|This article needs to be cleaned up. More information may be found in this article's talk page.(December 2007)|
Mankind is a massively multiplayer online real-time strategy (MMORTS) computer game initially published in December 1998 by the French computer game developer Vibes Online Gaming. After the bankruptcy of Vibes, the game was bought by O2 Online Entertainment Ltd. and while still active today, is being primarily maintained by Quantex since 2008.
Unlike most MMOGs of its era, "Mankind" was one of the first games where all players played in the same persistent universe, trying to stake out an empire starting with only a small ship. Estimates of the number of active players are hard to come by - while the official site claimed both 145,000 and "more than 200,000" players on the same page, these figures likely included inactive as well as trial accounts. According to an interview with an O2OE spokesman, just about 3,000 accounts were active anymore in May 2003.
Mankind has gone through several revisions since its first release in 1998. Its distribution channel was also unique in that, unlike some other MMOGs such as EverQuest and World of Warcraft, the program was not heavily distributed through retail stores, but rather was downloaded on-line. Players pay a monthly fee for access the game.
Mankind has been one of the first games to give players the chance to completely interact in a persistent universe, to create Guild or Corporations, and to be free to follow their own path within the game without pre-given schemes. Players are free to play as miners, warriors, merchants or mercenaries, and regroup accordingly in guilds or alliances of guilds that through several wars made the story of this game and its virtual galaxy. There were at least two "universal wars", with two opposing factions consisting of several allied guilds linked by a wide complex of diplomatic ties, involvements or NAPs (Non Aggression Pact).
Among the most popular guilds (not up-to-date): Ordos, Settlers, Imp-St (Imperium Stellaris), CoRM (Confederation of the Red Moon), RP (Res Publica), ColSup (Colonies Supremes), Borg, DA (The Dark Alliance), ELN (Empire de la Lune Noire), ESN (Empire du Scorpion Noir), BKA (Black Knights Alliance), SMERCS (Space Mercenaries), SPQI (Senatus PopulusQue Imperialis), FSI (Italian Solarian Federation), @@@, SDF (Space Defense Force), Nazgul and Mordor. Several guilds combined into the @lliance to combat such threats as Mordor, CoRM and at one time the Borg.
Military events and battles took place in its virtual galaxy, such as the Hyperion project by ColSup, Res Publica and SDF and the following war against CoRM, won by the latter, the sudden ascent of Nazgul guild spreading terror for wiping away all ships parked within Imperial systems (the so-called Inners) and the Milestone project for space colonization by Imp-St, strongly opposed by Settlers, and causing the epic battle of system Sagee Doooar, lasting 4 real life days, with players of different time zones changing on the front line of both sides.
The game declined following Vibes' bankruptcy, and the apparition of new games offering similar concepts with vastly improved graphical environment. Many players migrated into other "virtual universes" such as EVE Online. In fact some guilds, born in Mankind, are still alive and still fighting each other today in other games like EVE Online or Astro Empires, such as  CoRM and  ColSup.
During the game rework of Quantex in early 2009, the graphic engine of Mankind got fully ported to DirectX 9 and full support for Windows Vista got implemented. Further, dozens of small improvements got implemented. Several old but also new players returned because of that and the community of Mankind got wider and more satisfied again.
Equipped with one construction unit, a Vibz-type starship, and a small amount of credits, players start out in a guarded star system ("Imperial system") to eventually create their own empire. Typical first steps in Mankind consist of building a small base on one of the nearby planets and mining available resources which could either be sold or used to construct further units. Later, a player can leave the safety of the Imperial systems behind and colonize his own star system.
Planet surfaces as well as the space in star systems are realized as separate two-dimensional square game maps, called "environments" in game jargon. While space maps have borders, planetary maps are virtually borderless - units leaving the map at the eastern border reappear in the west, those leaving in the north reappear in the south.
Each environment can contain player units and installations. Some restrictions exist, such as land vehicles only being able to operate on planetary maps, or specific starships not being able to enter planetary environments.
Only one environment per player can be active at a time. Players can switch between maps by loading the unit content of a new environment, thereby leaving the old one.
The game takes place in the so-called "Mankind galaxy". The galactical map available for navigation is divided into sectors of space ("cubes" in game jargon), each of which might contain between zero and about 25 stars. Each star system contains between 5 and 8 planets.
Early game reviews talked about a total sum of 900 million available planets, each with their own climate, seasons and population, a figure that was repeated in advertising text on the game box and even topped by the official website, which claimed several million systems and billions of planets.
In fact, a majority of these planets and star systems were unavailable ("closed") at the initial release of the game and have never been opened afterwards. During the two game resets since its release, the layout of the Mankind galaxy was changed and its size reduced. The last released galaxy consists of 73,251 star systems with 476,265 planets.
The persistent universe feature means that, even when players are not involved in the game, their mines extract ores, factories create equipment, ships continue commerce, and combat units continue to do battle. The game also has option to allow the user be notified via cell phone text message if their units came under attack. Unfortunately this and other alert features were not implemented at release. In fact through the first several months the ships and installations of players not actively connected to the universe did not defend themselves when under attack, making it possible for a player controlling handful of ships to wipe out heavily fortified bases in a few hours. This led to the development of more-or-less adhered to war ethics prohibiting attacks on offline players. Nevertheless, during the game rework process, several changes got implemented to reduce such and make offline attacks less interesting.
- Public Beta
- December 1998
- Mankind 1
- January 1999
- Mankind 1.5
- August/September 1999
- Mankind 1.6
- April 2000
- Mankind 1.7
- November 2000
- Mankind 1.8
- December 2001
- Mankind 1.8.2
- August 2008
- Mankind 1.8.3
- October 2008
- Mankind 1.8.4
- November 2008
- Mankind 22.214.171.124
- January 2009
- Mankind 126.96.36.199 Open Beta
- July 2009
- Mankind 1.9
- February 2010
- Mankind 188.8.131.52
- May 2010 
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 mkit.de - O2OE interview 09/2003. Retrieved on 2007-08-16
- ↑ Mankind News - O2OE and Quantex cooperation. Retrieved on 2008-11-19
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 Mankind - Official Website - Concept. Retrieved on 2007-08-16
- ↑ Strategy Planet - First Look - Mankind. Retrieved on 2007-08-16
- ↑ mkit.de - Interview with Yannis Mercier. Retrieved on 2007-08-16
- ↑ Mankind - Official Website - XML Export. Retrieved on 2007-08-15
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 Mankind - Official Website - Screenshots. Retrieved on 2008-11-19
- ↑ Mankind - Official Website - Mankind 1.9 released. Retrieved on 2010-02-16
- ↑ Mankind - Official Website - Mankind 1.9.1 released. Retrieved on 2010-05-18