Originally Posted by Andy Joslin
The world map is instanced; each player sees himself, his armies, and NPC cities/armies; he cannot see other player's cities and armies (except perhaps friends and guildmates).
You interact with other players through various types of PvP battles, chat, guilds, friendships, alliances, and other ways. The world map would be much too cluttered if everyone could be seen, though.
Ah, I think I understand, and of course you're right that with everyone represented on the same map, it would be too cluttered to even use.
I'll take a stab at understanding here: So essentially everyone sees the same world map, which is in turn tailored to their own knowledge of the game world. That is, where they see <TheirCity>, you may see <YourCity> (assuming you were the same race and built them in the same region). This wouldn't be to say that your city exists and theirs doesn't--merely that you both have cities in that same region, which is much larger than simply the instanced area your city by itself inhabits. Does that sound about right?
You'll have to forgive my utter ignorance... I'm trying hard to get a grasp of visual concepts, but sometimes it gets difficult, especially as a huge fan of traditional RTS games in which the MMO meta-concept is a little difficult to fathom. Either way, thanks for your response, Andy.