You know the problem with novels. They're so expensive! Until, that is, they come out in neat, affordable paperback:
Time Magazine Top 10 Fiction Books the Year
Goodreads Best Books of the Year
Kirkus Best Fiction of the Year
Chicago Tribune Page-Turner of the Year
NPR Best Books of the Year
2014 Alex Award Winner
iBookstore Best of the Year
Amazon.co.uk Best Books of the Year
So now there's no reason to put off getting that awesome book everyone's talking about. By which I mean Lexicon. The book I wrote. That's the book.
BitCoin has been in the news a lot lately, turning ordinary people into millionaires, then back into ordinary people again. The wonderful thing about BitCoin is it's a currency, but without any of the cumbersome government regulation that stifles innovation, facilitates tax, and prevents banks making off like bandits with all your money.
NationStates is a progressive place, so it's only right that we unveil a cryptocurrency for nations. But not BitCoin—no, we have something better. Eight times better, in fact. It's NS ByteCoin!
Getting started with ByteCoin is easy. Just navigate to your nation's home page and click the START MINING BYTECOIN button. This commences a process whereby ByteCoin is manufactured out of unicorn tears and orphan wings. It may feel strange and uncomfortable, seeing money produced out of thin air, but that's only because you don't pay much attention to the Federal Reserve. This is actually how it usually works.
Of course, you need somewhere to put your ByteCoin. It's not like you can just pop it into your pockets. It doesn't really exist. So you need to select a ByteCoin exchange to hold it. Exchanges are other nations that have completed a rigorous application process, probably right now while you're reading this, which involves paying a hefty fee. Then they can hold other people's ByteCoins! This is actually completely safe and under no circumstances is there any chance that an exchange will lose your money, unless hackers.
But that's not all. You can also swap ByteCoins into your own nation's local currency. I mean, it's not what I'd recommend. Everyone's really getting into ByteCoin these days. Selling out... well, I won't tell you what to do. But it's weird. Anyway, you can do it. And since the price of ByteCoin fluctuates, just a little, you might even be able to make a little by swapping in and out at the right times.
Good luck! And remember, ByteCoin isn't about getting rich: It's about freedom! And getting rich!
Update 1! Well, the servers are being destroyed by traffic. That's why everything is slow to load. Sorry about that. Of course, back in the day, we often had lag worse than this. Not because of April Fool's events. That was just what we called normal. But nowadays, a server gets slow and everyone's like, WHAAAAAAT.
However! If this is annoying you, don't worry, it will all be over soon. Soon-ish. I'm letting this run a little longer than usual, to avoid forcing US East Coasters to stay up until 3am again, and because a lot of work goes into setting these events up and I like watching them.
Update 2! I'm shocked at how little thievery there was. Oh sure, a few trillion were pilfered here and there, but for the most part, ByteCoin exchanges stayed true to their word and stole almost nothing from their customers. I have to say, I feel it's my fault. I failed to create an adequate simulation of the real world.
There was some debate about whether the ByteCoin prices were market-driven or just some dumb random algorithm. I can now confirm that a true market mechanism was always the only acceptable option for ByteCoin, up until about March 31 when I realized how hard that was to code. So it was a dumb random algorithm. Except for Titanfall, which was a plan by some big ByteCoin players to try to crash the market by all selling at once, which I caught wind of and simulated to freak them out. That was fun.
Thank you for playing with ByteCoin! If you'd like to see your final holdings, you can use the tiny "ByteCoin Status" on the right side of your nation page, or click here.
This news post is by Game Moderator and World Assembly Resolution Wrangler Ardchoille. It is, of course, incomprehensible to those of us who don't closely follow the minutia of World Assembly legislation. And quite rightly so. If it were simple and easily understood, it wouldn't be the World Assembly. But here is the short version: There is a new category available to resolution authors named "Health," and the "Environmental" category has gained new options.
The World Assembly,
NOTING that a large proportion of nations never wash behind their ears,
BELIEVING that it's years since most of them cleaned their fingernails, and
TOTALLY CONVINCED that they'd live on peanut butter and two-minute noodles if we let them,
ABROGATES TO ITSELF the power to muck about to its heart's content with healthcare in member nations,
INSISTS that nations extract large sums from their citizenry in the name of aid, development and research, and
INVOKES the spirits of those renowned medicos Dr Hannibal Lecter, Doctor Doom and Doctor Moreau to gently guide international moral decisions in the minefields of bioethics.
FURTHERMORE, the WA,
FED TO THE BACK TEETH with trying to think up proposals for Trout Fishing,
MANDATES that everyone take a decent swing at miners, loggers, manufacturers and people who do things with (and possibly to) automotive machines and
TURNS A REVEALING SPOTLIGHT on the wicked practices of Agriculturalists, while still casting a beady eye on ALL BUSINESSES whatsoever, because they're probably DOING THINGS TO THE ENVIRONMENT.
FINALLY, the WA
WELCOMES anyone who enjoys starting sentences with verbs in capital letters,
PIOUSLY HOPES that one day the Secretary-General will return to us, and
THANKS the Admins and Techies who made this all possible, while
URGING all who oppose our benevolent rule to inflict any abusive emails, repeals, insultingly small bribes, etcetera, on the Secretariat, as it's
TOO LATE TO STOP US NOW mWA-hah-haaahhhh!
Interviewed on the effect of the new WA category on life, the universe and everything, a sober sapient found dancing quietly in the Strangers Bar said it would undoubtedly cure cancer, end the Spon Plague in Upper Examplestan, stop Ponies getting stones in their hooves and turn the tide in the recurrent zombie infestations.
"I can very confidently predict that it will improve the world, one Resolution at a time," he said, disappearing into a nearby blue police box.
In mid-2012, I promised to add more uses for dispatches than Factbooks, and sure enough, practically five minutes later, here they are! How we maintain this breakneck development pace, I do not know.
Now your nation can issue dispatches that are not merely descriptions of its own glorious state, but news, opinions, policies, or articles about whatever it chooses. These are handily collected in the new Dispatches page, which is even more handily included on the sidebar, allowing you to easily find interesting new articles from nations around the world. Or at least, that's how it will work if everyone votes up worthwhile dispatches and votes down less deserving ones. I'm assuming there will be no corruption involved.
And that's not all! Founders and Delegates can pin dispatches to their region's World Factbook Entry, ensuring that residents are exposed to whatever they think passes for vital information.
I know! Polls, new World Census Rankings, Dispatches... it's Feature February come early!
This post comes courtesy of resident Issues Tech Kindly Professor Hell.
NationStates offers a large number of rankings, allowing nations an opportunity to boast about their impressive achievements: Most Civil Rights, Happiest Citizens, Most Apathetic Citizens, Highest Crime Rate, and so on. Today, we announce two new ways of establishing your nation's superiority.
Most Scientifically Advanced measures a nation's scientific and technological progress. We can't tell you exactly how we measure it, but, yes, rocket science is involved. Or perhaps your nation feels that man should live in harmony with the Earth, and not meddle with things beyond our ken. A trophy for Most Primitive will remind you of the good old days when illness was treated with healing herbs and crystals and when thunder was known to be the gods calling out for more virgins—before the uncouth geeks from the north took over with their alphabets, their metallurgy and their chariots, and eventually desecrated the sacred groves with huge smartphone stores.
It can sometimes happen that a nation ranks highly in both Most Advanced and Most Primitive. This situation usually means that the nation has advanced wearable computers, but uses them only to cast horoscopes.
Another ranking was introduced a while ago, but perhaps is worth mentioning now. This is the Most Developed ranking, which computes a national Human Development Index, similar to the way a certain Unspeakably Named world organization computes it. The HDI is a blend of economic well-being, literacy and lifespan. See this thread for some discussion of how it works.
We think the HDI is interesting, because maxing out your HDI is an interestingly different goal your nation can try after achieving perfect freedom, perfect equality and/or perfect misery. It should not surprise you that a high development score will likely give a boost to your scientific advancement as well.
Ever wanted to see a quick poll of your region's mood? Maybe you have. I don't know, because I've never been able to poll you. But now I can!
Polls can now be created in any region by its Delegate or Founder. You can even choose who is eligible to vote, for example restricting it to WA members, to large nations, or opening it up to the whole world (like the one above).
Naturally, the results are available in graphical form with a few interesting breakdowns. Because you can never have too many graphs. Or breakdowns.
We also have a Global List of Polls.
Glorious victory! That's what 200,284,000,000,000 dead looks like to me. Sure, that's a lot of corpses. But last time, there were 200,506,000,000,000 dead! It's a clear improvement.
Actually, the real victory was in Survivor numbers, which climbed from a mere 18.7 trillion in April to a healthy-ish 55.1 trillion today. That's a survival rate of just a tick over 20.0%. Final numbers of infected were well down, from 35.9 trillion in April to 19.8 trillion today.
During the apocalypse, nations deployed a grand total of 1.6 million zombie actions (Cure Missiles, TZES strikes, and Horde attacks). To put that in some kind of perspective, the number of non-zombie actions on an average day in NationStates is around 100,000. I'm glad we got that new server up recently, because we wouldn't have survived without it.
Some of the same regions scoring glory on this year's Z-Day Tally Board were the same as last time; some fell to the hordes; others rose on the backs of mechanized zombie kill squads and Mk V Cure Missiles. Perhaps the biggest difference is there were a lot more regions that managed to be completely infection-free by the final bell. A glorious achievement indeed, although perhaps the survivors sometimes wonder... could they have done more? There were a lot of closed borders out there. Such times test us all.
Thank you for being part of NationStates-Z2. Happy Halloween!
I'm not even talking about the zombies. I'm talking about what you all just did to our server. But most of the fires are out now and we're standing by with extinguishers and blankets.
A new global infection has indeed taken hold, as expected. It seems to have initially reached 10% of the population, which is mildly concerning, since last time it started at only 5%. But, as mentioned, back then it took us a while to figure out what was happening, whereas now we are completely prepared.
In further good news, the new infection doesn't appear to be more virulent than before, so it won't spread any quicker. However, early analysis suggests it is more resistant to a cure, and may require a greater collective research effort to defeat. But everyone is prepared, right? So no problem.
Update! The Z-Day Tally Board is up!
Update 2! Superweapons! We have them. Unfortunately, they have them, too. Cure Missiles, Zombie Hordes, and Tactical Zombie Elimination Squads are flying in all directions.
Unfortunately, things aren't looking too good for the world. I have a feeling we're looking at a post-apocalyptic wasteland again. Those huge regions are really just zombie buffets right now.
But there are pockets of hope! Check the Z-Day Tally Board for the latest information, but as I write this, Texas is doing well, Wysteria is hanging in there (for now), and Versutian Federation is doing a fine job. Maybe once a few regions like these have cured themselves, they'll lead a fightback to reclaim other zombie-ravaged areas of the globe! Or maybe when there are 125 trillion drooling undead out there, it's wisest to stay at home.
Update 3! Good news! A defective part was just identified in some Cure Missiles Mk II that was interfering with their guidance system. Expect slightly improved zombie conversion rates!
Update 4! Things are looking up! As the cure fightback continues, the number of survivors has surpassed the number of infected. The hordes were well in control for a while there, but globally we now have 51.5 trillion survivors (18.9%) vs 50.0 trillion (18.4%) infected. Plus 170.6 trillion dead (62.7%). We won't speak of those.
As threatened, a zombie apocalypse is likely to occur this Halloween. This is the continuation of an annual NationStates tradition that begins this year.
Apocalypse begins in:
On April 1, 79% of the world population perished, 7% survived, and the remainder were infected. But that outbreak took us by surprise, whereas now we're fully prepared. We even have a countdown timer. So there's little to fear.
What You Need to Know
The apocalypse will begin began 172 days ago.
It will run for 30 hours, ending 171 days ago.
You have three options: attempt to exterminate zombies with military force, try to research a cure, or totally join forces with the zombies.
Infection rates are region-based. If a region contains many nations with high zombie numbers, all resident nations will become infected quicker. If there are few zombies in the region, few citizens in your own nation will become infected.
Extermination quickly converts your zombies into dead citizens.
Cure research slowly reduces your region's infection rate, and can send it below zero, converting zombies into survivors.
Embracing the zombie hordes quickly increases your region's infection rate.
The extermination and the research options are more effective the more survivors you have, being fairly ineffective if you leave them until your military and scientific experts have mostly been eaten. Similarly, pro-zombie nations are more dangerous the more zombies they have.
During the apocalypse, Founders and Delegates can close the region's borders at no Influence cost. There will be a special Z-Day Border Control feature available to facilitate this (unlike last time, when regular regional password changes were reversed at the end of Z-Day).
As I mentioned, though, the only reason we lost trillions of lives last time was the apocalypse kind of snuck up on us. Forewarned is forearmed! So I'm confident we can look forward to a relatively calm and orderly global undead pandemic. Good luck.
A few little things: Firstly, we're shifting servers (again), and there will be a little downtime, starting with the Forum in just a few moments (EDIT: All done now!). Hopefully this will be brief, but, really, who knows. These things are like wrestling grizzly bears. If we don't come up again, it was nice knowing you all.
A couple of new features: You can quote posts from your Regional Message Board using a faint, barely-detectable button on the right. And Regional Influence accumulated in what we call Feeder and Sinker regions now lasts six months only, in order to recognize the importance of recent activity as well as longevity. More details available here.
Also, it was pointed out in the forums that my previous post about the new NationStates Activity page really left an NSA joke on the table, just begging to be made. I want to say I regret that.
That's it for now! I'm sure our downtime will be brief, and our revival filled with new features. But don't quote me.
What with all the news of mass government surveillance programs lately, it seems only right that we unveil: the NationStates mass surveillance program! Or, as we like to call it, "Activity."
The new Activity page allows you to keep tabs on the entire world, or whichever particular part of it is of interest to you. Watch as the cumulative actions of thousands of nations scroll by! It's kind of addictive.
You can also watch an updating feed of global activity at the bottom of the World page.
The new Activity page replaces the old "REPORTS," so if you're peering at the sidebar thinking WHERE THE HECK DID THAT LINK GO, this is why. You can access reports similar to before via Activity links from your Dossier.
If you run a region, you can make it a little more welcoming with the new "Welcome Telegram" feature! Available to Founders and Delegates via Regional Control, a Welcome Telegram is automatically wired to all new arrivals in your region. There's no need for telegram stamps and no limit on the number that can be sent.
Welcome Telegrams can be canceled at any time, and are automatically canceled if their author loses executive power in the region.
Today I answer your questions about NationStates!
Also, almost coincidentally, my new novel is out!
Lexicon by Max Barry
WORDS ARE WEAPONS
“A dark, dystopic grabber” —The New York Times
“The words brilliant and exemplary aren't adequate enough to convey the amazing craft of Lexicon.” —Associated Press
“★★★★★ A resounding success” —SFX Magazine
OUT RIGHT NOW
maxbarry.com • Lexicon • Reviews • International
If you like good books, or supporting authors who make web games in their spare time, please check it out!
NationStates was founded in November 2002, so we're now working our way through 10-year anniversaries of various cool things. I thought I would point some out, if you're interested. Or even if you're not, really. This is happening either way.
Ten years ago:
335,000 nations had been created. (Now: 3.48 million.)
We had just added more "feeder" regions (regions where new nations begin). At first, there was only the Pacific. But it accumulated so many nations that it began to cause server performance problems. Some people weren't happy about adding new feeders (the West Pacific, The North Pacific, The East Pacific, and the South Pacific) because it made it even harder for player-created regions to make it into the list of top regions by population. Also, some people liked having 10,000 nations in a region. But the server was not one of those people.
We added Game Moderators. First we had no moderators, and that was fine for a while, but then it wasn't, so we had Forum Moderators. But this taste of power wasn't enough for them so they forced me to extend their authority into gameside, even though there wasn't any need for it. Typical mods. No, wait. That didn't happen. We did need game mods. Some names from those days: Reploid Productions, Scolopendra, Menelmacar, Ineptia, The SLAGLands, Neutered Sputniks, [mantle], Enodia, Melkor Unchained, Yavin, Amerigo the Mod, TJHairball, and Demoness... and probably a few more I don't have recorded. And that was just the first batch! Some of these are still going, which is really impressive, or scary, or something.
We added the ability for Delegates to eject nations from their region. Before that, you just had to live with troublemakers. Which had its pros and cons. But mostly cons. Founders still couldn't eject anyone, though, because there was no such thing as Founders.
We fixed some display bugs in Netscape Navigator. I feel old just typing that.
The World Assembly was called the United Nations, because we hadn't received the Cease & Desist order yet.
Regional Message Boards only kept the most recent 10 messages. If you wanted to see any older messages, you couldn't. Actually, this is a pretty recent feature; we've only had that for two years.
Not enough reminiscing for ya? Then the 10-Year Anniversary page is for you!
The forum server passed away. Let us take a moment to silently reflect on all it has done for us. Never did it complain, except in the administrator logs, and yet it bore our burdens day after day.
So it's now in pieces and expert techs are gently probing each piece, to see where it hurts. We don't know how long it will take to put back together, or whether it will truly be the same afterward. You know, spiritually.
Updates will be posted to the NationStates Twitter page.
Update: It's back. It has a new drive. You probably can't tell. The server won't make a big deal about it. It never does.
I'm abusing the News page for a second non-NationStates item in a row. Sorry about that. It's especially annoying because there are several important NS features that are like 95% implemented, and just need me to finish them off. But am I doing that? No! I am selfishly spending my time on NON-NS things.
For example, this movie I co-wrote:
It's just been released as an advanced sneak on iTunes and On Demand, and is locked in a vicious struggle to the death for the #1 Indie Movie spot. It's also broken into the Top 50 for Comedies.
If you are in the US, you should totally rent it. I'm not just saying that because it would be awesome for my career. I figure there is at least a 50-50 chance that if you like a website I made, you might like a movie I helped make, too. So it's win-win.
Seriously, though, I am sorry about those delayed features.
As my day job, I write books. I'm not sure if you knew that. Anyway, my first novel, Syrup, is becoming a film, and now it has a trailer:
This doesn't have much to do with NationStates. So sorry about that. But GODDAMN, book becoming into film, that's pretty exciting for me. So I had to share.
A few nations are reporting a mild uptick in infection rates of a flu-like illness, it seems. But this is nothing to worry about. Everyone should remain calm.
Update: The illness seems to be more widespread than previously thought. But it's okay. The important thing is not to panic.
Update 2: It's time to panic. The infected are everywhere. Unless you take immediate action, they will destroy us all.
To assist efforts to contain the outbreak, we have made available Infection Charts for the world and for each individual nation and region. You may click on the labels (e.g. "Survivors") to add/remove a line from the graph, which is useful for identifying horrifyingly geometrical trends in the underlying data.
We have also established a Zombie Emergency Command Center for co-ordinating defense strategies.
Update 3: Oh, the humanity! The dwindling, infected humanity!
Here's what we know:
The fastest way to reduce the number of infected in your nation is to turn the military against them. This converts infected citizens into dead citizens.
The infected can spread between nations within the same region. In very infectious regions, it may become impossible for nations to hold off the zombies via military force alone.
Several regions have managed to contain the outbreak by having multiple nations research a cure. When only a small minority do research, however, this appears less successful.
Both the military and research options become decreasingly effective the fewer survivors you have.
Update 4: Well, the world seems to have divided neatly into regions where the infected population is small, controlled, and well cared for, and regions being devoured by endless zombie hordes. There's not much middle ground left out there.
But I have good news! The end is in sight! Cure research will soon make a solution available on a global level! This means...
The apocalypse will end in ended 1 year 18 days ago.
In the meantime, I present: The Z-Day Tally Board! Which regions will have the most survivors by the end of the apocalypse?
Update 5: The Z-Day Tally Board now also ranks regions by "Most Survivors with No Infected." Currently leading is Noctur, a safe haven for 110 billion people. But that's a fragile ranking! It only takes one infected to cross the border...
Update 6: It's over! It's over! At long last, the nightmare is over!
The "Survivors" numbers were starting to rise at the end there... so it's a happy ending! I mean, not for the dead. Which is 79% of the global population. But for everyone else, excluding those infected in overrun nations who will now starve to death, it's pretty happy! Happiness is relative.
Thanks for being a part of another April 1st on NationStates! For the next few days, infection data and charts will remain available via little "Z-Day" links on nation and region pages. Then they'll go away. So if you want a permanent record, you might want to screenshot that.
A complete log file of the crisis, which includes numbers for every nation and region in the world, hour by hour, will also be made available soon. This will be enormous and difficult for anyone to process, but it will be there. Because analysis is fun.
Should we do this again? I'm just putting it out there. Because this time, it would actually be practical to run a Z-Day on a regular basis... say, annually for Halloween. I think we would need to ramp up the potency of zombie exporters, since everybody would be better prepared for the apocalypse. But it could be done.
Special thanks this year to our moderators! They put a lot of work into this day each year, including BRRAAAAINstorming ideas, which I then just pick the eyes out of. So to speak.
And congratulations to those regions that managed to fend off the threat! The Z-Day Tally Board changed a lot at the end, as regions jostled for position. There were some devious moves. Some exchanging of moral virtue for higher rankings. But it's life and death. You have to make hard decisions.
Thank you for being a part of NationStates!
Update 7: 87MB zip file of Z-Day infection rate logs right here, if you're into that kind of thing.
REGIONS WILL FALL
Yes, it's all about the telegrams these days. As the new TG system creeps toward full functionality, rules and game features are changing, clicking into place—transforming, if you will, like how an innocent-looking car turns into a giant killer robot.
Today's announcement is about recruiting for regions via telegram. We've always had very restrictive rules around this, meaning that most of you probably haven't seen a recruitment TG since your nation was first deciding whether or not to make voting compulsory.
But this is about to change! It is now legal to send a recruitment telegram to any nation in the world.
So if you're ready to bask in the glory of having multiple regions compete for your presence, your time has come. If, however, this does not sound all that glorious, it's time to get acquainted with Filters, which are part of your new Telegram Preferences. Filters let you limit the number of telegrams you get and/or block certain kinds altogether.
If you're a recruiter, or interested in becoming one, please take a moment to check out the updated Telegrams FAQ.
Some new rules that may be of interest to you:
It's now required that when you send a recruitment telegram, you must tick the appropriate checkbox to flag it as such. (For the last few weeks, this has been encouraged but not mandatory.) This is so that your recruitment TGs can be auto-blocked by the recipient's Filters.
Please note that we now offer Telegram Templates as a way to send large numbers of recruitment TGs without needing to remember to check that box every time. Templates are free to use and have other advantages as well. More info in the FAQ.
When you tick that checkbox, you may notice it fills in the name of your region. This is to provide a handy "Move your nation to <region> now!" button, and prevent accidental spam. It means that when composing a recruitment telegram, your nation must be a resident of the region it is promoting. It doesn't need to stay there. But it must be in the right region while writing its recruitment telegrams.
Assuming the rules are followed, it's impossible to send more than one recruitment telegram for any given region to the same nation twice in 28 days. This eliminates the awkward situation where recruiters could accidentally double-up and break spam rules.
The Telegrams API is now online! This provides a free (albeit incredibly slow) method of sending telegrams via script for people who want to create their own automated tools.
At this point, the only major part of the new TG system not yet online is telegram stamps: you still can't purchase or use those. They will probably become available without notice in a few weeks' time, depending on how many bugs/exploits/catastrophic server failures we experience in the meantime.*
* Facebook has been attacking us. Seriously. Twice a day, they gather an army of several hundred servers and hurl forth 30,000 requests all at once. That's a lot of requests. Not for Facebook. But for us. Stupid Facebook.