Can you explain the difference between your model and the TA model as long as the mexes are evenly distributed around the map?
There are several key differences.
1. For the most part, maps don't have "evenly distributed" metal spots. Go look at the maps people actually play, and you'll see that they have clusters for easy base-building, then have strings leading to more clusters. It's a very artificial model, and it puts far too much responsibility into the hands of mappers as to how gameplay works out. Hence, there are literally hundreds of maps, probably at least a hundred that are pretty, maybe fifty that are pretty and have game-balanced heightmaps... and most people play most of their games on three
. This doesn't seem like a good model to me. It seems like a massive waste of human effort.
I've been seeking out a better way to handle these issues for quite some time now. And I haven't been very happy with the fact that most games played using Spring are on two maps, both with very specific designs. I wanted to break that mold, and see if there was a better way- one that you could even play on those heightmaps even... but with different results, and a very different feel. After something like a year of thought and a lot of testing, this is the model that I think works.
2. This model requires you to hold square "feet" (or "meters" if you prefer) of actual land
. It's the closest thing we have to a real sector-based take-and-hold, but without the major issues of a sector-based system, which I explored at one point. Among other things, since where exactly you place your mines is up to you, you're allowed to place them inefficiently (for maximum metal gain) in order to play more effectively (in terms of tactical use). For example, you may place a mine in a sub-optimal spot that's behind a terrain feature, simply to get it out of the line of fire of enemy units.
This is something that should be a lot more clear when I get the next map done, which will be a hills-and-valleys thing, with some fancy effects I have planned.
3. The micro involved in dealing with this model is neither trivial nor silly, and I certainly didn't put it into the game because I hate players.
That said, I want players to have to balance between getting mines placed, repairing damage, building defensive webs, and using attack units. That's a level of management where you're actually having to do something significant, and you can't just micro some Flashes around- you're going to have to develop and grow and repair things a lot.
Having to stop what you're doing attack-wise, and repair your economy, because somebody used a strategic attack (ZAPs, Maxims, ArtilleryCannons, SPCs, and certainly not least, air) on your economy is a major feature, not a bug. Costing opponents micro-time is a major part of any good RTS, and this is meant to make losing chunks of economy a problem that you must sort out asap- it's a fairly major part of the final tipping-points for victory. It's also the reason that while we have MMs, we don't have dedicated storage. Not that you should ever have a lot stored up, unless you're trying to tech up.
4. The fact that the Ancients aren't super-powerful, but are instead about double the output of a mine on most maps, means that if you want to reclaim them for a sacrifice strat to rush, that's a valid strat, and isn't crippling you later. But in large games that go over 15 minutes, losing that output over time may actually be a key factor, as you get into the 50-60 range of Materials, where if you can eat that much, you're building a massive army or are at Tier 3 and having to support high-end units with their massive associated costs.
I hope that answered the question adequately. I also hope that people will respect that this is not something that I decided to do on a whim, and that I don't intend to change the basic game mechanic.
RC5 is very nearly done. I fixed the infinite-heavytroopers bug, did a few last (minor) balance changes on the T.R.O.L.L. and on the overall feel of Air (which is almost certainly not well-balanced yet, that said) and a few other minor things, and it appears that all of the new stuff is stable (no crashes at all in 5 hours of testing) so I'm going to upload this stuff tomorrow after I've had a chance to get some sleep and do some minor repairs on the maps (start-positions, mainly). If anybody has some last-second balance stuff they want me to look at, please post by 3PM EST, because I will probably be uploading by then.