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.