Boar hunting on Arabia, for example :
→ 2 Boars to hunt
→ Not optional, you have to do it, otherwise you won’t have as good a build order as opponent who will hunt boars.
→ Few exceptions aside, almost all build orders will have the boar hunts happen at the same time in the same order.
Is this a good or a bad feature of AoE 2’s dark age early game?
• it complexifies the early game unecessarily, and make it more intimidating for new players to learn.
• those actions are not particularly interesting. They don’t require strategical choice, or thinking. They are just mechanical repetitive early game actions we have to do everytime like clockwork.
• it “wastes” a few minutes every single game, which could be bypassed to get faster to the actual action/strategy choices.
Let me know what PROS you find in boar hunting and why it could be interesting to keep it
Many people like boar hunting but only because they are “used” to it. They’ve been doing it for years, some for decades. So boar hunting is natural to them, they are confortable with it. But I’m not asking here about whether people like it or not, but objectively if it is a good game design feature or not.
Some people argue that boar hunting is needed because it adds “skill” to the game, and removing it would lower the skill cap of AoE2. Personally I would disagree. There’s no depth in boar hunting. Yes, it is skillful, in a sense, to hunt boar correctly, but so is everything else that comes after. I’d rather skip directly to the actual strategical build order without having to do unecessary repetitive actions at the start of the game.
Those are the reasons I feel they made a good choice for AoE4, by not putting boar hunting in. Makes for a smoother early game for everyone, and also an easier game to pick up by beginners. Smart choice there.
Easy to pick up, hard to master. This should be a goal design for every RTS game.
Any feature that make it hard to pick up unecessarily (without adding any interesting compensation in terms of gameplay and strategy) isn’t a good feature, in my opinion.
Take starcraft, for example. The early game macro is simple, easy to pick up. The game itself is deep and hard to master.
It could be done in AoE2 without changing current build orders much by removing boars and adding extra sheep or more food per sheep, for example.
Let me know what you think, and if you can envision an AoE2 early game without boar hunts (on every map).