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What exactly is killing the game?


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I'm just fed up; I've been planning to make this thread for a long time, and I haven't been able to write this in the correct manner. So, this is just a spur of the moment thing: here goes.

There's two factors that are killing the game. The first is the relative inviability and pointlessness of mass alliances, and the second is the extreme difficulty of forming a politically important new alliance.

Let me explain the first factor.

The traditional life cycle of players is that they start in none-AA, they get picked up by a mass alliance, the lack of opportunities for advancement or dissastisfaction with the culture and/or politics of their mass alliance drives them off to a smaller alliance, and they just sit there until they get bored of the game and quit. As of right now, however, mass alliances are far less politically significant than they used to be, and elite alliances are far more politically dominant.

The reason for this is because mass alliances don't really matter all that much anymore. Once upon a time, mass alliances were the dominant force in the game. This was because elite alliances weren't so militarily dominant, while elite alliances, compared to mass alliances, always had better participation rates or esprit de corps, the game mechanics were such that a bunch of large nations were easily mobbed and mugged by smaller nations and would thus not be superviable. Since the tech change, sometime in '08, he who controls the upper tier effectively controls the game; the players who have tech advantages have a disproportionate advantage over players who lack tech.

Another corollary of this is that because tech is now so important, mass alliances have reduced incentive to perform mass recruitment. The amount of political power a new nation contributes, compared to in the past, is far reduced. Why recruit a new nation when they depress your ANS and don't contribute that much to your military effectiveness?

The second factor is a corollary of the first factor. In order to start a new alliance, you need nations to provide military force and governmental manpower for your alliance. You can either recruit new nations, which gives you the same problem as that of mass alliances, which is to say, new nations are politically meaningless because they can't get enough tech to fight, or you can draw friends from existing alliances, which, relative to the game at large, is an act of cannibalism.

The consequence of the difficulty of forming new alliances is stagnancy. The thing that's making the political scene stagnant is not the dearth of wars; TE has wars all the damn time and we're down to an all-time low of 600 or so nations, down from 1500 only a year ago; it's the dearth of new faces with new ideas and new cultures. As we can see, most of the people posting and making nuisances of themselves on the OWF are old nations, old faces that have been here for many years.

===

The underlying cause of both of these reasons for decline is simply that the game is really old, and there are many many old nations with huge gamebusting advantages over new nations as a result. The amount of time it takes to get a minimally important new nation is now something around 2 years, and that's encouraging the fall-off in player population. The Poison Clan government members who had to reroll as a result of their scandal are evidence of this. For Derwood1, taking him as an example, to regain what he lost when he was deleted, when he was a respectable lower-upper-tier nation, would take more than 2 years, just to replace all the wonders he had lost. For tech, at 450 tech a month, considering the decline of the tech market, it would take 2 years to replace all the tech he had lost and regain the individual significance he had as a nation.

Derwood1 knows what he's doing, given that he's a highly experienced nation and leadership in Non Grata. What about new players? Here, we can look to the Flood Empire. I believe this was an alliance that had invaded from Bungie's forums a while back, around the start of spring, I believe. They had a peak of around 160 players, although my memory's hazy.

As of now, they have 26 nations. Their strongest nation has 4400 infrastructure, and has zero wonders. I think from the matter we've discussed previously, you can see why they've collectively opted to give up on the game.

If you want more examples, look at GOONS. This is a refound of a storied and historied alliance from CN's early past. They restarted about 2 years ago. The Pandoran/Doomhouse-NPO war was very hard on them, but before the war started, they were approaching a meatshield alliance, somewhere around but below Viridian Entente's level. And this was after 2 years, despite being the reincarnation of one of the more successful alliances in Cyber Nations history.

The third and final example I want to use is more of a success story, but in considering how much effort they had to take to get to where they were, they also illustrate my point.

Basketball Ninjas. The SE counterpart of the feared Pork Shrimp alliance of Tournament Edition. These guys are incredibly disciplined, and incredibly well-organized. I know this from my dealings with them in TE. This is an alliance that sends about half their number into peace mode for any given span of time. Despite this, they were founded sometime in 2008, and recruited wholly from their base in the RealGM forums. Despite all of their discipline and effort, they were only able to fully emerge onto the diplomatic scene as a big-shot alliance with the foundation of PF, almost 3 years after their founding. After all this effort, they only have a credible upper-middle tier, and this is after pursuing an almost isolationist foreign policy with only getting involved in one major war during their history, a curbstomp on UBD.

===

So, what's the purpose of this thread? I think the game perhaps is not past the brink of death by this point. Suggestions can be made on how to save the game and reinvigorate it, but in order to do so, the problem needs to be clearly identified and that we need a consensus on what exactly is ruining this game. This thread exists for this purpose. Once we've reached a consensus, future suggestions to fix the declining population of the game can simply reference this thread for a basis of what the problem is instead of running into massive debates over the fundamental problems of the game.

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I agree with a lot of the problems you identified, but I am unsure we are actually at the point where we can fix things. A lot of the playerbase has aged and grown tired of the game, this seems rather evident in my dealings with people who have been active and driving forces for the past few years. On top of that, the game development staff, for balancing reasons or whatever, seem hesitant to introduce structural changes to the game along with the problem of sculpting solutions that not only encourage new players and keep old players interested but are actually able to be added to the existing game code. Maybe branching out into the mobile game market (iphone/android apps for instance) could give a small invigoration, but it might also shift the focus away from the forum and IRC-based politics that have been such a hallmark of this game since its inception.

In short, I have no answers and many of the suggestions I can come up with seem to have more downsides than benefits. I suspect a lot of other people in the community are in the same boat.

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You are entirely correct- the biggest issue with the game is that seniority is key. With the resource problem finally addressed, we will need to start looking at ways to address the seniority based problems. The two biggest ones are wonders and tech.

Just to collect all the wonders, it would take a new nation a MINIMUM of 2 and a half years, and that's assuming that they buy one every 30 days starting on the day they create their nation. 2.5 years just to be on the same collection level as me. Now, this is balanced by the fact that most wonders take a long time to pay for themselves, but still, the fact that I have that much more of a boost than any new nation is terrifying. It's not quite as bad as tech though since it's rare that new wonders are introduced, so the goal is actually reachable even if it takes years to do it. An easy way to reduce that 2.5 years to something more reasonable like maybe 1 year would be to just remove the 30 day period and just let nations be limited by their daily taxes.

Tech is probably our biggest problem though. It is literally impossible for a new nation to ever get anywhere NEAR bridging the gap that separates our highest NS nations from them because there is no limit to how much tech you can import. The thing is, because [toasters] function equally as well as [highly developed space telescopes] in terms of CN technology, tech can be bought at a flat rate all the time and there is no theoretical cap that prevents old nations from acquiring more tech. Imagine if everyone had to buy his or her own tech (or that importing [toasters] was less effective than importing or buying [highly developed space telescopes]). There would be at least some point at which nation would cease buying technology, because it wouldn't be worth the money spent on it, thus effectively capping it and making it at least POSSIBLE for a new nation to catch up (even if it took years).

As it stands, the older CN gets, the harder it is for a new player to ever become relevant because on average, more CN players progress to higher NS's than fight & lose NS. That's a large part of why we lose people- they see it as futile and pointless to even try to develop to be the best, and the scary thing is they're actually correct, it is impossible for them to reach the shifting goalposts created due to these seniority based issues.

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Having started just 16 days ago,I have to say that after all the reading and learning I've done in that time,CN is just as daunting to me now as it was on day one,and the issues raised in this thread were the main problem.The more I thought about it the more I realised that no matter how well or how quick I learn the game,I'm not going to be able to keep pace with,let alone get anywhere near,those that have been playing the game for years,so what's the point in trying?

When I was recruited by Joe Stupid he also brought me into the Ragnarok Alliance,and I can honestly say if it wasn't for them I would most likely have gone the same way as a lot of other newbs and just given up.Above all the help and benefit of their experience that they've shared with me,the most important thing they've taught me is the importance of being part of a team that works with and for each other,and that some of the problems faced by a new nation can be eased.

One bit of good news I've had since starting is the impending changes to allow resource selection in SE rather than being stuck with what you are given (I got lumbered with a Furs/Water combo).I may be talking a lot of rot and don't mind being shot down in flames,remember I'm a newb and still learning,but is it possible more could be done with resources to help a new nation get established in it's early days?

This is where you shoot me down,but how about new nations being allowed to choose say 4 resources,making it easier for them to get trade agreements/circles,and improve income in the early days?.To stop higher nations from taking advantage maybe those above a certain level could still be restricted to trading only 2 resources with any one nation.Alternatively,or as well as,new nations could be allowed 1 or 2 extra trade slots besides what they gain when they buy improv's.

With Tech Trades we don't want to make it unattractive for the bigger nations to buy through Foreign Aid deals by forcing them to pay more,or reducing the amount they can buy for x amount of dollars.Leave things as they are but allow new nations 1 or 2 extra Aid slots,so they can increase income in the early days.

In both cases the "extras" that new nations are given when they start,could be gradually phased out as they achieve certain levels.I think something like this would help new nations get established until they can stand on their own 2 feet,and might give new players the incentive to stick it out.

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To be honest, one way to help fix the wonder discrepancy is to make all wonders similar to the moon/mars wonders in that they all expire after a certain time. This would make wonders more valuable for one but also, force a strategy to be used instead of just collecting all of them and being done with it.

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I agree with most of the things said in here.

If we look at history of the CN, I can point at one place which supports your conclusions: NPO. Just a huge number of new players joining and that changed the game as the players back then knew it forever.

While this example is from a completely differente time in terms of how much infow of players this game had, these days that would be completely impossible to have a group of new players joining in that would affect the game's internal politics. Just another mass alliance with low tech.

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[quote name='Mada Vopahsolog' timestamp='1316806492' post='2806812']
tl;dr

Summarize each point into a sentence. If you can't, then it's rambling.
[/quote]
Are you seriously that ignorant?

To stick with the topic at hand, I agree with what's been suggested so far, with the exception of making the wonders like the Moon/Mars ones in terms of having an expiration date. Personally, I think the wonders are fine as is, and have little to nothing to do with the issue. Eventually there are no wonders left to buy, except the Moon/Mars ones as they expire, so there is essentially a cap in place on wonders. The wonders are sufficiently expensive and time consuming to acquire so as to present a reasonable and realistic goal for new players.

Tech is an issue though. I agree that the current 3 for 50/100 system effectively creates an advantage for older players that is impossible to overcome. Furthermore, as the population declines and ages, it becomes increasingly more difficult to find tech sellers, further exacerbating the tech issue. As tech becomes more difficult to acquire, the perceived gap between newer and older players widens and becomes even more difficult to overcome, leading players to give up early on. It's a vicious cycle, and placing a soft cap on tech - by making it more difficult to acquire the more of it you have - would likely be a highly effective solution to the issue.

Here's another idea regarding tech that I thought I'd throw out there. How about, beyond a certain amount of tech (9000? lol), nations are no longer able to receive tech from other nations via trade, but must purchase any new tech via the available purchase screen. Since the cost of purchasing tech via this route grows as you acquire more, this would slow the rate at which a nation can acquire tech over time. Now, I joking suggested 9000, but this amount is sufficiently high that it does not affect other aspects of the game, such as wonders, and is sufficiently low that it would immediately affect a reasonably large number of players (about 650, or 4% of the population).

Edited by Octavion
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[quote name='Dochartaigh' timestamp='1316199625' post='2801687']
To be honest, one way to help fix the wonder discrepancy is to make all wonders similar to the moon/mars wonders in that they all expire after a certain time. This would make wonders more valuable for one but also, force a strategy to be used instead of just collecting all of them and being done with it.
[/quote]


Yeah I agree, short of a game wide reset, this and increasing the amount of aid per aid slot would probably help a lot for the game. I think for the aid slots thing, it should be that you can funnel a large amount of aid to newer nations (say under 3 months old) so that they can quickly build to a decent size. If the nation is older than 3 months then the standard 3mi/50 per slot would apply. I would say to prevent abuse and whatnot, the nations under that age would only be able to receive the large amount of aid but if they wanted to aid out, they could only aid out 3 mil/50t per slot like it is now.

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I don't think the problem is necessarily one of game mechanics. I personally don't play to grow my nation, yes that is a part of it, but the reason I play is because I feel like part of a community in my alliance. If my enjoyment of the game was based solely off of growing my nation, then I would have quit almost as soon as I joined, which is what is happening.

As was mentioned earlier, alliances are not recruiting like they used to because the new recruits don't hold the same weight they used to. Thus they are not making the new players feel welcome, or part of a group, which IMO is what makes this game worth playing. Also how can I not mention the total blasting new players get if they dare to post on the OWF without knowing "the rules".

I think the whole mindset of the people in power needs to change to really save this game, which is why I think it is doomed to die a terrible agonizing death, because I don't see that happening anytime soon. However, if somehow we could get the powers that be to realize that they are in effect killing the game by not recruiting new nations, then I feel CN has a chance.

Edited by stealthypenguin93
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I don't think the problem is in the interalliance relations. I think it is entirely in the game play.

There is currently no incentive for playing daily and there are no updates in the game structure. Until these two factors change, numbers will continue to decline.

The Admin wants you to pay donations but doesn't want to add anything to the game. The option of changing your resources was a suggestion from 2006/07.

Edited by Ch33kY
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My ideas:

1) The gameplay of this game is a relic of the past. On the other hand, the gameplay has NEVER been incredibly amazing (I don't get how is it that the GPA guys managed not to get bored to death). I don't think Admin can make any kind of interesting improvement, since fixing the problems would probably mean re-writing the whole game or creating a completely new and different game.

2) This one WAS a Political Simulation Game... I don't blame Admin, but the new hegemony for the current lack of any kind of interesting politics.
I must say that I terribly miss the old "unbeatable" NPO... damn, I hated them so much, the most disgusting creatures that ever existed on Planet Bob, Hypocrytes, Manicheists, back stabbers and even fascists... and incredibly interesting!
It was so incredibly FUN to hate the NPO... The game was so amazing.
Typing "the NPO is stupid" was a terrible scandal and the leader of your Alliance would probably had to type an official appology and maybe offer reparations.
The current Hegemony is simply lame... there's no more politics here, it's not even fun to hate them.
The political scene is BORING and NON EXISTANT nowadays.
This is the biggest problem that the game has... that the real idiots have "won the game" (sorry for using this word).

3) Creating a new Alliance isn't complicated, the "old" alliances are always looking for new protectorates.

4) We have exhausted all the interesting war reasons... "you spied my alliance", "you attacked my protectorate", etc... we've seen that all. The only way out is to have interesting politics again... though I don't think it will happen as long as the current Hegemony keeps on being as boring as possible in a political way.

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[quote name='Ch33kY' timestamp='1318236181' post='2822068']
I don't think the problem is in the interalliance relations. I think it is entirely in the game play.

There is currently no incentive for playing daily and there are no updates in the game structure. Until these two factors change, numbers will continue to decline.

The Admin wants you to pay donations but doesn't want to add anything to the game. The option of changing your resources was a suggestion from 2006/07.
[/quote]

So Admin changes something but it's not good enough because it's an old suggestion? That doesn't really make a good argument for his doing [u]nothing[/u]. I think any addition is worthy of thanks. The fact that this game has been running since 2006 is probably a good enough reason to pack up and stop altogether, but he's kept at it and even now is at least putting in some effort to maintain the interest. You can cry about how it's not enough all you like, but any effort at all is more than we deserve after all the constant !@#$%*ing and moaning.

But for the record, my only thought reading the entire OP (and I did) was "no, it's my turn to say what's wrong with the game". I'm not even going to bother; I'd just like to see people accept the game for what it is and stop saying it's dying. What constitutes dying? Players leaving? I say good riddance; it'll leave a core group of interested CN'ers and that's good enough. When the game is ended, not by people deciding not to play, but rather by Admin saying enough is enough, then we should all be thankful we experienced what is actually a pretty cool game (politically), and do something else.

If you'd like to save something that can't be saved, making threads honestly won't help. Every man and his dog has an opinion on what could better this game/environment. That means literally nothing, only that people by nature are complaining about things they can't control as per usual.

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I too have been thinking about this a lot, and it has inhibited me from coming back to the game properly. I used to be a top 100 nation, but fell to deletion and since have remade the nation when I have thought "Cybernations was pretty fun, and it's good to play with those people" and then I realise it will be near impossibly tough and expensive to reach the upper eschelons of where I was before.

What I am thinking as a solution to this may be to accelerate the growth of new nations relative to who they are trading with or perhaps who they are near on the world map, or add many favourable events to bring a country to a better tier perhaps. The bonus of this plan is that it allows nations to catch up quicker and thus be more valuable. The flaw in this plan though seems to be that again, there is still not much incentive for daily interaction.

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What exactly is killing the game? All this talk about the game dying. I mean its a real turn off when someone comes in and sees 4-5 threads about how we can save the game or why the games dying and everyones just pointing fingers at each other.

Instead of writing a wall-o-text about how the game is dying more and more every day why don't you spend the time you made writing this (This goes for some of y'all replies as well) to actually do something to try and bring new members into the community from other worlds, RL, school, friends, Facebook. Which btw using FB would probably be the most advertisement you'll get free. So instead of just talking about whats killing the game lets talk about what we can do to bring this to a stop and bring in new players.

Edited by Maverick87
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I agree that we need the old-style order, seriousness, and organization that we had during the NPO time. Insulting an alliance on OWF can be considered a CB. We can even go as far as hanging those that make insignificant announcements, i e if we see another "[small-alliance] election results" announcement, roll them.

This can have the overall effect of making OWF discussion a lot more relevant, formal, and interesting.

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[quote name='Alexander the 5th' timestamp='1318828496' post='2826935']
Maybe Cybernations needs its own August revolution, who knows, maybe a new class of Francoists will rise up here like they did in NS and ferment radical change?
Just a thought from someone who studied a bit of Francoist thought.
[/quote]

Our nations must meet each other my friend.

As to the "death of CN". Complaining isn't going to get us anywhere, and offering suggestions can't hurt.

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[quote]1) The gameplay of this game is a relic of the past. On the other hand, the gameplay has NEVER been incredibly amazing (I don't get how is it that the GPA guys managed not to get bored to death). I don't think Admin can make any kind of interesting improvement, since fixing the problems would probably mean re-writing the whole game or creating a completely new and different game.[/quote]

There are a lot more challenges to try and maintain a neutral alliance. The GPA community is always keeping itself busy to keep our members interested with the game. Each day alawys bring something new and exciting to our shores.

The game was pretty big back in 2006 but it has been decline ever since. At some point, the CN community is going to come to a balance where we will maintain a constant number of people.

Cheers,

Rav

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  • 2 weeks later...

[quote name='PaladinePSoT' timestamp='1321073476' post='2843553']
Remove the limit to the number of defensive wars.

edit: Oh, and remove the upper ns cap on offensive wars. If a 2 ns nation wants to declare on a 150k ns nation, let em get stomped.

Problem solved.

Think about it.
[/quote]

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