Modding siege crew?

Hello there,

I would like to know if there is a way to mod a siege crew with the current tools ?

An easy way would be to add units to the side, just walking when the siege weapon moves and dying when the weapon is destroyed.

Troll crew

Another idea would be to enable golden ghosts for each siege engine (like the trebuchet). To change their texture or leave them static between two reloads.

I’m interested in modding on age of empires 4 (and mod this feature especially). But I would like to know if it is technically possible before I start.


I have done some testing on Siege Crew file at Content Editor. However, the feature you want to add is not working with the current version of the Content Editor. Probably, there are some limitations.


Thanks for the answer.

I hope the tools will give more freedom later. On the same level as Age of Empires 2 and 3 I hope.

In the meantime, isn’t there a way to just activate the golden ghosts on the other war machines? The trebuchet has this feature, we should be able to apply it to others ?

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In the coding side, if thy didn’t add such feature we cannot apply changes from Content Editor. I don’t want to change the main code from these xml files; because when you update your mod - other players will not apply them.

It all depends on the AOE4 developers to open and add these features from their side. For the new update, I didn’t hear any improvements and fixes for Content Editor again.

For example, I would like to see the siege crew on the Ottoman Empire Great Bombard Unit^^.

AOE 3 - Great Bombard updated version with wheel version, it has siege crew
aoe3 great bombard

AOE 4 - Great Bombard
aoe4 great bombard

Great Bombard

Great Bombard has Dardanelle defense version too that is more stronger which it had sunk 18th Century big ships with one hit. Ottoman Empire vs Great Britain (Anglo Turkish War 1807) and the war resulted with Ottoman Victory.

However, with the current version of Ottoman Civilization in AOE4, Ottoman Civilization is very underpowered and weak comparing to other civilizations; that you can see the win rate and lose rate statistic from youtube videos who are doing testing. And there is no OTTOMAN CAMPAIGN too while other civilizations have :(.

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In the last update of AoE3, Ottomans have received special skins for their artillery crew ^^

I saw, in your Civilization Conquest Mod thread, you managed to combine an elephant and a bombard

Do you think it’s possible to add an idle villager next to a siege weapon (in the Positioned/Unpacked mode only) ?

It is possible in theory where the siege crew is invisible at current version. I changed the file with visibility version but nothing appeared in the game. It is probably because of there is no image file for that siege crew unit.

It’s sad because the game engine Essence, being the same used for CoH, clearly supports artillery/siege crews. Even more, it supports killing off the crews and hijacking the weapon.

Further cementing my assumption that because CoH doesn’t have anywhere near the same kind of maximum population cap as Age IV, it can do things that a game like Age IV can’t.

I suspect if CoH 3 had similar unit caps to Age IV, you’d see similar constraints in the basic unit design / visuals. People have tested Age IV (recently in fact; in the modder Discord). It struggles with several thousand units, and there’s something of a hard cap (depending on your hardware) where it straight-up crashes. This is to be expected (every game has a limit; not every game lets you break that limit). But the fact that the limit is in the thousands is something I really expect CoH 3 to come nowhere near to.

If the crews are just cosmetic they wouldn’t count towards the pop cap and also would not significantly affect performance.

We already have an example of that in AoE 4 with crewed elephants. In short, there are three approaches:

  1. No crews at all (AoE 4)
  2. Cosmetic/ornamental only crews (AoE 3)
  3. Individual, interactable units (CoH)

Either 2 or 3 would be fine for me. I’ve always disliked that we took a step forward from AoE 2 → AoE 3 but then a big step back from AoE 3 → AoE 4 in that regard.

Cosmetics are exactly what affects the render limit. Units that go over the pop cap explicitly have to be counted, because they’re contributing to performance despite not being represented by the games design (which pop cap emulates). They still need to be animated, and so on. I don’t know how much overhead the simulation layer is, but in terms of art / rendering, polys / tris onscreen (and the texture cache, etc) are what matter the most.

Much like how the game wouldn’t have to render as much if every tree was an untextured box. What we see in Age IV is a compromise between scale and performance, and in CoH 3 you see the same, but because the game has a significantly smaller scale, there are things it can do that Age IV can’t.

(also it’s had the benefit of something like an extra 18 months in development - even if you assume Age IV started earlier, and it could well have, they get to build on what they learned with Age for CoH 3)

I completely get that you don’t like the compromise Age IV arrived at, and I’m sorry if this explanation is redundant.

So it all boils down to polygons, not population cap? Meaning: A purely ornamental unit takes up resources because it’s both animated and adds extra polygons/textures to the scene? You can have a slider for that in the graphics settings then, as it won’t affect the overall gameplay. Have a potato PC like me? Disable elephant/ship/siege crews. In AoE 4 even cavalry units behave as separate horse/rider models and you can see that in their death animations. I find it hard to believe that the game can render 100s of cavalry units with riders (or elephants for that matter) and can’t handle a handful of siege crews (siege is always just a very small fraction of unit comp).

If the crews can be managed individually (meaning: not just cosmetic) then that’s a whole new layer of difficulty because removing them would effectively change the gameplay and the calculations needed by the CPU would quickly overwhelm even a powerful PC.

So, your explanation makes sense but only depending on what we’re assuming is the limiting factor. Again, I can have the Palace of the Sultan churning out Tower War Elephants which each have 3 riders until I hit the pop cap and I’m sure Essence would handle it just fine. In fact, let me test that.

But in short, my opinion has always been the simplest explanation: real world economics, harsh deadlines, not enough devs, no time to add/animate siege crews.

It’s because the game needs to handling you pumping out max Elephants, or Knights, etc, with siege units. The game has to be able to handle the most (computationally) expensive combination of units at the same time (as best as it can).

Let’s say it’s 20 knights, 5 mangonel, 5 trebs, and a billion (give or take) infantry unit (whatever happens to be the most ornate in 3D terms). Let’s say this is equivalent to 200 knights. But then you add crew to siege, and suddenly it’s equivalent to 205 knights, and the game really struggles in ways that are noticeable for the range of hardware the game has to run on (i.e. it might not be a hard limit for all players - I’ve seen modders hit different limits in unit spawning depending on their hardware).

That’s the trade-off. Possibly even explains why some units have less detail than others. And I expect optimisation to improve over time, it tends to for all games, so it’s feasible that improvements could come down the line. I just don’t know what they would be. Could be villager faces, could be siege crew, could be courtyard chickens, could be all three.

I mean, maybe there’s some other reason that either CoH 3 has solved, or just isn’t a problem there. But in my opinion, based on knowing Relic games and siege equipment in them, Age IV is the standout, and Age IV is the standout in terms of how much of an army you can field (in that it dwarfs every other game they’ve put out, perhaps excluding the original DoW back in 2004, which obviously has a very different graphical benchmark and can also drop frames even in the vanilla game, on large enough maps).

I don’t know. To me is the same reason why we now see carpets swinging in the wind after the anniversary patch. It’s just that the devs have had enough time to do things that they couldn’t do at release, further justifying my belief this game was released before it was ready. I do hope that with time things like chicken animation and such will be added. The carpets give me a bit of hope as that honestly surprised me.

As a side note, I just created 50 tower elephants, that’s the 50 elephants plus 50x3=150 human models on them. That’s 200 “separate” units, plus some 30 or so villagers and scholars so I’m in a sense exceeding the pop cap. I could’ve cheated my way to only elephants and get 66 of them but I wanted to see how the game engine behaved. CPU/GPU utilization did not increase any more than in any regular match. Heck, I’ve seen worse performance, specially when lots of units are using torches.

This is a baseline, just starting the match (60fps, 61% GPU, 15% CPU - 2 cores):

This is with 50 tower elephants and a larger town + villagers + scholars (60fps, 82% GPU, 25% CPU - 2 cores)

Playing this as a real match would barely bring me down from 60fps and by no means I have a screaming high-end PC, it’s a non-super 2060 and a 9900k at 1440p. The AoE 4 version of Essence definitely has no issues with handling something like this and I’m sure the same goes for siege crews, emphasis again if they are simply ornamental as it’s the case with elephants.

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Sorry, didn’t see your reply until now. Appreciate the testing efforts.

Could well be. Could also be performance improvements have brought the baseline up allowing for more things to be animated. Could be both!

I’m not saying you’re wrong, but I also don’t want to get sidetracked into “ready at release”, because any release can always have something more added to it. Nothing is ever complete, so what people are usually trying to communicate is “this isn’t value for the money they’re charging me for it” (on release), which is valid regardless. I’m just being a bit pedantic, because I feel “not worth it for me” is a more useful metric than “complete” in this kind of case (there are other, more obvious cases where it could be a useful metric).

I also hope they keep improving the visuals too, and maybe one day siege crew will be a thing too, making all of my waffling redundant. I don’t know.

I think the min specs of the game here are important. 1440p is by no means a common resolution yet (1080p still rules the roost, at least on Steam, as far as I’m aware), and your 2060 is a tad better by the benchmarks than my veteran 1070 (which is still a fantastic card).

But the game has to run (at max pop, in a match, even on the lowest settings) on a 6th-gen i5 and Intel HD integrated graphics. That’s the benchmark.

I have no doubt your computer could handle more stuff thrown in there. My computer very probably could (the 1070 is the oldest part of it, I’m running an 11700k and 32GB of high-end Corsair RAM). But that’s why different modders see the game crashing at a different number of units (in the thousands). It’s the game crashing, but it crashes at different thresholds depending on the hardware available.