@“Andy P” said:
I am not aware of any time period for which an entire side of the world wasn’t substantial.
Okay, sure, let me explain. Aoe1 focuses mainly on the Near East, the fertile crescent and their neighbors. There are some East-Asian civilizations involved, but they feel a little out of place maybe sometimes, where for instance civilizations from present day Afghanistan, India, Northern Africa or places like Fergana and Bactria might have been more involved with the core setting of the game, even though the East Asians reached certain milestones closer to the times that the Near East reached them than the Central Asians did.
They could have included American civilizations in the game, Sub-Saharan African ones, Polynesian civs etc, and that wouldn’t have necessarily been a bad choice, but it would lead to a different game. You might need to have something like sets of civs that can interact with other members of the same set for campaign purposes, and the multiplayer is plain detached from reality, Deadliest Warrior style. Because the evidence for regular contact between South America and the Middle East by the early classical age at latest is rather thin. By keeping most of the civs from roughly the same region the setting provides lots of credible matchups and a very localized feel. I mean, sure, petard rushing a naval convoy in the shallows is all sorts of ridiculous all by its own, this isn’t exactly Historical War Simulator 2018, but a little bit of flavor can go a long way sometimes. In the setting of say aoe2 for contrast, where you end up fighting with ocean going ships and such, all of the matchups are basically things that could have happened in some form. And even then it would have been a valid choice to focus on one region, say Southeast Asia, and focus on creating more civilizations, units, animals, terrain types, building styles etc from that one place for depth. A little like what the game actually did with the latest two expansions, and also sort of before that, because the base game was pretty Europe based with strong East Asian and Middle Eastern flavors mixed in. It would have been a different game if it had set out from day one to feature the two biggest empires from each continent.
So that’s what I meant (but didn’t fully write out because you can see to what kind of text lengths that leads), the game could choose to focus on a time and place rather than a time alone or a rough technology level alone and it would be a different game for it, but not per definition a worse game or less of an age of empires game. And the choice gets more natural as the period gets earlier, because the world is less globalized. Progress may not be as much of a game changer and as big of a difference as we’re often taught, between the presence of lead-free indoor water works in bronze age cities (yet not in today’s Flint, Michigan) and the existence of female Mongol warriors and such, but free overnight shipping typically still makes contact between say the Netherlands and Korea easier and a bit more natural than the bronze age silk road did. After all, a modern age game about all out war including only NATO countries and Russia would be pretty ridiculous all by itself.