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UPDATE: UPDATE: This is now available to everyone with a curse login! Get em while they're hot!

Age of Empires is back and we've got beta keys! This time it's online and with your friends. You can fight friends, co-op, and even build persistent cities.

Closed Beta for Age of Empires Online has been going for a while now, and Gas Powered Games is now ready to open the flood gates exclusively through Curse. Curse had had a chance to check it out at CES 2011 earlier this year, so be sure to check out our coverage.

We're stoked to be able to give you guys this opportunity to check out the game. This is a guaranteed spot in the closed beta, so be sure to get your key as soon as you can.

Get Your Beta Key Now!

Initially, the giveaway is going to be limited to Curse Premium members. We'll be opening it up once premium users have had a chance to get ahold of their beta keys.

  • Curse Premium giveaway: April 19, 2011 @ 9AM PDT to April 20, 2011 @ 9AM PDT
  • General giveaway: April 20, 2011 @ 9AM PDT to when we run out of keys
  • When you can play: Right away after redeeming your code
  • How to play: See the instructions on the beta key giveaway page

There's no NDA for this phase of the beta, so feel free to contribute to AOE Wiki if you find information in the game that it's lacking.

Finally, here is the trailer from GamesCon 2010 for you guys to check out.

Post in this thread when you get your key and get in game!

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Hey everyone, I caught Zetox around, being one of the highest rated hunters in the world and consistently getting good results every season, I decided to throw him a interview for you guys to read.

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Hey, could you just tell us who you are?
Damon - Most people know me by Zetox or Chromex

What do you do in your spare time, besides WoW Arena?
Full-Time College Student

Do you have any special hobbies?
I've been playing piano for around 11 years now, mostly jazz and a lot of improvisation. Also, I enjoy power-lifting in the gym just to see how strong I can get

Could you perhaps tell us what is your most important accomplishment to date in terms of gaming?
Definitely getting rank 1 in almost every season, while switching classes every 2 or 3 seasons. The classes I've enjoyed playing the most out of all of the classes I've played have been: Rogue, Warrior, DK, Lock, Hunter

How would you describe your ideal team?
I've been on teams of all shapes and sizes concerning skill level, communication, personality, you name it. So I think the best combination would be that each team member has their own unique personality so that everyone can bring a different piece of the puzzle to the table.

What goals do you have in your gaming career?
I've always wanted to play at a LAN event because it seems like a lot of fun. It's just that real-life gets in the way and other commitments take priority over my WOW play.

How are you planning to achieve this goal?
(Maybe) In the near future I might get a sponsored team together and attend one

If you had to redo your WoW gaming career over again, what would you change or do differently?
Well I've played World of Warcraft since beta off and on. So like a lot of the few core veterans, we've seen and been through it all. Thankfully, I wouldn't honestly change much about my game play experience as I think I've definitely gotten my fun out of the game, I might have tried to be more involved purposefully in the community.

Being active in the community you say, which other wow player(s) inspire you/do you respect?
Well since WOW isn't exactly the most competitive game on the market, It would be unwise to say that all the top players are miles ahead of anyone else in terms of skill, that's just not how blizzard made their game. But I do have a few players that I know are top tier players, and I've certainly enjoyed playing competitively against.

What keeps you going on wow?
Currently, the only reason I am playing WOW is because of the high skill-cap of Hunters. Without the changes made in the last patch, I would probably be absent from WOW.

Team Related Questions
For a team to have success what do you reckon is the most important thing?
Understanding the Game and Good Communication.

What does all this involve?
Understanding the game are things like: Knowing each class inside and out, the abilities, rotations, cc patterns, healer movement, map advantage, and momentum of the game. Not only is it all of the knowledge, but also the ability to be able to counter the exact strategy and playstyle of your opponent in order to win a game. When you understand these ideas, your communication level with your partners should be more of an agreement, rather than a question. When your team can execute its strategy while being able to be relaxed, and concur on each other's ability and coordination all within seconds; you are doing it correctly.

What values makes you appreciate your team mates?
I appreciate people who obviously are skilful first and foremost, second I enjoy people who like to have fun and don't take the game too seriously, without compromising any competitive edge.

What is your team's greatest strength?
Well I've been on two Rank one teams this season so far ..haha. One of them being with: Getcleaved & Mouzi, and the other with: Gymped & Kollectiv. The easiest thing to realize when seeing why my teams have been so successful is that every teammate on both of the teams understands the game at an in-depth level.

What is your team's greatest weakness?
Frustration is always a team's greatest weakness. When things go right everything is fine, but it really is true that you do see the real side of someone when adversity comes their way.

A decent amount of teams tend to have a lot of drama/conflicts, do you/your team handle conflicts well and if so how?
My own personality have always tried to understand the cause-->effect problem. Which would be something, "He did this, so then you had to do that, which me made have to use X". That kind of philosophy, although probably not the most pleasant to deal with, has been successful.

If I asked one of your team mates to describe you, how would they?
I know my Rank #1 PHD team had a decent amount of drama only because I am a "perfectionist" type personality, and so I've had to learn that almost everyone doesn't want to analyze and understand the game as much as I do. A while back, my team would win a match and then I would go on for 5 minutes about what we could have done better. As you can see, that gets annoying quite easily after every game. Therefore, I've learned that I usually have to get my few words in about the match and then leave it at that.

Do you have any plans for additional goals with the team?
Get rank 1 world?!  

WoW Related Off-Topic Questions
What are your thoughts on World of Warcraft Arena, in its current state?
Currently, I think the game is in a decent amount of balance excluding a few classes damage output. Other than that, I think Paladin healers desperately need to be buffed for arenas, in some way shape or form. A lot of classes have been giving a good amount of utility, which could be good or bad. Ultimately, we want to have comps diversified as much as possible so that everyone can run whatever comp they want to, and still be relatively successful at it. Although, when it all comes down to it, at the highest level: the law will always remain that Comp>Skill.

What would you change, to make World of Warcraft Arena more to your likings?
Again I could talk for days about my opinion on how the game is getting more and more homogenized every expansion, but I think the reality is this: Blizzard wants everyone to have fun, they figured out grinding isn't fun, therefore if gear is taken out of the equation, it's essentially a rock paper scissors game while adding in degree of skill. If I could change WOW, I would definitely bring it back to the vanilla state where every class was unique. When you rolled class X, you knew what you brought to the table and that was it, no questions asked. There was little to no complaining, and when things weren't going your way it was clear the only way to fix it was to get better at your class. It obviously started trending like that at the start of TBC, but has only gotten worse with each new expansion. Of course the game has been out for so many years that, at this point I know blizzard understands that their time is running out, therefore they are giving everyone, everything.

Anything you would like to add?
Shoot-outs to :
Mouzi,Kollectiv,Toez,Snutz,Ven,Drmayo,Sam,Trevor,Ryan,and Stef!
And all my fellow hunters! Cupz,Squanky,Socker,Ballplayer<inspired me, Getnerded(even though he thinks hes the best), and many more!

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Recently Neilyo released his latest movie, Neilyo 16. Neilyo was kind enough to answer some of our interview questions as well as some questions about Neilyo 16. Without further ado, here's Neilyo 16.

Remember to follow ArenaJunkies on Facebook and Twitter to get the latest updates. Have a great Friday everyone!

In-game Nickname: Neilyo - My real name is actually Neil.
Location: SoCal
Age: 22

Neilyo 16
You're like the OG of making incredible arena videos and you've just released Neilyo 16. What's new in this one?
It's been so long since I have released arena footage that my last arena video (14) was just as I was starting to use focus for everything so that vid didn't showcase any focus-usage, and skype as well.

Any favorite moments?
My favorite moment in 16 video was a moment that I had to remove due to request. It was yog singing the double rainbow song during a match in a ridiculous manner with partially inaudible grunts and moaning sounds. Aside form that it was probably yogs flawless communication when asked "Who is off fear DR? Who can I blind?"
"Uh you can blind, nobody right now."
"What about rogue?"
"Ya, you can go rogue. Fear rogue. Blind rogue."

Of all the movies you've made, do you have a favorite?
My TBC Rogue v Rogue duel vids I thought were the most entertaining, fast paced, intense, and displayed the most skill. TBC rogue v rogue duels #1 most skilled duel in the history of WoW.

Player Introduction
How did you get into gaming?
I got into gaming starting with SNES as a kid, mario of course, super metroid and mega man (original) were also awesome.  Then I played Doom in like 3rd grade, and then Starcraft in 6th grade which lead to CS 1.6 and Diablo2 and on to WoW.

Favorite game of all time?
Favorite game of all time, well of course I am still playing WoW as my primary game so even with all the things wrong with it it's still #1, other than that CS1.6 because it is so clean and simplistically skilled.

Tell us about your personal gaming rig. Type of mouse, keyboard, and headset?
My PC is nothing to brag about, it's just pretty good.
  • Mouse: Razer Deathadder
  • Keyboard: Logitech media 600
  • Headset: Plantronics .Audio 750 DSP

What do you do in your spare time, besides playing WoW?
Outside of WoW I play racquetball and badminton, work, school, hang out with friends.

When did you start playing WoW?
I started playing WoW a little bit before BWL came out (on rogue).

What classes do you play in WoW? Which are you competent with on a competitive level?
I only play rogue at a competitive level, I just started playing feral a few days ago and if I stick with it, with the right comp and good teammates I'm sure I can get it, if I go for it.

Current PvP Spec?
8/2/31, Subtlety

Why Alliance?
Tichondrius Alliance has the most known players.

What is your most important gaming accomplishment to date?
Probably my influence on rogue-play in TBC back when there were still a lot of frontiers to be explored.

Why are you a hardcore arena player and not a hardcore raider?
Raiding is too predictable, uninteresting and unsatisfying to most people who are serious about competing head to head against other thinking humans.

What goals do you have for your gaming career?
Hopefully get to go to another tournament and do well and actually fraps some of the really good games in the future.

Which other wow player(s) inspire you/do you respect?
Most of all the other tournament players and the less known players that I know who are tournament level players.

Team and E-Sport Perspective
What's the most critical aspect to any team's success?
Communication / Synergy and attitude as well as taking a loss well.  The ability to analyze the match after it is over in order to theorycraft improvements.

Current ideal team composition?
Melee, Caster dps, Healer

What does the future hold for you in tournament play?
I hope to play tournaments again if more start up.

What are your thoughts on the future of arena as an e-sport?
The future of arena as an e-sport has the potential to be better than ever due to Blizzard's increased involvement in balancing.

How does a player know when they might be ready to try and go pro?
You are ready to be pro when you rarely have to ask yourself what you should be doing or what you should have done. When you can play mostly subconsciously and when you have optimized your communication to allow for better team synergy/coordination/support and team awareness of the enemies cooldown usage and the enemies potential future strategy plan. When, if you make a mistake, you immediately know what you should have done and why you should have done it, but also understand what thoughts/actions provoked you to make the mistake. And when your mistakes due to binds are reduced to the rare, random, unavoidable mistakes due the fact that you cant be perfect all the time.

As one of the best rogues in the business, what 3 pro-tips would you give a Rogue that's new to arena?
1) Binds binds binds (including macros). When you ask the question, 'what does it take to be a good player?' When you generalize and keep taking a step back further and further, the most fundamental things are Bodily Kinesthetic-Intelligence and the required mentality / frame of mind for competition, these skills can be cultivated, but most good players mostly possess them naturally. So binds come in as the next most important thing because the keyboard and mouse are the mediums through which you control everything. So, body #1 importance, extensions of body #2 (think of a racket sport).

2) Scientific Mentality - Experiment, Analyze/Observe results and reactions, make connections, understand the reason something is effective or ineffective (what causes someone to react in a certain way to a certain action?) so that you can conceptualize and apply specific effective strategies to similar situations where the same concept applies. Thinking like this increases your ability to anticipate and builds up your intuition. The typical good player has good anticipation and intuition subconsciously but do not take the next step, which is consciously analyzing their enemies actions/thoughts and their own thoughts to gain a stronger understanding.

3) Communication / Awareness / Practice - Most top players are playing subconsciously close to the same level with their respected class' rotations, so this leaves what each player does in the extra time they get for thinking because they do not have to think about their most common actions/rotations. So that extra time is spent on being aware, more awareness should give you more to anticipate.

General Wrap-up Questions
What do you enjoy MOST about WoW?
What I enjoy most about wow would be the competition, drive to improve, and talking with friends.

What are your thoughts on World of Warcraft Arena and where it is going?
I am more hopeful now than ever because of blizzards effort in balancing.

If you could change one thing about World of Warcraft Arena, what would it be?
If I could change one thing it would be removing Miss and Resist from PVP. I remember seeing an ability tweak in notes where they specified in PvP combat it does x but in PvE it remained the unchanged or something. I have been saying they should split things like this since TBC, it would be much easier to tweak / fine tune PvP balance if they didn't have to worry about repercussions in PvE.

Are you happy with the state of rogues currently?
I am very happy with rogues at the moment because shadowdance is finally the main PvP spec, that is how it should be.

If you were in charge, what changes would you make to the class?
There aren't many changes I can think of besides what I said about Miss and Resist, but I do think with the cheat death nerf it should be reduced to a 2 point talent. That way we can finally get waylay and cheat death without making huge sacrifices. Also, although positional requirements are really annoying I do like that it forces you to have good footwork so better players will be set apart more, but perhaps with lag/delay they should increase their backs from 180 degrees to 230 degrees, sometimes you cant land a backstab/ambush or garrote for a long time even if they aren't facing you perfectly due to delay. For the record I think rogues are pretty balanced, not OP, not underpowered, damage is not great but good enough.

What song are you listening to right now?
Det Gamla Landet - Tolv Under

Many thanks Neilyo for the videos and the interview.

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