Saturday, August 25, 2012


It happened: I've found a free to play game that I not only enjoy, but am constantly tempted to throw money at. This game is Age of Empires Online and I'm totally into it right now.

I played the original Age of Empires a ton as a kid. I wasn't very good at it, to be sure, but I liked the historical theme and the music. And I really liked hunting down and harvesting meat from elephants. Seriously, by the end of any game the elephants would be long gone. I think I even almost convinced my parents it was educational.

Fast forward to 2011, when Age of Empires Online first came out. It was free to try with two civilizations with many locked features and $20 for a license of the game, which included a premium civilization with those before-mentioned features unlocked. I heard it was pretty fun from a podcast but I didn't really get into it.

The gameplay is a mix between an RTS and an MMO. You have a capital city that is your central quest hub including inventory buildings, stores, crafting, and even dailies. After you accept a quest, you carry it out by going into an RTS game and playing as you would a normal Age of Empires game. But instead of just going from one game map to the next like the older games, you go back to your capital city for rewards and exp and such, and then choose what you want yo do next. Lots of these missions can also be done co-op with your friends! You also end up making alliances with other cities (you can travel to these for more quests/dailies) and there are neutral areas like Sparta (this is where you queue up for a game against another player) and another one who's name I can't remember which is where you can do skirmishes against the computer (also possible with a friend).

Now, it's truly Free to Play with a premium currency (Empire Points) that you can buy (charged through Steam) or earn very slowly in game to unlock things. More importantly, it's also on Steam now, which means awesome deals from time to time. That's what got me back into it. There is currently a 1st anniversary deal that includes a premium race (the Celts), the PvE skirmish "booster" (booster is their word for non-civilization specific content), expanded inventory space, and some other cosmetic stuff for only $10. Anyway, it was a good deal, and playing as a non-premium race isn't actually that fun because you can't equip any of the particularly good items. (Note, you can also get a Greek premium race on Amazon for like $4 right now.)

All told, it's a really fun new way to play an RTS and I'm having a great time with it. I really like the "level up" approach and the more social feeling of the game. There's also a new, cartoony, art style that is kind of fun (but not amazing...except for some of the animals, they have awesome animations) but will probably help it to not look so dated in coming years. Let me know if you play and we can do some co-op.

P.S. If they made a Starcraft game like this, I'm pretty sure it would be the last and only game I ever played.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

We Are Live!

So you may have noticed new little box on the top right of the page. That's a link to my new stream! I've been trying to get a video aspect to the blog going and I've finally gotten some of the software to work out for me. The link for the stream is You can watch it by just clicking on the video on the top right.

If I'm not currently streaming you can click on the link below the box and it will take you to the stream page where you can see recordings of previous streams and such. There's only one there now, which I'll include at the bottom of this post, wherein I try to get all the sound and video stuff worked out and end up playing some Tribes very poorly for about 15ish minutes. It's not actually very exciting yet, but I'm planning on using it to supplement written posts as well as to try out new games. The current video and sound quality is less than HD because I'm still using free software. I'll upgrade when I get the spare cash (feel free to hit that donate button if high quality video feeds are important to you).

So, here's the first video. Excuse the hair.

Also, you can follow me on the Twitters (@mikeyh907) to get notices when I'm going to be streaming.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Hot Dang

Holy crap I won something!

I signed up for a drawing or whatever through GameInformer that they're doing to promote Darksiders 2. And I won a daily drawing for a free copy of Darksiders on Impulse! I feel pretty lucky about this, as I've almost bought Darksiders on sale three or four times as it is. So yeah, I'll give it a try and report back on my findings. I'm under the impression that it's like a more gory Zelda game, so it should be fun!

Apparently GameInformer gave away like 10,000 copies of the game at once and then everyone tried to redeem it at the same time and crashed the GameStop DLC servers. Whoops. Should be back up later tonight or tomorrow. Steam would never have this problem. Granted, neither would Origin, but that's only because no one uses it.