Blog

Launch Date and Release Notes for the Summer Update
5/31/2012

Ave, all!

I am extremely pleased to announce the target date for the Summer Update: June 12, 2012. Please note that this is a target date only—we are 90% certain that we will hit that date, but that leaves a chance that we will need to push the date back a week. Why are we still not certain? The Summer Update contains massive changes to both the way the game plays (Tech Tree overhaul, Alliances, etc.) and the way the game operates (Empire Points change). We are being very careful with testing and certifying that the game is ready to launch, but it is a long and technical process.

Speaking of long and technical processes, the update process itself will be very long this time as well. We are predicting that the game servers will need to be offline for the entire update day. It is possible that we can complete it earlier, in which case we will turn them on then; but please expect to be doing something else that day. What else, you may ask? Solicest and the rest of the community team are planning a broad range of online activities to give you plenty of AOEO options, like preview streams of the build and other surprises. I’ll let her detail more.

Speaking of more details, I am also happy to announce that the update notes are available below.

Finally, the Summer Update introduces the Alliances feature, which allows level 40 players on each server to compete for Empire Points and bragging rights. If you missed the earlier discussion of Alliances, you can get more information here: http://www.ageofempiresonline.com/en/articles/blog-20120430

In our extensive testing of Alliances, it has become clear that, much like trading and PVP, Alliance play is more fun when more people are playing it together.

Therefore, we are only launching Alliances on the most populous eight servers: Marathon, Abydos, Athens, Alexandria, Apollonia, Attica, Delphi, and Gesa. If you want to play the new Alliances system and are not on one of those servers, you will need to transfer to one of those servers. (Remember, we do not charge for server transfers.)

Several weeks after the launch of the Summer Update, after server populations have a chance to stabilize, we will close the other six servers. We will give ample notice and plenty of warning, and no one will lose anything; people with civilizations on servers we are closing will still be able to move those civilizations off the closed servers for free. This long notice will also allow those of you who have made friends on one of the closing servers to discuss where to emigrate to as a group.

Now, before some of you finish typing your loud and angry forum posts (OMGWTFBBQ!!1! AOEO IS CLOSING SERVERS THE GAME IS DEEEEEEAAAAAAADDDDDDDD) let me make this perfectly clear. We are closing the servers not for financial reasons, but for game design and player experience reasons. In fact, the player base tripled after the Spring Update (Celts, Steam, and more). We are doing it because the game is more fun when more people are concentrated in fewer places. If we start running into performance issues, we will reopen servers as needed.

If you have questions or comments, please make them in this thread. We will be answering and listening.

Thanks for playing!

AOEO Trajan

Summer Update Notes

Features

Now Available: Age of Empires Online Empire Points

We've introduced a new way to earn and purchase premium content while playing Age of Empires Online: Empire Points (EP). They are now the currency used to purchase all in-game content such as civilizations, boosters, and vanity gear.

You can earn Empire Points while playing your favorite civilizations and as rewards from participating in the Alliance Wars. This change makes Age of Empires Online truly "free-to-play."

You can also purchase Empire Points for real money from within the game. From the log-in menu, click the Add Empire Points button to open the Empire Point Store. This action takes you to the Xbox LIVE Marketplace or Steam Store, where you make your purchase.

There are additional access points within the game: a button next to the Empire Points display in the Capital City UI, another in the Empire Bazaar (which is still used to purchase civilizations and boosters), and others elsewhere.

All premium and pro civilizations, Skirmish, Defense of Crete, and all future premium content are now exclusively purchasable with Empire Points. This is a much less convoluted process. You select the premium content you want and, if you have enough Empire Points, click Buy. Then— this seems like crazy talk— the item is immediately unlocked. No more going to blades, clicking through menus, downloading, etc.

If you already own premium content, nothing has changed. You still own it and will continue to have access to everything you’ve already purchased on all current and future civilizations.

As part of this Empire Points change, we need to reset everyone’s previously earned Empire Points. We're converting your current EP to Coin at a 10:1 ratio, so for every 1 EP you have in your Treasury, 10 Coin will automatically be added to your civilization.

Finally, as a thank you for playing Age of Empires Online, all current players will receive a bonus of 500 EP for free. All new accounts created after this change will receive 100 EP as well.

Read the Empire Points blog post here:
http://www.ageofempiresonline.com/en/articles/blog-20120423

Now Available: Alliance Wars

Choose your side and take part in the Alliance Wars! This brand new, level 40 end-game contest will test your skills against other Age of Empires Online players. You and your Alliance will compete with other Alliances, earning Empire Points along the way!

The Alliance Wars include:

  • Three unique Alliances to choose from, each with their own bonuses
  • Empire Points earned on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis
  • New gear and vanity
  • All-new Alliance-only quests
  • Improved passive Alliance Bonuses based on players’ Alliance Rank

If you’re already level 40, the Alliance Wars will be available immediately after the update.

Read the Alliance Wars blog post here:
http://www.ageofempiresonline.com/en/articles/blog-20120430

Read the Alliance FAQ here:
http://www.ageofempiresonline.com/en/articles/blog-20120507

Read the “Which side will you choose?” blog post here:
http://www.ageofempiresonline.com/en/articles/blog-20120514

Read the “Want a Peek at the Alliance Regions?” blog post here:
http://www.ageofempiresonline.com/en/articles/blog-20120522

Now Available: Updated Technology Trees

Each civilization has had their Technology Tree thoroughly reviewed and updated for a more compelling gameplay experience. Here are some of the details:

  • Units are now unlocked for free as long you have access to their Age
  • Tree fully unlocked at 40 with more points to spend each time you reach a new Age
  • New tech icons and tree backgrounds
  • Flavorful tech naming and balance adjustments
  • Star Techs are now available starting at Age 2 (level 3)

More details are outlined in the Balance Updates below.

Read the “Tech Tree Systems Revisions” blog post here:
http://www.ageofempiresonline.com/en/articles/blog-20120508

Now Available: Vanity Gear

Now you can outfit your favorite Age of Empires Online units with unique vanity gear! This gear will override the appearance of your regular equipment. There are special vanity Helm, Shield, and Weapon slots. Which will you try first, the Fish Sword or the Pumpkin Shield? Do you want unique civ-specific Heroic gear? You decide.

You’ll find this gear for purchase (and on display) in Vanity Island, a new region that showcases both old and new vanity. (Yes, we've actually named a region Vanity Island. It seemed funny one day, and we never changed it. We're weird like that sometimes.) The region can be accessed through a new Region Shortcut in the Quest Log or by selecting Vanity Island in your Quest Log, then selecting Travel to Region.

All of the old vanity buildings (Startling Statuary, Glorious Gardens, etc.) can now be purchased individually with Empire Points. Players who own the old DLC versions do not need to purchase EP versions of the same statues and bushes and such; they're still available for Coin from your own buildings.

Now Available: Vanity Armory

To support vanity gear, there's now a Vanity Armory that's attached to the Gear Hall. When you purchase vanity gear, you "add" them to the Vanity Armory via a right-click in your inventory, similar to how you add Advisors.

On opening the Gear Hall, there's a Vanity tab that also opens the Vanity Armory. You will see all available vanity gear, and the ones you've acquired can then be selected (with a left-click) and added to units similar to how you equip regular gear. A numeric display on each Vanity Gear slot shows your current inventory of the item.

Now Available: Empire Consumables

Having difficulty with a quest? Purchase an Empire Consumable from the Empire Store! Usable from level 1 and without any Age restrictions, these provide the necessary firepower to crush even the fiercest of foes.

Some of the Empire Consumables include: Militia of the Empire, Strength of the Empire, and Berserker Wolves.

Read the “Summer Update Vanity and Consumables” blog post here:
http://www.ageofempiresonline.com/en/articles/blog-20120515

AI Changes

With this update, the campaign core AI has been updated to account for the new Tech Tree. Many of the AI changes were straight forward and mechanical, simply allowing the AI to use the new content. However, we have also done a full pass to address quest difficulty and our wide range of player skill levels.

In general, quest difficulty has been re-evaluated and now has a steeper curve after level 20. Specifically, the campaign AI now uses key features brought over from Skirmish to allow longer games to be more robust and interesting and use more advanced units and technology:

  • AI can now use Caravans.
  • AI will now use Priestess of Ra.
  • AI will now use Palintonons in most Age 4 quests that use a siege-focused AI.
  • AI will now train and use siege other than rams.
  • AI will now train and use advanced naval units like the Fire Ship and Catapult Trireme.
  • All Egyptian AI now continue to train villagers while aging up.
  • Max Gathering Distances have been reduced.
  • Tower Building placement has been improved.
  • Naval Dock building is now more robust, pre-scouted, and self-maintained.
  • Naval AI now uses more than just Triremes.
  • Build orders are now able to adapt based on unit types the AI has determined it most needs and based on quest settings (before we used very strict build orders).
  • Build order factory counts are adjusted based on villager counts and quest settings (more factories are maintained if more villagers are available to maintain them, and more factories tend to be built in general).

Additional routines were added to support the AI:

  • AI can now upgrade their towers on their own.
  • AI will now research more frequently.
  • In many cases, the AI will now use markets to fix resource imbalances.
  • AI will now use the new Tech Tree.
  • AI will now commonly patrol resources, defend markets, and, in some cases, create base and naval patrols.
  • Tower building is now used a bit more generally across all higher level AI.

Bugs that resulted in the AI stalling have been fixed in spades:

  • The Town Center will now consistently be used as the main base.
  • AI will not immediately stall if it cannot build a specific type of building.
  • Attack Intervals and Group Counts are now obeyed.
  • AI no longer auto-resigns for having low unit counts.
  • “Kill” objective using quests that involve buildings can no longer be exploited.
  • AI intel gathering is now more robust and less prone to miss player base.
  • The system for allocating gatherers to food tasks has been revised to not stall and to respond favorably to maps with nearby resources and farms.

Also, adaptive mechanics have been added to scale the AI based on player level and skill. For context, some of the specifics are:

  • The level of gear used by the AI will now scale up as player level increases. This is capped on a per-quest basis. Generally speaking, low-level quests cap within a few levels, and higher level quests scale all the way to level 40.
  • We now intentionally give the player a level or so to get used to a new Age before the AI is able to reach that same Age. This means that even low-level quests can at times have advanced Ages reached by the AI, whereas before we simply hard-coded the max Age for a given quest.
  • Land attacks scale in rate and size based on an evaluation of player skill. This is capped based on player level, with higher-level players seeing the most adaptive scaling. The intent is to add challenge for highly efficient players. However, this is still also limited by the effectiveness of the enemy economy and production facilities. Players who strategically engage enemy villagers and factories will be able to hold the AI at bay more easily than players who turtle.
  • Naval attacks scale in size based on the naval bias of a given AI and the strength of the player Navy; which is to say, naval quests are likely to be more naval focused than before but still pull their punches. We tried to avoid having enemy AI that is capable of creating naval blockades (although there are some fun quest ideas we have in mind for this in the future). As a point of comparison, the old model would only send naval attacks if the naval enemy AI was ahead of the player in the naval race, and the AI was constrained to rarely build more than three ships at a time.

At this point in time, the adaptive scaling does not adjust for players who are struggling, and public feedback will significantly impact the likelihood of this sort of feature being implemented in the future. Also, we can safely say that there are still advanced players who will want more challenge (you know who you are!). Feedback will be appreciated and welcomed.

Quest Changes

  • “Good Ol' PeePaw” no longer has insane treasure difficulty. It was an accident. Sorry.
  • Quests with the objective type “Enemies Defeated” will now use a more generous definition of defeated. The intent is to allow these quests to be completed without the player having to hunt down every single enemy unit.
  • “Challenge: Losing Your Religion" no longer involves building conversion.
  • Several quest designs were revised with new maps and/or new enemy functionality. The following quests in particular:
    • “Take the Beach!”
    • “Defend Mycenae”
    • “Big King, Big Ego”
    • “What an Egomaniac”
    • "Helping out a Neighbor"

Defense of Crete Changes

  • We've added high-score leaderboards for single-player and co-op. Remember, kids, it will be obvious if you cheat, and LIVE has a zero-tolerance policy that can result in your account being banned.

Other Miscellaneous Changes

  • PvP quests now grant rewards for both players, with the victor receiving a more significant reward.
  • Replaced Broken Equipment with a variety of new unusable items. These items are still intended to be sold to a vendor but are designed to not look like gear, so there’s no confusion.
  • Unit stats are now displayed in the Tech Tree’s and the Unit Info panel’s infotips.
  • Added Gear Score to the Gear Hall UI – a numerical value based on the average item level and rarity of your gear. This is intended to be used as a general indicator of the quality of your gear, and don't you go comparing scores with each other, you crazy kids. In the future, it can be used by the matchmaking system for geared PvP.
  • Consumables now show their cooldown class to help clarify when they can be used. Class 1 is used for consumables that provide stat buffs; Class 2 is used for consumables that create units.
  • Updated sounds for most naval, siege weapons, huntables, predators, and a number of building ambients.
  • Added new quest and city music tracks and unique theme music for each Alliance.

UI Changes

  • Added Minimize Chat, Minimize Party, and Minimize Quest Tracker buttons to the main persistent UI in both your Capital City and in quests. This allows you to free up more visible screen space when you need it. There's one current limitation: the status of each is lost every time you switch regions or start a quest. We intend to store their settings on your local machine somewhere down the road. Possibly by Wednesday, but probably not.
  • Updated store UIs. They can now hold more than 10 items per store, and they display the item level and type.
  • Reorganized store inventories. Recipe Store inventories have been moved to the old Blueprint Store. General Stores now sell the Construction Store’s inventory as well as a few additional pieces of cheap, low-level gear. Now that these old stores have been put out of business, the buildings have become run-down and decrepit. These structures can be used as vanity or traded or sold to a vendor. Be warned! Once deleted, they can never be reacquired!
  • Updated Blueprint inventory icons to show more of the building it creates.
  • Added new load screens with info about the Alliance Wars that appear when you reach level 10 and stop at level 40 and advertisements for each of the three Alliances that appear after level 30 and stop at level 40.
  • Increased the size of the quest giver dialog font, so you can actually read the text.
  • Removed the News UI element on the main menu. It's no longer necessary, thanks to the improved launcher.
  • Improved the Consumables bar. Before it would show the total number of that item in your inventory but would only use the size of the stack that it was generated from. So you could see 10 items in the bar, but if you had two stacks of 5 when you made the shortcut, it would lie to you, as it really only allowed 5 uses. Now the shortcuts give you access to all of that item in your inventory, regardless of how it’s split up.
  • Added proper messaging if you're sent a 2v2 Party PvP start invite while you're in a quest. Previously you auto-declined without a message. That still happens, but now the person sending the request to you will receive a "You're busy" message, and you'll receive a chat notice that someone is trying to start a match with you. If you want to quit your quest, knock yourself out.
  • If a party invitation times out, you now receive a message that they are busy or not responding instead of receiving a "Decline" message.

Key Mappings

  • Stop is back. We repeat. Stop is back. Stop the presses. Stop, in the name of love. Stop me if you think you've heard this one before. Herp.
  • Added an Eject Units shortcut to the Celtic Gold Mine.
  • Temporarily removed "Patrol" and "Guard," which was added last patch and didn't receive sufficient testing. Whoa, they don't play nice with leashing. Sorry; they never should've been enabled in the first place.
  • The View Mail, View Technology, and View Advisor keyboard shortcuts now work as toggles like the Gear Hall. Click to open; click again to close.

Balance Updates

General

  • Levels 3, 7, and 15 now give 5 Tech Points. All other levels give 1.
  • Each Tech Tree now has a total of 52 purchasable techs. Each costs 1 point.
  • Renamed most techs to be more historically accurate and have more flavor.
  • Unit-specific upgrades reduced to a single Champion tech per unit.
  • Higher-Age units no longer have innately increased health/damage (shadow tech).
  • Armory techs
    • Now applied by damage/armor type for all military units instead of by unit type.
    • Combined infantry and cavalry damage and armor techs.
    • Increased bonuses to +20% from +10%.
    • Changed cost of Age 2 techs to 150w/150g/75s.
    • Changed cost of Age 3 techs to 300w/300g/150s.
    • Changed cost of Age 4 techs to 600w/600g/300s.
  • Added a line of 3 Factory techs to Barracks, Archery Range, and Stables.
  • Removed all passive Star Techs
    • Most units now have previous Star Tech bonuses included in their base stats.
    • Increased starting Wood and Gold by 50.
    • Storehouses now cost 50 Wood.
  • Military tab now appears first in the Tech Tree.
  • A few Buildings have moved to other tabs that make more sense for their role.
  • Increased research time of most techs.
  • Added new tech at Town Center. Town Watch: +25% Building Line-of-Sight
  • Gathering techs
    • Removed carry capacity from Wood, Gold, and Stone gather techs.
    • Wood gathering rate tech increased to +15% from +12%.
    • Stone gathering now has +25% conservation.
  • Added unit stats to Tech Tree infotips.
  • Exchange and Tribute Market techs no longer require Tech Points.
  • Changed tech costs to the nearest increment of 25.
  • Removed base snare from all melee units, except for Spearman and huntables.
    • Decreased Spearman snare effectiveness to 0.65 from 0.45.
    • Increased all Spearmen’s base bonus damage vs. cavalry by 50% (ex. Greek Spearman bonus damage vs. cavalry increased to +200% from +150%)
  • Added wind-up time to most Ranged unit attack animations.
  • Renamed damage and armor types:
    • Renamed “Infantry Damage/Armor” to “Melee-Infantry Damage/Armor.”
    • Renamed "Cavalry Damage/Armor” to "Melee-Cavalry Damage/Armor.”
    • Renamed "Ranged Damage/Armor” to "Pierce Damage/Armor.”
    • Renamed "Siege Damage/Armor” to "Crush Damage/Armor.”
  • Renamed unit type “Support” to “Priest.”
  • Reduced critical strike damage bonus to +100% from +200%.
  • All Stables units base movement speed reduced by 1.
  • Herdables now convert more quickly and reliably. Decreased herdable conversion range to 6 from 12.
  • Hunting Dogs cost increase to 150w/50g from 80w/50g.
  • Saddle Bags
    • Increased cost to 500f/500w from 100f/100w.
    • Increased research time to 60 from 30 seconds.
  • Town Center build limit changed to +1 Town Center per Age (e.g. 2 at Age 2, 3 at Age 3, 4 at Age 4).
  • Wall
    • Increased build time to 3/5/10 from 2/3/6 seconds.
    • Decreased repair rate to 300% of build time.
  • Age 4 Advancement cost decrease reverted (back to 1000f/1000w/1000g/600w).
  • Lion and Bear damage decreased to 12 from 20.

Greeks

  • Removed Martyrdom tech.
  • Divine Vision tech
    • Increased cost to 800g from 100f/400g.
    • Increased research time to 60 from 40 seconds.
  • Murder Holes cost decreased to 50w/50g from 100w/100g.
  • Ashlar Masonry (was Stone Mason) cost decreased to 100w/100s from 200w/100s.
  • Greek Fire tech
    • Changed affected units to only Toxotes, Gastraphetes, and buildings from all Ranged units.
    • Added +25% bonus damage vs. siege.
    • Added +25% bonus damage vs. ships.
  • Academy cost increased to 200w from 100w.
  • Sarissophoroi
    • Increased pierce armor to 0.5 from 0.3.
    • Decreased wind-up time on attack animation.

Egyptians

  • Armory Pierce and Melee armor tech lines combined.
  • Villager gather rates increased to be the same as all other civilizations.
  • Priestess of Ra
    • Increased cost to 100g from 75g.
    • Increased training time to 30 from 20 seconds.
  • Priest of Ptah
    • Decreased health to 200 from 300.
    • Increased LOS to 20 from 18.
    • Increased population from 1 to 2.
  • Temple of Ra cost increased to 200f/200w from 150f/200w.
  • Temple of Set cost increased to 400f/400w/400g from 300f/400w/400g.
  • Temple of Ptah cost changed to 1000f/1000w/1000g/600s from 700f/1000w/1000g/700s.

Persians

  • Removed cost and research time for Toggle techs.
  • Aid Tent moved to Age 1 from Age 2.
  • Royal Roads
    • Decreased Caravan movement speed buff to +20% from +30%.
    • Increased cost to 300w/300g from 200w/200g.
  • Blot Out the Sun tech cost increased to 500w/500g from 200w/200g.
  • Without Number tech cost increased to 1000g from 500g.
  • Immortal
    • Increased cost to 30f/25w/50g from 30f/20w/40g.
    • Ranged attack now has +150% bonus damage vs. infantry.
  • Scythian Mounted Archer movement speed increased to 12 from 10.

Celts

  • Rites/sacrifices now come free with the Augur if acquired in the Tech Tree.
    • Rite of Andrasta moved to Age 4 from Age 3.
    • Rite of Ratis moved to Age 3 from Age 4.
  • Call to Arms
    • Increased cost to 150f/150g from 100f/100g.
    • Increased Villager damage buff to +150% from 100%.
  • Brewing tech (was Call of the Boar) infantry health buff decreased to +10% from +15%.
  • Head Hunting tech (was Call of the Bull)
    • Decreased infantry damage buff to +10% from 15%.
    • Increased cost to 1200g from 500g.
  • Gift of Sequana
    • Now also affects Augur.
    • Increased cost to 200f/300g from 150f/150g.
  • Wooden Roads
    • Decreased Caravan movement speed buff to +20% from +30%.
    • Increased cost to 300w/300g from 200w/200g.
  • Woad Raider
    • Increased cost to 35f/50g from 35f/45g.
    • Removed bonus damage vs. infantry (was +100%).
    • Decreased bonus damage vs. siege to +100% from 150%.
    • Now starts with charge ability.
    • Increased charge range to 22 from 20.
  • Champion
    • Changed cost to 60f/40g from 50f/45g.
    • Increased base movement speed to 5 from 4.5.
  • Slinger damage decreased to 8 from 9.
  • Head Hunter
    • Decreased cost to 60f/100g from 200g.
    • Decreased training time to 10 from 25 seconds.
  • Gold Mine health increased to 2000 from 1500.

Champion Mode

The following changes are for Champion mode only.

General

  • Fishing Boat line-of-sight to 26 from 20 (same as Scout and Storehouse)

Egyptian

  • Fishing Boat gather rates to be the same as all other civilizations.
  • Axeman
    • Increased health to 185 from 157.
    • Increased movement speed to 7 from 6.

Persian

  • Shield Wall tech
    • Increased cost to 150f/150g from 100f/100g.
    • Removed +20% health buff.
    • Added +20% pierce armor.
    • Added -20% Melee-Infantry armor

Celt

  • Stone Thrower
    • Added +100% bonus damage vs. Infantry
    • Increased movement speed to 5 from 4.5
  • Gold Mine
    • Increased cost to 150w/50s from 100w
    • Added +25% Gold conservation

Read the “Summer Update Balance Changes” blog here:
http://www.ageofempiresonline.com/en/articles/blog-20120516

Stay tuned for a list of some of the bug fixes coming with our Summer Update. That blog will be posted on Wednesday, June 6th.

Join the conversation! Discuss this blog on our forums here:
http://forums.ageofempiresonline.com/forums/thread/213766.aspx