03.08.2019 09:00 - Anti-Aliasing in DirectX9 is now available in UP1.5

Minor Update 157014 for Unofficial Patch 1.5 (released on 2nd of August 2019) has a new feature available: "Enable Anti-Aliasing in DirectX 9". For performance reasons, this option is disabled by default. Interested users can open "UP1.5 Settings" in the Launcher, check option: "Enable Anti-Aliasing..." and select the prefered Maximum Multiplier.

History of DirectX9 & Anti-Aliasing:
The official version 1.2 of Empire Earth 2 uses DirectX 8. Unofficial Patch 1.5 uses a special version of crosire's d3d8to9 (converts DX8 API calls to DX9), modified by Dr.MonaLisa for best integration with Empire Earth 2 and additional fixes for our favourite game.
Thanks to elishacloud (the great contributor of d3d8to9, creator of dxwrapper and other projects) - we can now use Anti-Aliasing in Empire Earth II. Elishacloud was so kind to code the whole thing (when I just asked details), so it helped a lot and I could focus on the integration part faster.

What is "Anti-Aliasing"?
Anti-aliasing uses various techniques to get rid of jagged edges on your screen which appear as a result of square pixels forming non-rectangular shapes. A higher numerical multiplier such as "8x" or "16x" produces a more effective anti-aliasing effect while requiring more processing resources.

How to enable the "Anti-Aliasing in DirectX9"?
1. Start UP1.5 Launcher.
2. Click on the "Change UP1.5 Settings" button to open the Configuration Utility.
3. Check option: "Enable Anti-Aliasing in DirectX9" and select the prefered Maximum Multiplier.
4. Click "OK - Save changes" and restart the game.

Does "Anti-Aliasing" affect game performance?
Yes and No. Anti-Aliasing is primarily done by the GPU. It should not take additional CPU time. Empire Earth 2 is a CPU (processor) intensive game and the high single-core usage causes lags and low FPS problem. GPU (graphics card) usually has unused resources during game. Those resources can be used for features like Anti-Aliasing without causing FPS drop. However, the low-end or mobile GPUs might already be running at 100%. In this case enabling the Anti-Aliasing might negatively affect performance. The performance degradation can be fixed by selecting the lower Maximum Multiplier.

What is the "Maximum Multiplier"?
In simple words: it decides how good the Anti-Aliasing effect is. The higher multiplier is set, the best effect we get. Please note, that in UP1.5 Settings it's possible to select the "Maximum Multiplier" up to 16x. It doesn't mean that 16x is actually used. I tested on a laptop with Intel HD 4600, and the maximum used was 8x. Then I tested with RTX 2070 and it also used 8x. So most likely it never uses more than 8x, but I left those options perhaps for the future.
If you feel performance degradation with the high multiplier, you can try setting the "Maximum Multiplier" to 2x. It should already look much better than when it's fully disabled.

SCREENSHOTS   -  Anti-Aliasing Disabled (left) vs Anti-Aliasing Enabled (right):

To best understand how Anti-Aliasing works, please take a look at the screenshots above. When you look at the first one, on the left (Anti-Aliasing disabled), you can see the sharp lines, for example for the City Center, Outpost and other buildings. The second screenshot, on the right (Anti-Aliasing enabled) shows the same buildings, but as you can see graphics quality is undeniably better. When the game is zoomed-out, it's usually hard to notice difference, however in longer playing sessions it's more eye-friendly and everything looks much more natural, just like if you played a modern RTS game.

PrtScn Fix:
Since version 157015 (released on 4th of August 2019) you can find a new option in UP1.5 Settings, next the Anti-Aliasing switch. It's called "PrtScn Fix". For some reasons, when Anti-Aliasing is enabled, Windows often disables the PrtScn key for EE2 (possibly to prevent issues, which actually don't happen on EE2). Since 157015 update, EE2 & EE2: AOS use an additional hotkey for taking screenshots: "Scroll Lock" key. It works the same way as "Prt Scn", however active Anti-Aliasing doesn't block it. Additionally, when "PrtScn Fix" is enabled, the UP1.5 Launcher detects for the "PrtScn" hotkey press, and simulates the "Scroll Lock" key press, so the game takes a screenshot the same way as before.

With Unofficial Patch 1.5 Minor Update 157014 you can use Anti-Aliasing in game.

28.10.2018 08:30 - Unofficial Patch 1.5.7 has been released!

After two years since the last major version update (1.5.6) - the new Unofficial Patch 1.5.7 has been released. Does it mean that during the last two years nothing has been done for EE2? Absolutely not! I (Dr.MonaLisa) have released 34 Minor Updates, sometimes "important", sometimes "optional". Many updates added NEW features to 1.5.6s series. Best example are "Cycle Time of Day", "Automatic Font Size", new campaigns (huge thanks to Loewenherz), bug and glitch fixes, etc. which initially weren't included in the major 1.5.6 version changes log. With time, Minor Update release process was very improved, fast and no-problematic. Players received monthly updates (usually with DirectX 9 support improvements) and Multiplayer users got pleased with Multiplayer Lobby changes. I am fully satisfied by the work done during last 2 years, even if some people complain about the "lack of new units" which have never been priority for me. But let's talk about the newest update!

Unofficial Patch 1.5.7 was initially supposed to be another Minor Update of 1.5.6s series. One day, inspired by player Laetitian request about possibility to host SinglePlayer games on the Multiplayer Lobby - I accidentally found audio volume control variables (responsible for limiting sounds at the camera zoom-out). I have been searching for it since Unofficial Patch 1.3 (back then didn't even know what assembly is). It created a possibility to release a new Camera Fix version with new zoom and angles settings. Camera Fix versions traditionally change in major updates. That's how "the Next Big Thing" came, as always - unexpectedly. Now we will describe initial Unofficial Patch 1.5.7 features, one by one. The full changes list can be read at: https://ee2.eu/patch/#1.5.7.

Camera FIX ver. 5.1: Zoom settings similar to UP1.4/UP1.5.1 (a huge zoom-out, and first-person view on the ground). Camera angles set to make the game look as close the official, vanilla version of EE2 as possible. Fixed the no sounds problem when maximally zoomed-out and it also makes the volume of sound effects (ambient, battles, etc.) more realistic, depending on camera zoom and units distance (even at the standard zoom). Fixes an issue where units heads were not visible in the preview window (under health bar). Increased the maximum zoom-out, added the "plane view" (activated very high).

Middle Mouse Button Actions: UP1.5 Launcher intercepts middle mouse button clicks and converts them to in-game actions. This feature is enabled by default, but can be disabled by UP1.5 Settings. When it's enabled - the Maximization Helper window displays new Middle Mouse Button Actions switches: "Rotate" - simulates the CTRL key press to rotate buildings. After 0.5 second the action follows mouse cursor to rotate camera in selected direction (simulates CTRL+ARROW keys press). "Move" - scrolls the camera (left, right, top, bottom) instead of rotating. You can manually press and hold the CTRL key to rotate. "Invert" - uses the opposite scrolling directions (feels like scrolling on your smartphone screen). "FSM Hotkey" - simulates the Full Screen Mode CTRL+ALT+H hotkey press (hides User Interface). To execute this hotkey keep the Middle Mouse Button pressed for ~2 seconds and don't move mouse during this time. Additional custom configuration commands (which can be inserted to UnofficialVersionConfig.txt or by UP1.5 Settings) exist: MiddleMouseButtonSleepBeforeCameraRotationMs=500 | Time (in milliseconds) after which camera starts rotating when MMB is pressed. Prevents accidentional camera rotation when rotating buildings by a short click. MiddleMouseButtonRotationCheckIntervalMs=0 | Delay (in milliseconds) after which Launcher checks for another mouse position change. Default 0 is 1 ms. Low value is recommended. MiddleMouseButtonFullScreenModeActivationDelayMs=2000 | Delay (in milliseconds) after which the Full Screen Mode hotkey can be activated. Option "Invert" is activated by default (I like how it is in Anno 2205).

Maximization Problems: Unofficial Patch 1.5.7 added new improvements to fix maximization problems (directly in the game process). In many cases using Maximization Helper Solutions and disabling fullscreen optimizations will no longer be needed.

More AutoSave Settings Frequencies: Up to 6 hours 30 mins (before only 30 mins). Autosaving is now possible every 2 mins 30 secs.

Air Mission waypoints: Increased from 5 to 20 (so you can efficiently plan air routes in CB/RP games).

Scenario Editor Player Colors: Unlocked possibility to use the same color for multiple players.

Multiplayer Lobby for SINGLEPLAYER users: It's now possible to host and start unrated SinglePlayer games (with AI players and 1 human player only) on the Multiplayer Lobby. Those games are not counted (rating, total games played, total game time) to prevent statistics abuses. It helps to stay online, receive private messages from friends and be ready to start a Multiplayer session when more players are online.

Of course there are several small bug fixes, Laucher improvements not mentioned here. Please always check https://ee2.eu/patch/#1.5.7 for full changes list, which includes changes added by UP1.5.7 Minor Updates.

That's all. I hope I didn't disappoint players by "not many" changes this time. For me it always feels more, because I know how much time it costs, and how depressive testing procedure can be. I can tell in secret, that one feature (possibly reducing game mouse lagg) was removed right before release, because didn't pass stability tests. It was painful and will be hard to forget, but let's move on...

BONUS - That's what I get from one Pakistani player, the same day:

03.01.2018 19:00 - "Automatic Font Size" & 4K improvements!

Minor Update 156022 for Unofficial Patch 1.5 (released on 6th of January 2018) has a new BETA feature available: "Automatic Font Size for Screen Resolutions". For stability reasons, this option is disabled by default. Interested users should open "UP1.5 Settings" in the Launcher and check option: "Enable Automatic Font Size...".

What exactly "Automatic Font Size for Screen Resolutions" is?
The official version 1.2 of Empire Earth 2 supports only six 4:3 screen resolutions: 800x600, 1024x768, 1152x864, 1280x960, 1280x1024, 1600x1200. With Unofficial Patch 1.5 you can use all possible screen resolutions (including 4K) and you can even generate Custom Screen Resolutions by the Launcher. It gives an underestimated playing experience comparing to the official version. Unfortunately, using new screen resolutions caused font size problems. On 4K displays all text in game was way too small. With new, smaller resolutions sometimes font size was too big. That's why now, after almost 4 years since Unofficial Patch 1.5 release - I designed special algorithms which generate font sizes suitable to the currently used screen resolution. It wasn't an easy task. This feature had to be integrated with the Launcher, allow compatibility between Multiplayer users. I spent hours testing different screen resolutions (on a Virtual Machine, I don't have a 4K display), limiting maximum font sizes, fixing crashes, etc. But finally, there it is!

Better 4K, FullHD and other widescreen resolutions support:
4K resolutions are finally playable. The "Automatic Font Size" takes care of displaying text with much bigger font than before. Of course all fonts have been set to keep the original scale, so the visual experience is just awesome! Nothing explains better than pictures, so compare yourself!

BEFORE - screen resolution 3840x2160 with DISABLED "Automatic Font Size":

AFTER - screen resolution 3840x2160 with ENABLED "Automatic Font Size":

Additional information about the "Automatic Font Size" option:
* This is a BETA feature which might crash on your system / selected screen resolution. If this happens, please disable this option and report the problem on the Support Chat in the Launcher.
* After you enable "Automatic Font Size" - the first game launch might take a very long time (depending on your CPU speed, new fonts are being generated). Please be patient and do not kill the game process.
* This option doesn't cause performance loss. Game lags are not related to this feature. For help, click here

With Unofficial Patch 1.5 Minor Update 156022 you can enable a new option that makes font sizes in game look good for every possible screen resolution. It's noticable especially on 4K screen resolutions.

18.10.2017 22:15 - Poll Result: Do you like the new "Dark Launcher Theme"?

Today (18.10.2017), we are closing the second EE2.eu Community Poll! The question in the Poll was: Do you like the new "Dark Launcher Theme"?

What is the Dark Launcher Theme?
The UP1.5 Launcher (and newer), released on 12.09.2017 supports a new option "Dark Launcher Theme". This option was good enough to be enabled by default after the update. Users are still able to return to the old, light style by unchecking option: "Enable Dark Launcher theme" in UP1.5 Settings. Background colors, fonts, buttons, effects, everything have been improved in the most of the Launcher windows (excluding CD-KEY changer which is rarely used). You can view the screenshots below to see it.

Poll Result: Positive
Do you like the new "Dark Launcher Theme"?.
The users were able to select one of the following answers: "YES, I like it", "NO, I don't like it", "I don't know". The poll has been open on 12.09.2017, closed on 18.10.2017 ~22:00 CET, and exited with the following result:
(284 votes total): YES, I like it (91.55%), NO, I don't like it (4.23%), I don't know (4.23%).

Thanks to everyone who voted in our second Community Poll! The result of this poll is important to know if the community likes the new theme and if this option should still be enabled by default in further versions of Unofficial Patch 1.5.

Dark Launcher Theme screenshots:

04.06.2017 17:00 - Community Poll Result: Do you like when Minor Updates are released every month?

I'm happy to announce that today, the first EE2.eu Community Poll has been closed with the positive result.

What are Community Polls?
The UP1.5 Launcher (and newer), released on 05.05.2017 has integrated support for polls in the "news" area. Only users who installed Minor Update 156009+ are able to see the poll question. The users are able to cancel and change their vote for 24 hours and are also able to hide the poll result.

Community Poll: Do you like when Minor Updates are released every month?
"Do you prefer regular updates (every month), or bigger updates with more changes, but longer waiting time (6-12 months)? Please consider selecting a serious vote, because it might decide about the further UP1.5 development".
The users were able to select one of the following answers: "YES, I like them", "NO, I don't like them", "I don't know". The poll has been closed on 04.06.2017 ~17:00 CET, and exited with the following result:
(205 votes total): YES, I like them (79.02%), NO, I don't like them (7.8%), I don't know (13.17%).

Thanks to everyone who voted in our Community Poll. It confirmed that most of players like monthly updates, and those who complain about them should accept the majority's choice.

26.04.2017 11:00 - How to enable Windows 10 Game Mode in Empire Earth II?

On 11th of April 2017 - Microsoft released a new big update for Windows 10 called: "Creators Update". It's identified as build: 15063. The update rolls out slowly, so not all users already received it by Windows Update, however, if you're lucky and the Creators Update was already installed - you can enable the new "Game Mode" in Empire Earth II and Empire Earth II: The Art of Supremacy.
To learn more what the Game Mode actually does, please read: windowscentral.com/windows-10-game-mode

In some games (including Empire Earth II), the Game Mode state for the game can only be changed when the game is running in the Windowed Mode. Thanks to Unofficial Patch 1.5 you can eaisly set EE2 to run in the Windowed Mode to enable this function.

I've recorded a Youtube Tutorial which explains step-by-step how to enable Game Mode on Empire Earth 2:

1. Download and Install Unofficial Patch 1.5 from: https://ee2.eu/patch
2. Make sure that Windows 10 Creators Update is already installed on your PC.
3. In the UP1.5 Launcher click on the "Change UP1.5 Settings" button, and enable Windowed Mode, then save changes.
4. Start EE2 or EE2: AOS, click LogoWin + G using your keyboard, click on the settings icon and check "Use Game Mode for this game".
5. Quit the game, go to "UP1.5 Settings" again, and uncheck "Windowed Mode" checkbox. Save changes.
6. Play the game.

01.02.2017 15:00 - EE2.eu is now hosted on a new server!

In the past few days the old EE2.eu Server (placed in France) was experiencing unexpected high load, which was not caused by EE2.eu but provider problems. Unfortunately, the provider did not help to resolve the issue, instead recommended to check the "security of the server". After verification I knew exactly that the problem is not on our side. The Server load was jumping up to 36.0. It means that everything (EE2.eu website, Multiplayer Lobby, Launcher Scripts) worked 36 times slower or didn't work at all. Connections to the database were timing-out, so it was often impossible to log-in to the Multiplayer Lobby. Basically, I was very angry and decided to change the Server.
On 31.01.2017 I decided to order a Server at the same provider, but at the different location (Germany). It took a few hours to import and set-up everything. At 21:00 CET the EE2.eu domains changed the address to redirect to a new Server. Unfortunately, the problems began even more serious. For some reasons most of players could not connect to the EE2.eu website or enter the Multiplayer Lobby. After a verification, I detected that the IP address we received for the server was... already in use by a different one. It caused a conflict where 30% of time the traffic was redirected to our new Server, and the rest of time - to an unknown for me Server.
Before 22:00 CET I decided to switch back to the old, problematic Server, and the EE2.eu domain was again redirecting to the old address (France). Unfortunately, the Multiplayer Lobby was constantly crashing for unknown for me reasons. I can only assume that after my reports the provider somehow limted software which can be launched on the Server. I literally didn't modify anything, so crashes could not be caused by my changes. It was too much for me, so we started searching for a new Server, from a totally different provider.
At ~1:00 to 2:00 we bought a new hosting placed in the UK, and at ~4:00 to 5:00 I imported and set-up everything, so the new Server has all files, programs and the EE2.eu database. The EE2.eu domain now redirects to this Server, and everything works fine. The Multiplayer Lobby should not crash anymore, and website / launcher scripts should load instantly.
The new Server has 6GB of RAM and 2 cores Intel(R) Xeon(R) CPU E5-2640 v4 @ 2.40GHz. For comparing, the old Server had only 1GB of RAM and 1 core 1.6Ghz CPU.
We were able to change the Server thanks to the few donations we received in January. It was very helpful and the EE2.eu community very appreciates it. However, to keep the good server (or more like: to not make me pay for everything alone) we need more donations, so if you like the EE2.eu and/or Unoffficial Patch 1.5 - please consider making a donation. For information how to donate, please visit: this site (click).

Also, for those who didn't notice it - In January I have released a minor update for UP1.5 which has a new feature: Cycle Time of Day. You can select it in the game set-up screen under the "Environment" tab -> "Time of day". The presentation video is here:

27.11.2016 21:00 - Unofficial Patch 1.5.6 (2017) has been released!

Around two weeks ago I announced that no new "big" update of UP1.5 will be released in 2017... I was wrong, I changed my minds and prepared a new BIG update, before the new year! The version is identified as "2017", because all minor updates for 1.5.6 will be released in 2017. That's why version identification couldn't be "2016". The full changes list is available at: https://ee2.eu/patch/#1.5.6. The changes list isn't super long nor contains noticable changes during game - however the stability improvement is great. For newbies we have the new "Initial Cease Fire" options: "20 Minutes", "30 Minutes", "45 Minutes", "60 Minutes", "2 Hours", "24 Hours" and: the new "City Population" options: 70, 80, 90, 100, 150, 200, 250, 300, 500, 1000. The update was mostly focused on the Multiplayer balancing, that's why I added a new option which allows you to disable the crowns system before game start. I have also fixed the "range glitch" which made units (usually heavy artillery) attacking from an unexpectedly long range: Thanks to Jodocus from the neoEE patch we assembled an option which makes game icon flashing on the taskbar when the game process is minimized, you're on the Multiplayer Lobby and you receive a notification.
I hope you will like the new update. Please don't forget to check the full changes list at https://ee2.eu/patch/#1.5.6

15.11.2016 23:15 - The future of Unofficial Patch 1.5 and EE2.eu in 2017

Dear Empire Earth II fans! I'll post some details what will be done by EE2.eu in next year. Some players might be dissapointed, but I'll try to explain why the decisions I made are better for the community.

Unofficial Patch 1.5:
- The base version of Empire Earth 2 and Empire Earth 2: The Art of Supremacy will still be "1.5.5 (2016)".
- Most likely Minor updates for UP1.5.5 will be backward compatible.
- No new units/buildings or significant features will be applied to the game.
With 5 major updates of Unofficial Patch 1.5 all game crashes were fixed. Additionally, some new units and buildings were added. Unfortunately, adding new units was very problematic. It caused more problems and new game crashes than I expected. At the moment all these problems are fixed, and the Unofficial Patch is very stable. That's why I don't want to ruin it by developing the "mod" part of UP1.5. On this site (click) I explained what Unofficial Patch 1.5 is focused on and that only 30% of all changes are visible for the ordinary users. Please remember that the other Empire Earth II mods (EE4 mod, Realistic Mod) are still developed, so if you like new units/buildings you can always download and play these mods using the Developers Version of Unofficial Patch 1.5.
One year ago - Unofficial Patch 1.5.5 with a working in-game Multiplayer Lobby has been released. It changed the style of minor updates, that they're now backward compatible. It means that no matter what minor version you have installed, you can still join other players on Multiplayer. It's good for people who still experience compatibility problems with game. Minor updates always improve the Launcher behaviour, fix compatibility with the newest Operating Systems and improve additional fixes (like the famous DirectX 8 to DirectX 9 converter). I understand that it seems like for the last year nothing was changed to the game. However - it's a very unfair vision. The last year was the hardest year of UP1.5 Developement. The Multiplayer Lobby programming and improvement, new Server, databases and the other things made me spent more time on EE2 than for the previous 2 years. Also, there were a lot of launcher fixes and new features which made Unofficial Patch 1.5 perfect. I'm not affraid to use this word, because in my opinion it's very close to perfection. Also, the number of reported problems shows it (we used to receive at least 2-3 reports per day, now it's like 1 report per 2 days, where the problem usually lays on the user's side).

Language Changer for Empire Earth II and Empire Earth II: The Art of Supremacy:
In 2017, the Language Changer will be finally released. The Changer will allow you to replace audio + text language in game. Unfortunately, not all languages will be supported. It's because I was unable to collect files for all languages. You can read more details in this topic at forum.ee2.eu (click)

Support chat and Multiplayer Lobby chat rules:
The Ministry of Game Affairs will write a new Act which will contain the clear chatting rules. These rules will affect the Support Chat and the Multiplayer Lobby chat. It's because we were accused of giving unfair bans. Racism, nazism propagation and the other forms of hate speech were never welcome in our community.

12.10.2016 19:30 - IndigoRose.com Setup Factory

Most of players remember the old Unofficial Patch and Minor Update installers, which caused many problems in the past. It's because since Unofficial Patch 1.4 we used free installer builders programs. Everything I could do with them was customizing displayed text... and nothing else. Minor Updates were very problematic, because I couldn't set up automatic version detection and many players were selecting the wrong version during installation. Then they couldn't play because of Unhandled Exception crashes. Unofficial Patch 1.5 updates were more disliked than Windows Updates... but it changed: Minor Update: 155012 for UP1.5 has been created with the new installer builder program: IndigoRose.com Setup Factory 9. I tested many paid programs in trial versions, but only Setup Factory had all features we needed, for example: I was able to create an EE2-a-like skin, automatic detection of the current game version, checking if update of configuration files is required, automatic detection of the installation folder, downloading most recent files from EE2.eu Server (Minor Update), and much more. Not all features are visible for players, but for me (developer) using Setup Factory is way easier than it used to be. For example, Unofficial Patch 1.5 uses many different projects which are located at many places on my laptop (DX8 to DX9 converter, uPnP, Launcher files). With the free installer builders, before every update I had to copy .dlls and .exe files manually to the specified folder. With Setup Factory I can automate everything, even run a program (I use a .bat file) before and after installer compilation.

Setup Factory uses Lua scripts for everything. I can script the installer behaviour at any step, and even handle installation errors. Life is much easier with it :) You can read more about Setup Factory features at this site: https://www.indigorose.com/setup-factory/. I truly recommend it to all developers like me, who appreciate the quality of their products!
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