by Max Barry

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by The Tropical Paradise of One Small Island. . 427 reads.

It's Been A Year

I have had a very hard time writing this speech, which is unusual for me. I don’t typically have a hard time writing things, particularly not when the goal is essentially to say ‘hey, look at how great I am,’. I think the problem I’ve run into is that I don’t have a coherent message to frame the speech around, I keep dithering between ‘gods this has been harder than you realize’, ‘look at how awesome I am and everything we’ve accomplished’ and ‘thank you everyone for helping to make this happen.

So I’m going to take them in turns.

Warzones are hard. I got a lot of dismissive messages when I first became the delegate of Warzone Sandbox, people telling me that anyone could be delegate of a Warzone and that it doesn’t take any skill to recruit enough people to stay in power for any length of time, and I always found myself thinking, if it’s so easy then why doesn’t everyone do it? The answer to that question is simple, because it’s not easy. It’s not easy to spend resources on a region that could be overthrown at any update. It’s not easy to spend your time caring for a community that could be gone if you let your vigilance slip for just a single update. It’s certainly not easy building a lasting community in a region that was never intended to house one, and the people who can do it, and do it successfully, are a rare breed.

It takes a brutal honesty, with yourself and your community, to be a good Warzone Delegate. You have to be sure that everyone knows that every update could be their last in the region, and that it could be that no matter how much they want to they might never be able to return to the region they’ve come to call home. You have to acknowledge that beyond the Warzones themselves, there will not be a lot of support for you, because in most situations there will be no one coming to save you if your region gets raided. You have to acknowledge the fact that you could build something amazing, and then it’ll be gone a week later. There aren’t many people who, when they are that honest with themselves have the fortitude to even try, let alone to actually succeed.

For me it has been almost a full year of not sleeping through the night, it has been early to bed, waking up to watch the update and then going back to bed and trying to go back to sleep so that I could get up for work in a few hours. It has been spending my lunch breaks on my phone refreshing the region page of Warzone Sandbox and hoping that I don’t see an incoming raid because fighting off a raid on a phone is almost certainly harder than doing it on a computer. There have been sleepless nights, there have been sleepless nights followed by long days, followed by another sleepless night. It has been dealing with the exhilarating rush of the Drewpocalypse and then watching my bad decisions and desire to be as understanding as possible to the people who came to our region end up driving large swaths of people away. It’s been a constant stream of people accusing me of wanting to be the only person with any real power in the region, as I struggle to get anyone else to be even a little bit active in its governance. In some cases it has been me, begging people to do small things just to help me out so that I don’t feel all alone. It’s been me trying to step back and not micromanage everything only to watch everything go inactive, and it’s been me facing the same accusations of being power hungry when I step in and try to get things going again.

It has been exhausting, and I am so very, very tired.

But it is not all bad.

For all that I am tired, I am also still so excited about being the delegate of Warzone Sandbox. When I came to Warzone Sandbox there were eight nations in the region, I was the ninth, Freatiland was the tenth, and The Meopodow the eleventh. Freati and Meo were the first two of my real life friends that I harangued into joining NationStates to support me in my delegacy, but they were far from the last. Warzone Sandbox had been without a World Assembly delegate for more than a week when I was elected; and although we had more nations the one of the other Warzones they at least had a delegate. We did not even have that. We were the weakest of all the Warzones, but not for long.

When I started recruiting, I would wait until a couple of new nations would show up in the region and then I would move a puppet nation in, artificially inflating the number of nations in the region to make it seem more inviting to new people. I did this up until we hit about 35 nations, and then I stopped, and whenever a new nation would move in I would move one of my puppets out; from there onwards the growth was one-hundred percent natural and driven entirely by my recruitment efforts and not by my puppet creation, and it kept going and going and going.

Even before the Drewpocalypse hit we were a record breaking Warzone; more than doubling the previous Warzone Sandbox population record, which was 33, and even before the Drewpocalypse cause our population to boom we were sitting comfortably at over 70 nations. When the Drewpocalypse hit not only did we climb above the all-time Warzone population limit, which had been 101 nations in Warzone Airspace, but we more than quadrupled it, maxing out at over 415 nations at the height of our growth.

It wasn’t just the number of nations we had which was record setting, but the number of World Assembly nations. To the best of the knowledge of everyone I spoke to, before this year the record for the highest endorsement number on a native delegate, as opposed to someone who popped in for a raid and then left, was 21. That was a record we’d smashed prior to the Drewpocalypse having 38 endorsements before Deruuu swamped the world with new nations; and at the height of our growth I was the proud possessor of over 120 endorsements (128 is the number I remember us reaching, but I can’t find anything that actually validates that, though I know I have a screenshot somewhere).

Over the last year we’ve not only grown to extraordinary heights but we’ve done some pretty exceptional things; we’ve forged a military which has operated outside of the Warzones, we’ve forged close relations with various non-warzone regions while maintaining our independence and autonomy. We’ve assisted in the defense and liberation of our several warzones, we liberated the Warzone Vacation Resort and in a lasting operation locked it down with a password to prevent its continued use as a raid target. We’ve started roleplay, we’ve built a new democratic government, we’ve made friends and we’ve made enemies… and we’ve received more threats of being coup’d and overthrown than I can actually count. Our community has gone from non-existent to lodging over a hundred messages a day on discord, to settling back down to a sleepy kind of activity.

It’s been a rush, it’s been a ride, and I couldn’t possibly have done it all on my own.

There are a bunch of people that I want to thank for what we’ve accomplished over the past year. First and foremost to the Warzone Sandbox Community; my friends, my fellow Sandboxers. Without you I couldn’t have accomplished any of it; whether you came and went, came and CTE’d, or whether you came and stuck around you helped build the Sandcastle Kingdom into everything it became. I can’t possibly express how much it means to me. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

To my fellow Warzoners; to the other delegates and members of the other Warzone communities who have argued with me, fought with me, and then turned around and helped to protect our region when we needed it. To those who’ve trusted me to help protect their regions. To Codger, Apulita, and Chanku who have given me some invaluable advice (even when I didn’t take it) and to those who have simply been there to lend a friendly ear when I needed to complain to someone who would understand the struggles of being in a Warzone. Thank you as well.

Finally, and no less importantly to our friends in other regions. To Aynia, Loller, and everyone else in Caer Sidi and The Autumnal Court: thank you. When Warzone Sandbox was almost destroyed by the largest single warzone raid I’ve seen in the last year, you were the first to respond to my request for aid and your pile in support of Warzone Sandbox was more than I expected to receive from any region. Thank you all for your support, your help, and your friendship.

To Brightonburg and One Big Island, I have to say thank you as well. You came out of retirement when I reached out to you for aid. How long had it been since your last mercenary operation? And it was a Warzone that brought you out. That’s astounding to me.

To 10000 Islands, TITO, The Rejected Realms, and the RRA you have all been wonderful. Your support in helping me to reach not just the 1 year milestone but also in breaking the standing Warzone Sandbox delegate record has been invaluable. Your support has made these last few days much less stressful for me; and they were super stressful.

At this point, I’ve probably rambled on for too long, unedited this speech just reached five pages on google docs; but I’m going to try to cut it down a little bit before posting, because nobody wants to read a speech for half an hour, especially not one that’s as chaotic and unfocused as this one has been. So before I stop writing and get to editing, let me leave you all with one final thank you. Being the delegate of Warzone Sandbox has been stressful, and has left me worn out and exhausted; but it’s an experience that I wouldn’t trade for almost anything in the world.