Back to NationStates
17th April 2004
This is a cleaned-up transcript of the internet chat between Max Barry, some moderators, and many devoted NationStates players.
<Karmabaijan> I would like to welcome our guest for the evening, author of Jennifer Government and coder of NationStates, Max Barry!
* SalusaSecondus holds up a sign: Applause
<Karmabaijan> Good morning Max
<Max> *cough* *splutter*
* SalusaSecondus shoots chanserv
* Neutered_Sputniks claps
<Karmabaijan> Hope we didn't drag you out of bed too early
* Stephistan claps
<Karmabaijan> sorry about that....heh
<Max> no, I have coffee
* Max slurps.
<Max> hi everyone :)
<Max> thanks for coming
* Nathi|Naps is now known as Nathicana
<SalusaSecondus> First question!
<Karmabaijan> Ok, well, if you are ready, we will get started. Now that Nathi is awake, we can officially start.
<Nathicana> Bah. :P
<SalusaSecondus> <Myrth> What is your favorite beer?
<Max> A probing question
<Myrth> It must be Fosters...
<Max> I like it
<Max> I do enjoy a good beer
<Myrth> 'Think Australian, drink Australian' :)
<Max> But Fosters is not a good beer
<Max> It has a good marketing campaign in the US as the Aussie beer
<Max> But it's not hugely popular here
<Max> When I'm home I drink Tasmanian beers
<Max> and when I'm overseas I like to try beers from that country
<Max> The world has many good beers. :)
<Myrth> And you must admit, Czech Budweiser > US Budweiser
<SalusaSecondus> Thank you
<Karmabaijan> Indeed, thanks for the question myrth
<Max> Never had the pleasure of a Czech Budweiser, alas
<RepProdtheGameMod> Next question:
<RepProdtheGameMod> <Audioslavia> Did you actually mean to put the shits up me on April Fools Day when you threatened to turn my two-year old nation back into a newbie? :)
<Max> yes, of course!
<Audioslavia> dude i wasnt off the toilet for like, a week :(
<Max> The mods and I had several evil plans under consideration
<Max> But I liked the idea of making everyone look like they only had 5 million population, due to an admin decision
<Max> The good thing was that you can't delete your account, so I didn't have to worry people would commit suicide in protest :)
<Max> But I got a few angry letters
<Neutered_Sputniks> a few?
<Neutered_Sputniks> somethin like 30+
<Neutered_Sputniks> I thought it was more?
<Audioslavia> lol :) i was just upset i couldnt act like a big-shot anymore :)
<Max> SOme of those were from people who hadn't read the news page and just thought it was a bug
<Max> Pff, as if NationStates has bugs!
<Audioslavia> lol :D
<Karmabaijan> OK, thanks for the question Audioslavia, next up, is a question from Konania
<Neutered_Sputniks> just you guys wait for next year....muwahahahahaha
<SalusaSecondus> Next question!
<SalusaSecondus> <Credonia> Max, everyone has been anxious about NS's move to jolt due to the servers being down constantly. When will the occur or will there be a delay in this?
<Karmabaijan> Sorry, Konania, get to you in a minute
<Max> The servers are never down, exactly, they're just so overloaded that many people time out before the server responds to them
<Max> It's been an ongoing and increasingly annoying problem
<Max> as we've grown more popular
<Max> We're in the process of moving to new servers, hosted by Jolt (www.jolt.co.uk)
<Max> Once we get there, we'll have super-fast forums
<Credonia> there a specific date?
* Max drools.
<Max> I think it'll be this month
<Max> But a few problems need to be worked out first
<SalusaSecondus> I certainly hope that it will be
<Credonia> cool, cant wait
<Max> As soon as the new servers are ready to fly, we'll migrate
<Max> Which will, incidentally, mean the game will be briefly down
<Credonia> and during the move, NS will be down during those days correct?
<Max> I think we're looking at two 24-hour periods of unavailibility
* Melkor makes a note to invade the world and claim 0 resistance during this time
<Credonia> ah, cool
<Karmabaijan> Thanks Credonia, now, as promised, Konania
<Stephistan> <Plato> Max do you have any plans in the future politically? ;-)
<Max> heh, you mean like running for office?
<Plato> indeed :-)
<Karmabaijan> ...or not, konania, you are next, promise
<Stephistan> Sure Max for Prime Minister!
<Max> I don't think so... I have so much to do already
<Plato> I would say you would get my vote but, not being a citizen and all...
<Max> It would be a fascinating job, I think, but it wouldn't leave me much time to write novels or work on games
<Plato> Thank you :-)
<Max> thanks :)
<Karmabaijan> Thanks plato, interesting question.
<Max> I'll just stay on the outside and criticize politicians instead :)
<Karmabaijan> now, finally, Konania
<Karmabaijan> <Konania> You have mentioned before that you have a nation and do visit the forums. Do you ever roleplay with your nation, or visit the General forum; and, what do you think of the various threads?
* Konania waves hello
<Max> The last 2 or 3 months I haven't played NS much, just because I've been so busy
<Karmabaijan> before that?
<Max> Jennifer Government is coming out in paperback all over the place and I'm doing publicity for that, plus I just sold my next novel so need to work on edits for that
<Max> I've never RPed in the forum... I have posted though. And I post in the Regional Board
<Max> I browse the forum whenever I can... I love the stuff that turns up there
<Konania> Yay :D
<Max> I still can't really believe how this stuff just turns up on my site
<Konania> Have you ever read any RPs?
<Karmabaijan> Sorry, no extended folowups please!
<Max> Yes, I have... I'm just blown away by the level of detail and care that goes into them
<Max> ooh, sorry, Karma
<Karmabaijan> thats ok,
<Karmabaijan> trying to get to alot of questions
* Karmabaijan gets on the bullhorn NEXT!
<RepProdtheGameMod> Next up:
<RepProdtheGameMod> <PopeHope> Max, how do you feel about the user created game within your game that we call invading and defending?
<Max> Hmm, tough question!
<Max> First, I should admit that when I created NationStates, it never even occurred to me that people would play the invasion game
<Max> It seems obvious now, but then keep in mind I thought NS would be an obscure little site that nobody much would visit
<PopeHope> It does add a nice spin to the game. :)
<Max> In a way, invasions are simply an extension of regional politics... or at least, they are when done right
<Max> It does, and I definitely approve of invasions when done right
<PopeHope> Agreed, and agreed. Thanks. :)
<Max> The issue we had -- and which emerged pretty early -- was people who would crash into an old, established region, and trash it
<Karmabaijan> Unfortunatley, it is the "done right" bit that makes so much work for us poor mods...
<Max> I got all these anguished e-mails from people who had played the game for months, who had set up regional hierarchies, etc, and were watching it get spammed out by griefers
<Neutered_Sputniks> Most players aren't as concerned with the lasting effects of their actions
<Max> Clearly, I want to protect long-term players from griefers
<Max> And so we got Regional Control
<Max> ...which, of course, added a whole new layer to the invasion game, since you could eject people now
<PopeHope> that option has come in handy!
<RepProdtheGameMod> (A blessing and a curse =p)
<Max> It's been tough to find the right balance between allowing invasions as a legitimate political tool, and preventing griefing
<Max> But that's my aim
<Karmabaijan> thanks pope, next up we have Loserly_Peeps!
<PopeHope> Great to hear, and thanks again.
<SalusaSecondus> A question close to my own heart:
<SalusaSecondus> <Loserly_Peeps> Are you SaulusaSecondus, [violet], or any of the mods or well-known player?
* [violet] chuckles
<Loserly_Peeps> I can talk!
<Stephistan> never heard that one before huh..lol
<Neutered_Sputniks> We are the collective
<Loserly_Peeps> Just look at the Is [violet] max barry? thread
<Loserly_Peeps> You get all sorts of theories
<Loserly_Peeps> Are any of them true?
<Max> At least one of the theories I've seen is true
<Max> but I'm not saying which one :P
<[violet]> And all have been amusing
<Loserly_Peeps> That's 40+ pages!
<Loserly_Peeps> How can I tell?
<Max> This question has to remain a mystery, sorry
* Loserly_Peeps waves
<Karmabaijan> Thanks Loserly_Peeps, next up is a question from Lapse!
<Nathicana> <Lapse> Max, are you going to be doing more book tours? especially to Australia
<RepProdtheGameMod> Forum 7 would lose it's purpose if the conspiracy was figured out!
<Max> I think so
<Max> I hope so
<Max> It's largely dependent on what the publisher wants
<Max> I'm happy to go wherever they want to fly me
<Lapse> hint hint brisbane ;)
<Max> I've done 4 book tours in the US now, but only a couple of appearances in Australia and none elsewhere
<Karmabaijan> If you want max to show up, buy lots of books!
<Max> This is mainly because book tours are very common in the US, and people will come out to their local bookstore to see whichever author happens to be on that night
<Nathicana> You know, we could take up a collection ...
<Max> whereas in Australia, you would only go out to see an author you really, really liked
<Max> So publishers here and in the UK don't want to arrange a book event that only a handful of people show up to
* Sirocco expects his felloe Scots would do anything to see a genuine Aussie.
<Max> I've heard that Jen Govt is selling very well in the UK, so I hope to do an event there sometime
<Max> I'm doing a sci-fi conference in Melbourne shortly
<Max> but no plans for Brisbane, sorry!
<Karmabaijan> Thanks for the question Lapse, looks like Sehndem is up!
<Stephistan> <Sehndem> At about what point did you realize that NS had become a fearsome monstrosity that none on earth could stop and controll? :D
<Max> November 23, 2002
<Max> That's 10 days after the site opened
<Sehndem> wow that fast
<Max> and the first time the site got closed down by the web host for creaming their server
<SalusaSecondus> I didn't know that!
<Max> I spent the next couple of weeks frantically rewriting code to make it more efficient
<Sehndem> not the last either
<Max> I would remove a bottleneck, then player numbers would double over the next 3 or 4 days, and my web host would take it down again
<Max> they told me, "If this happens ONE MORE TIME, we will cancel your account altogether"
<Sehndem> around here we all complain about the server. in fact there's something wrong if you haven't made some evil remark after your first week
<Max> So for a while you could browse the game but couldn't create a new nation
<Sehndem> the hell you say!
<Max> Then I got onto a dedicated server... then that crashed because it was too small, so we got a bigger dedicated server...
<Max> and now we're looking to move to a server farm
<Sehndem> the journey continues
<Melkor> I'll note it took me upwards of 14 days to create my nation
<Max> Persistence is a virtue
<Max> I think
* Sehndem glares at his irl brother Melk
<Karmabaijan> thanks Sehndem, next we have a question from TopnotchToast!
<Melkor> thats right Max, this bugger is my brother :P
<SalusaSecondus> <TopnotchToast> Any plans for major upgrades after the move?
<Karmabaijan> Referring to the game itself toast?
<Max> I've always said that NationStates won't receive a major upgrade, such as trade and war, because I think those things would destroy the game dynamic we have...
<Max> I want to create a separate game, NationStates 2, that has those things, so people can play whichever they like best
<Max> But there are many smaller things we could do to the game to make it better
<Neutered_Sputniks> Max, what's the latest word on NS2?
<Karmabaijan> And just to calm the seething masses in Q&A, the forums will be migrated to the new servers, so no threads will be lost!
<Max> And it'll be easier to do those things once I'm not just trying to fix performance problems
<TopnotchToast> But any stuff you're / Sal's working on now for the game?
<Max> So... I can't offer any guarantees, but I do expect to keep adding little bits and pieces here and there
<Karmabaijan> thanks toast. Next up is Kalessin!
<TopnotchToast> Ah Ok.
<Max> SalusaSecondus is also writing bits of code now... you could ask him about his plans
<RepProdtheGameMod> Next question:
<SalusaSecondus> quick note
<RepProdtheGameMod> <Kalessin> Is there any possibility whatsoever of any of the purged files being recovered in any shape or form at any time in the future?
* Kalessin bows low in respect, wisps of smoke and flame flickering from his draconic nostrils
<SalusaSecondus> I can promise a few, minor, but fun improvements to the game after we move to Jolt.
<Max> You mean purged forum threads?
* Melkor kicks Kal in the shins. "Keep it simple stupid" :P
<Max> No, apart from what we already recovered and put into Archive
<Max> Since we opened, there have been... boy, I dunno, I guess hundreds of thousands of threads purged
<Max> millions of posts
* Kalessin nods, and sobs slightly in mourning for the lost threads
* RepProdtheGameMod pats Kal on the shoulder. "We all lost some old stuff in ye olde dayes."
<Max> The forum gets purged of odler threads occasionally to improve performance for current threads
<Max> If we didn't have that performance issue, we wouldn't purge
<Max> But we have in the past and I'm afraid they are lost to the mists of time now
<Kalessin> the archive has removed the problem for the current generation of threads, but...
<Karmabaijan> Thanks Kal, sorry for your loss, but NEXT!
* Kalessin shrugs "thanks anyway!"
<SalusaSecondus> Follow up: Max, after we move to Jolt, will we still purge threads?
<Max> I don't believe so, no
<SalusaSecondus> Next question from Compound_Interest:
<SalusaSecondus> <Compound_Interest> Will there be another online game to promote your next novel?
* Compound_Interest bows low to Max
<Max> I don't think so -- I had an idea for this game first, then thought, "Hey, maybe I could put that on the web and it would help promote my novel"
<Max> Going the other way around -- "I need an idea for a web game" -- would probably produce a crappy game, I suspect
<Max> I am working on an idea for another web game, though, independent of NationStates
<Max> Just a couple of weeks ago I had a kind of radical idea, so I'm exploring that at the moment
<Compound_Interest> is it allowed to ask about it?
<Max> Um... I'll only say a little about it...
<Max> It takes some of the political dynamic from NationStates and sets it in an environment that gives players much more freedom to create their own style of gameplay
<Max> Nothing to do with Company or my other novels, just a new idea
<Karmabaijan> Thanks Compound_Interest, but you need to get back to work making me money on my investments. NEXT!
<Max> Not sure what I'll do to promote Company... currently I'm just building a mailing list on www.maxbarry.com
<Max> So everybody feel free to join that :)
<Melkor> <Myrth> From the description you have of your next book Company on your website, it sounds like another great read. Can you give us any more insight on the book, what it's about, what inspired you to write it etc?
<Myrth> Hi again...
<Max> Another question from Myrth!
<Max> Must have the mods' ear ;)
<Myrth> I'm that good
<Max> Company is actually based on an idea I had about 5 years ago... maybe even longer
<Max> And I tried to start writing it at least half a dozen times over that period
<Myrth> HP inspired again?
<Max> I could just never find a way into the story
<Max> Partly :)
<Max> I finally cracked it last year
<Max> So it's been a long time brewing
<Max> But it's almost there
<Max> As for describing what it's about... I'm reluctant to do it because authors are so bad at describing their own novels
<Myrth> Mail an advance to me and I'll describe it for you... ;)
<Max> As far as WE'RE concerned, they're all action-romance-sci-fi-fantasy-drama-comedy thrillers
<Karmabaijan> Thank you Myrth, and now a question from one of our resident ops, who is currently pre-occupied with small child
<Max> It's tough to take a book you've spent a year or two developing it and condense it down to three sentences
<Max> So I don't want to give you a half-arsed description... I'll post new stuff on my web site when I come up with something I'm happy with
<Stephistan> <Total_n_Utter_Insanity> Don't you get bored of all this worship?
<Karmabaijan> oops, seems nathi had to step out for a bit
<Max> I keep telling my friends, "You know, on my web site, I get RESPECT."
* RepProdtheGameMod wonders why she gets so much worship o_O
<Max> They have trouble believing that
* SalusaSecondus wonders why he gets so much worship
* Neutered_Sputniks doesnt get Worship
* Karmabaijan doesn't get any worship
<Neutered_Sputniks> thank Heavens
* Stephistan wonders why she doesn't
* Melkor does
<Neutered_Sputniks> either that or I get the 'satan worshiping' crowd
<Stephistan> j/k :P
<Max> So it's a little strange to be treated like this mystical figure, but it's pretty nice, too!
<Max> I recommend it
<Total_n_Utter_Insanity> so i just need to set up a website and write a book
* Max nods.
<Max> Just the web site would do, really
<Total_n_Utter_Insanity> i don't have the skills
<Max> Plenty of people like NationStates and don't really care what novels I've written
<SalusaSecondus> Thankk you.
<Max> I didn't have any skills when I wrote NS, either
<Karmabaijan> thanks tnui, best get learning your coding! NEEEEEEEEEEEEXT!
<Max> I bought a book on Perl to learn how to program
<Max> I had some help getting started, and after that I kind of muddled through
<SalusaSecondus> Next question. and really sorry if this looks like favoritism, but the good questons just keep on coming!
<Max> So if I can do it, anyone can!
<SalusaSecondus> <Myrth> ^BWill you keep NationStates alive as long as there is interest, or will you cut it off after a certain number of years. Is it even your decision now, with Jolt taking over?
<Max> Myrth again!!
<Max> Just make him the MC and get it over with!
<SalusaSecondus> They're good . . .
<Karmabaijan> you again......wearing out your voice button
* SalusaSecondus bows out. Bye everyone!
<Max> They are good questions
<Max> The good thing about moving the game to Jolt is that I don't have to pay for bandwidth any more
<Max> I should say, one good thing about moving to Jolt
<Max> They're happy to get NationStates players onto their site, so they're hosting us for free
<Max> This removes the financial incentive for me to pull the plug on the game :)
<Max> Not that I ever intended to
<Myrth> But is it your decision? If Jolt decide to pull the plug, can you stop them?
<Max> The only time I'd think about killing the game would be if all the players went away
<Max> And in that case, I'd open-source it, so other people could host it or develop it if they wanted
<Myrth> Thanks, that's put me at east :)
* Melkor will be here until his fingers fall off or he loses his mind, which ever comes first. Probably the mind thing.
<Max> If Jolt -- well, let's say Jolt suddenly went bankrupt or something; in that case I'd just host it personally again
<Karmabaijan> Thanks again myrth, and now I would like to ask a question myself.
<Max> I'd still have all the data (nations, regions) from backups
<Karmabaijan> How do you feel about some of these corporations paying people to change their last name, just like in JG?
<Max> Yes, Dunlop Tire did a promotion where they paid people to take its name
<Max> My belief is that the future will be chock full of advertising
<Max> In ways we can only dimly conceive of now
* RepProdtheGameMod empties a heap of spam out of her email box
<Karmabaijan> sorry TG, didnt see ya there
<Neutered_Sputniks> Well, most people dont realize it, but Radio is essentially advertising
<Max> My novels tend to poke fun of marketing and satirize the extremes that companies can go to
<Neutered_Sputniks> They play only the good songs off an album - the ones that will incite the populace to purchase said album
<Max> So I'm always trying to think up the most extreme marketing campaigns I can
<Karmabaijan> like corporate murder!
<Max> Like in Syrup, where there's a feature-length movie that's essentially an ad for Coke
<Max> and, yes, Nike-sponsored murder in Jennifer Government
<RepProdtheGameMod> (I never did much care for Nike....)
<Karmabaijan> thanks, max, and I believe it is time for a big NEXT!
<Max> And the scary thing is that no matter how extreme I get, pretty soon it turns up in real life
<Max> Usually half the bizarre things I dreamt up are true by the book hits the shelves, and the other half come true soon afterward
<Max> So people taking corporate surnames is another incident like that
<Max> I have kind of a bleak outlook on corporatization; I don't think we can do much to stop it
<Max> Get ready for an ad-filled future :|
* Melkor straps himself in. "You bet I'm ready."
<Melkor> <Kalessin> What's your all-time favourite book?
* Kalessin flaps back in, a faint grin on his scaly face.
<Max> There's a list of my faves here: http://www.maxbarry.com/max/qa.html
<Max> I don't think I have ONE favourite... it's hard to compare some books because they're brilliant in different ways
<Max> Snow Crash is my favourite sci-fi
<Kalessin> any opinion on LoTR?
<Max> The Gun Seller is probably my favourite comedy
<RepProdtheGameMod> Aaand... an odd statement by one of the players...
<RepProdtheGameMod> <Rezo> I want to bear your children!
<Max> If I had to pick one, I guess I'd go for The World According to Garp
* Kalessin nods, and adds then to his list of books to check out
<Max> Thanks Rezo, I'll call you if I need you :)
<Max> LoTR: I read it when I was so young I can barely remember it
<Max> I loved the movies, and have been waiting until I saw the last one before I picked up the book again
<Max> When I was about 10, though, I remember liking the Hobbit more than LoTR
<Max> That's kind of sacriligious, though :)
* Kalessin nods amusedly "try Moorcock"
<Karmabaijan> thanks again kal!
* Karmabaijan does the next dance
* Kalessin thanks Max
<Stephistan> <The_Belmore_Family> When you compare your 2 books, which do you prefer?
<Max> I honestly don't know...
<The_Belmore_Family> whoa! I didn't think my question would come up!
<Max> I can't even tell whether my books are good or not, actually
<The_Belmore_Family> Cool. I loved JG personally
* Melkor takes his bribe from TBF and walks away
<Max> Sometimes I'll read a bit and think, "Oh, that's great," and sometimes I'll think it's all crap
<Max> I think many writers probably experience this
<RepProdtheGameMod> (Spoken like a true writer/artist!)
<Max> Total loss of perspective
<Melkor> I know I do
<Max> It's the worst thing about writing, losing the ability to judge your work objectively
<Melkor> its like that a lot with artwork too
<The_Belmore_Family> Cool. Thanks.
<Max> I want one of those memory-removal techniques, so I can write a first draft, wipe my mind clean, then start editing
<Max> With Syrup and JG, from what I can tell people are split pretty evenly over which they prefer
* Karmabaijan NEURALIZES! max
<The_Belmore_Family> That sounds painful Karma
* Melkor has a remedy for that memory thing...
<Max> I'm not sure what makes one person prefer one and someone else prefer another... I haven't detected any pattern in the demographics or anything
<Max> I probably like the characters better in Syrup and the plot better in Jennifer Government, though
<Karmabaijan> OK, thanks TBF, and we will finish up tonight with a question from Nathi'
<The_Belmore_Family> I'd agree with you there.
<Neutered_Sputniks> <Nathicana> What aspect of the game that was either designed or has come about through play has been your favorite?
<Max> thanks Belmore
<Melkor> we need to wrap this up soon so I can check NS :P
<Max> Well, I don't know if it counts as an aspect of gameplay, but the community is the biggest unexpected thing for me
<Max> The fact that all these people are interacting here, forming friendships, etc
<Neutered_Sputniks> friendships? Bah!
<Neutered_Sputniks> I hate you ALL!!
<Melkor> especially Karma
<Melkor> that dude is totally awesome and amazing! I am going to get him a Danish!
<Max> That happens in the form of roleplays, forum threads, all kinds of threads, regional politicking...
* RepProdtheGameMod thwaps Neut upside the head with the Sword of DEAT =p
<Max> From my perspective, I put down this gameplay framework, and opened the site, that's all -- suddenly real people turned up and made it so much richer
<Max> I find it fascinating that so much complexity can emerge from a simple system
<Max> There are all kinds of relationships -- alliances, enemies, betrayals -- going on that I could never have engineered
<Max> It's just what happens when you have a good framework, one that gives players the freedom to create their own game content
<Max> Hope that answers your question :)
* Neutered_Sputniks pulls out the axe of 'I will CUT yooou' and thwaps Rep upside the head w/it
<Karmabaijan> Thanks for stopping by again Max!
<Max> It's a pleasure! Thanks for organizing it, Karma
<RepProdtheGameMod> *CLANG!* AAah... no smacking the Reppy helmet!
<Max> And thanks everyone for turning up
<Karmabaijan> I would also like to thank our gracious hosts at esper.net for making this all possible!
<Neutered_Sputniks> yeah, Karma gets all the credit
<Tom> You're welcome. Come back any time. :)
<Max> thanks Tom
<Karmabaijan> and thanks to all the mods running question duty!
* Melkor shakes a weathered fist at karma and hobbles after him. "Come back here you scoundrel!"
<IJ> Thanks all for coming.
* Max waves.
<Neutered_Sputniks> Yeah, thanks guys and gals. See you all back on the forums...hopefully for a good reason
<IJ> And thank you, Max, for the discussion.
* Melkor rants. "Thanks?! Yer damn right thanks! I had to postpone my colostomy for this!"
<Melkor> bye Max
<Melkor> take it easy
<Karmabaijan> and with that, thanks all for coming, and feel free to drop by #nationstates any time! An official log of the chat will be posted by myself in the forums shortly, but first, I gotta get something to eat
<Karmabaijan> with that, RELEASE THE HOUNDS!
For more about Max, see maxbarry.com.