Find the folder where Age of Empires III is installed. You can't find it? If yes, then it must be in one of the following path:
- C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\steamapps\common\Age of Empires 3
- C:\Program Files\Steam\steamapps\common\Age of Empires 3
- C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft games\Age of Empires III
- C:\Program Files\Microsoft games\Age of Empires III
STEP 2: BACKUP THE GAME FOLDER
I know Steam's integrity verification exists, but still, let's make sure we have at least two copies of the game so we can easily fix problems in case something goes wrong.
Steam version: go to the game folder and select the bin folder. Copy it and paste it wherever you want. When the copy is complete, rename it to backup (or choose any name you want).
Non-steam version: go to the Microsoft games folder and select Age of Empires III. Copy it and paste it wherever you want. When the copy is complete, rename it to backup (or choose any name you want).
When something goes wrong in your mod (for example, you accidentally lose the techtree file), go get the respective file in the backup folder.
STEP 3: INSTALL A TEXT EDITOR
For modding, I am using Notepad++, but you can of course find other options on Google.
STEP 4: INSTALL WINMERGE (optional)
WinMerge will be really helpful when you want to compare the differences between two files - for example, you may want to know the list of things that have changed between different versions of your mod.
STEP 5: INSTALL AOE3ED
AOE3ED allows us to open .bar archives and extract their contents.
| It is the most important among the most important things in aoe3 modding.
After downloading the archive from the link above, extract its contents in any folder of your choice. Remember that place because you will need the ArchiveViewer and FileConverter very often.
STEP 6: DISPLAY FILE EXTENSIONS
Everything is explained here. I wrote this step just in case you haven't done it yet. It is always annoying when you tell someone to open the protoy.xml and they open the protoy.xml.xmb instead, just because Windows hides file extensions.
STEP 7: ADDITIONAL TOOLS (optional)
Images, icons, textures: any program that can used for editing targa (.tga) files, such as Adobe Photoshop or GIMP
3D Modeling: this toolset
Advanced modding: UHC or UHC2.
We'll see the abouts of those later so don't worry if you don't understand: you can skip the 7th step.
If you followed all those steps (or at least the mandatory ones), you now have a proper environment and the proper tools for modding Age of Empires III. I will soon post another tutorial so stay tuned!
Next tutorial: how to use aoe3ed, change texts, icons, musics, sounds.