OK, so I've been at this for 6 hours straight now (so please forgive me for any mistakes here, grammatical or otherwise) and I'm flat out of ideas, so I thought it might be a good idea to post my problem online and at least get some second opinions.
So the story goes like this; I just recently (read: earlier today) re-installed Windows 7 and installed Age of Empires 2, along with the Conquerors expansion immediately after getting the system into shape (configuring settings and installing essentials and drivers
). Since I've had a lot of experience trying to get AoE2 to work on Windows 7/Vista before, I was fully aware of the direct draw color crap that AoE has problems dealing with. The problem this time is that apparently, the bad colors aren't being caused by direct draw, but rather something else.
At first I tried the two regular approaches; adding a "taskkill" .bat file to kill explorer.exe and then jump into AoE2, and running the w7ddpatcher.exe to patch AoE's age2_x1.exe file. After seeing both of these common methods (which have both worked for me perfectly well in the past, mind you) crash and burn miserably at fixing the bad coloration, I started wondering. I also noticed the coloration was way worse than any time before (I'm referring to the time before I fixed AoE2 before re-installing Windows 7), and also that it was present in the main menu and game lobby.
So I started experimenting; so far, I've tried re-installing the game (several times) using compatibility mode and administrator privileges for the setup and patches, I've tried fixing the game before and after applying patches, I've tried using the PalettestealerSuspender program, applying the 1.0e unofficial patch, applying the wide-screen patch, installing an older version of DirectX (5.0, I believe), manually messing with direct draw in the registry (adding a compatibility reg-key for AoE2 manually), changing Windows 7's theme to Classic from Aero, Alt-Tab-ing while AoE2 is running and terminating explorer.exe's process in Task Manager, starting AoE2 with the "Change Resolution" window open in the background (apparently fixes the colors for some people), etc... I've even tried downloading different releases off of torrents but they all run into the exact same problem (meaning that the problem obviously isn't a corrupt file or anything like that).
The result of my exploration of the strange and mystical lands of "Howtogetageofempirestoperformproperlyffs" would be a founded statement that this time around, the problem isn't being caused by direct draw (since no workarounds for direct draw have worked so far), but by something else. I've run completely dry of ideas on how to fix this. Any help would be very much appreciated!
tl;dr - I'm having trouble with Age of Empires 2's colors in Windows 7 Ultimate, which seems to not be caused by direct draw as no direct draw fix worked so far. I also re-installed Windows 7 very recently (earlier today). Read the Wall-'o'-Text above if you want the dirty little details.