Daily Archives: August 22, 2017

How Many Ages Should an Empire Have?

There was an announcement yesterday that we might see an Age of Empires IV some day, complete with a deliberately vague hype trailer.

Age of Something IV

Still, on a slow Monday in August just before Gamescom simply whispering “Age of Empires” under your breath will get somebody hyped up.

It is a series with some genre-defining entries.  The original Age of Empires felt fresh and new back when it launched while the follow on, Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings (which we tended to call AoK)took the formula and refined it to near perfection.  It is an 18 year old title I still get out and play now and again.  It is an amazing mix of civilizations, each with their own strengths and weaknesses that somehow ended up as balanced as one could hope for.

It was a title deserving of an HD remastering, which we got via Hidden Path Entertainment back in 2013.

I am even a bit jazzed about revisiting the original game via the Age of Empires Definitive Edition that was announced earlier this year at E3.  I was never as big of a fan of it as I was the sequel, but I would still go back to give it a try again, especially with the promise of “improved game play,” which hope means rolling back some of the features from AoK.

So I have some sincere fondness for the series… or at least parts of the series.  After AoK the games fell flat for me.

Age of Mythology never thrilled me while Age of Empires III just fell flat in my opinion.  These are not titles I would go back to play again.

But by then key members of Ensemble Studios responsible for the initial magic of the series had moved on and the studio itself was shut down by Microsoft in 2009.  And while Microsoft attempted to leverage the fame of the series with Age of Empires Online, which really did flop, heralding the end of things.

Except now Microsoft is back and banking on the fame of the series yet again, with the remaster of the original and a new title in the form of Age of Empires IV, and my response to the latter is fairly cool.

I am not completely dismissive of the idea.  The did get Relic Entertainment to take on the task of creating Age of Empires IV and, as a studio, they have some RTS chops.  The are responsible for Homeworld and Homeworld 2, the Warhammer 40K: Dawn of War series, and the Company of Heroes series, all of which are notable titles in the genre.  And being owned by Sega hasn’t completely killed them off.

But can they make an Age of Empires title that feels like an Age of Empires title?  Do they really need to ride on the back of the old series?  Will that fence them in or set them free?  And what age will this be set in?  The industrial age?  The modern age?  The space age?  And haven’t they already been to that last one with Homeworld and Warhammer 40k?

Anyway the complete absence of any details regarding the title means any conclusion you care to come to barely meets the minimum requirement for speculation.  So we will have to wait and see if this is really hype worthy or not.

Blogger Fantasy Movie League – Week Twelve

One of the problems, as the summer blockbuster season peters out and your into the dregs of the season, is that the movie press, ever keen to make predictions at the peak of the season, wanders off and stops giving you hints about what the given movies in a week might do.

Box Office Pro, one of the sites I watch, and the site that provides the official numbers for the weekly results, was providing two predictions posts a week, with updates in between, early in the season.  Late in the season… well, they might do one post… maybe.

Not that you don’t get some hints as to what should do well and what may not.  The weekly pricing scheme is essentially a set of predictions.  It is just a very early set, done before reviews or testing social media penetration or whatever other entrails the movie press examines in order to come up with numbers.

So for week twelve, the penultimate week of the season, we pretty much just had the pricing to guide us, which shook out as follows:

Hitman's Bodyguard  $254
Annabelle Creation  $216
Logan Lucky         $184
Dunkirk             $98
The Nut Job 2       $62
Spider-Man          $58
The Emoji Movie     $52
Girls Trip          $50
The Glass Castle    $48
The Dark Tower      $48
Wind River          $43
Kidnap              $38
Atomic Blonde       $34
Planet of the Apes  $29
Despicable Me 3     $28

Meanwhile, enthusiasm within our own ranks was dwindling as well.  Three members have effectively dropped out, Braxwolf went all-in on The Emoji Movie, and leader of the pack Liore forgot to make her picks, so had to roll with her selections from the previous week.

Of course, Lucky Liore’s past picks were all still valid, leaving her with no empty screens, making me wonder if there was a strategy there.  It wasn’t obvious to me that she hadn’t picked until the first numbers came in.  Then she was at the bottom of the list, a position she held right through until the official numbers were announced.

The top movie of the week was The Hitman’s Bodyguard, which was not unexpected, and I was in on that with three screens, rounding out the rest with five screens of Wind River.

My picks for Week 12

The Hitman’s Bodyguard actually did a bit better than expected, given its low score with the critics, and at one point looked to be the best price/performer of the week, which would have been a nice bonus for me.  However, with the final count, it turned out that The Emoji Movie took the price/performance prize.

And so, a special mention goes to Braxwolf for managing to pick eight screens of the best price/performing movie of the week and still managing to be last place among those who bothered to pick at all this week.

Brax all-in on The Emoji Movie

That left the weekly numbers looking like this:

  1. Wilhelm’s Clockwork Lemon Multiplex – $79,032,172
  2. Void’s Awesomeplex – $75,556,725
  3. Pasduil’s Popcorn Picturehouse – $75,178,012
  4. Moderate Peril’s Sleazy Porno Theatre – $73,771,730
  5. Syl’s Fantasy Galore Panopticum – $65,247,704
  6. Ocho’s Octoplex – $58,620,296
  7. Braxwolf’s Waffleplex – $51,528,224
  8. Dr Liore’s Evil House of Pancakes – $44,312,427 (Forgot to pick)

I managed a first place finish, but the gap wasn’t that big, and was primarily because I was the only one to go with three screens of The Hitman’s Bodyguard.  That was the winning anchor move of the week.

If only Brax and I had combined our thoughts, me going with three screens of The Hitman’s Bodyguard and him heavy on The Emoji Movie, because those two, plus a screen of Despicable Me 3 were the perfect pick for week 12.

Week 12 – The Perfect Pick

However, as a sign of how chaotic and/or dissolute this week was, only 16 people managed the perfect pick.  I think that is a record low.

The overall scores after week 12 were:

  1. Dr Liore’s Evil House of Pancakes – $1,224,086,213
  2. Wilhelm’s Clockwork Lemon Multiplex – $1,179,008,520
  3. Ocho’s Octoplex – $1,074,532,158
  4. Void’s Awesomeplex – $1,059,475,800
  5. Moderate Peril’s Sleazy Porno Theatre – $1,033,195,465
  6. Pasduil’s Popcorn Picturehouse – $1,020,148,883
  7. Braxwolf’s Waffleplex – $977,956,202
  8. Syl’s Fantasy Galore Panopticum – $918,601,684

Nobody moved up or down in the rankings this week, the usual state of affairs.  I did managed to close the gap between myself and Liore by $35 million.  However, given that the gap was over $80 million last week, that still leaves a sizable distance between us.

I joked that my only hope was if Liore forgot to pick again, but then I looked at the lineup for the 13th and final week of the competition.

 Hitman's Bodyguard  $203
 Annabelle Creation  $143
 Birth of the Dragon $99
 Dunkirk             $74
 Logan Lucky         $73
 Leap!               $68
 All Saints          $67
 The Nut Job 2       $58
 Emoji Movie         $53
 Spider-Man          $52
 Wonder Woman        $50
 Girls Trip          $40
 The Dark Tower      $33
 Baby Driver         $32
 Kidnap              $30

That’s it.

You know a week is dead when the new movies on the list, in this case Leap! and All Saints, aren’t even in the top five when it comes to cost per screen.  So I am actually pretty sure if Liore forgot to pick again this week she would likely still take the season.  In a week where my only hope is a huge, huge win the total gross is likely to be barely enough to equal the gap between Liore and I.

Anyway, we shall see.  Tune in next week for the final score of the summer blogger fantasy movie league.