Which is a different discussion than zooming out of course. What we want to avoid is the call to having zooming out turn into "now that we've got it zoomed out, can you put icons on the map?" path.
True. I guess you'll just have to make those heat maps so damn good no one can complain about them
They'll complain no matter what. It's a mutually exclusive feature really. There is a legitimate case to have a game where you play it mostly with the full world map and occasionally zoom in to give specific adjustments to a particular army.
I think such a game could be very fun btw. Imagine a World War II game where you play the game zoomed out to a map of Europe where you see the locations of Armies. You zoom in and those armies are then broken up into divisions. Keep zooming in and those divisions are broken up into battalians and then companies and then squads and then individuals all in a single seamless zoom.
Many people would absolutely want that game. Heck, I want that game. The problem scope. You can't really do all of that well on the budget we have to make the game.
When we get into these discussions, I think there is often a misunderstanding that we somehow think feature X is a "Bad idea" or just doesn't "conform to our vision". It's more a matter of picking which parts of gameplay we can focus on withing the budget we have to make the game. We could do the strategic map game OR we can make the <20,000 foot game look spectacular. But we can't do both. We have to pick.
And even when you pick, you have to do it well enough so that you don't turn off huge swaths of the market. There are people who simply won't play games that are too zoomed in. I didn't play Age of Empires III because of how closely zoomed in it was.
On the other hand, if you play the game zoomed out too far, the game starts to appeal to the same demographic that plays military board games (which includes me) but that is a very small market. I couldn't get my friends to play Supreme Commander because they found the game too weird looking and too grognardy. They liked Total Annihilation.
So there's no perfect decision here.