How to design up-to-date Fog of War by AoE4?

How to design up-to-date Fog of War by AoE4?

This here in the picture you can see the concept for Fog of War by AoE2.
You have cleared area, you have “black unknown area”= shroud and of-course Foggy Area = Fog of War.
In AoE2 you could reveal enemy location by research, quite useful by endgame.
Also AOE2 had codes for single-player to remove either for of war or shroud like “marco” and “polo”

Implementing the fog of war system is a huge milestone for the gameplay development, and it has been around the genre by almost every RTS game, but was it handled properly?

There are 5 topics I would like to discuss here.

1 Somehow in last years Developer teams did make only fog of war. For a very odd reason reveal the map is not an option in modern games. I personally preferred the shroud, as it is clear what is revealed and you don’t have to reveal the area again.

2 Fog of War makes no sense by play vs AI. For Multiplayer that can be a thing, but vs AI where it does not give up till you destroyed last house on every map corner, its quite boring.

3 It kind of makes games quite ugly. There are often interesting background designs and nice object to look, problem is they all are mucked/muddied/greyed out.

4 Somehow you don’t really have good scouting units. Its very annoying if your default combat units are near blind and scout units can barely see what is going on.

5 I don’t know, over past 20 years, there was nothing added to the concept at all. And we have now even less than decades ago. In old games they did implement buildings to reveal maps or units/buildings to cover and shroud areas. While in older 2D games it does have its charm, it just feels very dated to see greyed out areas in modern game, but the feature does have to full fill one purpose, proper info Horizon.

here link to interesting video
Game Design Theory + Practice: Fog of War and the Information Horizon

I think the gameplay design by fog of war should not only approach and appeal to functionality, but also to fun and entertainment. But how to achieve it? What do you guys think? What is the appropriate approach by AoE4?

I do not agree with the video.
Information is a resource in RTS that you have to manage.

And there are already solutions to some problems and Fog of War doesn’t have to be binary.
In SC2 a counter starts that reveals every enemy building if the last town centee equivalent is destroyed.
Also the vision doesn’t have to be binary, for example building could be seen from a greater distance than units. Or units in a forest can only be seen from a smaller distance.
Also the line of sight doesn’t have to be perfect circle, for example in WC3 or SC2 trees and cliffs block the line of sight giving the player on top of the cliff a huge advantage without a damage modifier just because he can look down the cliff while the other can’t look up.

Visually Civilisation 6 turned explored area into an old parchment style map. The colour and style of the fog of war could also change over time giving you information about how long ago you explored the area.

I think that units in late game should have a high field of view. While not revealing to much of the map to easily in early game.

There could also be mechanics like automatically revealing the position of enemy buildings over time or showing the average position of all enemy military units and thereby the location of their main army. Those features could come at a cost like paying “spies” instead of just having one technology that reveals all.


But we would still end up with a mechanic that is dated, looks ugly and makes no sense for a lot of situations. If you can go ahead and simply reveal anywhere any location, if a handful of units are enough to cover up all ways enemy can approach, fog of war just looses its point.

The Point of “Fog of War” is to cover up your Buildings/Units, till it does make an impact on the gameplay. Problem is, in large scale games on small maps it simply isn’t efficient in doing so.

There have been so far only 2 strategy games, where fog of War does truly matter, like company of heroes, where you have a handful of units and each hit does matter. And Starcraft, where units can fly, are very fast, agile and do lots of damage.

In other strategy games, it kind of looks out of place and does serve no actual purpose. Do the very rare cases where a guy hiding a handful of units still manages to flip the table, can justify a concept that is for the majority of players simply an awful, ugly and boring experience ? Even there who wasn’t in the situation, where both sides had very little left and had no idea how to finish the match ?

It would be nice to see an RTS game that is a little bit “self aware” and would offer for single-player options that make more sense, like completely remove fog of war or include research or upgrades to get rid of it. And in same time offer for multiplayer options and game mechanics to make it valuable and to deal properly if you play vs people, who not only use, but also abuse that mechanic.

Problem is, RTS developers didn’t handle it well in recent years.
And I quite doubt AoE4 can find there a good own solution.

Your opinion is just wrong.
Straight up wrong.
Being able to see everything makes a huge difference. A lot of mechanics and tactics would completely disappear from the game.
If you exactly see what kind of army your enemy is building you can directly train the counter. Because he has to move over the map you always get enough time to react. Plus you see when he starts to move and exactly where he is moving at.
You can never send out a villager to build something because it can always be intercepted.
Why trying to attack if you know you are going to lose.
It would make so many decisions in the game different.

It’s the same as saying everyone in a shooter should have a wall hack.
Its just wrong, no one wants that.

Sorry but that was like one of the worst ideas I have heard in this forum.


A lot of classic successful games like C&C, Total Annihilation, Starcraft , Warcaft2, Age of Empires and Cossacks had ways to remove fog of war from gameplay. I personally think single-player suffers quite a lot of a feature, that is rather designed for multiplayer.

Problem is, AI in single-player does all time do same things, why do you need there fog of war?
I think AoE4 really needs to get those features back, or people won’t like the single-player part.

“As for scouting by sending some unit off to their death so you can see so that you can see some part of the map that you otherwise shouldn’t, that’s also you really cant afford to be doing if you’re not producing units throughout the match.” @ 5:04 lol

You and that youtuber fundamentally do not understand the concept of fog of war. In an RTS mimicking war, as in war itself, tactics only work because your opponent doesn’t share your information. The GAME IS to having to suss out your opponents strategy. You do this by incurring a cost or risks with scouting, skirmishes, funneling, and of course deduction.

Also your points make little sense. How is there a lack of good scouting units? How does showing the same map minus your opponents units make it ugly? How does playing the AI change how the game is meant to be played? The fact you think think the AI doesn’t resign until you’ve killed all houses makes me think you haven’t played AOE2 in years.

I agree with what the previous users responded to this topic. Fog of war is one of the most important mechanics in an RTS. Without it, game becomes pointless, element of surprise and all strategy and tactics would be gone, everyone would just respond to what they easily see other players are doing over the map.

As for strictly against AI, you have the option to play all visible map in AoE2 if thats what you fancy.

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First of lets look again at the AoE4 gameplay trailer.
We did not see there “Fog of War”. So its still very vague how it might turn out.
AoE4 Trailer

Problem is, Over the years, Fog of War was in new games rather included, than implemented into gameplay. You had Fog of War, but it did not full-fill its purpose.
Yes, AoE2 is still a good designed game, but can the current developers handle it well?

Lets take as example RTS from 2017 like Halo Wars 2 Published by Microsoft .

It’s a good example where you have units that have short sight and units that have a range longer than their sight. I did encircle in this screenshot same unit in red and compare his shooting range in “green line” vs his see range in yellow. I personally do see this as a big design flop, to have an overview where it not clear what is happening. It is very annoying to have to combine your near blind combat units, with units that can somehow see what is happening.

In same time on those simplified maps, where you see all key locations and can easily by fly over to figure out what the enemy does have. You merely need 1 flying or fast unit to figure out what and where your enemy did build. Compared to classic games, where you had big maps, lot of resource locations, shroud and random maps “Fog of War” does offer in modern games very little value. I am never surprised what my enemy does have or where he is, as its simple to find out, as there is no place or paths where he can hide his units.

Fog of War by Halo Wars 2 “as many other RTS games” just doesn’t full-fill its purpose.

AoE4 is going to have a very big problem to transit from 2D into 3D, as it tends to have less overview and be less clear what is depicted on the map. A badly designed fog of war, won’t add there more value. By an RTS you are supposed to have proper overview over the combat and be able to hide at a certain degree what you have from your enemy.

Maybe we saw fog of ware at the beginning. Might just be symbolism. It’s not gameplay anyway.

This can actually be good game design. Having to use scout units to maximise the range of siege weapons and not make them work without support.

That happened 20 years ago.

Shouldn’t siege units at default have shooting range equal to their see range?
I mean if the player wants to destroy a tower, why should he pick up for that task several units?

Simply select the siege unit and let it attack the target should be enough, something where you have to combine it with other units or activate their abilities isn’t handy.

Depends on how the Units are balanced.
In Empire Earth Artillery was very very powerful against buildings and unites alike and had a very huge range but its view range wasn’t as big. That was used to balance the unit.
In a medieval setting that doesn’t make to much sense so I don’t think AoE4 should do it I’m just saying that it can be used to balance units.

You could give the catapult a higher view range than the tower has shooting range so you can take out the tower with the catapult but the catapult can shoot even farther than its view range making it better with support but it doesn’t rely on it.

Balance a unit by make it near blind is a bad concept. It does make quite little sense, as it is merely combine “blind units” with a unit that can see. Shouldn’t units at default be able to see the battlefield right in front of them? After all, the concept is about to assign orders to units, not guess what they might fight right in front of them.

I just wonder why by all RTS dev.Teams of 15 years repeat this same mistake all over again. How much is value of game increased, if you barely can see what is happening right in front of you? Does AoE4 have to be like those, where you can’t zoom out enough And you can’t see properly half of the screen, because units are near blind?

I just don’t see how that is supposed to be a valuable part of the game. Old games also had fog of war, but at least the combat field in front of the units was properly visible.

In the specific case of Empire Earth the Artillery had more range than any unit had line of sight so you had to send scouts units closes to the enemy. Some units like mortars have a really long range so it makes sense to not let them have the highest line of sight in the game. I think in AoE3 mortars have the highest line of sight in the game.

But I generally agree that units shouldn’t be blind. It might trivialise exploring the map at the beginning of the game but it’s just annoying when your units only see 1/3 of the screen.
That is also a resolution problem. Monitors got bigger but the line of sight didn’t.
The map size also important for this question. Maps didn’t really get bigger because units didn’t get faster. How long should a cavalry unit take to move from one end of the map to the other? How long should it take for it to reach the end of it’s line of sight?

It’s not mistake but the right way. If you zoom out that much, game turns into ant wars which I don’t want to play.

does any one know if this is as i think it is… the relic coh/dow engine being used it certain looks like it to me if so the fog of war will be like those games for sure!

Likely but they might have changed it a lot for AoE4, it has been in development for a long time so it might be hard to find any traces of those games in AoE4.

Relic is making Age of Empire 4 so Company of Heroes 2 line of sight should be used.

Can you give there some games as example?

CoH mechanics don’t fit AoE. Company of Heroes is rather “hide and seek” micromanagement game of 4-10 units, where each hit and each ability activation counts. That’s a completely opposite of large scale base build RTS like AoE.

Well Empire Earth was first RTS by Stainless Steel Studios.
It’s a big problem if Designers are not familiar with RTS.

By RTS sizes, shapes and scale has to be different than by other games, so they fit properly on screen.

I did make already a topic for this.
AoE4 Base Build Gameplay. A New Hope for the Genre or just another Menace of too simplified design?

I think it depends on the intention for the gameplay design. Is it supposed to be a direct simplified short simple small size group brawler, where you have to hold key locations to collect points like CoH? Big maps might get boring as units won’t reach in time their task, and game would be over before you truly did start to play.

Is the game supposed to be a base build RTS, where you use tactics and planning? You kind of require space to have tactics and planning.

AoE is clearly a base build RTS, so you need place for base, space to manoeuvre and several possible combat fields. But that’s not how games are done these days. Problem by modern day RTS is this, you hold key area and spam to it units, I do not say its bad a gameplay design, its just there is nothing more to it.

So for Fog of War to function, a unit should clearly see the battlefield and the map should have the size to cover up what people do prepare. I actually would like to see not only bigger maps, but also they should randomize from game to game, like there is a lake instead of forest , there should be tech buildings to buff the fog and shroud should be back, so you can’t instant predict where everything is.

I don’t know guys, looking back how good RTS genre used to be, I wonder why all the good traits are these days forgotten. We had nice large big maps, where shroud did cover up the map.

So it was very important to scout the map, as enemy could be anywhere, important locations were not instant visible and you could very nicely perform ambushes and flank attacks, even attack enemy from the back or lure them into traps. You could like find special roads to sneak behind, or lure you enemy into a thin area and block him from both sides with walls. You might have had attacked early enemy base in a rush, to later on find out he did build his main base right behind you with 2 times bigger army. All of this depths is simply gone from modern day games.

What went wrong?

The studio was made up of former Ensemble Studios developers that worked on AoE1 and 2. They had experience. That also explains why the game feels a lot like an Age of Empires game.

The game had cruiser missiles, that unit would have revealed half of the map if it had the same line of sight than range.
As far as I remember in the middle ages all units could always see farther than they could shoot. Maybe the Trebuchet could shoot like 1-2 blocks farther than it could see.

You should try out the first Empire Earth if that still possible (doesn’t run on Windows 10 nor wine for me). It has a lot of nice ideas and feels a lot of like Age or Empires in many ways. It’s more defensive as you don’t run out of stone in the late game. And it has a lot of interesting ideas like you can’t convert units when they are close to a university or towers build in the area around your town centre (has a different name in that game) are stronger.
It builds on base ideas of AoE like having 3 types of armour (before modern days) instead of 2 breaking up melee in sword and spear damage. Or adding iron as a 5th resource so all military units don’t always cost gold. Having you balance between gold and iron costing units. Food and wood can be collected at much higher rates than those similar to in AoE.
I wish someone would make a game like this again. In a lot of ways I think was the better AoE. AoE developed since than and is now a better game but Empire Earth changed developer and got awful.

Another small nice idea they had, that fits to this topic, where scout dogs that could move through forests.
Any unit had an auto explore button (in 2001), very useful to hunt down the last enemy units if use on the entire army.
And there was a city patrol button that made the units move between every of your buildings (the bases were too big for that to be useful) but something similar like having them patrol between all your TC could be nice for AoE.