November 2008

Sunday, November 23, 2008

GameRanger for Age of Empires Reviewed
Posted by The Dark Archer

After recently receiving an e-mail from Scott Kevill of GameRanger Technologies about his online match making service GameRanger now supporting Age of Empires and Rise of Rome as well at their trials I decided I would test this new service and write a review of how I found it.

So I set off downloading and installing the client and found it to be very easy to set up and go with a good looking and instinctive interface. After writing a thread on the forums and sending out a message I was able to try a game first hand. Rasteve answered my call and meet me on GameRanger. First I tried to host a game and ran into some router problems which slightly annoyed me so I instead got the Rasteve to try hosting and I would try to join. I was confronted with the same kind of message about my router but this time had the option of continuing anyway. So I took my chances and hoped that I wouldn't have a repeat of my attempts to use IGZ where I was left hanging at the set up screen. So the game was launched and for a brief moment I got through before it suddenly disappeared again. Fortunately some had gone funny on Rasteve's end so we tried again and got through. We set the game up and away we went with no further technical problems. Of course I had a terrible start taking a minute to find berries and ended up losing the game but that is besides the point. So after this game and a second game with Mapppp who I have tried and failed to play over IGZ more than once I have come up with my ratings.

Ease of Install: 5.0

GameRanger scored a perfect 5.0 for ease of install. All that is required is to download the installer and run it. No extra patches or programs are required to host or join although you should check that everyone has the same patch before starting the game but that is a Age of Empires and person problem not a GameRanger problem so no marks can be taken off for that.

Interface: 4.8

The interface for GameRanger is good looking and easy to use. After first downloading and installing GameRanger I easily was able to navigate the interface and found out how to do what I needed without reading anything. The only addition I would like to see is a minimize to taskbar option but other than that it is a fantastic and easy to use interface.

Joining and Hosting: 4.0

Marks were lost here due to the problems for me to host without forward porting but still has a strong showing due to ability to still join games. So far GameRanger has succeeded in allowing forum members to play online where IGZ and IP haven't.

Documentation and Support: 4.5

Fortunately I haven't had to seek support at all yet but there is a functioning forum where users can ask any questions that they need to. Documentation is available online and the box that tells me I can't host has a link to a page to try and help solve the problem. Slightly more links online to some of their documentation would have been nice but no major problems stood out.

Service: 4.5

The service it self is very good with no ads as far as I have seen. GameRanger works on three different account types Bronze which is free, Silver which costs $19.95 USD per year and Gold which costs $39.95 USD per year. Bronze provides the basic service and allows for you to have 50 friends in your list. Silver adds some more small features here and there such as Ladders and voice communication and ups the max friends you can have to 100. However if this is still not enough the gold account allows 500 friends as well as Auto-reply away messages and some other extra features.

Additional Comments:

I was hopeful GameRanger work as I could not get IGZ to work even after downloading a number of files and patches from IGZ and I have not be let down. Even if I can not host my own games the ability to join and play games online again now that the Zone has closed means I can have the fun of playing with some actual people again. By checking someone's profile you can even find out their local time which is very useful for finding if someone is likely to be able to play or not. Windows XP or higher is unfortunately needed to be able to use this service but for anyone with that can use this service I highly recommend it for playing Age of Empires online.

Update:

Scott just informed me that they have changed the hosting ability to allow you to ignore the router in the same way joining does. Score has been updated accordingly.

Overall Score: 4.6

GameRanger Forum Thread
GameRanger Website

Friday, November 21, 2008

The AoE 11th Anniversary Screenshot Competition
Posted by The Dark Archer

In recent happenings forum regular Nacht Jaeger ran a screenshot competition to celebrate Age of Empires 11th anniversary. The competition had two categories that could be entered which were the Agetoon Comptetition and the Pretty Screenshot Competition.

Forumers worked hard for both sections and earlier the results were announced. Fruktfisk won the Agetoons section narrowly beating Nacht Jaeger with his entry. While in the Pretty Screenshot section I took out first place with my entry (which I assure you has nothing to do with me threating to ban the judges if they didn't make me win :P) with the Microscopic Map Contest winner Ninetails/TailSpray coming in second. Prizes are yet to be determined but the all the entries are up for viewing so you can decide whose you like best.

Competition Thread
Results Thread
Agetoon Entries
Pretty Screenshot Entries