Plus, you need to take into account that you need to defend hexes. What happens if your agency has 40 hexes and only 300 people? Well, now you have a problem. You don't have the agents to defend all 40. You only have enough agents to defend 30, unless you want to go for an 8 person defense on all of them. Even if you went for the 8 person defense, that's still only enough people to cover 37 hexes. And I'm not even getting into the agency's need to perhaps push outwards and begin to conquer more territory beyond those 40 hexes. In short, you're running into the problem of people. If you can't muster the 8 people to defend a hex, the other agency gets a free win.
Oh, by the way, did I mention that you need 30 dropships and 30 sets of cargo if you want to conduct battles across 30 hexes? Well, now I did. Plus, have you ever tried to organize 300 people at once, forming a coherent war group? What happens when one strike team takes all of your good equipment, leaving other strike teams the cheap crap to defend your territory? What happens when an agency loses a mech that cost all of it's members a significant amount of credits?
Just because they're not all on one map doesn't mean they don't influence one another
As I'm pointing out here in my arguments and tactics observations, agencies need to work together in order to conduct their wars effectively. I don't mean just agencies working with other agencies either, I mean that people in the agency need to work together too. It's a huge amount of coordination, production, and resource management, and that takes the game beyond a 10 vs. 10. It's not about the 10 vs. 10 battle, but how that 10 vs. 10 impacts the agency as a whole. That's what makes it massive.
Massively multiplayer isn't about having all of your mans on one map. It's about having a massive amount of people interact and impact one another. Five man instances aren't massive, 25 man raids aren't massive, and I've only seen an entire server's worth of people together in the same area three times in my life, yet we seem to take those little facts in stride. Why? Because what we gain in the game gives us a feeling of persistence -- a feeling of working with others to accomplish something.
is really doing the same thing as those instances and zones, except they're utilizing them more. Each of these "instances" can affect how an agency conducts their war across the entire game. Each of these separate battles affects other battles, although you might not see it or know it at the time. Strike at and defeat an agency's dropship, and you cripple their attack power as they need a dropship to attack. Now they attack less. Your actions affected the whole and that's what being massive is all about.
Just give things a chance
You may not agree with my assessments today, and that's perfectly fine. We all have our own preferences, and my preference in massive may not be your preference in massive.
But what I think all of this really underscores is that we have no set definition of what is "massively multiplayer." The term, as we've said before, is a weak term that can be easily changed. It's evolving as more developers make more entries into the genre, and that's a great, great thing.
We shouldn't be afraid of games that attempt to change up the formula. After all, we might just stumble on something that's even more fun than that "large, open landscape" thing.
Seraphina Brennan is the weekly writer of Anti-Aliased who blew you up with her recon's bombs during that last payload match. When she's not writing here for Massively, she's rambling on her personal blog, The Experience Curve. If you want to message her, send her an e-mail at seraphina AT massively DOT com. You can also follow her on Twitter through Massively, or through her personal feed, @sera_brennan.