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Microsoft Puts Age of Empires in the Cloud

The updated title is now a blend of real-time strategy (RTS) and massively multiplayer online (MMO) gaming

Okay, this is somehow cloud related, but mostly I’m writing about this because Age of Empires was one of the games I spent endless hours playing in college.

Microsoft announced the return of Age of Empires, one of the biggest PC franchises in the world, having sold more than 20 million copies worldwide and essentially defined real-time strategy (RTS) games for the PC, says Dave Luehmann, general manager of Microsoft Games Studios. “This next version will really change the rulebook of how those games are played”.

Age of Empires Online, now in a closed beta release, will be familiar to franchise fans, who can go here and sign up for a chance to join the beta. However, at the game’s core is a new, socially connected experience. The game now invites players to create a living, growing online world that’s shared with friends around the world through Games for Windows LIVE, an online gaming network related to Xbox LIVE. Anyone with a LIVE account can see their friends online and send and receive voice messages, text messages, and game invites. In Age of Empires Online, players can use the service to invite friends for a cooperative quest or a friendly challenge in the local arena, trade goods and weapons, and visit each other’s capital cities.

The updated title is now a blend of real-time strategy (RTS) and massively multiplayer online (MMO) gaming. A key element of MMO games is “persistence.” In the case of the Age of Empires Online, that means a player’s capital city never sleeps. Even when offline, the quarries are producing stone, the sawmill is producing lumber and the smelter is firing metal. The MMO elements also mean that gameplay has a different focus. Instead of getting through a skirmish with a friend, the game is now a long civilization of mission after mission, many of which are focused on cooperative play.

Age of Empires Online represents one of the first times that Microsoft has taken one of its big franchises into the “online” business model.

Microsoft is also announcing the development of Microsoft Flight, a new entry inspired by the best-selling Microsoft Flight Simulator franchise. A teaser of the future of Flight is available here.

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More Stories By Alin Irimie

Alin Irimie is a software engineer - architect, designer, and developer with over 10 years experience in various languages and technologies. Currently he is Messaging Security Manager at Sunbelt Software, a security company. He is also the CTO of RADSense Software, a software consulting company. He has expertise in Microsoft technologies such as .NET Framework, ASP.NET, AJAX, SQL Server, C#, C++, Ruby On Rails, Cloud computing (Amazon and Windows Azure),and he also blogs about cloud technologies here.

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