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Ensemble Studios Chat 16Oct97
ES_Fish: Ian Fischer (Ensemble Stuidos)
ES_Chris: Chris Rippy (Ensemble Stuidos)
[ES_Fish joined channel AofE]
ArchangelM: HI Fish
ES_Fish: What's going on?
ArchangelM: We only go the word out a couple of hours ago - but
should be better
ES_Fish: This is pretty neat.
[Yokel joined channel AofE]
ArchangelM: Fish - how many of the scenarios are you responsbile for?
ES_Fish: Hard to answer
ES_Fish: Hang on
ArchangelM: Telcontar - are you going to cut and paste this thing for
[ES_Chris joined channel AofE]
ES_Fish: Hey, Rip!
Telcontar: ok, if my Netscape does not crash :)
ArchangelM: Hey Chris
ES_Fish: About the scenarios...
ES_Fish: I did a lot of the multiplayer but Chris Rippy did the vast
majority of the single player
ArchangelM: nice to hear I thought Chris had something to do with the
ES_Fish: I was actually hired after most of them were complete, so I
up testing them all
ES_Fish: Yes, Chris is our sound guru.
ES_Chris: Yes, I'm also the sound guy
ES_Chris: Bossman says hello
Telcontar: why did you decide to create your own language for AoE?
[LaserEdge joined channel AofE]
LaserEdge: 'Lo all.
ES_Chris: Good question..we wanted to have an early "sounding
but not a real known
language. So, AOE speak was born.
Telcontar: some words sound like a weird Swiss German dialect :)
ArchangelM: I heard it was based on you when you were a baby - is
ES_Fish: This has become the biggest question generator...
ES_Chris: Me as a baby, huh.. Most sounds are just "latin
that we made up. There are
some secrets in there too.
ArchangelM: Tells us how the demo scenarios differ in game play from
ES_Chris: Completely fresh scenarios. We felt like we didn't want to
the demo player when he
bought the game, so he gets a whole new set of them.
ES_Fish: One of the things you'll notice, however....
LaserEdge: I have a couple of questions for the AI master. ;)
ES_Fish: Is that the demo scenarios (by their nature) are forced to
of a lot of the game elements
ES_Fish: Which in the full version are more spread out...
ES_Fish: Dave isn't here for the AI but Chris and I have a decent
understanding of it so shoot...
ES_Chris: Ian is the master of the demo! He did quite a bit of work
history and design.
ES_Chris: You owe me 5 bucks
ArchangelM: good ahead laseredge
ES_Fish: am were
ES_Fish: (sorry, inside jokes)
ES_Fish: AI questions?
LaserEdge: I know programing AI is a difficult challenge in RTS
know AoE's AI is self adapting.
What approach did you take? Alife, GA's etc???
ES_Fish: The self-adapting portion really didn't come into play for us
ES_Chris: in the scenario world that is
ES_Fish: As far as designing scenarios is concerned, that is
ES_Fish: The adaptation routine creates a file on every user's system
ES_Fish: Data based on your performance under certain conditions is
there and the AI looks to it
in certain situations
ES_Fish: So, if you do the same thing every time, he knows and
LaserEdge: I see. So your behavioral modeling the human player to
ES_Chris: It is possible to have scenarios with this info of the user
inmbedded, so when you make your
ES_Fish: Note that I am not the AI guy, so Iwhat I'm telling you is
what I understand... Take it for what
it is worth...
ArchangelM: Ok Chris - The music in Age of Empires is extremely
different from music used in other
games. What was the inspiration behind the music? The music
reportedly is rooted from many of the
civilizations included in the game, how is this so?
ES_Fish: (need more coffee...)
ES_Chris: Cool. The music was actually done by my two brothers,
David and Stephen..
LaserEdge: Gimme some FoOd! ;)
ES_Chris: They did a ton of research on the cultures, their styles,
and their instruments..
ES_Chris: and created some very remarkable tunes using sampling
technology on the instruments and real
ArchangelM: I guess I will take that as answer... Whats the story of
the flying Dutchman?
ES_Chris: He likes catapults!
ES_Chris: and no pants
LaserEdge: What about the big bug that was found with transports?
ES_Chris: Yeah, I saw that today. Interesting. I'll have to try it
Telcontar: which is not a bug in the first place, but a fiendish and
crafty abuse of the diplomacy system
ES_Chris: Love those workarounds :)
ES_Fish: Its a feature!
ES_Fish: Not really....
LaserEdge: Any of you had a chance to play TA or DR? What do you
think of them?
ES_Fish: I've played a little of both
ES_Chris: I've not had much playtime on either, but I've heard good
ES_Fish: Some likes / some dislikes....
Yokel: The units in TA look a little abstract; takes getting used to
Telcontar: Europe's largest game mag has chosen AoE as the game of
the month (before TA and DR).
They prefered AoE :)
ES_Fish: Woo Hoo!
ES_Chris: Pretty cool huh. We've gotten some great reviews lately..
Yokel: History Department at Chico State (Calif) likes the demo a lot
LaserEdge: I think DR has the best unit AI among DR, TA and AoE. AoE
is the most fun of all IMHO.
ES_Chris: Go Chico State!
ES_Fish: I'm a more strategic player so I didn't like TA's (very
nearly) all-combat model
ES_Fish: I like some of DR's unit AI but some of it ruins the game
LaserEdge: Fish : You must be like me. More a creative thinker and
not a click fest person.
ES_Fish: I won like the first 6 missions by pumping out units and
assigning them all "search and
ES_Fish: Yeah, I'm not a click fest guy...
Telcontar: some people criticized that the sound tracks were too
short (30 minutes total). Will the
expansion have more music? perhaps 2 cds, one for installing, one for
LaserEdge: It is obvious most of the AoE development team is the same
way. It shows in the product.
ES_Fish: Yeah, one of our big concerns was ensuring that it didn't
become a click-fest....
ES_Chris: On the soundtracks: Don't forget you have both redbook and
midi. Pull the cd out and you get
a whole new set.
ES_Fish: The problem now, as we look at new design ideas, is that as
we grow more complex we still
have to have a certain level of simplicty and action involved...
ES_Fish: A lot of people like this aspect and we don't want to lose
ES_Fish: Recently, we've had some great ideas for melding the two
Telcontar: can you tell us a bit about the expansion or AoE2?
ES_Fish: AoE2 = secret
ES_Fish: It hurts me to have you ask, however...
LaserEdge: That is the cool thing about hind sight. You know what to
do better the next time around.
AoE probably gave you many cool ideas you didn't implement because of
ES_Fish: I'd really like to talk...
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ES_Chris: Plus everyone's feedback here has been an inspiration to us.
ES_Fish: Plus our design staff rocks -- these guys are studs.
ES_Chris: Fish? A stud?
[Voodo joined channel AofE]
ES_Fish: Well, in training.
ES_Chris: Hey Voodoo
IRex: Greetings all,
ES_Chris: Hey Irex
LaserEdge: I just have one real request of ya. Make sure you stay
diehard gamers before your next RTS
ES_Chris: Of course!!!
ES_Fish: Have you guys started making your own levels?
ES_Chris: Yes, I made several.
LaserEdge: I know it is hard to lose sight in difficult project
ES_Fish: Not you!
ES_Chris: Yeah, but there's always time for games!
LaserEdge: HeHe. ;)
LaserEdge: And there is time to be thinking about them when your not
IRex: Is the same team going to be at work on AoE2?
ES_Chris: Is that an indirect AoE2 question? Sneaky...
IRex: Sorry, I missed the start.
IRex: I'll rephrase that
ES_Chris: Cool with me!
ES_Fish: Again, any of you done your own levels?
IRex: Our staff have done a few ES_Fish
IRex: Nothing to write home about
LaserEdge: I haven't yet. Still having a blast in multi! Gotta
love the coop mode
IRex: Letting 2 players play the one civ was a great idea.
ES_Fish: If you have anything you think is good, send them to me
LaserEdge: The coop mode is a feature I have been wanting since
C&C came out.
IRex: Sets AoE apart in yet another way
IRex: ES_Fish -- I'll go through them tomorrow. This is Imperious
Rex from GameStats by the way.
ES_Chris: Cool. I'm glad you're playing coop! Its cool communicating
with your partner to win the game
Telcontar: will more than 8 players be able to play in AoE2 (e. g. 32
players with 8 tribes)?
ES_Fish: We had some indestructable teams when we tested co-op...
ES_Fish: One guy to build, one to fight and so on...
ES_Chris: More sneaky AOE2 talk...
LaserEdge: I think coop will start a new tourney format.
IRex: As far as you know will IGZ remain free for AoE?
IRex: A lot of readers are writing in about that.
Voodo: pc gamer said it would be
ES_Fish: I asked MS that question yesterday...
ES_Chris: As far as I know..but I'm an ES guy so..
Voodo: stuff like Asheron's call will be charged
LaserEdge: I have a question about the network code. Is AoE's
network code independent of protocol?
ES_Fish: The answer I got was that it will stay free for AoE and for
the majority of their game
[Olm_Napp joined channel AofE]
ES_Fish: They will implement a fee structure for some of their online
ES_Chris: Will have Mark, network questions next week probably
LaserEdge: Chris: Thanks. Just noticing Kali IPX play is more
reliable than IGZ.
[ArchangelM left channel AofE]
Olm_Napp: yeah much more
Olm_Napp: best is direct tcp imho
ES_Chris: I'll be here another 15 minutes
[ES_Fish left channel AofE]
Olm_Napp: did anyone ask why there is no multiplayer save option ?
IRex: It will likely be busier tomorrow Chris. Short notice today
ES_Chris: This is fun, so cool.
IRex: It slowed down gameplay Olm
Olm_Napp: what saving ??
IRex: Yes Olm
[Ender77 joined channel AofE]
Yokel: Excellent idea to have scheduled meetings. I'll tell my
friends, and they'll tell theirs, like the
IRex: goto http://www.gamestats.com and choose interviews and then
Olm_Napp: pressing f10 and then return will slow down the game ?? how
this come ??
IRex: It explains it Olm
Telcontar: many people have also asked for a different format of the
screenshots. I know that gif is too
slow, but will we see pcx screenshots in the expansion?
IRex: save stops your game for a couple of seconds....
Olm_Napp: i read this but it doesnt make sense
Olm_Napp: well if someone drops and its not saved it crapples a 2h
Olm_Napp: much worse imho
ES_Chris: I'm not sure what the screen shot scoop is.
Olm_Napp: aoe is not that fast paced
Voodo: I have yet to buy the game, I was wondering if the ai path
finding in the retail version is better
then the trial version?
IRex: Yes it is Voodo
IRex: later all
ES_Chris: Yeah, you'll be quite happy with the pathing and ai in the
[IRex left channel AofE]
Olm_Napp: it has some problems in bigger groups though...
Voodo: I don't mind other ai things but path finding, ihmo, is the
Olm_Napp: but that was the same in ra and c&c
ES_Chris: Its tough stuff, thats for sure.
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Olm_Napp: what about that patch ms announced ?
Olm_Napp: what will be fixed in it ?
Ender77: Good question
ES_Chris: We'll have to see on that...sorry to be vague.
LaserEdge: The path finding algo's still get stuck one and a while. I
have seen a villager got back a forth in
front of a tree out in the middle of no where before with the retail
[Mark7 joined channel AofE]
Olm_Napp: well if u implement a save option all would be VERY happy :)
ES_Chris: I'll make a note..
Olm_Napp: i know had about 5 2h games which just crashed before the
final battle this really sucks
ES_Chris: Hey Mark7
LaserEdge: I think the path was indirect across the tree. IE
southwest to northeast.
Olm_Napp: what about a scenario cd, someone mentiod some really
interesting campaign are missing e.g.
hannibal against rome etc.
Olm_Napp: or the up and downrising of the roman empire
Olm_Napp: i dont miss the patrol feature btw.
ES_Chris: That's why we've got the editor. I'd love to see some
really cool stuff that you guys do with
historically correct scenarios and campaigns...
Olm_Napp: yeah true
ES_Chris: It'd be cool to compile all of the best user campaigns in
one place, like a cd.
Olm_Napp: btw: why cant u print out maps with the scen editor ?
Telcontar: will we see a sound editor some time?
LaserEdge: There is one civ I though you would do. What about the
ES_Chris: I dont think we have any plans for a sound editor.
Voodo: someone will probably some up with one sooner or later
ES_Chris: We weighed a bunch of different civs when designing
Age..unfortunatly some were left our for
one reason or another.
Voodo: eer come up
Olm_Napp: ah ur really sure that boats are restitant against
convertion ? i saw my triremes converted in
3 seconds by ONE priest
Telcontar: I'd also like to see some group commands, like gathering
all units, keep or break up formations
Olm_Napp: yeah or a spreading command
ES_Chris: Boats can be converted.
Olm_Napp: sure but THAT FAST ?
LaserEdge: Chris: Boat are twice as resistant to conversion aren't
Olm_Napp: not to my experience...
Telcontar: the time is not constant ... go to my page
Olm_Napp: yeah i know
ES_Chris: I'm not sure what the % is, but they are tough. Researching
all of the priests options were help
do it faster.
[Voodo left channel AofE]
Olm_Napp: but a boat in 3 sekonds ? this shouldnt happen to a
LaserEdge: Okay. Thaks for supporting your fans.
Olm_Napp: thx chris for comming
ES_Chris: I'm off. See you guys same time tomorrow.Back to Interviews