0 A.D./Birth of 0 A.D.
The concept behind 0 A.D. has actually been in the works since the year 2000. It started out as a collaboration between several groups advocating several different ideas.
The first idea was a fan request put together by a gamers’ group called Tonto Clan. They compiled a game design for a remake of Age of Empires: The Rise of Rome, and intended to send it to Age of Empires developers Ensemble Studios and suggest that they implement it. This fell through because ES had a different concept in mind, which was to develop a game based on mythology rather than history. This game is now known as Age of Mythology.
Second, Wildfire Games’ predecessor, a modding team named Wildfire Studios, had completed a successful, large-scale mod for Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings (AoK) named “Rome at War”. Seeking to expand their success, they had started developing another mod at a much larger scale, changing many more art assets — a “total conversion” mod. While developing the mod, the team constantly ran into the limitations of modding a closed-source, proprietary game, and found that they could not change some features of the AoK engine, leading them to look into developing a standalone game.
Last but not least, a fantasy modding project, later called The Last Alliance (TLA), began looking into creating their own mod, and was also interested in the prospect of creating a standalone game with its own engine.
While at first, these three groups interacted independently on the forums of Age of Kings Heaven, an AoK fansite, they unified their ideas into the concept of a freeware, independent game engine to support 0 A.D. and TLA in the winter of 2001/2002. Jason “Wijitmaker” Bishop, a 23-year-old from Edwall, Washington, took the lead and would continue to manage the project for the next 6 years or so.