It is becoming increasingly obvious that siege weapons are destroying this game for the fans of the AoE franchise. A lot of the battles in the third/fourth age are turning into siege weapon frenzy. If the game goes past feudal age it becomes some sort of Red Alert game where the winner is the person who has the largest number of tanks, or wooden tanks in the case of AoE 4.
AoE games are attractive for the fans because you get to see horses, swords, arrows, human units, etc. With the siege-weapon nonsense, human units are turning into mere meat shields for the siege weapons. This is not how medieval battles happened in the past. Siege weapons are – and no prize for the correct answer – meant to be use in siege would you believe i.e. destroying walls to infiltrate enemy bases. They are not meant move quickly, pack/unpack quickly, have surgical accuracy, or constitute the majority of an army.
These days we easily play against opponents who have armies where the number of siege weapons is the third of the army! They can outrun infantry, and fire crazily at mixed masses of units and only hit the enemy! This is so arcade and needs to be fixed.
I suggest the following:
- Put a cap on the maximum number of siege weapons that can be produced by a player. I think 10 is a good number assuming a population of 200: if we remove the population count for villages and siege weapons, this represents 1 siege weapon for every 10-15 human units. I think this is fair and makes sense.
- Make them slow, I mean glacial slow. These machines that throw heavy projectiles are heavy and easily weigh more than a tonne. You need tens of people to pull it, so it cannot simply run around in the map. It has to be slow.
- Make them fire indiscriminately. You cannot seriously fire a 30-kg stone at mixed units in a battle and only hit the enemy. So friendly fire is a must. This way they are used for their original purpose i.e. destroying walls or firing at armies that did not enter battle yet.
This way the game becomes more realistic and pleasing to the fans. You can have a playing mode too: simulation or arcade. Simulation where you make things more realistic e.g. my suggestions, and arcade for those that mass produce siege weapons and don’t care about the realistic aspect. Make a checkbox for this when matchmaking next to the 1v1, 2v2, etc. boxes.
You have made certain mechanics in your game e.g. horsemen beating archers, archers beating barrack units, barrack units beating (more or less) horsemen. How can you do something this nice, then destroy it all with overpowered, over quick, and over accurate siege weapons that suck the fun out of the game.
The game as it is right now will certainly attract more arcade players but will alienate the fans. You will get more purchases, but when another arcade RTS game is released you will lose your arcade players, and you will work hard to reattract your fans.
I hope this meets listening ears.