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What Makes CN Tick Pt 1

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Seerow

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In my introduction, I said I was going to do several more blogs about what it is that makes this game keep going on. I asked around, and apparently out of game discussion is okay on a blog, but other rules apparently still apply (still not clear on that given there's a separate ToS for blogs. If someone can fill me in on the details I'd appreciate it). That said however, I'm going to put off discussion on actual game mechanics for now. Because lets face it, at the core of this game we all play, is the politics.

At the games start, politics were pretty brutal compared to what we know today. I mean today there's all sorts of moralistic crap going around. Back then, there was only one rule: No nukes. And that rule existed primarily because getting nukes at that point in the games history was so hard that almost nobody had them, and anyone who got hit with them was basically getting a nation reset.

But I'm not going to bore anyone with a history lesson. My memory's never been the best, and if you want accurate history we have a wiki for that. Point is, early in the game we had a lot of wars where people got better pretty quickly then went to war again over something equally stupid. But if we were all suddenly transported back to 2006, we probably wouldn't have gotten into a war over most of the stuff going on then that set off wars.

Instead of endless wars however, we got politics. After GW1, when people realized the power of getting a bunch of allies together and stomping on the other side rather than fighting alone, it was a huge shift in paradigm. Strategies shifted from "What would be good for the next week" to "What would be good months down the line". Some alliances were better at this than others, but the end result is the MDP web that we've all grown to love and hate at the same time.

So how does any of this translate into keeping people interested? Well, the game is and has been for a great deal of time now a long term strategy game. Alliances set up treaties and plan for months or years into the future. At this point, even nation building is a long term strategy. Sure buying that 3k infra looks good now, but if you save that money instead, that war 2 months down the road it could make the difference between being demolished and being able to rebuild when all is said and done.

At this point, anyone who's stuck with the game is to some degree someone who enjoys the waiting game. Sure we cry for want of war after a few months or so, but a lot of us are content with sitting back and waiting for months to see stuff happen. Frankly, if you aren't patient enough to wait like that, you probably quit the game within a month of joining after seeing how slowly everything seems to move.

That said, even with the glacial pace of the game, there is always something happening. The glacial pace just allows for that something to be accessed by anyone regardless of the time level they are willing to expend. I can take a 6 month break, and ask around for a little bit and be up to date on most major events and be fine. On the other extreme, you can be active on IRC and the forums, and there's always some minor drama being stirred up. That is in part thanks to the player base CN has attracted: Say what you will about us, but in general we can keep ourselves entertained.

First, you have serious long term grudges. Many of these grudges were formed in the early game and just never got dropped. New ones get formed after every war, as the losers begrudge the winners for stomping them and then extorting tech from them. Honestly, as much as people say reparations are killing the game, it's just as easy to say that white peace and friendship would kill it sooner. NPO I think realized this early on in playing the part of the villain. I think Grub got the idea too, during BiPolar, because if he wasn't going out of his way trying to piss off the entirety of the community, I don't know what he was doing.

Then, on top of those long term grudges, you have the petty troll. No matter how much maneuvering or treatying is done, there is always somebody pissing off somebody else, preventing permanent world peace, and keeping various sides at each others throats. If it weren't for the regular forum trolls, most grudges would die much faster. But since we have such a great supply of them, even if there isn't active war, there is usually some tension in the air making people feel a war is coming. The few times in our history where there was not a feeling like that, there were a lot of posts indicating just how weird that felt, and wondering when the sides for the next war were going to start forming (and eventually they did). Personally, I feel that that general feeling is part of what keeps people hooked. If this !@#$ were real life we would find diplomatic solutions to everything, and that's boring. Here we know that when someone pisses someone else off, it will eventually come back to haunt them it's just a matter of time. Watching that unfold over a long period of time? It's like a internet based soap opera!

Anyway holy !@#$ that went on way longer than intended too. I'm going to cut this post short right here, and leave you all with this tl;dr summary of the blog:

tl;dr: Trolls keep CN alive. Yes even the horrible ones. Yes that means D34th too. Yes, I know you hate him, but really your hate for him and others like him is probably what is keeping you posting. They are at the core of our political system, and without them the game would probably straight up die.

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I'll agree with most of this sentiment, but I wouldn't go to the point of calling these people trolls.

While indeed they might exhibit some of this quality, you can exhibit much of what a troll is considered with at least some degree of tact and/or meaning.

I like the dynamic the mergers have played, but I think we're running out of gadget tricks. Ideally we'd be playing with a self-replenishing set of cards to use. Regardless of the reperations, every war worth its salt is going to drive the non-hardcore players from their alliance and/or the game completely. While it's possible to get the "New Gramlin," dynamic of forming an alliance, we are limited to mass invasion alliances that dissapate quickly as being the primary source of new blood. Refining the members we have as well as encouraging a dynamic where forgiveness is often given quicker than one would expect due to more pressing security concerns is a step in the right direction.

That said, everyone should just chill and have fun at the end of the day. I like rivalry factors and I don't think we've seen the last of a few, even from parties who are currently treatied.

The current atmosphere is a vast array of treaties of convinience and we may be entering a phase in the game's death knell where it may very well become the norm.

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I agree that politics is what makes CN tick.

The biggest problem I see in it is that most CN politics happen behind closed doors, thus it's an Internet based soap opera that too many spectator don't get to watch. To have politics be more visible we'd need worse or no opsec/comsec/infosec, but the problem is that alliances that have/do that are short-lived.

Enlarging the members' access to information is also risky for any alliance's security, thus again that's a disadvantageous trait for organizations.

Spies which disseminate information in public places (e.g. the recent Legion->CNtel->Hereno->CN forums path) might work, but I am not sure that they'd be a conclusive solution - and anyway I wouldn't know how to successfully incentive their activity.

I have yet to come up with a comprehensive theory about this problem.

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I think we also tend to overestimate how many actually care about the politics in this game.

In most alliances it's usually a select few who know what's going on and relay that in a subscription form to the rest of the alliance.

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I think we also tend to overestimate how many actually care about the politics in this game.

In most alliances it's usually a select few who know what's going on and relay that in a subscription form to the rest of the alliance.

That doesn't change the fact that it really is what keeps people here. It's pretty easy to see whether or not CN is right for you shortly after creating your nation. The incredibly slow (real-time slow practically) pace of the game means that it certainly doesn't have the short-term adrenaline rush that a game of Call of Duty or even a different browser-based game such as Zynga's FarmVille have. The people that realize it's not right for them leave their nation and that's why you have so many deletions of nations that are 25-30 days old. Those that do stay are usually for one reason or another, and a lot of the time it comes down to politics. It's not exactly easy to get a position IRL where any sort of diplomatic maneuvering is possible, but in CN it's more than possible. That's what makes it appealing to people, and that's why you have a constant core group of people that are still here (some even from the early days of 2006) and still active/in alliance leadership.

Also, I really liked this blog. Very well said and I agree with your points.

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Having played this game at the highest level of its political spectrum I found it a bit dull and way to much work. But as a long time forum troll I have always found it pure fun.

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Having played this game at the highest level of its political spectrum I found it a bit dull and way to much work. But as a long time forum troll I have always found it pure fun.

Agreed. Having to actually do alliance work is fine for some people, and I'm sure that managing their alliance drives many people, but when it comes down to it it's either a lot of tedious work, or a lot of talking to people you don't care about.

On the other hand being able to post on the forums, or go to another alliance's IRC to mess with them, is a genuine joy you can take out of the game. Because let's face it, being a dick is a principle that the internet was founded on, and the politics of the game give people an excuse to do it in a way that most of those targeted won't take too personally, making it a win-win situation.

Even for those who don't post, reading a pair of trolls arguing with each other can be just as entertaining. There are at least as many lurkers on OWF as active posters, if not more. This really shows in the events that are actual big news, when you see posters coming out of the woodwork, and the topic size is about 10x bigger than average. Sure a lot of that is the same core of people arguing about whatever the news is, but there's typically a lot more people you haven't seen post in months showing up there, indicating yes, they do read the forums, they just don't post much.

I think we also tend to overestimate how many actually care about the politics in this game.

In most alliances it's usually a select few who know what's going on and relay that in a subscription form to the rest of the alliance.

I agree that not everyone actively pays attention to politics. However if it weren't for politics, most of those people in your alliance would simply melt away. It's a bit more complex than "Everyone enjoys the political game". Like myself for example, I just came off of a 6 month period of not touching CN at all. I come back and see MK has a treaty with some alliance I've never heard of called TLR, and are treatying with some other non-entity called Non-Grata. I also see suddenly there's not a lot of interest in trolling NPO, and we're close with several alliances we used to hate. Meanwhile !@#$@#$ with SF is now the in-thing to do, where last I remember we were on the same side. Obviously things changed a lot, over the course of a few days I got caught up on most everything.

But during the 6 months in between? Yeah, I didn't pay attention, but I still continued to check my nation, pay my bills, and collect normally. I didn't bother with tech dealing, cause seriously :effort:. But if it weren't for politics, I wouldn't have done even that much. Basically I keep playing the game knowing that when I have free time, the game will have progressed to some degree, and something will be happening. The day politics as a whole break down and the alliances are all best buds ever and nobody wants to change the status quo is the day I'll finally delete my nation.

I'm pretty confident most others are the same way. Though their motives may be even simpler: They may simply want to be around when the next war happens. They may have some interest in following the ongoing history of Bob as it happens. I mean, I could see a PolSci major doing a thesis on the evolution of CN politics, and how it mirrors real world politics.

But if there were no politics, what is left? You have a game with a lot of people not doing much. You can go to war, but after a few weeks that gets boring. Honestly, the game itself has little to offer in the way of entertainment. Some people may just enjoy making their pixels grow, but how many of those are there legitimately? How many of them would continue sticking around growing their pixels if nothing interesting was going on? Especially those whose goal is to remain neutral from wars and make it to the top-no politics means no wars means nobody else losing NS means they're stuck forever behind the people ahead of them. Anybody who is all in on stat collecting would see that as a major downside.

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So what you are saying is that D34th keeps the game alive? :smug:

That is a groanworthy pun if I've ever heard one.

But yes, trolls keep the game alive. They give entertaining material to read, and give people on both sides someone to hate. Without that the game's decline would be accelerated greatly.

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Ahhh, the sentence fragmentations are ruining my brain, ahhhhh the paiiiiiiiiiiiiiiin!

Im guessing you meant to say something like "The fact I dont even know who you are and I already know you dislike me makes everything I do worthwhile, TehChron". Which is kind of indicative of you having a woefully short memory....Which actually explains a lot, really. Meh.

Also, shame on you, Seerow. Bad seerow. Bad.

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I agree that not everyone actively pays attention to politics. However if it weren't for politics, most of those people in your alliance would simply melt away.

Actually, and I'm a HUGE fan of the politics and keeping an eye on OWF, but this is simply not true.

If anyone questions it, take a look at the number of people in your alliance demanding to get a piece of political action (few in most cases), how slowly leadership actually changes significantly in alliances (I'm not talking how often elections happen, I mean how often does someone TRULY new run for election - like there is a total turn around in leadership as opposed to people just switching jobs, and that's if you're lucky) and how many people are active on forums vs. the number of people who appear on the alliance rosters.

Looking at the world statistics, there are currently 16,430 nations. Out of that number, I bet that if politics disappeared most of those nations would still exist and do their own thing.

I think the majority of people who play CN either want to keep growing and don't care about politics at all or want a war now and then (one where their group wins) and don't care why. It's just something to pass the time.

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Ahhh, the sentence fragmentations are ruining my brain, ahhhhh the paiiiiiiiiiiiiiiin!Im guessing you meant to say something like "The fact I dont even know who you are and I already know you dislike me makes everything I do worthwhile, TehChron". Which is kind of indicative of you having a woefully short memory....Which actually explains a lot, really. Meh.Also, shame on you, Seerow. Bad seerow. Bad.

Why should I remember you?

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Wow, your ruining of the english language is like a virus, merely by quoting me you fuse my sentences into a Frankensteinian abomination.

And lol in general

And there's no reason for you to remember me. Saves me a good deal of a headache.

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I agree that not everyone actively pays attention to politics. However if it weren't for politics, most of those people in your alliance would simply melt away.
Actually, and I'm a HUGE fan of the politics and keeping an eye on OWF, but this is simply not true. If anyone questions it, take a look at the number of people in your alliance demanding to get a piece of political action (few in most cases), how slowly leadership actually changes significantly in alliances (I'm not talking how often elections happen, I mean how often does someone TRULY new run for election - like there is a total turn around in leadership as opposed to people just switching jobs, and that's if you're lucky) and how many people are active on forums vs. the number of people who appear on the alliance rosters.Looking at the world statistics, there are currently 16,430 nations. Out of that number, I bet that if politics disappeared most of those nations would still exist and do their own thing. I think the majority of people who play CN either want to keep growing and don't care about politics at all or want a war now and then (one where their group wins) and don't care why. It's just something to pass the time.

The people who want war occasionally but don't care why: They disappear without politics. Without politics there is no war. You may have the occasional raid, but given raiding leads to drama/politics as disputes over people getting raided breaks out, it's pretty hard to still have raiding while having politics.

If you lose that active core of nations that keep the political wheels turning, then all that's left really is growing their nation. While I'm sure there are a few people who would continue doing so, as I pointed out without war there's no chance of catching up to the top levels, so you're just growing you nation staying about the same rank you always were. I can't imagine a ton of people lasting long in that environment. I'm sure there are plenty who would (it is after all only a 5 minute per month investment to keep a nation alive), but I doubt it would be enough for admin to keep the game running.

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I'm happy that you enjoy my english :)

You've had five years to improve it to near-fluency. It's not cute anymore.

The only reasons that you continue to butcher the language are:

1) You're too lazy to bother

2) You're simply not capable of improving your english.

Im inclined to think the latter, since no matter how much you use English, your sentence structure never seems to improve.

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Personally, I would love to see more even wars instead of curbstomps that have and always will be the norm. I think that would make it much more interesting than stomping an alliance or a group of alliances into the ground and then a few months to a year later, doing the same thing over again. Then a year after that, allying said alliance/group of alliance and moving on to a new set of alliances.

It does not make it that interesting but possibly having even wars with reparations that do not severely cripple the opposing side could lead to more wars. In my opinion, most alliances are too afraid of losing their tech to risk anything other than a curbstomp.

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I find that in practice what you're calling "politics" is not really. The MDP mess prevents faster-paced, more risky, policy/ideology-based true politics (which are more fun) from happening and turns everyting into who is cool, who is dorkey, ok now we sign with the cool guys. An alliance like VE that used to have really strong, unique ideologies gets turned into this self-contradictory joke beholden to NPO/NpO/GGA instead of realizing its potential or beind made obsolete. An alliance like GGA or IRON that's big enough to do its own thing spends its days as a client state. No one acts on their own interests or ideas. There's nothing exciting about a curbstomp for either side.

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