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The Birth of an Active Player

Lord Hitchcock


(It's a little long)

One day I decided to create a nation and with-in the first ten minutes of being online, I received five new messages. The first one, of course, was a "welcome to cyber nations" message and the second was a "please join our alliance" message. I didn't bother to read the other three messages because they looked like recruitment messages too (and I didn't want to join an alliance).

At first, I just wanted to be left alone- so that I could build my new nation how I wanted to build it- but I didn't know anything about the game so I decided to join the first alliance that sent me a message, so that I could get advice from experienced players about what to do. That alliance happened to be Guinness.

To this day, I still think Guinness had the best online forum than any other forum I have seen. It was not only community friendly, but it was also extremely active with young players. The daily topics were non-abrasive, usually "sell tanks, they hurt your economy", "change your resources to this-and-this, because so-and-so went inactive", "make sure to finish the academy training". It was a lot of fun for about a month, and then things started to slow down. I found that my daily log-in routine slowly started to turn into a once-every-four-days type of routine.

Then one morning I logged into my account and I had 14 messages in my inbox stating that someone declared war on me, took my money, destroyed my tech and infra, and stole my land. Not to mention my government was in anarchy and my people were angry; and truthfully, I was angry. I didn't even know the ruler who attacked me, I was just a random target and I felt violated. He sent me peace and I didn't even want to accept it, but my leader ordered me to. I even messaged the guy and asked him what his problem was, no response.

That raid was the best activity booster I have ever had.

Still mad, I decided to take action- I bought 50 cruise missiles (that's not a misprint), maxed out my tanks, bought 60 bombers (again, not a misprint), and I decided to purchase 3 super expensive spies to really wreck his day. I was going to give it a couple of days before I whacked him, you know, catch him off-guard, but by the time that day come I realized that I couldn't afford all this stuff, so I just sold it off and went about my business. From then on I logged in every day just in case he decided to hit me again.

In the meantime, I tried to learn how to war- I actually read the documents in our alliance academy (rather than just a quick scroll-through), watched online videos showing how to war in CN, and I even looked at nations were who warring each other and taking notice of what improvements they had during their conflict.

About a week went by and another one of my members were hit by the same alliance. Now things were starting to upset us and not more than a couple of days later another member was raided. That was it. We were all mad at this point, we felt like our protector (NSF) was not doing their job and we told them we were unhappy- we've been raided three times and yet not any of them helped us out- and finally our protector agreed to support us in fighting back.

Our thoughts about the situation were compared to that of a school yard bully. Sometimes you have to slap the bully in order for him to leave you alone. So that's what we decided to do. Our protector gave us a great tip: hit them right before-and-after server time, so that we have an extra day of war advantage on them.

So it was planned out and we had specific war instructions: CM CM AC AC GB GB after server CM CM AC AC GB GB. I was nervous, what if I messed the order up?

The night we were going to quad them, about an hour before operation: going in w/o lube I went on the war screen and doubled, and tripled checked, where all of my military buttons were at, so that I could ensure that I could attack quickly and swiftly and most importantly, correctly. I had a beefy 2 million dollars saved up at the time, so to ice-the-cake, I even bought 5 satellites and planned to switch them out for 5 missile defenses in case they decided to counter-attack us. I probably smoked a half pack of cigarettes waiting for this attack, which we felt was justified, and hopefully would solve our problems.

A quarter till server time we hit, guns blazing, I will never forget that I dealt about 950 damage after the quad was over. I dealt the most damage in our coalition. We celebrated in the forums. I was even announced as an honorary fighter for the alliance, it was a good feeling. The attacks were a success! Now all we had to do was let our FA Chancellor handle the "don't mess with us, or else" talks and things would be back to normal.

The next morning I woke up, not to a bunch of messages, but just one- it was my opponent- saying that they have respect for us defending ourselves and that he wasn't going to use nukes on me because apparently I was 'brave'. And with that being said I thought "great, our planned worked". Unfortunately, the rest of Lavender Town didn't feel the same. They liked to war and they wanted to "teach us a lesson" aka "make an example out of us". So now we saw ourselves in a full blown war. To make matters worse, a couple of days later our military commander jumped ship and created Socialist People's Alliance and claimed that he 'worked out a deal' to save our infra.

At the time, we stayed loyal, knowing that we could rebuy infra, but not our reputations. So after a couple of days, our leader comes on and says "The war is over, great job everybody, resume business as usual"... but wait a minute, I'm still at war- and my conversation with my opponent was that he was ordered to 'nuke' me and that another alliance was going to enter into the war that night. I tried to tell our leader this, but he wouldn't listen to me, even though he's much smaller than me and hasn't fought at all. On top of that, the nation who was supposed to "war aid" me resumed tech deals and didn't have any more slots open. So my war aid was cut off, while I'm at war (and this was before I knew what a war chest was). And sure enough, in the evening, my nation was mad because apparently we didn't stock up on enough sunscreen. So I took our ex-commanders offer to jump AAs, told my leader at the time that he should've listened and that night what happens? Riot Society enters the war and rolls both NSF and the remaining Guinness members who actually believed that we were 'at peace'.

Of course, the world saw it differently, calling us deserters, but that didn't really make sense considering our leader posted an alliance announcement stating that "the war was over, good job everybody". when indeed it was not, he just buried his head in the sand and pretended that we were not in conflict. It's too bad, because that was a low moment for a lot of players who never recovered from it. They either left, or re-rolled.

While sitting in basically a PoW over at SPA, my opponent asked me to join Lavender Town. I thought of it as an insult, but at the time I was in nuclear anarchy, and I thought I was in permanent bill lock. I was almost certain I would have to re-roll. So I figured if I am only around for a another 2 weeks, I may as well take it as a learning curve, join the fighters and learn their "secret war strategies".

The first day I hopped over to Lavender Town, I had about 40 dollars and rather than them just asking me how much I had, they simply spied my nation. I felt stupid.

The next day I woke up and to my surprise, I had a free 6 million in my aid screen. I was happy- I could actually pay my bills! and it wasn't that I didn't do tech deals before, I just didn't know how to do them. If I had 3 tech deals going on, I would buy up to the full 300 tech and send it out (not really a profit making strategy, looking back on it).

So they taught me how to raid, picked targets for me and I practiced, alot. If a nation was fussing because I was attacking them, then another member would step in and nuke them for complaining and we'd move on to the next target. I was running with the 'big dogs' and it was a lot of fun. And I didn't know the leader personally, but he sure sent me a ton of money to fund my 'practice'.

Eventually I received noticed that we were merging into a bigger alliance- Riot Society. I was excited because now I was in an alliance with a member who was huge, like 100k big and while the transition was a little rough managing trade circles, all-in-all it was a good group of people in the forums.

Then one day one of my friends was hit by a pending member from Shield. We didn't have a motto in Lavender Town, but if we had, it would have been "shoot first, ask questions later" and sure enough, Riot Society retaliated on the initial attack on our friend and hit a bunch of Shield members.

This is where it gets messy.

Dark Templer was already annoyed at Lavender Town for causing Guinness to disband and they were even more annoyed that we had hit their protectorate. What made matters even worse was that while our leader was negotiating peace talks, one of our members (who was ordered to peace out), would send the nation peace, if they didn't accept it before server time- he'd nuke him and then send peace again. This happened for like 5 days straight. So then we found out that we've done pissed all of AZTEC off.

I didn't know who AZTEC was, so I looked them up in the alliance directory and I couldn't find anything of relevance. And then finally I was told that it wasn't an alliance, but a bloc of alliances- in fact, the oldest bloc still operating today.

So the night before my vacation I was online, just waiting to see if they would actually go through the trouble of in-game messaging each other to coordinate a strike on us, because most of the nations in the bloc were top heavy- each of them only had a few tough lower tier nations. And sure enough, I get a messaged in my inbox stating "war declared" and then another, and then another. Acting as quickly as I could, I bought troops and then in-game messaged everyone in the alliance telling them that we were under attack. I felt like Paul Revere yelling "The British are coming, the British are coming." And Riot Society was under attack by the cream-of-the-crop of the AZTEC bloc, plus an Umbrella nation (Umbrella wasn't in AZTEC at the time), Seven Kingdoms and the Sandstorm Confederacy.

Another thing I learned then: if you click on an alliance to view all nations, and to the right where it designates war mode / peace mode- there is also another symbol that is a red circle with a white stripe slashed through it- that basically means that the nation is defending 3 other wars and is very busy. It was easy to spot at the time, because all of us had it.

Thinking back to what happened in Guinness, I basically told myself that I was going to fight to the very end, with everything I had, and I would ensure to show complete loyalty to the alliance, and a positive attitude whether or not I had any infra left over. And so I did, I was nuked daily, and because my opponents were bigger and I was already in Anarchy- I deployed and sent all but one soldier just so that I could deal some damage. On top of that, I kept a positive attitude in our forums and while we were fighting, some lower tier nuke turrets ghosted in with us, friends of Riot Society, and they were great. I remember one of them got an in-game message basically saying "please don't nuke me again" and we posted in the forums for a good laugh. And Riot Society fought well- in fact, they out damaged the AZTEC coalition the first week.

And that was about as long as it lasted- our leader negotiated a little over one round of wars and then they were to stop. Some of the members agreed with that decision, and others wanted to fight on. So after the AZTEC raids, some of the members who wanted to fight on left and formed a new AA and some of the upper tier nations left because they were mad that we got into this mess in the first place. Not to mention that we didn't have any actual treaties (just gentleman's agreements) and no one wanted to treaty with us because we pissed AZTEC off. We were at our low point- both in numbers and moral.

So with government positions looking to be filled, the leader asked me if I was interested in government. He said that I was active during the war, and that I carried myself well, even when I was getting nuked everyday. I thought to myself, well, I've already been in a failed AA, a PoW AA, a raiding AA, and a merger into a bigger AA- and I didn't want to keep jumping around, so I said "yes". At least I could give it a shot and try to turn the alliance around, get our numbers back up, and our name cleaned up.

So I worked with the current leader, and the former leader and it was the best experience a new player could ask for. Both of them were polar opposites to work with- one of them was much more political and secretive and the other was a hardened veteran who has seen just about all there is to see on planet bob. Whether I agreed with them or not, the bottom line was that after working with these two experienced players for about 8 months, I learned more about cyber nations than I could ever learn on my own.

It was during this time period that I learned about the complex treaty web. The history of the 2nd and 3rd world war, what/how to build a war chest, buy spies, and how to use IRC. Rather than recruit new players, for some reason I always wanted to help the players who were in trouble. One of our members was at war with FARK for a long time- and FARK told me that if I posted a craft beer review on their alliance forum, than they would put that situation to rest. And so I did, and it was actually fun- not to mention that they have a great selection of articles to read on there. Other members were not so easy to get off the string, like when one of the LSF members got mad and decided to nuke her fellow alliance mates. That one took a little more work, lol.

The problem still, was that no one wanted to be associated with us (outside of Riot Society's close friends). And then one day, while I was on IRC, I met a player who was cool as hell, totally open minded, and didn't really care what other people thought. In fact, I had so much respect for him, that when they went to war against MI6, I had a bunch of friends and I ghost into his alliance to help him fight. And his alliance knows how to fight, some of their members have over 20 million casualties, and their ability to coordinate attacks was damn near perfect. Their alliance announcements were flooded with spy reports, reminders to "set gov. position to this, make sure you buy this", and the ones of us who ghosted over there had a blast. Not only were they fun to fight with (I had a wonder heavy nation both above, and below me) but their opponents were very active. Of course, in response, so were we, even on owf. When the war wrapped up, my friends and I wanted to fight in the world war, but we didn't have any backing at the time, so we couldn't enter.

So instead, we decided to merge into a bigger alliance so that we could participate in the world war and seek decent peace terms when it had ended. But my experience with that merger and the fighting we did was not near as structured as our previous war- nor was the 6 million for 200 tech deals, or taking orders from people outside of our alliance fun. So we decided that after the war was up, we would create our own alliance and that's what we did. It's how Monsters Inc was formed- it was one forged out of friendship, ran by all of us, and strengthened with loyalty.

So what's the point of writing all of this? There are actually three reasons:

First: There is always a thread with older nations saying that they would like to 'save the game' and what they mean is that they want to attract and retain new players. Yet on the opposite end of that, I constantly see new players who are often scolded because they are not conforming to controversies that took place over five years ago. Let the new players forge their own path, let them make their own mistakes and their own friends, it's how they will learn and grow.

Secondly: In this game, you have to appreciate your enemies as much as you like your friends, because without either, there wouldn't be any controversies and without controversies there wouldn't be activity. One of the biggest reasons for this statement came from a conversation with a veteran player last night and he had shown me a treaty map from 'back-in-the day;. It was much more bare. In fact, you could actually see separations in the web and it wasn't a two sided web. Now-a-days the treaty web is so locked down that it hinders alliances from doing anything except for counting on the next world war to stretch their page. And some alliances haven't seen activity in so long that they aren't even capable of managing a war that is effective.

Which is another thing- during this most recent world war, a lot of the alliances were taking orders from other alliances. You may as well merge into your superior if that's how you want to play, I mean, what's the point of having your own alliance and sovereignty if you really don't have either? Wars should be fought based on meaning. The best statement of the year was by the leader of SRA who basically stated that his alliance is not locked into a yearly world war and that he makes decisions based on what is best for his alliance.

And Lastly: Whenever I get into a bind, I look back on my first day playing Cyber Nations and I wonder how my experience would have been had I of joined one of the other three messages I received. Sure, maybe I would be bigger, but in less than a year and 1 million casualties later, I'm proud of where I started and what I've learned, and I'm glad of where I am at now- and I look forward to what lies ahead.




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Franz, and I are polar opposites in how we handle our business, but I wouldn't change the merging of Riot, and Lavender. For about a year I don't think anyone can say that we weren't the most active from disbanding an AA, being nuked by Kaskus a month straight, or forcing NSF to pay us reps. Being attacked by AZTEC was fun in and of itself, though i'm not sure if we actually out damaged Aztec in the first round of wars or not. We definitely had the nuke advantage in our NS ranges.

I've always maintained that raiding does not force players out of the game, it's being in large AA's that do nothing, that have more of an impact on player retention. Having one global war every year is still doing nothing for the vast majority of the AA's out there.

That's not even to say we need a war every month, three or six months. Just something more than running, and hiding from playing the game.

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Despite the fact that I was on the receiving end of much of this beat down from LT and RS, I would like to say that they were probably part of the reason that I even kept playing CN, due to the fact that it actually gave me something to do, and honestly, events and micro drama like the ones illustrated here most certainly do not hurt this game at all, and I would agree with LH, it most certainly does help.

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That was a real cool story, thanks for sharing! Up until a few days ago when we talked, I always assumed you were a reroll. It's good to know new, ambitious players are still popping up here and there.

I'm looking forward to seeing where your new project goes

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@ saxplayer- I totally agree, I've been on both ends too- regardless, it's activity that makes this game fun. @ Master Hakai- thanks for that old school treaty web (i should have credited you into the blog) and I still think you should post that up one day. @ YOLO SWAG- The picture rocks! and I am stoked about our future with Kashmir, I know doug has been over there listening to rock-and-roll.

@ han fei zi- I too wish I would have played this game long before I accidentally stumbled on it, I was actually looking for an old Zues game to buy online and CN popped up in my search engine

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What got me active back in the day was actually the inactivity within the alliance I joined. Made me want to know more about the game aside from what they posted in the boards. Anyway, good luck to your AA LH. Hope you get into a good war and have those dudes of yours all bloodied and active.

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