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Showing content with the highest reputation since 06/22/20 in Blog Entries

  1. I've been thinking a lot about the difference between my "home" community of NationStates, and other nation sims like this one. I want to start off by saying that they are very different games. NationStates is, at its core, a political game, with a focus on ideology and broad policy over micromanaging. It has no clearly defined goal, and there is no clear metric for success or failure. War is conducted either through role playing (of which there is a great deal) or through a complicated proxy system involving the administration of regions. This second system is really better regarded as an entirely different game, and has its own universe of politics and opposing communities. Even this, however, has a minimal effect on an individual's choices. NationStates is somewhat strange among popular nation sims, in that there is almost nothing to do with game mechanics after one has mastered the basics. Paradoxically, this lack of hardcoded goals seems to have spurred players to develop entire world's of things to do. By the admission of the game creator, who is an award-winning author in his own right, the rigid self-imposed standards of quality in the role playing community rival those of fully published works. The level of politics and intrigue which permeates both national roleplaying, and especially relations between regions, makes real-world diplomatic crises seem straightforward. As with any sufficiently large community, the level of activity and detail is nested fractally, and has no endpoint. In sharp contrast, P&W is based on the premise of tweaking numbers to perfection, and micromanaging until the cows come home. Nation scores, leaderboards, and wars provide a plethora of goals and ways to stack up players' efforts. Alliances take this one step further with data-oriented aid programs and additional tools to pinpoint the effects of player actions. Players who do well can bask in the glory of being ranked highly, and nations who fail will know as much in no uncertain terms. Even with these features, however, players are limited in how much detail they can put into their nations. Daily activity is limited by resources, and creativity in policies and spending is limited by the need to maintain defensive capabilities. These limits are not necessarily a bad thing. The more complex a game becomes, the steeper the learning curve for new nations becomes, and the more likely new players are to become overwhelmed and quit. A finite number of daily actions promotes long-term strategies, and player loyalty. There is also a certain realism in limiting the possibilities for players to enact fringe policies, and shepherding players towards a particularly successful model. In many ways, P&W and NationStates are opposites. P&W is geared towards developing one's nation along very specific lines, with the end goal always coming back to war and building infrastructure. NationStates is not so much a simulator, as a template for creating stories, whether those stories be enshrined in roleplay, factbooks, or fictional statistics. And yet, the politics between alliances and regions is almost the same. The same language, the same agendas, and the same (contextually justified) paranoia of other groups. After a great deal of thought, I have concluded that it is not so much that the engines are similar, it is that the players, and their actions and intentions when dealing with each other, are virtually the same. The purpose of such an online game is not to generate a set of statistics for one's ideal utopia, as such could be just as easily accomplished with a pencil and paper, and skip the period of building. Nor is it for the purpose of the raw stimulus of pushing buttons correctly; we make it far too difficult for that. What is really on display in these games is the interactions between players. We desire external validation of our achievements, and we choose to seek such validation through a system which mimics the familiar flow of international politics. It can come as no surprise, then, that similar demographics will join both games, or that similar themes and buzzwords will arise in both communities of players with similar taste in style, because the source and manner of human validation is the same. In conclusion, while the mechanics of NationStates and Politics & War may be presented as opposites, and indeed, there are substantial differences in the traditional methods of regular players, the demographics of the players, and the manner in which they address each other, are almost indistinguishable.
    2 points
  2. If you find the print too small, please click the image link for a full screen view. On PC, you can enlarge with the magnifier. Enjoy!
    1 point
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