Lately there have been a lot of moans and groans among the community about how CN's player population is now well below 20,000. A lot of people are talking about how the next war is "the last war" and the game is dying. That's silly. CN, as a game and as a community, is still going strong. The political landscape of alliances is constantly changing and I think that I'm more engaged than I have been since the months leading up to Karma. That being said, I understand their complaints. We are facing a dwindling population and the gameplay has remained stagnant for quite some time.
The way I see it, there are three distinct camps on this issue. First, we have the people who think that Admin is letting the game die, everything is coming to an end no matter what we do and that things are so boring. Next, we have the people who claim that there is nothing wrong as most of the people who have left were not major political contributors anyway. These are primarily the folks that say that talking about the decline of CN is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Lastly, we have the folks who see flaws and propose them and the other two camps shoot down the proposals. Everyone is a little bit right here and the only proper way to move forward is to analyze why everyone is upset.
After every major war, there is a lull in the action. People complain about a lack of drama as the main parties of the previous war lick their wounds. Political maneuvering gets done, but it is usually nothing like the rapid treaty action in the immediate buildup before a war. It's the calm after the storm. During wars, there is a lot of in-game action as well as a lot of forum-based political maneuvering. The difference here is in-game action. The problem is, during peacetime, the only in-game way that a single player can affect anything is by growing. You can make friends by being a diplomat or argue on the OWF to make a political impact, but the only thing you are doing as the ruler of your nation is pay bills, buy infra, collect and tech deal.
The obvious issue here is growth - not necessarily growth itself, but the process of doing so. Many people see the problem as being that it takes far too long to grow back in between wars, so the action is more segmented and further apart. I disagree, I think that just making the intervals between the hands-on part of the game shorter will not solve people's discontent. Instead, I'd suggest making growing a more hands-on process. Infrastructure is not my primary concern, there is a very good suggestion out there to make rebuilding infra easier and that's a step in the right direction. I think we should focus on international commerce. Let's start with aid slots.
A lot of us have toyed with the idea of uncapping foreign aid. $3,000,000 - heck, even $4,500,000 - is nothing to a nation that has existed for more than a year, 50 tech is insignificant in a world with nations that have over 10,000 tech and 2,000 soldiers won't help a nation above 10k NS. Some have said this takes skill, because you need to manage your aid slots more wisely and you can't drop x-hundred million bucks on a new guy and suddenly make him huge. Understandable objections, but they just don't hold up. This reminds me a lot of when I used to play Starcraft. You were only able to control 12 units at a time and many of us were under the impression that it took a lot of skill to be able to manage a very large army. While that's true, as it forced you to perform a difficult task and certain nuances allowed the player to excel at moving a large army, it turned out to be very limiting. When Starcraft II was released, you were able to control as large a group as you could find to select. It reduced the amount of mindless clicking and allowed me to focus more on strategy. It also enabled me to do more interesting and complex things with my troops, because I didn't have to worry about managing 72 units in 6 different sections.
Uncapping aid alone would reestablish the importance of bank nations. It would revolutionize tech dealing and growth. It'd be the first in a few steps to add more commerce to the game, but I say it's long since necessary. If enough of us think this is right, we could put a decent and intelligent suggestion together and hopefully Admin and the mods will see where we're coming from.