In The Forgotten expansion to Age of Empires II: HD Edition, one of the campaigns follows the story of the renowned Italian mercenary captain Francesco Sforza. On this very day 551 years ago, Francesco Sforza died and left his legacy behind in Renaissance Italy. We at Forgotten Empires try our best to make history come alive through our campaigns. But behind every scenario, artwork, or design, is a full team that made it all happen.
The original Sforza campaign was not created by just one person, but actually it was created by several different people across the online community. Since then, Cedric and a few other designers have pitched in to further polish the scenarios for The Forgotten’s release. While many of the original designers had to focus on other commitments, some of them were able to continue working on Age of Empires II: HD Edition and they formed our official Campaign Team in 2013. The new campaigns in The African Kingdoms and The Rise of the Rajas have since returned to the traditional Age of Kings & The Conquerors style of missions, with more open maps and large-scale strategy rather than commanding a limited army.
In honor of Francesco Sforza, we asked our Campaign Lead Cedric if he could tell us more about the Forgotten Empires team and the design process behind creating these memorable scenarios.
“The process on how we design scenarios has changed a lot over time. We’ve refined the way we work and implemented guidelines and systems while at the same time keeping the unique styles of our designers so they can add their own personal touches. When we know that we’re going to work on new campaigns, we start with doing research. From the civilizations we are given, we look at potentially interesting historical figures and nations and choose the ones which we think will make the best storyline for a game like Age of Empires. We then write the outlines, draw sketches of the map layouts and write the storyline for the slides and the in-game dialogues. When the first versions of the outlines are done our designers can start on the actual scenarios. Each designer has his own style but in general we encourage simple map layouts and generic playstyles to avoid complications, bugs and possible frustrations. Once the scenarios are done we pass the scenarios on to QA. For testing we usually have the scenario designers themselves test each others work to check for typical design mistakes, our own company QA to check for balance and trigger bugs and the QA team at Microsoft who let the scenarios be played by many different customers to check with a wider audience. Finally the scenarios are handed off to our localization team as well as third party voice actors. The campaigns are then ready to be shipped with the game and be played. The whole process usually takes 4-6 months to complete.”
We also asked Cedric what his favorite campaign mission was.
“My favorite scenario is the Japanese scenario called ‘Kurikara’, which is part of ‘The Forgotten Battles’ campaign. I really liked how you had to kill the enemy captains to proceed to the enemy city. It gave it a nice strategic dimension which I really enjoyed. All of our designers have made great efforts to help make the expansions this good and we’re very lucky to have them on our team.”