Community Spotlight - RPhilMan1

Hello again, Age of Empires Community. We are back again with another installment of the Community Spotlight. This time around we grabbed RPhilMan1 from the forums, and dissected his brain as best we could for information. Check out the interview below!

First and foremost, as is the custom, tell us a little about yourself. What makes you tick?


Well, I am a 25-year-old college graduate living in the Chicagoland area. Right now I am working an IT-type job for a plastics manufacturing company. I have a background in aviation, meteorology, and human factors. My strong suits are in language and writing. I love grammar! I have a private pilot’s license with a multi-engine rating. I’ve always loved airplanes and aviation since I was young. When I was growing up, I used to watch all the aircraft that flew over my house on their way to the O’Hare International Airport and my brother and I would keep notes on every one. My parents would also take us to the airport and we’d park by the fence at the end of the runway and watch the planes come in as they land.

I also love sports. I played baseball and soccer all throughout my life. I enjoy cheering for the Cubs, Blackhawks, Bulls, and Bears! Chicago has amazing sports.

I have a passion for cars, electronics, computers, and obviously video games. I have been playing them for as long as I can remember. I love building my own computers, and I love interacting with technology.

Other things that make me tick are movies, music, and a good beer! My dad and brother brew their own beer, and they are pretty darn good at it! I enjoy helping them... and, er, taste testing for them! I also love a great glass of red wine. I recently was out in San Francisco and Napa Valley for the first time. What an experience!

How did you first get in to Age of Empires Online?

I first heard about Age of Empires Online through Sorian’s blog and the GPG forums! Back in February of 2011, Sorian posted on his blog about his Google AI contest results. He then talked about a “new project” he has been working on for the past few months. After talking in the forums with fellow posters about the blog entry, GPG Eric even dropped the infamous line “soon” regarding details of this unannounced project. Later that month, it became known that GPG took over development for AoEO! In April I was finally invited to the closed beta. That was the beginning of my AoEO experience.

Of the Age of Empires games, do you have a favorite? If so, which and why?

Every Age of Empires holds a special place in my heart. I do remember when Age of Empires first came out in 1997, and I was only 10-years-old at the time. Unfortunately I had to share the computer with my older brother, but I still enjoyed watching him play as well!

I remember playing AoE2 more, as it was a couple of years later. I used to LAN with my brother and friends, and it was such a fun experience. There was nothing much like it at the time.

AoM had a fresh feel to it and it provided a unique experience, but I am more of a fan of realism than anything. I did also enjoy AoE3 and the expansions and I loved the physics involved. The Home Cities and card-style play was interesting and fun.

Overall, I would have to say AoE2 provided the best experience and most cherished memories.

What’s your style of play?

I don’t have only one style of play, per say. I do like to change up strategies and try different tactics. It all depends on what kind of approach I take to the situation. With that said, I do enjoy the “base building” aspect of RTS games. At times, I may bit a bit OCD-like when it comes to where my buildings are placed and in what direction they are facing. Massive RTS games such as Supreme Commander have influenced my style. However, at times there is nothing like doing a military rush early in the game to overwhelm the opponent. It really gets the blood flowing! I believe when it comes to RTS games it all comes down to each individual to determine how they will play, and there is not one single correct way. That’s what is great about it! Everyone can have fun in their own way.

Do you find yourself more of a PvP player or a PvE player? Why?

Well, over time it is really interesting how people change, at for least myself. When I was younger and in school, I had more free time and really enjoyed the competitive side of games. But now, I can’t give the same commitment. Right now FPS games are my “PvP” as I can fire up a game at any moment and do pretty well. I will always have that ability. However, when it comes to RTS games, I prefer the PvE experience. I also think it all comes down to my past. I have always enjoyed playing against the AI, ever since my first RTS games such as AoE, C&C, and TA. And over time the AI improves and provides a new and exciting challenge in each new game. In recent times I have played PvP in newer games such as SupCom2 and StarCraft2, but to remain highly competitive requires dedication and time that I cannot afford. My philosophy towards PvP is either I’m all in or I’m all out. So right now, I love to be able to pick up a game and enjoy it at my leisure.

What’s your favorite Unit/Consumable/Advisor to use in the game? Of course, why?

Oh, the choices! Hmm. I think the Celts are so much fun and unique, and the Woad Raider is a very neat unit. But I have grown fond of Champions. They are so powerful and the sound of their swinging sword is the sound of great ferociousness!

I tend to not use consumables much at all. I guess that tendency stemmed from back in the beta when consumables had a cost to use. The only time I use consumables now is as a last-ditch effort. But as I acquire more consumables in my inventory I try to use them. I do like the economical ones, such as gold deposits or berry bushes. The occasional tower or fort can also really save the day sometimes as well.

As for advisors, I like the ones that reduce costs or increase gather rates. I like Lumberjack Thutmose since wood is so important early on, and trees are a finite resource. Trainer Thoth is nice too because he can benefit both villager and military production. I think General Batoshipip has the best name... haha, battleship!

How often do you play Age of Empires Online?

I play AoEO whenever I get the chance, which, of course, I wish could be more! I play mostly during weekends and sometimes an occasional week night. Being in IT and working with or on computers all day I don’t usually have the urge to come home after the gym and sit back down on a computer again. I like to spread my play time out so it always feels fresh to me and I don’t get tired of playing. And it always seems that there are not enough hours in the day. But ever since the beta, AoEO has been my go-to RTS game.

Where is the one place you’ve always wanted to visit, but have yet to go?

I’ve been fortunate to be able to travel to many different places, but one place I’ve always wanted to visit would be Germany. I love German food, and of course German beer! There’s a reason American companies such as Anheuser-Busch, Yuengling, Miller, and many more, were founded by Germans.

I also have always wanted to visit Japan. I love how they are so technological and I’ve always respected their culture. Their food is amazing, too!

And being a car enthusiast, both countries produce excellent vehicles!

If you could change only ONE thing about the game, what would it be and why?

Tough question. Since an auction house is in the works, I would have to say a replay and observer mode would help tremendously. I’m also a huge fan of statistics and would love if end-game stats could be implemented as well. I like to see my performance and to be able to gauge my mistakes.

Overall, I think PvE has improved greatly and with new after level 40 quests it keeps the players engaged with content and a challenge. Also, when new civilizations are released, the whole experience to level up renews again! I bickered about the lack of Skirmish Hall since the beta but you guys delivered back in January. You never fail to live up to my expectations.

I see you around our forums quite a bit. What has been the best part of them to you so far?

The best part has been the interaction with the developers and team members, and also the community members that help make AoEO great. I think it is one of the neatest things about the 21st century and the Internet. Being able to interact with the people behind the scenes and those who work so diligently to provide a product that gives so many people countless fun and entertainment is simple amazing.

I also love how the forums can provide such great information. Not only upcoming news or events about the game, but also strategies, discussions on game play and units, favorite things and least favorite things, and anything in general that people love to discuss amongst each other. Talking about something you love with other people makes the experience that much greater.

Have you ever met anyone from the community?

Unfortunately I have not. I do know one or maybe two other players are from Chicago that I’ve talked to on the forums or in game, but I haven’t had the chance to meet anyone. In contrast, the AoEO community is a small niche but one that I love to be apart of. If anyone is ever in Chicago, please let me know! I’d love to meet up with anyone.

What’s your favorite gaming snack?

I don’t usually like to eat anything around my desk but I would say beef jerky or Nature Valley granola bars! As long as I’m hydrated I’m good to go!

If you could have any one game recreated by today’s standards, what would it be?

Wow, so many choices. And in today’s society, so many games are being recreated, and unfortunately, some not for the better. But if there’s one game from back in my time that I would love to see recreated by today’s standards, it would have to be Total Annihilation! TA set a precedence in its time by providing such a massive scale RTS experience set in the future, and in 3D! The flux-flow economy was also very unique. And the music score was simply amazing! Mr. Taylor, how about TA2 after Kings & Castles? You have my full support!

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