August 2001 Archives

August 29, 2001 Posted @ 12:13 PM | Angel Draco
The Success of a Game is Measured by the Strength of its Community
In a recent op-ed article by Colonel Lai at Stomped.com, the Colonel examines the Decline of Online Gaming Communities, using the recent closing of the Counter-Strike message boards Playway.net as a case study. The author examines how the positive attitude of a gaming community is inversely proportional to the success of the game, and that success can only be measured by the number of long-time players that play the game.

The root of the problem can be traced back to two factors: Age/immaturity, and "online invincibility". As more games are catered to a broader spectrum of gamers, gaming communities must accept, albeit sometimes unsuccessfully, the according attitudes and respect, or lack thereof, that comes with the broader range of players. Most young players don't know the unwritten code of online gaming, and as a result, they act they way some act in real life: without general respect for authority. While immaturity may be a factor, others with no web experience or people who are just hell bent on wreaking online havoc gain a sense of online anonymity when they log into a server. Because they know they can't be physically attacked for their behavior online, they choose to infuriate gamers who are there for good clean and respected fun. While some may contest that online invincibility and age may be interconnected, it isn't a requirement for a 14-year-old to act like an ass, and being 30 doesn't mean you can't be one.

In the end, it is the people who developed the games who suffer when they see their years of work being flamed upon by irresponsible flamers. Most of all, it is the people who put their hard earned money and time into creating and maintaining these web communities who get burned each time they have to deal with a complaint of a gamer acting in a disrespectful way.
Click here to read the full article.



August 24, 2001 Posted @ 4:16 PM | Angel Draco
Internet Email Accounts for PBEM Games
The Play By Email (PBEM) forum has exploded lately with lots of new players discovering the gem that is Age of Wonders. There must be 25 games going on right now! As forumer QuestionC put it, "opening a game here's like tossing a slab of beef to a crocodile pit."

PBEM vets know that having your turns sent to an internet-based email account is a good idea as some game files can reach sizes of 1 MB or more, which can clog up you regular email account very quickly. Multiply that by 10 games and you've got 6-10 MB in your account on a regular basis!

PBEM veteran Frogman has found an excellent free internet-based email account called Mail2World.com with a 10MB storage limit:
    I found a pretty highly rated site with a 10 Meg limit called mail2world.com They have over a thousand different mail2[country] extensions and my new web [email] address is frogman@mail2usa.com. I can collect my [other] email with a pop server on the mail2usa account as well. I checked a couple email rating sites and this one was the highest approval rating at 96%.
Sounds good to me! Check out Mail2World.com if you're in the market for a new internet-based email account!




August 20, 2001 Posted @ 3:12 PM | Angel Draco
Wizard Towers, Wizards & Heroes in AoW2
Josh Farely, Triumph Studios programmer, stopped by the AoW2 Forums this weekend to clarify some things about the difference between Wizards and Heroes, and how the range of spell casting will work in AoW2: The Wizard's Throne.

Josh on spell casting range .

The Wizard Towers (which are built in cities and are upgradeable) act like a network or web, allowing your wizard to extend his influence into far-away lands... You use your Heroes and armies to conquer lands beyond the reach of your wizard, build/capture a Tower, and "voila!", the Wizard can start acting on the new area.

The big fun occurs when two cities within range of each other each have Towers belonging to opposing Wizards... (which will occur often when empires collide, especially since you can build new cities if one isn't available to you)... This is when things get really nasty... and fun.
Josh on Wizard and Hero units:

Wizards are definitely NOT front-line units, and anyone who tries to use them as such, will be sitting around watching the game unfold for the rest of people who still have empires. Additionally, Heroes themselves have been tweaked for greater balance. While they are still your most powerful combat units, they are no longer nearly as able to take on large groups of enemies on their own, especially at lower levels.
Post your questions to the developers in the AoW2 General Discussions forum!


August 16, 2001 Posted @ 4:53 PM | Angel Draco
Guidelines for Developing Successful Games
Angel Thunder over at Age of Kings Heaven alerted me to a wonderful article posted at Gamesutra written by Ensemble Studios' Bruce Shelley, the designer of the incredibly popular Age of Empires RTS series. In his article, Guidelines for Developing Successful Games, Bruce offers a collection of his ideas and advice, geared towards making a great selling game. It really is a "must read" for any future employee of the gaming industry!


August 15, 2001 Posted @ 3:42 PM | Angel Draco
Update on GODGames' Departue
In case you missed it, our affiliate Planet of Wonders has a quote from Lennart Sas regarding GODGames closing its doors. It looks like Take Two will be publishing Age of Wonders 2: The Wizard's Throne. Click here to check it out.


August 14, 2001 Posted @ 3:48 PM | Angel Draco
Improving the Single Player Campaign in AoW 2
RayB, writer for Triumph Studios, stopped by our forums to comment on improvements made to the single-player campaign in Age of Wonders 2: The Wizards Throne.

"One of the problems we ran up against in the old campaign, however, was because we started with the Halflings as a beginning race, we found that many folks had a hard time winning the very first few scenarios. I think we've taken that into account this time, and with the Tutorial and Campaign we currently have, we don't start you with a weaker race immediately, though we do try to create the feeling of building and growing and getting stronger, we leave the Halflings til a bit later, allowing the player to become more familiar with some of the less subtle elements of the game first, and then challenging them with a race whose focus is less upon military achievement."
Click here to view the entire thread.


August 10, 2001 Posted @ 12:47 PM | Angel Draco
What's Up With GODGames?
Our affiliate site, Planet of Wonders, came across this article recently posted at Gamespot.com, reportng that GODGames ("Gathering of Developers") will soon be closing its Texas based operations. GODGames was the publisher of Triumph Studio's original "Age of Wonders" game and was set to publish "AoW2: The Wizard's Throne" next spring. Hopefully this will not seriously affect the long-term development of AoW2. Here's a clip:

Founded in 1998, GodGames was supposed to be an indie publisher fueled by some of the best and brightest developers, pumping out triple-A hit after triple-A hit. But the reality was something quite different, in part because of a lack of financing and a strange brew of games that never really delivered on the promise of making GodGames the Rolls-Royce of publishing labels. While there were certified hits such as Railroad Tycoon 2, other games like KISS: Psycho Circus and the Blair Witch Trilogy seemed to be a far cry from the blockbuster and seminal games once promised to be GodGames' mainstay.

Click here to discuss this topic in the AoW2 General Discussion Forum.


August 8, 2001 Posted @ 5:26 PM | Angel Draco
Voice Chat & 3D Graphics in AOW2
Josh Farley stopped by the AOW2 AOW2 General Discussion Forum to talk about some of the new game features we'll see in Age of Wonders 2: The Wizard's Throne.

Josh on Voice Chat:
"I just dropped in support for Voice Chat into our network code, so you'll be able to babble at each other freely if you wish."

Josh on 3D Graphic Terrain:
"Zoom levels are adjustable, and make use of hardware filtering to smooth the gfx...
The gfx in AoW2 are done in a similar style to AoW1, some pre-rendered (like units), and some hand-drawn (like trees and portraits). There has been very little change in the way we create our graphics; they're just bigger, with more details, and more frames of animation... People w/o 3D cards lose a few fancy features; filtering would be one of those."

Visit the AoW2 General Discussions & Suggestions Forum to post your own questions to the developers.


August 7, 2001 Posted @ 10:43 AM | Angel Draco
Gamespy Interview with PopTop's Phil Steinmeyer
PopTop Software will doing the artwork for the cut scenes of Age of Wonders 2: The Wizard's Throne. In a recent interview by Gamespy.com, Phil Steinmeyer talked a bit about AOW2 while discussing some of PopTop's other titles Railroad Tycoon II, Tropico and the action-packed Max Payne:

    PopTop's artists have been having fun creating the cut scenes for Age of Wonders 2. Triumph is doing the coding and design, but PopTop is adding some artwork. Phil also is excited about the game. He's seen a post-E3 build. "It looks phenomenal. I think it's going to be a great game and will really be enjoyed by fans of fantasy strategy." I know he wanted to compare it to Master of Magic, but he caught himself just in time. You don't invoke the names of classic games like that lightly.


August 2, 2001 Posted @ 1:08 AM | Angel Draco
Inverted Terrain in AOW 2
Josh Farely, AOW2 Programmer has alluded to the fact that graphics for underground terrain will be spruced up in AOW2: The Wizard's Throne, including implementation of 3D graphics. Hopefully, this means that typically "surface" tiles will be able to be placed using the Map Editor. Click here to read the full thread and to post your own comments to the developers.




August 1, 2001 Posted @ 12:28 AM | Angel Draco
An Angel Gets His Wings
Congratulations to Angel Nojd, who has traded in his Cherub wings in exchange for more work! Nojd has done a fantastic job since joining AOW Heaven just over a month ago, but he's been one of the most active members of the AOW community since the game was first released.

Nojd will be overseeing the Links, Game Images and working on all of the graphics here at AOW Heaven, and he will be a tremendous help as we gear up for AOW 2! You can offer your own words of cheer to Angel Nojd in this thread!