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Age of Empires III Heaven » Forums » General Discussions » Ask Sandy XXIV
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Topic Subject:Ask Sandy XXIV
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SandyMan
VIP
(id: ES_Sandyman)
posted 10-19-09 01:52 PM EDT (US)         
the latest incarnation of Ask Sandy. All questions are possible.

1) Who is Sandy?
A) Sandy Petersen, a designer at former Ensemble Studios. He was design lead on Rise of Rome, The Conquerors, and the Warchiefs. He was part of the design team on Age of Emipres II and Age of Empires III. He has worked on numerous other games, and has been in the digital game industry since 1988.

2) What is Sandy doing now?
A) He teaches game design at The Guildhall at Southern Methodist University.

3) What are Robot / Bonfire up to?
A) Sandy will not answer ANY questions about Robot or Bonfire's plans -- he knows and likes the people who work there, and wishes them well. They deserve the right to make their own press releases.
AuthorReplies:
charger1joe
Skirmisher
posted 12-24-09 01:00 AM EDT (US)     126 / 238       
Oh nevermind...

[This message has been edited by charger1joe (edited 12-24-2009 @ 01:12 AM).]

Maffia
AoE3H Seraph
(id: fred_ernie)
posted 12-24-09 10:38 AM EDT (US)     127 / 238       
Sandy, depending on when you answer this, how do/did you spend Christmas?

This month I have mostly been playing Dishonored Death of the Outsider and Darkest Dungeon
Steam - Maffia GFWL - Maffia01 YouTube - HGMaffia Twitter - @HGMaffia
Age of Empires 3 Heaven Seraph

What is this life if, full of care, We have no time to stand and stare.
[This message hasn't been edited by fred_ernie (or Maffia) (not edited 12-29-2005 @ 09:57 AM).]
BurningSushi460
Scenario Reviewer
posted 12-24-09 02:44 PM EDT (US)     128 / 238       
Sandy, if your computer had a crap NVIDIA card and you wanted to upgrade it, what card would you pick that is within the 100-150 dollar range?

Also, cookies or cake + why?

Actually it was originally called just Heaven, but then God sold the naming rights to Microsoft, so.... -GoForGoldenJarls

Astor: “Churchill, if you were my husband, I’d put poison in your coffee.”
Churchill: “Madam, if you were my wife, I’d drink it.”

[This message has been edited by BurningSushi460 (edited 12-24-2009 @ 02:44 PM).]

Krakenbits
Skirmisher
posted 12-24-09 02:56 PM EDT (US)     129 / 238       
Here's my question...

Q: If you could add any civilizations to any one of AOE3 games, which would you add and why? What would their basic outline look like?

[This message has been edited by Krakenbits (edited 12-24-2009 @ 02:57 PM).]

jds2012
Skirmisher
posted 12-24-09 05:40 PM EDT (US)     130 / 238       
Very closely related related to the previous question, but what civs would you put in AOE4 and what would be their advantages/disadvantages?

Keep him from expanding. Keep him scared. Keep him making the wrong type of troops. Control the game, don't react to it.
-Ender_Ward
SandyMan
VIP
(id: ES_Sandyman)
posted 12-27-09 03:22 PM EDT (US)     131 / 238       
1)The universe as we know it has existed forever, so atoms and all have had forever literally to develop and what not
A)In the first place, no cosmologist believes the universe has existed “forever”. Haven’t you heard of the Big Bang? In the second place, atoms don’t “develop”. Natural laws don’t “develop”. They exist, or they don’t. A static universe of particles is trivial to imagine, or an infinity of them. But that’s not what we see around us.

2)What other classes would you recommend to someone who wanted to be a video game designer?
A)The curriculum at the Guildhall at SMU includes Programming for level designers, Game Theory, Game Design, Art for level designers, and practical classes in physically creating levels, scripting, lighting, and so forth. I would also suggest history, architecture, and similar subjects.

3)If God is omnipotent, it means that he can do whatever he wants
A)Hogwash. By your definition of omnipotency, omnipotence itself is impossible. You have reduced the argument to the state of tautology.

4)Therefore, Sandy, God is not omnipotent. Now, why call him "God"?
A)If you can only accept a God who can do impossible things, then I guess there’s not one for you. A God who can create the universe and natural laws and watch over me every second of my life is a plenty good enough God for me.

5)forgive me for not being overwhelmed that life developed in a universe capable of sustaining it. It
A)this is the worst argument ever. I can’t believe agnostics still use it. Look here, friend. Imagine that you suddenly rushed home from work to find your wife flushed and panting in bed. You throw open the closet door and there, inside, is a naked man. You cry out, “What are you doing HERE!” He replies, sensibly enough, “Well, everybody’s got to be SOMEWHERE, bub.” While his response is accurate enough, it is still a useful question to ask how he, personally GOT there. The atheist invention of an infinity of universes fails utterly (A) to explain how THIS universe came to be or (B) how the infinity of universes came to be. It in fact posits a MORE difficult-to-conceive cosmology in an attempt to explain away God. What a pathetic try. \

6)Can you guys keep the theological debates out of this thread please?
A)When I am asked a theological question I will answer it just as any other. If you dislike it, there are other threads to read.

7)how do/did you spend Christmas?
A)On Christmas Eve, everyone in the family prepares one course for dinner. My daughter-in-law made a salad, my son made a drink out of fresh ginger, my other sons made glazed carrots, rumaki, and apple pie. My wife made tomato-bouillon soup. I forget what I contributed. Then we all opened our presents – normally we just open presents from the family on Christmas Eve, then open gifts from Santa the next day. But since my son and daughter-in-law were not going to be with us on Dec. 25th, we opened them all Christmas Eve.
I got my wife the complete Jonathan Creek (which she had never heard of). I got my sons hoodies emblazoned with the Esoteric Order of Dagon logo. Ken Begg from Jabootu.com sent me action figures of the She-Creature, the Colossal Beast, and the mutant from The Day the Earth Stood Still. I also got an octopus Christmas tree ornament from England.
8)if your computer had a crap NVIDIA card and you wanted to upgrade it, what card would you pick
A)When I want to replace my video card, I go straight to the professionals I work with and ask them. I realize that’s what you’re trying to do (ask a pro), but I am the wrong one.

9)cookies or cake + why?
A)Now that I have been diagnosed pre-diabetic, neither are for me, except in extremis.

10)If you could add any civilizations to any one of AOE3
A)I would beef up the revolutionary civs (that you turn into when you revolt) so that they were fully-operational civs and desirable to obtain, with their own special units ‘n’ stuff.

11)what civs would you put in AOE4?
A)It depends on the time period, obviously. Robot Entertainment is now a small, fast-moving studio, without the same ties and burdens as before. They can be highly creative and innovative in a way that was not possible to the MS-owned ES. I predict that their next game will be highly innovative, rather than evolutionary.
Darthcast
Skirmisher
posted 12-27-09 05:33 PM EDT (US)     132 / 238       
I’m sure you’ve noticed that as the army size grows in Age, you stop worrying about him, and just focus on the army. Leaving your poor wounded explorer in agony on the field for the rest of the game, you cad.
Actually I'm one of the few who take good care of their explorer... When playing Aztecs, I always need XP desperately, and when playing Indians I always need them for healing.
But I see what you mean... Even though I don't agree entirely. The micromanagement a hero with special abilities adds could be much less than in Warcraft 3. If the shortcuts are consistent / the same for every hero, it wouldn't be too difficult IMO.
3)Was the AI neglected intentionally to encourage people to play online?
A)Of course not.
Well, that would have been a pretty smart (and mean) copy protection.


I just finished Halo Wars... Awesome game! Now, IIRC you weren't involved in the development, but I guess you've played it? What do you think of it?

I was fascinated from the first second, it's probably the easiest and most intuitive RTS I've ever played, but complex and fun nonetheless.

But I'm a bit disappointed by the lack of content. Only 14 skirmish maps altogether and the campaign has only 15 scenarios!
There are only two races with three leaders each, and they aren't as different from each other than the gods in Age of Mythology.

Is it that short because ES was about to be closed down, or was it never intended to add more content? Because the game feels very polished and balanced (to me).

I hope future Robot Entertainment games will have more content...


Oh, what are the odds that it will be released on PC? I'd love to make some scenarios.

Play my scenarios! You won't believe how much fun they are!

[This message has been edited by Darthcast (edited 12-27-2009 @ 05:34 PM).]

SandyMan
VIP
(id: ES_Sandyman)
posted 01-01-10 02:57 PM EDT (US)     133 / 238       
1)I just finished Halo Wars... Awesome game! Now, IIRC you weren't involved in the development, but I guess you've played it? What do you think of it?
A)Actually I was involved in its development near the end, when everyone had to pile on. I think it’s a pretty good game, and clearly the year that was spent by Tim Deen and Angelo Laudon working on the interface was a good job.

2)I'm a bit disappointed by the lack of content. Only 14 skirmish maps altogether and the campaign has only 15 scenarios
A)It disappoints me, too.

3)There are only two races with three leaders each, and they aren't as different as the gods in Age of Mythology. Is it that because ES was about to be closed down, or was it never intended to add more content?
A)The lack of content basically stemmed from problems in development. Usually what this leads to is an underdone game that has massive flaws. At ES, we were able to partially overcome the problems, ending up with (IMO) terrific polish and few bugs, but we could not make up the shortfall in content.

4) what are the odds that it will be released on PC?
A) that would be entirely up to MS. And I make no pretensions towards being able to read their mind, particularly now that they've shown their willingness to exterminate a company that never sold less than 2 million copies of any game they produced.

[This message has been edited by ES_Sandyman (edited 01-01-2010 @ 03:02 PM).]

A414A_Incog
Veteran Musketeer I
posted 01-01-10 02:59 PM EDT (US)     134 / 238       
Do you think that SC2 will be the last great RTS ever made?
Mariomasta RJK
Skirmisher
posted 01-02-10 12:10 PM EDT (US)     135 / 238       
Definitely not. The video game world as we see it is expanding, and eventually ppl will come back to their senses and realize FPS<RTS. IMO releasing another age game will not work now. It coulda worked maybe if they would have released this year or last year, but the age series will be long forgotten by many if RE releases an age game late 2011, the expected date.

DISTISOP
ESO: Blitzkrieg_Mario
Prefered civs: Hell, I like them all.
Rank: TWC PR 18 (master sergeant) TAD PR 17, Vanilla PR 12

Clan: Triple Entente
Favorite games: Dofus, AoE 3, Tremulous, CoD 4, SSBB, Urban Terror
legio1984
Skirmisher
posted 01-02-10 03:04 PM EDT (US)     136 / 238       
Q) Do you think the ancient History lovers will be satisfied by the RE's game?
Krakenbits
Skirmisher
posted 01-03-10 08:03 PM EDT (US)     137 / 238       
No one is being very specific about AOE4 or a new Age game, so I'll try to be specific here
Q) Say you were on a team that was the head of design for an RTS that takes place in the Classical era of 1 AD. The expansion pack will take place from 1 AD to around the fall of Rome's time. You have to choose 8 civs (no more or less) for the original, and 6 (no more no less) for the expansion. You are not limited geographically. What civs do you choose for each, and why?

[This message has been edited by Krakenbits (edited 01-04-2010 @ 05:43 PM).]

DukeLeto
Skirmisher
posted 01-03-10 08:07 PM EDT (US)     138 / 238       
SandyMan
VIP
(id: ES_Sandyman)
posted 01-07-10 02:35 PM EDT (US)     139 / 238       
1) Do you think that SC2 will be the last great RTS ever made?
A)Why would it be the last one? Were its sales pathetically low? Have we come so far technically that there are no new ideas nor improvements of old ideas ahead for us? The RTS genre has been predicted “dead” more than once – unlike, say, the FPS genre. I suspect one reason that reviewers love to say that RTSs are dead is because RTS games have such a long shelf life, so the reviewers get sick of them. I mean here we are 4 years after AoE III’s release and it still has a large number of fans. Lord knows how many Starcraft fans are still out there a decade later.

2) IMO releasing another age game will not work now.
A) why on Earth not? Age III was 6 years after Age II. They just released A Boy and His Blob for the wii, and that’s a 19 year old IP. It has received massive critical acclaim.

3) Say you were on a team that was the head of design for an RTS that takes place in the Classical era of 1 AD. The expansion pack will take place from 1 AD to around the fall of Rome's time. You have to choose 8 civs (no more or less) for the original, and 6 (no more no less) for the expansion. You are not limited geographically. What civs do you choose for each, and why?
A) Rome, Briton, Carthage, Dacian, Gaul, Goth, Han, Hellene, Hun, Kush, Persia, Satavahana, Uighur, Yamato. There are fourteen civs to play with. I would then divvy them up depending on which presented the greatest art challenge (for instance, perhaps it would be best to leave the Indian subcontinent civs to the expansion).
As_Saffah
Scenario Reviewer
posted 01-07-10 03:01 PM EDT (US)     140 / 238       
I read your list of courses for the Guildhall, and noticed there's no dedicated course material for psychology. A lot of game companies and studios are starting to study the psychographics of their player base to improve their games' appeal to a wider audience.

For instance, Magic the Gathering players fall into one or more broad categories: Timmy, Johnny, Spike, and (sometimes) Vorthos. These are shorthand for people who like dramatic effects, or flexibility and synergy, or competitive play; the last is the player who is really 'into' the history, art, graphics, music, and general flavour of the game.

What are some of the psychographics among people who bought Age games? To what extent is player psychology and personality/temperament studied in the various courses of the Guildhall?

Crunkatog on ESO
Bart331 balance suggestion: aztec: remove civ
Voltiguer: Ender, Sioux in 1.04 will be a top civ, no matter how many layers of Sioux goggles you put on
schildpad on Elephants: ...their mansabdar unit sucks so hard it looks like a black hole
Crunkatog on Steam.
EME2940820
Skirmisher
posted 01-12-10 05:22 PM EDT (US)     141 / 238       
Question: Occasionally during Random Maps in AOE while a computer priest is attempting to convert enemy units, a neighboring elephant will attack the priest. At times, the priest attempts to convert the elephant. Do you know what is going on here? Was there ever an intended feature where priests could convert GAIA units? Or is this a bug? In any case, do you know the exact mechanism for creating this effect?

Question: In AOE, the computer villagers actively hunt elephants for food. However, in ROR, the villagers do not do this. In ROR, computer villagers only attack elephants when elphants attack the computer [e.g., as in the case where the elephant attacks a priest]; once the hostile beast has been put-down, rather than collecting elephant meat, the villagers go about their everyday lives. I have spent time creating PER files in an attempt to make computer villagers hunt elephants in ROR to no avail. Do you know why computer villagers do not hunt elephants in ROR? Do you know how to make them?
existoid
Skirmisher
posted 01-18-10 11:17 PM EDT (US)     142 / 238       
General Lee was torn between choosing to fight for the north or south, but opted, I'm led to believe, for the south because of his love of Virginia.

Is it possible that this was a great turning point in American history? Had Lee chosen to serve for the union would the war have been far shorter?
DukeLeto
Skirmisher
posted 01-18-10 11:58 PM EDT (US)     143 / 238       
I almost forgot about mtg saffah
I was obsessed with that for a few years and wasted a bunch of $$$
Then, I fortunately discovered that playing aoe3 and the internet was more fun and cheaper
Cheap Plastic Rosary
Skirmisher
(id: D0ct0r Wh0)
posted 01-19-10 04:44 AM EDT (US)     144 / 238       
Hullo, Sandy. I'm a Catholic, and I read your answers to some of the questions about God and Creation, and I am very pleased that you are willing to stand up for God and be Christian despite it all.

I've found it rare to find another Christian on the Internet, much less around here.

Ethics are great, but God is superb!

Anyway, Christian fervor aside, I have four questions:

1) Why are there no trading ships or fleets in AO3 - and for that fact, AOM?

2) What EVER possessed you - or whoever created AOM - to make fixed "settlements" where town centers could be placed??

3) Why is there a limit on the number of outposts you can place in AO3?

4) I'm trying to level up my Dutch city of Saint Eustasius (TAD/TWC BTW for reference). Last game I played was against Brits and Japs. My ally was French.

We were crushed to a bloody pulp.

Any tips for a Dutch civ trying to beat off KG Hussars, Redcoats, Samurai, and Ashigarus?

...[T]he least initial deviation from the truth is multiplied later a thousandfold. -Aristotle, De Caelo

On the lips of the catechist the first proclamation must ring out over and over: “Jesus Christ loves you; he gave his life to save you; and now he is living at your side every day to enlighten, strengthen and free you.” - Pope Francis, The Joy of the Gospel

Call me out if I fail or seem to fail to live up to either of these. Either I will learn something, you will learn something, or we both will.
existoid
Skirmisher
posted 01-20-10 05:41 PM EDT (US)     145 / 238       
Let me be more contextual and clear in my question above about General Lee. I don't ask if the war might have been shorter as a way of asking if Lee was simply that good of a general. I recognize that Grant, Jackson and Sherman (and I wish I could say Thomas because he's such a neat guy) were all better generals than Lee. However, had Lee been fighting for Lincoln - with the preponderance of numbers and industry McClellan had - against Johnston (or whoever would have been running the army of Virginia), is there a reason Lee would not have won the war quickly?
SandyMan
VIP
(id: ES_Sandyman)
posted 01-20-10 05:58 PM EDT (US)     146 / 238       
1)I read your list of courses for the Guildhall, and noticed there's no dedicated course material for psychology. A lot of game companies and studios are starting to study the psychographics of their player base to improve their games' appeal to a wider audience
A)And has it worked? No. I think it’s just psychobabble and voodoo. It won’t work for video game companies any more than it worked for movie studios or advertising agencies. In any case, it won’t be the designers and developers who will use this psychology, it will be our marketing departments and CEOs.

For what it’s worth, one way of categorizing game players is LeBlanc’s categories, of Socializer, Achiever, Explorer, and Killer.

2)Occasionally during Random Maps in AOE while a computer priest is attempting to convert enemy units, a neighboring elephant will attack the priest. At times, the priest attempts to convert the elephant. Do you know what is going on here? Was there ever an intended feature where priests could convert GAIA units?
A)There is an easter egg letting you convert gaia units. It sounds like the programming hooks leading to that easter egg are getting fired.

3)Had Lee chosen to serve for the union would the war have been far shorter?
A)Yes, but on the other hand, the war might have been SO short slavery would not have been banished by war’s end.

4)Why are there no trading ships or fleets in AO3 - and for that fact, AOM?
A)The design lead on AoM didn’t like them, and neither did the design lead on Age 3. It was purely their decision.

5)What EVER possessed you - or whoever created AOM - to make fixed "settlements" where town centers could be placed??
A)First, we thought it was more realistic. You can’t just build towns anywhere you like. Second, it gave us geographic positions to fight over, instead of just a giant amorphous blob of a map.

6)Why is there a limit on the number of outposts you can place in AO3?
A)We didn’t want the game to degenerate into a siege of building construction, as sometimes happened in Age 2.

7)Any tips for a Dutch civ trying to beat off KG Hussars, Redcoats, Samurai, and Ashigarus?
A)You probably want to phrase that differently …
LordKivlov
Royal Guard
posted 01-20-10 06:12 PM EDT (US)     147 / 238       
7)Any tips for a Dutch civ trying to beat off KG Hussars, Redcoats, Samurai, and Ashigarus?
A)You probably want to phrase that differently …
Mmm. This just made my day.

Proud Citizen of Sovietcanuckistan
Maffia
AoE3H Seraph
(id: fred_ernie)
posted 01-20-10 07:05 PM EDT (US)     148 / 238       

This month I have mostly been playing Dishonored Death of the Outsider and Darkest Dungeon
Steam - Maffia GFWL - Maffia01 YouTube - HGMaffia Twitter - @HGMaffia
Age of Empires 3 Heaven Seraph

What is this life if, full of care, We have no time to stand and stare.
[This message hasn't been edited by fred_ernie (or Maffia) (not edited 12-29-2005 @ 09:57 AM).]
EME2940820
Skirmisher
posted 01-21-10 07:44 PM EDT (US)     149 / 238       
2)Occasionally during Random Maps in AOE while a computer priest is attempting to convert enemy units, a neighboring elephant will attack the priest. At times, the priest attempts to convert the elephant. Do you know what is going on here? Was there ever an intended feature where priests could convert GAIA units?
A)There is an easter egg letting you convert gaia units. It sounds like the programming hooks leading to that easter egg are getting fired.
The AOE community and I would welcome your sharing the secret of activating this effect.



Question: In AOE, the computer villagers actively hunt elephants for food. However, in ROR, the villagers do not do this. In ROR, computer villagers only attack elephants when elephants attack the computer [e.g., as in the case where the elephant attacks a priest]; once the hostile beast has been put-down, rather than collecting elephant meat, the villagers go about their everyday lives. I have spent time creating PER files in an attempt to make computer villagers hunt elephants in ROR to no avail. Are computer villagers able to hunt elephants in ROR? If so, do you know how to make them? If not, would you give the reason why they do not?
Cheap Plastic Rosary
Skirmisher
(id: D0ct0r Wh0)
posted 01-21-10 09:51 PM EDT (US)     150 / 238       
7)Any tips for a Dutch civ trying to beat off KG Hussars, Redcoats, Samurai, and Ashigarus?
A)You probably want to phrase that differently …
*is mortified*

Lemme try that again:

Is there any feasible way for a Dutch player, in a 40 minute no blockade treaty map, to defend against an onslaught of British Hussars and Redcoat Musketeers, AND Japanese Ashigaru Muskies and Samurai when the clock runs out?

Or ever?

My city's at a level 24 or 25. Theirs was at around... mmm... 80, 100. something like that.

...[T]he least initial deviation from the truth is multiplied later a thousandfold. -Aristotle, De Caelo

On the lips of the catechist the first proclamation must ring out over and over: “Jesus Christ loves you; he gave his life to save you; and now he is living at your side every day to enlighten, strengthen and free you.” - Pope Francis, The Joy of the Gospel

Call me out if I fail or seem to fail to live up to either of these. Either I will learn something, you will learn something, or we both will.
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