reetings, Elite Battle Elephants!
As we near the end of 2020 and reflect on the months behind us, one theme recurs in my mind: gratitude. Although it was an incredibly difficult year (and my heart is with those of you who have been directly or indirectly impacted by COVID-19; I’m pretty sure this is a historical event that will take years to fully understand), there is so much to appreciate.
First of all: YOU.
I’m rounding the corner into my third decade in game development, and I’ve played alongside a lot of communities… but there is something incredibly special about the Age community: you’re dedicated, passionate, inclusive, creative, and funny as hell! Here at World’s Edge— and for our partners at Forgotten Empires, Relic, Wicked Witch and Tantalus—we live for the memes, Tiktoks, and streams that you create. More importantly, the feedback, forum conversations, and support in our beta rings and early playtests with Age of Empires Insiders is the most valuable tool we have to deliver games that we can be proud of.
This year, we worked hard on our customer voice function and found new ways to connect with and listen to you. By teaming up with the community, we’ve been able to accomplish so much! Here’s a partial list:
Age of Empires III: Definitive Edition
We launched Age of Empires: III Definitive Edition!
Rounding out the Definitive Edition-ing of our legacy Age of Empires products, we released Age of Empires III: Definitive Edition on October 15. This was not only the culmination of a labor of love, but was also the launch of our second “game as a service” after Age of Empires II: DE. One reason that GaaS is so particularly important to us is that it allows us to have a dialogue with you rather than a monologue; we listen to you and we will keep listening to you.
I’m SO grateful to our Native, First Nations, and Indigenous consultants. When we took an objective look at the original Age of Empires III content—while we knew that the creators had good intentions—we also knew that the oldest Americans were not respectfully or authentically represented. Working with the consultants who helped us take steps toward correcting that was a privilege. When you do work like that, you learn so much: we got to learn about Lakota and Haudenosaunee culture, we got to hear their stories and see sacred items, and we gained a sense of responsibility to earn the trust of people that we represent in our games. I cannot thank Tony Brave, Cedric Goodhouse, Tokala Black Elk, and Ro’nikonhkátste Norton enough for the honor of being our partners!
Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition
We updated Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition—a LOT!
Not only does our digital connection with you allow us to continuously focus on quality; it allows us to have some fun, too! Events, new game modes, new platforms, and new features are all constantly in development for the Age of Empires: Definitive Edition series. This year alone, we added:
- Ranked map rotations
- Battle Royale mode
- Esports Abound: Red Bull Wololo I & II; Hidden Cup, King of the Desert 3, Deathmatch World Cup 3, Battle of Africa 2, Nili’s Apartment Cup 3, and more!
- Crowned LilTrouble (that’s LADY LilTrouble to you!)
- Age running on MacOS thanks to our partnership with Parallels
- And soon, we will release the Lords of the West DLC for Age of Empires II: DE!
Throughout the process of releasing and updating our Definitive Edition products, we’ve been thrilled to partner with the excellent and passionate Forgotten Empires and Tantalus studios. Throughout lockdown, travel closures, and illness, these studios have continued to bring passion, professionalism, and partnership to work every day, and the results are awesome. We are SO lucky to work with these studios!
Part 3: Layers
We are making great progress on Age of Empires IV. I don’t want to make you jealous, but we are literally playing this game every single day—both in Washington and in Vancouver.
RTS development is funny: it takes a while to build the separate systems (AI, economy, sim, rendering, etc), and then it takes a while for them to come together. But when they do, you suddenly have a game—a game that needs debugging and balance and polish— but the core of the game that you know you’re going to ship. And the best part is that it feels like an Age of Empires game.
Our partners at Relic have been incredible stalwarts as we all migrated development from office to home, and modified (through trial and error) our processes to help facilitate productivity to keep the game on track. So much passion, such great developers, artists, designers, narrators, audio experts, and community—not to mention the backbone functions that keep the company going.
The future of Age of Empires is extremely bright; there’s so much more to come!
I wish I could tell you everything that we have in the works, but I can’t. Just know that as we’re revisiting the past of Age of Empires through the Definitive Edition products, and we’re full-steam ahead on our present release (Age of Empires IV) and future projects, as well!
Thank you—ALL of you—for a wonderful year. I hope you get to spend time this holiday with loved ones, and I hope you play tons of Age of Empires. I hope to see you online!