I can’t wait to get it.
In the meantime, interesting things on http://ageofempires3.com. AOE3 will use Havok physics engine, the same middleware component that powers Half-Life 2 (there is a link mentioning Havoc in this page, however, the link points to a “in construction” page). But in the introduction video you can see some real physics effects: soldiers that are thrown away by a cannon’s fire, etc.
Also, a funny bug mentioned in the AOE3 developer’s blog:
The AI and Walls (Cue Laugh track): Programmer Jeff Ruediger is leading the artificial intelligence (AI) team for Age 3 and recently reported the fix of a humorous bug. His group had recently given the AI the ability to build Walls, but hadn’t thought the new capability out completely because the AI was walling itself in with no gates. It could build a big army but was trapped inside its own walls. Artist Brett Briley found the problem while testing and Jeff reports it now fixed, although he pointed out the AI was not pleased to hear it now costs resources to insert Gates.
This bug is a good example of the stuff that happens when programming games. Decisions are made in hallway meetings, or changes in one part of the game require changes elsewhere, and new programming/art/design is called for with minimal documentation, tracking, etc. It happens very fast, but that often means some obvious things fall through the cracks. We rely on extensive testing to find those oversights and almost always it does.
P.S. Wait a minute – the AOE3 blog doesn’t have a RSS feed. How uncool is that? 🙂