Design Articles

Beginner’s Guide to Scenario Design

Face it, everyone is a beginner at some point or another. You were (or are), I was, everyone was. Developing excellent design skills takes a lot of time and effort. In this guide I will not include very many specifics (trigger and map copy tricks, etc), but I will include plenty of guidelines.

Game-Crash Troubleshooting

All designers, no matter what their skill level or graphics card, will invariably come across crashes at some point or other. Like death and taxes, they are a part of life. I have been waging a perpetual war against them these last few years, and I believe that I understand everything about them.

Designing A Realistic Forest

To be clear, there are nearly unlimited ways to design a quality forest - this will just show you one such method.

Destroyed Town

Hello everyone!<br /><br /> I've been quiet for a while but now I am back with two articles, one being Destroyed Town. This is as simplified as I could do.

Display Instructions Techniques

Display Instructions (abbreviated DI in this article) is an effect that enables you to show text on the top of the screen, which is preferred by many designers over using a Send Chat, which only shows a 6-second chat message on the bottom of the screen.

Triggering Events Through Typing

We all play those campaigns (here by referred to as CPXS or CPNS) where you type a password to open a gate or you type '1' to say yes to that chubby blacksmith to buy a sword. You wonder how they did it, right? (Not the smith... the designer.) Well, your awe is over! In this AI guide you will find multiple ways to pull off this seemingly impossible feat!

Hidden Units Reloaded

You may have seen <em><a href="/university/design/hidden-units-unleashed/">Hidden Units Unleashed</a></em>, but this article is more for the scenario designer. Here we view all those other mundane hidden units that are used for designing. This article is split into three sections: Cheat units, Scenario Designer units and Beta units. You might recognise some of these units from <em>Hidden Units Unleased</em>.

Hidden Units Unleashed

You may have seen some scenarios or downloaded them from here and there, or even played one of those multiplayer scenarios when suddenly you get a unit you've never heard of or seen before. So you go check your editor and you can't seem to find THAT unit. Later you might come across some screenshots with these mysterious units in them, and you want to know.

How to Change the Appearance of Terrain In-Game

Due to restrictions of the game engine, scenario terrains cannot be altered in-game, only in the editor. However, their <em>appearance</em> can be changed. With a bit of creativity, there are a lot of different effects which can be achieved. Some of my personal favourites are listed below:

How To Make a Cliffed Waterfall

First add some bamboo and trees where the cliffs will be.

How to Make Award-Winning Maps: Chapter 1 – Concept and Planning

This article is the first in a series discussing my approach to multiplayer designing. I will discuss my suggested approach to the concept/planning stage of development. It is written with a designer of any ability in mind.

How to Make Units, Buildings and Objects Placeable Everywhere

In this tutorial I shall teach you how to make stuff placeable everywhere. Whether it is a unit or a building, or even eye candy, this easy article shall help you out.

Inverted Triggers

Inverted conditions are like saying "If not", instead of "if"... Meaning that the trigger will only fire if the conditions are not met!

Invisible Shallows / Walkable Water

Well this is a pretty decent editor trick and does not involve any triggers such as creating bridges on water.

Keep Talking

Here's a simple thing where you can return to someone you already talked to, but this time change your mind and choose the other option...

Level Dynamics

In a guide I wrote a while ago, I touched on a wonderful addition to any campaign called level dynamics. In this guide, I plan to go further in-depth in the intricacies of that addition.

Make Scenario Triggers using PHP Script

I am working on my "PHP Genie" project which reads/edits/writes Scenarios and Saved-Games. Currently, I am starting version 2. I will however give a few snippets from version 1 which is still a beta. Version 3 will have a User-Interface. I also intend to make a mini-map viewer in version 3 or 4.

Making Unselectable Objects

Learn how to make unselectable objects! It can be useful for cut-scenes (like a cloaked unit) and if you make one for the enemy, you won't be able to attack, but he will still attack you!

Making Water Interesting

About a year ago, I was trying to make a campaign following the story of a hapless pirate. Naturally, this meant my scenarios had screen after screen of water - the main reason I abandoned this project was the difficulty of keeping the player interested over large stretches of water. While I was making those scenarios (and in the months since I gave up) I invented (and used suggestions from others) several ways of spicing up sea voyages in Age of Kings.

Dealing with Music and Dialogue

If there's one thing most designers would like to have, it's a system that allows them to control background music at will. It's painfully obvious that AoK:TC was never designed for a case study in Vivaldi; and why should it have been, considering the fact that it's an RTS?

PHP SCX Editor

PHP SCX Editor is a powerful tool / framework to edit aoc scenarios with PHP programming language. If you handle it you could make anything very easily. It's A LOT more powerful than aokts, you have the ability to build your own editor functionalities very easily and organize your scenario how you want. That is very accessible to people who like programming and know it already a little bit. For others, you can still try it, programming is an intuitive skill and can be innate ! You could love it as you could hate it, it depends of people. Aoc triggers is a crap programming language which is boring and quite repetitive, if you can like that, you will love to practice a real programming language like PHP that allows you to build anything faster and smarter.

Practical Remote Spellcasting System

This tutorial is to help make a spellcasting system for an RPG that is flawless and easy to use.<br /><br /> It is also very easy to make. All you have to do is create a transport. Put a unit in it. Then, surround all but 1 tile of it, so the unit can only unload onto one tile.

Generating and Retrieving Random Results Without AI

Ever wanted to get a random result in a multiplayer scenario, or want random results without using a custom AI? Then you need look no further than here. There is a way to get a random choice out of predefined results that is infinitely re-usable.

Scenario Stealth System!

I'm here to explain how you can create a Stealth System by using the guard's LOS (Line of Sight) (their search radius, effectively).

Taunts and Triggers

What is this trick good for? Well let's say you have an RPG where you want the player to be able to reply to questions. This trick is exactly how you can do that.<br /><br /> For example the player goes to a blacksmith and he says "Would you like to buy a chain mail? (1=Yes) (2=No)"

The Double Negative Effect: Units with Negative IDs

Finally after discovering this by accident, 5 years ago, I am releasing a tutorial on how to make units have negative IDs and the tricks that come along with this. I have used this trick in a couple of my maps, such as <a href="http://wp-aok.heavengames.com/blacksmith/showfile.php?fileid=10745">The Heatlh Potion Trick.</a> But what is the double negative effect? It's when you give units/buildings <a href="http://i51.tinypic.com/fnzms.gif">negative unit IDs,</a> whether by themselves or paired up with another unit to achieve new AoK tricks. I would not suggest new map makers try this because it is confusing, sometimes irritating, and you need to have a couple programs installed. First off you need to have Trigger Studio and GeniED installed on your computer. I suggest you also install <a href="http://wp-aok.heavengames.com/blacksmith/showfile.php?fileid=10827">Aokts with s_t_c's addon</a> because it's really useful anyways. Now here are the steps to make negative ID unit pairs(with pictures too!)

Scenario Editor Trigger Tutorial

A <b>Trigger</b> is what you might expect - something that activates and executes a command, and in this case, this will take place within the scenario itself (such as if you get a certain unit to an area, you will win the scenario). The Age of Kings editor has evolved a lot since the original Age of Empires (which was reliant on AI because it contained no trigger capabilities at all) and has enabled designers to create two new genres - RPG and RPS.

Using Map Copy to Create Pretty Buildings

A trick which is old hat for most designers here is the use of the map copy function to "overlap" buildings. Some great buildings can be created. This article aims to explain not only how to perform this trick (since many people already know) but how to do so <em>effectively</em>.