Gameplay is a catch-all term for playing NationStates by utilizing the actual mechanics and structure of the game, rather than primarily the forums. There are many aspects to Gameplay that are sometimes overlooked, or that fall though the cracks as neither roleplay or gameplay proper. Some of the more interesting are listed below, but please feel free to add your own to this article.
The term "gameplayer", although it could technically apply to any practitioner of game-based play, typically refers to a special class of player who rarely engages in roleplay and mostly involves themselves in regional/interregional politics. (See also Gameplay IC.)
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Many players never go beyond the level of individual nation play. Answering issues and voting in the WA satisfy their needs for this relatively simple game, and they never realize how many other aspects of interactivity they are missing.
- Puppets can be used for a variety of purposes. Some players create puppets using different criteria just to test how the game responds to issues or affects their Category. Others use puppets to infiltrate regions and spy on potential enemies. Some people use puppets as roleplay surrogates, preferring to create a nation with a character's name. WA puppets are frequently used by invaders and defenders and players seeking to avoid the statistical effects of WA resolutions on their main nations. No matter how they are used, puppetry is a part of the game's structure.
Many of the regions were formed for reasons that had nothing to do with NationStates. Some are gathering places for friends or family members who use the game as an excuse to get together. In other cases, visitors from other forums form regions such as Farktopia or the Goontopia Collective. Others are drawn by political or social allegiances like The Proletariat Coalition or Anarchy.
The Civil Headquarters of a region can be a gathering place for friends or a planning board for allies. Others maintain extensive off-site forums for region members only. The possibilities are endless. An extensive network of interregional embassies, formalized by the game in 2011 but extant on offsites and in other forums for years before that, gives players the opportunity to interact with members of other regions and form alliances and friendships based on personal and/or political affinities.
Invading / Defending
- For Invaders and Defenders, the primary value of a nation is its ability to be used in controlling a region. These players often form groups that meet via offsite forums, IRC, or other means of quick communication. Their goal is to outwit their counterparts through organisation and clever manipulation of the game rules and vulnerabilities. Elite invaders prefer to call themselves raiders, and operate under "ethical" codes that distinguish them from common region-crashers.
- An alternative to the Invasion game is region hawking. Region hawking is a practice that is done for basically the same purpose as region crashing, with the permanence of region griefing (and yet is legal), and requires only one person to do. Like certain forms of griefing it is annexation, except that rather than gathering a bunch of friends, crashing a region, illegally booting everybody, and recreating it, you patiently wait until it dies, and then recreate it.
World Assembly Play
Relating to the organization that replaced the United Nations in 2008, WA play is often lumped in as another aspect of either gameplay or roleplay, but there is more to it. Many players use the WA as a place to exercise their political muscles and propose resolutions that will impact other member nations to better reflect the author's ideology. Others see an intellectual challenge in using the proposal process to understand compromise and consensus. Some just enjoy the act of writing up proposals in legalistic language that will nonetheless be acceptable to the majority of players.
Another aspect of WA play manifests in active attempts to manipulate the voter pools. Proposal writers will present their case on the forums, actively campaign via telegram, or use the offsite forums to bring their case to the delegates. There have also been hints of organized groups splitting into multiple regions and electing multiple delegates, expressly for the purpose of influencing the WA approval process. Players have also been known to engage in "vote stacking," or lobbying delegates with large endorsement totals to vote early on resolutions so as to create a domino effect on later voters who prefer to vote with the majority.
General Assembly vs. Security Council
- Whereas before the WA only voted on international laws with universal effects on member states, in 2009 the organization was split into two branches, the General Assembly (or GA) and the Security Council (or SC). The GA continues to create international law, while the SC passes resolutions concerning the actions of individual nations or regions. Players in the two branches have shared an historically antagonistic relationship, stemming from the intense controversy that surrounded the SC's creation.
Some of our more gifted graphics manipulators enjoy creating flags and maps to better represent their national and regional interests. Topics devoted to flags can be found in The Original NationStates Flag Faq. Mapping also has topics that show up in the Gameplay Forum.
Language play is an often overlooked part of the game, but it can be found anywhere from mottos to roleplay to solo intellectual exercise. Some players take existing terrestrial languages and adapt them to national tongues, others use existing "invented languages" like the Sindarin or Quenya created by J.R.R. Tolkein. Some of the more adventurous players engage in conlanging and create their own tongues. Examples of some of these can be found in NSwiki's Languages category. There is often a conlanging topic being floated about on IRC as well. You may have to look a bit to see this aspect, but it's most certainly present in NationStates. Check it out!
Some technically minded players take delight at manipulating data from the XML feed in to calculators and other clever devices. The calculator users tend more towards the roleplay side, but some of the authors have extensive sites devoted to reverse-engineering the code that makes up NationStates.
Other players take the time to develop scripts that do a variety of things. One of the more famous is The Nationstates Bunny, which hops from region to region on a clockwork basis. Use of scripts is tightly monitored, and some scripters have a tendency to drive admin SalusaSecondus to an early shade of grey, but the technically minded continue to find amusement in the process. Of course the best scripters never let on what they can do, lest the rest of us find out and hunt them down. Clever scripting can seem like an unfair advantage, but most of the scripters are scrupulous about the safe and polite use of scripts.
Internet Relay Chat has become the semi-official home of real-time NationStates discussion. Live interaction works on both gameplay and roleplay levels, and many a forum topic has been played out in advance thanks to the instant back-and-forth nature of live IRC. Players also use other services such as AIM, Yahoo!, and MSN to stay in touch.
Some nations, regions, alliances, and other groups create their own offsite forums when the Civil HQ just won't cover the need. Many of these organisations create their own laws, constitutions, and internal organisations in a format that skirts the boundaries between gameplay and roleplay. Still, the primary orientation of these players is on taking over regions and regional power structures, not on character-based roleplay or the internal state of their respective nations.