Age of Empires III was a "huge mistake", and that they deviated too far from what made the first two games classics.
Shelley lamented, "With Age of Empires 3 we tried all of these new ideas. I think it was a huge mistake. "We wanted to create something that was 30 percent the same, 30 percent borrowed and 30 percent innovative. I think we tried to do too much."
Ensemble Studios decided they'd gone "too far" late in development, and tried to rebuild the game as a classic Age of Empire game, but it was too late. "It was like being a child changing all of the dials on a television and then trying to get that picture back," Shelley said. "It just wasn't an Age game anymore."
It had gotten to the point at which Ensemble Studios tried to convince Microsoft into renaming the game, but the publisher wouldn't allow it.
Shelley now works with Zynga, a company best known for Farmville, and developed Frontierville, a game which Shelley states was a learning experience: "Last year the game that really affected me was Frontierville... this is a real game, this is serious and this really opened my eyes about the potential that could happen here... We want more people from the Sid Meier school of iterative game design," he said. "I think it has been a learning experience for (Zynga)."