Friday, November 11, 2016

Africa and Oceania

Update: After learning how to improve map visuals I went through some of the maps from the African update (around half of them) and improved their textures and props. I also added Nomad support for the new maps that didn't have it. New Asian maps have also been added and more African maps are on the way.

Note: Forgot to mention, if you get "Out of sync" in multiplayer, go to where you have the game installed, delete the RMM folder and run the Patcher, then try again.

The long awaited (took more than I thought) big awesome update with new maps from Africa and Oceania is here!

A total of 19 new maps, plus fixes, changes and additions to existing maps are part of this update. Including new animals and natives for the new maps.
One of the fixes adresses the bug which caused starting units (such as explorers) to not spawn at the beginning of a game. This bug should no longer occur on any of the "official" maps.

Before we go any further, I want to make it clear that none of these maps were made by me from scratch, they are made by the community map creators Garja, Neuron, R.F. Gandalf and Durokan.
All maps are, however, modified by me to fit the African and Oceania themes.
Proper credit has been given for each map creator ingame during the map loading screen.

I also have to mention that the new loading screen images for the new maps are taken from the Wars of Liberty mod, although they are also modified by me to fit the project.

Now, let's go through each of the new and old maps from this update:

As mentioned above, all maps received the "starting units do not spawn" fix and Control Flags have been removed from all maps. The only Control Flags still present are the ones each player starts with and the ones from Trading Posts.

Water Maps: a new map option which randomly chooses between all water maps; water maps are maps with a water homecity flag, and are basically all maps not present in the Land Maps option.

Sahara / Large Sahara: a large, arid desert where all resources are concentrated around oases.
Congo / Large Congo: a dense jungle where the numerous trees are both a blessing and a curse.
Nile River: a river splitting into the resource rich Nile Delta.
Savanna: the iconic African Savanna, a grassland filled with exotic wildlife.
Madagascar / Regicide Madagascar: a huge, isolated island in the middle of the ocean.
Kilimanjaro: the peak of a dormant volcano.
Unknown - Inland: replaces the old Unknown map which was extremely bugged; the new map randomizes between properly made terrains with some African flavor.
Unknown - Coastal: same as above, only that it randomizes water maps.

Australia / Large Australia / Regicide Australia: the gold rich Australian Outback.
Indonesia: a large archipelago with diverse wildlife.
New Zealand: the last major landmasses settled by humans.

Rockies - Lower: a valley in the Rockies mountains; to contrast Himalayas - Upper.

Irrawaddy Valley: a valley surrounded by wood rich canals.
Khingan: a very randomized map inspired by the AoM Acropolis map.

Guinea Coast: coming soon.
Sahel: coming soon.
Great Zimbabwe: coming soon.
Horn of Africa: coming soon.

Regicide Yellow River: now actually looks like Yellow River.
California / Ozarks / New England / Plymouth: cliff texture inconsistencies/bugs fixed.
Pampas / Sonora: increased map size.
Plymouth / Orinoco / Texas: added more trees; for Texas this is actually a bug fix since the map was always suppose to have random trees but the codes were bugged.
Winter Wonderland: added proper mercenary and KotH support.

Besides these map changes, the new African animals are the Zebra and Dromedary and the new natives are the Saltpeter and Dahomey.
Also, added proper Mongolian voices for the Mangudai and Mongol Scout and Korean voices for the Wukou Pirate and Wukou Jong/Junk.
New voices have also been added for the new Sufi native warrior, the Bishari Archer; instead of making a new elephant unit for Saltpeter which proved difficult, I instead moved the War Elephant to Saltpeter and added a new camel archer for Sufi.

And this should be about it. As always, if you find any kind of bugs make sure you let me know so I can fix them as soon as possible.

Thank you for your time and as always, thank you for playing!

Monday, October 10, 2016

I need help

Update: With help from Marco from the comments of this post, I have managed to make some changes to the exe and now it should not appear as a threat for antiviruses anymore. But I need people who had this problem to confirm if the fix worked, so please, if you had security problems with the mod's exe, update, check again and report here.

For the past month I have been working on one, if not THE biggest update the mod ever had.
I have a total of 18 new maps, focused around Africa and Oceania, some incredibly awesome stuff and I am really excited to finish everything and release it.

But for all the excitement and pride that I have working on this project, there is also a lot of sadness and helplessness.

As some of you might know, for years AoE3 modding has been very restrictive and many times when someone suggested something radical or even somewhat simple looking, many times the answer was the same: "AoE3 modding is very limited and we can only do so much with what we have".

But a while ago this changed. Two very awesome guys joined forces and released the Unhardcoded Patch, a tool which allows us to do things which were impossible before, like adding completely new civs without replacing any existing civs, including population increase and so much more.

But this awesome patch has a nasty side effect, being applied on the game's exe, it makes the exe lose its official digital signature from Microsoft and this makes it show up as a threat for antiviruses.

I don't know how to fix this, and what I found on the internet, it all costs money, money I cannot pay and even if I did buy a new digital signature I have no idea how to implement it.

I don't want to deal with all this mess, I just want to mod and make awesome content.
I need help, or else the mod will suffer for absolutely no reason.
If anyone has any idea how to work around this or any other info, I'm all ears.

You can check the mod's exe HERE, and if you click on File Detail you can clearly see the problem, which is:

Signature verification  The digital signature of the object did not verify.

There's more to this though, the mod's Patcher also used to show up as a threat, and still does for some, for the same reason.
Shyke, the Patcher's creator did all he could to improve the Patcher so that wouldn't happen anymore, but...

We need help.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Population and ships

There are two very important things we need to focus on, population and naval warfare. Taking any decision on these two things is hard and so I have to ask what my players think.

Let's talk about population first.
I have an interesting plan for how to handle population which will please those who want more pop while still keeping population to manageable numbers.

Here's my idea: flexible population. What this means is that there is not set pop limit, and instead pop depends on how players play. I already made Docks support 5 pop a while ago, and I thought I should also make Trading Posts support 5 population and have no set limit to pop.
What this means is that, depending on how players play, building Docks and taking over Trading Posts, their population will also increase.

For example: The normal max pop an European civ can reach would be 240, with all 20 Houses and 4 Town Centers. If the player builds 2 Docks, pop will be increased to 250. If he builds 2 Trading Posts, pop would be increased to 260 pop.

And so on. I will of course have a high max pop limit of maybe 300, to make sure scenarios don't make pop too crazy. And some players have also noticed that civs like the Spanish and Germans can get to ridiculous pop limits of 600 or 700 because of some cards. Those would have to be remade as well.

This whole system is similar to how Age of Mythology handles population with Settlements.
So, what do you guys think?

Now moving on to naval warfare.
I tried tackling his before and it didn't turn out too good, but I want to try again. Naval warfare should be a big part of AoE3, just like it is a big part of AoE2, but naval warfare has too many problems in AoE3.

The main problem is the lack of choice. Each ship has a small build limit and that's it. It can be increased via cards but it still limits the player and makes counter play almost impossible.

The best thing to do here would be to have a naval only population system, to have something like 20 naval pop and then be able to spend it like you want, 20 Caravels or 10 Frigates, for example.
But sadly that is not possible so we need to find something else.

There's another big problem with naval warfare in AoE3 which I tried to fix now. There is no counter system between ships, like in AoE2. So I simply made one, as best as I knew.

Here's what I did: we now have 3 ship classes: Light Warships, Heavy Warships and Siege Warships.
Light counters Heavy and Heavy counters Siege.

The ships that are part of this system are:
All Caravel like units - Light Warships
All Galleon and Frigate like units - Heavy Warships
Monitors - Siege Warships

I know this might be a bad set up but as I said, I did it like I thought fit and I need help to make it better.

What I also did to ships is make them cheaper. All ships are now cheaper to make them more appealing to build.

I also thought we could maybe try and remove limits from ships again and instead make them take pop... again. Something like: Fishing Boat 1 pop, Caravel 2 pop, Galleon 3 pop, Frigate 4 pop and Monitor 5 pop. I know it might sound too little but remember we must make ships viable.

I need all the help in the world with this problem, we need to find a way to actually make naval combat fun and worthwhile.

If you actually read all of this, you are awesome.
Thank you.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Game Balance

The thing is, there's never been a proper discussion about balance in the mod. Sure, some people left balance related messages here and there, I also went and took balance ideas from other mods, the Fan Patch, the ESOC patch, that huge balancing thread on the Heaven forum, because let's be honest, you would be mad to ignore them. But some of those ideas didn't fit with my mod, for example I still ended up balancing the Dutch how I thought fit for the mod.

But is my way really better? This is what we need to discuss. I have a friend who helps me out with balancing but he has many ideas and, the truth is that an entire game cannot be balanced by just one man, as different people have different opinions about what is fair and balanced and what is not.

So, in the hope that people will be interested in helping out, I made a special thread on the mod's forum. Please go there and leave your opinion if you want the mod to be as balanced as possible.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Italian names and Patcher state

Ok, let's get one thing out of the way, I am not here to give you people viruses or any other kind of malware, the mod has been released in 2009 and the patcher in 2013, and since then no one has reported any kind of information theft or god knows what...

What I'm trying to say is that, although most antiviruses now find the old patcher as malware, it's nothing more than a false positive and you have nothing to worry about. I think it happens because of the way the patcher works, a casual downloader that can download anything in your PC and has access to your windows registry, I can understand why it looks scary for antiviruses, especially if someone made a virus that actually works like that.

But this has nothing to do with the patcher. And I said "the old patcher" because Shyke has now remade the patcher and it doesn't show up as malware anymore (I don't know how long this will last though).
It now also automatically sets the mod's exe to run in Windows XP SP3 compatibility mode (if you still have problems with settings not saving make sure this is actually the case).


Now let's get down to the real business then. Italians, I just added their voices and finished their tech tree, which means that only their homecity is left. 

But there's something else left as well, names. The Improvement Mod adds random, most of the time historically accurate, names for Town Centers, Churches and Generals (and don't forget Explorers) (and Fort names) (oh, and ships... damn). 
Italians needs such names as well. And although I could find them by myself, I thought I could involve you guys. 

So, are you Italian? Do you want your name, or maybe your town's name in the mod? 
Then look no further than the comments section of this post! 
Please try to keep the names as historically friendly as possible, especially for generals (I'd like names of real, Italian generals from the colonial and Napoleonic eras please). 

I could always do it by myself if no one is interested... Just saying.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Improvement Mod 6 is out for the Patcher

This is still NOT the full, official version 6 release, this is another PROTOTYPE!

The mod's patcher has now been updated to support the new installation system of version 6 and because of that, for easier testing of the prototype, I will release Imp Mod 6 through the patcher as well. For further testing. TESTING!

Because yes, we have a lot more to test now. As you might know, there's been a huge breakthrough in the AoE3 modding community in the past week, a breakthrough which allows modders to finally and completely add new civilizations into the game!
Yup, we can now add an infinite(ish) number of new civs completed with AIs and ESO support.

And because of this, I went back and revived my American civ from the dead. Went through it, updated everything, fixed most bugs and I am now releasing it in the prototype as well.
You can now create a new American homecity just like you create for all other civs, same for ESO.

So do a clean reinstall of the game, get the patcher, download everything and start playing! I mean testing. Please report all the bugs that you find.

Also, I need to stress this again, people who have the old version of the mod, if you plan to run the patcher again from this point onward, please reinstall your games first or else it will break everything.

When you reinstall the game and install the mod, make sure you run the original game (Asian Dynasties) at least once so you enter your cd key and all that. Only AFTER that you can run the mod.

That's all. Have fun.

Installation (on a fresh game)
- copy the 'AoE3ImpModPatcher' to your AoE3 directory, by default:
/Program Files/Microsoft Games/Age Of Empires III/
- for the Steam version, use this path (always inside the bin folder!):
/Steam/steamapps/common/Age of Empires 3/bin/
- run the patcher as administrator and make sure it's not blocked by firewalls

Also make sure you run the original game first (to enter the cdkey and all that) and THEN run the mod's exe (this applies for both Steam and non Steam versions)!

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Improvement Mod 6 Prototype

This is NOT the full, official version 6 release, this is a PROTOTYPE!

Alright, so, you're probably asking yourself "WTF IS THIS?". Well let me explain, this is the next logical step in the mod's development, and is what other big AoE3 mods have already done.

I'm talking about making the mod not affect the original games by having a different executable and different file paths. What this will end up doing is allowing you to play the modded game while also being able to go back and play the unmodded game at the same time, from the same installation.

It will also render the past three blog posts useless... Because it fixes all of those problems.

With Improvement Mod 6 you will be able to play AoE3, TWC and TAD without problems and without errors on ESO with people who don't have mods, while also being able to play the mod separately and it will still work on ESO as well, and you will have a uninstall option (FINALLY).

As you can tell by the title, this is a prototype, but it's not the first one. I already had people testing it and so far everything works perfectly.
All of this is more like a warning, because as soon as this will hit the patcher's server, it will break the game for everyone who had the old version.

To install Improvement Mod 6 and beyond you will need a clean reinstall of your game!
And after you install everything, including the mod, you will need to run the new exe, "age3m", in order to play the mod. To play the original games just start their own exes.

And that's all! I will give some time for this news to sink in for as many people as possible, because as soon as the new system hits the patcher, there's bound to be people who will have broken games without knowing why and blame me...

If you find any problems in the prototype be sure to let me know.
Thanks for playing!


Installation (on a fresh game)
- copy everything from inside the 'imp_mod_6_prototype' folder to your AoE3 directory, by default:
/Program Files/Microsoft Games/Age Of Empires III/
- if you plan on installing the mod over the Steam version, use this path (always inside the bin folder!):
/Steam/steamapps/common/Age of Empires 3/bin/

Make sure you run the original game first (to enter the cdkey and all that) and THEN run the mod's exe (this applies for both Steam and non Steam versions)!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

AoE3 and TWC are fixed!

After 6 years, Age of Empires 3 vanilla and The WarChiefs expansion finally work once again with the Improvement Mod.

BUT, they do have problems. As I mentioned in the post bellow, the mod modifies files used by all three games and as such, it will force these files upon the older games as well.
This was the reason it broke the older games in the first place, but I didn't knew which files specifically did it.

Attention has been brought to me on this issue again recently and so I finally managed to fix it.
The bugs you will encounter will most likely be sound and UI bugs (do not use the minimized UI in AoE3 and TWC, you have been warned) and yes, I know it's bad that they are bugged but at least they work now.

Which I'm not sure if it's such a good thing either, at least previously it forced players to play Asian Dynasties, which is the proper way to play and the game for which this mod was designed.
Now I fear I'll get people telling me they've installed the mod and it bugged their game, because they will not be playing Asian Dynasties...

Oh gods, I can even see it... If this will happen a lot I swear I will break it again.

By running the patcher you will get all of them working, if it doesn't happen then do a clean reinstall of everything.

Outdated, check THIS!

Saturday, January 23, 2016


Oh gods... I forgot to mention something in the help/ranting post from bellow... Something that keeps coming up and... Here it is.

The Asian Dynasties expansion contains EVERYTHING the other two games, Age of Empires 3 and The WarChiefs, have, all content, including the playable Native civs (Iroquois, Sioux and Aztecs) and The WarChiefs campaign!

IF you DON'T have TWC content in your TAD game IT'S NOT MY MOD'S FAULT!
It's because of the broken TORRENT you used to install the game!
Yes, there is a popular AoE3 torrent that contains all expansions (or separate) which doesn't properly register The WarChiefs into your Windows registry.
And so, when you start TAD it will not register as having TWC installed, thus not showing TWC content.

You can try it without the mod as well and see it still happens. Simple.

Why do I have to mention this all the time? Because yes, my mod breaks AoE3 and TWC. Sometime during the mod's development I touched something that makes the other two games crash upon startup.
I tried to fix it but couldn't figure out what was wrong. So it stayed like this.
However, this doesn't affect TWC content not appearing in TAD. As I said above, this happens either way.

BUT, as I've mentioned in this post already, The Asian Dynasties expansion contains EVERYTHING the other two games have and MORE! So there is literally no reason to play the other two if you have Asian Dynasties, which is also required for the mod.
And no, using the other two to play on ESO with unmodded games is not an option either, since the mod modifies files used by the other two games as well (which results in the crash).

Outdated, check THIS!