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Massive Games: Unit caps or no unit caps

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I was reminded by niphty of my time playing mankind. A massively multiplayer strategy game in space. (read my thumbs-down review of mankind under niphty''s mankind thread if you wish.) Anyways, the idea behind the game is to let players create their own "civilizations" in a galaxy setting divided up into sectors of space which may include a number of solor systems in each sector. The gameplay area is HUGE...i mean its the biggest gameplay area ive ever seen for space games. So a player can build hundreds of units..probably up to a thousand(i never got that far but from the stories its totally possible). But new players are joining in as well. They start out as 1 ship, and lets face it, they wont ever catch up to some of the guys who have been playing for months night after night. Servers along with your computer can crash because of the number of ships in a system if the big boys are around. Fighting has become a contest of killing players offline and simply OUTNUMBERING your strategy needed!! So where is the strategy in this? At what point do you need to stop trying to simulate "realistic" civilizations for a trade off in good gaming? Some think that shooting for this realism of unlimited ships and cities is the best thing you as a designer could ever do. I disagree with this and i personally would have designed mankind WITH A CAP ON THE NUMBER OF UNITS YOU CAN BUILD. Why: by placing a cap on the number of units i think that you indeed return "strategy" into the game. With players having unlimited units, its just a kind of tag. In mankind, one day a huge player would attack you. U log in find out who it was then return with your ships hiding in neutural space to attack him. Back and forth..yuck! Not to mention the LITTLE GUYS have no defense and cant do a thing about it. Think about it. In a sense, guilds would need to be more structured and have players work together even more if CAPS on building units was in play. Like i said, my mankind review has specifics about that game and the problem of unlimited units it had when i played it. The issue can still be applied to any massive game which you dream up though.....does realism of unlimited units really benifit the players and game play?

aka John M. Never give up. Never surrender!

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I haven''t played this game, but it sounds like what it needs is weapons of mass destruction.

Think about it. Prior to nuclear weapons, when civilians started getting involved in normal warfare nations would throw HUGE armies at one another. Why don''t we do that anymore?

Nukes. In fact spreading out fleets and making individual units more effective is part of the outgrowth of the effect of area effect weapons.

I think, btw, it''s possible to get unit limits & still be realistic. You just have to figure out things like build times, support costs, etc. Then it''s not really a cap, it''s the realistic support limits of your empire.

Just waiting for the mothership...

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