How can I mod the mini-map colors/design?

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

# These files contain some of the colors, but not all - weak match, maybe false positives

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)?

OMG! By complete coincidence, I just stumbled on this recent thread about a mod doing pretty much exactly what I wanted to do! [Mod] Map Color Clarity UI

It redefines widgetui/palette.json - seems like this is the true source of the mini-map colors, and the .pal files are a red herring …

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