A few ways to improve the scenario editor

Hey there! I have been designing scenarios for AoE2 since basically forever. It is by far my favourite part of this game and what has kept me coming back to it year after year. Designing new worlds, telling new stories and sharing these with a community of like-minded people is, at least for me, the core AoE experience - even more so than the multiplayer!

The AoE2 scenario editor has always been an easy to learn, versatile tool and I often find myself coming back to it when a story pops into my head that does not work in any other medium. A few of my projects have gained some attention, and my scenarios combined have garnered somewhere around 100 000 downloads, on Steam and Age of Kings Heaven combined. Even now when I am working full time and juggling other obligations, I intend to keep making scenarios for AoE2 whenever I can.

The new additions to the editor in AoE2:DE have me very excited. The new effects, the addition of AI variables into the triggers, the copy button for triggers and effects (finally!), light settings and much more - all of these additions I absolutely love.

Even so, I am unsure whether I will switch over to DE from the UserPatch for my future projects. There are a lot of bugs left to iron out that are blatantly visible in the DE editor, as well as lag and response issues - and the UserPatch still has some features that the DE editor doesn’t have.

I want AoE2:DE to be a success, because this game has always been very close to my heart. Therefor I have compiled a list below of issues discovered by myself and a couple fellow designers. Below that, I have also included a list of suggestions on how to improve the scenario editor and make it definitively better than the current UserPatch.

(This is not an exhaustive list and I intend to keep adding to it as I explore the editor further.)

Bugs and other issues:

Terrain tab:

  • This issue has already been raised by others, but both of the cliffs are the same, there is no difference between the granite and the sandstone cliffs.
  • The elevation only goes to 7, as in the original game and the HD edition. In the UserPatch it goes to 11 (no Spinal Tap reference intended). I don’t see why DE should limit the designer’s options here.
  • Map copy: the shape of the brush does not adapt properly to the shape of the selected area. For example, a selected area of 2x6 turns into a 6x6 brush, when it should turn into a 2x6 brush. Again, the UserPatch has already fixed this issue from the original game and I don’t see why DE doesn’t already do so too.
  • Map copying seems to be a bi unstable. Occasionally it will reset all the object rotations, e.g. so that a group of differently rotated oak trees all get the same rotation, while at other times it works perfectly fine.

Triggers:

  • Pretty much everything lags or responds slowly, destroying the seamless workflow that characterized the original editor. Add too many effects to a trigger (like 8 or more) and there is a delay in every action. The same response lag happens when deleting or copying triggers and effects with many variables. This alone will turn any design session into a slog. I have attached a YouTube link that shows the response delay in action below.
  • The “Change Armor” effect does not appear to work at all. Adding 1 armor decreases the unit’s armor by 255 or something like that. The “value” text box is also automatically set to 255, not -1 as in pretty much every other effect.
  • The “Timer” never goes above 59 seconds. Instead, if you set it to count down more than a minute, it goes to 0 and then starts over until it runs out. It would look a lot better with a more common sense display, e.g. 2:54… 2:53… etc.
  • Also, the “Minute” setting is the only one that works for the timer effect. If you select “Seconds” or “Years”, it shows no countdown at all.
  • Maybe it’s just me, but I find the new “click” sound (the one that plays whenever you click any button in the editor) much more distracting than the simpler one in the original game.
  • There REALLY should be a drop-down menu for all the available sounds for the “Play sound” and “Display instructions” effects, as in the original game. You could even improve on the original editor by adding a search bar to these effects, so that you can search for the specific sound you are looking for/narrow the list down to only the sounds with a common prefix (which is a very comming way designers use to categorize the sounds for their specific scenario.)
  • In the “Description order” for triggers, it might be helpful to new designers to add a line in saying: “Objectives with higher numbers will appear at the top of the page” or “Objectives will appear in falling order from the objective with the highest number to the lowest.”
  • When using the “Replace Object” effetc on a Town Center, the wings graphics remain even after the change. See screenshot below.
  • Using the “Replace Object” effect to change a unit into a building turns it into a building foundation, not the actual building. I suppose this could be useful in some setting, but having the option to select if to turn it into a completed building or a foundation would be great.
  • The “Change Train Location” effect could do with some tweaking. As it is, it is possible to move units to other buildings, but problems arise when you try to move them to buidlings that change across the ages. To move an object into the Blacksmith, for example, you have to move it into the Dark/Feudal Age Blacksmith, not the Castle or Imperial Blacksmith. You cannot tell these apart in the object list, if they appear together at all, but they have different unit IDs, so if you pick the wrong one the effect does nothing.
  • Please undo the “fix” to the infinite farm glitch, where you could set a farm to patrol with no target to give it infinite food. This is honestly a good feature for scenario designers more than an actual glitch. Even if you add a new way of creating infinite farms, removing this feature breaks the backwards compatibility for a number of scenarios with no added benefit.
  • The tooltips for Display as Objective and Display on screen both say "Click to set the trigger loopability state to yes, which is the tooltip for Trigger Looping. See screenshot below.
  • The new system for adding custom sound files to a scenario is more complicated and less user-friendly than the original system. Would it not be possible to allow designers to use regular .mp3 and .wav files, instead of (or in addition to) .wem files, which are much more complicated for the average designer to create?

Various:

  • Units do not appear to have a dying sound when deleting them during a test.
  • Building graphics occasionally spazz out. For example, an outpost once changed into a compressed graphic of TC dark age wings. This was after I had moved “Loom” and villager creation from the TC to the Outpost through triggers, although I am unsure if there is actually a connection here. See screenshot below.
  • When opening scenarios made with earlier versions of the game, some of the settings and objects are not translated properly. For instance, all the player colours are reset to the standard blue, red, green etc., even though they have been changed around in the scenario. Some objects across the whole map are also all changed into a single rotation (or just a completely different rotation), so that for example every single jungle tree and cactus on the map has the exact same rotation, even though they are actually rotated quite differently in the scenario.
  • The same problem holds when importing scenarios made with the HD editor, which have the .aeo2scenario file extension rather than .scx. The player colours are not reset this time, but the roations of jungle trees are. It appears to happen to trees placed through the “Units” tab, but not those painted onto the map through the “Terrain” tab, if that is any help. See screenshot below.
  • When trying a scenario made with the HD editor, there are a number of graphics glitches that occur seemingly at random. Once I opened the scenario to find a couple flags that had had their graphics compressed into a thin line, once a ship had lost it’s hull graphic. See screenshot below.
  • it would be useful to be able to toggle Unit IDs on/off, perhaps with a check box in the Units/Triggers tab. This way you can keep track of units more easily for some of the more advanced trigger effects.
  • It does not appear to be possible to upload campaign files in the in-game mod manager, only single scenarios.
  • There really should be a comment function for uploaded mods on the AoE.com page.

Screenshots and videos:

Wonky graphics after replacing a TC with a castle (please ignore the dialogue test…)

Wonky outpost gaining TC wing graphics:

Jungle trees not having the correct rotation when opening up a scenario made with HD

Ghost ships without hull graphics

Incorrect effect description

Response delay in the “Triggers” tab. For reference, this is a 240x240 (giant) map with approximately 1000 triggers, but the delay starts being an issue even on very simple maps when there are triggers with many effects in them.

Suggestions for further additions and tweaks:

  • Color moods in the Map tab: These are great, and can be improved further by adding customizable color schemes, perhaps a color wheel/palette.
  • Ideally, this should be followed by a new “Change Color Mood” effect, allowing you to switch between moods during a scenario, with the option to make the change immediate or gradual (a fade).
  • It would be helpful if you were able to type in multiple letters when scrolling the object/effect list. E.g. if you quickly type M-I-L, it jumps to Militia.
  • A great addition would be the ability to select multiple effects/triggers to copy or delete by holding the SHIFT key when in the Triggers tab.
  • Add the option “Show Objectives On Start” to the “Cinematics” tab, i.e. the way objectives are shown at the start of a map in the game’s own campaigns.
  • It could be useful to have the option to choose between a percentage and absolute numbers for the “Heal object” effect, and the “Damage object” effect too. Trigger systems that involve units with changing max HPs (RPGs where the hero keeps upgrading their stats, for example) could benefit here.
  • It would be wonderful to have more options in the “Change view” effect, to make cinematics a bit more, well, cinematic. A few suggestions: being able to set a timer for the camera motion, so that it takes say 10 seconds for the camera to move to the desired point. One could also add a “Follow object” checkbox, to keep the camera fixed on a single unit, or perhaps make this a separate effect: “Camera Follow Object”, or something along those lines.
  • A “Cinematic Mode” (letterbox) effect would also be a great addition for cut-scenes. The HUD could disappear but still be accessible if you hover over it with the cursor, and the cursor itself could fade to invisible when not moved.
  • Another cinematic effect suggetion: “Zoom View”, with a customizable timer.
  • A “Cinematic Fade” effect, or two separate effects: “Fade to Black” and “Fade from Black”. Again with timers to allow the designer to specify how fast the fade will be.
  • A “Title text” effect that overrides these fades to black, or the option for the regular “Display Instructions” effect to override the blackness effect. This way you can fade to black, show a title (e.g. “Meanwhile in another part of the country…”), change the view without the player seeing it, and then fading back to the scenario. Or you can use the title text without fading to black at all.
  • There could be a “Show Hidden Objects” check box under the “Units” tab, that reveals all hidden objects like various rubble types, missiles etc. Checking this should also reveal these objects in all trigger/effects lists of objects.
  • A way to select your data mod in editor without loading a game first then quitting.
  • A CTRL+Z / CTRL+Y function.

That’s all for now. More will be added as I keep exploring the editor!

/ Lord Basse

29 Likes

Great points. A couple things that I would like to add if you don’t mind.

  • A way to select your data mod in editor without loading a game first then quitting (takes so long to load).

  • An undo/ctrl+z would be amazing. So many times I’ve deleted something by accident that had triggers associated with it.

6 Likes

These would both be great additions! I will add them to the OP.

A few more additions after some further testing:

  • Map copying seems to be a bi unstable. Occasionally it will reset all the object rotations, e.g. so that a group of differently rotated oak trees all get the same rotation, while at other times it works perfectly fine.
  • When opening scenarios made with the CD version of the game, some of the settings and objects are not translated properly. For instance, all the player colours are reset to the standard blue, red, green etc., even though they have been changed around in the scenario. Some objects across the whole map are also all changed into a single rotation (or just a completely different rotation), so that for example every single jungle tree and cactus on the map has the exact same rotation, even though they are actually rotated quite differently in the scenario.
  • The same problem holds when importing scenarios made with the HD editor, which have the .aeo2scenario file extension rather than .scx. The player colours are not reset this time, but the roations of jungle trees are. It appears to happen to trees places through the “Units” tab, but not those painted onto the map through the “Terrain” tab, if that is any help. See screenshot in OP.
  • The “Change Train Location” effect could do with some tweaking. As it is, it is possible to move units to other buildings, but problem arise when you try to move them to buidlings that change across the ages. To move an object into the Blacksmith, for example, you have to move it into the Dark/Feudal Age Blacksmith, not the Castle or Imperial Blacksmith. You cannot tell these apart in the object list, if they appear together at all, but they have different unit IDs, so if you pick the wrong one the effect does nothing.
  • Please undo the “fix” to the infinite farm glitch, where you could set a farm to patrol with no target to give it infinite food. This is honestly a good feature for scenario designers more than an actual glitch.
  • It does not appear to be possible to upload campaign files in the in-game mod manager, only single scenarios.
  • There really should be a comment function for uploaded mods on the AoE.com page.
1 Like

Great list so far, very good points. I find it quiet disheartening, that the editor seemingly wasn’t tested enough. I wanted to start getting into scenario designing with the launch of DE.

One little thing I can add:

  • The tooltips for Display as Objective and Display on screen both say "Click to set the trigger loopability state to yes, which is the tooltip for Trigger Looping.


Oh and regarding this:

There REALLY should be a drop-down menu for all the available sounds for the “Play sound” and “Display instructions” effects, as in the original game. You could even improve on the original editor by adding a search bar to these effects, so that you can search for the specific sound you are looking for/narrow the list down to only the sounds with a common prefix (which is a very comming way designers use to categorize the sounds for their specific scenario.)

Did you manage to let a soundfile play in game (either one of the existing ones or a new one) and if so, could you tell me how? Typing in the file names doesn’t work. What another user suggested in this thread also doesn’t work.

Thanks, alex, will add that to the list!

Yeah, I was really hoping to be able to start designing something with the new editor, or at least port some of my older maps to the new game version. With the current state of things, though, I think I will wait until it’s been fixed.

I did manage to get one sound to work, I just typed in “s1a” (one of the sounds for the Saladin campaign) and it worked. When I looked at the effect after testing, it had changed to something like “Play_sound_s1a”… it seems to have done that automatically.

Oh wow, that’s interesting, so u have to input the old file name. I think the new soundfiles located in AoE2DE/wwise are somehow linked to the names of the old soundfiles. Figuring out how it’s done, is the next step. Then i could get custom soundfiles to play in scenarios :D.

I’m literally trying to get custom sound files to work right now aswell since a few hours back, asked for help on the AoE discord but didn’t get much help there.

I took a look at the E3 scenario and seeing how they played sound files in the dialogue messages there, they’re written as things like “Play_E3_17”, “Play_E3_12”, “PLAY_WONDER_DESTROYED” etc, which I assume are Sound Events - but I have no clue where these sound events are even defined…

And if they’re all defined in one single file this would be really bad if it’s the only way to do custom sound files, as every custom scenario would need to provide their own file with modified sound event lines, meaning you’d need to exit the game after finishing every scenario with custom sounds and replace the sound events file with the next scenario’s file that you want to play

Really counter intuitive and counter productive for scenario makers in general, I dunno who thought this change was a good idea, ESPECIALLY when they don’t even provide any sign of actual documentation or information on how to use this ■■■■ feature.

I even tried chucking the sound files like the good old way into the “sounds/scenario” folder and putting in the full file path to the sound files among a bunch of similar ways, none of them works which is really disappointing.
One of the bigger reasons I bought this is because of the scenario editor improvements, and finding out that using custom sound files to create immersive scenarios is this complicated REALLY puts me off

2 Likes

Nice, you had the exact same line of thought as I had. Including this:

I even tried chucking the sound files like the good old way into the “sounds/scenario” folder and putting in the full file path to the sound files among a bunch of similar ways, none of them works which is really disappointing.

Keep us updated, if you find the file(s) which define the sound events!

Custom wem files do not need the “Play_” prefix.
If correctly converted from wav, you just need to type the file name into the respective text field.
Please note that this currently only works for Display Instructions, Play Sound is currently not working, except for some generic sounds we added. Feel free to use them in your works:

Play_Scenario_Death_Scream_Horseman
Play_Scenario_Shipwreck
Play_Scenario_Wind_1
Play_Scenario_Explosion_Small
Play_Scenario_Death_Scream
Play_Scenario_Waves
Play_Scenario_Wind_2
Play_Scenario_Jaguars
Play_Scenario_Bridge_Explosion
Play_Scenario_Horde
Play_Scenario_Wolves

2 Likes

But into which directory do converted .wem files go?

I’ve tried straight into the wwise directory in the root folder of the game, tried resources/_common/sound/ and sound/scenario, also tried (my PC user)/Games/Age of Empires 2 DE/(my Steam ID)/resources/_common/sound and _common/wwise with no results

I’ve gone through the WWise quick guide to working with events in the program and added a Play event to a single imported sound file that I converted to .wem, that I then tried placing into any of those above directories to no effect, I also tried to convert an imported .wav file into a .wem file without adding any events to it, also to the same lack of results

You have to store them in
\resources_common\drs\sounds

Doesn’t appear to work unfortunately, .wav file was converted to .wem with the Vorbis high quality project settings and everything as per the video below, .wem file was renamed to custom_sound_test.wem after conversion and placed into “resources/_common/drs/sounds”, in a scenario I’ve triggered a Display Instructions and typed “custom_sound_test” into the sound file field

Is it possible that it only works properly if you place it into a local mod folder that the scenario will also eventually be placed in?
For quickness and ease of testing I’ve just been attempting to place it straight into the game a la the olden days of putting sound files into the sound folders

Edit: I can confirm you do indeed need to put your sound files into a local mod and they’ll work no problem, finally managed to figure it out.

For anyone else wondering, use the guide in the video in this post to convert .wav files to .wem, then place the .wem file in a new folder withiin your local mods folder, while maintaining the folder structures BassiAoC described

for example
(your PC user folder)/Games/Age of Empires 2 DE/(your user ID number)/mods/local/your custom mod folder/resources/_common/drs/sounds/soundfile.wem

In the scenario editor, input the name of your .wem sound file into the Sound (Event) Name field, without adding the file extension or anything else to it, for example if you named your .wem “soundfile.wem” you would just type soundfile in the trigger effect

Looking at the way WWise works, it looks like you may ultimately be able to contain multiple sounds in a single .wem file and use WWise Play events to define how to play each sound separately when needed

4 Likes

I am having trouble adding in sound files as well. I downloaded WWise and followed the tutorial and got a .wem file that I placed in a newly created drs/sounds folder, but I just could not get it to play. I tried renaming the folder (sound/sounds), tried renaming the sound event name (Filename, Play_Filename, etc.), tried moving the file to the mod folder for the scenario and back to the original folder. Nothing seems to work.

The thing is, though… even if I do get it to work, the change from the old sound file system to this, where you are dependent on a single, complicated sound studio to get functional files, is not exactly making things more user friendly. Is there really no way to just allow designers to use .mp3 and .wav as before?

1 Like

Check my post above, I just now edited it and added the final solution I discovered to the bottom of it so I may have been doing that as you were typing your post :stuck_out_tongue:

I agree that there should be a more user friendly and quicker way to do this than to have to use a third party tool, both options would be nice to have considered in the scenario editor design - backwards compatibility for simply inputting raw .mp3 or .wav files to maintain old scenarios while still being able to use the more modern WWise method of storing multiple sound files in a single container

1 Like

Yeah, the thing you describe is exactly what I tried one of those times, and it didn’t work. I tried it again just now, and it still doesn’t work. I have no idea what I am doing wrong haha!

EDIT - I added a video to the OT showing exactly what the response delay for triggers looks like.

  • Negative damage object triggers don’t seem to work, at least not on buildings. this needs to be fixed

  • Still can’t paint water on elevation or activate that mode if it exists. we have it in UserPatch, we need it here.

  • Elevation still goes to 7 lol what, UserPatch can go up to 12.

  • Modify Attribute needs to be explained to new designers, and attack/armor types need to be fixed.

  • A chu-ko-nu uses attack type 3 (Pierce) but if I want to affect this, I have to type “0” as its type in a Change Object Attack trigger. why is this?

  • Regeneration Rate of what exactly? because it doesn’t affect my hero units.

  • Teleport object doesn’t work like in UserPatch. Can we get an option or checkbox to ignore terrain/collision restrictions so we can teleport buildings to achieve cooler design effects?

3 Likes

Talking about suggestions:

  • Having all the civ variants of merchant, kings and monks as their own individual units would be nice, since all civs have unique, or some have, and currently you basically need dummy civs, just for a few models and icons.

  • Being able to change the unit name, like the description works, which affects the ID of the unit, this would allow those yet to be trained, to have the custom names, since the current version of change object name is great in its inclusivity if neither area or object is spesified, and it can be put on a looping timer, to smooth over this halfways, but it would be better to just be able to affect the table ID.

  • Since we can change the unit description, a place where the tags needed to bring out cost, hp, etc used are listed would be nice, for me and other newer people, Does not need to be much, maybe just the tags and an example, somewhere inside the age of empire 2 game, so it can easily be viewed.

  • Finish the unit descriptions, this seems to be a thing for norse warrior, eastern warrior amongst other, just helps keeping track easily what, they are weak against. They dont got a one because they are never supposed to be trained, which is somewhat fair enough, but still, would be nice to have.

Looping Change Object triggers are harsh af compared to just changing the ID with a Modify Attribute, If you change the ID with Modify Attribute, it changes it for all units of that ID, existing and not – as it is basically mimicking a Technology Effect.

Totally agree with finishing descriptions… I’d also say, fix the tooltips and make them more informative, the trigger tooltips don’t help much at all in understanding their use… A full list of triggers and all their effects would be useful.

The thing is you can change the ID, in which the name and description is pulled from in String Table, alot of it is nosense wave 1, jumble text and etc, so being able to change the string table, would solve a lot of stuff using existing triggers and not needing to add a lot, but both ways are good, compared to looping a trigger, and the trigger wont hide the fact that during training you will read the original name, since thats not affected.