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XGR Interview with Rob Fermier and Jerome Jones - 08/16/2002

XGR: (WE) have Rob and Jerome from Age of Mythology. How you guys doing tonight?

ES: Doing just fine.
ES
: Good, how are you?

XGR: Good! Glad you guys can join us. We are real excited about you guys joining us tonight. Let me start by giving out the number before we get started....1-800-966-8326, if you want to talk with Rob or Jerome. So, give us the premise of Age of Mythology. A lot of people know the Age of Kings, and Age of Empires, which you guys at Ensemble started with. Tell us the premise and how Age of Mythology is different.

ES: Well, I guess I can mostly talk about the single-player campaign, because one of the things we really tried to do on Age of Mythology [that is different] from the other games is spend a lot of time and resources on the single-player campaign, and which we have done and created this....really big, arcing story that is really compelling and has a lot of in-game cinematics that drive the single player campaign from beginning to end. The player also have the ability to get a lot out of the in-game cinematics this time around because they're really, really....emersive. You are going to be able to watch these in-game cinematics, and then the camera is going to pull out and go straight into gameplay, so it's going to be seem-less. Right out of cinematics into gameplay.

XGR: Nice.

ES: ...It sort of a higher-level compared to the previous Age games. Age of Mythology obviously has the element of not being strictly bound to history but it's also got an all-new 3D engine and tons of new gameplay features, more people in multiplayer, lots of new online modes, and a whole bunch of new stuff. It should be pretty familiar to Age2 and Age of Empires 1 veterans, but we really tried to make sure we kept the franchise fresh.

XGR: Great, great! Again, we're talking with Rob and Jerome from Ensemble Studios. ageofmythology.com is what you want to check out here. So you mentioned a 3D Engine, and this is like another RTS just recently made the jump, you guys have just made the jump to 3D. Tell us about the decision to do that because that's a big jump for you guys.

ES: Yeah, it's definitely was a big decision, and at some level we don't think that Age consumers don't think a lot about 3D. We think that they want cool visuals and they want cool gameplay, and the 3D engine is really a mean to achieving that ends. There is a certain segment of the audience that thinks it's the coolest thing if we can use their GeForce 9000, with super-radioactive bitmapping or whatever...

XGR: Right...

ES: Most people don't care about that, they are just looking for a real good experience, and the 3D let's us do all sorts of things... animation....special effects....camera movement and in-game cinematics. All kinds of stuff that really liberates us to do stuff that we couldn't do in 2D before.

XGR: And that's something that is coming more into the genre. It used to be, or still is kind of, only First Person Shooters are mainly known their quick eye-candy, you know, huge levels, whereas RTS was more about the detail of the gameplay, and it seems like you guys are raising the bar on the graphics.

ES: It's actually been pretty interesting because we've moved into a space that has really been occupied by First Person Shooters, which are entirely different obviously from our Strategy games. When they focus on more having 4 guys with 5000 polys on them, we focus on 400 guys with 200 polys on them. It is a very different experience, and we had to work very closely with the 3D corporate manufacturers to make sure we're using their stuff as effectively as possible. They've all been really cooperative and helpful, and they really helped us. Which...

XGR: Great!

ES: ...you know, having that many guys on the screen in a 3D world was always something we were concerned with too, trying to maintain what Age players are used to and that is having fairly decent sized armies on the screen at the same time and still have a 3D world.

XGR: Yeah, most definitely. I can see how you guys would be limited in that in the past with the average gamers specs for their gaming machines not having the GeForce 9000 or whatever they're up to now. Um, again we're talking with Rob and Jerome from Age of Mythology, 1-800-966-8326. Let's talk civilizations. This time, what are we going to be experiencing?

ES: Well, we have 3 cultures that span over....sort of like 9 civilizations. We have the Norse, which are....there are 3 major Gods within the Norse that make up three different Norse civilizations. And that is one of our cultures. We have the Egyptians, which they are also 3 different Gods within the Egyptians that you can play, that make up 3 separate Egyptian civilizations. And then we have the Greeks, which....the same situation....3 different Greek Gods that you can follow throughout the game, and, uh, that makes up 3 different Greek civilizations.

The differences between the gameplay and cultures and all the 9 different Gods in the game are really more distinct than they were in Age of Kings. In Age of Kings, the differences between playing Franks and Teutons was really 5% here, and then minus 5% there. But here, the Egyptians...Thor goes about gathering and building up his empire in an entirely different way than Zeus goes about it.

They have totally different God Powers, totally different Myth Units, you know, fantastic creatures like Chimera or Cyclops or Minotaurs, it really makes a big difference in playing the game. There's a lot more depth and variety to it than Age of Kings had.

ES: And we walk you through it in the single-player campaign and so you are going to have the chance to play all three cultures and all the major Gods within the same single-player story. So, you might start off playing the Greeks, but as the story moves on, you're going to end up playing the Egyptians, and then you will be playing the Norse latter in the campaign. So, the player is going to get to learn the differences, and they are (as Rob mentioned) pretty big differences between cultures as you play the single player campaign.

XGR: Great! Great! We'll look, guys, hold on. We're going to be back with more of Rob and Jerome and more talk about Age of Mythology. Your calls 1-800-966-8326. And we'll be back, after this.

[COMMERCIAL BREAK]

XGR: We're talking with Rob and Jerome from Ensemble Studios. Age of Mythology is the game, a highly-anticipated real-time strategy. For those new to the genre, it's the kind where you build up your armies, build up your base, I mean, that's the very simplistic view of it, huh guys? ES: Oh yeah! When we get to the basics of it, people enjoy getting in there, and crushing their enemies.

XGR: Exactly. So let's talk the main difference with you guys at least on this game, and I say the demonstrations at E3...it's great, the Gods and the God Powers. Explain to people how they play a role in the game.

ES: Well, the single-player campaign, they play a really different role than in multiplayer, at least what I've learned through testing the single-player campaign. When you play multiplayer and you play the God Powers.....we have a lot of different God Powers, we have tornadoes and meteors and you can bring up mummies out of the ground. There is really a huge number of them. But one of the cool things that I have learned about the way God Powers play out is that in multiplayer, you use the certain God Powers that you are used to using, but in the single-player campaign, there are so many God Powers that you may not have used in multiplayer that really help you play the single-player campaign a lot differently than multi player. Which really makes the God Powers have a lot of depth that even I didn't notice until we started going through the single-player campaign and learning that this might be a better God Power to have......a meteor might be better to have in this single-player campaign than it would in a multiplayer game.

XGR: Ok. We have a call actually from Michigan...

Caller: [DEAD LINE]

XGR: uhh, maybe not. He actually wanted to talk to you guys, I mean you guys are actually in a Beta right now and he's a Beta tester for the game. Oh well, Jason, call back if you want to. So let's talk......you have a limited number of God Powers, it's not as if you can just.....can just....whip out these tornadoes or earthquakes and stuff like that. Tell them how, I guess it is regulated.

ES: [DEAD AIR]

XGR: Hello? Oh, I guess they dropped out. Ok, well I know we have thunderstorms so I guess they dropped. Rob and Jerome....we hope to have them back soon.

[COMMERCIAL]

XGR: The God Powers is not something that you can just whip out at anytime in the game. You have limited numbers. Tell them how you regulate the use of God Powers within the game.

ES: Well, in the multiplayer game, you know, when you play against the computer AI in a Random Map, you get these once per age. They are very, very powerful, but you only get that one use.

XGR: Ok.

ES: As you going through the ages, your making choice about which minor Gods you want as part of your pantheon, you might decide that you want Thoth, one of the Egyptian Gods, as part of your pantheon and in return, he gives me the ability to call down a meteor strike.

ES: So, it's very powerful but you only get that one-shot use of it, so you have decide when you are going to get the maximum advantage out of it. We sort of conceptually thought of them as cards out of a game like Magic or Cosmic Encounter, sort of very powerful one-shot effect.

ES: That's a really good point he makes about the card game and stuff because when you're playing multiplayer you tend to save your God Powers and anticipate something the other player might do, because, sometimes a first age God Power can sort of counter a fourth age God Power if just used at the right time.

XGR: Ok, ok. We have Jason back on. We'll take him now. Jason is a Beta tester in Michigan. Jason thank you for calling Extreme Gaming Radio (XGR) you're on with Rob and Jerome from Ensemble Studios.

Jason: ..Hey.

XGR: Hey Jason, so what's your question?

Jason: Well, I don't really have a question, I just wanted to say you've done a great job.

ES: Thanks
ES: Thanks

XGR: What do you like most about it Jason?

Jason: Oh, I love the cyclops! Throwing units in the air!

XGR: Is that what it does? For those of you who are new to gaming, the cyclops I guess is a unit you control in the game. You can throw units in the air?

ES: Yeah, every myth unit has a special ability, and the cyclops unit can pick up human soldiers and throw them at other soldiers. And their bodies will knock down trees.

XGR: (*Chuckle*)

ES: It's....quite entertaining.
ES
: Yeah, there's over 40 different Myth Units in the game and each one of them has a special ability on that same magnitude.

XGR: Oh wow! Great. Well, Jason....thanks for calling in. Rob and Jerome, we're glad you guys could be here and maybe when you guys come out of Beta and closer to release, we can have you back on and kind of show some people around the game.

ES: Sounds good.
ES: Sounds great.

XGR: Thanks a lot guys.

HeavenGames would like to thank Paligap from XGR, Sports Talk 980's for the permission to use a segment from the interview and Tartarus for taking the time to make this chat transcript.