Here at Gamescom in Cologne, Germany, Microsoft is showing off its just announced Age of Empires Online. This is the same traditional real-time strategy game you're used to with added persistent online functionality. It's set for release next year and will only be digitally distributed. Microsoft isn't ready to discuss price, yet. At launch the Greek civilization will be available, but no announcements about other civilizations have been made.
Age of Empires Online revolves around your capitol city in Greece. Activity in your capitol continues while you're away and when you sign back into your game you'll receive a capitol city report that shows what went down, what materials were made, and how much cash you pocketed. You'll be able to design your capitol any way you like with hundreds of blueprints for buildings and details like statues and flagpoles that can be dragged and dropped anywhere at any time. Other players can stop by your city, compare your layout to their own, maybe do some trading with you, and shop in your stores (for which you will be paid). You will not be penalized for being offline, no matter how long you are away.