)
Easy (322)
Moderate (858)
Hard (797)
Expert (570)

This week we're asking you "Which gameplay feature has been the most fun for you?" Answer in our poll!

Demo Custom Lightset Mod

Slothboy has created a custom lightset mod, where you can change between three different light configurations.


Early Morning

Afternoon

Night


Visit the thread for more details, including where to download them!

Russian Showcase @ IGN

As WON_SeR3NiTy reported on our forums, IGN has posted up a new showcase in the Russian civ. The showcase goes in details with Russian unique units, strategy tips, and the Russian Home City. Overall the article is a great read, especially since the Russians are probably the most unique civ in the game and the strategy involved playing them can be quite different. So don't waste your time, and read the showcase.

New Blog

Just as the announcement of Age of Empires III going gold (woohoo!) Bruce Shelley updated his blog once again to comment on the event. Bruce Shelley also comments on the pre-rendered cinematics work done for the campaigns, that sound flipping awesome. Here's an excerpt:

Gone Gold: If you read this blog then I assume you are interested enough about Age 3 to have already heard the news that Age 3 has gone gold and is on target for release 10/18 as previously announced. The gold version was release candidate #5 (RC5) and build 3,236 in the history of the game’s development. It was officially submitted by ProducerDavid Rippy around 5 PM on Thursday, September 22 (one day ahead of schedule) after consultation with our Redmond Test Lead Fred Norton, and the Age 3 leads here in Dallas .

You can check the blog out here.

Age of Empires III has gone gold

Congrats to Ensemble Studios!

September 23, 2005

Prepare for Battle as Age of Empires III Goes Gold

Armies of the Third Age Prepare to March on October 18

Ready your troops! Age of Empires III, the stunning real-time strategy (RTS) landmark from Microsoft and Ensemble Studios, is complete and poised to invade retail on October 18. Available in two versions - standard and Collector's Edition - Age of Empires III will fire up gamers with groundbreaking new features like the persistent Home City and jaw-dropping graphics never before seen in an RTS. Gamers can now experience the game first-hand with a recently released playable demo that offers hours of exciting combat challenges, as well as the ability to upgrade the player's Home City.

The third game in the illustrious Age of Empires series that has sold more than 16 million copies and defined the historical RTS, Age of Empires III is being hailed by critics as a new benchmark for real-time strategy games. The minimum system requirements for Age of Empires III are: 1.4GHz processor, 256 MB RAM, 64 MB video card that supports hardware transform and lighting, Windows XP, 56k modem for online play, and 2GB hard drive space.

In Age of Empires III, players assume the role of a European power between 1500 and 1850 A.D. as they struggle to explore, colonize and conquer North and South America. Find out more about Age of Empires III by visiting http://www.ageofempires3.com .

Central Lake RMS

Tired of Texas and New England? Well, RF_Gandalf presents you with a new Random Map available for download at our downloads database. RF_Gandalf's map stands out as being a completely new map, different from New England and Texas presented with the demo. Here's a description of this RMS:

This is a new style map for the AOE3 demo, really designed for 2 players only, designed to be similar to a mediterranean style map from the earlier ES games. The map has a central lake or sea, with fish and whales ( I know - whales in a lake not real, but "gameplay>realism"), a water flag for delivery of units from the HC, 2 trade routes each with 2 trade post sockets, two mainland Native American villages and one Native American village on a central island. The two mainland villages are randomly (50/50 chance) either Cherokee or Iroquois, with the one on the island being the opposite tribe as the ones on the mainland. There are a few more sheep than on the New England map, and deer are plentiful. Each player is a little closer to one of the native villages than the other, each player starts out fairly close to one of the trading posts. The map size is somewhat larger than the usual New England but has a little less playable land due to the size of the lake. NOTE: this map may not play well for greater than 2 players due to its construction details - feel free to try, it might work 2v2, let me know if successful!

If you like the description, then go right ahead and download it at our Downloads Section.

New Developer's Blog

DSO has reported in the forums that another new developer's blog has been posted on the AoE3 Website. The blog discusses the PR tour in Asia, Unit revisions and also talks about the new minimized UI. There is also a very interesting part about Gaming in Korea and MMOs. Clue to ES's next project? Check it Out.

First, it is perhaps the leading edge of MMO gaming. Lineage and Lineage II are making millions of dollars monthly while a game called Cart Rider (I believe) has been making millions with micro-transactions. I read a report this morning that said online gaming in Asia was a $1.1B business and growing rapidly, with Korea being the largest segment.

Save the Date - 9/28

Save the date and time: Wednesday, 9/28 at 6:30pm EDT ("Forum Time" - note it starts half an hour earlier than the previous two chats!).  That's when we will be having our next ES Developer Chat with Jerome Jones, Lead Scenario Designer for Age of Empires III.  The chat will be held in the #heavengames room on the www.slashnet.org IRC network.  If this is your first time going into an IRC Chat room, you may want to try and log into the room between now and the chat so you can get familiarized with IRC :)

As usual, we will be holding a contest to pick who will ask questions for the chat - we will announce details for it in the upcoming days.

Poll Roundup

Last week we asked everyone if they planned on purchasing the Collectors Edition of Age of Empires III. The Collectors Edition will contain a shiny special edition box, as well as an Art Book, Making Of DVD, a Strategy Guide and finally a special Manual. However, it seems that the $70 price tag is keeping many people away from the Collectors Edition and most are opting for simply purchasing the normal version of the game. Here are the results:

Yes! Hand me that making of DVD! [1049 votes]
Maybe, what's in it? [1425 votes] 
No, I just want the game [1348 votes]

This week we're asking at which difficulty do you play the A.I. (computer) on? I usually play on Hard when I want to win easily, but I often try some planned out strategies on expert and win. How about you? Go ahead and pick!

Age of Empires III For Real Beginners

So you downloaded the Age of Empires III demo and you have *no* idea what you are doing eh? Well, forummer Dagobert decided to help out and has created a guide for Age of Empires III Beginners, and by beginners he means it. If you're a little experienced it may also want to read, it contains some great tips and explanations. Here's an excerpt:

Starting point : let your settlers get the stuff from the crates around your Town center and have your explorer starting to explore. (select him and right click on the map, or even the minimap to send him to various places). Once your settler are done, have 4 of them go on an animal to get food. The fifth one should go on wood and the 6th one should immediately build a house and then go on wood. Each house give you a free settler (british only), put it to work as soon as it is created. Make new settlers in your town center and have them busy on something. In the beginning you need food and wood, start to put settlers on mines later (end of age one or early age 2). Keep your Town center busy making settlers or changing age. As soon as you have enough ressources to change age, just do it (you'll know better later with experience, but it is OK to go this way to start). When you put your mouse on any given button (an upgrade, a unit, a building, the button to move through age...) it shows how much ressource you need to use it. To get to age 2, for instance, you need 800 food.

You can view his guide at our forums.

British Showcase @ IGN

IGN has posted their latest faction showcase - The British. Here's an excerpt:

There is an expectation in any game set in this time period that the British have a lot of colonists. To achieve this feel in AOE3, the British civilization can train Settlers very quickly. Any time the British construct a Manor (the name for the British House), they produce a Settler in addition. Since training time is often the limiting factor for producing lots of Settlers, the ability for the British to simultaneously train so many Settlers gives them a very powerful economy. This economy is supported by a powerful military (including one of the best navies in the game). The British military strength is its versatility -- they have no real holes in their unit lines.

Thanks to Eccentricity from The Colony for the heads up!

Economy Units Profile at GameSpy

The folks at GameSpy has a new article profiling economy units in the game, covering the following units:
  • The Settler
  • The Coureur des Bois 
  • Settler Wagon
  • The Envoy
  • The Priest
  • The Surgeon
Thanks to Eccentricity from The Colony for the heads up!

Q&A with ES_Scout @ MFO

In case you missed it, ES_Scout is currently over at MFO and is talking about the ESO2 interface (along with a new  screenshot), as well as fielding questions and commments from MFO Forumers.  Here are some bits and pieces:

On the User Interface:

There are currently two modes for the UI. You can only 'change' it by switching between two modes, Default and Minimized.

On Formations:

Formations as they were, were a much more sophisticated attempt to add a lot of tactical (not micromangement focused) decisions to gameplay. And to better address the SMOC (Swirling Mass of Crap) that most RTSs suffer - certainly ours. They were beautiful, they were brilliant. But they, sadly, they had to be cut because we weren't going to have the time to get them in to shipping shape. There were a lot of bugs with the system complicated by and complicating the ongoing balance of the game. It is my fondest wish that we could patch formations in, or put them in the expansion, but I'm not holding out much hope.

On Zoom Levels and what's allowable in Multiplayer:

If you hack your zoom level to beyond the allowed range (45-60) the game will go out of sync

There are much, much more being discussed in that thread... so go check it out! Thanks to unjugon for pointing this out in our forums!

ES Developer Chat Transcript

If you missed Wednesday night's developer chat and wanted to catch up on what transpired during the chat, we have provided a transcript of the chat for your enjoyment.  Here are the chat notes:
  • Features added/removed from the editor in relation to AoM: The Titans
  • Development tools that will be included in the shipping version of the game
  • Home Cities on SP, LAN, and ESO2 games
  • Home City Level up Rates
  • ESO2 improvements over ESO
  • Why the 200 population cap and how it plays a role in balancing the game
  • Support for user-created campaigns, and whether ES folks check out user-created content
  • How the Deathmatch system works in Age of Empires III
  • Why formations were cut from the game
  • A very general overview of the 3-act story campaign
  • Whether there will be other game-types besides Supremacy and Deathmatch
  • Cannon accuracy in the game
  • A bug report about building destructions in the late game not working right
  • Why crates at the beginning of the game, and how ES varies each player's starting resources in the game
  • Whether there will be modding support in the editor
  • What sort of skills ES looks for when hiring people
  • Why Flying Purple Hippos (A cheat unit from Age of Mythology) spit hearts and farts rainbows
  • Another bug report about being able to build other types of building on a trading post
  • The number of units in Age of Empires III vs. Age of Kings
  • How to level up faster when playing online
  • A bit of talk about the Russians in the game
  • The ability for units to shoot through walls
Enjoy!  Come back soon for the announcement for the next Dev Chat

AoE3 Fan-Site Kit!

Interested in starting your own fan site dedicated to AoE 3? Ensemble Studios has released a fan-site kit for everybody to enjoy, which gives plenty of resources to any webmaster to enhance their website! Here's the official press release...
"Ambitious webmasters eager to advance to the "next Age" now have a generous stockpile of resources to help them get there. Ensemble Studios today released a new Fan Site Kit for Age of Empires III, the upcoming landmark real-time strategy game from Ensemble and Microsoft Game Studios. The new kit provides webmasters with a treasure trove of screenshots, high-resolution artwork, logos, parts of the user interface and even music from the upcoming game. In Age of Empires III, the third installment in the award-winning Age of Empires series that has sold a staggering 16 million copies worldwide, players assume the role of a European power struggling to explore, colonize and conquer the New World roughly from the period of 1500 to 1850 AD. Scheduled for release in North America on October 25, Age of Empires III will reinvigorate the genre with exciting innovations like the Home City; the ability to ally with and produce Native American warriors; and fast-paced, combat-focused gameplay with jaw-dropping visuals that will push the limits of PC graphics technology." ...
Download the Age of Empires III fan-site kit now! Special thanks to ascari for posting about it in our forums.

New Blog: PR Tour in Europe

Elpea has reported yet another developer's blog at the official AoE3 website. This one mainly discusses the ES public relations trip in Europe. They name several major cities, including many that are Home Cities in the game...
"Madrid: The event here was held at Microsoft Spain's new headquarters. The day kicked off with about 7 quick TV interviews, then a single one-hour presentation, and then 1-1 interviews. Again, a great response and I got the sense everyone wished their interview periods could have been extended. One fellow came all the way from Italy. Several of the journalists talked about how much they enjoyed Age 2 and wondered why we had taken so long to make Age 3." ...

Downloads Section Open!

Age of Empires III Heaven's staff is proud to announce the opening of our sleak Downloads Section. Our downloads section offers a great way to share and download the latest mods, random maps, and eventually multiplayer scenarios amongst other goodies.

So go ahead and share your works :).

WorthPlaying Preview

WorthPlaying has written up a preview of AoE3 detailing their opinions. From the impression I got, they liked it:
Age of Empires III promises to be everything that its predecessors were, and much more. There are so many new additions and concepts to be found here that you'll initially be overwhelmed, but after only a few play sessions, you'll find yourself slipping back into the old familiar mindset, and quickly forget that it used to be any different. That's how effective the transition is - it just feels right, and is a natural extension of the familiar old gameplay. Add the prospect of some great multiplayer matches, and you'll be in heaven. Of course, the icing on the already delicious cake is the incredibly polished look and feel of the whole package.
Doesn't have a whole lot of new info., but it does have a very large selection of screenshots to view. Check out the full feature here!

ES Dev Chat Reminder

Only one hour left to go!  Tonight's Dev Chat will be with Dave Pottinger, aka ES_BigDog, Lead Programmer for Age of Empires III.  The chat will start a 7:00pm EDT (Forum Time) - anyone can drop in and observe the chat as it is taking place - to do that, go to www.slashnet.org/java.php, and type /join #heavengames in the textbox at the bottom to join the chat.  If you're IRC-Savvy and prefer to use your own client, the chat's happening on the irc.slashnet.org network in the #heavengames room.

C'ya there!

The Shorter, The Better

Ever since the first screenshots of Age of Empires III came out, many forummers asked for a smaller UI. Some feared that the UI took up so much of the screen that they missed much of the action. Fear no more! ES_Bigdog has posted an update on the state of the UI, much shorter and informative than the previous versions. The update also includes a new option, an even smaller version of the UI for those who like it even smaller. Here's two screenshots showcasing both versions:

Default UI
Smaller UI

If you wish to give ideas or opinions on the new UI, drop by our forums and visit Bigdog's forum thread.

A new demo?

If you've played the demo you potentially ran through some kind of bug one way or the other. Although these bugs are fixed on the final release, they were still present on the demo build. As a solution to that, ES_Deathshrimp stated that they might be doing a new demo to fix all the bugs. Here's what he had to say on the forums:

We might do a new demo to catch all of the bajillion fixes we've done lately, but by then you'll likely have the actual game and you can go Frigate v. Frigate as much as you'd like.

Although as DeathShrimp said, you'll probably already have the final build in your hands by the time the new demo is out, it's still good news that you can share a stable demo build with your friends to show them how kick-arse this game is!

ES Dev Chat Winners

Don't forget - the Developer Chat with ES_BigDog - Dave Pottinger, Lead Programmer for Age of Empires III - takes place tonight at 7:00pm EDT ("Form Time") on the #heavengames channel on the Slashnet.org IRC Network.

It's also my pleasure to announce the winners to the Dev Chat contest. Each winner should have received an email with instructions on how to enter the question queue for the contest by now. Congratulations!

From Age of Empires Village:

  1. Hal Pratt
  2. Taylor Burke
  3. Simon Crawford
  4. Michael Robinson

From Argalius:

  1. John Henzel

From The Colony:

  1. Pirate Dan
  2. Lief Ericson
  3. Sgt_Friedrich

From Through the Ages:

  1. David Casagrande
  2. Ryan (TBK)
  3. Joost Vecht

and from Age of Empires III Heaven:

  1. Gaurdian_112
  2. Im Ck_Asgard
  3. Nick Bagans
  4. DeaconEire
  5. Trent Tracanna
  6. Yellow_Lenghan

There were three winners listed that were winners at other sites - they each will still be allowed to ask 1 question each; thus opening 3 slots to runners-up. We're currently awaiting replies from participating sites we had contacted for the additional runners-up - when we get them we'll post them here.

Also, my sincere thanks to all the webmasters that participated on such short notice!

Scenario Editor Trigger List

Papaya has posted up a list of scenario editor objects and triggers that he found while looking through the demo files. Right now it has a lot more triggers than the AoM editor had, meaning it will be even more powerful than before. The jury's still out on how much newb-friendlier it has gotten, if at all, but from the looks of the triggers, it will definitely produce some interesting effects in-game for designers.

ES Dev Chat Contest Deadline Extended

We've extended the submission deadline for our ES Dev Chat to Monday, September 12th, at 9pm EDT.  Please send the answers to the following questions to me at zen@heavengames.com - winners will be contactged & announced Tuesday morning.
  • Where were the tracks for Age of Empires III's soundtrack recorded?
  • Which seven Dutch provinces signed the Union of Utrecht?
  • Besides the Native Americans, what are the 8 civilizations that will be in Age of Empires III?
  • How many bugs did ES fix as of today?

Why Soccy's Gone: The Musical

With the game coming out within the next two months, we've been very busy making changes and getting the site ready the new game.  One of the things we are in the process of doing is updating the "backend" that manages our content, so that staff can update things faster.  Somehow, with Soccy gone at Harvard and without access to his email, and with all the changes being done to the system, his news post got lost in the shuffle.  So here it is in its full glory: "Why Soccy's Gone: The Musical", dated September 08, 2005:

Yeah, I completely forgot about this...I've been gone for a little while and will be gone for a while still because I am currently at college, which is pretty much eating up all my time. Once I've adjusted and my time is not being devoured quite as much, I will be back around and posting news, but for now my wicked cool staff will be taking care of you guys. If you give them any grief, Elpea has a baseball bat.

When I get back, I'll do some kind of report on my travels here to Boston, which is a city in the New World featured in Age of Empires III! I'll try to get as many historical spots as possible (Salem for sure) before posting for your historical nerdy pleasure.

Weeee!

It bears mentioning that the college he's going to is the prestigious Harvard University (or as MIT would call them, "the small liberal arts college up the creek...") Good luck with school, and looking forward to seeing ya at the next Dutch Date Boston

Reminder: ES Developer Chat Contest

Hey Agers!  This is a reminder that we will be hosting the next ES Developer Chat on Wednesday, 9/14 at 7:00pm EDT ("Forum Time") on the #heavengames channel on the Slashnet.org IRC network.  Our special guest for the chat will be Dave Pottinger - ES_BigDog, Lead Programmer of Age of Empires III.  We are currently holding a contest to pick severl people who will have the chance to ask a question during the chat - scroll down to our news item from yesterday for more information on how to enter.

Also, we have reserved slots for other Age III fansites - they're each holding their own contest to pick their winners, so be sure to check them out.  The participating sites that have, or will be announcing their contest, are:

TheColony's Site Update

TheColony.ca has just received a major update to it's look, game info and forum updates. TheColony is also hosting a contest for the Community Chat with ES event, so if you want more chances of making it, you can participate on their site. Here's the official info:

Age of Empires is only 45 days, 0 hours, 54 min, 31 s, and 385 ms away, and so the Colony.ca has unleashed its comprehensive new update -- a new forum, a new look, a new layout, and new content!  We've put new screenshots, stats from the preview build, and (of coruse) the obligatory release countdown up, just to name a few.  On the forum, we've opened up a brand new clan section -- a place where clans have more options than anywhere else in the community!  More coming next week...

Larger Maps on Demo

Forummer Ceres629 made a nice little modification to the demo's RMS (Random Maps) files and came up with a way to make them larger. For those looking for bigger maps just download his small mod at the forums.

Working towards ZBR (Zero Bug Release)

Bruce Shelley has updated his blog on the official Age 3 website.  He starts off with talking about working towards the Zero Bug Release (ZBR) milestone, "a build in which we think all significant bugs are fixed," and goes on to talk about whether Age 3 is fun, AI & Walls, Livestock, Community Day, Factories, and a look into daily life at the office:

Upstairs Juice Jimmy: One of the perks at ES since day one has been free sodas and snacks. We have large coolers on our two floors that are stocked daily with a variety of sodas, juices, teas, bottled water, Balls, etc. Everyone at ES takes a turn in rotation of being the soda stocker for a week. When someone misses their day, there is often a friendly/humorous reminder sent out by someone who can’t find a favorite drink cooling. Here’s a typical email exchange.

Subject: Upstairs Juice Jimmy
Message: You suck
Signed: Best wishes, Cotnam (Concept Artist Andy Cotnam)

Reply from: Pete Parisi (Graphic Artist)
Message: It’s me, I was sick yesterday and not in the office. Sorry master Cotnam, I will have your drinks chilling shortly.

What are you waiting for? go check out the rest of the blog!

ES Developer Chat with Dave Pottinger (ES_BigDog)

We will be hosting the next ES Developer Chat on Wednesday, 9/14 at 7:00pm EDT ("Forum Time").  Our special guest for the night will be ES_BigDog - Dave Pottinger, Lead Programmer for Age of Empires III.  The chat will be held via IRC on the #heavengames channel on the Slashnet.org network.

As before, we will be limiting the number of people who will be allowed to ask questions during the chat because of time constraints.  To do that, we will be having a contest to pick the lucky few who will get to ask the BigDog questions.  To win a chance for a place in the question queue, answer the following questions and submit them to me at zen(at)heavengames(dot)com by 5:00pm EDT on Sunday, 9/11.  Winners will be picked randomly from the pool of people who answered the questions correctly.  We will announce our winners and contact them on Monday with instructions on how to get into the queue in the chat.  Here are the questions:
  • Where were the tracks for Age of Empires III's soundtrack recorded?
  • Which seven Dutch provinces signed the Union of Utrecht?
  • Besides the Native Americans, what are the 8 civilizations that will be in Age of Empires III?
  • How many bugs did ES fix as of today?
Oh.  One more thing.  We've reserved slots for other fansites in the Age 3 community for the chat - participating sites will be holding their own contests to pick winners who will get a slot in the question queue.  Keep an eye out for contest announcements popping up around the community!

How to zoom out more in the demo

I've written a post on how to zoom out more in the demo - handy if you want to see more of the game, like so.  Happy gaming!

How to get past the blank window with the white X in a red circle

Blank DialogMegasaxon has found the solution to the blank window problem:

Okay guys, after reading the above post about the xml files, well i've figured it out.

For everyone having this issue, you need to update your Microsoft XML parser.

To update, download msxml.msi, install it, and the game should run.

How to install Demo on Windows 2000

Important Note: Age of Empires III running on Windows 2000 systems is currently not supported by Microsoft, as Windows 2000's product life cycle for consumers ended this past June.  Install at your own risk.

Macgyver2k
has found an easy way to install the Age 3 Demo on Windows 2000:
  1. Put the aoe3trial.exe to c:\
  2. Start -> run -> cmd
  3. Type: c:\aoe3trial.exe /a
  4. Click next, then the installer will ask for a network path, simply type in the path you want to install the game to ( e.g. c:\games\AOE3Trial )
  5. Click Install ( it seems se program does nothing, but the installation is in progrss - maybe takes some minutes )
  6. And then finish

AoE3 Survey

If you have played the demo, make sure to fill Microsoft's Age of Empires III survey afterwards. It asks some questions relating to who you are as a gamer, and what you're interested in when it comes to gaming (including Age series-relate questions). It'd no doubt be invaluable to both Microsoft and Ensemble Studios to get your opinions, and would benefit Age of Empires III and future titles. Be sure to check it out!

Modding Community - Rise!

Ykkrosh, creator of the original AoMED, a tool to extract and convert Age of Mythology's files into editable content has done it again, this time for Age of Empires III. Ykkrosh has just released his new AoE3Ed, which allows anyone to extract Age of Empires III files and mod them as you see fit!

Here's the release notes:

This is the initial preview release of AoE3Ed, the successor to AOMEd. It should be enough to let curious people poke the demo's data files, though it doesn't do a lot else. Some previous modding experience is recommended. No artificial colourings. 97.4% less Perl.

The main features are split into two excitingly named programs:
* Archive Viewer - open BAR files; view previews of many of the data files (text, XML, XMB, DDT, WAV) contained within; and extract them for editing.
* File Converter - XMB<->XML, DDT<->TGA.
Their usage should be fairly intuitive; if not, you may wish to suggest improvements or just wait for a non-preview release.

There are various things that should be done and could be done, detailed below in a rough order of priority. If anyone considers a feature to be important, let me know and I'll possibly think of it as a higher priority. If you consider a feature to be really hugely important, bribes (perhaps of interesting topological surfaces or graphics cards) may help.

Suggestions of higher-level modding tools (like, for example, an HC-customisation-mod editor and installer) would also be of interest, for some indeterminate time in the future. Additionally, reports of whether the final AoE3 release will include anything to help modders would be useful, to avoid duplicating work.

 The tool is still of course being worked on, so after trying it out please leave a comment and help it out!

Possible Fix for Direct3D Initialization Problem in Demo

For those that are getting the dreaded "Direct3D Initialization Failed" error message with the white X in a red circle, ES_PieThief might have a fix for you:

This error which some people have reported seems to happen mostly if you run a widescreen monitor. I believe the problem has been fixed since the demo was put together so it will work in the full version of the game.

I actually got the error on my own machine when I installed the demo and I've found I think two work arounds on my own machine to fix it.

  1. Delete the file NewProfile.xml in your /Age of Empires 3 Trial/Users/NewProfile.xml directory.
  2. Set your screen resolution to 1024x768, then rerun the game

    or

    Open NewProfile.xml and fine the line that specifies the optiongrfxres and change the res to say 1024x768. In my particular case it was initializing to 1280x768, which my machine did not like much.

For some reason it initializes to a resolution some video cards have problems with if you have a widescreen monitor (I have the 24" widescreen at home and had this problem)

It seems to only happen the first time you run the game, I believe once you get it up and running once, it doesn't happen again.

Hope this helps, it worked for me.

Be sure to let him know if it worked for you ... or not!

Demo Minimum Specs

SuperTr00pers[D4KU] was nice enough to stop by our forums and post the Minimum Specs required for the demo. These may or may not be the same as the final game, anyway, here they are:

"Here are the min specs for everyone

- WinXP

- 1.4ghz Processor

- 256 RAM

- 64 MB Video Card that supports HW T&L

- Approximately 370MB of Hard Drive space (not including installer).

- DirectX 9c"

So there you have it, make sure your computer has those requirements and have fun!

Age of Empires III Demo Out - The Wait is Over!

Download it right here! (~350mb)

I won't say much, I bet you won't read whatever and go straight to downloading anyway!

Many thanks to forummer upke for finding it and posting it on his forum thread.

Updated - The minimum specs for the Demo are:

  • Windows XP
  • 1.4Ghz Processor
  • 256MB of RAM
  • 64MB Video Card that supports HardWare Transform & Lighting (HW T&L)
  • Approximately 350MB of free HD space, not including the installer and room for the temporary files

Also, if you have trouble installing the demo, please make sure that, during installation:

  • AntiVirus software is temporarily switched off
  • Programs that provide a "shield" around your system settings should be temporarily switched off (The new ZoneAlarm 6 does it, as well as MS's Anti-Spyware software and Spybot's Teatimer)
  • Your video card drivers are up to date
  • Your DirectX installation is up to date (current version is 9.0c)
  • Your system is spyware and virus free
  • You should close as many programs as possible before you install the game to minimize any chances of error

If after trying all of the above you still have trouble running the demo, please visit this thread to see if other forumers may be of assistance.

British Overview

TheGoodEvil has posted up another civ preview in our General Discussions forum! This time it's a preview of the British, who seem to be popular, looking at the amount of people eager to play them in the civilizations thread....
Since you are tasking most villagers to wood you have ample wood to produce longbows (they only cost wood and food) and plenty of pop room to hold them. Longbows are a very potent units and something that I will be looking forward to seeing is a nice longbow raid force though they are only available for 2 ages they will be a force to reckon with.
Read the entire preview in our forums!

Dutch, 1579-1850

Kor, residential Cherub history expert, has posted a lengthy article about the Dutch in our History forum. It covers 1579 through 1850, aligning with AoE3's time frame.
"Already in the 17th century, barely independent, the Dutch became one of the most prosperous countries in Europe. This was mostly due to its trade. In the 15th and 16th centuries, the Dutch provinces had created a surplus of dairy products. They took the surplus to the Baltic, by ship. It turned out the Baltic was also in need of salt and other products, so the Dutch started making extra trips past Portugal and Gascony, where natural sea salt could be harvested. The Dutch trade network slowly expanded over time, and Dutch merchants got ever richer." ...
Read the entire article in our History forum!

Poll Roundup

Do you plan on buying AoE III the first day it's released? A large majority of the voters say that they plan on getting it right away, while others are going to wait a few days after its release. The results:

(1157) Yeah man!

(495) Couple days after

(262) Nope, couple weeks after

(172) Few months after

(74) Not getting it


Will you buy the Collectors Edition of Age of Empires III? Answer in our poll!

What Civ to Play?

What civilization will you check out first when you purchase AoE 3? Tra_draconder has started a thread in our General Discussions forum asking that question. Many want to play them all, of course, but if you're one of them, you'll have to pick *one* civ out of all eight to play first. You can either close your eyes and click randomly, or you can see which civs sounds the most interesting to play as. Here's the civ that the author wants to check out...


For me, it will be the British. The first reason is that I am English myself, I think I am quite patriotic. In Age of Empires 2 I played as the English as well.

The second reason is that I love the country's history. I cannot remember dates to save my life but I have some knowledge of what happened. I just would love to control of those red coats because I once read a book recently on the English Civil War and it told of the New Modal Army. It comprised professional soldiers led by trained generals, unlike other military forces of the era, which tended to have aristocratic leaders with no guarantee of military training.


So far it looks like the majority of the posters want to try out the British too (second place being shared by the Spanish and French). What civilization will you check out first? Let us know in our forums!

Gamer Revolution Hands-On Preview

Gamer Revolution has posted up an Age of Empires III hands-on preview. What's new in this one, aside from another gamer's opinions on the upcoming AoE title? Very cool screenshots, something nobody gets tired of.


"Once your city has gotten to a high enough level and you’re confident with your scheme, you’ll go online and challenge human opponents with your custom-built nation. The emphasis in multiplayer battles will be on speed and adaptation, because you’ll never know what your opponent is going to throw at you thanks to the game’s eight, heavily modifiable nations. Instead of developing one area of their game to the exclusion of all others, developer Ensemble Studios has created an infrastructure that unifies their game and makes all of it worth playing." ...

Be sure to check out the full preview. Special thanks to The_Vger for posting about it in our forums!

Blog Updated

Bruce Shelley has once again updated his blog with tons of new info, especially on the Age of Empires III board game. The Board game is being created by the same people behind Age of Mythology's board game and is planned to be released after Age of Empires III is out. Here's an excerpt from the blog:

I spent some time recently at Eagle Games, the group that created and published the Age of Mythology board game. They are planning to do a board game about Age 3 to appear sometime after we finish the Windows PC game. The president of Eagle Games is Glenn Drover, an old friend from our days together at Microprose. He was in sales at that time but is realizing now his dream of creating games.

Check the rest of the blog here.

AoE3 Demo Soon!

According to what ES_Bigdog (a.k.a. Dave Pottinger) posted in our forums, the demo is finished. The filesize will most likely be around 375 MB. No word on when or where it will be released, but Dave gave us details on the demo's features...

"Demo's done (it went out the door to marketing today)... Finally

The highpoints:
* SP only, no MP
* 2 scenarios from the CPN
* 2 RMs
* 2 civs"

"The demo's actually a good time. I didn't go back and specifically compare, but it's quite a bit more gameplay than I recall the AOM demo having" ...

Hopefully it will be a short wait, but when it's released to the public, we'll make sure to let everybody know. In the meantime, feel free to read Dave's other demo comments in our forums!

HeavenGames' Interview with Stephen Rippy

Ensemble's musical mastermind Stephen Rippy has donated some of his precious time to answer some of our questions about Age of Empires III's sounds and music (which as of the preview, freaken owns). Here's an excerpt

Well, the most interesting sounds in "Age III" were recorded on the field during a reenactment of the Battle of Gettysburg. I'd take my mic and DAT recorder as close as I could to whatever musket, cannon, or mortar was being fired at the time. I wound up with a lot of good stuff, much of which provided the basis of the gunpowder sounds in the game.

Check the interview out here.

New GameSpy Preview

WON_SeR3NiTy has posted that GameSpy has created yet another preview. This time, they go more in-depth on the Home City feature (in addition to their earlier special feature dedicated to it), and the second page talks about the graphics, civs and the different treasures scattered around the map...

"Besides being ├╝ber-units with tons of hit points and rechargeable super powers, heroes are the only kind of unit that can recover treasures. Treasures are special items scattered throughout the map and guarded by neutral monsters that attack you if you get up in their faces. The treasures grant a variety of benefits ranging from the banal (40 free wood or food resources) to the substantial (new elite units or upgrades to existing ones)." ...