Let's keep the modern day comparisons to a minimum. In my opinion, there really is no comparison. These are aliens with alien histories and alien morals. A hive does not care about the individual, only the hive. They should not care if civilians get thrown to the meatgrinder, as long as it advances the hive's goals. Therefore, no "human shields" I think for a sci-fi game like this, you have to think outside the box. Most likely, if an alien empire is out to destroy another empire, they aren't going to fight for the cities, farms, resources, etc. They are going to glass the planet, kill every organism that could cause them harm, and repopulate. If they don't, they still aren't going to care about infrastructure. They'll blow it to hell and enslave the leftover population. They don't care if it's on cnn the next day or not.
What you're describing is interesting, but requires a complete overhaul of the diplomatic workings. Each race responds to different events in different ways. Boskara, for example, wouldn't give a toss what anyone else thinks of them, nor would they suffer or benefit from happiness levels. This makes a horrendously complex balance and testing matrix for the CodeForce QA members.
Given the current diplomatic method, I don't see an alternative to measuring all races by the same moral standard. Yes, it's imperfect, but look at sci-fi - any race is nothing more than an existing Earth creature morphed into a sentient shape. Talking dogs, thinking termites, sentient frogs. It's quite unique if a race in any sci-fi literature is so different as not to resemble anything in existence on Earth. But given a completely different evolution environment, how could they be anything BUT completely different?
Look at human history - our attitudes have changed dramatically over the last few hundred years alone. Not too long ago, the organized genocide of the North American Indians was greeted with public joy. Sacking cities and enslaving the entire populace was once considered the norm. During the crusades, King Richard executed 2000 prisoners of war, and he was considered a hero in his time. Morality is a funny thing that changes from decade to decade, from society to society. It would take a great deal of innovation on the part of a game development company, to be able to reflect this in a game - and so far, I haven't seen it done.
For these reasons, I think any invasion should cause significant civilian casualties and infrastructure damage. Civilians will also fight and die to protect the planet along with troops. Pick whatever game mechanic to represent this, but it should be done....along with taking a significant amount of time to take over a planet...possibly 10x as much or more. Right now, it seems the troops fight one battle, the attacker puts it's flag in the ground, and it's theirs. It just seems kinda rediculous. Without a large technological advantage, it should take months or maybe years to take a planet. It'll also be a meatgrinder, needing to constantly send in new troops to reinforce troops on the ground. Meanwhile, the planet is getting blackend, possibly some permanent damage will result and will reduce planet and resource quality.
I agree with you on the point of the flag-in-the-ground. Iraq was taken over in short order, but the insurrection following the "mission accomplished" pronouncement has tied up tens of thousands of troops for years. And that's only a culturally different group invading. How might people react to aliens, whose behaviour and thought processes are completely incomprehensible?
But it's unavoidable. How else can we model civilian reaction to being invaded. Are you suggesting that each race react in a different way to different races? Humans fighting to the death versus Boskara, but content to accept the new governorship of Securans? Can Dayhut be absorbed into the hive mind of the Gizureans, or is the operation of their hive minds so radically different, that genocide is the only option? Think of the matrix and its complexity - how do you balance it all? And more importantly, is it worth it in terms of resulting enjoyment for the players for the development and testing time involved?
< Message edited by Kayoz -- 1/20/2011 9:43:19 PM >