So, a lot of players have made the point that unbalanced population == unbalanced gameplay. You'll get no disagreement from me on that point, despite the fact that "This is a war sim, and wars aren't fair" blahblah, gameplay is more fun when its balanced, or at the very least, more fun when not impossibly challenging. Its just a core fact of gaming. The entirety of the unbalanced population issue boils down to one simple factor in PS2: Where players go. That leaves us with: "How can we go about finding a way to 'balance' what cannot be balanced in an open world game?" Scale XP gains on a per hex basis, based on population percentages for all sides! Basically, make it a Zero-Sum Game. Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zero-sum_game Explanation: The real benefit is for the devs here, before it ever even touches the masses, in that the code has already been written somewhat on a continent level. Its a matter of pasting another call to a function, or maybe two or three, depending on the structure of the gameloop. ( AKA They can cheap out a bit on this one, and still improve things considerably ) Basically, for those who didn't read the link or know of the concept already, scale XP gains for underpopped defenders to make it worth staying and fighting, and scale back overpop rewards for use of overwhelming force. From the defense perspective: Initial underpopped defenders gain more XP and are incentivized to stay in the fight longer, or move to an under/undefended base from an overdefended/lost base. XP gains are greater when underpopped with boosts decreasing towards +0% XP the closer to 50/50 pop a fight gets, and eventually dropping to a negative XP modifier the more overpopped the defenders become. The penalty should be no more than -5%. Defense should be encouraged to slightly overpop. Prevents players overdefending a base, leading to starvation (of extra guns) at another fight that could've been won/saved had the surplus simply moved. From the offense perspective: Use of overwhelming population is punished using a similar offset scale as defense. XP gains are slightly greater when underpopped as attackers ( rewards early pushes ). No more than +10% to limit the large scale farming we see now somewhat. This will scale back to 0% as population reaches a balance of ~50/50. XP gains quickly move from a slight bonus towards a strong-ish penalty for the use of massively overwhelming numbers. Some things to note: Three way fights will now benefit everyone, with a special bonus for the current holder of the territory. This is a two edged sword, it encourages 3 sided fights, but also increases the value of actually holding those territories as a defender without taking away from anyone at all. I think more mid-base fights would happen. Zergs will dissipate much faster, and would only be used as a show of force, or a response to a show of force. They should organically split up into making either more offensives, or moving to a defensive fight. Population will be automatically micromanaged by each player as they'll naturally move towards where the best gains are to be had. The gains should be enough to incentivize players to move to balancing another fight, but worth ignoring, if the fight that they're at is proving to be enough fun, because really, thats the key issue IMO. The best gains for all parties involved would be either in a three way fight, defending an under/undefended base, making the initial push into enemy territory, supporting a slightly underpopped attack force, or, best of all; close margin fights ( See next point ) Close Margin Fights: Gains will be +0% for both sides at a 50/50 fight. So, essentially they'd be as they are now. A variance of 3% to 5% should be allowed before penalizing anyone, because an organized 3% to 5% can make a critical difference in a fight, and should rightly be rewarded. Organized platoons/squads that send appropriate force will be rewarded, massively overwhelming forces will not. XP modifiers from this system would also serve to improve the XP gains for underpopped factions in general, making the risk of being outgunned worth the reward so to speak. Would make late night fights more interesting. Currently, every faction goes to a different continent after a certain time and stays there to farm (On Emerald, anyway). With this system, they would find the XP gains to be greater if they spread themselves out and created actual even fights across all of the continents. A lot of the ground work has already been handled via the current XP boosts we get based on continent population... This is just much more fine grained, and has a slightly different aim. The system is much less passive than the current XP boosts from cont population, but it is meant to directly influence where people are playing, rewarding fair fights, and reasonable pushes. Counterpoints: Offsides fighting would be rewarded by up to +10% unless the system was tied into the influence system or something similar, since reuse of code is never a bad thing if it works, use the influence system. This could be good or bad, but I think thats outside the scope of this system. ( Trying to make it lattice independent... ) Would definitely influence organized play ( Not necessarily a bad thing ). Many ( Not all ) organized groups are worried about XP, thus they'll try to go where the gains are best. Same goes for casual players. This somewhat promotes redeployside... I don't really think thats a good thing, but again, thats out of the scope of this system. Makes the XP gain system even more complex than it already is, for better or worse; who knows? I've been zerged and have zerged like everyone else, but this isn't a "X killed me!11! Rantrantrant" thread. ?????? I don't think this would be the be all, end all solution to any of the issues mentioned, but I think it would be a step in the right direction, while discouraging many of the gameplay elements that have been complained about by new and veteran players alike. Thoughts/Criticisms?