Dev Journal: Visualising the Battlefields

Hello everyone and welcome to the next installment of our Age of Wonders III Dev Journals.

My name is Daniel and I’m an Artist here at Triumph Studios. I’ve been with Triumph for more than 2 years now, working on all aspects of the environment process, from concept development to final level design.

A lot has changed since the last AoW was released. We are working in full 3D now and that gives us a lot of opportunities to make the game much more immersive.

For the presentation of Tactical Combat we aim to create big sweeping battles with large armies, now featuring multiple characters per unit. We really want to move away from the chessboard feel that a lot of turn based games have and make it look more like an actual battle with a better sense of scale in an epic landscape that resembles the world map location.

Most importantly, our job as artists is to visually communicate gameplay events , while at the same time make things as impressive looking as we can.

Concept art for different terrain types

Translating any world map location to a Tactical Map

For each location on the world map there is a corresponding Tactical battle map. There are a lot of combinations that can make up a location:
There are 5 unique climates: Temperate, Arctic, Blighted, Tropical and Subterranean. Each of these climates are made up out of a variation of terrain types: Fertile, Barren, Forests, Mountains and Swamps.

On top of these climates you have a large amount of structures like Nodes, Mines, Treasure/Visit sites and of course cities for each of the races. These range from small outposts to a large cities, with various upgrades including city walls.

To deal with all these variables and to create unique, great looking maps, we decided to develop a partially procedurally generated system. This enables us to create tactical maps with thousands of variations and an enormous variety.

The Maps are a combination of hand work, asset swapping, procedural algorithms and modular building sets. Level designers are able to pinpoint what obstacles will spawn and in which area. When entering the battlefield a random seed is generated to make the gameplay area unique but still controlled and in the proper setting. Assets are swapped across climes in order to reduce the amount of handwork in creating maps.

Temples such as this one are made up out of random elements that select their source assets from controlled libraries. So there might be a limited amount of TC maps for a particular structure, but each map has randomized elements that make the experience a little different every time.

Just like the old games the adjacent hexagon rule is still in place, meaning that units from nearby hexagons on the worldmap get to join a tactical battle. There are a total of 7 deployment zones in a battle. Units will spawn corresponding to the direction of the hex on the worldmap. The gameplay area currently measures 25 hexes from side to side, which is currently still being tweaked. There are hexes on all sides of the map that enable units to flee.

Generating The Panoramas

With the worlds now being 3D, we decided to make full 360 degrees panoramas around your environment. This gives you a sense of the scale of the world and adds to the immersion. The default camera is more top down, but players are free to move the camera around similar to Total War, and you see the environment in entry/exit camera pans.

These background panoramas are dependent on the hexagons that surround the battle hex on the strategic map. So if you have an army that attacks you from the mountains, a mountain range will also show behind the attacking force on the tactical map.

Behind all of this we had to design a way to control the asset flow. We want this game to work on low spec machines as well, so one of the things we had to do is to keep the memory low. Next to that the system had to be scalable for DLC. Our engine is set up with content libraries and resource packs, combined these contain all the game logic and assets. We try to share geometry and textures among assets and we are able to load only the assets you’ll be using:

As there are still a lot of props like these to make, I will end my development journal here. In following dev journals we’ll be taking a closer look at the gameplay in tactical maps.

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Home Forums Dev Journal: Visualising the Battlefields

This topic contains 38 replies, has 30 voices, and was last updated by  zumvmy 3 years, 3 months ago.

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    It is really sad that mixing terrains from both hexes only seems to be used for panoramas. This ignores one of the main points made by Sun Tsu over 2000 years ago: that you should try to have your army in advantageous terrain and the enemy in bad terrain.

    Imagine your enemy is crossing a river or going through a swamp and you ambush him with archers. His cavalry isn’t of much use.

    Fortify one of your forces on a hill and keep the enemy in check while your other force advances.

    When attacking a fort, you might want to go around to an open area instead of pushing a big force through a narrow mountain path.


    Piko LV

    Imo it doesn’t seem so.



    Imo it doesn’t seem so.

    Okay, you convinced me.


    Piko LV

    Okay, you convinced me.

    I knew I’ll do.

    But seriously: there is no proof that the terrain of battlefield will or will not be made depending on the adjacent hexes, but it’s more likely that it’ll be, than it won’t.



    The game Looks great.

    I would like to see random and placed Battlefield objects with effects and interaction.

    Some ideas
    Neutral units that may attack their enemy, the nearest unit or passive
    Prisioners (webbed, tied, or caged.) any adjacent unit can free. The prisoner may either attack, help, run or be passive.
    Destroyed war machine an adjacent unit may use repair machine ability to fix it.
    Resources, building resource, magic item, spell scroll etc on map or in Chest.
    Chests can be opened by an adjacent unit may be locked and require a skill pick lock or attack the lock, enough damage opens.
    Traps placed on map. A detect and disarm trap skill.
    Trees that can be set on fire, hide a tree man or climbed (larger Line of Sight)
    Roads and paths that improve movement if you travel the path
    Haste berry trees, Move a unit to location fruit is lost unit gains more movement for 3 turns.
    Healing location healing stream, oasis, fruit.
    cabin, Hut. If the door is opened random or placed unit, or event appears/occures.
    spear rack any adjacent unit may activate and gain throw spear 1 until used in this battle.
    shield rack any adjacent unit may activate and gain Block skill until used in this battle.
    Body of water (improve effects of lightning and ice ablities weakens fire abilities of target in water
    Lava Stream stops all walking movment past stream every three turns.
    ability, skill or spell effect location casts or bestows the power when activated or at random. i.e Fire wall cast at random every 3 turns or fireball cast at closest unit or bloodlust cast on first unit that engages in battle each turn etc.

    Objects like these would appear on some battlefields mostly in apropriate locations like fire related event locations in volcanic terrain, prisioners in jail etc and sometimes randomly.

    It will provide new strategies, challenges and quests like; when you cant defeat a powerful monster maybe you can steal it’s loot. or free the prisioners before the guards can get you. or how many villages can you free from their huts before the invading horde destroys the town.

    What do you think any ideas or suggestions?



    Some are good, but only if they appear on the apropriate location. A random cheast /cage ect. in the middle of a tundra battlefield would be destroy the whole atmosphere of the battle. Also, its really hard to balance. If weak then making it was a waste of time, if strong then it will influence the battle too much. Its a strategy game in the first place and i want to win my battles because of my better tactic/strategy, not because some random power appeared closer to me than my enemy


    Tsi Iri

    I like the effort put in to make this able to run on low spec computers :D. Tsi Iri can’t afford fancy equipment 😛


    Piko LV

    Emm… Do only I see this being still on the main page labelled “New Dev Journal”?


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