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And now for something completely different..

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I havent touched any GP2x stuff for a while, infact I need to email someone some code so he can take a look and see if I've done something very very stupid indeed..

However, since sunday I've been pondering my on-off-on-off-on-off-you-get-the-idea MMO idea.

Yes, like everyone else I've got a MMO idea, however I'm in the process of building up a design doc around the idea and I wouldnt be surprised if it never saw the light of day.. mostly because when I think MMO I put the MASSIVE into it.

I dont have a great deal of detail to share right now, but the gist of the idea is that its a MMORTS on a galactic scale. The idea came to me as a merging of Homeworld and Ground Control.

The basic gameplay being you join as a member of one a number of empires and its your job to go out and take planets and systems in the name of them.

I still need todo some refinement on how this all works, does everyone get a fleet? Or could you join up with some friends and control bits of the same fleet? what about planet holding/attacking etc.

One of the issues I've been pondering relates to all that, how to add new players to the game?

By its very nature it will end up as a team based system, if you are trying to take an enemy planet for example then you are going to need more than one fleet of ships (despite the fact you can build more ships and increase your fleet size), so a newbie starting wouldnt be able to do much on their own.

The only problem is, if I know newbies, then trying to put them under the command of a real person from the start also wont work, they will try to rebel and the last thing you need is aload of your ships or whatever vanishing in a firefight for a critical system.

There are plenty of other issues to deal with, the game play mechanics really need some work, so I should sit down and give it some real thought sometime soon, but this one bugs me as I cant see a way around it.

Fleet building takes time and resouces, be they automated astroid striping, mining planets (automated) or collection from the empires resource depots (amount depends on the amount of resources the empire has to call on and your standing). However, the time is the main aspect, a newbie would be able to get resources but to build a reasonable fleet would take ages, not much fun sitting around waiting for it to happen.

Then there is the experiance issue, a ships and soilders take part in combat they would gain XP and improve themselves (by the crew in the case of the ships), so a newbie could, if they waited build a huge fleet but without the combat experiance or the tactical experiance on their part they could end up losing to a smaller, but more well versed, fleet.

This is a puzzle indeed, if anyone has any ideas feel free to throw them my way, I'm sure I'll return to this subject, if only because this is the kind of game I really want to play (and have done since before the MMO-concept was born).
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Maybe you could go with the not-so-MMO gameplay like the one from Guild Wars. The game has two types of 'levels', the lobby-levels (towns, cities, warcamps) and the actual battlefield-levels which you enter with a party formed in the lobby-levels. When your party enters a battefield-level, the game will give you a private instance of that level so you and your party are the only ones in that level. This is a bit like the Diablo concept, if you've played that game.

So you could have homeplanets and the players could form parties to head out to do missions etc., the rest is up to you.

By the way, I think the story-based gameplay of GuildWars suits your gameplay too, in the way that it handles newcomers.

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It sounds like you need to scrap the 'many armies' aspect and create two or three main factions for people to be recruited into. You would need to establish a hierarchy for people to fall into; for example one set of people would be those controlling squads on the ground, another set might be managing the supply routes (and overseeing people assigned to protect them). Higher up the chain you'd have battle planners who are responsible for directing people where they need to be to win the campaign. A number of people will be fighting the actual battles, but the campaign and force management would grant a different type of play to people who don't want to be part of the actual fighting. It gives you a whole 'campaign view' of the battle and the low number of factions will force people to find a place in the existing hierarchies.

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