These Civilization-specific units are generally more powerful, but still follow the basic rock-paper-scissors model. The monk is a special kind of military unit that has the ability to convert enemy units to the player's civilization, and to heal allied units.
Monks are also used to collect relics, which accumulate gold once held in the player's monastery—the more relics are captured, the faster the gold is accumulated. Collecting all relics on the map is one method by which a player can win a random map game, depending on the victory setting. If an opposing player does not destroy a monastery holding a relic after the set time, then that player wins.
Players choose to play as one of 13 civilizations split into four architectural styles— Western European , Eastern European , Middle Eastern , and East Asian —that determine building appearance in-game. The buildings in The Age of Kings are split into the economic  and military buildings categories. The most important economic building is the Town Center, where villagers are created, all types of resources can be stored, some technologies are researched, and the player can advance to the next Age. The Town Center can fire arrows at enemy units within range if villagers or archers are garrisoned while under attack.
Military buildings include unit-producing buildings such as barracks, archery ranges, stables, and castles, as well as defensive buildings such as walls and towers. After advancing to the Imperial Age, players can also construct a Wonder, an expensive non-military building. On many gameplay modes building a Wonder triggers a victory countdown; unless it's destroyed within a certain timeframe, the building player wins. Every civilization's Wonder is in the shape of a landmark unique to that historical culture. The Campaign of William Wallace Celts serves as a tutorial campaign, and teaches the player how to move units, gather resources, and build armies to defeat the enemy.
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The Saracens campaign features Saladin and his efforts to repulse Crusaders in the Middle East, while the Mongol campaign documents Genghis Khan 's conquest of Eurasia; finally, the Teutons campaign reveal Frederick Barbarossa 's ambitious expansion of the Holy Roman Empire. The campaigns are sorted numerically to distinguish difficulty—the William Wallace Campaign being the easiest, and Barbarossa being the most challenging.
Up to eight players can take part in one game, with all of the single-player game modes available. Prior to the completion of Age of Empires , Ensemble Studios had signed a contract with Microsoft for a sequel. The design team chose to set The Age of Kings in the Middle Ages as a logical progression from the ancient era setting of Age of Empires. The design team was conscious of attempting to capture the broad appeal of the first game without making the game's design too similar. Nonetheless, they attempted to appeal to the vast demographic who played Age of Empires.
Ensemble Studios informed Microsoft they would need another year and instead created Age of Empires: The Rise of Rome , an easily developed expansion pack of Age of Empires , as a compromise which could be released for Christmas The original Age of Empires had been criticized for its artificial intelligence AI. Because the original AI did not " cheat " by attributing itself extra resources or using other techniques the human player could not, it was easier to defeat than in many other real-time strategy games.
Industry veteran Mario Grimani led Ensemble Studios in the creation of the new system. The Age of Kings saw the introduction of a triggers system for its scenario editor. The triggers allow messages to be displayed, or actions to take place, based on pre-set criteria or "events". The AI and trigger systems interacted regularly in the single player campaigns.
The team was less successful in resolving other issues; programmer Matt Pritchard complained following the release of Age of Empires that there was still no process by which patches could be issued. Extensive cheating in multiplayer games of Age of Empires came as a result of several bugs in the game, which resulted in Microsoft promising Ensemble Studios there would be a patch process for The Age of Kings.
On release, there were several bugs that needed immediate attention, but the patch process was not yet ready. The first patch was released 11 months later. Ensemble Studios developed a new terrain system for The Age of Kings , with 3D presentation capabilities that were vastly superior to those of Age of Empires.
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Pritchard noted an improvement in the team's artistic abilities following their work on the past two games, and he is noted as saying that " AoK became a showcase for their improved talent". The soundtrack for The Age of Kings was directed by Stephen Rippy , who has since taken that role for all games in the Age of Empires series. Music for the game was split into two categories.
For "in game" music, Rippy's team took musical elements from a variety of cultures and combined them to create a mixed sound. Campaigns based on historical figures would include "a theme that will at least be rooted in [the character's] culture". A demo of The Age of Kings was released on October 16, These were picked up by warez sites, and sold illegally throughout the Pacific Rim ; warez versions of the game were even sold outside Microsoft's offices in South Korea.
In the German market, Age of Empires II debuted in first place on Media Control's sales charts during October , and by March had spent 17 weeks in the rankings. According to Eurogamer 's Geoff Richards, "the list of new features and improvements over the original game is over a page long". These included the idle unit button and town bell. AllGame 's Michael L. House enjoyed the use of sound bites in civilizations' native languages, which he said was "very influential in developing an era-enhancing atmosphere".
House also praised the gameplay interface, which he said "couldn't be simpler", as well as the advanced grouping and path-finding systems. Richards was surprised by the quality of The Age of Kings ' graphics, considering they were all bitmapped. The Age of Kings was highly influential on its genre. It introduced numerous new game features, including unique technologies for each civilization, and five new civilizations. Two of these, the Aztecs and the Mayans , represent the New World and have new distinctive architectural style. Other new civilizations are the Spanish , Huns , and Koreans.
It featured much simplified gameplay and graphics, designed for the mobile devices of the time. The game portrayed the European colonization of the Americas. Aside from one significant feature, the home city , the game's design was similar to that of its predecessor. The multiplayer -only Age of Empires Online was released in While the game was freely accessible, it featured premium content which could either be earned through gameplay or purchased, enabling the player to use higher-tier equipment and new game modes.
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Active development of the game ended on January 1, , when executive producer Kevin Perry stated that adding new content was "no longer cost effective," and announced that the game would be moving from "development phase" to its "support phase". It has improved graphics, widescreen support and new multiplayer options through Steam.
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It was released on April 9, , and there was a pre-order available on April 5. On June 9, , Microsoft revealed the gameplay trailer at Xbox E3 The game includes 4 new civilizations, additional campaign missions and new 4K graphics. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. NA : September 30, EU : WW : November 30, .
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