“The least-worst idea we had”—The creation of the Age of Empires empire

Enlarge / We've enjoyed Age of Empires so much, we'd probably play this version, too.

Not much about Age of Empires isn't epic.

Over the last 20 years, these epoch-spanning games have starred more than 50 historical civilizations, sales have surpassed more than 20 million units, and a core fanbase of hundreds of thousands has put hours upon hours into playing one series entry or another on a weekly basis. Age of Empires is one of the most influential strategy games of all time. And far from fading into obscurity, as history is wont to do, Empires is now squarely back in the (games-playing) public consciousness.

With a new Age game in development and a "definitive edition" reboot of the original just around the corner—and given our recent foray into the evolution of the entire real-time strategy genre—we thought it'd be interesting to dig into the history of this RTS series. After all, RTS games like Age have introduced millions of impressionable youths to the delights of... well, history.

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