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Looking at the Month Ahead for Age II: DE

A Letter to the Age Community: Looking at the Month Ahead

Hello Age of Empires II Community!

Last week was the release of our newest DLC, Return of Rome! Since then, the team here has been heads-down monitoring your feedback and figuring out how we can best respond throughout May and June.

First, if by chance you missed last week’s announcement, we’re holding a community vote on which AoE campaigns YOU would like to see us bring to the Return of Rome DLC!

Otherwise, we’d like to share a small look at the month ahead to help give you an idea of what you can expect in terms of Hotfixes, Updates, Events, and more coming through the month of June. Let’s get started!

Planned Updates

This summer, we’re working to hit a consistent set of Updates and Previews (Age II: DE’s PUP program on Steam), as well as increasing the stability of our Updates.

That starts with our May Hotfix.

We then have two additional Updates planned and we want to provide some insight into what that looks like. As a bit of a disclaimer first, when we’re talking about bug fixes specifically, these plans represent our targets but if a fix continues to need additional work and testing, we may pull it out of these Updates in an effort to preserve stability while giving it more time, and in that case we’d release it at our next earliest opportunity. So please view this information with the understanding that some of it may change, but these are certainly our goals.

May Hotfix

This first Hotfix is smaller in scope and targeted primarily at bugs affecting Return of Rome, along with some overall high priority fixes we’ve been able to include.

To highlight just a few:

  • Fixed an issue where various UI mods would cause the game to get stuck loading into matches.
  • Fixed issues where joining lobbies could cause a crash.
  • Fixed an issue where Lobby Sorting would not properly function.
  • Fixed an issue where Lobby Search would not properly function.
  • Various data issues in both AOE II: DE and Return of Rome.
  • Fixed an issue where Return of Rome game lobbies defaulted to Low in Resources settings.

Additionally, we have heard feedback about Ranked play in Return of Rome not being easily accessible and will be adding a few things to help alleviate this issue.

This is just a partial list and there will be more in-depth patch notes with the hotfix release.

June Hotfix

The Hotfix we’re targeting for June will focus on feedback and bugs related to Age II: DE all-up. The list below outlines the scope we’re focused on, though as mentioned above some of these may slip into the June Update proper if they need more time.

Some highlights and specifics:

  • Pathing
    • Rare cases of units sliding backwards while attacking.
    • When moving groups of units there is a chance for a few of them to become stuck and immobile for a while.
    • Units commanded to move to a point re-group in an excessively distant location.
    • Villagers occasionally taking needlessly curved paths while hunting boars.
  • Monks
    • Monks don’t always heal other nearby units when idle.
    • Monks walking forward after a successful conversion of an enemy unit.
    • Monk conversion sound missing.
  • Go Back to Work
    • Go back to work is fully unresponsive if villagers were garrisoned with command queue.
    • Go back to work doesn’t send villagers to the last task assigned.
  • Various crashes.
  • Many more!

June Content Update

After those two Hotfixes, we’ll start moving back to our desired Monthly Update cadence with the June Update itself. We’re often working on multiple releases in parallel, so the June Update has been in the works for quite a while now and alongside the release of Return of Rome.

The June Update will include any reaction we need to have toward the May/June Hotfixes, but the scope of the June Update itself already includes a pretty massive collection of bug fixes and game changes that you can look forward to.

Here are a few highlights:

  • Fixes for various lobby filtering issues.
  • Further pathfinding fixes, such as:
    • Units not finding their way around long obstacles (such as an unfinished, but sizeable, wall).
    • Groups of units rarely failing to pass through narrow openings between two large obstacles.
  • Further unit-AI fixes for issues such as:
    • Monks occasionally getting stuck after converting enemy units.
    • Shift queueing attack not working correctly.
  • A new set of balance adjustments.
  • Improvements to AI player behavior.
  • Various stability improvements.
  • Adding the Romans to Ranked play!
  • Many more!

Additionally, we will have more to share on our plan to bring more campaigns to Return of Rome!

Scope for the June Update is still in flux for the next few weeks, so pretty much daily we’re adding or adjusting bugs on this list. We’ll keep you posted with any important information we think you need to know, but hopefully this rolls out without too much difficulty in the coming weeks.

Public Update Previews

To be blunt, working in a 20+ year old code base is pretty difficult, and although we’ve modernized small pieces of it, you’re living with how easy it is for strange and unpredictable bugs to show up and cause problems. We use a lot of tools to hedge against this, from a rather large manual Test team, through to automated tools and crash reporting software. But one of our most useful tools when you engage with it is PUP – our Public Update Preview program we operate on Steam.

We’re giving that a bump here to help encourage your participation. This gives our Community both access to changes early (balance changes come to mind), as well as direct communication with our Dev Team – when a PUP build is live, we’re actively checking the related Steam forum several times a day – it’s your best/most direct way to have impact on Updates heading your way.

Last weekend, we put the May Hotfix into the pup_may_june Steam branch, and we plan on maintaining this throughout the month of June.

  • An update to the May Hotfix will be going into PUP TODAY!
  • The June Hotfix will be going into PUP late May/Early June
  • The June Update will be going into PUP soon after the June Hotfix

Once each Update goes live, we’ll share more concrete patch notes and forum links to post feedback to. As a reminder:

  • PUP builds are work-in-progress day-to-day game development builds, so they don’t always reflect what will eventually be released.
  • PUP builds can only play with PUP builds, so match times can be slow compared to the live game – this is an artifact of player population, not the related networking services.

If you’re able, we welcome you to join us in PUP and leave feedback so we can take your observations into consideration when working on Updates.

Thank you and stay tuned for our May Hotfix coming soon!

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