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Let's Talk About IC Values From an OOC Perspective

Prodigal Moon

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This was prompted in large part by a particularly annoying thread here:http://forums.cybernations.net/index.php?/topic/125757-ambition/ but I've wanted to address this topic for a while now.

The point of this is not to stir up IC beef, because even if you hate an alliance IC, this game thrives on conflict and it would be even more lame if we were all treatied to each other.

Mainly, I'm frustrated that politics is becoming even less-value driven and more reduced to "realpolitik" and OOC friendships. I put realpolitik in quotes because I think in order to look past principles or morals for more pratctical concerns, you have to have some principles or morals in the first place. Without that, there's really no compromise or tension in the choices you make - it's just a completely obvious and natural affiinity for whichever side has the bigger numbers.

In other words, if you don't have a moral compass guiding your alliance to help you distinguish who's a good match for you and who's not, then what difference does it make who's on your side beyond your OOC buddies? X mil NS is X mil NS whether it's GOONS or Valhalla or RnR or VE. However, that eventually gets us to a place where in-game friend and foe are completely arbitrary and transient functions of how the ever-shifting treaty web is playing out in that cycle. If all you're interested in is hanging out on IRC with OOC friends and clicking buttons once a year, no problem. Wars will still happen, but there will be no CB or at least no clear reason why those guys over there are the ones you should be fighting, and these guys in your coalition are the ones you're supporting. If you want to treat this game as any kind of political simulator, with an emergent narrative and points of debate to engage in, you're going to be completely SOL.

Some of you might think this is just because Polaris is on the wrong side of the power balance right now, but I'd rather lose a "Good vs. Evil" struggle than win an arbitrary war with no CB, where no one even cares why they're fighting or who's on which side. If we're going to do that, then let's at least pick teams OOC beforehand so we can have an even fight, just for the challenge of it.

So this brings us to DBDC, which as been the focal point of a lot of moral-type discussion. I honestly don't want to spark the same debate going on in that thread, but I have to point out that by any real world standard, or standard by which 90% of AA's operate in CN, DBDC would be considered "the bad guys." Or at least, an extremely aggressive group that doesn't respect the norms that place a check on untempered violence, and that make no effort at justifying any of this. Any country in the modern RL war would face an enormous, global backlash. There would be UN resolutions, sanctions from larger nations, etc. DBDC's behavior is extreme even by CN standards, where we've been too apathetic to care about tech raiding the unaligned.

So my request to you is this: think for one minute about what your nation and alliance stand for, if anything, and wonder about whether your role in the Cyberverse is even remotely coherent or consistent with this position. For instance, if you've outright banned tech raiding, there is probably a reason for that, and it just might mean that the more aggressive, amoral alliances shouldn't be a natural fit. Ask yourselves which alliances IC are a good match for yours. And if they all seem pretty much the same, including yours, then you're starting to see the problem.

If you do this moment of soul-searching and decide that your AA isn't concerned at all about principles, and will do whatever serves it best, regardless of what it does to other people, then congratulations: you're RPing a band of sociopaths. That's awesome! I'm being completely genuine here: people RPing alliances that are bloodthirsty and completely indifferent to law/morals/ethics would be great for the game. But don't support others who do that on one hand, and then play yourselves off as a milquetoast, harmless group of good guys that just wants to get along with everyone. That's incoherent and, more importantly, LAME. You can do whatever you want! Tech raid neutrals! Start rolling tiny AA's just because you can! You don't have morals, remember, and you'll probably have fun.

You see, I don't hate DBDC for doing what they do. I hate the rest of you for being so apathetic about the political sim aspect of the game that it doesn't even register for what it is.

tl,dr: Figure out if your AA has IC values (or no morals at all) and then RP it, and we'll all have a much more interesting game.



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The point here is to have an OOC discussion (from what i gather by the the author). Do you really think there is a lack of intelligence from the people behind the computer in Doomsphere?

Depends on the member. You yourself are pretty intelligent.

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Even still, there has been plenty of discussion in recent years about a link between sociopathy and leadership, so I don't use that label in a hysterical way but in an objective, clinical way about a certain perspective on the world.

So I don't mean to say that cloaking one's actions in a fake CB makes them better necessarily, but there is at least a RL need to do so, because the global community doesn't tolerate instrumental violence nearly as much as we do here. I don't expect everyone to take this browser game as seriously as RL, but you'd think after 8+ years and all scheming and arguing and nation building that we invest in it, we could at least try to invest a bit more meaning in our actions.

I can see the point about having a reason for war that would be accepted by a nations people in RL as necessary (even if made up) I'm not sure how to make it work for CN.

Let's assume for a moment I agree that it's something that should also be the case in CN. How would that translate into the CN world in an effective fashion? If the reason for war was something like, "NpO is stockpiling chemical weapons" (just for example) - well, obviously that doesn't translate to this world so in theory it could be role-played but we all know it's fake. Would it make the game any more fun? (and if so, why?)

About the terms "sociopath" - I took some time to look it up on the internet. I found some helpful advice on the matter:

"Sociopaths don't respond very well to punishment, but they do respond to incentives."

http://www.sociopathworld.com/2013/12/sociopath-treatment.html

Problem solved :D

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I can see the point about having a reason for war that would be accepted by a nations people in RL as necessary (even if made up) I'm not sure how to make it work for CN.

Let's assume for a moment I agree that it's something that should also be the case in CN. How would that translate into the CN world in an effective fashion? If the reason for war was something like, "NpO is stockpiling chemical weapons" (just for example) - well, obviously that doesn't translate to this world so in theory it could be role-played but we all know it's fake. Would it make the game any more fun? (and if so, why?)

"I want your land", "I want your tech", "I want to submit the top 300" are all perfectly legitimate reasons to go to war, though not compatible with most RL-esque moral systems.

I'd personally prefer that they were openly stated, trying to provide a good narrative for the community, but nobody has any obligation to make it entertaining, of course.

For instance, Pacifica used to develop articulated narratives to "justify" their wars, that was entertaining; Mushqaeda was a bit too mocking for my taste, but some effort was still there; the "Creative Annihilation" doctrine was good narrative. On the other hand, things like "Everything. Must. Die." (the DoW) or "we celebrate our birthday with fireworks" look much more lazy and are just plainly dull to me. Sure, it's also subjective, but in some narratives the "it's just a game, let's set it on fire" mentality is a bit too transparent and evident, and the game loses dimension.

It's worth repeating that everyone is entitled to play it their way, and nobody is obligated to try entertain the other ones. Likewise, everyone is entitled to call such players' play "bad" or "boring", and to criticize it to death!

Discussions over the game are a game in itself, and that too can be entertaining. :)

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Considering how this world is - yes. Alliances like GPA, WTF, etc. Basically the most one can do is not cause any harm. However, that isn't helping anyone but alliance mates. So I don't see it as "good." Just not bad. That's the conclusion I came to after trying to figure out for a number of years how to play this game as a "good character."

In terms of neutrality, problem for me is, I like the war aspects of this game so just being neutral isn't really an option. I espcially like the social side of war. It's easy enough to point and click, this is true. By the social side, II mean all the social aspects, coordinating with alliance mates, exchanging PM's with people one is fighting, the build up of tension before hand and peace talks toward the end.

Between wars people get busy and there is, at least from what I've seen, far less social interaction when war isn't happening.

Conventional neutrals can have a good affect on the game passively just by existing, a home to a certain number of nations but also in so many cases a temporary refuge for rulers who might otherwise be lost, etc but they sacrifice the ability to affect things actively. What you are saying here implies that you believe it is impossible to have a positive, active influence on planet Bob. And I thought I was the pessimist.

If I didnt believe I was managing to have a positive influence here - however vanishingly small at least it's positive - I would certainly not be here.

And yeah, I like the war aspects too. But if I didnt try to balance that with the political game and also try to play a character that, if perhaps a bit 'eccentric' and far too willing to sacrifice lives of citizens (pixels) to really be considered a good person at least is basically benevolent in relation to peers (nation rulers)... well in some ways that certainly sounds attractive, but understand that I have the means to do it and indeed have had for years, and choose not to. Because the political game is paramount to me, it's what gives all the rest meaning. The database is a means to a political end, or just a waste of time. IMHOP.

But further, we all have the means to do so. It's a natural right in this game, for anyone not banned. If you really like the war aspect you dont have to have a warchest and wonders and all, because you can simply re-roll, aid scam your opponents, and hit them again ad infinitum. The only real limitation is being forced to play good for a month or two to get maximum value out of the scams in between active periods.

Or if that is too hardcore for you fight duels. Daeg and I enjoyed ours. If it's just about having wars arrange alliance-duels. Let everyone know what's happening ahead of time so they can plan, people that wont be online know to make arrangements, etc.

You could easily get a community enforced moratorium on outside parties interfering with you while you're doing it, and since you know best your own WC levels etc. you can plan for that too. Appoint scorekeepers to keep the stats and declare the winners, award yourselves medals, and wrap up on a schedule. If your wars have neither RP basis nor political goals; then they are wars for sport. So regulate them like sport.

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I'm with Kingzog, the only reason I RP in any form is to attempt to avoid penalties like warns and to not look like I can't follow rules.

As for the RPing of sociopaths, that's not quite how it works for me/DBDC. We have an aggressive playstyle in a game that's conducive to talking things out and playing nice. I get the same reaction in Civilization V when all the AI players hate me for being a warmonger.

For me there's quite a distinction between not having any concern for what happens to others and trying to improve my own position. Do the two goals very constantly line up with each other. Yep. Is that why I do it? Nope.

I've long stated that DBDC has friends and we'll defend and support those friends until we are unable. And even at that point, we'll still try. We play a very violent style of game, where every move is calculated and intentional and we play with no room for failure. It's not a style that many want to follow, so to ask for a "global response" is a bit much, considering the method of attack you would need to counter us is not a global prerogative.

You don't have to be a raider to be our friend. We appreciate many aspects of AA's that don't align with our own values. ODN is not aggressive at all, but they are loyal. Umbrella is not chaotic, but they are skilled fighters and nation builders. Gramlins is not particularly relevant but they represent the spirit of DBDC, at least in a past life. I can go on and on about how our allies are good fits for us, not perfect, but complementary.

It's not intentional to RP the villain, though we seem to be embracing that role with both arms. It's more that we have found a way to dominate the small niche of game we like best, namely big destruction and war/raiding.

Something about the top end of games is attractive to me and my kind, and you would be shocked at the synergy we have in group discussions, but more shocked at the dissonance of opinion on almost every issue. DBDC is in itself a compromise, but everyone has a voice and we all listen to each other. There is a trust like no other AA I've ever seen and there's really no other home for us now that we've staked our claim as DOOMBIRDS.

Apologies for making this all about myself, it seems like that's where the blog was headed. I'll happily rejoin less DBDC-centric discussion when it occurs.

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But in your conception of such, those two things are almost diametrically opposed...signing a treaty (and then defending that person) is much closer to an IC value, namely the willingness to go to the wall for friends, than it is realpolitik. I also hate it when someone makes a mess of perfectly good politics because of a deep and meaningful 1am conversation about how drunk they are, but that's a whole different kettle of tipsy fish.

In terms of alliances having overarching values, the biggest problem is that there are so many points of reference there. It's similar to voting; you never find a candidate whose views wholly match your own (unless you've tailored your views to fit those of your chosen candidate...good evening RON PAUL fans), necessarily leading one to compromise on some aspects. Now, multiply that by a factor of "enough to get !@#$ done", particularly once the need to work with the allies of allies comes into play, and you have a melange of often-contradictory beliefs and goals that simply cannot be contained by a coherent statement of values. Thus do even those with strong value systems settle in to realpolitik, unless suitably committed to embark on a quixotic journey through the wondrous hinterlands of micropolitics.

True, realpolitik and OOC friendship do seem to be on opposite ends of the spectrum, but in RL politics there is that third element of values or culture of a nation that influences alliances. Since both of those factors are sorely underdeveloped in most AA's, and even team color has been rendered almost irrelevant by the change to trades, it makes sense that those who don't take the strategic side of things too seriously fall back on OOC friendship factors.

Having strong values and abiding by them really can limit who you align yourself with (or what AA you join in the first place...). Lord knows we encountered that in CoJ and I dealt with a lot of that looking for potential partners in my alliance before that. But considering how much most of us hate the treaty web, wouldn't that be a good thing?

WC: I agree completely with jerdge. There's lots of ways to go about it. In DNA, our DoE created a narrative of a benign but complacent group (completely true in RL) that got overrun by darkness, forcing us into an internal power struggle. If we had decided to do something really aggressive, we'd have been able to say "The werewolves made us do it!"

Cuba: Your description of ODN really gets at the heart of why I posted this. Their approach is so explicitly OOC that it's no surprise that align themselves with just about anyone.

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In a world without divine sanction, oversight, and interjection of rules......

If the majority thinks that what you to believe is an evil act is good, then why are you correct? The only reason the world (our real one, earth) is half civil is we have a set of moral systems developed on the belief by the vast majority of the world's population that divine intervention is at least possible. CN is what you get when you remove those parameters, tribalism, collective bargaining and development, and propaganda based justification for violent raiding. If you have enough people and you believe you are right, you can make it right and destroy the ones who disagree.

Survival of the fittest. And as we move away from our old beliefs, that is what the world is heading towards now. Russia appears to be leading the pack in that particular gambit.

CN is nothing like Earth because of this fundamental fact. People do not commonly import their religions here as part of their rp because it is a way to vent aggression and frustration sometimes escape from the boundaries that hold them in reality. It is a game of competition, a game of war, where destroying the enemy is justified by sport. There will be a much greater tendency towards "psychopathy" in a world where survival of the fittest is the only true law, psychopathy can be a beneficial survival trait. The focus on logic above emotion, focusing on the "most logical play for my self-improvement" becomes the dominant goal.

You cannot judge this world from an OOC perspective.. simply because the two are not relevant to each other. The very nature of the existence is fundamentally different.

For the record, I respect efficient psychopaths in this world.ESPECIALLY, the ones that can cover their tracks and pretend to be good guys. Maskirovka!

The modern American public is pretty psychopathic in general. Who do you think got more ratings during the Shock and Awe campaigns in Iraq? CNN coverage of the bombing.. or the peace protests? Humans have a certain fixation with watching things go boom.

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The IC and OOC line has been blurred for some years now, due in part to IRC where people become friends with one and other in an OOC sense and that blurs into IC actions even though in many ways their alliance roles / FA and "ethics" don't match.

SInce most have given up the distinction between IC and OOC in game it kills the RP aspect of the game.

We need the line back, you can be friends in a social aspect but that doesn't stop you from roleplaying and being against them in an IC aspect.

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What you are saying here implies that you believe it is impossible to have a positive, active influence on planet Bob. And I thought I was the pessimist.

i think it's very possible to have a positive and active influence on Planet Bob. I've done so myself in the past and have joined in on some occasions with other people in doing so.

I am not pessimistic, I'm burned out. Other people can do their part in that regard at this point if they want. I have no problem with that. Plus I do think it is a good idea for both nations leaders and alliances to figure out what they want to be in this world and go for it.

As for me, I'm trying something significantly different from what I've done before. At this point, say what you will - I'm starting to get comfortable with my new RP as Lady of Doom :D

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there will always be a best way to play, and the best will always play that way

There is no 'best way to play' in this game. Not outside of a pretty narrow sense, at least. There might be one or a very few best ways to take a new nation and get it to the point where it has a warchest and steady income, for instance - that's pretty much cut and dried math, and it's a common goal, but if it's not your current goal it is of no concern to you. There's a best way to buy up to 100 tech, for sure, because any other way costs more money for the same goal, but if you are not currently a tech seller that information is useless to you.

At the higher level there are a million ways to play this game, and none are inherently better than the others. What is important is what the player gets out of it, and players are motivated by different things.

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There is no 'best way to play' in this game. Not outside of a pretty narrow sense, at least. There might be one or a very few best ways to take a new nation and get it to the point where it has a warchest and steady income, for instance - that's pretty much cut and dried math, and it's a common goal, but if it's not your current goal it is of no concern to you. There's a best way to buy up to 100 tech, for sure, because any other way costs more money for the same goal, but if you are not currently a tech seller that information is useless to you.

At the higher level there are a million ways to play this game, and none are inherently better than the others. What is important is what the player gets out of it, and players are motivated by different things.

In general, I think there is far too much of people telling other people what they should and shouldn't do - even when being well meaning about it. So what if there is an economically better way to build one's nation? What if a player wants a nation where education is emphasized over business and buys schools before banks? That sure is an example of someone thinking about the values of his or her nation and, you know, start at the basic levels first before expanding it to alliances.

I've done my fair share of giving unwanted good advice. I'm done with that. I recently gave a nation 6,000,000 with no strings attached. It actually felt very odd. My one good deed for 2015. Don't tell Lord Hershey :P

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What if a player wants a nation where education is emphasized over business and buys schools before banks? That sure is an example of someone thinking about the values of his or her nation and, you know, start at the basic levels first before expanding it to alliances.

I've done my fair share of giving unwanted good advice. I'm done with that. I recently gave a nation 6,000,000 with no strings attached. It actually felt very odd. My one good deed for 2015. Don't tell Lord Hershey :P

I cant disagree with the first part. As to the second - you shouldnt be ashamed of good deeds. I send humanitarian aid now and then myself.

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