by Max Barry

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Gameplay Magazine - Featured Personality: Cormac

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Featured Personality: Cormac

Our guest today is renowned in NationStates GamePlay for a myriad of reasons. Love him or hate him, you canít deny the estimable presence that Cormactopia Prime has had on NSGP over the years. He can start an avalanche when it comes to drama and force players and regions to take actions with the sheer power of personality. Cormac is the delegate of the region Pacifica which according to their WFE

Republican Pacifica is eternally at war with the New Pacific Order. We are an anti-fascist region, read all about it here.

Pacifica was launched by a native forced from his home in St Abbaddon by the New Pacific Order. We seek to continue the free spirit of St Abbaddon."

This interview took place on December 15, 2018 over Discord.

How did you learn about NationStates? How long have you been playing NS?

Well, as far as I can remember I learned about NationStates when I was bored one day and googled something like "political game" or "political simulation," something like that. So no great origin story. My story began in boredom! :P

I've been playing NS for almost seven years now. I started in February 2012.

Do you remember where you started out?
I think I spawned in the West Pacific, but I'm no longer 100% sure. My first region that I moved to was actually 10000 Islands, but I was there for only a short time before falling inactive. A couple weeks later I started again with a new nation and ended up in an imperialist region called Exshaw, founded by Durkadurkiranistan (aka John Ashcroft Land, or JAL). So that was the first region I was really involved in.

Was your first nation named Cormac or a variation of it?

Actually no, the origin of the name Cormac was my first nation in Exshaw, which was called United Celts. I started out interested in the General Assembly, and I didn't immediately realize that gameplay wasn't as RP-oriented as the GA was. So when I signed up for Exshaw I used the name of my nation's RP "foreign minister," which was Cormac. The name just kind of stuck after that.

Is there any other significance or symbolism behind your nation name and\or flag? I know you chose your family name based on symbolic\mythic connections.

Nope, not really any symbolism behind my flag, it was just a nice design I came across and thought it was unique. The compass in it though does seem very "me," because I tend to follow my own compass wherever it goes.

I chose my family name because it was a title of Odin, which meant "ruler of treachery." Given the first UCR I founded was Asgard and I've always been into Norse mythology, and given it was a tongue-in-cheek way to embrace my reputation, I thought it was a weirdly appropriate family name.

How did you get involved in gameplay?

Well, after Exshaw kind of went south, I founded my own UCR, Asgard. That only lasted for a few months, unfortunately, though it was fun and we made a pretty decent impact with our raid of Christmas (which is still commemorated by the Liberate Christmas resolution). After Asgard I ended up involved in TNP, Osiris, and the UDL, and ended up prioritizing Osiris and the UDL over TNP.

So Osiris and the UDL were pretty much the same time as each other, and there was always a little bit of tension between my involvement in one and my involvement in the other. As most know, the UDL tended to be controversial, to say the least.

Can you tell us a little bit about your time in the UDL?

Well, I joined the UDL in September 2012. By then it had developed a bit of a reputation for not handling conflicts of interest well, based primarily on Unibot's political involvement in TSP and to a lesser extent TNP. Though it wasn't entirely Unibot, there were others who didn't handle their conflicts of interest well either, or at least were perceived that way. But really that didn't explode until 2013 when Ravania was caught spying on the NPA in TNP, which basically was the beginning of the end for the UDL. But it was always a bit controversial, and became a bit moreso when I joined it, due to me having abruptly switched alignments from imperialist to defender.

The first of what would end up being many alignment switches, actually. I don't know how many times I've switched alignments over the years. But quite a few.

It's interesting because switching alignments\sides is something that you are criticized for or teased about sometimes on GP. From one perspective it allows you to experience different parts of GP and also really treat the game IC. What do you attribute your switching to?

The way I've played this game was really peculiar at the time, though it's become less so. If I get bored with what I'm doing, I go do something different - because this is a game and I'm not going to limit myself to something that isn't working for me. So that was often at the root of my decisions to go do something else, though there were times there was drama involved, or political reasons. So I guess I would have to say each situation was a little different.

Would it be accurate to say that Osiris has been one of your most consistent focuses in NS? How did you start there and what was it like then?

I started in Osiris in 2012, about the same time as I joined the UDL, but I think a little earlier. It's definitely been my most consistent focus. I started there because I wanted to get more involved in GCRs after Asgard lost the Security Council vote on Liberate Christmas, but as I got to know people there more, it became home to me. It's hard to describe what Osiris was like then. It was simultaneously Osiris' early "golden age," and one of the strongest and most active communities Osiris has ever had, but also incredibly toxic, especially behind the scenes. The toxicity only became apparent to me later, or I likely wouldn't have gotten involved there. I'm still glad I did though.

The way I would describe it I guess is an apple that looks really delicious on the outside, but once you really sink your teeth into it, you see that it's rotten at the core. That was Osiris in 2012.

I know you've been pharoah in Osiris at least once? Where else have you held major positions?

I've been Pharaoh there three times actually - once in 2013 while it was still the Kemetic Republic, again in 2014 when it was OFO 1.0, and then again in 2016 as the Pharaoh overseeing the turbulent transition from OFO 1.0 to 2.0.

I haven't held a lot of really major positions elsewhere, really, other than Founder of Asgard - more supporting positions. In addition to other, lesser roles in Osiris, I've been a Senator in Europeia, Cabinet Secretary in TNI, Foreign Secretary in The LKE, Lieutenant in the UDL, Chair of the Assembly in TSP, Assembly Speaker in Lazarus. I commanded Balder's military for a while. I was a General in The Brotherhood of Malice, and a Corporal in The Black Hawks. That's not even everything, just what I remember off the top of my head. In the words of Johnny Cash, "I've been everywhere man." :P

Most of my more significant roles were legislative. I didn't do much of significance anywhere else besides legislation.

I think Johnny Cash is pretty much Osiris' official mascot :P

What is your favorite historical NS event or moment? Why?

My favorite was definitely the establishment of OFO 1.0 in December 2013. Aside from putting Osiris on the long path to stability, it was also just the coolest thing I've ever done in this game, and it was something I got to share with Koth and Venico, who were my best friends in this game (Koth still is, Venico is of course retired). It's not too often that a major "coup" has long-term success, usually they falter after a few months at the most. So I think that was really pivotal for me as a player, for Osiris as a region, and really for gameplay.

A close runner-up would be seeing TSP liberated from Milograd's coup earlier in 2013. That was actually the only GCR coup I've ever seen liberated by force. The others either weren't liberated, were negotiated away, or were ended from the inside (like Kazmr and Imki in Lazarus). So it was cool to have witnessed an actual GCR liberation.

I didn't know that about Milograd's coup actually and that coup is the reason I started really playing this game.

Yeah, it's a really underrated moment in NS history. It was a major thing that doesn't get talked about much. That coup was also what got Ever-Wandering Souls involved in gameplay, along with many others.

We've both I think discussed this waning of NSGP, where it has lost some of its power and spark. It's also possible we're looking at things with rose-colored glasses. If you had to compare NS then and now - what do you think its lost over the years? What do you want to see more of now?

I think what NS has lost is its political dimension. It's too social now. To be clear, it has always been social, and that's not only inevitable but also a good thing. It's what makes us a community as well as a game. But that has always been held in balance with political gameplay. The balance has shifted too much toward socializing now. We need more ideology, more conflict that is political but doesn't become so interpersonally toxic. More stuff like the ADN and NPO war.

But it should be noted that you're right, some of it is rose-colored glasses. There was a lot of interpersonal conflict in the example I just used, the ADN and NPO war. At one point the NPO used Pope Hope's RL picture in their propaganda and she threatened to sue them. So sometimes older players have a tendency to remember things as being better than they were.

Ultimately, I think the game really needs some technical change to breathe new life into gameplay. Faction Gameplay or something. But until then, because that may never happen, as players we should do everything we can to work with what we have.

I mean in part I also think there aren't enough sides that are actually competitive. Imperialism or independen dominated and folded everyone into itself minus a few here and there. Defenders seem to always be on the losing end of the stick. Now no one, not even the NPO, wants to be in a war it seems like.

Yeah, that's definitely part of it. I don't think capital-I Independence has been good for the game, because too many regions have become too similar. Almost everyone is some variant of Independent now, and it's not producing more interesting conflicts as we were told it would. Independence sold itself as being a more political way of playing the game, based on each region's interests rather than big ideologies like Francoism, defenderism, etc. But that hasn't been the result. Instead, Independence has yielded an almost apolitical or "post-political" environment where everyone thinks mostly the same way.

We need more ideological diversity. We need traditional defending to make a comeback, and we also need more ideological gameplay in general. But the players have to be willing to jettison Independence and actually do that. I'm not sure the will for that exists right now.

Some players attribute the influence of Discord as having weakened the game. Which NS platform do you use the most (Discord, Gameside RMB, Forums)? What do you think of these platforms and their strengths and weaknesses for gameplay?

I definitely use Discord the most. I kind of hate myself for doing that, because I think it has contributed to the over-socialization I mentioned. But it also has a lot of strengths in terms of quick communication, and it's where everyone in gameplay is at right now so it's hard to deliberately avoid using it and still participate. I think quick communication is also one of its weaknesses. Arguments are much more likely to get heated and turn intensely personal when they're happening in real time. I think the rise in harassment we've seen has a lot to do with the emphasis on real time communication as well. So there are real drawbacks, and I'd like to see people using forums more.

I do also think most regions don't use their RMBs enough. I've been guilty of this too. The RMB is obviously not organized to be useful enough for a lot of gameplay purposes, but it's still a tool that should be used to enhance the region and get gameside players more involved. We could use a lot more of that in gameplay in general.

For a while players have argued that forums are dead. What do you think about this view?

They're definitely not being used nearly as much. I don't think they'll ever be completely dead though - they're still needed to do things that Discord simply isn't good for, like organizing legislatures, or forum-based things that require more text. Discord isn't a good platform for that. I've also seen this or that medium of communication pronounced "dead" before, only to see it make a comeback later. The fixation on Discord could well end up passing eventually like IRC and Skype did, and we could see forums being used more often again.

So, if you were Max Barry for a day what would you do?

I would create at least five new Feeders and ban fascism. I would want to personally delete fascist regions and nations, because that would be very satisfying. :P

If I were Max Barry for longer than a day, I would see to it that Faction Gameplay is implemented.

Honestly though, what am I saying? Max is an accomplished author, which means he probably has money. I would probably throw a big boozy party and not think about this game at all...

A Cormac party, I wonder what that would look like. I think more GCRs would definitely inject some new life into the game if they didn't devolve into the same old same old.

What do you do for fun outside of NS?

What is this "outside of NS" you speak of?

Nah, but in all seriousness, I'm a huge fan of horror movies and I watch a lot of TV, specifically fantasy/sci-fi/apocalyptic stuff like The Walking Dead, The 100, etc. I also like to read, basically the same genres as my movie and TV preferences. I enjoy outdoor stuff like hiking and fishing.

Oh, also BuzzFeed quizzes. I take a lot of those. Like, an unhealthy amount.

LOL. Yes, the BuzzFeed quizzes - they are an addiction :P

Favorite movie?

My favorite movie is A Nightmare on Elm Street (the original, not the crappy 2010 remake). It's the movie that got me into horror movies. Anyone who hasn't seen it really should.

Favorite music?

Country is my favorite genre, but I have really eclectic tastes and like a little bit from a lot of genres. I also listen to Christmas music daily starting the day after Thanksgiving until the day after New Year's, so I'm one of those people.

What is some of your favorite Christmas music?

A little bit of everything really, but I tend to like the classic stuff more. Bing Crosby, Burl Ives, etc. LinkMichael Buble is one of my favorites too though! I like his non-holiday stuff as well.

So you wake up Christmas morning and a receive a golden ticket that gives you the delegacy of any region you choose. Which would you choose? And what would you do?

How different the answer to this question would have been had you asked it a few weeks ago. :P

I would choose the Pacific, and I would immediately dissolve the NPO and convene a constitutional convention to set up the most democratic government possible. I think that would both be the most interesting outcome, as well as annoying the NPO, so the best of both worlds.

What are you focusing on right now?

I'm currently the Delegate of Pacifica (the UCR).

Basically, I see it as a good opportunity to help out Topid, who is a longtime friend of mine now, and help a region that is already at war with the NPO - so it helps the war effort as well. It's also a bit of putting my money where my mouth is. I've been saying for a while that UCRs need to become more relevant again, but I hadn't been doing anything about it. So that's what I hope to do here. I'm hoping we'll be having a constitutional discussion soon and working on getting region-building really underway. I still need to coordinate all of this with Topid, but I think the region has a lot of potential and I'm excited about it.

Thank you to Cormactopia Prime for this interview and check out Pacifica! Check out the WA commendation proposed for Cormac by Tim-Opolis here. FInally, check out the AMA here for more about Cormac!