Bigger Isn't Better
Few threads regarding scale in Clash exist, and those that do don't really address what is a root problem in all Civ-like games to date: bigger isn't better. Now I'm not talking about the fact that Belgium has a stronger economy than the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the fact that Belgium has more infrastructure, more stability, and more technology than the DRC, or anything like that, what I'm talking about is the fact that map sizes have increased since civ1 (civ4 is an exception), unit count has increased, building count has increased, etc, with each new version. But, why is this needed or is it even needed? This was one of the most fundamental questions that I tackled and that drove the design of EIT, and I'd like to lay my thoughts on the matter out in hopes that they might have some impact on Clash.
Back when I started design on EIT, putting population on every tile was still a fairly untested concept (I like to think that Clash has proved it works well to the alt-civ public), and I was somewhat fascinated by the notion that a nation in the modern age could be composed of a single tile. I was determined to have it not only possible, but probable that at least a few such nations would exist in almost every game. I also decided early on that I wanted to have a real-world scenario ship with the game that had all real-world nations as of the year 2000, and that all random games would end with a similar number of nations – approximately 200. So, we created a map with a tile scaled to one of the smallest nations on Earth, built the remainder of the map at that scale. Sizes were fudged a little bit, of course, due to the tiled map, but all-in-all it was very impressive and fun, and quite realistic. This left us with a map that had a good realistic feeling of scale and the remainder of the game was built to fit this map.
So, that solved the scale of the map, but what about units – do we really need 100 types of units? It turned out that the answer was no. Think about it for a minute, what's the difference between a pikeman and a stone-age man carrying a spear? The armor technology has advanced some and the spear (polearm) had advanced some, but essentially both are men armed with polearms (polearmsmen). This same logic can be applied to all units from men mounted on horseback armed for melee (horsemen) to men armed with bows (archers) to men on horseback armed with bows (mounted archers), from the ancient age to the modern age, on land and on sea. There was a single major change throughout the history of mankind that had any major impact on the types of units that were available – that was the airplane. It created a whole new class of unit types that didn't exist previously. Using this logic, an infantryman today isn't a seperate type of unit, he's an archer – armed with a gun (ranged weapon). Now it would be a bit strange to display that to the player, so such unit types have their name and graphics display change with increases in technology to keep pace with the times, but all the while they are really the same unit types throughout the game. IIRC, this will keep the number of unit types under 25.
I don't know how infrastructure (buildings) are supposed to work in Clash, so until the day I do, I'll save that for later. But the basic premise of "bigger isn't better" should also apply to what we try to put into the game ultimately. Just because we can model every individual on the face of the planet as a single object with it's own thoughts, desires and emoitions (assuming we could do such a thing) doesn't mean that we should – because doing so would add nothing to a game at this strategic level. Anything that does not affect the player, cannot be seen by the player, or cannot be affected by the player has no part in the game – it may as well not be there if one of these three is true.
*As I type this in from the paper in front of me (that paragraph was, mostly, part of EIT's design notes), I just wanted to note that this is the underlying reason I dislike the current economy in the game more and more each day. From the player's perspective – other than ordering units to be built and other strange things that really aren't a part of the economy model but are apparently so in Clash, it might as well not be there because you can't get information from it that's of any use, and you can't have any effect on it or at least none you can see. It seems more like a series of random events that either add or subtract from your treasury than any sort of economic simulation I've ever encountered before. Now, this may change somewhat once a proper interface is finally done for it, but by then I fear it'll be too late from my perspective, I'll be screaming for it's head on a platter by then.*