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 Jul 27, 2005 - 12:30 PM - by Michael
* Age of Empires Q&A

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PC Games/Hardware/Microsoft
3DGamers have an interesting Q&A with the Age of Empires 3 designers: included in the discussion is their plans for random maps instead of just a collection of pre-generated maps.

We think random maps are one of the hallmarks of the AOE series and one of the things that keep our fans coming back to the game over and over. Random map games have a lot more to do with exploring the world and responding to what you find out there rather than memorizing and executing a precise series of mouse clicks (though sometimes that is important too).

To make random maps work, we developed a scripting language similar to what we used on AOK and AOM. This allows designers (rather than programmers) to decide how big a lake is, or how many cliffs to put on a map. Then it's a matter of trial and error to make the random maps work consistently. We have some nice tools and shortcuts to make the maps look as great as hand-painted scenarios. Rivers automatically add currents and oceans automatically add waves, for instance. You can paint mixes of different terrains rather than having to lay down each terrain by hand, and eye candy like bushes or rocks can be added automatically. This lets designers focus on the maps' unique hooks and balance (which we're good at) rather than on making the maps look good (which is best left to artists).
Random maps have always been a nice touch in the series; I'm looking forward to seeing how it turns out.

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