I have been excited about many of the changes implemented over the past few months, including the latest April patch, however I’ve also been a bit disappointed about some improvements and adjustments that I feel would really add to the game but have not yet been addressed. I thought listing them here might be useful for others to structure their thinking about what the game needs, and might spark productive discussion.
I should say that my background with playing the game leans more to the singleplayer and the campaigns, with some recent experiments with multiplayer. I also watch a lot of Age streams, so all these aspects of the game are important to me. I will not comment on civ balancing here, leaving that to those players more qualified to comment on that aspect of the game.
- Estimated queuing time: there should be an estimated weight time for a game, based on the server, number of people queuing, and number of map bans. This could be based on existing data which (I assume) Microsoft keeps on this sort of thing.
- Unlimited map bans: the only reason I can think of for not allowing this would be that it would increase time in the queue (since fewer matching games would be available), but with implementation of 1) I don’t see why this should be a problem if a player chooses more restrictive settings. This would allow players to play arabia only or whatever other map they most enjoy.
- Joint random civ option: implement an option which, if both players agree, ensures they both have random civs. This could be done at the moment by just asking the other player, but this is more cumbersome than just having a button to press. Not sure if this would work best as an option at the map ban stage or just during the civ-pick stage, but either way it would be a great addition which would promote more civ variety in ranked games.
- Full player profiles: the new pop-ups are good, but we need a proper system of player profiles with detailed stats and past recorded games like voobly had. Ideally this would be linked to the leaderboard, which would be viewable while queuing for a match. This would make it much easier for casters to find good matches and recorded games to cast. Much of this info is already on aoe2.net. Why not just incorporate into the game directly?
- Enduring lobbies: after an unranked lobby game, players should be returned to the same lobby so they can replay the same settings, change teams, or adjust map as desired. It is very common to rematch after playing a game, or for a crash or drop to occur and hence need to reload the same settings. Implementing this setting would greatly improve the experience of unranked lobby games.
- Autobalance teams: a button that would take all players currently in an unranked lobby and place them into roughly balanced teams on the basis of their elo (either individual or team elo, whichever would be more effective). Obviously this wouldn’t be perfect, but could be a starting point that players could manually tweak. This would save a lot of team trying to manually balance teams when setting up matches.
- Make chat visible: fix the bug (I assume its a bug and not a design choice?) whereby chat is hidden in recorded games and in spectated games. This means that casters miss a lot of the fun banter that can sometimes really add a lot of fun to games.
- Capture Age: we really need an improved interface for casting. The Capture Age interface developed for Hidden Cup 3 is great. The devs should seriously consider just paying these guys to implement a system that’s directly incorporated into the main game. If this is not possible, many of the same features can be implemented in a new system. This would dramatically increase the ability of casters to follow developments in games and add to the enjoyment of viewers.
- Fix spectating: apparently it is not possible to sit in a game lobby as a spectator. This feature should be implemented so that casters don’t have to wait for a game to start, then find it in the lobby browser, only to have to catch up to the action.
- Regional monks: add in Islamic and Buddhist regional variations of the standard monk for use by the appropriate civs. These were found in voobly userpatch, and really added to my immersion of actually playing that civilization - I find it very odd to make obviously Christian monks as Saracens or Chinese. The American civs already have regional monks, and I notice that the ‘Imam’ unit skin already exists in the campaigns , so this should be a fairly easy change to make.
- Ship sinking animations: update the sinking animations of the galley line and fireship line. All the other ships (or at least most of the others, might have missed a few unique units) have updated and much-improved sinking animations for DE, but for some reason the most commonly used ships still have the old ones from HD. The new animations are so much better, and make sinking a ship more satisfying!
- Proper corpse decay: I have always hated the way corpses currently just sink into the ground (quite quickly too). The old game had actual decay where corpses turn into skeletons. I would love to see this implemented in to DE. It gives a much better sense of the actual carnage associated with big battles.
- Improved zoom: Currently the furthest one can zoom in and out is tied to one’s monitor resolution. I don’t see any good reason for this, and means that you can’t zoom out far to get a decent overview of one’s empire unless you have a 4k monitor. I would like to see the maximal zoom in and out levels the same regardless of monitor size, and potentially adjustable via a slider in settings. This would enable players to get the most value out of the improved graphics without having to have an expensive monitor.
- Manned siege units: okay so this one is just a pet peeve of mine that may be better suited to a user mod, but its always annoyed me that trebuchets, scorpions, and mangonels just move themselves around as if they were possessed by a ghost or something. With DE graphics can we not give them at least one operator like the bombard cannon? I understand many people will not like the change to unit design because they are so used to the old version, so have it as an optional download or something. I just would really love to see this!
- Increased selection limit: Increase the selection limit from 60 to at least 100. There’s little reason to maintain a lower number. Most of the time this will not be needed, and control groups will still have great value, but there are times when one just wants to select very large numbers of units, and it would be nice to support that more readily.
- Increased speed options: HD allowed the player to increase speed to 4x and 8x. This is not very useful for playing, but I found myself using it during certain campaign missions (like waiting for the hero to heal!), custom scenarios, and or when just playing around. It would be nice to add this to DE to allow players more flexibility in these situations.
- Military unit indicators: DE introduced numbers indicating the villager count on each resource. I would like to see a toggleable option for icons showing the number of the player’s military units of each type currently on the map (like how this information is shown on Capture Age). This information is already available on the military minimap, but only in text form, and only by selecting a map mode which hides all the non-military units and buildings. I would like to see an easier-to-use option to show the player their current unit composition. I don’t think this would take any skill out of the game, but would just make it easier for players to see their army composition, like they can see their villager distribution.
What does everyone think? Which if these ideas do you think would be a good addition? Which do you think should be a priority? Any other ideas that you think would be a good addition (other than civ balancing, leave that for other topics please). Love to hear your thoughts!