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Normative rules of Cybernations-Why they have become your cage


Icewolf

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Cybernations is a world with many complex dynamics. One of the more interesting things is how players engage in self regulation-they have established a system of rules as to how alliances may conduct themselves. A common standard has been established, which can be referred to as the norms of the world.

Effectively, we reach the point were even if you have no knowledge of the rulers of an alliance, you can assume that they will act in a certain way because they are playing by the same guidelines as you-you need a reason to declare war, treaties will favor defense over offence, alliances have the right to expect to be free from aggression etc etc. More interestingly increasingly these develop to such things as, alliances outside the core political reasons for a war get white peace, alliances will chain into wars because their friends are in them not because they are involved in the reasons, war slots of rogues belong to the defender etc etc.

Some of these make sense. Aggression is considered bad and normally punished. It is considered bad form to attack small alliances, even if you have the military capacity to do so. The community tends to impose limits on behavior. The simple reason for this is that no one wants to live in a world were bad things are done to them, so they make sure that nothing too bad happens to other people.

It is for this reason that reperations are not enforced anymore. People know that the merry go round of politics is such that there may come a time when they are losing a war. In fact it is a very high likely-hood that that time will come. So if you have the norm of reperations, you will have to pay them.

This is quite different to the past when New Pacific Order were at their Zenith. They did not play with the assumption that they would lose. So reperations were a good thing as far as they were concerned a world with reperations as the norm weakened their opponents, increased fear of them, and generally supported their role.

I am sure that to many of you the above is not controversial. Cats hunt mice, mice eat cheese, non-core alliances get white peace after a respectable period of time.

Why am I bringing this up then? Well effectively it has created a world of caged sheep. People have decided to follow a strict set of actions because its the "norm" and do not consider if this is actually to their advantage or not.

I am sure we are all familiar with the modern pattern of war. Wait for the chain to reach you, hope that you are on the winning side, fight just long enough to feel you have done your bit, if you are losing either by turtling like a little !@#$%*, or waiting until you are knocked down far enough to win everything, sue for peace, and claim that as you did not technically "surrender" your military was exonerated. No point in fighting too hard as that just weakens you for next time where for sure you will get to go after your true objectives (read you hope that random luck brings your opponent to a place in the chain were you can hit them).

Why do this? Well its fairly simple. The World turns. One day it may turn on you. One day you may find it advantageous to be in a situations were it is expected that after the "reasonable time" has elapsed you can walk away, and you find it advantageous that people will chain into whatever stupid thing you did this time, when your attempt at being "smart" at politics ended with a firecracker rammed were the sun shineth not. Because then those that chained in for friendship reasons, with whom the enemy does not really want to fight, can be used as chips to lighten your peace negotiations.

The problem with this? Well firstly it guarantees irrelevance. Whilst you and your alliance obey the normative rules they will never really lose, but you can be damn sure they will never win either. If you follow them you are predictable, and if you are predictable you are controllable. Much as dislike them, how much would Doombird be cared about if they obeyed the norms of cybernations? How powerful would NPO have been back in the day had they followed the rules they said applied to others? How many powerhouses existed by following the same basic rules?

So either stick to an OWF praise for chaining in for a friend of a friend and fighting just enough to reach a "respectable" white peace or actually go out and carve a destiny. Your choice.

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I think sometimes that if I were put in charge of a militarily dominant AA like NPO back in the day, I would try disband any alliance that I knew really had it out for us. Yeah, it would suck to end up on the receiving end of that, but it would give the game so much more of an edge if we all faced the risk of consequences like that. We're already immortal as players - we should take a bit more risk. Maybe people adhere to certain limits just because they want to maintain some future competition. In other words, they play to make things remain OOC fun. But in doing so I think they've doomed us to a pretty stale world, we go through the motions of a war of attrition, only to shuffle the players around a bit and then play it out again six months later, with no real long-term changes.

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I think sometimes that if I were put in charge of a militarily dominant AA like NPO back in the day, I would try disband any alliance that I knew really had it out for us. Yeah, it would suck to end up on the receiving end of that, but it would give the game so much more of an edge if we all faced the risk of consequences like that. We're already immortal as players - we should take a bit more risk. Maybe people adhere to certain limits just because they want to maintain some future competition. In other words, they play to make things remain OOC fun. But in doing so I think they've doomed us to a pretty stale world, we go through the motions of a war of attrition, only to shuffle the players around a bit and then play it out again six months later, with no real long-term changes.

This is the double-edged sword. Those actions in years past raised the stakes significantly; they also likely drove plenty of players away. But so too does the profound political malaise that has settled in. Reverting to the way things were might kill the game...doing things in the fashion that have prevailed since Bipolar will just kill it more gradually.

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This is the double-edged sword. Those actions in years past raised the stakes significantly; they also likely drove plenty of players away. But so too does the profound political malaise that has settled in. Reverting to the way things were might kill the game...doing things in the fashion that have prevailed since Bipolar will just kill it more gradually.

Objectively our reaction was probably too far in the opposite direction. Its clear that game breaking peace terms have a negative impact, but to shift purely to the model of universal white peace was probably itself unnecessary. Of course I also think there really hasn't been a cohesive enough political entity that is large enough to actually enforce reps since PB went the way of the dust. Coalitions have been centralized and organized enough, but they have been collaborations with heterogeneous internal objectives. For something other than what we've seen you really need a long status quo, which we haven't had.

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The more you risk, the more you enjoy the ride, regardless of what awaits you at the destination. Likewise, if you are aware that come what may, there will be no disaster for you, it limits the effort you end up putting into the situation. The wins and the losses are insipid and the next time round, it becomes even more so.

Yes, there is a risk of things getting extreme to the point of people running away, but there is also the reward of people skulking around with murder in their hearts. Feuds and vengeance, the spice of geopolitics. I doubt we would have a Boss Hogg character today, the way the table is set.

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The point I am making is not to do with the specific policies that people pursue. It is to do with a general attitude of people becoming excessively rule bound to ensure that when they lose they do not lose too hard, rather than actually trying to win.

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That owes to the diffusion of political power in this world. Because chained, global wars have become the norm, winning any conflict means having a large and diverse pile of alliances who are not yet sick of your !@#$, and the inherent difficulty of keeping that together has only been heightened by the move away from all-powerful blocs. If you have the Continuum at your back (messy thing though it was) you're able to operate a little more freely and set your own norms; if the largest political entities are maybe a quarter of the NS needed to win a war, you best tread somewhat more carefully or you'll be on the receiving end of the next kinda sorta beating. Similarly, getting beaten down is only a short-term trauma because, hey, it's only pixels, and you're just one political reorganization away from being in the winning coalition again.

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I think sometimes that if I were put in charge of a militarily dominant AA like NPO back in the day, I would try disband any alliance that I knew really had it out for us. Yeah, it would suck to end up on the receiving end of that, but it would give the game so much more of an edge if we all faced the risk of consequences like that. We're already immortal as players - we should take a bit more risk. Maybe people adhere to certain limits just because they want to maintain some future competition. In other words, they play to make things remain OOC fun. But in doing so I think they've doomed us to a pretty stale world, we go through the motions of a war of attrition, only to shuffle the players around a bit and then play it out again six months later, with no real long-term changes.

I'd sympathize a little more with this argument except that a lot of CN's greatest communities have been from offsite. I don't like the idea of telling people "you can't play CN with your friends from elsewhere on the internet", especially when there are members who rarely venture outside their own alliance forums. If you're someone who spends more time on your own alliance's forums than in the general CN community, why keep playing when you can't be in your alliance? I wonder what a forced bloc breakup would be like in today's world, so that instead of individual alliances getting destroyed it's just that they're not allowed to be tied to each other in certain ways, like the forced NPO treaty cancellations after Karma.

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The unwritten rule of CN (or in your words, the "norms of the world") have come about not because alliances sit down with each other and discuss "rules" or any other formal process but because MOST people naturally do for their nation what is in the best interest for the growth of their nation.

This process starts early with the very act of joining into groups we now call alliances (we aren't forced by admin to do this - we do it because it keeps us from being continually attacked via "tech raids").

In other words, the norms of the world exist because they are effective in allowing nations to grow. If they didn't do that, the practice would never take hold.

The norms can and do change. For instance, it use to be totally unacceptable to provide aid during war - it's still not looked on as favored but it's done a lot more now without negative consequences.

However, change is slow - being the first to try anything new does have a risk - it may backfire and have the opposite desired affect on one's nation. For instance, I'm told by people who were around at the time that the first nuke thrown way way back caused a huge outcry. Now not using nukes is looked upon at best as taking the game too serious.

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I'd sympathize a little more with this argument except that a lot of CN's greatest communities have been from offsite. I don't like the idea of telling people "you can't play CN with your friends from elsewhere on the internet", especially when there are members who rarely venture outside their own alliance forums. If you're someone who spends more time on your own alliance's forums than in the general CN community, why keep playing when you can't be in your alliance? I wonder what a forced bloc breakup would be like in today's world, so that instead of individual alliances getting destroyed it's just that they're not allowed to be tied to each other in certain ways, like the forced NPO treaty cancellations after Karma.

I'm honestly not sure how it would play out in practice. My best guess:

Some alliances would take it that way, and would simply fold, and those guys probably deserve to be disbanded. Others might hold on for a VietFan style war of resistance until it seemed safe to resume normal operations. Others might reroll continuously within the AA and eventually get peace once they became so small it wasn't worth it (or feasible) to pursue anymore. Others might do a combination of rerolling into enemy AA's as spies and openly working their way up the ladders of other AA's to eventuallly steer them against the enemy like CoJ did.

All of this would probably come at a pretty big cost to the aggressor, as everyone (including their allies) would see how ruthless they were, and some members might not have the stomach for it. Eventually, there would be competition from within or without. It would at very least be more interesting than, as Schad put it so well, being "just one political reorganization away from being in the winning coalition again." Our modern day coalitions have almost no coherent identity to them, just a happenstance of common treaty chains that leads to one "side" that's stronger than another identifiable "side."

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All that's completely fair, but to the typical player who uses CN as a way to kick back after work with some online friends - which I presume is far more common than the fanatic-level players we generally see running things - it's tough to imagine the climbing an enemy's ladder thing being all that appealing. As for deserving to be disbanded, again, it's difficult to say that from a purely OOC perspective. It's one thing to say someone deserves to be rolled IC for something IC, but to say someone's offsite-based CN community should cease to exist seems like a bit much.

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"They did not play with the assumption that they would lose."

Reaching for greatness requires sacrifice and risk. It is beyond most alliances. I will always admire NPO for its constant efforts to rise to the top, even if they get wtfpwned, like right now, they will rebuild, and try again.

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You have to look at what the 'rule-breaking' alliances have/had in common.

NPO were huge, and with their treaty web were virtually untouchable. It took an unheard of level of co-operation among pretty much the rest of Planet Bob before they were beaten

DBDC are essentially all the top non-neutral nations, and are thus virtually untouchable.

Why do/did these guys break the 'rules'? Because they rarely have to suffer the consequences. It is usually easier for the rest of us to just let them get on with it than it is to oppose them and win.

Why does everybody else follow the 'rules' - because if an alliance the size of TTK flouted all the rules we'd lose all our friends and be curb-stomped repeatedly until we learnt our lesson. And with the current bloc set-up, there isn't really a clear-cut side which is overwhelmingly superior enough to get away with it.

tl;dr - 'Might is Right'

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