Proposed path forward, towards good balance changes and new civs, into the far future

Step 1: Improve mod support

In particular, make it possible to add move civs with a mod,
make updating descriptions in data-mods easier,
clean up the dat file

Step 2: Make a scenario & data-mod (ranked) match making queue

To choose a data-mod, allow people to vote on the 20 most liked data-mods, the same way we vote for maps. If people change their vote every cycle, we have a different mod available each time. If people keep voting for the same data-mod, that’ll be the one we can play all the time.

It’s worth noting that the devs currently haven’t even figured out a good way to integrate the Empire Wars and Battle Royal ques, and those probably need to be fixed first. Once a good solution has been found for EW and BR, the same solution could be used for the data-mod que.

It’s also worth noting there are only a couple of applicable data-mods in the top 20 at the moment. You only need 270 likes to make it into the top 20,

Step 3: Implement "popular enough" data mods in the base game

A balance-mod or new-civ-mod could be integrated into the base game, and something like CBA could receive a permanent queue if it proves popular enough.

As long as “popular enough” remains vaguely defined, the devs keep a de-facto veto in deciding whether something should be permanently integrated, which is probably a good thing.

I imagine a scenario is “popular enough” if it consistently out-performs the DM or BR queue, and for balance&civ mods popularity could be decided by a popular vote. I think Pros could stop any terrible ideas just by publicly calling them bad, which makes me think they don’t need special voting privileges, and in the worst cases there’s always the Dev veto.


Through the proces of democracy, different ideas can be explained, combined, tested. The best ideas selected and the worst ideas weeded out.

I think as a comunity we could have created better civs than the Sicilians and Burgundians.

In addition more mods will get played (which some players will find fun), and as a result more mods will be created (which helps keep the game fresh, probably more effectively than the current ‘events’ do).

Big Elephant in the room

I started writing this before news of the new expansion came out. If the expansions “work”, it seems unlikely that this alternative model of game development will be explored.

It is what it is.

anticipated counter-arguments

People don't play with data-mods much, therefor they must not want to

Given that the ranked queue is much more convenient than the lobby, and you can’t use data-mods in the ranked queue, it’s not at all surprising that few people play with data-mods.
I have seen quite a number of requests for an official beta balance queue, and for a CBA queue (on the steam forum), and people seem eager to play with exploding villagers on T90 streams. I see good reasons to think people will want to play with mods if it’s make convenient

There aren't (m)any good multi-player mods

Of course there aren’t many good multi-player mods, if no-one is playing multi-player with mods. I’ve done a little modding myself. The main motivations are to play with the mod myself, and for others to play with the mod. If I know no-one is going to play with my mod, why would I put effort into it and publish it? I expect other potential modders are the same.

If this system is put in place, I am confident good multi-player mods would be created

Buy *I* don't want to play with mods

Good for you

Where is the money going to come from?

The whole scheme is designed to enable to community to improve the game themselves, with minimal effort from the devs. There is already a commitment from the developers to keep the servers running and keep the game patched. Making the occasional user-created content ‘official’ doesn’t sound like too much to ask.

Improving mod support could be fairly expensive, but large sums of money are already being splurged on tournaments and the BR mode. Having decent modding capabilities seems more core to AOE2 being a finished product than those things, and more important to the longevity of the game.

I doubt many people would play balance mods even if it was fully integrated to the UI. Back in Voobly there was this CarlosFerdinand’s balance patch which introduced just a few balance changes heavily needed for the pro scene (like nerf sling, Aztecs, Mayans) and pretty much everyone agreed they were needed. Yet, even though you could play it in ranked with 1 click, and there were even sponsored tournaments using it; I don’t think I ever found any lobby that used it.

For me, there are 2 reasons:

  1. I want to improve at the game, and when I play with mods, I’m fearing that the game is too different from the original, and that I’m learning wrong things.
  2. Most people like only 1-2 different playstyles, and if your playstyle gets nerfed, you don’t have any reason to play the mod. In the end the only people who play it are the ones who like underpowered/non-meta strats that got buffed and the game becomes very different. Back to argument 1)
1 Like

Step 1: Mod support is fine. I dont really think that i would use such mods, but there are many players loving this stuff, so it will be fine to me. Let’s help the creative brains in the community to come up with nice stuff.

Step 2: I dont think that this will works. Match making can only work if the player base is big enough. I think the past (HD / Voobly) already have proven that there isnt really a large request to these settings. SwaggyOP already explains how this was proven in the past with an example. Only thing what i could see is some CS ladder like Voobly had, for some game modes as Battle Royale and CBA. But as far as i know there where different CBA versions, so in order to get such mode working, you have to pick just one version. Or rotate the version every month. I also have no idea if things change for the devs to have mods on the ladder, which made them kind of responsible for fixing the issues if they occur. Not sure how that will work, but that is up to the devs.

Step 3: As long as the devs provides balance patches, no other balance mod will be popular. I am pretty sure about that statement. So i dont really think there are many mods that will pass this test. Most of them wont be popular enough. So they will fail at that point. But mode that will pass the test can be added to the game. I have no issues with that at all. I would even expand this from data mods to all mods. Or even add community made maps to the list.

I also suggest adding a Step 0, which is fixing the existing issues / bugs of the game. You cant really expand, when there are still some longstanding issues.