Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition
sees the iconic RTS game make its way to Xbox consoles with a revamped UI, overhauled tutorial, and even cross-save and cross-play with the PC version. It's not the first RTS on console but it definitely serves as a great example of how to do it right.
In our in-depth interview with the developers, speaking to Earnest Yuen, Executive Producer at World's Edge, and Alex Liu, Design Director, at World's Edge, we asked about RTS gaming on consoles. And wondered if the team looked to any examples for inspiration. And even though the team focused mainly on designing the experience and tailoring the UI and controls specifically for Age of Empires II, they spoke to people who worked on Halo Wars - and even StarCraft 64.
Here's the excerpt.
Going back to RTS gaming on consoles, it's something that has been done in the past. Going back to StarCraft on the Nintendo 64 or, more recently, Halo Wars, which was built for consoles. These case studies exist, different developers throughout the years bringing traditional RTS games to consoles. With Age of Empires II, did you look closely at what has worked in the past and what hasn’t, or was it approaching it purely from the perspective of Age of Empires with a controller?
The answer is both. We’re friends with people that worked on Halo Wars, so we had direct access to talk about their choices and the challenges they faced. It’s funny that you mentioned StarCraft, a producer on StarCraft 64 works down the hallway from me, and he's a good friend. When he heard about the project, he asked me if I was crazy. You know, why would you do that? But then we talked deeper about it, and he mentioned what we needed to know. So, we definitely had some help from people that have gone through this journey. We definitely salute all the brave souls that have done RTS on a console before. We learned a lot from them.
Once we really started development, though, we realised that so many things are unique to Age of Empires. One of the cool things created by the design team is called site-based command. Context sensitive, where if you select a mine, you pull the right trigger, and you’ll be able to build a mine right next to it.
We told everyone on the team to leave no stone unturned. If you have a good idea that could improve Age of Empire’s gameplay on a console, introduce it. Villager automation was one of those. Someone asked, ‘Do I really need to select the villager before I create a new building?’ ‘Why can't I just build here and then have it done?’
Age of Empires 2 on Xbox - The Big Interview