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TehChron

The Story Thus Far

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I've been noticing a lot of people lately trying to analyze the current state of CN, trying to pinpoint what they feel is wrong with the world and why it is apparently stagnating and frankly...Getting more and more boring as time goes on.

I believe I can aptly summarize these numerous comments with the following two quotations:

[quote name='Lamuella' timestamp='1324240655' post='2881340']
these complaints about how CN isn't as good as it used to be aren't as good as they used to be.
[/quote]

[quote name='admin' timestamp='1295307861' post='2579043']
I'm a fan of the Dallas Cowboys football team. During the regular season the team was having trouble getting wins. They interviewed one of the players and he said, "We go into these team meetings to discuss what's going on with the team. You go in there with an idea of what the problem is, and then everyone starts giving their input, and you leave the meeting with a sense that the problem is much more worse than it really is."

That's what these threads have become. Everyone is giving their input on the situation, placing blame all over the place and making the problem seem much worse than it really is all the while resolving nothing. This game is 5 years old. I didn't expect it to last 5 months. We still have 20,000 playing the game. Enjoy.
[/quote]

So having covered those particular bases, Im [i]not[/i] going to complain about mechanical problems, or coding issues, or balance or retention or anything like that. The problem is simple, as referenced in the second quote. The simple fact of the matter is that the political metagame has become boring. No matter how you look at it, the CN political community has the largest impact upon player retention, moreso than even the basic game mechanics.

I am indeed taking this for granted. Since that can be explained more in depth later on if people wish for clarification of that particular viewpoint. In the larger scheme of what I'm getting at, let's set that aside for now.

So, why am I making [i]yet another thread on this very same subject[/i], because I believe this perspective needs to be articulated. And Im egotistical enough to think that since I think so, that means it indeed does need to be brought to your attention as well. In Ivan's Academy thing going on right now, he has asked us a few questions about larger metagame concepts, and in my answer to one of those questions, I realized that one of the most fascinating things about the Cybernations community is one we don't even consciously acknowledge. And that is the political narrative. Sure we implicitly reference it here or there when discussing precedent or mud slinging or grudge holding, but we never out and out acknowledge that the actions we take on the OWF and in backrooms creates a story that we all follow and help shape as time goes on.

This is the crux of what I'm getting at.

So enough preamble. My point is, in short, that [b]since the end of the Karma War, with a few notable exceptions, the political narrative of Cybernations has been boring. Not because of a lack of originality, but because the style which has defined the political narrative in this post-Karma era is inherently dull.[/b]

The reasons for this are many. But it can be split into two main problems, and from there further subdivided. If you think I missed any, feel free to say so, therefore, without further ado:

[b]With one exception, the antagonistic personality's in the CN political game have been incredibly uninteresting. Undynamic. Unappealing. And worst of all: Reactionary.[/b] Here is my case in point: Has there been a villain in CN history that has ever truly been the match of Ivan Moldavi in sheer terms of infamy and legendaryness? Possibly Electron Sponge. Maybe some others, such as Prodigal_Chieftain, and others during the WUT and Continuum era. But after Karma? No. Not a single personality has risen up to take that spot at the very top. There have been numerous pretenders, sure, and one legitimate challenger, but no one has been able to match Ivan's sheer...Impact.

You can make a case for certain players having the potential, to be sure. Archon comes to mind. And Archon is actually a very good example: In Karma, Archon was the face of bringing an end to the era of CN that Ivan Moldavi created. An end to the rule of the New Pacific Order. But what did he [i]do[/i] with that? Not much. He and his comrades in the Mushroom Kingdom secured their political position as the new Hegemony, and, with time, adapted a form of anti-villainy which was pretty funny for awhile, and elicits some chuckles now, but doesn't really engender the kind of passion that the Pacifican adversarialism inspired with the rest of the game. [i]They also acted as the power base for one alliance leader to try and act the role as the dynamic adversary up until the BiPolar War broke out, and did a good job of it as well, save a few exceptions.[/i] Honestly, I would say with some degree of confidence, that the short period of time in which Frostbite was in existence was the most interesting time in the post-Karma era. Between the New Sith Order acting as the inflammatory instigator, the STA acting as the straight man, and the New Polar Order acting as the wingman, the constant tension that Frostbite brought to CN politics made things very interesting. Unfortunately, the NSO's antagonism was only ever relevant by virtue of putting those linked to it in the treaty web into awkward positions.

There was only so much we could do at the time, after all.

But after the BiPolar war came to an end, so too, did the short-lived era of interesting antagonism. After all, with the [i]only real actors no longer being allowed to be on stage[/i], and things being left to the undynamic, we moved on to the true form of the post-Karma political narrative. Which was the second problem.

[b]The pre-Karma CN political narrative, hereby referred to as "Ivan's era" for the sake of convenience, was largely a story of a bipolar political structure. Everything was either about being "With Pacifica" or "Against Pacifica", and that is how players defined their actions within the confines of the larger metagame. Post-Karma, the narrative shifted from one larger story, to a series of smaller vignettes which took shape as a series of smaller grudges and minor backbiting, with larger conflicts only truly arising as the result of political convenience. In short, smaller stories meant fewer people cared, since they weren't impacted by them. And there was no one true "larger story" for the individual lurker or alliance member to identify themselves with, thus leading to a general disinterest.[/b] People often deride the OWF as a cesspool and other nonsense. And yet people still flock to it. The question is "why", but the answer is simply, "because it's the stage". It's where all of the story comes together in a relatively convenient package. In older times, the OWF was the story, because people cared enough to make their grievances and trolls and leaks and other such things as public as possible for maximum effect. The Pacificans and co would haunt the OWF in order to stomp out political dissent and demonstrate their rhetorical superiority. There was passion, because they were interested, and cared about supporting whichever side they were on.

It's like with sports. Even if it is only just a game, people often develop a rabid loyalty to the team of their choice. Only in this case the teams were one part of the political spectrum. I don't think I need to go off on a tangent explaining this, I'll take it for granted you all get what I mean.

Post-Karma, we lost that. There was no longer a "big rival" that needed to be fought and crushed. Pacifica's adversarial spirit was completely crushed, since those that had been it's foundation in the first place had long since been driven from positions of relevance and influence within it's ranks. Honestly, The NPO as the boogeyman had been on autopilot for some time, which is why the entire trap that lead to the opening of the Karma war was so successful. The NPO played to type because thats the only way they knew how to act. But setting aside [i]yet another tangent[/i], the end of Pacifican villainy created a vacuum in the narrative. No Big Bad meant nothing to rally against. And the one best positioned to act in that capacity, Archon and his Mushroom Kingdom, refused to. It wouldn't be until some time later that even the stance of anti-villainy they adopted would even manifest itself.

This lack of initiative (hurr) lead to the fragmentation of the political narrative, which manifested itself most strongly in the NpO-TOP rivalry. Now let's be serious here: Does anyone [i]not[/i] in those alliances really give a crap how long they've been going at it? I mean, setting aside you've got friends on one side or another, do you feel as if you have a personal stake in that fight? For the most part, which is the only relevant part, the answer is no. Which means that, when put into a larger scope, that rather than one big story that most people are interested in, we've got a thousand smaller stories that most people don't give a !@#$ about.

Which leads us to the current war, which is the culmination of a thousand tiny grudges finally being acted on, and still no one really cares about the various motivations involved. We just see a really big war and are finally excited to see the GRL jump after months and months of buildup, rather than anything else related to the conflict at hand. Case in point: Over a month into the war, and the longest thread on this war is still only the initial declaration of War, by TOP, which only reached 33 (by my setup) pages before tapering off to the third page of the Alliance Announcements subforum. Compared to the Karma War, where we had multiple threads hitting the 60+ page (by my setup) range, and it's easy to see that we're just not that excited about the narrative of this war.

And that's because we just don't have the passion we used to. I think I've already explained why I feel that is.

Now then, I'm going to go out on a limb here, and make a claim: If this war really does mark the end of these thousand little grudges, then it will be the end of one of, if not both, the defining traits of the post-Karma narrative. By that token, we could say that [b]just as Karma marked the end of "Ivan's era" in CN history, this current war, or "Bye-Polar" or whatever war, marks the end of the "Post-Karma era" in the CN political narrative.[/b] What that means, or even if it really applies, remains to be seen. But I figure I might as well get out ahead of this so that way I can claim credit for seeing it coming first down the road.

Royalties and stuff. Think of it as me buying up the CN historical narrative of Boardwalk along with Baltic and Mediterranean. Once I have Park Place you'll all be screwed in so many ways it won't even be funny. You people won't even be able to use the past tense on these forums without owing me money. Bahaha, genius.

Setting aside [i]that totally necessary tangent[/i] once again, I'm gonna close by hoping that whatever happens next, it proves to be better written than whatever immediately preceded it. It shouldn't be too difficult. We just need someone who can actively generate controversy instead of react to it. Someone willing to piss people off in the interest of having fun, rather than just trying to stir up !@#$. And actually do so while being a competent alliance leader as well, who people can trust to act how he says he will. Even if he's a complete !@#$%^&, at least you know which way the wind will be blowing when he says hes going to come after you. It shouldn't be too difficult. We've got a lot of those guys lying around here, they just need to have the proper tools to work with, and everything will work out totally fine, and we'll be legitimately interested in the latest OWF shenanigans once more.

So as my tl;dr: [b]Post-Karma reads like a Michael Bay script, the characters are flat and dull, and the only faintly interesting things are the massive explosions. A thousand random ass side stories does not make an interesting narrative. And finally, and most importantly, [i]thank God for Londo Mollari, the one and only interesting alliance leader to have ever played antagonist in nearly 4 years of anyone who has been in the ruling political structure post-Karma[/i][/b]

Cheers, Londo! Get off your ass and raid the Knights of Ni! again or something, already!

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[quote name='New Frontier' timestamp='1324536026' post='2883919']
the best part of this post is that you're actually doing ivan's academy thing.
[/quote]
What a shock, right?

That being said, intellectual exercises are always worth pursuing, and I know Ivan's clever enough to come up with good stuff when he gets bored.

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[quote name='Charles Stuart' timestamp='1324536461' post='2883931']
People lack ambition these days.
[/quote]
What does that have to do with what I've said?

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You make some good points. Some random thoughts:

- The reason no one will emerge as a very clear "antagonist" is that most people will either work against you as a threat and/or want to be a protagonist. So taking a very clear antagonist role is almost suicidal.

- There have been some pretty aggressive moves. The preempt of DH, accompanied by "everything must die" rhetoric was one. Ramirus tried to do it in bipolar (though it failed miserably). There are still a reasonable number of alliances willing to start aggressive wars.

- We haven't run out of grudges. Grudges can still be created, and tend to emerge out of each war. We'll see some after this war that will be relevant in the next.

- Wars can always start based on classic CBs. The fact that this one was started/justified on a grudge is unusual.


The part about lacking a larger narrative is very true. I don't see any feasible way to change that. Part of the problem is that almost every active player has been doing this for years. A lot of the culture is well established, and there isn't much that's "new" that can be done. This just a natural phase of the game, most games are more interesting when you're first playing them and doing everything for the first time.

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[quote name='Azaghul' timestamp='1324537748' post='2883948']
You make some good points. Some random thoughts:

- The reason no one will emerge as a very clear "antagonist" is that most people will either work against you as a threat and/or want to be a protagonist. So taking a very clear antagonist role is almost suicidal.[/quote]Antagonism is simply acting in opposition. I hate to rip off another person's wording (yo, Ivan), but antagonism is not inherently "bad", nor is it inherently "good", either.

Walford too, was an antagonist. The only real protagonist in CN is the individual player. They measure themselves against the antagonist forces in CN and that is the drive that causes them to actually work towards opposing those larger-than-life personalities. So antagonism doesn't necessarily have to be suicidal, it just has to be successful.

What's important to remember here is [i]that not everyone wants to be a protagonist[/i], some people like to play the anti-hero, or the villain outright. It's simply a matter of lining up aligning interests. Easier said than done, to be sure, but it's nothing all that complex at it's very core.

[quote]- There have been some pretty aggressive moves. The preempt of DH, accompanied by "everything must die" rhetoric was one. Ramirus tried to do it in bipolar (though it failed miserably). There are still a reasonable number of alliances willing to start aggressive wars.[/quote] That's why I said it wasn't a problem of originality, but a problem of being interesting or not. The pre-emption of Doomhouse was the clearest example of the "anti-villainy" which has only recently begun to propagate from MK. The repercussions of that have yet to be seen, but that attack was more random than adversarial, I think. But your mileage may vary on that perspective.

[quote]- We haven't run out of grudges. Grudges can still be created, and tend to emerge out of each war. We'll see some after this war that will be relevant in the next.[/quote] I'm not saying an end of grudges, but an end to a political narrative defined by these thousands of minor grudges hardly anyone even cares about.

[quote]- Wars can always start based on classic CBs. The fact that this one was started/justified on a grudge is unusual.[/quote]Those classic CBs have always been merely a pre-text to act on grudges. So as many have stated already, this was just ignoring the dressing up of this war, rather than going through the whole horse and pony show (is that the proper phrase?)


[quote]The part about lacking a larger narrative is very true. I don't see any feasible way to change that. Part of the problem is that almost every active player has been doing this for years. A lot of the culture is well established, and there isn't much that's "new" that can be done. This just a natural phase of the game, most games are more interesting when you're first playing them and doing everything for the first time.
[/quote]It's not about something new being done. It's about stuff being done in an interesting manner. We can all agree that a Bi-Polar political spectrum was more interesting than a truly multi-polar one by now, right? So its certainly feasible for people with the capacity to manage it to try and steer the narrative back in that direction.

The problem of antagonism is one of personality. And those that have taken center stage for the most part Post-Karma have acted as pretty lackluster antagonists. The worst example of that is, without a doubt, Grub.

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Before the Karma War I was the leader of an alliance part of a powerful bloc (The Citadel), although after the downfall of NPO the politics got stale and there was was no enemy to defeat. That is where I lost motivation to lead after there were no enemies left to beat and nobody wanted to fight each other after the Karma War for a long time.

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The problem isn't the lack of narratives or grudges or any of that, you flirted with the right issue when you mentioned TOP/Polaris' grudge.

People have their grudges/enemies but do nothing proactive to destroy their enemies. They hope that they get to declare on their enemy when war comes around, but if not, who cares.

The best way to win is to have a target alliance and do everything in your power to take them down. Learn from what Pacifica (or Legion even when they found a way to hit NSO) did, isolate the target alliance by allying their allies, build a coalition that will overpower them and their allies, and find a CB to use against them or one of their allies which will drag them into the war as well.

P.S. If anyone wants to help me take down MK, feel free to PM me. I make no secret about my plans but if you wish to remain anonymous I'm sure I can still find a use for you (and no, I don't mean spying).

Edited by Unknown Smurf

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[quote name='goldielax25' timestamp='1324556829' post='2884025']
I hope Ivan gave you a good grade as well as a napkin.
[/quote]

This wasn't an assignment.

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I would put the delineating mark of the decline in quality at the Unjust War, not Karma. But that's just me.

For what it's worth, this war has been less than cathartic for me. I had no grudges going in, but I have one coming out of it, one I really didn't want to have, but one I can't let go. I think I would've preferred no war at all to this.

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[quote name='TehChron' timestamp='1324536723' post='2883936']
What does that have to do with what I've said?
[/quote]

I summed up in one line what you said in a wall of text.

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[quote name='Unknown Smurf' timestamp='1324556211' post='2884024']
P.S. If anyone wants to help me take down MK, feel free to PM me. I make no secret about my plans but if you wish to remain anonymous I'm sure I can still find a use for you (and no, I don't mean spying).
[/quote]

You have my sword.

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[quote name='Unknown Smurf' timestamp='1324556211' post='2884024']
P.S. If anyone wants to help me take down MK, feel free to PM me. I make no secret about my plans but if you wish to remain anonymous I'm sure I can still find a use for you (and no, I don't mean spying).
[/quote]
I wouldn't mind mind taking MK down a few notches and open to ideas or hearing plans if they are good. ;)

anonymous of course B-)

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[quote name='Unknown Smurf' timestamp='1324556211' post='2884024']
P.S. If anyone wants to help me take down MK, feel free to PM me. I make no secret about my plans but if you wish to remain anonymous I'm sure I can still find a use for you (and no, I don't mean spying).
[/quote]

Should I hit you up ingame, here, or on [s]the Sith forums[/s]?

Edited by Leet Guy

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[quote name='Unknown Smurf' timestamp='1324556211' post='2884024']
The problem isn't the lack of narratives or grudges or any of that, you flirted with the right issue when you mentioned TOP/Polaris' grudge.

[b]People have their grudges/enemies but do nothing proactive to destroy their enemies. They hope that they get to declare on their enemy when war comes around, but if not, who cares.[/b]

[b]The best way to win is to have a target alliance and do everything in your power to take them down. Learn from what Pacifica (or Legion even when they found a way to hit NSO) did, isolate the target alliance by allying their allies, build a coalition that will overpower them and their allies, and find a CB to use against them or one of their allies which will drag them into the war as well. [/b]

P.S. If anyone wants to help me take down MK, feel free to PM me. I make no secret about my plans but if you wish to remain anonymous I'm sure I can still find a use for you (and no, I don't mean spying).
[/quote]
I think you're confusing one of many causes for the actual issue. The issue is that the way people are going about doing things [i]is boring[/i], and as a result, people don't take risks in a game [i]even when it could be fun[/i]. There simply aren't enough people that throw caution to the wind and act out on what they want. There are a lot of people that have pretended to and wound up forcing it (hi Grub), but like any forced performance, it's incredibly boring to watch.

Again, confusing one symptom for the entire problem.

[quote]I summed up in one line what you said in a wall of text.[/quote]If it were that obvious I wouldn't have bothered with a wall of text.

That you missed the point despite me saying it repeatedly in pretty blunt terms says a lot.

Edited by TehChron

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[quote name='Chief Savage Man' timestamp='1324573261' post='2884103']
woah woah don't use both hands, you gotta let some others get some strokes in
[/quote]
Oh, don't worry, it's plenty large for others to join in even with me using both hands.

You can get your turn, too, if you'd like. :smug:



















(This is talking about my ego)

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I don't really know what all the fuss is about. I think the pantheon of great players and the mythology surrounding them might be part of the problem. People feel like they really have to "think big" or be this or that and set the bar too high for themselves, so they just don't bother doing anything at all. When it comes down to it playing politics in this game is very easy, especially so when everyone is as lazy and careless as they are now.

Antagonism is a relative term. Things that conventional political wisdom classify as "dirty moves" are overlooked and even cheered on when they're done by the quixotic underdog. Moves of apparent benevolence are viewed with suspicion of power consolidation when made by those at the top of the ladder. People are plenty willing to support an 'antagonist' if they present the right personal appeal. The bad guys are just whomever the convincing players say they are.

All it comes down to is a lack of creativity on the part of the establishment of political elites. They encourage and feed a culture of disdain for these forums, which have always been the source of the personality-driven political narrative that people remember so fondly. The game has otherwise changed very little -- alliances have simply dispensed with the pretense, which was a great source of entertainment for a lot of the general population.

[quote name='TehChron' timestamp='1324571495' post='2884096']
I think you're confusing one of many causes for the actual issue. The issue is that the way people are going about doing things [i]is boring[/i], and as a result, people don't take risks in a game [i]even when it could be fun[/i]. There simply aren't enough people that throw caution to the wind and act out on what they want. There are a lot of people that have pretended to and wound up forcing it (hi Grub), but like any forced performance, it's incredibly boring to watch.
[/quote]
You could say a lot of things about Grub, but boring?

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[quote name='Crymson' timestamp='1324580536' post='2884155']
Unsurprisingly, the OP, a member of NSO, spends his entire post worshipping Ivan.
[/quote]
Unsurprisingly, Crymson, an example of a boring antagonist, spends his entire post failing to be interesting.

(I spent the post worshiping Londo, btw :awesome: )

[quote]So we need another superbloc? Watching those crash and burn after they've run out of enemies can be pretty entertaining.[/quote]It's not just an issue of a superbloc or not, but it's one of personalities representing the public face of it.

I'm sure if Xiphosis were to step up his game and become well-regarded as some kind of genius tactician or skilled leader or even a competent gofer, he could play that role just as well. Londo, again, is an excellent example of antagonism done right.

It's not just an issue of ambition or anything like that, but a matter of people finding what's going on in the political metagame interesting. And far more than private channels ftw, it's simply how the political narrative is presented that encourages or discourages interest. Which is what gives rise to activity and passion and such.

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tl;dr except the bolded text <_<

Look, within months of this world getting started up, there were over 40k nations. Truth be told there was something like 15k people actually running those 40k nations, there was no naval units, no space-based wonders, no one but an idiot wanted more than 14,999.99 infra (if you could even afford to buy that much), nukes were for the elites and regular people were out of luck, and everyone made sure they put "not inactive!" in their nation bio for fear that a "grave robber" would come by and loot their nation thinking it was abandoned. Yet, everyone likes to romanticize that era. Why? Because good and evil were so clearly defined? No, they weren't, except in propaganda. Because there were more charismatic personalities? Bovine scatology.

Yes, there was a time when there were more nation rulers than there are now. The number isn't 1/10 of what it was, 1/4 of what it was as some would make you think in these b.s. threads, the actual number is actually about 1/2 the number. That's still a lot of people capable of doing all sorts of amazingly stupid/brilliant/entertaining things IF YOU ONLY ALLOW YOURSELVES TO DO SO. Could the mechanics use a tune up? Of course. But the way people friggen WHINE like you took away their dying goldfish and replaced it with a similar, more lively one when changes are made, do you honestly expect more than for Admin to make a minor tweak to the code now and again and close his eyes and pray when he hits the 'Enter' button to execute it? :rolleyes:

[i]OOC: Threads like this one should be terminated with extreme prejudice. Not just closed, but deleted. They waste bandwidth and Admin made it pretty clear he's not interested in seeing them. Sorry for the rant, but enough is enough.[/i]

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