Age of Empires 2 AoK: The Ghost King of Doom

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File:AoEII- The Age of Kings.jpg
The cover art for Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings.

I am a huge fan of Age of Empires 2. My parents had purchased it when I was seven or eight (I'm 17 now) and they were both really into it. For a couple of months they wouldn't let me stay in the same room with them if one of them was playing it, as they thought it was too violent for me at the time. I was just like "Okay," and didn't worry about it. Soon after, though, they must have discussed it or something, and they allowed me to watch them play the game. I was INSTANTLY hooked. It was super freaking awesome, and I was like, "Cool, can I play?" Again, they refused to allow it until a couple months later, and then I might as well have been glued to the computer every day after that for eight hours straight.

So now you know how much of a fan I am, right? Yeah...so it's a few years later, and I now have a very strong grasp of the game, and I understand most everything. It was only a year ago or so, however, that things became...interesting.

I had been playing AoE2: The Conquerors Expansion pretty much all the time, but I wanted a change from this routine, so I decided to take out TC and put in the original Age of Empires 2, called Age of Kings (for those of you that don't know, so yeah). Since I'm a huge fan of the Regicide game type, I went into the Regicide game mode under the singleplayer menu and went in to select the appropriate settings. (Just a side note: in Regicide game mode, you have a scout, 10 villagers which can build and gather for you, your King, and a Castle to garrison him in.) I then finished selecting the settings and went into the game.

As the loading screen that typically says "Setting up game..." appeared, I noticed that the colors in the background were glitching. Normally, the screen appears as though the "Setting up game..." message is written on tan-colored parchment with a wood-colored frame surrounding the parchment, with the words in black. However, this time, the "parchment" part of the screen was covered in red, blue and green pixels, with a purple frame, and the text in white. I was thrown off by this, considering I've never had such a problem with the game before. The closest I've had to that was the grass and water textures and some of the player colors being distorted in-game, and that was because the game was having problems with Windows Vista as the operating system; this had been fixed long before then, though, and the "Setting up game..." screen had been fine all the time. Anyway, the game entered with everything looking normal, so I just brushed it aside.

The first thing I did, since it was a Regicide game, was to select my King and task him to garrison inside the Castle. However, when I selected the King, I noticed something was off: instead of the character name "King", it was replaced by the profile name for the profile I was currently playing as (the profile was named "LordOmega114" so that was the name displayed). I also noticed that instead of the default 75 Hit Points, 0 Hack Armor and 0 Pierce Armor, he had 9,999 Hit Points, and 50 for both Hack and Pierce Armor. I was thinking that this was definitely strange, but I decided to go ahead and task "myself" to garrison in the Castle. Instead of running quickly (like, as fast as most cavalry units) to the Castle like Kings usually do (which I've always found strange because they're fat as fuck, but that's beside the point...), he switched to one frame of the move animation, but stayed in place, as if he was stuck on something. A second later, he quit attempting to move and went back to standing, like characters usually do when stuck on something, like "I" apparently was.

A second after the King was standing still again, he once again attempted to move, but without me giving a command to do so. This time, he was spinning around rapidly in a clockwise motion (i.e. he still had the same frozen walking animation, but faced all possible directions a unit is capable of facing within half a second or so). Again, after about two seconds he stopped and stood still, facing the same direction as he originally had been facing. Another second later, this occurred again, but to no avail; my King was still stuck. This process was repeated twice more, when all of a sudden, my king DIED. Yep, he just randomly fell back, made a standard death sound, like "UUUGGGHHHH" (great impression, I know XD), hit the ground, and a pool of blood appeared around him (which is normal, that happens to all units when they die, they just all of a sudden bleed out). And of course, since my King was dead, I heard the "defeat sound", and saw in big white letters across my screen, "You have been defeated!" (also normal) After this happened, I was staring at the screen in utter confusion. Why had this just happened? Why was the King named after my profile, with obviously hacked statistics? Why couldn't he move from that spot, except to spin in circles? And why did he die all of a sudden? And the most important question of all: Why did this all happen on its own?

Since I had been defeated, the game took me to the standard "Aftermath" screen, where it shows the post-game statistics. I closed out of it and went back to the singleplayer menu. I clicked on the Regicide game option again to start a new game. My settings were the same as I had set them before, so I just went ahead and started the game. Upon the "Setting up game..." screen, everything looked normal again, but when it took me in to the game, "You are defeated!" instantly showed up on the screen. "What the hell...?" I muttered aloud. I then closed out of the Aftermath screen, went back to the singleplayer menu and back into Regicide, and started another game. Again, the "Setting up game..." screen was normal, but I was instantly defeated once again upon entering the game.

At that point I was getting irritated, so I decided to close back out to the singleplayer menu once again. This time, however, I went into the "Random Map" game setting. Thinking that this weird glitch only occurred in Regicide matches, and the game would otherwise be fine, I went ahead and started a "Random Map" match. However, the same thing happened: normal loading screen, but instant defeat upon entering the game. I then attempted the third and final option for a standard singleplayer game, "Deathmatch" (Random Map with a huge amount of resources). Again, I was handed another instant loss. Severely frustrated and confused at this point, I closed out and went into the campaigns. One by one, no matter what campaign mission I entered, I was STILL awarded an instant loss. Finally decided I had had enough, I decided to close out of the game, shut off my computer, turn it on again and go back into AoE2: AoK. Nothing had changed; I was still encountering instant losses.

I raged and refused to play Age of Kings again. I then decided to switch back over to The Conquerors Expansion. It ran normally, without any problems. A couple of months later, that computer had to undergo a recovery, and I reinstalled AoE2: Age of Kings, and the Conquerors Expansion. Upon cautiously re-entering The Age of Kings, I found that everything was working fine again. Needless to say, that weird glitch hasn't shown up again...but I will remember it for a while.