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Alpha

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  1. I think this is a very important game design issue that needs to be addressed and re-addressed. How to avoid the single strategy that more numbers = win. Now, there is nothing wrong with the zergling strategy - it should be as viable as the next and I don't think the game should prevent organisations from adopting it. The problem occurs when it becomes the onlycounter to itself. A game that has only one viable strategy is either broken or boring. The key is in providing variability and making combat complex enough that the difficulty in leading players into a battle becomes exponentially higher with larger and larger groups. Here are some specific features that I think would ensure that wars and battles remain dynamic. Each topic could probably have an entire thread to itself so I'll try to be brief. Friendly Fire If you accidentally shoot your guildmate, he is shot and takes no less damage than an enemy would have. Ideally, this would be implemented by making projectiles, missiles, lasers, etc actually have to travel to their target, and if they hit something else on the way, then so be it. Manual Targetting If weapons have some kind of auto-targetting feature, it should be sub-optimal and unreliable. If there is some way for weapon designers to increase auto-targetting effectiveness it should come at a large cost of compromising with damage, range, mass, etc. Bigger Means More Complex There should be nothing from stopping players building a massive mothership with thousands of players and dozens of capabilities, but piloting and maintaining such a ship should be extremely difficult, and the ship itself should have weaknesses and be very far from invulnerable. Terrain This is less of an issue on planets as there will always be hills, forests, mountains, rivers, etc, etc that make natural choke points and affect what kind of tactics will be most effective. In space it is less obvious, but equally doable. Have vast regions of space encompassing multiple star systems that are saturated by nebulae. Include dense asteroid clusters, regions of space that are more rocky, planets with immense rings. There could also be regions affected by strong gravitational fields caused by black holes or neutron stars, and many other possibilities, and they could all be intertwined and overlapping. Each of these features would have some effect on travel and/or weaponry and defences just like "normal" geographical features do. Terrain on the battlefield and on the meta-scale creates opportunities for inventive leaders to shine and take a larger force by surprise. Resource Distribution My thought on this is to avoid static, infinite, and clustered sets of resources, particularly high-end resources. If there is a portion of the map that contains a lot of one particular type of resource then this will encourage "turtling" and make the acquisition of more players unto a single organisation easier. At the same time, a perfectly even distribution means trade between regions is less profitable, perhaps even not required, so this is a tough topic. One option is to have resources be finite at their given sources, but to have sources re-spawn elsewhere in the universe keeping the meta-game dynamic and ever changing. Arms Diversity and Rock/Paper/Scissors/Lizard/Spock Something that DU already has going for it is that all ships will be designed by individual players/organisations so we should expect a lot of diversity. However, there are bound to be certain a types of weapon and defences that can be mounted. I like GalCiv's system of having weapon types lasers/missiles/projectiles and their corresponding defences shields/point defence/armour. In addition to that, adding in mines, mine sweepers, cloaking devices, stealth detection, more and less effective propulsion systems, hangars for carrier capability, and Death Star type weaponry are all elements which can be included, each with their own advantages and drawbacks not just on the battlefield but in including them in a given ship design. And that's before mentioning ground weaponry (although I'm sure there will be a lot of overlapping) and the possibility of space-ground/ground-space interaction in battles. This kind of diversity provides more opportunities for inventive leaders to do something special against a superior force. Now, with these elements I believe it becomes much more difficult to adopt a zerg strategy. A massive army/fleet necessarily requires a practical chain of command, training drills, and disciplined soldiers who have been briefed by competent commanders who have a plan and can think on their feet. The more players in the fleet, the more difficult management of it becomes and large numbers of inexperienced and undisciplined soldiers will be a liability. Knowing and understanding the terrain gives a kind of "home advantage" for smart generals, and appropriate use of a variety of different kinds of ships/weapons, or having intelligence on the enemy's new ship designs could be put to devastating use. A quick note: we tend to think of a blob as lots of little ships, but in DU a blob could be a single super-massive ship with hundreds or thousands of players on board. In this thread when I say "zerglings" I mean massive numbers of players, but not necessarily massive numbers of ships.
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