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Age of Empires

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Title Screen

Age of Empires

Developer: Ensemble Studios
Publishers: Microsoft, MacSoft
Platforms: Windows, Mac OS Classic
Released in US: October 15, 1997
Released in EU: February 2, 1998

GraphicsIcon.png This game has unused graphics.
Carts.png This game has revisional differences.

ProtoIcon.png This game has a prototype article

Age of Empires is an early RTS game which started an entire series. You develop one of several civilizations from the Stone Age to the Iron Age and start a war against your enemies to achieve world domination (though technically, you conquer one map at a time only).

The game later received the expansion Rise of Rome, which expands the game's timeline slightly to cover the Roman Empire era and adds some staggeringly difficult campaign missions.

Unused Technologies

Republic Age


It seems that originally, you were supposed to be able to continue development beyond the Iron Age. There's this icon, text (called, appropriately, Republic Age Not in use in the language file) and several graphics for a so-called Republic Age that are never used in the game.

Stone Age


Stone Age is the very first age in the game, however originally there was an age before the Stone Age, Ice Age, as indicated in the prototype in multiple files.



A scrapped upgrade that would've fit with the game, but is inexplicably unused. Both this and Scouting can be found in the prototype.



The icon suggests that this had something to do with the line of sight - fitting, as that's pretty abysmal in the game and an upgrade to it would be great to have. Both this and Mathematics can be found in the prototype.



This fish icon is among the upgrade icons, not the unit icons. Could've been something to improve the villager's fishing skills.



Looks like a cartography upgrade, judging from the icon. It doesn't really suggest what it's good for, though.



No idea at all on this one.

Unknown 1


No idea here either.

Unknown 2


The icon suggests this was related to the archery, or archers. There aren't any other clues though.

Unknown 3


Possibly something related to trading? It does look like it could fit in there.

Researchable Units

It seems that a lot more units were required to be researched before you could train/build them. A bunch of unused text exists for researching several units which in the final game you can train/build straight away:

  • Light Transport
  • War Elephant
  • Elephant Archer
  • Cavalry
  • Chariot
  • Horse Archer
  • Chariot Archer
  • Ballista
  • (Rise of Rome) Fire Galley


These four upgrade icons are not used in the game, and were likely used by some of the above units for researching them.

Unused Buildings

Trade Workshop

The trade workshop is an unused building. It can be placed on a custom map with some hacking, but it has no function at all. Complete graphics for all four distinct building styles exist (there are none for Rome in the expansion though).

Age of Empires Egyptian Trade Workshop.gif Age of Empires Greek Trade Workshop.gif Age of Empires Asian Trade Workshop.gif Age of Empires Babylonian Trade Workshop.gif

Town Center Architectures

These unused Town Center architectures are located between the Bronze Age and Iron Age architecture. They exist for the Egyptian, Greek and Babylonian building styles - the Asian one just has a duplicate of the Bronze Age architecture there, suggesting this was not quite finished.

Age of Empires Unused Egyptian Town Center.gif Age of Empires Unused Greek Town Center.gif Age of Empires Unused Babylonian Town Center.gif


Buildable roads were planned at some point in development, as evidenced by a text string "Build-Road" in the language file. They would've been historically accurate, so why they were removed remains a mystery.


Age of Empires Unused Ruins.gif

These unused ruins don't look anything like the ruins used in the final game - they're actually reminiscent of the Egyptian Bronze Age Temple.


Age of Empires Unused Discovery.gif

Simply an alternate design for the Discovery that didn't make it into the final game.


Age of Empires Volcano.gif

This is a rather intimidating volcano, complete with lava flowing out of it. This would've made for a very cool decoration in the game... it might have looked a bit out of place though, as the in-game hills and mountains have a very different appearance from what is seen here.

Unused Units




Age of Empires Goat.gif

It's a goat. Possibly intended as another animal for you to hunt for food, although it kinda doesn't fit with the Mediterranean setting of the game.


Age of Empires Horse.gif

It's what it says on the tin, a simple black and white horse. While it can be moved just fine in Age of Empires, it turns invisible in Rise of Rome when moving. It can also be hunted in the original game using villagers (though you can't get any food from it as it disappears as soon as it dies). It was possibly meant as decoration or as part of a mission objective.

Revisional Differences

There are several patches available. Only some of the more notable changes are listed here.

Changes from v1.0 to v1.0a

  • Fixes:
    • Units don't stop when bumping into each other. Movement in general was improved so a group of units can pass through narrow passages more efficiently.
    • Holding Shift while placing a building allows you to keep the building selected to place it multiple times. Due to an oversight, this even worked with the Town Center, allowing you to build it multiple times. This was fixed in v1.0a, where you can now only build another Town Center after advancing to the Bronze Age and building a Government Center.
    • Right-Clicking on a damaged enemy ship (of a tribe which you set diplomacy as "allied") caused the ship to move towards you, possibly allowing you to attack and sink it. This was fixed in v1.0a that no longer allows you to repair ships from other tribes unless both players have set their diplomacy towards each other as "allied".

Changes from v1.0a to v1.0b

No noteworthy changes.

Changes from v1.0b to v1.0c

  • A hotkey "." was added that cycles through all your Villagers and Fishing Boats that are not assigned any task.
  • Balance Changes:
    • Shang Villagers used to cost 35 food. As a balance change in v1.0c, Shang Villagers now cost 40 food and the player starts out with 40 less food.
    • Phoenician Villagers used to work 54% faster. In v1.0c, they now only work 15% faster.
  • Fixes:
    • Placing a Market without actually building it allowed you to pay tributes to other players. This no longer works in v1.0c where you have to complete building your Market.
    • Villagers can no longer build through diagonal enemy walls.
    • An exploit which allowed Farms to reset their food was fixed.
    • Players can no longer use certain cheats in the multiplayer mode, such as "no fog", "reveal map" and "gaia".
    • Trade ships will no longer continue trading at your Dock after it has been converted.


Some of the more obscure or noteworthy hotkeys are listed here.

Key What it does
F4 Shows the score for all players.
F5 Shows parameters in the top-left corner. It is not known what their purpose is. Only works in v1.0c.
F11 Will display game time and speed.
Ctrl + [1-9] While units are selected, will assign those units to a group. Pressing the number will select all units from the corresponding group.
Shift + [1-9] While units are selected, will add units from the corresponding group to your selection.
Del Kills your unit.
Shift + Right-Click While units are selected, will create a way point.
Ctrl + Right-Click Will walk to each way point in the order they were created.