So, I'm working on an RTS right now, and I'm looking ahead at the final product, but one thing is eluding my vision. How to make the world massive enough for players to feel comfortable without breaking the map into chunks that would be disconcerting to the players.
I'm thinking the map has to be at least 1000x1000 for decent 4 player game, with room enough to expand and still have space between player bases for NPC tribes and unclaimed territory. A map that size isn't such a big deal for BYOND, but when I factor in other systems, turf count starts to become an issue.
And honestly, 1000x1000 still seems small to me. Something at least twice that size would feel about right for 4 players and a full game session. I have to remember there will likely be large water areas between players, so those will take up considerable space.
I thought about using SwapMaps to break the world down into natural divisions, like individual landmasses, or maybe splitting them at mountain ranges. The problem is the division, though. It has to be fairly natural or it will seem very jarring when you change maps. Foomer once made seamless maps, but I doubt I could pull that off with this project.
Splitting the map does have great advantages, however. I can ignore fog of war for maps that aren't being used by players, and unload areas that have no active players and simply calculate in the background what should be going on there. That'll really help keep the CPU usage down, but I'm not sure the benefits outweigh the fracturing of the game world.
Most RTS games I've seen take place on one huge map. I'm not sure how the players would react if they encountered an edge halfway to the nearest player, especially if the other side is swarming with enemy units you *should* have seen before getting that close.