Last night EVE Online went down with database problems (and looks to have just come up as I am writing this… no… wait… it just went down again, never mind) so Potshot and I weren’t able to do anything in New Eden, like try out his shiny new covert ops ship.
So it was suggested we forgo outer space and return to the Age of Kings.
And on the subject of suggestions, it was suggested in a comment on my last post that we try GameSpy’s game matching service which is called Comrade. We’re all for retro Soviet chic, which Comrade seems to have in abundance, so we thought we would give it a chance.
Unfortunately Comrade seemed much more interested in overthrowing those capitalist running dog lackeys over at X-Fire than helping a couple of techno-kulaks like us play our little imperialist games. After another round of configuration, adjustments, and failure we consigned Comrade to the dustbin of history. The high point of Comrade was that it let me make a “Microsoft .Nyet” joke.
Which brought us back to GameRanger.
I can say nothing but good things about the people who designed GameRanger. They get it. You install it. You create an account. You log in. It works.
Seriously. This is important. If you’re running a game matching service and part of your configuration includes something like, “Now open up ports 2300-2400 on your firewall,” you’ve lost a good chunk of your potential audience right there. And don’t say, “But you have to open those ports for us to work.” (And when I do open all those ports as recommended and your service still doesn’t work….)
Go look at GameRanger. That is how it is done.
In case it is still not clear who I am now recommending for Age of Empires II: Age of Kings internet game play, let me make it clear:
So we opened up GameRanger and started a game.
And now we had to remember how to play!
We set up a game on a small coastal map, I drew the Vikings and Potshot drew the Turks. I used to know what strategy worked best for all of the empires, but all I could remember about the Vikings was… um… nothing.
While completely lost on combat, I at least remembered how to get my economy going. Potshot beat me to the feudal age, getting there before I even started training it, but once my gathering was in gear I hit both castle and imperial ages first. He began to harass me in the castle age, but at imperial I build a castle on his doorstep and started burning and pillaging.
And, in the grand tradition of the game, I had to hunt down his last unit before victory was mine. I am so glad you can train a skill that lets you see enemy units in the castle. I remember games of the original Age of Empires where we spent long stretches of time trying to find somebody’s lone peon hidden away somewhere.
So we had our first successful over-the-internet game of Age of Kings! Go us!
Now I have to get out on the net and see if there is a nice guide to the strengths and weaknesses of each of the empires.