News Archives - January 2006

Poll Roundup

by | 1/30/2006 22:21 PM

The poll results are in, and it looks like the majority of you would like to see more strategy articles. Our resident guru, Ace is hard at work, but we'd also love to receive some articles from our visitors. If you have an article you'd like to see on the site you can email it to myself. Here's the full results:
Strategies! [99 votes]
Tutorials! [12 votes]
Game Information! [39 votes]
Other (Let us know in the Website Comments forum)! [3 votes]
With Medieval II: Total War's announcement, there's been a good deal of excitement about the game. What are you most excited about so far? Vote here!

Thanks to Ichbinian for the poll suggestion!

The M2TW Article in PC Zone

by | 1/28/2006 10:37 AM

A forumer named Warhead of the Red Branch over at the official TW forums was kind enough to list the main points from the march issue of PC Zone. Obviously, a naval battle feaure is not going to be included in the new game, but we will be able to re-enact the battles of Saladin, Robert the Bruce and Richard the Lionheart!

Check it out here!

And one more...

by | 1/25/2006 1:33 AM

I just received a mail from CA staffer Pras, notifying me of that one of his colleagues, wikiman will be joining him in answering our Medieval II TW questions! :-)

Welcome, wikiman, enjoy your stay!

Another CA Staffer Joining the RTWH Forums!

by | 1/24/2006 10:42 AM

A little birdie told me that CA staff member Pras (from the Oz CA office, where Medieval II: Total War is being produced) will be visiting our forums from time to time. So he should be able to answer some questions of ours concerning the upcoming game, as long as they are within reason and NDA-restrictions of course.

Welcome to RTWH, Pras!

Medieval 2, the Aztecs?

by | 1/23/2006 17:30 PM

Recently there's been discussion on the forums about how the Aztecs will come into play in Medieval 2: Total War. It appears they'll be part of a bonus map:
Set in Europe during 1080-1530 that has players influencing battles during the Crusades, into the renaissance period, and even features an extended bonus map that lets you tackle the Aztecs in South and Central America.
This leads me to believe that it's potentially possible for a new world invasion (or a fight among another Imperialist nations, as in Age of Empires III), expansion. Click here for more information!

IGN Article on Medieval II: Total War

by | 1/21/2006 0:11 AM

When scouting the internet for news on the upcoming CA title, I was happy to come across this one on IGN. In the article, project director Bob Smith tells us, among other things, about the enhanced graphics engine:
The engine used for Medieval 2 is completely unrecognizable compared to Rome's engine. We stripped it down and totally refurbished it to include major enhancements. There's a complete upgrade of the battlefield rendering system, new methods for building and rendering cities and the combat animation system has also been heavily revised.

One of the key enhancements certainly involves the variation of troops within an army. Medieval 2 removes the clone armies you saw in previous Total War games; units instead are made up of soldiers that are individuals. Each model is now constructed from a variety of heads, bodies and limbs. The engine combines these together to make each man far more individual. On top of this there is also a great variety of shields and weapons too, so each soldier has character and each unit of men looks and behaves like a realistic group of soldiers. Armour and weapon upgrades are also evident when you look on your units in battle. This introduces a great deal of individuality to the soldiers and ramps up the realism and immersion of Medieval 2's epic battles.

You will also find a list of the factions that will be included in the game!

So, what are you waiting for? Check the article out, then head to our Future TW Games Forum and join us in discussing the game!

Our Interview With Mike Brunton!

by | 1/20/2006 18:25 PM

Inaugurated just a few minutes ago, our Exclusives section will hold... right, stuff that is exlusive to us. We are lucky to have talked (note: made a 10 000 denarii worth bribe) Creative Assembly into doing a series of interviews with us. The first person to be interviewed, Mike Brunton gives us an idea about what's exactly going on at the office, why Eastern Roman Plumbatarii grow facial hair and much more!
GoS: How long have you been with Creative Assembly? What exactly are your job and duties?

Mike Brunton: This is one of those OMG moments, when I realise that I've now been working (as a freelancer and on staff) with CA for more than five years! Where has the time gone?

I'm one of the design team. This means that I join my fellow designers in hooting cryptically from time to time and the programmers interpret this inane racket to create something wonderful. We also spend a lot of time giggling, plotting the overthrow of civilization, and arguing. Oh yes, we argue, debate, dispute and discuss. Sometimes we even talk about the games we're working on.

Check it out here!

Medieval II: Total War Announced!

by | 1/20/2006 10:44 AM

A new chapter of Creative Assembly history has been written today, as the newest game in the Total War series - Medieval II: Total War was announced on the official Total War site.
Medieval 2 is the latest and greatest game to be released in the best selling and award-winning Total War series. Set in the years 1080-1530 the most turbulent period in European history, the game combines a vast, deep-thinking turn-based strategy campaign with the most cinematic, epic and brutal real-time battles ever seen in the genre.

So, what are you waiting for? Check the press release out!

Wow, imagine the best-seller Medieval: Total War with enhanced Rome graphics. *Drools* Please join us in discussing the game in our Future TW Games Forum!

New ATI & Omega drivers

by | 1/18/2006 16:50 PM

ATI Releases Catalyst 6.1
Omega Releases Radeon 3.8.205 (Cat 6.1)

(January 18, 2006) ATI has released its new Catalyst 6.1 drivers in their normal monthly release cycle. The Omega Radeon drivers, which are enhancements based on the official ATI drivers, followed within hours, because Omega skipped the ATI 5.13 release and prepared the builds based on ATI's 6.1 instead.

There's not many additions to 6.1... basically just a lot of fixes from Catalyst 5.13. Certain system stability may be increased for some gamers, and dual-core is still being refined. Should you upgrade from v5.13? Probably. If you have dual core, Catalysts prior to 5.12 (December 22, 2005), and play games, then this month's 6.1 release is a "must-have" because it continues to address the dual-core improvements that resulted in such a large increase in speed and stability in 5.12. In addition, a number of the ATI bugs affecting specific games are fixed. The site links, major bugfixes, and known bugs are listed in the RTW Tech Forum, here.

RTWH Strategy Awards, 2005: 2 Days Left to Vote!

by | 1/14/2006 10:17 AM

Only two days left to make your vote count! Chonaman has retired, but Chonaman's 2005 RTW Strategy Awards will continue under the rules and schedule he made for the award.

So if you play RTW (or its mods), but have not already posted your vote, please do so before the 16th of January. As a reminder, you can nominate up to three members, based their contributions to RTW/BI strategy in 2005 at RTWH.

Whether you are a new member, or a long-time veteran... old or young, your opinion counts -- see the "Chonaman's Strategy Awards" thread in the RTWH Strategy Discussions Forum for more details, here.

New Rome: Total War Heaven census!

by | 1/13/2006 8:36 AM

The Rome: Total War Heaven (RTWH) census has been updated and improved!

This is the place where both new and veteran RTWH members can post basic info about themselves, and be introduced fellow forumers. The newly updated "RTW Heaven Forum Members" table now contains entries for 132 members.

Any HG members who use Rome: Total War forums can be added to the census by posting their information in the thread. If you have a census entry, check it for accuracy, and post any corrections.

The "The RTWH Census!" thread is stickied at the Baths:

Gold Edition

by | 1/12/2006 17:40 PM

Looks like a Gold Edition of Rome will be released next month (gosh, 2/14/06 seems so far into the future, but it's only about a month away), according to its page at GameStop.

Check it out here, and pre-order if it suits you.

War Story Feature

by | 1/11/2006 20:11 PM

Emperor Augustus has been working on his Death of Empires series for quite a while, and it's turning into quite an epic. Augustus is working on part 6 at the moment, and has just finished up chapter four. Here's a bit of an excerpt from it:
The guards threw him into a cell carelessly and slammed the door. Orestes slid to the far wall, which was not all that far away. Sitting up rather awkwardly, his hands were bound behind his back, he stared through the barred window in the ceiling at the stars in the night sky. After a while, he thought he saw something moving there.
It's a great story, and you should check it out here!

Die techie news, die! =p

Critical Fix: Web Font exploit allows control of your machine

by | 1/11/2006 19:26 PM

On January 10th, as the IT industry expected, MS released an official Web Font Exploit patch to repair millions of defective Microsoft Windows Operating Systems worldwide. Those at extreme risk are anyone who simply reads e-mail, or looks at a web site using Internet Explorer.
REDMOND, WA (10Jan2006): attacker who successfully exploited this vulnerability could take complete control of an affected system. An attacker could then install programs; view, change, or delete data; or create new accounts with full user rights.

Sound familiar? Yet its not the WMF/image exploit... its the more serious web-font exploit.

So just what is it?? As MS accurately said, its a way for people to take complete control of your machine simply by surfing to a website using MS Internet Explorer, or reading e-mail with MS products... the entry is accomplished via use of MS web fonts, which can be spoofed & compromise your machine. It is (appropriately) rated as critical for all Microsoft OSs. So yes that's right... by simply surfing or reading e-mail, people can take over your machine and do anything to it that they desire!! In the official MS technical risk assessment, MS implies that it is users of Internet Explorer that are affected.

It has long been known that viruses and hackers overwhelingly target MSIE, and alternate browsers such as Firefox and Opera are often immune from attack, since the exploits often rely on MSIE (or elements of MSIE) to activate. However, all Windows users should verify they have this fix installed, or else download it manually and install it.

Thankfully, it seems this time, MS has kept the "critical" classification for Windows 95, 98, & ME machines... which means they are expected by the industry to provide a fix for all windows platforms, not just XP and 2000.

You can consult the official MS site to download the fix, if auto-updates has not done it already: here.
For more information, visit the thread "Critical Fix: Web Font exploit allows control of your machine (all Win OSs)" in the Baths:

Stunning Reversal: MS releases WMF cure immediately!

by | 1/5/2006 19:44 PM

A few minutes ago, Mike Nash (the Corporate Vice President responsible for security at Microsoft) suddenly announced MS would release the fix for the WMF Vulnerability problem immediately. Yesterday, MS officially said they would not release it until the 10th, despite having completed the fix on December 28th. This is what has caused HeavenGames and other sites to shut down graphics in order to protect site visitors while awaiting the official MS solution to this critical Windows XP defect. Mike published an open letter today "explaining" why MS reversed course and abruptly decided to release the cure they've had for a week already: first, "we have an update that we believe in" and second, "a number of customers are seeing exploit traffic hitting their ... systems." Frankly, this means MS took strong criticism yesterday for withholding the cure since December 28th, while letting people with XP or 2000 get exploited worldwide.

It is very important to note that the cure will only be available to users of Windows XP and Windows 2000. However, all versions of Windows are affected, including Windows 98, 98SE, and ME. The official "explanation" from MS is that "the vulnerability is not critical because an exploitable attack vector has not been identified that would yield a Critical severity rating for these versions." MS classifies the Win98 issue as "a vulnerability whose exploitation could result in compromise of the confidentiality, integrity, or availability of users data, or of the integrity or availability of processing resources." In straight talk, this means that MS would prefer you buy a newer OS, and leaving you open for exploit this time will simply help open your wallet.
The following are several official MS Q&A, quoted verbatim:

What does the update do?
The update removes the vulnerability by modifying the way that Windows Metafile (WMF) images are handled.

What might an attacker use the vulnerability to do?
An attacker who successfully exploited this vulnerability could take complete control of the affected system.

What systems are primarily at risk from the vulnerability?
This vulnerability requires that a user is logged on and reading e-mail or visiting Web sites for any malicious action to occur.

What is the scope of the vulnerability?
If a user is logged on with administrative user rights, an attacker who successfully exploited this vulnerability could take complete control of an affected system. An attacker could then install programs; view, change, or delete data; or create new accounts with full user rights.

Does this vulnerability affect image formats other than Windows Metafile (WMF)?
The only image format that is affected is the Windows Metafile (WMF) format. It is possible, however, that an attacker could rename the file name extension of a WMF file to that of a different image format. In this situation, it is likely that the Graphics Rendering Engine would detect and render the file as a WMF image, which could allow exploitation.

If I block files that use the .wmf file name extension, can this protect me against attempts to exploit?
No. The Graphics Rendering Engine does not determine file types by the file name extensions that they use. Therefore, if an attacker alters the file name extension of a WMF file, the Graphics Rendering Engine could still render the file in a way that could exploit the vulnerability.
More Info: (Vulnerability in Graphics Rendering Engine Could Allow Remote Code Execution): Microsoft Security Bulletin MS06001

Download the official MS WMF Exploit Fix: (KB912919) Security Update for Windows XP

For more information, the "Important: Forum Images Temporarily Turned Off" is stickied in the Baths:

WMF Exploit: Official MS Patch due on 10th; Unofficial fix available now!

by | 1/4/2006 17:45 PM

On 10Jan2005, MS is expected to release an official WMF Vulnerability patch to repair millions of defective Windows OS worldwide.
CNN 4Jan2006, 10:35 a.m. EST (15:35 GMT) Microsoft hopes to have virus patch next week... Virus threat rocks Microsoft

NEW YORK (Reuters) -- Microsoft Corp said it hopes to have a patch ready next week to fix the most recent flaw found in its Windows program -- a flaw that could leave computers vulnerable to a virus. ...

The update is being finalized and the company hopes to release it on January 10. ...

"Although the issue is serious and the attacks are being attempted, Microsoft's intelligence sources indicate that the scope of the attacks is limited," it said. The flaw in the system lets computers come under attack if users visit harmful Web sites or open e-mail attachments.

In the interim, there is a fix available. This fix has been tested with leaked version of the Official MS fix due on the 10th, and it is compatible (as expected)... no problems. There are over 100 known exploits now, so if you are surfing sites that you are not 100% sure of during the next week, then you may want to use Ilfak's unofficial fix, which does work without causing problems (and has already been tested by experts with the official MS fix which is not publicly released yet):
Gibson Research Corporation WMF Vulnerability Info
Download the "Ilfak's WMF patch utility from GRC", run it to install, then reboot. So personally, I'm using Ilfak's WMF patch utility until a stable MS fix is done (I've been using and testing it for the last day). It has worked well.

For more information, we have a sticky thread in the Baths titled:
Important: Forum Images Temporarily Turned Off

Celtic Tactical Overview - Strategy Article

by | 1/3/2006 13:36 PM

Ace Cataphract has just completed another fine strategy article, this time addressing the use of the Celtics in Barbarian Invasion. A tricky faction to play well for many, the Celts have some interesting units which can be quite effective when used properly. Check out the article if you want to be better using them.

Forum Party Writeup

by | 1/2/2006 0:50 AM

Ichbinian wrote up one of the forum party games from the last party of 2005. Looks like it was a blast, with HG taking on some guys from the Immortal clan.

Check out his writeup here!