Unlike many of the previous space empire building games which Starpires is based on, it is meant to be truly massively multiplayer. That is, there can be thousands or even tens of thousands of players competing in the same game.
To make this manageable from a players perspective each player has their “Known Universe” of players within the game. These are the players they can see, interact with and attack. As their empire grows and becomes more powerful there known universe will expand as they discover new players. An added benefit of this is the game keeps getting more challenging.
How does this work?
When you first start out, your known universe is made up of about 20 players. These players are people that started playing at about the same time that you did, your friends (via Facebook relationships) and anyone who invited you into the game. So basically you start off playing with people at your level, and people that you personally know.
Every so often the game checks to make sure your known universe still contains plenty of players on a similar level as you. If not, then additional empires are added to your known universe.
So far the system seems to be working pretty well, but we’re always looking for ways it can be tweaked to keep the game play challenging and engaging.