MSN Chat: April 22, 2003

+Jason@Zone> Welcome to the Zone Theater Chat Room!

+Jason@Zone> We're here tonight with renowned game designer Brian Reynolds to talk about the highly anticipated strategy game "Rise Of Nations".

+Jason@Zone> A little background on our guest before we jump into your questions:

+Jason@Zone> Honored by PC Gamer Magazine as one of twenty-five “Game Gods," Brian Reynolds has masterminded the design of an unbroken stream of hit strategy games,

+Jason@Zone> including Colonization®, Civilization II®, and Alpha Centauri®. In 2000, he cofounded Big Huge Games, the company behind Rise of Nations, which will appear on U.S. store shelves on May 20th, 2003.

+Jason@Zone> Please limit questions to one per "up at bat". We have many folks here with many questions so even if you ask 3.. only one will be answered.

+Jason@Zone> Thanks for your cooperation, we'll try to get to as many as time permits :-)

+Jason@Zone> We're thrilled to have you here with us tonight Brian, shall we get started?

+Brian@BHG> Absolutely!

+Jason@Zone> ga Nox_Eden :)

+Brian@BHG> Hi Nox :-)

Nox_Eden> hey brian congratulations for ron :)

+Brian@BHG> Thanks

Nox_Eden> now that RoN is finished, what are the next projects at BHG? Xpack? RoN2? Another game?

+Brian@BHG> Well, the first and most immediate project (after spending, say, a weekend with our kids for once :-) ) is getting the "demo version" of RoN out, which of course is just a pared down version of the gold version of Rise of Nations. Then, yes, we'll be...

+Brian@BHG> working on an X-pack for RoN, and of course starting on THE NEXT GREAT RTS GAME!

+Brian@BHG> Can't tell you yet what that will be. :-)

Nox_Eden> lol thanks :) i'm patient ;)

+Jason@Zone> Thanks Nox_Eden, ga redhead1775 :)

redhead1775> Will you send me a free copy of RoN (just Kidding, lol) Will there be a Map Editor in RoN?

+Brian@BHG> Yes (to the latter :P) there's a complete scenario editor in RoN which includes not only a map editor but also a script editor/debugger and many other cool features.

redhead1775> Thanks

+Jason@Zone> Thanks redhead1775, ga TVB_BlackKnight :)

TVB_BlackKnight> Hi Brian

+Brian@BHG> Hi BlackKnight!

TVB_BlackKnight> I was wondering how the online rating system is going to work?

+Brian@BHG> Ooh, that would be a better question for one of the programmers. I'm pretty sure it is at least "related" to the classic Chess rating system but not certain how closely.

+Jason@Zone> Thanks TVB_BlackKnight , ga PyrosTek_ :)

PyrosTek_> Since Rise of Nations is BHG's first title, do you think it adds more stress to the team? For example, it means they have to work harder to make people more aware of the game (as it doesn't have a dedicated fan base usually achieved by previous titles)...

PyrosTek_> and the fact that first games usually make lasting impressions on gamers of a company's ability. Also, do you think that you being associated with the game (since you're considered a “Gaming God" by many) has helped the game in any way?

+Jason@Zone> pyros, care to pick one of the questions please?

PyrosTek_> Oh, sorry, I considered it one question. First one then, please.

+Brian@BHG> Well, having a track record always helps, and of course even though we're a new company there's a core group that is known for having done some successful games, which makes it easier...

PyrosTek_> Thanks

+Brian@BHG> I think any time you're creating a "whole new brand" as Rise of Nations is, that is both more of a challenge in the ways you describe but also means we have a lot of freedom with the game to innovate in the ways we want.

+Jason@Zone> Thanks PyrosTek_, ga Devindred1 :)

Devindred1> Rise of Nations appears to have many options that add to the strategic depth of the game. What have you done to simplify the interface so that users can easily access all of these options?

+Brian@BHG> One of the important fundamentals of good RTS design is to make sure that game features have very clear visual feedback in the game--for instance, the "attrition damage" which units take when unsupplied in enemy territory is marked by a very specific...

+Brian@BHG> red glow at the units' feet and a highly characteristic and recognizable sound. Similarly the national borders themselves are clearly visually marked, look intuitively like borders you might see on a map, and "animate" when they move.

Devindred1> What is your favorite graphics feature/effect in the game?

+Brian@BHG> Ooooooh, two questions...

Devindred1> lol

+Jason@Zone> sorry devin, got to limit it to one per person, got a long queue tonight :)

+Brian@BHG> Snagged

+Jason@Zone> Thanks Devindred1, ga jbmagic :)

+Brian@BHG> Hi jbmagic :-)

jbmagic> hi

jbmagic> will this game have tutorial..will it be easy for newbie top pick up and understand

+Brian@BHG> Yes we have a series of tutorials that will help you learn how to play the game. Some people like to go straight for the "quick learn" which lets you play at your own pace in kind of a "hint mode" where the voiceover will jump in and help you when it...

+Brian@BHG> thinks you need it. For those who like to do a full set of tutorials we also have a longer tutorial "campaign" series that will teach players who've never played RTS how to play, or experienced RTS players the new stuff in Rise of Nations.

jbmagic> thanks

+Brian@BHG> np

+Jason@Zone> Thanks jbmagic, ga _EAT_Garbage :)

_EAT_Garbage> Hello Brian, who do you think would win in a fight, Hon Solo or Capt. Jon Luke Picard?

+Brian@BHG> Heh. In ships Picard, mano-a-mano Solo. :-)

_EAT_Garbage> i hear ya ;)

_EAT_Garbage> ty

+Brian@BHG> anytime

+Jason@Zone> Thanks _EAT_Garbage, ga LeGenD_Rogers :)

LeGenD_Rogers> Is this game going to be like other for example Age of Kings and such?

+Brian@BHG> Wow, that's a "big question" :-)

LeGenD_Rogers> broad

LeGenD_Rogers> yes

LeGenD_Rogers> is it gonig to have some similarities i should say

+Brian@BHG> Basically in Rise of Nations the idea is to combine the strategic depth that some of our previous turn-based games have had with the fast paced action of real time games.

LeGenD_Rogers> is there going to be aircrafts involved?

+Brian@BHG> So Rise of Nations, at its heart, is certainly a real time strategy game, but we've pushed the envelope on the game design further than you'll have seen in a "classic" RTS format. And yeah, plenty of aircraft. :-)

LeGenD_Rogers> this is going to be an interesting game..

+Brian@BHG> Thx!

LeGenD_Rogers> how much is it lol

+Jason@Zone> we'll keep that one for the end I think :)

+Jason@Zone> Thanks LeGenD_Rogers, ga Drive_High :)

Drive_High> Hello Brian

Drive_High> How long did it take you and your team to develop this game?

+Brian@BHG> Hi

+Brian@BHG> Let's see, we founded Big Huge in early 2000. We started working on early prototypes in June 2000, so I guess just under three years!

Drive_High> holy

Drive_High> And, what do you think about the legalization of marijuana?

+Brian@BHG> :-)

+Jason@Zone> Thanks Drive_High, ga HERO__CLAUDIUS :)

HERO__CLAUDIUS> Hi Brian and Jason. I have 5 questions about the game, they are suggestion questions. Hopefully, I will be allowed to ask at least 2 questions..grr

+Jason@Zone> just the 1, sorry

+Brian@BHG> :-)

HERO__CLAUDIUS> read that you can play Rise of Nations online, but only in RTS mode, because, as you said, it would take to long to play it in turn based mode. But in Civ III, you can play it like that. Would it not have been better to have both possibilities included


HERO__CLAUDIUS> both possibilities included for multiplayer game?

+Brian@BHG> Part of the reason we made Rise of Nations, at heart, a real-time game, is that we felt like for most people multiplayer needed to be something you could finish in an hour. For that reason we focused on the real-time part of the game for the...

+Brian@BHG> multiplayer side. Of course a lot of fans have been asking about real-time Conquer-the-World, so it's something we'll certainly talk about in the future, though that would be unlikely until some future product.


HERO__CLAUDIUS> Brian, can I email you and ask the rest of the ?´s? (you can zm me)

HERO__CLAUDIUS> I have 4 more questions.. but ok.. thx

+Jason@Zone> Hero, contact Brian at the end of the chat, sure they'll have decided where you can send the questions then :)

HERO__CLAUDIUS> ok, I will, thx

+Jason@Zone> Thanks HERO__CLAUDIUS, ga HG_Zen :)

HG_Zen> Hi Brian, Zen from RON Heaven. Congrats on Rise of Nations going gold! I was wondering if BHG has any plans to take an active role in making sure online rated play is not abused? ga

+Brian@BHG> Hi Zen, thanks. Yes we certainly want to do our best to make sure rated play is as good as it can be.

HG_Zen> alright then... good luck :)

+Brian@BHG> np

+Jason@Zone> Thanks HG_Zen, ga _AcE_Slim_ :)

_AcE_Slim_> HI Brian is Gameplay in RoN like the gameplay in CivilizationsIII or is it going to be more like Age of Empires 2?? and how will they be different??

+Brian@BHG> It will be different from either. As I mentioned previously, Rise of Nations is a real time strategy game, but we've added a lot of features inspired by turn-based strategy games that will make the experience very...

+Brian@BHG> different from other RTS games you've played. Concepts like building a nation of many cities instead of one "base", having national borders that mark the territory you can tax and construct buildings in, improving the political strength of your nation...

+Brian@BHG> and so forth. Also Rise of Nations covers all of human history from ancient times to modern times, and you can experience all of that within a one hour multiplayer game.

_AcE_Slim_> thank you

+Jason@Zone> Thanks _AcE_Slim_, ga GeT_CrUnKeD_Up :)

+Brian@BHG> np

GeT_CrUnKeD_Up> Hey brian, first off I want to thank game designers like u that can create a game with so much definitiion, and can create so many game varables that it has an infiniate replay value. =) Well anyways rise of nations looks like 2 of my favorite games...

GeT_CrUnKeD_Up> combined, and those are Age of Empires 2, and Empire Earth. What is it in RoN that blows these games away?

+Brian@BHG> Those were definitely two cool games. I think one of the main differences from Rise of Nations is that both of those games use the "classic" RTS formula (collect resources, build army, attack). Our goal in Rise of Nations has been to add more strategic...

+Brian@BHG> depth to the classic RTS model to create a new kind of real time strategy game. Another key difference from EE is that you can play the whole course of human history in a half-hour to hour-long multiplayer game (start with bows and arrows, finish with...

+Brian@BHG> stealth bombers).

GeT_CrUnKeD_Up> Looks like a winner Brian good job and I will be looking foward to the demo :)

+Brian@BHG> thanks

GeT_CrUnKeD_Up> :)

+Jason@Zone> Thanks GeT_CrUnKeD_Up, ga __SweeT_SouR__ :)

__SweeT_SouR__> Yo Brian here my question for ya. What type of games will you be able to play on RoN (like death match campaigns custom scenerio?)

+Brian@BHG> Oooooh, lots and lots. To name a few multiplayer formats, Team Games, "Assassin!" games, "Musical Chairs" games, Deathmatch, infinite resources, time limit, "No Rush", "cooperative". On the solo side you can play...

+Brian@BHG> most of the multiplayer formats, plus the really cool Conquer the World campaign system which gives you a strategic map of the world on which you control the big decisions for your nation, and then fight engagements in RTS mode.

__SweeT_SouR__> thanks shorte

+Jason@Zone> Thanks __SweeT_SouR__, ga jkchamp :)

jkchamp> Hello

jkchamp> I am one of the official beta testers and in the latest version it seemed to me that the only way to create triggers for a scenario was via scripting...

jkchamp> In the gold version is there a more intuitive way via an interface in the scenario editor, similar to EE or AOC? Or did I miss something in the beta? Thanks. ga

+Brian@BHG> You are correct.

+Brian@BHG> No I think it's intended that one use the script editor.

jkchamp> OK. Thank you and I'm already looking forward to the next Big Huge RTS game!

+Brian@BHG> Great, thanks!

+Jason@Zone> Thanks jkchamp, ga Wizz_Bane :)

Wizz_Bane> Hi Brian, Jason and HERO__CLAUDIUS. Here is my question:

Wizz_Bane> If a city has foot shortage, the population will decrease with 1. Does that still apply?

+Brian@BHG> I'm sorry I don't think I understand the question.

Wizz_Bane> in Civ 3.. if there is not enough food for the pop, the pop will decrease

Wizz_Bane> does that still apply in Rise of Nations?

+Brian@BHG> Ah, I don't think that really relates to the situation in Rise of Nations. Cities are either Small, Large or Major cities depending on how much you've improved them and on your Age and Civic technology. They don't decrease in size later, though they...

+Brian@BHG> can be captured by opponents.

Wizz_Bane> oh good, thx. Thats good.

Wizz_Bane> noq

+Jason@Zone> Thanks Wizz_Bane, ga L0rdTemplar :)

L0rdTemplar> Hello Brian!Congrats on going gold to you and all the team. Its a mere 140am over here in the Uk (must sleep).I was interested in what you've spent the most time on this past month (seeing as its been an extra one with the RON release being pushed back).

L0rdTemplar> Oh and do you have an ETA for the demo? ;-)

+Brian@BHG> I spent most of my time over the last month or so on some of the last-minute game balance things--playing games, balancing nation powers, etc. I led the nation & economic balance efforts and Doug Kaufman led the unit balance effort. We had a lot of...

+Brian@BHG> help from the RTS experts in the Microsoft playtest group.

L0rdTemplar> any major balancing issues? (same question)

+Brian@BHG> Not really, it's just very time consuming :-)

L0rdTemplar> lol

+Jason@Zone> Thanks L0rdTemplar, ga XiG_AreA_CoDeZ :)

L0rdTemplar> thx - demo date? before or after ga

L0rdTemplar> sorry

+Brian@BHG> Not sure demo date. Soon!

L0rdTemplar> cheers

+Jason@Zone> ty :)

L0rdTemplar> ttfn

+Jason@Zone> ga XiG_AreA_CoDeZ

XiG_AreA_CoDeZ> hi

+Brian@BHG> Hi

XiG_AreA_CoDeZ> what is your philosophy for coming up with games such as RoN

+Brian@BHG> Whoa...

+Brian@BHG> Let's see...

+Jason@Zone> bkg q

+Jason@Zone> big question :)

XiG_AreA_CoDeZ> is that good?

XiG_AreA_CoDeZ> haha

+Brian@BHG> :-) Basically we start with a topic we like--in this case doing the history of the world in real time...

+Brian@BHG> Then very very early in the process (so about in June of 2000 in this case) we get something up and running that lets us prototype game ideas...

+Brian@BHG> We think it's very important to actually play our ideas in a game (preferably with multiplayer support!) as early as possible in the process, because that's the best way to figure out what's cool and what's not...

+Brian@BHG> Since our original vision was to add a bunch of turn-based-strategy-inspired ideas to a real time game...

XiG_AreA_CoDeZ> OK i love your w0rk it is very well thought out and created you are #1 in my book i love you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

+Brian@BHG> that meant we had a BIG list of ideas and we knew only some of them were actually going to work. It was kind of an evolutionary process where ideas that worked got strengthened and ones that didn't were gradually pared out.

XiG_AreA_CoDeZ> OK i love your w0rk it is very well thought out and created you are #1 in my book i love you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

+Brian@BHG> Thanks, dude!

+Jason@Zone> :)

+Brian@BHG> x2

+Jason@Zone> Thanks XiG_AreA_CoDeZ, ga Ryku_Akoi_Naomi :)

+Brian@BHG> Doh

Ryku_Akoi_Naomi> Hello

+Brian@BHG> Hi

Ryku_Akoi_Naomi> *bows*

+Brian@BHG> *returns bow*

Ryku_Akoi_Naomi> ok here is my question

Ryku_Akoi_Naomi> I have heard you say on numorious occasions here that the multiplayer will only take One Hour

+Brian@BHG> Yes, and it's soooo true!

Ryku_Akoi_Naomi> ....

Ryku_Akoi_Naomi> , and me and my friends (and im sure others also) like playing one game for like 10 hours (we have done it even with Warcraft II lmfao)

Ryku_Akoi_Naomi> Will we be able to make it to where the pase is Slower?... alot slower(10-20 hours).

Ryku_Akoi_Naomi> Go Ahead

Ryku_Akoi_Naomi> :)

+Brian@BHG> Yes, we've provided lots of game configuration settings. You can not only choose to play large maps and at a slower pace, but you can choose when attacking is allowed with the "No Rush

+Brian@BHG> ...

+Brian@BHG> Rules", and you can use either "Cannon Time" or "Free Pause" if you like more time to think during the game. The former (cannon time) allows you to have rationed bursts of slow-speed play. The latter allows...

+Brian@BHG> orders to be given while the game is paused even in a multiplayer game. You can also set the rules for technology to be more expensive and slower to research. :-)

Ryku_Akoi_Naomi> I will be entering the industry in about a year... so good luck on your next poroject (those dev cycles are horrid) *bows*

Ryku_Akoi_Naomi> *project

+Brian@BHG> Thanks very much, and good luck in the industry!

+Jason@Zone> Thanks Ryku_Akoi_Naomi, ga theponyguy2 :)

Ryku_Akoi_Naomi> Thanks

theponyguy2> Hello Mr. Reynolds

+Brian@BHG> Hi

theponyguy2> I read somewhere that BHG is going to be refining the single player CTW campaign in the future

theponyguy2> what are some of the ideas being tossed around?

theponyguy2> Thanks.

+Brian@BHG> Yes, we'll always be working on Conquer the World and related stuff. We have some cool ideas on how to extend it for our expansion pack coming some time next year... I just can't tell you about them yet. :-)

+Jason@Zone> Thanks theponyguy2, ga Frazell :)

Frazell> Peace

Frazell> Will RoN Multiplayer feature DirectIP support? and if so will it work fully out of the box unlike the AoM implementaion?

+Brian@BHG> Hi

Frazell> ga :P

+Brian@BHG> Yes, there is DirectIP support as well as LAN and a multiplayer matchmaking service.

+Brian@BHG> Should work fine :-)

+Brian@BHG> Played it today :-)

Frazell> good cause AOM was very buggy

Frazell> in that

Frazell> thanks :D

+Jason@Zone> Thanks Frazell, ga skate4011 :)

skate4011> hi

+Brian@BHG> Howdy

skate4011> i was wondering how much dose it usaly cost to crate a game cuz me and my freind are planing on making one whaen we get older

+Brian@BHG> Well, depends on the kind of game you want to make. Anywhere from nothing to $20 million, give or take. :-)

+Jason@Zone> [We have approximately 10 minutes of the chat left, so the queue will finish at redhead1775 this evening]

skate4011> dang

+Brian@BHG> No you should go for it. Start small and work up.

+Jason@Zone> :)

skate4011> thankd

+Jason@Zone> Thanks skate4011, ga DevlshOne :)

+Brian@BHG> np

DevlshOne> Hi Brian

+Brian@BHG> Howdy

DevlshOne> DevlshOne from RoN Planet. Gratz on goin gold and thanks for Graham Somers and RoN altogether

DevlshOne> What level of importance do you think fansites play in game development and promotion and why?

+Brian@BHG> Thanks! I'll tell Thunder you said hi.

+Brian@BHG> Fan sites are great--among other things a good source of ideas not to mention beta testers.

+Brian@BHG> Also I've always loved going to fan sites for games...

DevlshOne> thanks and all the best

+Brian@BHG> that I like to play. So I enjoy visiting the ones for our games and talking to the fans.

+Brian@BHG> Thanks.

+Jason@Zone> Thanks DevlshOne, ga VermillionFrog1 :)

+Brian@BHG> Hi Vermillion

VermillionFrog1> What in your personality makes you want to create (as opposed to just playing) games?

VermillionFrog1> Hey.

VermillionFrog1> To the extent that it is your livelihood, that is.

+Brian@BHG> Well, I've always been obsessed with games. Back when I first got a computer (dare I mention it was in like 1980) there weren't many computer games...

+Brian@BHG> and especially none I could afford so if you wanted to play a game you mostly just had to write it yourself. When I came to realize that other jobs were "hard" I fell back on my hard-won game writing skilz :)

VermillionFrog1> Good luck with the launch.

+Brian@BHG> Thanks!

+Jason@Zone> Thanks VermillionFrog1, ga SOK_tHe__UnhOly :)

SOK_tHe__UnhOly> what are the system requirements?

+Brian@BHG> Now I wish I had a cut-and-paste of that...

SOK_tHe__UnhOly> ok do u wear womens underwear

+Brian@BHG> I think you mostly need about a 500mhz pentium 3 with a 16MB video card. Hopefully that's close.

+Brian@BHG> Never. :-(

+Jason@Zone> System Requirements :

+Brian@BHG> Uda man!

+Jason@Zone> Thanks SOK_tHe__UnhOly, ga Obsidian_RoNH1 :)

+Brian@BHG> Hi Obsidian!

Obsidian_RoNH1> Hello Brian. Are there going to be any campaigns in the final game besides Conquer the world? and if so, what are they and how many?

+Brian@BHG> The only campaign besides the Conquer the World campaign is the tutorial stuff, though we'll be featuring downloadable scenarios after the game launches.

+Brian@BHG> Oh wait...

+Brian@BHG> One other thing there are what we call the "Skill Tests" where you get challenged to do cool stuff like manage a raiding party or protect a wonder or see how fast you can get to whatever age. But that's scenario-ish stuff, not so much a grand campaign...

+Brian@BHG> We really intend CTW to be the main cool solo campaign mode.

Obsidian_RoNH1> Ok. Thank you Brian

+Jason@Zone> Thanks Obsidian_RoNH1, ga redhead1775 :)

+Brian@BHG> Np

redhead1775> When enemy troops 'capture a city' do they surround it, starve out the people, or do they have to burn it down...I mean are there certain damages they receive?

redhead1775> ...

+Brian@BHG> Ah, good question...

redhead1775> I also admire your hard work on RoN

+Brian@BHG> Thanks! So with the cities, basically there's a central building in your city that represents political control of the city. It can be a Small, Large, or Major City and of course the latter have more hit points, generate more wealth, and other good...

+Brian@BHG> stuff like that. To capture a city you first of all have to reduce it to zero hit points. Then you also have to have the most military forces around the city...

+Brian@BHG> (Infantry are most powerful for this, though on the defensive a Tower or Fort nearby also adds power)...

redhead1775> Thanks alot, man. Keep up the good work!

+Brian@BHG> If you capture the city it becomes provisionally yours but the territory is "contested"...

+Brian@BHG> until you successfully assimilate the city into your nation (takes a modest period of time like a minute or two). Then it's all yours!

+Brian@BHG> Thanks for the kind words!

redhead1775> Your welcome!

redhead1775> Thanks alot too

+Brian@BHG> np

+Jason@Zone> Thanks redhead1775 :)

+Jason@Zone> More information on Rise of Nations can be found at :


+Jason@Zone> and the Big Huge Games website at

+Jason@Zone> and brian, final comments ? :)

+Brian@BHG> Yes--

+Brian@BHG> Thanks for coming every one! I hope we managed to answer most of your questions, and very sorry to those who were in line and didn't get a chance to speak. For more information check out the sites above, or also some of the many fine fan sites out there..

+Brian@BHG> Look forward to seeing you guys online playing Rise of Nations in a month or so!

+Brian@BHG> Good night to all!