Well my favourite strategy game is Rome Total War. And the main reasons that in my opinion make the fighting part of it so great are that it offers massive battles with excellent graphics so that you can really feel that you are leading an army of a big historical empire and fighting in a real battlefield.
Now what comes to the UI of Rome Total War battles I think it is pretty simple and easy to use, but I don`t consider it to be the perfect UI as you can`t break and reform your units during the battle. And because of this you sometimes find yourself in situations where some of your units are getting major pressure from the enemy army and there for they are loosing badly where as some of your units nearby are winning their battle against the enemy units, but as you can`t just take some men from those winning units to strengthen your units in trouble and you can`t move those whole winning units, because then the enemy could attack your moving units from behind or from the sides this may lead to situations where those units in trouble break and run and usually pretty soon your whole army is running away from the battle.
So I would hope that you could break and reform groups of ships during the battle in Freeorion so that the player could react better to the changing situations during the battle and possibly create pressure points to the battle line, if there is a battle line.
To the question should the ships in a group be similar to each other or could there be different kinds of ship designs in one group, if this even was the question, I would say that it would be great if groups could consist of ships with different kinds of designs. For example in Rome Total War your units consist of similar men, which sometimes leads to problems, because your unit of 160 archers are alone woundrebal to the enemy cavalry and often I have found my archers from being slaughtered by the enemy cavalry while I take care of the battle of my phalanxes.
So I think that it would be great if you could form mixed groups in Freeorion. This way you could for example have some beam ships in a carrier group so that if an enemy group surprises them the carriers wouldn`t be defenceless against the enemy beam ships and so you would have a little bit of time to send reinforcements to aid the carrier group. But of course this would also mean that you might not get to use the fire power of those beam ships in every battle if the carriers could launch their fighters from a greater distance than the beam ships would be able to use their weapons.
And what comes to the maximum amount of ships I think that this is a question that should be mainly answered by tzlaine and the other programmers, because what comes to the UI I think that if ships are grouped, it is quite easy to handle them and of course you can always increase the size of the groups. And of course if there is a maximum amount of ships in the battlefield the rest of the fleet could always wait in reserve and enter the battlefield when the previous ships have been destroyed like in Rome Total War.
I have probably posted many of these ideas in other threads as well, but here they are now atleast in one place.
By the way what did this mean: " No guarantees that anything here will be read by anyone who isn't under the influence." Influence of what? Drugs, alcohol?