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Pathing in 'Age of Empires IV': Flow Fields and Steering Behaviors

Frank Cheng  (Senior Software Engineer, Microsoft, World's Edge)

Location: Room 2010, West Hall

Date: Wednesday, March 23

Time: 10:30 am - 11:00 am

Pass Type: All Access Pass, Core Pass - Get your pass now!

Topic: Programming

Format: Session

Viewing Experience: In-Person

Vault Recording: Video

Audience Level: No

Creating a real-time strategy game with hundreds of units moving across an ever-changing battlefield, as opponents construct and destroy buildings and walls, requires a robust and efficient pathfinding system. This presentation walks through how Age of Empires IV combined flow fields, hierarchical A*, and steering behaviors to deliver fluid and cohered unit movement across a dynamic world. Going into details on dealing with different terrain types and unit sizes, the optimization strategy and new features that were developed for each of these base systems, and the implementation nuances and gotchas the team encountered.


Game developers will be able to design and build an advanced grid-based navigation system using flow fields and steering behaviors that can accommodate large number of units in complex environments.

Intended Audience

Any engineer or designer interested in implementing or experiencing with pathfinding and navigation in games. Basic understanding of pathfinding such as A* is helpful but not required.