Success of AoE games (especially II)

Recipe for success:
1) Predictivity
2) Combinatory
3) Diversity

  1. Predictivity. Less random more calculation. Constant values are essential for planning and performing actions. This including:
    cost of objects (units, buildings, techs), attack, HP, range, bonuses, etc. This was succeed formula in AoE trilogy. There is no point to add random range of attack, or crit chance, or other shіt like this. Only random is accuracy.
    Players should be able to calculate different strats (like buildorders or pick specific techs for particular task). This point is superressential to main game slogan “easy to play, hard to master”. This point is what makes this trilogy be like an immortal chess. There is a lot of places where this point can be applied, devs will know it. Proper balance can be made only with high predictivity.
    Also, this point is not allow to interfere viewers with gameplay. No way to have freaking bets or other horseshіt to make match “more interesting”.
  2. Combinatory. For example in AoE2. As game was released there was 256 different combination of game just in 1v1 on the same map and 518918400‬ civ combination in random 4v4 game. With additional civs this number became superinsane. Now you can imagine how many possibilities of gameplay on different maps and gamemodes! Then you can think about different strats from dark to postimp. Even in dark age you have so much to do. Just my few examples. I won in first minutes of game by: laming boars, drush, resource walling and TC rush. Multiply it on different strategy/maps/civs/gamemodes and you`ll get what is combinatory.
  3. Diversity. This point including every side of the game. Lets consider AoE2. We can begin with resources. There is 4 natural resources plus population. Not too much so you can easily handle your eco and not too few so you have to manage your eco. Resources was perfectly woven in gameplay - specific resources for specific purposes. In AoE2 we got new categories like “trash” army (without gold) that counter “golden” units, stone mosty for defensive purposes. Wood basicly for buildings and food for units. Super intuitive and quite diversity. This approach allow to have different situation if you lack some specific resource. So you have infinity more combination of gameplay because is proper implementation of resource management.
    Now we can talk about units. There was perfectly implemented approach “Rock-Paper-Scissors”. No heroes! Only you need is your mind. Why diversity? Because there is so many units and classes you would never have in actual “Rock-Paper-Scissors” gameplay. This would be ridiculous if game has just 3 units. But instead we have big amount of choices still with RPS approach. This is the main pillar of the game. Dont dare do shіt like in dota. And we dont need any gameplay like in Heroes (just different types, im not blaming them).
    And i can talk endless about diversity. I’ll just remind about infinities cray strategies like drush, trush, monkrush, castledrop, fastimp etc.
    After this dont forget about custom map/scenarios/mods. Players need powerful tools to make this game even better.

Predictivity - aoe 2 had ballistics , that got removed on aoe3
Combinatory - the number of combinations depends on how many civilizations are released
Diversity - is good but sometimes it can hurt, having so many unique features will make hard to balance, there must not be a small number of it so would be RPS and not too many that will impossible to understand what you must do. AoE 3 card system that also give more diversity


Very good analysis of why AoE2 is so good. And I also think bringing heroes or some overpowered single units into the game would be a big mistake, one of the biggest mistakes they could possibly do. It would nullify all aspects of AoE’s acclaimed divergent gameplay and make it convergent instead. 180 turn right there straight to Fiasco Station.

The other huge mistake they could do would be a progression system where you level up or unlock stuff the more you play matches and bring better stuff next time into a match. They did it in their latest game, DoW3. Way to miss the point of an RTS. And they did have a stream some time ago where they talked about (artificial) methods to keep the players motivated to keep playing. It’s a shame companies choose to understand and support player commitment as such these days, instead of just truly understanding what makes a great game (with OP points well put) and focusing on making that great game while adding even more content from time to time.

And they are going for a Games-as-a-Service approach with AoE4, let’s hope the monetization for that is for “even more content” and/or smartly designed and implemented unintrusive cosmetic elements and/or non-gameplay strictly profile/social tied elements and NOT said progression system.

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Responsiveness: The fact that i choose a unit and command it to move a little bit to dodge an arrow or a stone is incredible fun. Plus, They do it instantly and i can do that with a whole platoon. So in a big battle, everything keeps manageable. I think here the 2d engines are more responsive than 3d engines

Units capabilities resembling real unit capabilities: I can recreate a complete battle with all kind of simultaneous strategies and constraints. Archers are long ranged but weak, elephants are strong but hard to feed, onagers are powerful but kill everybody, that is amazing.

Keeping buildings and units beautiful and real: it could sound silly and just decorative but it really adds to your imagination. Besides, keeping the sound as true to the source as possible, even if it is multicultural.


I read an interesting post about what gives AoE the feeling of AoE, and one of the things mentioned was that buildings take a lot of time to be destroyed compared to other RTS. This had me thinking and it is indeed a very important aspect of AoE. Attacking a base takes a lot of planning and patience, whereas defending a base takes even more pre-planning, building placements are very important, it really is a thing particular to AoE.

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