The Dark Archer’s Design Article


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The Dark Archer’s Design Article

Introduction

After major design advancements in Age of Empires and Rise of Rome in recent years no new design articles or tutorials have been written to help people learn about these advancements and how they can use them for new design tricks and eye candies. The aim of this article is to help people to learn about use of Scenario_T_C/Trisolo’s enhanced editor (EE) so make sure you have downloaded it first. This article will cover a range of tricks made possible with the use of the EE and some older tricks made easier with the EE. Also Scenario_T_C/Trisolo’s dat file editing program AoEd/RoRd will be discussed for those that want some extra features that aren’t in the EE. Please note that I didn’t not create all if any of these tricks but they are things that I have learnt over time that I felt I should share to help others.

 

Terrain Rendering

Terrain rendering is not a highly documented eye-candy that can take a while to pick up but makes amazing effects when done correctly. The trick originates from before the creation of the EE but with the EE unlocking more grass patches and disabling terrain restrictions the EE allows for more freedom and better rendering. Terrain rendering depends a lot on where and what you are rendering which means that it is something that you’ll have to learn and develop over time but to get you started I’ll go over a couple of examples those being a grassy plane and a river shore.

When designing a grassy plane one thing to remember is that there will still be dirt seen here and there so make sure you have mixture of grass and desert terrain.

Now to mix this up you’ll want to place grass clumps and desert patches around the borders of the grass and desert terrains. This will mix the two terrains together and give a nice look. After you’ve got the terrains mixed together you’ll want to place more grass clumps and desert patches on the grass terrain and if you’ve made your desert terrain big enough terrain cracks and cacti.

By now your grassy plane should be looking pretty good so now you should be adding some trees, stone and gold mines, horses, berry bushes and those sorts of things. Also make sure you add rocks around the place using the unrestricted rocks dat patch which will be discussed later in the article.

River banks can be done in a variety of ways but the most common would be from shallow water to some sort of grass based terrain (this includes forest terrains with grass under the trees). For this kind of river you should mix the grass water border with swamp. Swamp has been made easier with the introduction of the EE due to the fact that shallows can now be selected from the units list under Gaia. First put some shallow terrain on the side of the river unless you don’t want players walking up and down the bank in which just have water.

After you have your terrains sorted put down a layer of desert patches and grass clumps like you would when making a normal swamp and finally put in the shallow titles from the gaia units. Also because you no longer have to move the shallow titles before you can place them you place the titles a lot more precisely as they shouldn’t “jump”.

Now if you don’t want units traveling up the banks of your river you’ll need some sort of way to stop them. One way is to put in a cliff but if you don’t want to use cliffs a second way is to use forests making sure you use the EE to put a tree on the very edge between the water and grass.

Forests

Before I start talking about how I design forests I want to talk about how it is only one way to design forests. I’m going to share how I make forests when I design and I’m not going to say it is the best way or the way that you should design your forests but it is a way to design them. In saying that though it is a time consuming way and can take a long time to do if you have a lot of forest so make sure you look at other articles and see how you can make forests in different ways. But lets get on to my forest technique.

When designing a forest my way the first thing you should do is mark out the area to be forest using the forest terrain which I then border with desert terrain and replace with grass. After that you will need the area to be forested to be in reasonable sizes so if need be split the area up using the desert terrain.

Once you’ve got good sizes for the parts of the forest start laying down the base layer of trees. For me this is usually just the standard Tree unit but you can use any tree at all. After the first layer is done just repeat the process with the next tree you want to use and continue.

Make sure you go back and add more trees that you laid that you started with if you feel you need it. Now after all the trees have been finished go through and add berry bushes, stone mines, rocks, dead trees, desert patches and grass clumps though the trees to give that extra life. Another good addition is birds over your forests which give a nice effect. If you use this method and find your forests are too thick or too thin then just change the size of the space you start with but keep the same number of trees.

Rock Slides

Although thought of and used by people in unreleased scenarios at the time of writing there has been no rock slides used in a released scenario known to the author. The way of making rock slides that I am explaining makes use of the latest EE’s overlapping abilities which allows stone mines to be laid over cliffs and other stone mines. Please make sure you have the dat installed in one way or another before trying this trick.

To start this trick you best set up the terrain around it so put in some cliffs and maybe some dessert terrain and terrain cracks under where the slide will be. Maybe even a lone leafless tree somewhere in the middle to show how devastating the slide was.

After to have got the terrain around and under the rock slide ready then from the top of the cliff down lay lots of stone mines across the section of the cliff face you want to be the slide then once you get to the bottom of the cliff start to slightly widen the area the slide is covering as it comes on to the normal terrain. Make sure to rotate the stone mines on the cliff to the small group of rocks type to add more realism to you scenario.

Then after you are happy with the mines then lay down some gray rocks to fill in any gaps you see. This can be useful in a mountain based area to stop people going down a certain route.

This could be to force them to take some sort of detour or it could be used as a puzzle to try and find some villagers to clear the way though possibly having to pay some tribute to someone to get inside their defenses where there are some gaia villages. This could symbolize have to pay gold to hire the people to clear the blocked route. I used this trick in the second scenario of The Great General Arkon to block a route though forcing the player to take a longer detour up around the mountains.

Allowing Desert Patches Around the Edge of the Map

Although the EE offers a lot It does have one draw back and that is that desert patches and grass clumps still can not be placed near the edge of the map.

This causes problems when you are wanting to render the terrain around the edge and can make any rivers or lakes near the edge look messy. To fix this you can use the following patch:

civ_0_unit_167_editor_radius: 0.1 0.1 
civ_0_unit_168_editor_radius: 0.1 0.1 
civ_0_unit_170_editor_radius: 0.1 0.1 
civ_0_unit_171_editor_radius: 0.1 0.1 
civ_0_unit_172_editor_radius: 0.1 0.1 
civ_0_unit_173_editor_radius: 0.1 0.1 
civ_0_unit_174_editor_radius: 0.1 0.1 
civ_0_unit_175_editor_radius: 0.1 0.1 
civ_0_unit_176_editor_radius: 0.1 0.1 
civ_0_unit_177_editor_radius: 0.1 0.1 
civ_0_unit_178_editor_radius: 0.1 0.1 
civ_0_unit_179_editor_radius: 0.1 0.1 
civ_0_unit_180_editor_radius: 0.1 0.1

Just copy this into your patches file for AoEd/RoRd and run to program to removing the restrictions from the edge of the map.

That is all from me from me in this article. If you still want more the forums are only one click away.

The Dark Archer