Category / Gaming

Microsoft Shutting Down Ensemble Studios September 15, 2008 at 5:10 am

I found out this morning that Ensemble Studios is closing down after 12 years. They make the RTS series that I played for years: Age of Empires. I knew it wouldn’t bode well when I found that Microsoft bought them over… What a shame!

RIP HD-DVD February 20, 2008 at 11:37 am

Like most folks, I’ve been sitting on the sideline of the format war of HD-DVD vs Blue-ray. It’s finally over with Toshiba’s official defeat yesterday. It’s about time.

So is Blue-ray the best solution for consumers? I guess we can’t know for sure. One thing is clear: this battle wasn’t decided by consumers. There were a lot of dealing and wheeling by the manufacturers and movie studios, even some muddy financial deals between the big companies. There were a lot of stake for Sony & the likes. It wasn’t a pure consumer decision, but one format is obviously better than two for everybody.

The HD-DVD owners got burned, but most of these folks fully understand the risks of being early adopters. I’m usually an early adopters too, but definitely glad I chose to be more prudent this time. Now I can start looking into getting a player and start watching Netflix movies in their full hi-def glory. A PS3 looks like a great deal all suddenly…

AoK: No Cinematic September 24, 2006 at 10:10 pm

If you’re tired of the cinematic that plays everytime you launch AoK (Age of Empires 2: Age of Kings), there’s an optional parameter "NoStartup" that turns that annoying video off. Just add the paramter to the shortcut that launches the game like this:
"C:\Program Files\Microsoft Games\Age of Empires II\age2_x1\age2_x1.exe" NoStartup

For a complete list of command line parameters, check this knowledge base from Microsoft.

Age of Kings: A Call To Arms August 22, 2006 at 11:56 am

A few years ago, a co-worker of mine Dan Hutchins gave me a copy of a strategy game called Age of Kings (AoK). Dan was a game reviewer so he gets all sorts of free games to evaluate. The basic premise of AoK is that you choose one of many civilizations from the middle ages, build up its economy and raise armies to conqueror other civilizations. I got a few of my buddies into it and pretty soon we were playing regularly online as a clan. The battles were always intense.

At the some point, I had to quit being an avid gamer with the birth of Allison– 2 kids were too demanding for any regular gaming. I constantly found my attention diverted while I was in middle of battles. Unfortunately, the “clan” was disbanded. I now definitely have a lot less time devoted to gaming than those “golden days.” However, the gamer in me never completely stopped playing. While still unable to play regularly, I discover that just 2 or 3 hours gaming on a Fri nite is very doable and with minimal interuption now that the kids are a few years older. With a beer next to me, it’s a good way to unwind after a week of work for me, though my wife wonders how I can still look at a computer monitor after a full work week (I’m a software developer). 🙂

I went through several games since AoK: Age of Mythology, Age of Empires 3, Battlefield 2, Rise of Nations etc… Despite the impressive array of 3D graphics, I must say I still miss the old gameplay, intensity and depth of AoK. Some of these 1st person shooters, while intense & fun to play, were making me nauseous! I tend to stick with strategy genre too. So a few weeks ago, my friend Alex & I were discussing how it was so much fun playing online with friends. Alex suggested that I revive the old AoK clan again.

So, this is a call to arms to my fellow weekend warriors. Let’s do AoK again. If you’re interested in playing, send me an email with your IM. I will place you on my AoK mailing list. Sorry, this is by private invitation only. No inquiries please, if I don’t know you.

    Here’s the basic info on the game:

  • We run version 1.0c of the Age of Kings with The Conquerors expansion pack. You can verify the version # by creating a multiplayer game, the version # is displayed between the player number & team number
  • Game time: Fri 10PM
  • Install & run XFire, for basic communication & coordination. Be sure that I have your XFire username.
  • Open port 47624 (TCP & UDP) if you’re behind a router/firewall. You should only need to do port forwarding, port triggering shouldn’t be necessary. If your game still fails to connect, open these additional ports: 28800-29000 (TCP), 2300-2400 (TCP), 2300-2400 (UDP). If that still doesn’t work, put your machine in a DMZ.
  • Game manual can be found in aoe2/aoc/AGE2_X1/DOCS folder of the CD
    Connecting to our games:

  1. Start the game (Aok: The Conquerors v1.0c)
  2. Click on Multi-player
  3. For Connection Type, select TCP/IP
  4. Enter the server IP address (if you’re connecting for 1st time)
  5. You should see a game if it’s being hosted
  6. Select the game and click on Join