Abstract: Whatever we do – there are consequences. Thus we all should always consider our actions and their potential outcomes. In this article, I am reflecting on a very interesting “new” tendency in (video) games, returning to the good old times of permanent death. Need some keywords? Prince of Persia. Dark Souls. And artistic games. Tune in!

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Age of Empires 2 – The Era of Kings

Ah, good old memories. Do you still remember one of the best multiplayer RTS games in the world? With me, it all began back in primary school. A friend of mine knew about my fascination for ancient cultures and told me about this “particular game, where you have ballistae and soldiers and can lead your people into battle with other armies!”. It took him about five minutes and I was addicted to listening to his stories. Clear fact: I needed to have that game!

It turned out to be Age of Empires – the first one, of course. And the next best event to get presents by your parents (probably birthday or Christmas), I received it – I finally had become an army leader! Yay!

Start into the battle – a new settlement has to be established

No wonder that “Age of Empires 2 – The Age of Kings” was a must-buy several years later. 1999 that was. Gosh, that was the last millennium! Can you imagine? Age of Empires 2 was a wonderful experience. The scripted missions were fun, the graphics were absolutely astonishing, the AI was cruel – at least for me. Please do not forget, I’ve been 12 around that time, and even today I fail against the computer! But I had my fun and spent multiple hours within the medieval world of Age of Empires.

This game even saved my life during one of our unexpected history exams in school! Yes! There were questions both about Frederik I Barbarossa and Henry IV, the guy on his road to Canossa – people who were mentioned and played within the campaigns of Age of Empires 2. Thus, I had some knowledge about them and was able to answer the questions. Some games really can educate your children!

A strong and proud castle – unfortunately towards the wrong player

Today, there is a remastered version of Age of Kings, available on Steam. We, some friends of mine and me, love to play it over multiplayer every now and then, whenever there is the time. Let’s call them (the friends) J, L, and K. They will know they are mentioned. And even though I am brutally bad at playing that game (I usually have half the points of all other human players), I enjoy every single session. It is these moments like “Hey, can I build another castle near your territory? Oh… wait… that was the wrong territory!” or “Erm… L? You know that there is a huuuge army rolling towards your borders, right? Just mentioning it…” or “Don’t worry, I will send my troops! … … … … Where are they? Oh DAMN, I forgot to open the wall doors!” or “Hey, just to mention it – I am going to attack the yellow player now! … … … Oh, wait. Yellow is me!”. The whole thing is definitely a fat mass of fun, and even Assassin’s Creed’s Althaïr is mentioned sometimes!

BUT! Yes, there are some negatives as well. I am still kind of disappointed of how Microsoft chose to do the remastered edition. Besides the fact it is a high resolution clone of the original game, they just try to make money out of it (cough cough DLCs cough cough). Yes, they are trying and improving the mechanics of the base game – in very slight steps. The most important aspects, though, are never touched. You want to know some of the most annoying things whenever I play this game?

  • Limit of selected soldiers: Even though I can have armies of about 300 or 500 people, the game cannot handle that. I can only select like 35 soldiers, give them an order – and have to select the next 35. Especially in critical battles this kind of limitation absolutely hinders any useful micro management. I’d need to group my soldiers by numbered selections, like ALT-1, ALT-2 and so on – a huge mess of administration while the groups are killed instantly in the battle.
  • Stupid explorers: In most recent RTS games I’ve played, the “auto-explore” button is a common thing. Click it and your unit will walk around by itself, trying to explore the undiscovered regions of the map. Yes, this is highly convenient, and I absolutely know that there are people out there who HATE to make things easier. It would even change the original feeling of the game, granted. So why not add all those little improvements to make the game more “up-to-date” to a set called “comfortable controls”, an option you can enable or disable at the beginning of a game? For everybody? I’d rather take control of my village than to run along with my stupid horse rider…
  • Aggressive units everywhere: In Age of Empires 2, units can have one of four potential AI settings when seeing an enemy. While especially for ranged units the option to stand still and just shoot is perfect and melee soldiers in your own territory should primarily defend their position, all new units are spit out by their barracks in aggressive mode. Meaning: They see an enemy and chase it – until it gets out of sight or either one of them is dead. Oh, how often have I seen my troups wandering around in the world without me noticing? I hate that! The main problem: ALL units start in aggressive mode, and heading back to change the settings for new troups is sometimes pretty time consuming. And disturbing. Change that!
  • Peasants, stay at home! Oh, how often have I sent peasants to the battlefront unwittingly? Dragging a selection box around your military units does not only select the military units, no. But also all civilian units which are running in between them at the moment. And they always do. Has to be a special AI feature, right? Why not do it like in other games? Selection boxes only select peasants if there are no military units to grab. It is most likely you want to move around your soldiers, not your civilian population!
  • Monotonous peoples: Yes, Age of Empires 2 provides a lot of potential nations and ethnics to play along with. The new DLCs (*cough* expensive *cough*) even provide more options to choose from. My personal problem: I never know which one to use. Especially, because they all feel the same. Their differences are rather minimalistic – some technologies are not available, some units are not purchasable, every nation has one or two special units and there is some nation specific team bonus. Yay. Just compare it with other games like StarCraft or Warcraft, where each faction has its very own way to play the game. I wouldn’t need the Mayan people to use voodoo or resurrect dead people, but playing them actually feels like playing the Teutons. Which is, by the way, a circumstance which has been changed in the next episode of the “Age of …”-series, Age of Mythology.
Green attacking Cyan! Fortunately, Blue is sending help…

There are many more aspects which really annoy me when playing the game. Do not forget: Age of Empires 2 is still one of the best games out there. It is outrageously old now, but still one of the classics. I love the game. I would just wish it’d love me back a little bit.

No matter what. I am already looking forward to my next gaming session with J, L, and K. Guys, I will train and become better. No chance that I will stay the worst player forever! And even if so – with you guys, it is always fun. And that’s the reason for playing a game, isn’t it? 😉 MAY THE FAT KING RULE!

Erikativ, Emote und PowerRP – ein Kurzlehrgang

Abstract: Eine kurze, knappe Übersicht über die wichtigsten Stilmittel oder Methoden, die man in einem Online-Rollenspiel benötigt und verwenden sollte. Denn was könnte langweiliger sein als das kontinuierliche Abspulen von Dialogzeilen?

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The Passion of Gaming

Little something for you – as this is a very long article (and I know very well that reading such long articles on screen is not easy), I tried my best to make some proper audio record. Please excuse some little misreading at the end – the whole text has been recorded at once, I did not want to correct it. At least, now it is much more human. The record is about 21 minutes. I hope, you enjoy my thoughts, textual or auditive. 😉

The Passion of Gaming – Download (MP3)

Today, I will share a little secret with you. Are you ready for it? Yes? But you have to promise to read on, whatever might happen. You might be shocked, you might be trembling in fear, but I count on you reading on. Do you really think, you could do that? Yeah? Okay, I have warned you. Remember it. Deal is deal. Do not disappoint me. So here it comes, my very personal secret, just for you. I have to confess that I am a little bit nervous. Telling secrets is so exciting. Gimme a second to take a deep breath. Okay. Did you ever have to confess something? To come out with something? Did you ever have to feel these very few seconds when you have to decide whether to tell or not to tell? And you have no idea about the reactions. Will they hate you? Will they accept you? Will they support you? That is the way I’m feeling right now. But you promised to stay with me. I trust you. I am ready. Here you go.

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