Age of Empires Shows Off its Wonders

Microsoft Games provides a first look at its long-awaited historical real-time strategy game.

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Microsoft may well have the eighth wonder of the world on their hands - the eighth wonder of the real-time strategy gaming world, that is.

Producers and developers of Microsoft's forthcoming title Age of Empires came by the GameSpot offices today to demonstrate just how far the historically based strategy game has evolved. Bruce Shelly, a lead designer on the project (whose previous design credits include MicroProse's Civilization), led the presentation along with AI programmer David Pottinger. Both work with Ensemble Studios.

In the game, players will be able to manage one of 12 discrete cultures, and must perform such tasks as hunting and gathering, research, and defense against neighboring tribes. The game will ship with an easy-to-use map editor, and it will include a random map generator. Apart from stunning 3-D rendered character movements and extraordinary death animations - "Our twenty-five-year-old art designers came up with those," says Shelly - the game will include a cunning AI scheme. Programming guru Pottingerelaborates: "There will be 50 to 70 attack strategies that the AI opponent can employ based on the progress of a game."

Shelly assures us that Age of Empires is "not just a conquest game," explaining that scenario objectives will be able to be approached from different angles.

Although the game will not incorporate any macabre themes (other than animations of slowly rotting corpses on the battlefield), Shelly stated adamantly that the game would be released October 31st. A free demo of the game is also on the way.

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