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Return To Your Homes

by Max Barry
Wed, 30 Oct 2013

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!

Apocalypse In Progress

by Max Barry
Tue, 29 Oct 2013

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.


by Max Barry
Sun, 27 Oct 2013

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 10 years 240 days ago.

  • It will run for 30 hours, ending 10 years 239 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.

Don't Quote Me

by Max Barry
Tue, 08 Oct 2013

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.

Active Surveillance

by Max Barry
Thu, 26 Sep 2013

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.


by Max Barry
Tue, 27 Aug 2013

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.

Top 5 Questions About NationStates

by Max Barry
Thu, 27 Jun 2013

Today I answer your questions about NationStates!

Also, almost coincidentally, my new novel is out!

Lexicon by Max Barry

“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



If you like good books, or supporting authors who make web games in their spare time, please check it out!

Minor Anniversaries!

by Max Barry
Wed, 12 Jun 2013

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!

I'm Sure We Had a Forum a Minute Ago

by Max Barry
Mon, 10 Jun 2013

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.

You Can Watch My Film

by Max Barry
Tue, 07 May 2013

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.

Watch on iTunes (US)Watch via On Demand (US)Official WebsiteTrailerEarly Theater Screenings (US)Max Tries to ActMax Blogs About Movie StuffSyrup Featurette

Seriously, though, I am sorry about those delayed features.

Syrup movie trailer

by Max Barry
Tue, 09 Apr 2013

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.

Grr. Arg.

by Max Barry
Mon, 01 Apr 2013

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.

Good luck.

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.

Some (current) success stories: Nederland, The Vast, Esquarium, Holdania, The NationStates Community.

Some horror stories: The Moon, The Kodiak Republic, Haven, Equinox.

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 11 years 86 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.

Prepare Yourselves

by Max Barry
Mon, 25 Mar 2013


April 2013

Telegrams and Recruitment

by Max Barry
Sat, 09 Mar 2013

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.

Recruiter-Specific Info

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.

New Telegram System: Slowly, It Cometh

by Max Barry
Thu, 07 Feb 2013

The first part of the new TG system is in, and HOLY HELL BUGS EVERYWHERE. Not horrible bugs. Not the kind that makes data disappear. But still, bugs, requiring fixing. This is, of course, to be expected with any major new project, and not a sign that no-one here knows what they're doing.

So this is just a note to say the system is rolling out, but won't be completely online right away. In particular, we're going to take some time bringing in Mass Telegrams, in order to make sure we get that right. And by "right," I basically mean avoiding a global spam-based immolation.

Also! I realize that two posts in a row about STUFF YOU CAN BUY has struck some people as a little shady, coming after ten years of glorious anti-capitalism. Or six years of anti-capitalism followed by four years of ads. But this is it! This is our grand plan for self-sufficiency, I promise. We have lots of plans for new features and they are all free.

Thanks for your patience!

New Telegram System

by Max Barry
Fri, 01 Feb 2013

I can't even remember when we first began planning to overhaul the Telegram system. It was years ago. In the meantime, people have often asked, "How is the new TG system coming along?" and "When are we getting that new TG system?" and "My God, what do you people do all day?"

The thing is, the new Telegram system turned out to be kind of enormous. As in, hundreds of hours of work.

But it's finally here! Or rather, it's about to be! I'm posting a few days ahead of implementation so you know what to expect.

The aim of the overhaul is to make the core system better for everyone, to solve some difficulties we've had with regional recruitment messages, and to make available at a premium some extra features that we otherwise wouldn't be able to support.

In a few days, everyone will get:

  • A stylish new not-so-2002ish look
  • A "Sent Items" folder that holds a copy of every TG you ever send from now on
  • A way to reply to a telegram that doesn't involve navigating to the sender's nation page, scrolling to the bottom, and trying to remember what you were talking about
  • An "In reply to" link and a Conversation View, so when you get a telegram that just says, "I totally agree," you can see what the hell they mean
  • An "Archive" folder with a capacity of 20 TGs, so your total capacity including the Inbox just doubled to a total of 40 TGs
  • Icons that identify TGs based on type (regional recruitment, WA campaign, message from regional Delegate, etc)
  • The ability to opt-out of TGs based on their type, including fine-grained control for blocking "all", "most", or "some" of each type
  • A Telegrams page that doesn't automatically mark every TG as read but rather only the ones you actually, you know, read
  • A way to delete a TG that's faster than clicking a little box, scrolling, clicking a button, and waiting for the page to reload
  • The ability to address a single TG to up to 8 nations

If you purchase a Postmaster account in the NS Store (US$4.99), you'll also get:

  • A "Deleted Items" folder that holds your deleted TGs for 24 hours 100 deleted TGs, in case you delete something but then are like oh crap no wait
  • The ability to create 3 extra folders and name them whatever you like, like "WA business" or "Regional Plots" or "Forbidden Love"
  • Folder storage capacity of 100 TGs (up from 20), meaning that altogether your Inbox, Archive, and three custom folders can hold 500 TGs
  • Removal of site ads
  • "Site supporter" trophy for your nation page
If you purchase a Postmaster-General account in the NS Store (US$9.99), you'll get:
  • Everything mentioned above
  • No limit on TG storage; your TGs will never be automatically deleted
  • The ability to create as many custom folders as you like
  • A "Deleted Items" folder that holds TGs for 14 days
  • 500 Telegram Stamps (see below)

If you purchase Telegram Stamps in the NS Store, you'll get:

  • The ability to address a TG to a region or special group (e.g. "WA Delegates") and have that TG delivered to everyone in the region or group
  • Delivery Reports showing who received your Mass TG and who blocked it
  • The ability to use the %NATION% token in your message, which automatically expands out to the name of the recipient
  • The ability to queue TGs for future delivery to nations that don't exist yet, by addressing them to a special group like "New Nations" or "Refounded Nations"
  • (Recruitment TGs:) A button appended to your message that allows the recipient nation to move to your region in one click
  • (Recruitment TGs:) Recruitment Reports showing who moved to your region after viewing your TG

If you are a World Assembly Delegate or Founder, you'll get:

  • The ability to send TGs to your own region for free, i.e. with no Telegram Stamps

So that's why it took a while. I hope you'll enjoy the new TG system! Because if you don't, I really wasted a lot of time.

Questions? Find answers here!

Update (7-Feb-13): Modified how "Deleted Items" folder will work, based on discovery that feature did not work as intended and could not easily be made to.