I'm utterly delirious, extremely tired, and can't sleep. So I decided to write a blog post that will hopefully solve all the problems people have and address some common arguments that are floating around of varying degrees of merit. All of which will take the form of a stream of consciousness "don't call it a rant" rant. Without further ado, let's get to it!
1) The tangled treaty web: Yeah, there's been a thread about it on the front page of the OWF since I started playing 4 years ago. You want to know what the real problem is? How people value friendship in the game. People who run alliances have to be sociable, they are, after all, politicians. Since they are good at talking to people, they are good at cultivating friends and relationships that can be beneficial to them. If hanging out together, protecting your reputation, and talking to another ruler over the span of a month or 2 is worthy of a treaty, there's something wrong with your alliance's FA policy and you're part of the problem.
Treaties should symbolize a symbiotic relationship between the two alliances. Whether they help each other with aid programs, or a large alliance protecting a small alliance to suck tech out of them while boosting their feeble infra, THAT'S where a treaty should come in. You're preserving resources that actually benefit your alliance, not some intangible friendship that can easily decay over time or change at the drop of a hat if some unfortunate event comes up. Treaties based on friendship are more likely to be cancelled than treaties that both parties are benefiting from.
Then again, it's hard to argue that both sides don't benefit from a treaty that protects them from each other or links them to a powerful bloc, because then they're "safe" and can go about their business in a more aggressive manner while using their connections to avoid war, or at least being on the wrong side of one. While this is useful backdoor diplomacy, the fact that this line of thought is utterly rampant and blatant is what's wrong with the state of FA in the game. So here lies the root of the problem, it's up to each individual alliance to help solve it. If you follow my plan, all treaties will actually mean something and there will be far less of them.
2) "OMG THE GAME IS DYING!" Well Shan brought up some interesting info here indicating that there's a decline in people joining and still a good amount of people leaving. While there are a bunch of outliers, the sheer number is probably enough to suggest the trend is significant enough without doing a bunch of math (which I hate, especially statistics). If this is the case, why is this happening? A few reasons:
A) Competition - the F2P gaming market has utterly exploded in the last few years. Before 2008, we saw a few pretenders to the CN throne and games like Evony and Runescape in browsers, but not a lot. Then the Facebook gaming scene exploded with Farmville and the like, Turbine put their MMOs as F2P which started a craze among defunct MMOs and new creators alike to adopt the model, and League of Legends became another F2P sensation. Now that you don't have to pay to get AAA style games, why would you join a menu driven browser game?
The answer: Community. This is where we all have to step up. Admin doesn't have the cash to throw around advertising as much as these big studios do, word of mouth and a community that overcomes its xenophobia about new players and begins to embrace them as the lifeblood of the game they are. Instead of telling the group of 5 friends that wanted to start playing and make their own alliance to effectively "$%&@ off and join a real alliance", someone make them a damn protectorate and show them the ropes. Instead of tech raiding random small guys into oblivion, send 'em recruit messages or messages about trade alliances to help them get their nation in order. If you actually care about the game dying, ask yourself, "What can I do to make this more accessible today." and do it.
B) Barrier to entry: I covered the social barrier to entry up there, but let's not forget how long it takes to build a relevant nation. Currently, it's sitting at 1-2 months before a nation can begin buying instead of selling tech and even start thinking about nukes or joining the military. That's unacceptable. In modern times, the game just can't take that long to get going.
Answer: The game needs a better way of accelerating the process. The 3 million/50 Tech aid cap hasn't been changed in over half a decade. It needs to be looked at, at least for smaller nations. The donation system doesn't help much either as it's a minor boost to new nations and only really valuable to huge nations. The very way the game works needs to be changed here, and I suck too much at math to make a comprehensive suggestion for it. If you are good at math, head over to the Sugg box and make the thread.
C) Political stagnation: I covered the dangerous kind up there, but as for long downtimes between wars, they are a necessary evil. Would it seem as epic if you had them every 3 weeks? Hell no! Sure, the average rank and file doesn't get much to do in the time between wars while the politicians weave their intricate plans for setting up the next ones, but that's what the community is for. I really view this as a non-issue apart from the treaty web that I covered above, so I don't even need to answer it.
3) I don't have any more stuff to talk about except that I'm feeling somewhat nostalgic so some random crap that makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside:
Remember when me and Az kidnapped a Hippo?
<-- Official member of the "duped by Vader club" (he actually complimented me afterwards though...huh)
#NorthPacific I don't think anyone still exists that remembers that channel.
holyone is a Werewolf, LYNCH HIM! (In other news, the channel is all but dead now )
I think that's enough for now. I'll do more of these when I'm feeling insane again.