Greetings fellow AoE players and fans of the franchise.
My name is Marcel (ingame Keempf) and I am mixer streamer of a small AoE:DE community.
This post shouldn’t be any kind of flame, nor should it result in an emotional outcry, but should be taken as a short reflection for the team that is working on here.
It’s more a critizism than anything.
I am talking about my experiences of the game and its’ services as a whole now, not about gameplay, balance or ingame stuff in general.
First I have a small pamphlet at my update experience on the Microsoft Store (MS from now on) at the moment of the steam release and my opinion of still restricting steam from the core userbase that carried the game first and cared the most.
I also will explain why the Steam overlay is so intuitive and friendly for an active game-user compared to the “Xbox Console Companion” system there is right now as a forced MS equivalent.
After that I talk a bit about why the new lobby layout design choices are objectivly horrible in nearly every single way by comparing some screenshots with indepth comparison right before the list:
I will make a small pro/con list of the update features with a small conclusion in the end.
(It gets a bit heated first, so if you don’t want to read it, skip the “Mess of an update” bracket, but I think it is a good insight into the frustration of an end user after all.)
Mess of an update
So after I finally got myself through the complete and utter windows update and MS store mess (I am not kidding, that was the worst experience to get a game to a new version just to get a worse experience of the game after the patch, and I have played fricking LoL and AoE:DE since start when servers burned, games couldn’t start anymore and so on).
-got everything updated like always, but since w10 updates come in waves I couldn’t get myself to 1903
-after figuring that out and the proper install link to it (ty for the help in the main topic of the update) I patched my windows, once more my whole monitor setup, drivers and sound were completely fu!!ed up
-after changing that to normal use (took me over 4 hours at that point) I reinstalled the game completely to be absolutely sure, only to see that my version got updated but I still have a “non-crossplattform” client (which at that point, was completely okay at least I could play and enjoy the game again that I play for 2 years now, avoiding any microsoft store and “Xbox Console Companion” bullsh!! cause of their horrible userexperiences)
-today in stream (2 days later) someone told me that I still haven’t got the right version, after patching the game finally I find myself in the mess of a lobby and huge performance issues of my PC
Those issues probably get fixed once I restart the PC, but from a user perspective this update on MS was a PURE MESS.
It’s hard to find the issue: the issue of not updating in the MS store is either cause it’s buged or the windows 10 update wave hasn’t hit you yet, which forces you to download a seperate tool to manually force updates onto you, that fk up your whole system on purpose software wise, only to be able to patch the new game to a less good designed version of itself (that you played for nearly 2 years now without real issues), since the store you purchased the game with demands it for no particular reason that I can think of.
Steam and the “Xbox Console Companion”
So once again, completely feeling abused in the situation as a user, the Microsoft-Store base (that actually care the most about the game) were denied the access to the proper Steam overlay by holding them in the negative and most user-hostile experiences I have ever experienced MS environment.
What makes steam so attractive? Simple: Quick online interaction!
- adding people without unnecessary sidesteps
- a game overlay without switching windows across
- quick and intuitive chats for organization
- proper noticable notifications
- everything at one sight in the overlay
What has “Xbox Console Companion”?
To be honest… none of what steam makes attractive.
You have a seperate window you have to tab around for, no proper overlay over the game, the message system reminds me more in a mail program like outlook than actual quick time chats like in steam, and the friendlist and notifications are unintuitive, not noticeable and cause of all the reasons above rarely used by anyone I know.
To the new version of the game.
In short… the Lobby looks horrible.
I always ask myself, why this design changes aren’t made by simply putting a switch in the settings and let the userbase decide which they like more, since you have 2 different ones now anyway.
It reminds me alot in when Combat arms back the got from a well designed, fitting and well structured lobby design, to this silver, all over the place, unnecessarry encapsulated mess.
Not even speaking of the rather embarassing looking after match sign if you won or lost the game while checking out the map… please god stop it…
Everything seems to be missalligned, more complicated than before, the font (which fit and totally did the job) somehow has a size increase and is not bold/properly fitting with the buttons anymore designwise, making it look just cheaply overwritted by a quite bad end-user of word.
(It reminds me alot of this “bigger font” options on websites for older people, that have issues to read longer texts cause of their increasing sight problems: Everything looks way too big and at the same time way to thin).
I mean, you can still make the case that in the old update there wasn’t much going on with font editing, but it looked way more pleasing and fitting.
They look way harder and unpleasant to read in general, especially in the statistics and scenario info.
Nothing more to say here… missalligned buttons all over the place.
Suddenly there are more buttons, at some places and the roombuttons are horribly missalligned in the bottom right only.
Just everything looks way too big.
Font, hovering tooltips, the lobby and room layout.
Everything jumps into your face like you stretch a 600x480 design which makes it not look oldschool but bad… you had a great design before.
To make my point here some pictures of the menu, the lobby and a room with some hovering for comparison (sorry for the black bars, I have a 21:9 AR).
As you can see, the text is harder and unpleasant to read since it distinguishes itself not good enough from the background.
Furthermore you can see how the vertical formating is really unpleasant now in the new one, since the new increased vertical width results in less space to the screen borders and the AoE logo on the top left.
It’s a nice change that it finally horizontally alligns with the center of the Logo, but everything else design-change wise is bad.
The old lobby looks HUGE. It’s way too big, the fonts, the seperate windows, everything.
The buttons seem to be missalligned, starting with the left side of the Room-list window, and ending somewhere in the middle of the right side of the screen without giving you the feeling of beeing somehow centered or alligned somewhere else.
The old buttons were positioned in line with the Room-list window and allign somehow with the dropdown menus of the filters.
Hover-Size Comparison to the old one:
Everything looks way too big.
The hover-tooltip takes like 3 times the screenspace than before.
The button allignment is horrible, everything is unpleasent to see at.
The game rule structure is unnecessarily encapsulated now into different subtopics, which fit perfectly and were pleasent to look at on one screen before.
But wait a second… this is an unranked game but… Where is the ping information? Where is the Elo information?
What the heck? Have you actually cut out features that are essential in hosting good games without any kind of ranked system on?
Finding proper players to play with, ESPECIALLY in teamgames, where ping, sync and gameplay of every player fits with each other is essential to have a good game.
With this cut out features it won’t be possible anymore to get to this kind of rooms and experiences.
Small Pro/Con list of the update
- separate ELO ratings for separate game types (1v1,2v2…) is great and more telling
- different symbols in room for different platform usage seems to be neet
- … the feeling that you somehow still work on the game…?
- too big on all instances: drop down menues, fonts, windows, buttons…
- not intuitive and bad allignings
- making the design more complicated by unnecessary encapsulation of a working well structured room-settings design
- after match “defeat/victory” “sticker???” seems to be out of place design wise and… no clue why it’s there it just looks bad to me.
- cutting out features like the ability to check for players gameplaylevel or their connection to you are on any instance a big NOGO
In the end, the update makes alot worse…
Despite the unpleasant experience to get to this version, it cuts out features and makes the menues unpleasant to look at cause the design is really not thought through in the slightest.
Instead of adding some useful feature like an ingame checkable statistic (instead of porting this feature as a tool in another different window, the Age website in your browser) or friendslist/chat that works with syncing the “Xbox Console Companion” , you cut out essential features to find proper balanced and connected unranked games with ELO and Ping.
A quick solution to all this designproblems would be a switch in the game settings, with which one can decide between the old and the new design layout.
But in the end the whole update phase with two different clients is a complete mess, and I with a few other friends will still stay on the old client for now.
It’s just better designed and the other one doesn’t really add anything to make someone move through all the problems, that the Microsoft Store and Windows Updates cause.
Nevermind the issues that two separate clients with a split userbase bring with.
With that, I close the thread and thank for everyone who read through all this, or just the conclusion.
Remember, I wrote this because I care for the game and want you to do good, not to just sh!! on something for fun.
Hope you take this critic to your heart for future work.