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Age of Empires definitive edition [remaster]

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  • 2 weeks later...

Isnt in steam because Steam doesn't support UWP.



Previously, Microsoft has claimed that Valve is the reason why Age of Empires isn't on Steam. Later it stated that it could make it to Steam and other platforms if they fully supported Windows 10. Isgreen suggested the same, going as far as to say that Age of Empires: Definitive Edition, in its current state “doesn’t necessarily have all the functionality we would want if we were to bring it to Steam.”

Safe to say, he's alluding to Steam-centric features like Steam Trading Cards and Steam Workshop support among others. In the past, developers speaking to Gadgets 360 have said that these features are sought after by the community on Valve's storefront.

Nonetheless, we've seen the likes of Quantum Break hit Steam six months after its Microsoft Store and Xbox One debut. In addition to this, past Age of Empires titles were on Steam too. If we were to hazard a guess, Age of Empires: Definitive Edition coming to Steam is dependent on how well it does on the Microsoft Store. With its low price point in an era where PC games are more expensive than they've ever been and a solid critical response, it seems unlikely





Like it or not UWP is the future for Microsoft. Nearly all the core applications included in Windows 10 are using UWP now, and more will be converted with each major revision. There are quite a few advantages to using it.

The Windows store releases "should" begin to increase as more games are developed specifically for Xbox One X because it too will utilize UWP. Most of the games announced at the Xbox E3 are coming to the Windows 10 store. This means developers can essentially get a working PC build from the Xbox One X build with nearly 90/95 % of the work already done. It's far quicker and easier than messing with win32 which also won't get the new API's that UWP will.

So it's possible within lets say 5 years, a lot less PC games will be released as win32 applications. Gamers may not be to shabby on the Windows 10 store right now, but the majority of gamers will go where the new games are. MS will probably never kill win32, but they will most definitely slowly faze it out and you better believe it has Gabe worried, it was their entire reasoning for pushing Linux.

Bottom line is Steam needs competition. Competition makes stores improve, and Steam has gotten lazy but it is now starting to feel more competition from MS and places like GOG which means an improved service.

To MS it's less about making money with PC games, as it is about building an ecosystem and locking gamers to it. They will likely continue that.

Let's also not forget, not many were keen on Steam either when it first released. Most of the issues with the Windows 10 Store/Xbox App can be solved, and I'm betting MS is working on it.--------

UWP aka the universal windows platform is a completely open platform, it is the future of applications on windows devices....has not a thing to do with drm..... UWP app files are locked into read only mode for security but that isn't drm. UWP isn't linked to MS store at all, other than MS store simply being the first to distribute UWP files...Who else would do it...but any other storefronts can create or distribute UWP applications.

EAppx simply means Encrypted Appx. Appx packages are the new secure packages used for distribution of UWP applications. It is similar to .exe or msi for win32 apps. Encrypted appx is just an encrypted version of that package...nothing to do with drm..

Xbox Live is the multiplayer backend and used to determine ownership of the game...this may functionally be a pseudo drm check but it is no different than any other online digital storefront.

Arxan is the only drm here that was used by Zoo tycoon devs, MS only uses PlayReady drm for their games, the same thing that is used on all xbox consoles.

If GOG wanted, they could release a UWP version of any third party game on MS Store...drm free. UWP is neither drm or linked to MS store or xbox live...Steam could release UWP games on their store with their own steam backend. Only thing stopping em is their stubbornness, no policy or technical restriction.

Cuphead is on both steam and gog...runs steam backend on steam, drm free on gog..that was a MS platform exclusive xbox play anywhere game, they allowed it on other store fronts. Granted the devs had to recompile the UWP game to win32 but that's only because those other storefronts dont support UWP yet in their infrastructure.


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I played the game.

My opinion it's generally positive. As a remaster it's great, but at first when it was announced I expected a engine remade. But they clearly said that they won't do it by the beginning. Seems that it's not so broken like the AoE2 HD release (although I dind't played it).

For me it's good, but clearly a "HD Edition", but not a Definitive One. We will see what happens with AoE2 DE (I think that they would have more budget to make it).

Regarding AoE4, I only expect the worse.

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4 hours ago, niektb said:

Actually, I expect it to be much better. It is created a by different studio. Relic to be precise, which is also the studio behind the Company of Heroes franchise...

Well, I have mixed feelings having the experience of Dawn of War 3

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  • 4 weeks later...
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Please note I’m only speaking for myself here as a fan and owner of the game. I’m no longer part of FE and have moved on to other projects. I feel bad that nobody “official” is replying on the forum of such a classic and legendary title, so here I am. I’m ex-Ensemble and I knew all the original developers well so I’ll do my best. I can only really reply about the things I understood best in the engine.

On formations:
There just wasn’t enough time to add formations or massively rewrite pathing last year. We would have loved to have done so, but it just wasn’t doable in the schedule. Resurrecting Age1, improving and optimizing the graphics, improving the AI, porting the code to 64-bit and UWP and rewriting the multiplayer code was a huge task for a very small team.

Near the end, we did figure out how to allow the units to seemingly pass through each other (by dynamically setting their collision radii to very small values). It took a lot of work and experimentation by a couple devs to figure out how to do this without completely breaking the game. We only enabled it on vills because allowing military units to pass through each other was too risky.

On multiplayer:
I’ve played another few dozen hours of MP in the past couple months or so. Overall, I would say 8/10 of the games feel great. I’ve had a ton of 6 and 8 player games and they were fine. Age uses an “old school” peer to peer system and is quite sensitive to lag and packet loss. I have a very good hardwired net connection - if you use wifi I would expect your experience to suffer if you have any packet loss.

I rewrote most of the multiplayer code and did what I could to make it work well (while juggling out of syncs and pathing/movement!). It uses packet compression, forward error correction on most packets, a custom reliable messaging system, and a bunch of other tricks that the original game didn’t have. But nothing can be done if one or more players have crappy connections. Remember, unless the “use dedicated host” checkbox is clicked, every packet has to be sent to every other client in the system in real-time with little to no lag, or the entire game will hitch for everyone until the packets can get through. Hit Alt+M while playing and you can see all the MP statistics.

Before you start a game, look at the ping matrix. If it’s all green with maybe some yellows, it should be a good game. If there’s any red, or if the colors change a lot to yellow or red, it’s probably going to be a choppy game. The ping matrix unfortunately doesn’t help you understand if there’s much packet loss to/from a particular player, but it’s a good start.

On out of sync’s:
I’ve had a tiny handful of OOS’s since the game was released. Around 1-2. I’ve played many dozens of games. Age’s OOS rate is much lower than most other RTS’s I’ve played. I’m surprised how reliably it is, actually.

There’s definitely code for ELO in the codebase. I don’t know the status of it though. I suspect it just needs a little love to finish up.

BTW - What’s interesting, is at Valve you were well rewarded for interacting with the community and fan base of your product. Not all companies understand how important this is like Valve does, unfortunately. Somebody needs to up their game and start replying to the customers of this title.


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The pathfinding in the game is terrible.

First off, Age of Empires Definitive Edition is a remaster of Age of Empires. It’s not a rewrite, it’s not a new engine, and that’s what we’ve been saying for almost a year. Age of Empires 1’s path finding was really bad, as most reviews point out:


This is the code we started with in DE. Not Age 2, not new code, but the original code which had a ton of flaws and quirks we had to learn about the hard way. This code was almost a quarter of a century old, and it showed. The original movement/pathing code was very weak to say the least. Yet entire complex systems above it (combat, AI, etc.) depended on this super quirky movement/pathing code. It took multiple Ensemble engineers several years of development to go from Age 1 to Age 2 level pathing.

We made a number of improvements to the path finding and unit movement code without breaking the original system. It must be emphasized that Age1’s pather and movement code is extremely tricky and hard to change without breaking a hundred things about the game or AI (sometimes in subtle ways). It was a very tricky balance. The current system still has problems with chokepoints, which can be fixed with more work, but we instead had to focus on multiplayer which had to basically be 85% rewritten.

Here’s a list of fixes made so far to DE’s pathing and movement code in the time I had, which was only like 2 months:

  • DE’s pathing system’s findPath() function was speeded up by approx 3-4x faster vs. Age1’s
    I performed around a dozen separate optimizations passes on the core pather. I implemented the A* early exploration optimization (eliminating 1 open list insertion/removal per iteration), and massively tuned the C++ code to generate reasonably efficient x64 assembly. We retested the pather and game thoroughly after each major optimization pass.
  • Age1’s pather’s A* implementation was outright broken (the open list management was flawed, so the cheapest node wasn’t always expanded upon during each iteration). DE’s pather fixes all these bugs and is a proper implementation of A*.
  • DE’s pather gives up if after many thousands of iterations it can’t make forward progress towards the goal, to avoid spending CPU cycles on hopeless pathing unnecessarily. (It’s more complex than this, but that’s the gist of it.)
  • Added multiple lane support to villager pathing.
  • Villagers can use one of two collision sizes (either small or large), so if a villager bumps into another friendly villager we can immediately switch to the smaller radius to avoid stopping. So basically, villagers can get very close to each other, avoiding gathering slowdowns.
  • Movement of units through single-tile openings was greatly improved and tested with all unit types. Age 1’s handling of single tile openings was so bad that players would exploit it:
  • The DE pather was modified to have a much higher max iteration count than Age1’s, so longer and more complex routes can be found.
  • The per-turn pathing cap in Age1 was switched to short and long range pathing categories in DE. 8 short range paths can occur per turn, and for long range paths it supports up to 4 findPaths() per turn.
  • For short range paths, straight line paths are preferred vs. the tile path returned by findPath() if the straight line path is safe to traverse.
  • Boat movement was modified to have deceleration.
  • Waypoints along a path can be skipped if a unit can safely move from its current position to the next waypoint
  • Added support for 32-facing angles vs. Age’s original 8. Also, the unit direction/facing angle is interpolated in DE, instead of “snapped” to like in Age1. The interpolation is purposely disabled when units switch angles during combat.
  • Added stuck unit detection logic to DE’s movement code, to automatically detect and fix permanently stuck units (rare, but possible).
  • We ported Age2’s entire obstruction manager into DE, replacing the old bitmap system. Units use circular obstructions, and buildings use square obstructions.
  • Added several new behaviors to the movement code to help with chokepoints: A “wait” behavior, that checks every second or so for up to 45 seconds to see if the unit can be moved to the destination, and a stuck unit “watchdog”, which watches to see if a unit hasn’t made forward progress and tries to switch behaviors to get the unit unstuck. Age1’s code would just give up at the slightest problem.
  • The pather tries to path starting from the center of each tile, but this sometimes fails in tight spaces or with lots of units around. DE tries harder to find a good starting position, so movement through single tile openings isn’t broken.
  • Path caching system: Villagers and boats can reuse previously found paths in DE, for efficiency.
  • In situations that Age1’s pather would just outright give up and stop, DE’s pather tries a lot harder to get the unit where it needs to go using several randomized fallback behaviors.

Age1’s pathing/movement systems implements a form of randomized, emergent behavior. The units are basically like dumb ants. It’s imperfect in chokepoints, but it’s a continuation of the essence of what made Age 1 what it was. If all the units are moving in the same direction it can usually handle chokepoints (I tested this over and over with a wide variety of units on a pathing torture test scenario from MS before release). The fundamental behaviors the AI and combat systems expected were accurately preserved in DE’s pather, which was our goal.

Instead of people saying “the pathing in DE sucks!”, I would much rather hear about the specific issues with movement/pathing, and actually constructive suggestions on how to improve the system without breaking the game or turning it into Age 2.

-Rich Geldreich


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