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Interview with Brian Reynolds - Part 2

HG: What will the campaign focus on, besides being separate ones for each new civilization?

Brian Reynolds: There will be three five-scenario campaigns, one each for China, Japan, and India. The Chinese campaign focuses on the hypothetical journey of a Ming Treasure Ship to the pre-Columbian New World. The Japanese campaign focuses on the establishment of the Tokugawa Shogunate in the early 17th century. The Indian campaign focuses on the Sepoy Rebellion of the 19th century.

HG: Can you tell us more about the new hot keys you are adding to TAD?

Brian Reynolds: Hotkeys... so many hotkeys! First of all at every military building there's a hotkey for queuing up every kind of unit and for queuing up batches of 5 of them (and just to be clear, this feature does include all of the European and Native civs). Other special new keys include the ability to select all of your military units at once as well as a key to select all units of the currently selected type (i.e. you have a Musketeer selected so you hit this to select all your Musketeers),

HG: There seems to be some community confusion about the new wonders and how they act as "Aging Up" for the Asian civs. Is there anything you can tell us about that?

Brian Reynolds: Absolutely! Each Asian civ has five unique wonders, and they build one whenever they want to age up. Notice that since you can only age up four times in a game, that means you'll never have all five of the wonders. The cost to build a Wonder at any particular time will be equivalent to what your next Age should cost (e.g. 800 Food to get to Age 2), so you'll be able to pick any of your five wonders for any age. Each Wonder provides not only an immediate bonus (like a Politician Card would) but also a lasting ability or power (for example the Agra Fort is a big fort, the Taj Mahal allows you to activate a temporary "Cease Fire" power, and the Karni Mata provides a gather bonus to all nearby villagers). Wonders are built by villagers, just like buildings, so you don't "click the town center button". You can age up faster by assigning more workers to the wonder, though the wonder will slowly "self-build" (like a wagon-built building, only slower) even if your workers are killed in a raid or have to run and hide.

HG: Will there be new triggers and additions to the Scenario Editor?

Brian Reynolds: No, we didn't change the Scenario Editor for this expansion.

HG: Some players are saying that there will be 3 online communities whereas others say that there will be 4 communities, because players who have all 3 games will play only with similar players and therefore create the fourth community. There is a lot of confusion with this subject and we were hoping to get some clarification from you about that.

Brian Reynolds: The Asian Dynasties supports playing with anyone else who also owns the expansion, and we've made some interface changes to make dealing with the issue of whether players own the WarChiefs expansion more seamless. If you launch the Asian Dynasties expansion (e.g. by double-clicking its icon, or picking it from the Start Menu, etc) then you'll be able to play against anyone else who also launched the Asian Dynasties expansion. If both of you also have the WarChiefs expansion then you'll also be able to use those civs, maps, etc. While you're using ESO with Asian Dynasties, there will be a checkbox on the game hosting setup screen (or quickmatch launch screen) allowing you to specify whether WarChiefs content is allowed - if this box is unchecked, then your games will be visible to all other Asian Dynasties players, whether or not they have WarChiefs installed, and you'll be able to play with them (but neither of you will be able to use WarChiefs content). If the box is checked, then your games will be visible only to other Asian Dynasties players who also have the WarChiefs installed-and when you play with them you will both be able to use WarChiefs content.

To play with players who don't own either expansion, you can always launch with the original Age III icon (just as is now the case if you have WarChiefs but you want to play with someone who doesn't); likewise if you own Asian Dynasties (only) and want to play against someone who owns WarChiefs (only) then you would both need to launch the original Age III icon. Note that we expect that the substantially largest body of players for Asian Dynasties multiplayer will be players who also own WarChiefs anyway.

HG: Can we expect any additions to ESO functionality, specifically ladders and clans?

There will be no new major ESO functionality, although during an online game if you look at your opponent's deck you'll no longer be able to see their "name" for the deck (that seemed to incentivize people to use deceptive or gibberish names for their decks).

HG: What's a common work day like for Brian Reynolds?

Brian Reynolds: Gosh I'm not sure there's such a thing as a "normal" workday for me, as each part of each project is so different. But some stuff from this project that would recur for me includes brainstorming meetings with the designers to invent new features and figure out how to make them fun. For example, there were a lot of versions of the Consulate before we arrived at the current version which we like. We used to make you gather your Export goods explicitly with villagers at a "Silk Market" or "Tea Market" before we decided that was too cumbersome and confusing. Other tasks include balance meetings with the testing group to get the Asian civs balanced with each other and then later with the European/Native civs, playtesting the civs and maps in multiplayer with the other designers to get a feel for fun and balance, creating the "Hard" levels for the campaigns (that was my personal contribution to the single-player side of the project), and then the various trips to Ensemble and their trips out here to talk about the project and work on design and balance issues.

HG: How do you like your coffee?

Brian Reynolds: In the form of hot, black, loose leaf Yorkshire Gold tea!

HG: Great, thanks so much for your time and good luck on your final stretch until the release of the anticipated Age of Empires 3: The Asian Dynasties.

If you missed part one, you can see it here.