Mankind is a massively multiplayer online real-time strategy (MMORTS) computer game.
Mankind was 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.
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.
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.
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.
The game takes place in the so-called "Mankind galaxy". The galactic 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 ore, 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.
Source: Wikipedia, "Mankind (video game)", available under the CC-BY-SA License.