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:
- 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.
- 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?
- 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