Age of Wonders II Heaven Julia with Gameplay background

News Archive - July 2003

Thurs., July 31, 2003

IGN: It's Magically Delicious

More reviews starting to trickle in, and one of the larger online game sites, PC.IGN, has given Age of Wonders: Shadow Magic an outstanding 8.5/10! It's a frank, two-page review with some cool screenshots as well. Here's a snippet:
When playing the story based campaign mode, you'll be able to begin from two spots. One puts you into the shoes of the Elves, who have the nifty ability to hide their cities in forests now as well as recruit strong treemen, while the other plants you into the worn sandals of one of the new races in the game, the Nomads. These guys are in quite the pickle. Nobody really likes them. In fact, pretty much everybody wants to kill them. Because of this, they've been granted a cool ability that no one else in the game has. They can pack up their city, improvements and all, into a caravan and move it to a new location. While this didn't seem to be really necessary in the trigger driven campaign mode, it can be a very interesting tactic in multiplayer and skirmish games. Add in a lot of fast units that can move long distances, as well as a war elephant especially adept at knocking gates down, and you've got yourself a very balanced and interesting new race.
You can read the full review here.
Mon., July 28, 2003

Action Trip Editor's Choice has posted a very nice review of AoW:SM, with screenshots, giving it an overall Excellent rating of 90 out of 100. His box score:
Extremely addictive once you get the hang of it. There's a whole bunch of improvements over the original - new units, characters, races, maps, etc. A great pleaser for fans and an excellent challenge to newbies. Solid replayability.

Some weird technical issues (that occurred only a couple of times) but nothing that would significantly reduce the current score. Personally, I expected to hear more new tunes.

Stability A few odd bugs
Learning Curve Moderate
They also give it their Editor's Choice award. You can access the entire review online here.

Unit Editor Glitch

The forums are now sporting a spiffy new look and have, predictably, been alive this weekend with people talking about the new Shadow Magic features. So far the reaction has been overwhelmingly positive, with one possible exception. Some people eager to try out the new Unit Editor, have reported problems with it permaenantly modifying the default resources while for others it works fine. Exactly what the cause or fix is hasn't been determined yet, but Triumph is aware of the issue. According to developer Josh Farley
We have tracked down a problem in the creation of Custom Resources, which will be resolved as soon as possible. Until that time, we recommend NOT creating custom resources. Instead, go enjoy the game for a little while.

If you have edited your resources, we recommend re-installing the game to restore the original default settings and prevent possible problems.

(note that whenever you make custom resources, you will not be able to play older maps with them, for compatibility reasons)
You can read more about it in the Unit Editor thread in the (newly reorganized) AoW2/SM General Discussion Forum.

Return of the Dreaded Dire Penguin!

GameSpy has posted some early impressions of AoW: Shadow Magic (although the article states at the end it only tested unfinished beta code). However they do list all the new units available, including the dire penguin! Here's a snippet:
There are several new units that do not make up the bestiary of the new races. In fact, each "old" race has a brand-new unit added to its army list. Humans no longer have the witch, but now may recruit the herbalist and chaplain. Other new units include the yeti (frostlings), doom bats (orcs), troll (goblins), succubus (dark elves), beholder (tigrans), gargoyle (dwarves, which seems like an odd choice, but they really need a flying unit), hydra (draconians), saint (archons), treeman (elves), and necromancer (undead). Finally, several new independent monsters are in the game, including the return of the dreaded dire penguin! And, while the frostlings no longer may recruit these waddling birds of death, at least they're back in the game in some form.
You can read the full article here.

GoneGold's Short Take of AoW:SM

The new release site GoneGold has posted a "short take" impression of Age of Wonders: Shadow Magic. Here's a snippet:
Once again, the game comes with an excellent 5x7 inch, 70 page manual. The small font size allows for a ton of information to be included which covers basic gameplay and mechanics to detailed information on structures, units, wizards and heroes. For grizzled veterans of the game, there's even a quick "What's New" section. Without digging out my old manuals I'm not 100% sure, but it seems to me there are many more tables and specific numbers given in this manual than in the past. If so, nice touch indeed.
You can read the full post here.
Wed., July 23, 2003

The BIG News!

The biggest thing on the forum today IT IS IN STORES!. At least, so we are told for EB and the New York area. This follows on the heels of earlier reports that My Software Etc, GameStop, and others are already shipping their pre-orders. Hopefully, it will be coming to a store near you soon, and we'll all be looking forward to the first Action Reports in the General Discussion Forum

RayB Meandoring through the forum

Meanwhile, back at the ranch...

There has been lots of discussion in the forums lately about the entire AoW history and storyline, enough so that Triumph writer Ray Bingham himself has chimed in. In "Will Meandor Return?" he confirms that yes, Meandor will be back, though perhaps not quite the same as in the earlier two games.
Meandor has done bad things. The blood of his victims will forever haunt him, but that does not render him incapable of learning wisdom. As one who can't escape the consequences of his actions in death, who has had to face the victims of his cruelty, he can either consign himself to damnation or seek a different path.

Meandor may very well be damned, but even the damned seek respite from the hot coals of conscience. That respite comes in virtue, against the hunger of one's own nature. To embrace one's nature would lead only to more sorrow, loss of self, and complete insanity. Then you are nothing but a force of nature to be recycled and reclaimed by the true creators of life and will.
There's lots more as well, including a reprise of what may have led him into the conspiracy that resulted in the fall of the Elven Court to begin with and his and Inioch's roles in shaping events, bringing up once again the questions of who and what are really good and evil in the story.

There are some hints as to the coming storyline as well, including a few spoilers in the thread "How come Julia is the only wizard to age" including a comment that in one scenario, Meandor not only cooperates with but even save Julia from an assasination plot, something that would have been unlikely in AoW1 to say the least.
Tues., July 15, 2003

So When? Josh says the 29th!

The voice from the comfy chair, esteemed developer Josh AoW has finally made what we hope is an official pronouncement regarding the upcoming Shadow Magic release.
aowSM should be in (US) stores on (about) the 29th, and has been 'Gold' for some time. So get ready.

The UK, French, and German release dates should be pretty close to that as well.
As for availablitity elsewhere, or in other languages that's largely up to the distributors who may not wish to be, or able to be, any more forthcoming with the devs then they are with customers. For example, as Josh noted elsewhere
I can only say that I don't know if there will be a Polish translation of aowSM, as we haven't seen one so far. Whether an English version of the game will be published there, I have no idea. Your best bet to have the game soon after it first comes out would definitely be importing it.
We all remember of course the delay in getting the game out in Asia, and the mixups involved there with that version not being patchable. Let's hope that will not repeated this time around.
Mon., July 14, 2003

Gamespot Previews Shadow Magic + Screens

Gamespot has posted a rather lengthy preview of the soon-to-be-released Age of Wonders: Shadow Magic, along with a ton of new screen shots. Here's a snippet:
"Triumph Studios has clearly taken player input about battles and other issues to heart, since Shadow Magic will include so many often-requested features, such as a return to the original Age of Wonders' magic system, which, like the system in MicroProse's Master of Magic, will let you choose a varying number of different schools of magic in combination, rather than having to specialize in a single one (as was the case in Age of Wonders II), as well as a re-balancing of the game's units to help make low-level units more useful throughout the course of a game, rather than becoming obsolete once the next-strongest forces come into play."
You can check it all out at Gamespot .

Creek of Aberil

The July Monthly Challenge for Age of Wonders 2 is an edited version of Creek of Aberil. Full details are in the Competitions & Tournaments Forum. All submissions are needed by the end of July, so don't delay, compete today!
Sun., July 13, 2003

Summer Sizzler

There are a scorching 45 Monthly Challenge championship points available in our Summer Sizzler, based on JamieJME's epic AoW2 map, The Battle of Creation. Because it's such a big map, you have until the end of August. More details here, so don't miss out, blaze a trail to the Competitions and Tournaments Forum!
Sat., July 12, 2003

Wanna play Age of Wonders 2 online?

Were you sad when LeagueAoW closed down? Well, there are exciting developments afoot over at The Battlefield. They already offer free membership, free tournaments and free rankings. With the arrival of Age of Wonders : Shadow Magic eagerly anticipated for the end of July, they're expecting a surge of interest in the online game, and they're starting a new free league too.

So don't miss out, head over to The Battlefield now, and see what you think!
Thurs., July 10, 2003

HomeLAN Interviews Lennart Sas

HomeLAN has interviewed Triumph Studios Lead Designer Lennart Sas, who talks about some of different play modes that will be available in Age of Wonders: Shadow Magic, as well as some of the scenario editor features. Here's a snippet:
HomeLAN - What other unique gameplay elements will be featured in Shadow Magic?

Lennart Sas - One of the biggest additions is the Random Map Generator. Players can use Quick Start Modes to generate instant scenarios. For instance: at the click of a button you can generate a small Battle Scenario which starts the players out with larger and more developed cities, or a Empire Building scenario with larger maps were players start with Pioneers and create an empire from scratch.
You can read the whole interview here.
Sun., July 6, 2003

"It's GOOD to be the King!"

As a rule Josh AoW, Triumph Developer and model for the portrait of AoW's King Joseph, is not very forthcoming about specifics. Earlier though in answer to some Shadow Magic Customization Qs" in the forums, he revealed:
1) There are two ways to create campaigns. The easy way is a simple linked set of scenarios. The other way is to create your own ruleset (mod), since that includes the campaign data, you could then create a replacement campaign that works alongside any rules/content changes you wish to include.

2) Yes, you can edit or add units.

3) Yes, wizard portraits can also be imported. I don't have the raw image data in front of me, so perhaps someone else can provide that. I believe it's 384x500 for the large wizard portrait, and 180x220 for the smaller one. Heroes appear to be 360x440. A template image will be included with the game, to guide you along.
Good news no doubt, on several points, for all of those waiting anxiously to see what they can do with the new release. One can just imagine all those copies of Photoshop cranking up for new portraits now.
Fri., July 4, 2003

Shadow Magic on IGN

IGN has a new Dan Adams pre-release review of Shadow Magic up at it's website. Click here to read the review, and don't forget to check out the screen shots. There are new ones there, possibly taken from the reviewer's "hands-on" test, that we've not seen before.

Among other nice things they have to say about our soon-to-be favorite new title:

Easy Learning

When making this title, the developers took some time to read message boards and gather information from players' wishlists for the franchise. And one of the biggest items on the list was a tutorial that could actually help people learn the game enough to play it with some bit of understanding. After playing through the three part tutorial campaign, it's easy to tell that they had new players' interests in mind when creating the experience. It's an easy, but fun, tutorial that pretty much explains everything you'll need to know to get started.

No mention there of getting units off boats, much less "How Do I Make Teleportation Gates Work?" but at least it sounds as if Merlin wasn't the only one to learn his lesson at that icy river crossing ;). A three-part tutorial should at at last be enough to cover all the many basics of the interface, if not the advanced strategies.

But there's more. After a brief description of the unique features of the new Shadow Demons and Nomads (Syrons aren't mentioned) he goes on to add:
These two new main factions to contend with aren't the end of unit additions either. All told, there are 50 new units and special abilities added throughout the game as well as a bunch of new heroes. Also added is the ability to see what each of the units you're going up against can do before you even enter a battle. All of these additions have meant some rebalancing for each side, so don't be surprised to see some units more or less powerful than they used to be.

When you cast in the chance to choose whatever sphere of magic you would like as well as tons of new spells, you've got even more to wrap your mind around. At higher levels, there's even a spell that will knock down all of the gates on the walls surrounding the city. Definitely makes things more interesting for both sides.

And there are a couple other things we've not heard mentioned before. (Whole armies hidden in pockets of fog? EEK!) So what are you waiting for? Go! Read! Then come visit the forums and discuss.

Wed., July 2, 2003

We have Clan

It seems that no sooner asked then a new Clan - Synodus Magorum Eildensis - has now risen up to join the BBF (Big Bad Four) in challanging the BTOOIC (Buildable Teleporters Off Option In Cities) complete with new website. Or come vist their announcement thread in the Tower of Evermore Clan Forum.

Who's afraid of the big bad *ZAP*!

Elsewhere and in totally unrelated news, bored and/or frustrated forrumer's have revived an old thread by HippoInTheHouse in a bid to hold a Player-made Unit Descriptions contest. So far the best entry seems to be from Josh AoW

Resembling an enormous electric eel, the Great Wyrm is the unchallenged master of the seas. Although it prefers the confines of deep water, it is perfectly capable of slithering across dry land in search of prey. Wyrms do not generally care for the taste of the civilized races, so are usually allowed to go about their business without challenge, as losing a cow or chicken is considered a fair trade for keeping your village.

Great Wyrms are immune to all forms of mind control. Additionally, contact with their skin can cause strong electrical shocks, making melee attacks against them a risky venture.
It has the advantage of being interestingly witty, somewhat meaningful, and perhaps most important of all official. But that seems to be the only taste we're getting for the moment. Aw Josh, your're such a tease!
Tues., July 1, 2003

Onward into the Shadows

As July dawns, there are increasing reports that Shadow Magic will ship this month, including a mention and a Flash animated blurb at the website of publisher Gathering, but as yet neither official confirmation nor denials of any specific date from Lennart or others on the Triumph team. Understandably, the forums here are in an uproar, and some are now worried that the game will be rushed out unfinished. But as VIP mccordia notes
Although we have only recently heard the final release date (at the same time as you guys..), we always already had a date on which the game would go 'gold' for quite a long time. So nothing was rushed. Everyone was already working for a few months toward that certain date. We eventualy did get some extra time from the producers (even though we where done) and that time was well spent adding certain extra thingies, balancing issue's and small ingame/intro graphix updates.

With that word out, we've seen a deluge of new forummers, most asking the same questions, and some making new last minute suggestions. The feature set of course has long been locked, but that doesn't keep people from trying. It's to be hoped that when the game actually does get here, there will be more focus on all the great things that are in it then on some minor wish that is not, but only time can tell.

Meanwhile, plans are moving ahead for site changes here under the eye of Angel Draco, who was recently spotted at in a thread at Outside Discussions asking for advice on setting Clan Gaming. Anyone interested might wish to take a look.

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