Introducing the "Giant Melee" game format

Thursday, February 9, 2012
We are proud to announce the beta release of an incredible new game format called the "Giant Melee" (beta) along with a host of other new features, fixes and improvements. We'd also like to welcome a new developer to our team: Zelrik.  

The new Giant Melee is exactly as it sounds. Giant and full of action. This new game format has room for up to 30 players crammed onto a normal 500 planet map and features a new "running start" option. With the running start option a game begins the moment the first player joins. For the duration of the running start host will run according to the schedule (but will not run early). The game will stay in joining mode and new players will be able to join. This way, the game can begin without waiting for all players. To even up the game for players who start later additional planets and ships are added depending on how late you join. Each player can start with up to 6 planets and 5 ships. When a player resigns from a melee a new kill race option is executed which will delete all their ships and starbases. 

All players in a Giant Melee may choose their own race and there are no restrictions on how many of each race may exist. All other rules in a Giant Melee are the same as a normal default game.  

Why Create the Giant Melee?

If you are a traditionalist, you are probably thinking something like, "Giant Melee! 30 players! Now they've just gone too far... this isn't really VGA Planets...". We know this sounds a little extreme. The primary purpose for creating the Giant Melee is for beginner players. It solves several problems that Planets has when introducing new players to the game: 
  • The game starts immediately. You don't have to wait until it fills up.
  • You can play any race you want.
  • The action will start right away.
  • Even if 50% of the players drop out you've still got a great game going. 
So we will be using Giant Melee games for new player sign-ups on the site. But there is no reason the rest of can't jump in and kill each other in close quarters either! 

We've create the first Giant Melee test game, so jump in, lets fill this one up. Turn time should be short and a lot of players will be eliminated quickly: 

UPDATE: The first game already filled up 30 players, so if you missed it jump on the second one:

UPDATE 2: It only took 24 hours to fill the first 2 games. Luckily there is a third:

Other New Stuff in this Release

Several other new features have been released that go along with this. The largest of these is a completely new map generation engine. The new map creation engine uses an all new algorithm for position players and their surrounding planets on the map to ensure that everyone ends up with a decent and relatively equal starting position and will eliminate problems like players being too close to each other at the start. All players will always have a few planets near their homeworld and some decent natives in the vicinity. There is also a new default map shape: "Circular". Circular is a configurable option and the default is more like a semi-circular blob of planets with roughly the same area as a normal square map.

In addition, some features which some of you have noticed including the ability to view full allies VCRs, the sound and music (previous post here), and around 20 bug fixes.     

Our new Team Member

We'd also like to extend a big welcome to a new developer we've hired on to our team who comes from the community. Zelrik just completed his first month of work which included the new map creation engine. He will be working full time on on-going game development and will also be around to help with support in the forums and feedback. Welcome to the team Zelrik! 

Once again, help us fill up our first Giant Melee so we can test it out and learn what works and what doesn't:

UPDATE: The first game already filled up 30 players, so if you missed it jump on the second one:

UPDATE 2: It only took 24 hours to fill the first 2 games. Luckily there is a third: