Mini maps are small maps found at the bottom of the screen in the Age of Empires series. They are used to help the player determine the location of all participating players in the game and the terrain surrounding them. It is usually found in the lower-right hand corner of the computer screen. The small rectangle bordered by white lines indicates a section of the map viewed directly on the computer screen. Each player on the mini map is color coded differently and can be adjusted in the Scenario Editor. Different terrain types are color coded based on their appearance. Shades of blue typically indicates bodies of water while both light green and light brown represents land mass. Elevation is revealed through texturing. Resources are also color coded based on their appearance but are darker to differentiate it from the terrain and the units in the game. At the start of the game, the majority of the map is black, with little areas explored which is a common theme throughout the series. Once the unit ventures beyond the "unknown," the map slowly begins to reveal itself. Units that leave explored areas leave a trail known as the "fog of war" which hides enemy action and activity on the map. Surrounding the mini map are icons that can reveal or omit details of the game such as a player's score or units based on their specialty.
Age of Empires Edit
The mini map of Age of Empires is the simplest of all games in the series. The player can toggle score displays and adjusting the map to display military or economic units or both. Help can also be turned on or off. In Age of Empires: Rise of Rome, the edges of fog of war and unknown regions are changed from a jagged to a curvier appearance to make it look more natural.
Age of Empires II Edit
There are several improvements made in the mini map in Age of Empires II. There are more icons facilitating gameplay efficiency. The player can now signal allies which places an X on the mini map where it alerts allies of strategic locations. Identifying idle Villagers is made easier with an icon at the bottom left hand corner outside the mini map. In team games, there is an additional option that allows the mini map to display only two colors with blue and red representing allied and enemy forces respectively. Wonders are represented by a small white square.
Age of Mythology Edit
Unlike the Age of Empires II version, the idle Villager icon is found to the top right corner of the screen, next to the heroes icon, rather than close to the mini map. Nonetheless, the signal option remains, as well as the option of adjusting the map to display military, economic units or both.
Age of Empires III Edit
In Age of Empires III, the mini map is located to the lower left corner of the screen and of circular shape. Special buildings are represented on the map by special symbols, such as Town Centers (symbol of a house), Forts (pentagon), and Trading Posts (coin at trade route, arrowhead at native settlement, unused Trading Post sites are represented by a white coin/arrowhead). Treasures are marked by an X on the mini map.