Hello everyone! It’s that time again - time to release new maps that our awesome and talented map creators have created for our enjoyment. It’s also time to release the new version of the patch with all the new, and often controversial changes. This has the potential to be a long read, so I suggest that you grab something to eat, grab a drink, and settle in. Do you hate reading? No problem, here’s a quick and dirty summary. With regards to the maps, we have a really great team. They spend a lot of time creating and testing their maps. The new maps that are being released are Alaska, Great Basin, Parallel Rivers, and Wadmalaw. Scroll down to find the large text and click that spoiler button to see what they look like. We’ve got more water play coming! With regards to the EP changes, scroll down to the EP banner to read all the changes in detail. There are some overall changes, such as lowering the cost of building TC’s and altering water units to make water more viable and balanced. There are also civ specific changes for the Chinese, Germans, Indians, Ottomans, Sioux, and Spanish.
For those of you who don’t know who are official map makers are and haven’t clicked on the team member page , allow me to introduce you to Durokan, Garja, and Riki. All 3 of them have been working on maps for us for nearly as long as the site has been around. For those of you who don’t know how long that is, we’ll be celebrating our 3 year anniversary February 11, 2018! On a side note, you've got 4 months to save, instead of giving gifts to a lover, or yourself, this Valentine’s Day, consider giving it to us. Surely you love us more.
Durokan credits @Dolan for helping him get into map making on a serious level. None of the 3 has created a map for any of the other age games, but Riki created a really awesome tool that converts AOM maps to AOE3 maps! All 3 of these guys are quite talented in what they do (did you all know that Garja is into graffiti sketching and digital art and Riki plays saxophone, paints, and draws!), especially since they’ve only been making maps for a couple of years. I asked them about their map making process. My specific question was: Do you have a map making process? Like, do you open a bottle of wine, smoke a cigar, light incense, then design. Or do you just feel bored of watching twitch streams so you decide to create a new map?
Here are their answers:
I asked several questions for our interview and had intended on doing a simple summary of the answers, but their answers were far too god, whoops, I mean good. Wait, god works too. With regards to how much time they each, individually, spend on creating maps, they each had this to say:
To summarize, creating the maps takes a lot of time. Whether it’s actually creating the map, or play testing it, map making isn’t done in just a day. There’s a long process, changes are made, things are fixed, and they do all this in their free time. For us!
I was curious about their vision regarding maps. I asked them if they had a particular vision or if a vision begins to unfold as they create.
Okay. So not only are these guys creative, but they are also able to critique their own work and not just release something because they made it, but they release stuff that they’re actually proud to have made.
I asked them if they had specific civs in mind when they’re creating and if, after completion of a map, they felt certain civs would be stronger than others on the maps.
This is really cool to me. These guys think through their decisions regarding the maps and try to not be bias towards a specific civ. If they feel a map is too good for a specific civ, they try to make adjustments. Why hasn’t Microsoft hired these guys yet?! Maybe they have…
Okay. Maybe you don’t care to know all this stuff that is interesting to me. Thus, I have bolded and enlarged the following sentence so that you can easily see what you actually wish to see.
What are the new maps? Omg! That’s all I care about!
This sounds exciting. I like secrets. Editors note: I may or may not have caught a glimpse of some of these and they may or may not look rad af.
Water maps! Resource heavy maps! Mazes! Non-TP maps! Omg! Time to learn new strats and maybe brush up on some old ones. I’m most excited by the possible inclusion of some water play. Water is so underutilized in tournament games. I would really like to see it being used more often.
I asked how they felt about the balance of the new maps and if there were any that they were not 100% happy with.
Special note: For Garja, he was a little torn between which map is his favorite out of this new release. Alaska is easy on the eyes, yet Parallel Rivers offer uniqueness. He went with Parallel Rivers. For Riki, he has a special place in his heart for Wadmalaw.
I had to know which map was their all time favorite and which they like the least.
I wanted to know if they all worked with other people whilst creating maps.
Criticizing maps seems to be a popular thing to do. I often see more of that than actual praise, which is sad. I asked the map makers about their opinion on this, their answers were far more diplomatic than mine.
See, they are definitely more lovely individuals than I. My respond always: thank you for the compliment. If you think you can do it better, then do it. Criticism without anything constructive isn’t helpful. If you can’t do it better, at least give constructive criticism. This, of course, would be spliced with some expletives.
Who’s excited about AoE4?
I am also looking forward toward it!
I would like to conclude this with a quote by Riki: “Although I do scientifical studies, I think art and creation is super important in life” If any of you would like to expand your artistic and creative sides by helping to create some maps, feel free to send us some of your work. We’re always open to fresh ideas and concepts.
We are also releasing the newest version of the EP along with the new maps, you can either check it out here, or click the spoiler link below. Courtesy of @Goodspeed, @zoom, @EAGLEMUT, and many others.
Though we were all short on time, I was able to ask a few questions of a few of the individuals who were involved in the patch changes. I would have liked to go a bit deeper, but alas, I am lazy. Blame me, not them. So many people help with the balance changes that I don’t want to start naming names and then forget someone. I decided to have a quick interview with the core team. As with the map team, I was curious as to where they got their inspiration to make the changes. I wanted to know what data they were considering before suggesting fixes.
What exactly is your goal for balance? What are you trying to accomplish?
Did you have any help implementing the changes into this iteration of the patch?
Can you guess how long it takes to actually put the changes into effect?!
Yeah, that’s right. This guy pours so much of himself into the patch. He implements the balance changes, launcher features, fixes all the bugs, and implements KOTH into all the ESOC maps! He’s amazing! He also worked with @musketeer925 with implementing the EP network hook. You may not know what this is (I sure didn’t). Stay tuned for more info about that.
What’s your favorite civ to play?
What’s your favorite civ to watch be played?
What was a change that you wanted, but no one agreed?
TL;DR but ended up down here: We have an awesome group of people who donate their time and energy into creating fresh content for us. They don’t get paid. They often don’t really get thanked. Quite the opposite tends to happen, actually. Yet, they do it because they enjoy what they do and they want to help the community in whatever way they can. New maps have been created to be an addition to the many other maps - all of which can be played on the new patch. I look forward to seeing the tournament games! Don’t forget to
Thank you for reading.
Thank you to @Durokan, @EAGLEMUT, @Garja, @Goodspeed, @Rikikipu, and @zoom for putting up with me, and to @_H2O, @MCJim, and @Mr_Bramboy for trusting me with this release. Thank you also @Gendarme for creating special spoiler tags as I requested.