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The Existential Threat

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Vladimir

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Since 2007 and a peak of 40,000 the number of nations on Planet Bob has been dropping. This problem found its scapegoat in the New Pacific Order and formed a powerful pillar of anti-Pacifican thought throughout the Initiative and Continuum eras: for not only was the Order a political enemy, it was a threat to our very existence! However, the constant monitoring that we saw between 2007 and 2009 has now dried up, and debate on the causes has been strangely absent over the past year despite numbers dropping at an increasing rate -- down by around 6,000 to 23,700 since the end of the Armageddon War; the lowest figure since 2006.

What is the reason for this lack of concern? One hesitates to say that it has disappeared completely, since the existential threat remains and its problems -- lack of trades and tech-sellers among them -- are a constant in inner-alliance discussion. Rather, it is simply no longer convenient to discuss the threat as having political causes since it would now require the then-accuser to change, complicating their own immediate political goals in the process.

We are thus left with three options: politics is still to blame, but nobody wants to talk about it; it was never believed that politics is to blame; it was believed that politics is to blame, but as soon as the political power-structure changed so did that belief.

Not being a mind-reader, and with no discussion from which to take hints, it is impossible for me to answer this question. But I would suggest that none of the three options paints the protagonists in a particularly glorious light.

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LOL

You missed the most blatant issue. That fact being this game sucks and that most people only play it because they have friends in their respective alliances.

These games have a very typical trend. They have a mad spike when the games starts up, as there is incredible opportunity for anyone to prosper. Now it takes at least 2 years to reach the top 5% assuming you do 6 donations a month. Every month. People realize this, and dont want to keep playing for that long, (or pay that money) because the game is lame. So after about the first year or two of the games life, the game's begins to stagnate as updates become less regular. Eventually one power will reign utterly supreme, and at that point the game will more or less die, as it will no longer be fun. It hasn't reached that point yet, and will probably take another year or two before a bloc that unbalanced with power will stand, but it will happen. (As I see it right now, the game is still pretty well balanced.)

I dont see anything out of the ordinary or politically related here, but good try.

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The number of nations dropped because alliances decided to go for the quality>quantity route after 2007. Most alliances used to just require their nations to make an oath back when we had 40,000 nations. Now there are IRC interviews, competency tests, trade circle requirements etc. The result is that there are more active members, but a lower total. I know the ODN's forum activity (or rather, bandwidth/number of posts) has increased steadily since 2006, despite our cut back in total nations. I suspect it is similar for many other alliances.

There are also fewer mass recruiters now, and the number of invasion alliances has been reduced greatly. The lack of invasion alliances is probably because the game is now so established that it is rather difficult to establish a presence here (although obviously GOONS are doing rather well for themselves).

A mod crackdown on everyone's 'brother' who played probably helped reduce the number too.

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I'm afraid you completely missed the point, Jeff. I am not discussing the actual reasons for decline, but rather what people have said about the reasons in the past and present.

Between 2007 and 2009 it was a topic of much debate, with the Order getting a lot of the blame for creating a political climate that wasn't conductive to growth. Over the past year this decline has continued (perhaps even accelerated), and yet I haven't seen a single word uttered about it. Why not? This is the question I set out to ask.

Nevertheless, your post is interesting. If the blame is now placed on game mechanics then that is a hugely significant shift from what came before, and would lead us to examine the latter two of my three options.

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less people are playing because they divide up among different alliances, instead of making one big alliance that can crush everyone.

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I would hazard a good part of the problem lies in the grow of an "Old Boys Club" where the ability of players to rise within established alliances is severely hampered by how long someone has been a part of the game. In smaller alliances you see members taking the helm relatively rapidly but are never handed much credibility due to being "n00bs" or whatnot while in the older alliances established members tend to hold onto their posts long past when they have been effective. This can create a very intimidating environment for a new member of an alliance who has ideas but cannot find a venue for them, being told it's important to sit and watch the more experienced and follow in their footsteps. Lack of upward movement leads to disenchantment, sees these members split off to form their own alliances which are then laughed or crush off of the 'verse which leads to quitting all together.

What's the answer? There really isn't one unless the entirety of the game becomes one large meritocracy which isn't going to happen.

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Ah, I see. My alliance might punch me for saying this (lol), but In Pacifica's defense, their powerblocs probably increased the life of the game believe it or not at least to some extent. They gave the world community something to hate. They gave the community more or less a goal to work towards which was simply and plainly the fall of the NPO.

I was never in the NPO. I would guess 'to be hated' was probably not the NPO's intention when they initially gained power or for a duration of being in power, but through their paths chosen that's what it finally became. I don't think you will deny members of the NPO like being the bad guys. Bilrow throws that Most hated player award around like it is a noble prize for jebus sake, and I would argue he is not the only one in NPO that tries pretty hard to be that guy no one likes. And I dont want that to sound like I am picking on the NPO. Every alliance has those people. I just think NPO is like a magnet for them. :P Once your alliance becomes so saturated with those mentalities, it eventually spills out in alliance policies.

That said, had pacifica gained insurmountable power as I specified in my post earlier, as will likely happen to one alliance in the game eventually. That will signify the end of the game. They will also have the unfortunate pleasure of watching the game die a slow painful death. That's what makes this game so interesting. Who is able to say someone has insurmountable power? Blocs can break. Alliances can split. Preventing global dominance is the very shred of hope that keeps a game like this alive. Alliance/bloc supremacy wont happen with the game in it's current state. That would require resources too large to manage. Global Membership will have to dwindle considerably for reasons coupled with my first post. Even as global membership approaches zero, blocs can break. Alliances can split. I heard alliance/bloc supremacy occurred in Lunar wars, but I think membership was around 8K and it took a several hundred member alliance to do it. I havent been updated on that in a while though. That might not be true

I guess you could derive from my statements that I think the NPO has been "good" for the community. If you think "good" for the game can come from being unethical, then perhaps so.

And I guess to answer your initial post more completely, the answer which you undoubtedly already know, is a combination of the generalities you have posted. Politics can be blamed, for being good and bad. More importantly, MMO's themselves by nature will not last forever. WoW will eventually reach a stagnation point and die. I think it's already reaching its stagnation point actually. EveOnline, Tribal Wars, StarSeige.......Starseige is dead

CN is not out of the ordinary. I've pondered it, and I don't think there is much you can do to significantly impact the longevity of the game. Admin's attempts with facebook "likes" and such are a bit laughable imo.

EDIT: grammar and coherence D:

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I'm afraid you completely missed the point, Jeff. I am not discussing the actual reasons for decline, but rather what people have said about the reasons in the past and present.

Between 2007 and 2009 it was a topic of much debate, with the Order getting a lot of the blame for creating a political climate that wasn't conductive to growth. Over the past year this decline has continued (perhaps even accelerated), and yet I haven't seen a single word uttered about it. Why not? This is the question I set out to ask.

Nevertheless, your post is interesting. If the blame is now placed on game mechanics then that is a hugely significant shift from what came before, and would lead us to examine the latter two of my three options.

People also said the moon landing was fake, will you be writing a blog about that? RV does the whole "LALALALAL IM IGNORING THE FACTS" thing better

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Further more. CN is 4 1/2 years old..how many people fall into one of the following: Got bored with CN, moved off to school, graduated or got a job and lack the time to do this..real life its not a bad thing or just plain got fed up with the game since we avg a war once a year. Hell if you want to throw out extreme cases we can use the economy..ISPs dont provide a service for free

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Wickedj, if the moon landings were used to justify years of political activity, and in part to justify the most significant political event in history, and then were never mentioned again after a political power-shift towards the conspiracy theorists, then yes, I probably would write a blog about it -- especially if the subject was based on the question of our long-term survival.

Of course, this also fits rather neatly into my wider theory of popular ideology and morality, which helps.

Your second post illustrates the very point that I am making. I am not saying that politics causes the decline. I am asking why discussion of the decline disappeared with the political power-shift. So far many of the responses here (Ferrozoica and Banksy excepted) would indicate my third answer: that beliefs changed with the power-shift. That is to say, that while it was politically expedient, people believed that politics was the cause; and then when it was politically uncomfortable, they began to believe that external factors were to blame. A fascinating bit of data, I'm sure you'll agree.

Penkala, can I take it from your comments that you are of the opinion that politics do matter, and that the current politics make things 'boring' and thus cause, at least in part, decline?

Jeff, it is an interesting thought that near-dominance keeps things going. However, it is nigh impossible to tell the difference between absolute dominance and near dominance except for in hindsight. Much of the Lunar expedition, after all, was based on the idea that Planet Bob was 'won' by The Initiative, and we saw a great many 'end of the world' threads over the following years. We can bring that to today and say that, yes, the new SuperGrievances hegemonic bloc will probably fall one day, but to the layperson where is the sign of this? History shows us that it could take weeks or it could take years to occur, depending on events, loyalties and ambitions.

This is important, since if we are discussing it in relation to decline, it is arguably perceptions rather than reality that is important.

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Say Person A beats the crap out of Person B for years and years and no one does anything about it. Then one day, Person B takes a beating so hard, he winds up in a coma. Now, finally, everyone is outraged and rightfully gives Person A his long deserved and immensely satisfying thrashing.

If a year later, Person A hasn't gone any where near Person B, but Person B is still in a coma, is it safe to assume that Person A's abuse is not the reason for Person B remaining in a coma?

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A heavily flawed analogy, Sal Paradise, since we are not discussing a single organism that feels lasting effects. We are discussing tens of thousands of organisms that constantly come and go, with the underlying mechanism being how many come and stay. These organisms have no memory of the past, nor have they any damage as a result of it. Thus to blame the past is to dodge the issue entirely.

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We all know what is at stake here. The propaganda number that was done. And to what it comes to is, on what IC political divide you are in, you will take position towards this obvious propaganda myth you described there Vlad.

Those that created that propaganda number know what that fairytale is worth, those that were so childishly naive to buy it, had to realize what was behind it and the rest recognized it for what it was worth immediately.

Ending towards- everybody realizes the truth here at the end.

I give credit, for the length and power of the "hate speech" and "blame Pacifica first" mentality that was created on the boards. It took determination and time to build up to the ridiculous levels it eventually turned into. Recognized by some of the creators later on as ridiculous as well, but "war by any means" (Starfox).

The game is losing members for many reasons, which most have to do with game mechanics and the "technical" game it self. Nothing lasts forever, it seems no great push will be made to answer the main source of the members drop (and I understand why, to just say, it is a *free* on line browser game after all) in this area and unfortunately I see nothing but drops in the future.

The game did last 4 and something years, no small feat and is still running. If not for certain invasion from one other game and a certain aspiring group of players under the colors of IC AA NPO that joined back then I seriously doubt it would even "left the ground", much less be so packed with "game history". Wild ride and there is still some fuel in the engine, game will see still some nice "fun times".

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I would say nobody is talking about why there are less people in CN now then there was is because there is nothing to talk about. CN saw heavy growth in 06 and 07 because it was discovered by many other online groups and those groups invaded over. Now these groups already know about CN and as such much less mention of it exist outside of the already established areas. If people want more players in CN and the return of the 1000 man alliances then start seriously recruiting off site or try to convince admin to start advertising the game so that more then a relatively small handful know about this game's existence.

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I think if you looked at a list of people who wrote threads about how NPO was strangling the game, you might find that many of them stopped playing shortly after the Karma War - since their goal was achieved. Perhaps if they had stayed around they might have continued complaining, but with a different target. Just a theory of course.

Another option could be that since the theory that Pacifican Hegemony was causing a decline in game membership was proven wrong (the Hegemony was toppled and the decline continued), said theory lost popularity. That doesn't necessarily mean that it was born out of political goals to begin with.

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A heavily flawed analogy, Sal Paradise, since we are not discussing a single organism that feels lasting effects.

See, that's the point of the analogy comrade Unlimited. I'm using one thing to represent another. We are not discussing a single organism that feels lasting effects, but we are discussing a community that feels them. And this community your alliance, but more so your allies, abused for years.

You don't need to think too highly of yourselves any more. There still are active agents destroying what is left of the community. The kinds of people you enabled in the past are being enabled by others today.

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Another option could be that since the theory that Pacifican Hegemony was causing a decline in game membership was proven wrong (the Hegemony was toppled and the decline continued), said theory lost popularity. That doesn't necessarily mean that it was born out of political goals to begin with.

Or that something new continued the decline.

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However, Anenu, that didn't stop people talking about it throughout 2007, 2008 and early 2009.

Lord Brendan, the mechanism given for the decline wasn't the name 'Pacifica', but rather political circumstances blamed on Pacifica -- unipolarity, diplomatic secrecy, etc -- and all of these things are still going strong. Thus I think it a stretch to say that the theory, as it was given back then, was proven incorrect by the war. Likewise, I think it a stretch to suggest that all these people simply disappeared, since the arguments made up a the foundation of a large part of Karma's war propaganda.

Then you believe that the first option is correct, Sal Paradise? "Politics is still to blame, but nobody wants to talk about it."

[You caught the essence of my own beliefs perfectly, Branimir.]

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Perhaps a minor reason, but the culture of this game has its head too much stuck in the past. Every treaty between large alliances has its historical roots to past wars, split-ups and other events that may have occurred years before a new player entered the game. It could take weeks of wiki-ing to learn a sufficient amount of information to even begin to understand the context behind the discussions on the OWF (oh wait, an acronym that new players wouldn't understand). Then for those who are indecisive on joining an alliance (not always because they don't understand the significance of alliances in CN) they have their nations plundered constantly.

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While Banksy's and Rextu's theories are interesting, both in their own rights and as a data points, and I certainly appreciate their contributions, I am not debating the reasons for decline -- I am discussing the discussion.

I may agree or disagree with the points they made, but that is irrelevant to the point that I am making.

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His theory blows holes in your argument. It provides an alternative to your three options, because it different reasons for the decline in nations than the ones you stated, yet lays the blame for the decline in active nations (back when NPO was in power) firmly in the lap of NPO. I'd say it's pretty important to address.

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I don't think we're reading the same things. Banksy places the blame on elitism in alliances (using the example of the ODN), the lack of invasion alliances, and the mods. None of these have anything to do with the NPO, nor does it contradict anything I said.

I didn't give any reasons for the decline in nations. What I did do was give the three possible reasons that someone would blame the NPO in the past, and not discuss it today. At no point did I give my own opinion on the reason for the decline, because the reasons themselves were irrelevant to the discussion I was initiating.

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I apologise, I wasn't specific enough. The three options you provided included modern politics, and I thought you meant this to imply that C&G and SuperFriends were responsible for the decline in nations. But my point stands. Banksy's explanation provides a different option, where reasons are given for the decline in nations overall, but where there is room to continue to hold Pacifica responsible for the decline of active nations during its time as #1.

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One of the options does imply that SG are responsible. But it is not put forth as my opinion, merely one of three opinions that someone who blamed us pre-Karma may hold.

You will have to walk me through how Banksy breaks out of these three opinions since, as I noted above, I see him nowhere blaming Pacifica. Rather he blames a political trend that exists within many alliances (and must do if it is to be a valid reason) as well as two non-political trends.

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