Today stands as a singular moment in my CN growth. It is upon the occasion of my acceptance as a full member into The Order of Light that I wish to make a few remarks.
I have seen long-standing members of this Alliance remove themselves from it's ranks over the past few days. Some have done so during hostilities, without the convenience of being PoW's. Some have done so because of their strong allegiance to other confederations. Some have done so because of personal disputes, or philosophical disputes with others in this Alliance. I feel relatively confident that TOOL is not the only Alliance to see this.
I am 54 days into my CN life. I am 54 days into my TOOL life, as well. For those of you who have multiple years as CN players, you may well think I have nothing of value to offer. I beg to differ.
Some say the community has changed. It has.
CN stands in a state of diminishing players. In my view, CN is not marketing itself as the growing and dynamic game it is today. Balance and "leveling" have done the game a great justice, as the innovations have consistently continued. The IT team has done a remarkable job not only bringing new innovations to the playing field, but also of listening to it's members. CN has given it's membership more of what they want than just saying "No!". They understand that the members make the game. At least, members make the game last.
Some say the community has changed. It has.
From multi-nation wars to multi-Alliance wars, CN has developed over these past years into a form not recognizable from its beginnings. To the largest degree, I submit it is because of the players that this is true. Being a single nation in CN is now considered a bad thing. I'm not so sure I agree with that. But, it cannot be argued that the dynamics of Alliance life has certainly brought many new dimensions or fun AND reality to the game. Some of those who were original nations of CN have been off, in the RL, gaining education and life experiences. This is a good thing. However, one of the truly awesome aspects of CN as a game is that it is very easily multi-generational. Adult players bring much to the game. Youth brings its own legendary part to play, as well. Some of us are of such tooth-length that we bring a lifetime of experience to the new game. Some of us are retired military commanders, for instance. We have something to offer this game from a real world perspective that those not yet of voting age cannot possibly hope to bring. Many of our players are, as we look at this page, on a real life fighting front, defending their nation's hopes and glories with resources up to and including their own blood. They should not be ignored. Youngsters are playing this game at an amazing rate. The reasons are many. Friends bring them to the game. They have a direct interest in the political, economic and other proportions of the game. Some feel that playing CN is the only real way of making sense out of a world that, to them, just doesn't make any sense whatsoever.
Within Alliances, the community has changed. Of course it has.
Some go, some grow, and some stay, even as some of us begin our Alliance life. Continuity is a mark of extreme success within an online gaming community, especially one that requires no fee. If you make donations to the cause: Thank you. If more member nations did, I believe we would see more in the way of requested features being put into an already full pipeline. As many have mentioned, $25.00/month is not so much to pay for all you get in play. These folks work tirelessly to bring the very best game it is possible for them to create, every day. Having been a programmer for more years than many would believe possible, I am well aware of the requirements. The entire Alliance concept is (for the most part) player driven. No single player can create, maintain, and grow an Alliance. In my Alliance (TOOL), there are well over 200 member nations. As a professional musician and conductor, I can tell you (without knowing our Alliance Lord Commander at all) much of what his daily life must entail, as he attempts to herd cats of such a bulky clutch. In the end, we must each and all finally agree that, of all the possible ways of doing a particular thing, his is the one that is best. Authority and responsibility may be delegated, but it is to the leader alone for the final accountability of the success or failure of the Alliance. This leader has done so with honor, respect, and vision; not because I say so, but because of what so many others say, or have said of his leadership.
His choice, of the many available to him, has been consistently (from all I have read or learned) to strengthen his community. When it was neither the easiest or most agreed-upon strategy, it was his determination alone which won out. This is, more than anything else, a proof of his leadership quality. In the intervening months between wars, TOOL has consistently out-performed other Alliances in qualities that few see. Recruitment, for example. Instruction of applicants has been of the very first order.
Members who don't know me from Adam have welcomed me, followed me, helped me, aided me, counselled me, and generally befriended me in ways that simply amaze me. Not merely in quantity, but in quality. As just one example, I asked for specific help one time, and had twelve members of this Alliance offer their personal assistance within one hour. They didn't know anything about me, other than I was an applicant to their Alliance. When I was too ignorant to even know the questions to ask, I got counselling from members both old and new.
I can tell you how many applicants are in my class (27), what their nations' names are, and how they have fared in the latest hostilities. We have been encouraged, and assisted, in our communications together. I have brought a few new member nations into the game since my signing up now 54 days ago. Every one of those members got no "Alliance Baiting" from me, yet all of them have become part of my Applicants class--of their own accord. They, too got the humpti-gazillion recruitment blizzard notices, a shock to all of us. Yet, from the many, they chose the one. It happened to be the same one I did. I know why I made the choice I made. You would have to ask them why they made the choice for themselves. I can tell you this, however. They feel part of a significant and dedicated community that is willing to do whatever it requires for them to succeed as member nations in the game, and to be strong and believing community members within this Alliance.
I am personally horrified and ashamed of my terrible beginnings in this war. I let my Alliance down because of my ignorance. Yet, my Alliance only thanks me for my willingness to participate. Does this send a message to me? Yes. Does that message matter to me? Yes.
As Tiberius said of Spartacus: "I may well end this war as a dead Spartan, but I will forever be a Spartan!" I may well be the worst TOOLie on Planet Bob (and I don't think anyone would disagree with me!), but I will forever be a TOOL on Planet Bob. There is no condition in my mind where I would EVER be anything else. Why? Because the community of TOOL is, in both victory and defeat, honorable. It is, as an Alliance, loyal. It requires nothing, makes available everything (and more) an Applicant could ever hope to want or need to succeed within CN, and within the Alliance.
I cannot express my deepest thanks and grateful heart as a new member nation to each and every member of TOOL for creating THE Alliance that it is at this moment. When, in RL, I find hope a difficult thing to discover, it is so nice to find it here. I've been around a bit, and this ain't my first rodeo. It is so good to see the overpowering determination of some 200 individuals to do good, and BE good as to make me pause. Most of all, it gives me hope that I can master this game, and the rigorous requirements of that Alliance that made it possible.
When in war, your enemies count their merit in the number of battles they have had, and lost to this Alliance, it says something significant about that Alliance. When, in war, other Alliances go far out of their way to even consider entering hostilities with your Alliance because of what the Alliance stands for, war says something about your Alliance. When, in war, the idea of taking your Alliance's flag is considered not only impossible, but the worst of all possible acts, heinous to the znth degree--universally, that says something for that Alliance. When the newest Applicant to that Alliance is given a target into a war, and is immediately targeted by no less than eight nations of the opposite Alliance, that says something about your Alliance. That every one of the nations targeting you is significantly lower in any definable degree than you really says something about you as a member of said Alliance. When your targeted enemies start counselling you on how to actually conduct your battles against them, because of the Alliance you have applied to, that says something about the respect your enemy has towards you AND your Alliance.
When the purpose of your Alliance entering the war is to honor a Treaty, that says a lot about your Alliance. When your being IN the war positively affects your Treaty Alliance (even if only deflection defense), that says TONS about your Alliance. When your Alliance comes into war knowing defeat is the only possible outcome for your Alliance, yet the honor of your Alliance to its Treaty partners requires it, that says much about your Alliance. When your Alliance starts dusting those targeting it, in defense of your Alliance partner, that says a lot about your Alliance. When, in order to save your Alliance, you surrender to fantastically outrageous terms, so that your Treaty partners won't have to, I think that says something about your Alliance. When you formally accept those terms, and get more than 300 posts congratulating you for your performance in War, while only six (6) comments have anything negative to say about your prosecution of that War, I think that says tons about your Alliance. When the negative comments say only that they think you having to pay reps at all is a bad thing, doesn't THAT say something about your Alliance?
They say that nothing spoils a good war like an outbreak of Peace.
What will my Alliance show in Peace? What will I be able to contribute to the Alliance that I have come to know in these past 54 days? How will the Alliance, and the community that supports it, change in the future?
I honestly cannot tell you. Based upon what I have experienced first hand, only as a reader of those who would know much better than I, I believe I can know of what I should expect, however.
You cannot create, maintain and grow an Alliance that lasts more than three years as one of the most (if not THE most) respected Alliances on CN by mere whimsy, luck, or happenstance. The community that has been built in this Alliance has been built with sweat equity from it's leadership team and it's member nations. Tears have created a bond that no amount of talk could ever form. Honor, equity, and a willing heart towards it's members is what I expect to see in Peace. Our reparations will be paid, on time. We will rebuild, and yes, we will re-arm. We will grow member nations that conscribe to the core principles of TOOL. If you do not, by this point, fully know and understand what those core concepts are, then you are either illiterate, or dead.
In conclusion, it is my belief that war does not create community, war proves community. Nor does Peace, for that matter. Peace continues community. Alliances do not last if they are not first honorable to the task. Alliances must treat their member nations, and their fellow Alliances with the respect they would wish to have visited upon them. Those who do not will perish. But, those who do? Well, those Alliances last forever. They build strong and lasting community.
I would rather be the lowest, worst, most ill-respected member of TOOL than the hero of any other Alliance on Planet Bob. I'm going to work very, very hard to be worthy as a total TOOL. Not because my Alliance requires it. Because my Alliance permits it, encourages it, supports and endorses it. They expect it of me, and are willing to show me the way to achieve that goal.
I wouldn't want it any other way.
Live Forever In The Light of TOOL!
(Post edited by Merlinus for spelling.)