The genre of real-time strategy games undoubtedly experienced its greatest boom phase in the mid-90s. After Dune 2 – Battle for Arrakis, released in 1992, focused on gameplay cornerstones such as building your own base and resource and unit management, it was Command & Conquer: The Tiberium Conflict and Blizzard’s Warcraft games in 1994 and respectively 1995, which finally pushed the tactical variety into the mainstream. The mixture of tactical construction part and fast army action is what makes this title so appealing. They ensured that real-time strategy games were one of the most popular genres on the market for years and even overtook the first-person shooters that were burgeoning at the same time.
So it’s no wonder that the so-called RTS games (English for real-time strategy) were springing up like mushrooms at that time: Z (1996), Total Annihilation (1997) and KKND (1997) are just a few of the really good ones Imitators of the Leaders. Notice something? 25 years later, none of these games is spoken of anymore. In the case of Age of Empires (buy now €19.95) it’s a completely different story!
Age of Empires: Definitive Edition: Comparison of the original and the remake
The historically inspired strategy game series still enjoys great popularity today. Microsoft only continued the series in cooperation with Relic Games and World’s Edge with the fourth part in 2021. Previously, the technically and playfully upgraded Definitive Editions of the first parts satisfied the nostalgia cravings of the loyal fan community. Age of Empires won the race against both Command & Conquer and Warcraft and both survived – at least for the moment.
Such organized battles were comparatively rare in Age of Empires. Formations only came with the second part of the series. Source: Moby Games
As is so often the case, the story behind a great game begins with a new development studio. In 1991, Tony Goodman founded the IT company Ensemble Corporation with friends John Boog-Scott, John Calhoun and Thad Chapman. The company was a great success. So big that Goodman was already looking for new areas of investment just three years after it was founded.
Naval battles quickly degenerated into pure chaos, but they were another way of waging war. Source: Moby Games His eyes fell on the growing market for computer and video games. Goodman started Ensemble Studios with John Boog-Scott and his brother Rick. in one Interview published on Gamedeveloper.com He describes the spirit of optimism at the time: “I’ve always loved video games and have never lost sight of the games industry. At that time, PC games were going through an important development: Away from DOS and towards Microsoft Windows as the operating system. I saw an opportunity in it.”
Goodman explained that PC game development had been an ordeal due to a lack of driver standards under DOS. For a new company, it was therefore extremely time-consuming to develop and test the appropriate hardware requirements. Thanks to Windows, there was a common interface, which made it much easier for a young company to get started.
But of course no video game is created without employees and certainly no Age of Empires. Even though Ensemble Studios was just a hobby project for Goodman at the time, he put money and effort into building it.
Each of the twelve cultures had unique units and benefits. This made it clear at first glance who you were dealing with in the multiplayer game. Source: Moby Games “In early 1995, Angelo Laudon (Ensemble Studios programmer, ed.) and I were experimenting with the graphics code of the new WinG library – a technology that made it possible to develop games on Windows. We started also to formulate our ideas for a historical strategy game inspired by Sid Meier’s Civilization.” After Angelo Laudon, he also brought artist Brad Crow on board. The hull team stood!