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Your Stamp Dollars at Work
We've added a new dedicated database server. It's called "squirrel." There's no reason for you to care about that. But it makes things load a little faster and gives us headroom for what I hope will be a really great update in the next few months.
Thank you to everyone who's been supporting the site via the NS Store or by letting ads display! It's much appreciated.
In only a few days it will be Halloween weekend. A good time for nation leaders like yourself to kick back and relax, contemplating what the future for you and your nation may bring. That budget for next year has to be finalized soon. But you have it all under control, don't you? That's what you'd think, if it wasn't for those pesky Zombies which tend to crawl out of the local graveyard each Halloween, like last year... And this halloween as well, a zombie apocalypse is expected to befall the nations of NationStates.
Zombie apocalypse begins in:
Oracles have predicted that this years onslaught will be a bit more infectious, with stronger zombies. That doesn't bode well! Still, there's hope you can do better than before, especially if you're the kind of ruler who can plausibly proclaim afterwards you really did intend to have fewer survivors this time around.
What You Need to Know
The zombie apocalypse will begin 7 years 222 days ago.
It will run for 36 hours, ending 7 years 220 days ago.
As before, you will have three options: attempt to exterminate zombies with military force, try to research a cure, or join forces with the zombies.
Extermination converts zombies into dead citizens, posing no further risk to the uninfected.
Researching a cure slowly reduces your region's infection rate, and can even convert zombies into survivors.
Embracing the zombie hordes increases your region's infection rate. If a region contains many nations with high numbers of zombies, all resident nations will become infected quicker.
The extermination and research options become ineffective if you wait until the brains of your military and scientific experts have mostly been eaten.
During the zombie apocalypse, Founders and Delegates can close the region's borders at no Influence cost. A special Z-Day Border Control feature will be available to facilitate this.
May good fortune shine upon your nation... you'll need it!
Update! As before, there's a Z-Day Tally Board. The good news is that the total number of zombies is dropping. The bad news is that that's because they're falling down dead due to a lack of brains to eat. And dead is dead, these poor civilians cannot be resurrected (at least not until this Halloween event is over). While there are pockets of green with mostly uninfected, they typically hide behind border control, leaving the rest of the NationStates world to fend for themselves...
Update2! Despite the more infectuous and stronger zombies, the NationStates world managed to handle the zombie apocalypse better than last time around. 24.4% versus 21.7%. Quite the improvement! Notable is that both The Pacific and The West Pacific managed to get the hordes under control despite their status as Feeder regions. Doing so required cooperation among many many nations. Congratulations! One cannot say that it has been a success overall though, as the over 261 trillion dead can attest. Or, well, they can't...
Thank you all for participating in the event, we hope it has been fun regardless of your personal results. As you can see all populations have been restored to normal, but the Z-day results for your region and nation are still available with little "[+] Z-Day" links on the region and nation pages.
"Leader... Leader... do not... do not underestimate the powers of the Zombies or suffer your predecessor's fate you will."
Regional Officers are now available to all regions!
Thank you all who provided feedback during the initial few days of rollout. That led to the fixing of many bugs, as well as one major change:
The power to suppress and unsuppress posts on the Regional Message Board has shifted from Border Control to Communications
The forums are also hosting intense discussion about what limits we need to restrict the use of Regional Officers as a weapon for raiders, who attempt to seize control of other people's regions. The most popular proposals are:
New Delegates should be unable to appoint new Regional Officers for the first 72 hours (but can immediately dismiss any existing Officers).
New Delegates should be unable to make any changes at all to Regional Officers for the first 26 hours.
Regional Officers should lose office if they're outside the region's borders at update time. (Alternately: only lose Border Control authority.)
Regions should be limited to no more than three Officers with Border Control authority.
Regional Officers with Border Control authority should face a small additional "flat fee" of influence for ejecting nations. (Currently, Delegates and Regional Officers can eject brand new arrivals at no influence cost, which helps when holding a newly captured region against would-be liberators.)
Regions should be unable to eject more than one nation per second. (This would reduce the effectiveness of a team of Border Control Officers working together to hold a newly-captured region against liberators).
So we have to figure out which of these will work and which, like every other thing we've tried to restrict raiders, will actually be subverted into a weapon for raiders. If you have feedback, please contribute! This is a community-driven process and we want to come out with a feature set that accurately reflects community thinking.
There are also a few other tweaks and additional features to come, such as notifications and the ability to resign an office. And are we keeping Founder/Delegate names at the top of region pages as well as listing them under Officers or what?! I don't know. But stay tuned.
Regional Officers are Rolling Out
Over the next few days, regions will gain the ability to appoint nations as Regional Officers, with authority over specific areas. For example, a Diplomacy Officer can be given the authority to establish embassies with other regions, and a Communications Officer to recruit and manage welcome telegrams. The name and authority of each office is up to you.
To identify the power a nation holds in its region, you'll begin seeing new icons on nation pages beneath the region, signifying their authority: Executive, World Assembly, Appearance, Border Control, Embassies, Communications, and Polls.
This feature has come from much community discussion over a long time: thank you very much to everyone who contributed! It's a big change (affecting over 5,000 lines of code) and could make a big difference to regional dynamics.
Regions may appoint up to 12 Regional Officers.
Executive authority is required to appoint, dismiss, or modify Regional Officers. Only Founders and Delegates can have Executive authority.
Apart from Executive authority, Regional Officers can be granted the ability to do anything a Founder or Delegate does.
No Influence is required to appoint, dismiss, or modify a Regional Officer.
Influence costs are doubled for Regional Officers. That is, most functions can be used freely, but some Border Controls, such as ejecting nations, are harder to use.
Regional Officers retain power until dismissed.
The Delegacy can be given a specific set of powers, rather than (as is the case today) being either powerless or fully executive. For example, a region could set their Delegacy to grant authority over Border Control but not Appearance.
For more information, see this helpful forum thread!
More Rankings Now Included
We have a new World Census ranking: Most Inclusive! You can find this
on the Analysis page, as well as, before too long, a World Census
To tell you more, here is Issues Tech Kindly Professor Hell!
Throughout history, nations have defined themselves in terms of inclusion and exclusion. The ancient Greeks and Chinese divided the world into two groups—people and barbarians—and knew that "the only good barbarian is an enslaved barbarian." In medieval Europe, it was considered good family entertainment to burn pagans, witches, heretics... and, of course, Bigtopians. And until very recent times, everyone knew that women were unfit to rule, even though on those occasions when a woman came to the throne, they proved themselves every bit as vicious and power-hungry as any man.
Of course, these are modern times, and a lot of nations are trying to do better. How is your nation doing? Has it evolved to the point that Bigtopian immigrants, UFO cultists, descendants of slaves, interior decorators and even artificial intelligences, zombies and the vat-born live together in peace, harmony, and mutual respect? NationStates now has a "Most Inclusive" ranking to help you see. Please don't look down on those nations that rank poorly, since that would be disrespectful of cultures that don't value inclusivity as much as yours. Which means: no gloating!
And if you don't happen to care all that much for inclusiveness—perhaps your policies are geared towards developing a Frightening economy, maintaining a pristine environment, and/or building a large enough army to crush your most determined enemies—you can just ignore this ranking, like you do "Most Cheese Exports". Although that's one you really shouldn't ignore. Cheese makes the world go round; if you don't believe me, just ask the Bigtopians.
Cards Against NationStates
It's April 1st! You know what that means: time for another ridiculous NationStates mini-game. We used to do simple, mild pranks on April Fool's Day, like NationStates DS and destroying the United Nations and Liberal/Conservative NationStates and making everyone think they'd been hacked, which was actually not so mild but more terrifying and grossly irresponsibile.
But then we did the IPO Share Offer and it was so much fun that people demanded MORE MINI-GAMES. So then there were zombies and ByteCoin and somewhere along the way April Fools Day turned into "create what would be a pretty respectable site in its own right only to tear it down 24 hours later." Which I'm not sure makes a whole lot of sense. But here is 2015's entry:
Cards Against NationStates
Now I think about it, "NationStates Against Humanity" would have been a better name. Oh well! It's too late for that now.
Try it out! It's actually pretty fun.
Update! The banner link is gone, but the game is sticking around, since, you know, it's not hurting anybody.
Don't break the chain
This post comes courtesy of Issues Editor Sanctaria.
"We need more issues", you said. "Why are the editors taking so long to edit?" you asked. "Damn those Editors are hot", you gasped. And we heard you. We did!
This year we passed 400 issues in-game. Some of them have been controversial - like that time we put in an issue that kicked a few long-term delegates out of their seats (lulz) - but most of them have been widely welcomed. We write and edit issues for your enjoyment, and we always love to hear feedback. And by "we" I mean the other editors, not me, obviously.
But! We decided to do something not really attempted before - issue chains. We've had one in-game for a while which was a trial run for what we've endearingly called The Chain. This 19-issue story has different routes in which to travel, all with different endings. Involving a conflict with a far off nation, you can either solve your problems like the diplomat you are, or you can just be a jerk about it and start killing everybody. Either way is good.
The first issue in The Chain is called Diamonds Are An Expat's Best Friend! I tell you this because this chain is a once-off per nation - if you dismiss a single issue in it, you're never going to get it again.
We've worked on this for about 18-24 months. We hope you like it and let the Team know if you spot an error. You won't though. We're good.
Welcome, New Leaders
What with all the kerfuffle, I forgot to officially announce Rift becoming our default theme, thus giving the site a fresh new not-so-2009 look. I was all keen to get this done during Feature February, too. And then I did but didn't say anything.
Anyway, you probably noticed. What you may not have noticed is a bunch of mobile & tablet improvements, too, so NationStates is no longer quite as actively hostile when you're trying to access it on your phone. The reason you might not have noticed this is because, if you're like me, it was so bad, you gave up trying that some time ago.
Meanwhile, the number of nations in the world has been ticking rapidly upwards, thanks to a little publicity on Reddit and elsewhere. There are currently a little over 135,000 active nations, which I'm pretty sure is the most ever, even more than back in 2005, when NationStates was the only good thing on the internet and there was nothing else to do.
In total, more than four million nations have been created over the last twelve and a half years. Four million! That's a lot of freedom. And I still feel like we're just getting started. There are some great projects in the works, including a big one that will almost certainly drop during March. It's not Feature February, but we don't let calendars tell us what to do. Stay tuned.
Some bad news: Yesterday we discovered that some private player data, including email addresses and password hashes, were inadvertently exposed to the internet.
Who is affected?3,325 nations. This is 0.08% of the total, so you are extremely unlikely to be one of them. But please use this Data Leak Checker to make sure.
Additionally, some telegrams sent to these nations by 3,460 other nations were exposed. In these cases, no personal information was revealed, only the telegram contents.
What happened?In late September last year, our backup disk started playing up, continually disconnecting from and reconnecting to its server. The disk was replaced on October 7. From our investigations so far, it appears that shortly before this, the disk corrupted two Daily Dump archive files in such a way that these files contained the wrong data.
This only affected two files as they were being copied into the long-term Daily Dump Archive. The regular Daily Dump files, which are regularly downloaded by third-party sites, were never corrupted and didn't expose any private data. But the archived version, which is made available for public access, did.
What do I need to do?If your nation is one of the 3,325 affected, and you haven't changed its password since October 2014, you should immediately do so. If you use the same combination of email address and password on other sites, immediately change it there as well.
Only (encrypted) password hashes were exposed, not plaintext passwords. However, you should still change your password if it was exposed, because hashes aren't impervious to brute-force cracking by an attacker who has your data offline, especially if your password contains dictionary words.
What was exposed?For the 3,325 affected nations, the exposed personal information was email addresses (where provided), password hashes (not plaintext passwords), IP addresses, and web browser UserAgent strings. Non-personal information included a wide range of internal nation data such as region name and internal variables. In many cases, especially for older nations that ceased to exist prior to the introduction of the new telegram system in February 2013, their stored telegrams were also exposed (up to 20). The great majority of these were recruitment messages.
We do not store credit card information, real names, addresses, phone numbers, or any other personal data.
What is being done about it?The bad hardware was replaced in October last year. We took the new disk offline and performed a full integrity check on it. We continue to check our systems to make sure there has been no wider exposure. We have created a Data Leak Checker Tool to verify whether any of your data was exposed, including telegrams sent to exposed nations. We are emailing everyone whose nation was affected and who supplied an email address for that nation.
I'm very sorry for this incident. It's a terrible feeling to think your personal information has been leaked. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us.
Update: There is a discussion thread here.
Our Appearance Grows Ever So Modern
As threatened, NationStates has adopted "Rift" as the default theme! So now nothing is where you left it.
You can select a theme from your Settings page, so if you prefer an alternative, such as "Dark" or our previous default, "Century," you'll find those there.
The most noticeable difference is nation pages have pretty banners, which are gained by achieving things such as high levels of political corruption or pollution. If you can call those kinds of things achievements. Some people do. I'm not judging.
If you've been using Rift already (in beta), not much has changed. Although it is now possible to customize which events generate Notices! So if it's been annoying you that you get a Notice for every new telegram and issue, you can stop that. Look for a "Subscriptions" link above or below your Notices.
This kind of change often brings little bugs and quirks, because there are a lot of different web browsers and devices out there, and who has the time to test them all. Please report any problems you see in the Rift thread!
A few years ago, we performed a Grand Rejiggering to eliminate a few of the less desirable insanities of the internal NationStates model. Something similar is happening again, this time targeting government and industry size!
Preview the effects on your nation here.
What it is: A change to the model that determines the size of your government and industry.
Who is affected: All nations to some degree, although most only a little. A minority of nations will see very large changes.
What will change: Some or all of the following (only):
- Some descriptive parts of your nation page; e.g. describing how large your government is
- Your income tax rate
- Your "Government Expenditure" chart
- Your "Economy" chart
- Your World Census score for "Largest Public Sector"
- Your World Census score for "Government Size"
Why it's changing: To eliminate inconsistencies that can occur between your nation's description and its stats, and to eliminate illogical outcomes that can occur when nations answer issues a particular way.
When: Soon! Refactoring has been through several rounds of tests, and this is the last one. If no new problems are found, refactoring will be implemented within the next week. Update! We found a few things to change. Now we're likely to implement sometime before January 20.
The biggest changes are in nations that strongly favor some industries and/or government departments while vigorously opposing others. Under the current model, in some places those decisions can cancel each other out in nonsensical ways, allowing a nation that's extremely anti-Defense and pro-Welfare, for example, to "pay" for its Welfare department by continually cutting a non-existent Defense Department.
Furthermore, due to this canceling effect, some such nations can today be described as having "no government" even though they clearly do support public spending in one or two key areas.
Refactoring allows us to fix a bug that makes it difficult or impossible for some nations to truly eliminate government spending in a particular area. This bug isn't very visible today because the "Government Expenditure" chart hides it. Refactoring exposes the bug's effects while preventing it from occurring in the future. As a result, as a one-off transitional effect some nations may see some government departments unexpectedly pop back into existence (Spirituality seems to be common). Going forward, these can be properly dealt with via issues.
Nations that broadly favor public programs may see an increase in the number of government departments under refactoring. Those that favor more targeted spending instead may see their number of departments shrink.
We can start tracking the portion of industry that is state-owned, which is particularly relevant to socialist economies.
For more, see the refactoring discussion thread!
Update! 19-Jan-15. Refactoring is now live! Thanks for your feedback!