Saturday, October 22, 2011

Part 3:  On the spirit of the game

or, Foul Play (by whose standards?)

Hmm… so I was right.  I wake up, and it is Over: Attn: CotC has been failed, not once, but three times!  Although the blog software has mysteriously cut off posts so that we can’t see the last few votes, it seems that the arrival of rebelyellow, lass, and Phantom Hoover [looks like Phantom Hoover was ehird’s, see comments :/] was integral to the outcome.  Fair enough, we also used meatpuppets.  But since they signed up rather than deidling, where did they come from?  Googling their names along with “nomic” doesn’t find anything.

Are they just random people, friends of BlogNomickers?

One of the crucial rules we [mostly, see comments :/] followed is that only Nomic players, current and former, could be recruited.  I wanted this to make the invasion more in the spirit of Nomic, to ensure that “meatpuppets joining to vote FOR” and “people who will actually play once the dynasty starts” were reasonably correlated lists, and, most importantly, to make this a solvable game, to make the voters members of a relatively limited pool, who would have enough understanding of what was going on to be interested if partisan participants, rather than mechanical Turks.  When each new player joined, there was a moment of bated breath as we saw which side he was on; after a while, we started to run out of players, and it became important to try to convince existing BlogNomickers to vote FOR (although we didn’t have much success) rather than just recruiting more people.  I am not just saying this because we lost—for most of the voting period, this rule significantly benefitted BlogNomic, as while BlogNomic has always had more players than Agora and has a large set of idle players, I have 190,000 Twitter followers who might have been persuaded to submit some forms.  But that would be stupid.

No defenders ever agreed to the aforesaid scheme, and in some ways “people who have played Nomic” is a quite arbitrary set, but I cannot think of an interpretation under which using random pure meatpuppets does not constitute upending the chessboard. 

But I guess that’s the point: several players think that we have already upended the chessboard by invading in the first place, and just wanted to end the invasion by any means necessary, quite fine to proceed with anything valid under the rules.  (Incidentally, if I am wrong about those three players, this argument is quite invalid, but I think the preceding statement is still largely true.)  Kevan commented that the invasion is “incredibly boring” and “massively poor form” and we are “arrogant” and it’s “sad”:

> It feels like some kids with nerf guns have started shooting at our chessboard and telling us how fun it would be to start throwing the pieces back at them. Look, we’ve already made a barricade to hide behind! You could make one too!

I want to rebut this: not for any practical gain, as I doubt this post will convince anyone of anything and even if it did, calling a revote would be rather lame; but just to make certain players think.  And after that, I will apologize.

His is a reasonable analogy, after all, and it’s true—in a sense we’ve come over and forced a largely isolationist game to play a game with us.  But Nomic is not chess: Agora is not, BlogNomic is not.  Nomic is *fundamentally different* from chess because it features the unique element of scams, where I can find a loophole that lets me teleport my knight to the other side of the board, and the other player will congratulate me instead of storming out of the room.  BlogNomic deemphasizes scams, but they happen all the time and rarely feature digust and massive backlash and arguments about the spirit of the game; Bucky garnered nothing but praise for re-enacting a CfJ in clear violation of how they ought to work, and rightly so, as it was an interesting discovery: a strong Nomic tradition, which has not failed to take hold here, states that finding interesting uses of the rules is a welcomed form of gameplay.  The invasion was received as it was not because of a fundamental difference in meta-ness, as Kevan would claim; but essentially because under various measures, an invasion is *more egregious* than a regular scam.

And of course it is.  The reason the concept of an invasion is so famous is because it represents multiple extremes.  It is probably the simplest (and most universal) possible scam; it requires more participants than any other scam; and it produces greater and more sudden intermingling of two little cultures than any other type of foreign relations.  The first two suggest that an invasion is the most basic and least desirable of all possible scams, but its extremeness makes it rare and, thus, unique.  In the 5-6 years I’ve paid attention to Nomic (not so much, I know, compared to some of the players here), I only remember Agora having two war-like events and they were both very minor*: certainly I have never seen anyone go full-on invasion on anyone else, and I have no records of it happening since the Risho-Agoran War in 1997.  The hope is that these factors are countered because the uniqueness of a scam *makes* it interesting—makes people think about things they usually take for granted.

And you must admit it’s not all bad.  The third extreme, the intermingling of cultures, though it happens quickly enough to inevitably produce culture shock, is not all that bad.  We got to know each other better.  The process of getting people on board with one side or other and coping with a huge amount of activity is, to me, an inherently fun and rewarding activity.  It tends to burn people out and shouldn’t be kept going for too long—but the 9 hours after the CfJ was submitted comprised probably the fastest sustained nomic play I’ve ever experienced, and I haven’t had as much fun in a long time.  Meanwhile, like any scam, especially those with long critical timing periods, an invasion should invite people to plot counter-scams, the sort of “find interesting bugs in the ruleset” process that wasn’t involved in the original attack but might be in the defense—as we saw with Bucky.  If from nothing else, I think many BlogNomic players got a kick out of what he did.

So yes, Kevan:
- You are supposed to be pleased at the excitement of the invasion.
- I do understand the difference in playing styles between the two games—as a rare player, not all that well, but well enough that I was not particularly surprised by the outcome.  I’m sure ais523 and coppro understand it even better.

After all, even in Agora—even in B, I think, which once encouraged as much more silliness than Agora as Agora encouraged compared to BlogNomic, people have violently rejected scams as contrary to the spirit of the game, because regardless of your theoretical opinion of them, it’s natural to get angry when you appear to have been dominated.  I’ve felt that way more than once—on the occasions when ais523 has taken over the game, I’ve felt powerless and trapped, tried to lash out, savored the ability, when it came, to tell the dictator to pack his bags—and I’ve been on the receiving end of it many times.  I’m sure some of you would appreciate the sentiment of this comment:

In Monopoly, Risk, or any other game, no matter how well the rules are
written, if the game is ruined because you are playing with a sniveling
little rules-breaking shit, the game is ruined because you are playing
with a sniveling little rules-breaking shit.

In Agora, some of it is always due to tunnel vision and passes with time, and perhaps some of it remains.  Perhaps more of it will remain in BlogNomic than Agora.

It’s unfortunate and a little depressing, because I don’t want to ruin the playing experience of anyone else—I’m not usually that kind of person.  It’s only because scams have the potential to be so massively fun, where and when they work right, that I continue to try them.

So I (on my own behalf, as I can still hardly speak for others) apologize for those for whom this invasion was an unacceptable, degenerate form of gameplay; I hope that it was worth it for Darth Cliche, Prince Anduril, bateleur, Purplebeard, and Qwazukee, who expressed enjoyment at either the process of invasion itself, the potential results of an invasion, or at least the brief reunion of old BlogNomic players that resulted (without implying that those players are “on my side” in any way), and I hope the rest can forgive me.

Some other points:

- zuff (ehird) is great, but he made various arguments on the blog that I think most of us would disagree with.  He argued that it was the easiest way to get BlogNomic out of a crisis, but I would never have said it was anything but the most fun way.

- Not sure what Kevan is referring to with “we are here to fix your Nomic and save you from yourselves, no don’t bother voting on that stuff”.  ehird meant it when he said the first third of that; nobody said anything like the second two thirds.  My incendiary post to agora-business stating that “WE, in our infinite wisdom, have decided to INVADE BLOGNOMIC, for the Greater Good of both nomics,” was obviously “in-character posturing”, but I didn’t see much else along those lines.  I don’t think it is arrogant to suggest that an Agoran dynasty would be fun to play.

- I can’t believe you’re starting a metadynasty based on the idea of invasion after rejecting the invasion.  Come on! :p

* although one of them ended with a B Nomic player accidentally personally surrendering to Agora.  That was great.



10-22-2011 06:17:25 UTC

although coppro says that ehird grabbed meatpuppets.  meh.


10-22-2011 06:21:04 UTC

three, I think


10-22-2011 06:24:06 UTC

*three*? who?


10-22-2011 06:32:45 UTC

monqy, dupdog, Phantom Hoover


10-22-2011 06:38:22 UTC

Okay, that should not have happened.  Recruiting random people *is* ridiciculous; there is no difference between getting three random people and getting 20.


10-22-2011 07:22:44 UTC

I was less annoyed by the invasion, which did have some positive outcomes, than I am by the continuing navel-gazing that is going on in the aftermath. It happened; it failed; is it strictly necessary to have 1,500 word treatises on why? I think that more or less everyone involved has now had an opportunity to elaborate their feelings on the matter, and while various players (myself included!) will undoubtedly attempt to legislate to make this either harder or easier in the future it doesn’t seem like there’s much useful scope for persuasion or elaboration; nor does it seem like there’s much grey area that requires further light to be shed.

It’s been nearly two weeks since any kind of actual gameplay took place and it would be very nice to get back to that, now.


10-22-2011 07:48:52 UTC

sorry, I stopped reading after you implied recruiting goons for Agora was a legitimate strategy in the first place. I donno whats up with the people who joined and voted against the proposal. If they were people without any connection to blognomic before thats wrong. But you guys started the invasion, you guys started the getting shills to join to get your stupid proposal through and we responded in suit. Complaining about it just makes you look like even more of an ass.

You guys tried to dick over our game. We responded and stopped you. None of us care that somehow in your sick and twisted mind your’ve rationalized your asshattery. We’ve already shown you guys are too desentized to the world to actually listen to reason so arguing about it more will simply get us even more pissed off at you. We just wanna move on and get back to playing blognomic. I would’ve been totally cool with people who tried the invasion and backed off when they saw how mad people got over this. I’m even willing to live and let live if you guys just drop the whole invasion idea. But if you continue to try and rationalize it and defend your actions I will likely vote against any proposal you ever made on principle for the remainder of time I play blognomic.


10-22-2011 10:48:04 UTC

You made up a private code of conduct for your invasion, and you’re patronisingly disappointed in us for not intuiting and following it? How is this any different from you breaking our unstated code of conduct of “oh, hey, don’t just post a DoV and get twenty buddies from your gaming group to force it through”?

All we saw was strangers with unfamiliar names joining our game, and voting to end the current dynasty without greeting or comment. A couple had the same IP addresses. You would forgive any BlogNomic player for thinking that a group that was abusing our generous signup policy would also be abusing our entirely reasonable lack of any “only ‘proper’ Nomic players may join BlogNomic” rule.

Yes, my nerf gun analogy isn’t about scams, we all like scams. The problem isn’t that you came to BlogNomic and pulled a scam, it’s that you turned up with a twenty-person voting bloc whose first move was to try to end the game we were playing, whether we liked it or not. If one Agora player had made a bog-standard scam and won the dynasty, and modestly announced that the next dynasty would be Agora themed and would be taking its lead from Rule X in Agora, a couple of players might have idled out (any dynasty with a theme of “a specific game you might not have played” alienates people), but it wouldn’t have been any kind of big deal.

Maybe the impression of “invading BlogNomic for its own good” didn’t fairly represent the attitude of every Agora player, but all we could see from this side was an opening CfJ of “we notice your game is broken, and Agora has some rule about ‘attempting to become a player’ - we think the best way to address this is to veto the fix you’ve been working on and to end your game”, with many Agora players silently supporting it. Your tone throughout has been that the invasion was supposed to be fun for us, and we should be grateful to Agora for it. When a group is invading and voting mostly in silence, two or three of their number being dogmatic or trollish in comments and IRC chat speak for all of them. (Ironically, I think Agora probably needs an Ambassador.)


10-22-2011 11:29:25 UTC

I am tired and somewhat inarticulate, but here’s a quick response:

- It’s only different in that the idea of players crossing nomics to invade is somewhat traditional (not *that* traditional).  In retrospect, communication could have been much better.  Certainly it would have helped if I had properly communicated my secret code of conduct to ehird!

I don’t know what anyone else was planning, but for a while I was hoping we’d do this all at once and present it as a fait accompli, then explain it in a DoV, not drag it out over a day (and ultimately fail, heh).  Should’ve updated my thinking.

- My reasoning for picking yesterday to invade was that it was the best possible time in terms of avoiding interrupting an existing game—since the dynasty had already been well and interrupted and it was pretty clearly getting boring.  It wasn’t perfect, since certainly some people still wanted to play the dynasty, but within the bounds of an invasion it was a reasonably good time.

A regular win followed by an Agoran dynasty would have worked but it would have missed out on this whole event, including the fun parts, such as the incredibly fast rate of play after a few hours.  It may well be that it was not worth it and everyone will remember it as “Agorans ruined the game for 24 hours”, but I am hoping that people will remember it as “Agorans brought in a little minigame for 24 hours and it was stressful but there were fun parts”.  Time will tell.

- I think the “we notice your game was broken” bit was an attempt to fit into the “issue requiring urgent attention” format prescribed by the CfJ rule.  From my perspective, it *was* supposed to fun for you, but you are not supposed to be grateful about it.

Prince Anduril:

10-22-2011 12:13:14 UTC

190,000 twitter followers? Nice.

But to the point. I found it interesting, though a little difficult to keep up, given that one of the reasons I like BlogNomic is that I can look at it once a day, or so, and not miss much. The sheer requirement of time and attention has been a little trying.

On the other hand, the unique gameplay opportunities that have been given due to these circumstances are by all means interesting. But I think the problem that I’ve mainly had with it is a group of players who largely aren’t of this community coming in and effectively saying ‘I want to play like this’, and imposing this on the rest of us. This is all very well, but when you have a group of people who have been playing a game as they like it for a while, having fun, it can take the fun out of the game to have a bunch of other people come over and change the game for their own enjoyment, screw the enjoyment of those who were playing in the first place. You talk of cultural mixing, but it’s felt like cultural imperialism.

The game had indeed been interrupted, but we were well on our way to fixing it. I don’t see why this was a good time to invade when the game’s already down. However, as Josh said, the invasion failed, along with most of the resulting proposals and CfJs. I don’t see why we need to keep going on about it. Let’s just move on and get on with the game.


10-22-2011 12:19:49 UTC

> one of the reasons I like BlogNomic is that I can look at it once a day, or so, and not miss much.

Ha!  Even when it’s active, you could look at Agora once every week and not miss much.

Prince Anduril:

10-22-2011 13:02:43 UTC

Yeah, never really understood Agora, but I only really came across Nomics this year. I attempted to get my head round the mailing system, but I got a bit lost.


10-22-2011 13:06:49 UTC

I should like to add something.  (I’m not sure if I’m a “meatpuppet” by your definitions.  Certainly I am not in the sense of what coppro is alleging of ehird - meatpuppetry of that form is very poor gamesmanship in a nomic). 

But when ais523 first PMed a select handful of Agorans, the tone was:  “BlogNomic is in a minor Rules crisis; it would add some flavor to add an invasion-attempt-to-save-it into the mix, and in the dynastic structure of BlogNomic it would be interesting/fun to have an Agoran dynasty, just to see what would happen.  And hey, if you haven’t looked at BlogNomic, you might like it.” 

The private discussions that followed were what I’d call high-quality discussions on BlogNomic rules, not “so how many votes we got now?  Anyone else random we can ping to join?”  If e’d started with “can you do me a favor and click these buttons and then type FOR then you can ignore it” I, for one, wouldn’t have joined.  And neither would the others I think (some of whom I’ve played with in multiple nomics over the years and I know that they Get It).

I think comex et al. may be a little bothered that the tone of this - so clear and respectful in the secret planning! - didn’t come through in the public gameplay as it was intended; a legitimate and interesting set of nomic moves.


10-22-2011 13:13:52 UTC

Follow-up:  I’m pretty positive that any “Agoran dynasty” would have limited itself to some dynastic rules with Agoran phrases and terms of art (and any minor rule-fixes that everyone generally agreed on), that wouldn’t meddle with the flavor of BlogNomic… half the “invaders” were BlogNomic players in the first place, after all.

For example, it would have been fun - had we won - to treat it (in dynastic rules only!) as “the occupiers” versus “the resistance” factions and have winning conditions based on burning the Agoran flag in a palace coup or something.

ps. as a long-term mailing-list Agoran I’m finding blog format a bit challenging :)


10-22-2011 13:15:59 UTC

@eelpout: It wasn’t me that did that. I wasn’t part of the scam from the beginning; I was recruited into it (with some qualms, but was a little annoyed at the way BlogNomic had reacted to my DoV, and I thought the invasion would be interesting). The idea was mostly comex’s and coppro’s, I think.

ehird/zuff’s view, I think, is that it’s acceptable for him to recruit as many meatpuppets as the BlogNomic side does. I don’t really like that attitude, but I can see how it happened.


10-22-2011 13:19:13 UTC

I suspect it may be relevant that an invasion isn’t an “interesting discovery”; everyone knows that it’s possible to take over a nomic that way. If no one had ever heard of invasions, the sheer novelty of the tactic may have made it a lot more fun. (Compare an attempt to gain a majority by creating lots of corporate persons, as may or may not have happened during Agora’s contracts era.)


10-22-2011 13:29:03 UTC

@ais523:  oops, yes!  Sorry, first message (and aforementioned tone) was from comex, ais523 just ended up at the top of my reply list early on. 

@Pavitra:  A *successful* invasion that resulted in true foreign-relation type actions in both nomics would in fact be a novelty.  The initial “let’s all join and vote”, not so much.


10-22-2011 13:55:07 UTC

Well I missed it entirely. I didn’t bother to unidle during this dynasty since it looked boring and I had a lot to do, but if I had known of the invasion I’d have deidled. I can’t speak about this being appropriate, I’m quite new and wasn’t playing when you interrupted the game, but I surely would have enjoyed it a lot.
But yes, invasions are rude. I really hope this will end for the best.


10-22-2011 14:06:51 UTC

[ais523] I can’t see how that happened when monqy and dupdog joined the game and cast their votes fourteen hours before RebelYellow and Lass.

Ienpw III:

10-22-2011 14:06:57 UTC

against per Josh, Clucky and Kevan.

And this is well over 1000 words.


10-22-2011 14:06:57 UTC


I hope some of the players who joined for the invasion stay for the milk-and-cookies party afterwards.

Prince Anduril:

10-22-2011 14:15:13 UTC

arrow I wasn’t aware this was a voteable matter. Looks like it is now.

Prince Anduril:

10-22-2011 14:16:29 UTC

Good point Ienpw. I think a reprimand or punishment is a bit harsh though. Why don’t we just move on?


10-22-2011 14:25:17 UTC

arrow because comex deserves some sort of minor reward for writing all that.

Also, I agree with Bucky. On both sides.

@Kevan: I was going by what zuff told me; he may well have been lying (he has, umm, a history of broken agreements at Agora). (lass and rebelyellow cast invalid votes before casting correct ones; were they before or after the ones by monqy/dupdog?)


10-22-2011 14:35:49 UTC

[ais523] Just search for the names on the front page; they requested to join around 2pm yesterday, monqy and dupdog had already joined earlier that day, just after midnight.


10-22-2011 15:40:27 UTC

>  can’t believe you’re starting a metadynasty based on the idea of invasion after rejecting the invasion.  Come on! :p

This, right here, is why people are getting upset about this whole situation.

We’re not made about the invasion happening, we’re mad about the way it happened.  People are actualyl interested in the invasion idea and don’t mind a dynasty based around it,m but when you literally show up and just try to take over and start your game without caring about what the other players of the game think, that’s when people get upset.


10-22-2011 15:41:56 UTC

[Prince Anduril] The Agoran mailing lists look more complicated than they are:

1) official
2) business
3) discussion
4) backup
5) another backup

Anything sent to #1 or #2 or #4 or #5 counts as performing actions (modulo the rules). Typically, #1 is only used by officers performing their duties, while #4 and #5 are only used when the server hosting #1 through #3 has an outage.

The other thing to remember is that replying to a message from #1 or #2 is redirected to #3 by default, so if you want to reply with more actions then you have to manually change it back to #2. (When someone forgets, see acronyms NttPF and TTttPF.)


10-22-2011 16:33:57 UTC

I agree with what comex, coppro, ais, and eelpout have said above; and think what everyone else has said is reasonable too (apart from Clucky).

Re accusations of meatpuppetry: yes, I’ll admit Phantom Hoover counts; I recruited him at the last minute, after CotC’s outcome was already a foregone conclusion, because I was annoyed that BN was /still/ recruiting meatpuppets at this late a date. The other two are not nomic players, but I selected them because, knowing them, I thought they would be _good_ nomic players, and the events in BN would be an interesting introduction to the game for them. Mea culpa, perhaps; I wasn’t aware of how vehemently BN was rejecting the events at the time. I’m not sure what this about IPs is; all three are definitely distinct people; two in different US states, one in a different country altogether.


10-22-2011 16:47:47 UTC

Oh, I didn’t say any of these three particular accounts had the same IP, I just noticed two Agora players having the same IP when I was checking them out the other day. I don’t remember which ones.


10-22-2011 19:37:18 UTC

I recruited rebelyellow and lass (and lazerchik). I know many, even on my side of this conflict, will disagree with my having done so, but I stand by my actions. Despite the Agorans well-intentioned “only existing nomic players” rule, getting a bunch of people to join the game and vote a particular way is meatpuppetry, and since you didn’t bother to tell us about your rule, we had no way of knowing that the size of your voting block was relatively limited. Given the choice between using an unethical but legal tactic and surrender to an invading force that I quite reasonably believed to be using the same tactic, I chose not to surrender.


10-22-2011 20:09:51 UTC

I’m sure all of the Agora people thought it would be fun but… they were wrong.


10-22-2011 20:25:29 UTC

Ornithopter: That you recruited them was obvious.

By the way, monqy has now began to vote completely independently, by no request of my own.


10-22-2011 21:59:42 UTC

That I, personally, recruited them was not obvious. (Unless I’m missing something?)


10-22-2011 22:04:28 UTC

I found it fun.

Perhaps a lot of retired admins who jumped out of idle-land to deal with it didn’t, but I’ll be honest that I didn’t consider them the clientele of the invasion. I’d prefer (and am prepared to accept) honest feedback from other players, especially non-Admins.


10-22-2011 22:05:58 UTC

[coppro] What’s the matter with retired admins?


10-22-2011 22:08:13 UTC

They weren’t the target audience, and in some cases haven’t played for months.


10-22-2011 22:21:17 UTC

I see, in my case make it years. But that doesn’t make me less an interested part around here.


10-22-2011 22:49:42 UTC

Agreed with Chronos.


10-23-2011 06:22:42 UTC

I think its safe to say how I felt early in this little event (i don’t think i ever got that mad in a post since the Quaz/Wak ban votes way back and i’m srry for that) but in the long run i’m not so much mad as i am being just tired of this. i just want to play BN with the friends i’ve made here since becoming a player and have fun again.


10-23-2011 06:31:56 UTC

And as was said, BN doesn’t ignore scams and loopholes (the April Fool’s Dynasty being a good example of a loophole scam) and I like that. What happened the last 48 hrs…..not so much. But if any of the agora players wants to stay as BN players I won’t complain. Just don’t be a jerk please.


10-23-2011 14:30:14 UTC

> But if any of the agora players wants to stay as BN players I won’t complain. Just don’t be a jerk please.

Your terms are acceptable to me.