Ensemble Studios began work on their first fully 3D engine at the same time as their development of Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings. Named the BANG! Engine, this was announced in January 2001, for use in a new game codenamed RTSIII that eventually was revealed as Age of Mythology.

Age of Empires III uses a modified version of the BANG! engine.

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Ladies and gents, it's time for the second in our series of five Friday Updates. This time we're going crusading.

1. Italians: Hire them
2. Crusaders: Convince them
3. Byzantines: Pretend you like them
4. Turks: Invest time in them
5. Saracens: Show them your power

Crusaders: Convince them
but don't expect them to last.

Imagine the 11th century. Think of the Castillians busy expelling the Moors from Iberia, think of the Normans clearing up the last remnants of Anglosaxon Britannia, or think about the papacy. The Pope had to see the Orthodox church split from the Catholic one in 1054, the constant insults by the Holy Roman Emperor, who surely wasn't as holy as he named himself to be, and adding to that the constant infighting among Catholic lords in Europe. While Catholicism was having trouble, Islam was skyrocketing. The Moors held on tight to their possessions in Iberia, and while the Seljuks and Fatimids were at war with one another in the Middle East, that didn't stop both of them from expanding their territory. The papacy then was in rather a tight spot, a situation where one Pope in particular had a solution for. Pope Urban II, having succesfully called on Chistendom before to aid in the Reconquista, saw his chances. Using the influence of the Church he would solve a number of his problems, but most of all initiate one of the most iconic historical events, the First Crusade.

This was but the first. The Crusade of 1096 was an astounding success. Not only did the Crusaders manage to capture the Holy Land, part of Syria and Armenia, they also greatly aided the Byzantines in pushing the Seljuks back further into Anatolia. The Second Crusade recaptured Edessa after the Seljuks conquered it, the Third Crusade, famously led by Richard I Lionheart of England was a succes in only limited ways, with Richard succesfully capturing Acre, but failing to take Jerusalem from Salah-al-Din. The Fourth Crusade was arguably even more of a failure, although the dissolution of the Byzantine Empire and formation of the Latin Empire that it resulted in was not inconvenient for the Italian city states. All these crusades though were united by one thing: the immense response that the people of Europe gave to the call of the papacy. Just a single word from the Pope could move thousands of Europeans away from their homes and to the other end of the well known world, from safety to hostility, from a calm and certain life to a daring adventure. This rhetoric was copied by the Kings of Jerusalem, even if they far less often acted on these words, for the sake of peace and stability in the Holy Land.

User Posted Image
The Armenian Auxilliary

A natural consequence of the Crusades was the voluntary recruitment of thousands of Christians native to the Holy Land, as well as from other crusader states. In Knights and Barbarians there will be three of these units, called Auxilliaries. There's the Edessan Auxilliary, serving under the Count of Edessa before the fall of the city, now in service of the King of Jerusalem. The Edessan Auxilliary is an armoured swordsman, much like a regular Man-at-Arms, but like all Auxilliaries he is much stronger than his mainstream counterpart, though the lack of updates makes him and other Auxilliaries lose their advantage as the game progresses. The second on the list is the Lebanese Auxilliary. Once again stronger than it's counterpart, the Archer, early in the game but of less use in later ages, the Lebanese Auxilliary is drawn from Christianised Muslims in the Holy Land itself. The final Auxilliary unit available to the Crusaders is the Armenian Auxilliary. This swift mounted archer comes from the largely Christian region of Armenian Cilicia.

User Posted Image
The Chapter House for the Crusaders. The Hospitalliers have been selected, as visible by the flag.

Jerusalem's military was solely dependant on European Knights. As would seem obvious, European and Middle Eastern styles of fighting were different entirely, but the concept of the armoured Knight wielding lances and swords, a very common idea in Europe, proved hugely effective in the Middle East. Where infantry and lighter cavalry fell pray to the skill the Saracens and Turks had in mounted archery, Knights remained largely unharmed, and as such they were hugely prized by the King. As the number of Knights Jerusalem could field through crusading nobles was nigh always too small to be effective, the Holy Land became a Mecca (if you'll excuse the pun) for Chivalric Orders such as the Templars and Hospitalliers. Even the Teutonic Knights, later rising to notoriety in the Baltic, were created to serve the King of Jerusalem and the pilgrims they were meant to protect, theoretically at least in equal measure. Of all the Crusading civs in Knights and Barbarians, the Crusaders will be most focused on the Chapter House feature.

User Posted Image
The available Knightly Orders for the Crusaders. From left to right: Templars, Hospitalliers, Santiago and Teutons

As explained in earlier updates, the Chapter House is a building where units and techs from Knightly Orders can be bought for a price, this price being the unique resource of Papal Favour. The Crusaders can, through multiple measures, gather this resource much faster than the other two Crusading civs, and can as such make far more use of the four Knightly Orders they have at their disposal: The Templar Order, the Hospitallier Order, the Teutonic Order and the Order of Santiago. The latter two are shared with the Germans and Spanish respectively. Each Knightly Order does not just offer units and techs, but also a unique bonus for the Chapter House. The Templars rename the Chapter House to "Templar Bank", and give the Chapter House a coin trickle. The Hospitalliers rename the Chapter House to "Knight's Hospital" and give it a healing aura, the Knights of Santiago rename the Chapter House to "Pilgrim's Hostel" and give it the ceasefire ability, and the Teutonic Knights rename it to "Landmeister's Office" and increases the HP of all units on the map while it stands.(Quoted from peugeot407)

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