Return of the Shang Rush

There is a correlation between some of my past jobs and certain video games.  For a long stretch of time there was usually a video game, or a series of video games over time, that whatever team I was on would play at the office after hours.

Games like NetTrek or Marathon or Diablo or Warcraft II or StarCraft took their turns at various companies as the game to play after hours.

That all ended late in the last decade when HR reached a point of ascendancy in Silicon Valley in companies above a certain size and decreed that people enjoying themselves on company property was bad unless they were doing so in company organized and controlled events.

Before that we were able to find support against IT for our after hours fun.  After that IT was cleared to keep our machines free from anything not specifically mandated by them.  And so ended after hours bonding.  Now we just talk about video games that we play ourselves.  Nobody sticks around late to hang out any more, we all just go home.  Life in enterprise software, where everything is super serious.

There is probably a correlation between the wind down of games after hours or work and finding time at home to blog about games.

The funny thing is how certain games were popular at one company but not another.  In 1998 I moved to a new company.  The previous one had been very much Warcraft II and early Total Annihilation.  The new company was just getting into StarCraft.  The timing was just about perfect, as I was in for the early learning curve of StarCraft, which had just been released.

StarCraft supplanted the previous dev team champion, Age of Empires.  There were still some people who played it, but the new game supplanted the old pretty firmly.

(Side note: As somebody who has played the same MMOs for years at a stretch, it now seems odd that such games had such a short shelf life and how keen we could be to move on to new ones.)

Some people on the team missed the game while others found the balance of the game to be off and much preferred the fine edge balance of the StarCraft races.  The Rise of Rome expansion for Age of Empires came along, but it wasn’t enough to get the game back in play.

Then of course Age of Empires II – The Age of Kings came along and eclipsed the game completely with its improved controls and balance of civilizations that gave each one their special niche.  There was no looking back at that point.

Somewhere along the line I grabbed a copy of Age of Empires just to try it out, but it never really stuck with me.  Ensemble Studios even rolled back some of the UI and control changes that came with Age of Kings to try and improve the game, but it remained in the shadow of its successor.  People have kept playing and modding and expanding Age of Kings while Age of Empires has languished.

I’ve been playing Age of Kings off and on ever since it came out.  The game still (mostly) ran through the last decade until it got an HD upgrade/revamp a few years back that brought it into the age of higher resolution monitors.

Soon though, almost 20 years since it launched, we will all have a chance to take another look at Age of Empires.  One of the tidbits to come out of E3 was news of an Age of Empires: Definitive Edition, featuring 4K graphics, remastered sound track, and improved game play.

Age of Empires

Microsoft has spruced up the long neglected Age of Empires site so you can sort of get a handle on what they are doing.  Information is sparse and the site seems pretty slow, but you can see they have something planned.   I don’t know who is actually doing the work.  The site proudly talks about somebody on the “About Us” page, but Ensemble Studios that did the original game has been gone for eight years, while Hidden Path Entertainment did the Age of Kings HD update and they aren’t mentioned anywhere.

Also, I am pretty sure this statement from the “About Us” page is laughably wrong:

Considered by many as the top selling PC game of all time

If you’re one of the alleged “many,” maybe you had better check that chart again.

Anyway, I’ll hold out for more information before I make an actual purchase decision, but I am leaning towards picking this up when it goes live.  We’ll see if the Shang rush is still a thing.

4 thoughts on “Return of the Shang Rush

  1. Jenks

    Wololo in 4k

    Everyone seems look look back on AoE 2 or AoM as their favorites of the series but the original will always be my fav. I’ve got the other 2 remastered versions already and I’ll definitely be picking this up.


  2. SynCaine

    That wiki list is SuperData-levels of accurate, what with Skyrim not on there or any of the Fallout titles. Also hasn’t WoW sold more than 14m copies at this point? I mean it had 12m subs back in BC, so I’m pretty sure more than 2m worth of churn has happened since then. Not the point of the post, but I always find such things odd in how absurdly wrong they are.


  3. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Jenks – My memories are really sparse, but one of the is that when playing together as a group, there were definitely civs you wanted and civs you did not. This was unlike AoK, where any civ had strengths to make it a winner… though if you couldn’t play without walls then the Goths sucked.

    @SynCaine – The point was more that the claim that somehow AoE is the top selling PC game of all time isn’t anywhere close to reality, regardless of what “many” might think. But yes, such lists tend to be problematic.


  4. Shintar

    I’m kind of interested in this too. While I played AoE 2 for much longer because of the massive gameplay improvements you describe, I always preferred the setting of the first game to be honest. The main reason I found it hard to go back after trying AoE 2 was that the AI was so incredibly dumb in the first game – I’m mainly thinking of villagers having neverending pathfinding issues that drove me up the wall… if they fixed that, I’ll definitely play this.


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