IMO, the AoE2 mini-map is a poorly designed user interface. For example:
- It fails to distinguish between very different things. A wolf appears the same as a relic, what?
- It distinguishes between things that are essentially the same. Millions of different shades of terrain, none of which affect gameplay.
- Crucial map elements don’t pop out. Hunting for gold on the mini-map is hard. I don’t even try to look for stone on the mini-map.
- Some player colors are basically invisible against the background (yellow, green).
I’m aware of the “Toggle mini-map filter”. The “simple terrain” mode is an improvement, but has its own problems. For example, trees are completely invisible, despite being a crucial map element.
I’m aware of some mini-map mods. However, none seem to address these issues, or to work on AoE2 DE.
Starting to reverse engineer it, I took a screenshot of a mini-map and identified the RGB of some common things, such as:
Ground (Arabia): 228 162 82 Ground (Acropolis): 51 151 39 Trees: 21 118 21 Gold: 255 199 0 Stone: 145 145 145 Food: 165 196 108 Water (shallow): 48 93 182 Water (deep): 0 74 187
I then grepped for these in my AoE2 directory (C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\steamapps\common\AoE2DE). The following palette files come up consistently:
# These files contain all the colors for the minimap - strong match resources/_common/palettes/original.pal resources/_common/drs/interface/50500.bina # These files contain some of the colors, but not all - weak match, maybe false positives resources/_common/dat/pal_3.pal resources/_common/dat/pal_6.pal resources/_common/palettes/pal_3.pal resources/_common/palettes/pal_6.pal
So I edited some of the colors in these files, expecting it to change the mini-map. Alas - nothing, not even after restarting AoE2 DE. It’s as if it’s not reading these files. Not sure where to go from here, without going further down a rabbithole.
Are these .pal files really where the mini-map colors are defined? If so, is there a special way to force AoE2 to read them? If not, where are the colors defined (and what are the .pal files that I found for, since they don’t appear to do anything)?