Controller of Empires - a handful of ideas to allow playing AoE on controller

Hey guys.

As you might know Age of Empires title(s?) are going to the consols soon.

With that in mind I’d like to share couple of ideas that could make using a controller smoother.

  1. QoL for both consols and PC.
    We have a toggle now for reseeding farms and fish traps that can be on by default.
    Toggle to constantly create vills from tc or all tcs could make gameplay similary smoother (and duller in dark age, but that’s a matter of discussion).
    Similarly production buildings could use a toggle to keep producing unit that’s lastly queued - we do balance our ecomonies to have a constant flow of units most of the time anyway.

  2. Tooth and Tail ideas.
    Tooth and Tail is an RTS game made for a controller.
    Trick is that in T&T you controll a commander - a unit that serves as scout, cannot attack and can give orders to other units.
    Giving orders is simple - you can pick a type of unit or all your [military] units (there are no vills there really, commander sets buildings to be build and they are being build automatically) and tell them to rally where commander stands. Rally is an attack move really, but you can tell units to target a certain type of unit as well.

Now this can be easily translated to AoE - you could have a key to switch squad (perhaps game could tell batches of units apart) and then you could give them a normal order towards a coursor (move, attack move, patrol, etc.). Perhaps adding a “move in the other direction” would make controlling units even smoother.

  1. Street Fighter combos.
    There are a lot of brawl games out there. Perhaps similar combos could be used as hotkeys.

Now since Street Fighter combos are often based on stick movements which would be a coursor movement in AoE game perhaps we could have some coursor gestures for mouse users as well.

  1. Building or tech selection.
    With a button to open menu of built buildings:
  • there might be a possibility to select a type of buildings - either military, eco, tech; perhaps those types could be customizable,
  • with such menu you have 8, 16 or even 24 options to pick a correct thing since theoretically you have 8 directions per stick or pad.
  1. Building placement.
    There might be a system that tries to fit a building in a correct spot - farm near drop-off point, drop-off point near resources, buildings as part of wall.
    We already something like that for farms in AoE4.
    That could be turned off on the fly with some toggle to let the buildings float normally as well.

  2. Coursor movement.
    Allowing coursor to temporarly speed up or slow down (while pressing a button like L3 or after moving stick forward twice or something like that) would be very useful.
    Also 2nd stick could move the whole screen in a similar way.

That’s more or less from me. I invite you to share your ideas below.

I have a pretty functional control scheme set up on my Steam Deck for campaigns and casual multiplayer and it does it job there.

Some highlights:

ABXY+Dpad handle select all building hotkeys. With certain buildings used less frequently being layered behind another with a hold-press to activate
Right and left mouse click on the triggers, as well as CRTL and Shift on the bumpers to allow for shift and crtl clicking
Left stick is arrow keys to navigate map
Right stick is a radial menu of 1-9 and with the crtl button on shoulder can be used to bind and select control groups, the stick also allows me to jump to last notification if held in place with my thumb on top for a moment
Select handles idle villager, idle military, and delete through normal press, double press, and hold press
Start handles esc pause and F3 pause through similar means
Left trackpad is mouse control limited specifically to the unit command menu in the bottom left, allowing for hotkey-like quick access of the menu
Right trackpad is mouse control for the rest of the screen, clicking control the attack move command
Bottom buttons are set up as unit specific commands that I want on a physical button instead of the mouse region, like garrison/garrison (click vs hold, also doubles as an attack ground button), convert/heal, ratha switch
Might make the final button a mode shift to layer up commands on the controller even further

However I still don’t understand how they intend to put the full breadth of AOE2 functionality into a traditional controller like an Xbox one. For all my control scheme can do to keep up somewhat with keyboard and mouse I still lack certain functions like zoom which I just opt to have zoomed out max by default now.

The fact that they’re adjusting the UI and creating new UI elements to manage stuff is a good first step. But I worry about the level of automation they will give console players to make this work, especially given that crossplay will exist. What if it’s too efficient? You can’t exactly dial back it’s effectiveness once it’s out there in the world.

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They might give us a dedicated controller for RTS games, although I would first go creative and try to use a standard Xbox controller in every way possible.

I’m interested to see how it plays using a controller. The last time I played AOE 2 was on PlayStation years ago and don’t remember using the controller being an issue.

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