OK. I am really interested in Brad's description of how large these games can be-much larger that current 4X games. But one thing I have not see discussed here to any length is this: If really large games are possible, what (if anything) might need to be considered to make these uber-games playable? Do game mechanics that make a smaller-world games wonderful directly scale to much larger games? For instance, city management that is fun for a few cities might be a micro-management nightmare in very large games. Do game worlds that are larger than we have ever seen also need game mechanics that we have never seen before? Besides the micromanagement issues, a few things that come to mind might be:
-having a tech or magic research tree that will not be completely researched halfway into the game. Alternatively of course the research rate could just be slowed down.
-having regional managers? How many cities are possible? I love the idea of a big world but I do not want to manage 50 cities without help. Do managers need to operate at a higher level in really large games?
-do monsters in the wilderness need to get pregressively harder to defeat? It would be nice to have monsters that would still be a challenge towards the end of really long games. Or making some extreme terrain types very hard for most units to move safely thought (swamps, haunted forests, dangerous sections of ocean, mountains). Maybe it might not be practical or prudent to explore or settle these regions until halfway or more though a long game. This will leave some mystery and challenge still on the map even in long games. I love the exploration part of these games so to me it would be great to leave some areas too hostile to explore until much later.
-do spells need to operate differently in large worlds vs small worlds?
-In a really really large game world-maybe other game objectives could be developed. For instance, given the potential for unit and monster variation in the game as well as excellent AI, it could be a fun alternative challenge to have a long, thin strip of a world (providing we can dictate world dimentions) and have a city at either extreme end of the world. Each player would have a certain amount of time to build up a city/nation, then gather up your 10 best units (or something like this) and move them out into the greater world outside of your nation. The first player to have his group make it to the opposite ends of the earth wins (this might include a battle when the two groups meet in the middle). With smaller games, this would not be very interesting but on a much larger map this sounds like fun to me.
-Given the collective gaming experience here on these boards, I am sure that better ideas than these could be suggested here.