I do love over analyzing the culture on this game (compared to NS, et al it is fascinating), so I thought I'd open up kind of an open thread for what made CN enjoyable in the past (and didn't) and similarly what does it for you now v. then. What makes you happy to play, what doesn't?
Obviously I think the political aspect is going to be a heavy part of the discussion, because (necessarily) most of the people who visit the forums get most of our entertainment out of it - and certainly we should talk about that - but let's not neglect the core game mechanics either.
It's interesting to me that wars have gotten longer the more our individual capacity to do damage has gone up. You would think it'd be the opposite, but it hasn't. Do we take from that then to mean the real purpose of war isn't to damage an opponent? Is it just fun? And what part of doing such massive scale of damage [as happens with every major war now, all around] makes it particularly fun?
Couple of explanations I can think of (agree/disagree) would be: perhaps the driving political factor for wars has changed from strategic demand to catering to our own desires and more generally, mass membership desires - wars for the sake of them. And maybe it's precisely the scale of damage that makes it more enjoyable, although with the addition of the 24 hour wait time for nukes, wars certainly seem more monotonous to me these days (a surprise nuke is a fun thing, I'm not sure what the justification was for removing it) - and the monotony of it is very, very unfun. On the other hand, squad coordination is still fun - but that was true in the old days, so this hasn't really changed.
Politically, I can't talk about the old days very objectively - rose tinted glasses come into play. I was 17 when I started on CN and the game was still pretty new, so looking back I'm always going to see it as better days. Having admitted that and gotten it out of the way, I do think there's a more pervasive negativity about the game. You see this on the forums, IRC, in private, etc.
Winning or losing, no one seems all that pleased to be here or all that excited. There's this strong current of pessimism - "The game is dieing" "Politics is stagnant" [not claimed as much anymore, but you know] "The treaty web is choking the life out of the game!" and on and on. And some of it's almost certainly valid.
Objectively, the game is losing nations, although I would contend it's kind of a false alarm considering you don't need very many nations to have a vibrant community and culture - although it certainly doesn't hurt.
And sure, the treaty web does complicate a lot of things. And even that being the case, it raises an even stranger observation - if we're all so much more interconnected, why are wars longer than when we weren't? GW2 was all of a month or two and the only tie between North/South was GGA-LUE and that tie died a fiery death.
It seems to me like we have two major reasons for wars to be shorter - the increased damage making achieving the strategic ends easier + the fact that you're almost always going to end up fighting a friend of a friend. But, again, they're not.
On the first point, it's probably to a degree that doing that scale of damage is fun [and it is]. On another point, it's probably also because we have and use warchests now, so wars drag on because you can't simply erode someones infra and call it good. They'll just buy it back. Maybe we need to push a suggestion [or two/three] through and see if Admin will take us up on it to change the mechanic on that level - increase how much aid can be sent, and increase how much infra can be bought at a time. Perhaps even a "Your nation is stagnating" factor when you tie up so much of the national wealth in savings rather than reinvestment - some incentives to not to keep warchests.
On the second point, I think there's a fairly easy explanation for it as well. We all know the mega-alliances are gone, and that by and large they fractured into the wind. And we've all mostly had experience with allying ex-members and splinters. They go and make their own political reality, and there you have every little end of the web being tied up. Easy to explain, but I have no solutions for that - it seems like a human nature thing.
Anyway, I've rambled enough. Thoughts? And back to the original question - what do you enjoy [and hate] now about being on/around/in CN versus when you started?