This is the "final" version of the Guide. Changes will be made, however in its current form it is still usable. Please Sticky... Guide to NESing 0. Authors Note What is this guide for? Why was it written? To introduce people to the world of NESing the world of creative writers who enjoy history, learning and making it. If you are reading it, chances are youve seen a NESing game and want to learn more about the concept and how to NES. Well this is what the guide is for. After reading it you will know a lot more about NESing, how its played, made and most importantly why people enjoy NESing. If you like history, communicating with people from many cultures and creative writing youve hit the right place. NESing is not just a game it is a way of life. This guide was designed with two ideas in mind. One was to help new players to get involved with the NESing that we have at Civfanatics Forum. The other was to help the people who enjoy NESing start games at their own forums. NES is a fun concept suitable for any forum with interest in story-writing, history (politics) and role-playing. If you want your forum to have NES games this guide will help you set them up. And so we commence .. 1. Introduction What is NESing? This question has no short answer; however a short response should be nevertheless tried. A NES is an Internet Forum game originating from Civfanatics Forum. NES is a Never Ending Story that started out when posters wrote stories about possible history of the world. It wasnt a game of history at the start, however after 4 years it has developed into a very flexible concept suitable for many historical and non-historical settings allowing people to play in a great number of different universes. NESing is fun in a number of ways. Firstly it is a way to interact with other people. NESing joins people of certain character together and chances are if you like NESing you will meet a lot of people you will like too. NESing unites people who are interested in history (alternative or real), governing (nations), writing stories, politics, commanding armies (strategically and personally), geography, role-playing, making up new worlds and discovering them, diplomats, merchants I think you get the idea. NESing began at forums related to Civilization game series. If you like Civilization you will most certainly like to NES. NESing also brushes up your skills in a lot of ways: you will be writing stories (if you like it), reviewing military strategies, learning about new nations and possibly quite a few words in foreign languages and learning how to manage your country well as a diplomat and a ruler. Lastly NESing is just fun to do as players shape the history of the world through their actions. It is very satisfying to see your nation rise from the ashes of civil war and foreign domination to a world power affecting the whole of mankind. This guide was prepared by us NESers, with the purpose to introduce you to the world of NESing. After reading it you will not be an expert, but you will certainly not be a newbie. From personal experience I can say that if you are already interested in what NESing deals with it may be hard to find places where these games actually take place. If you found this guide, look no more you will soon immerse in a world of making history. Ive been looking for something close to NESes for over 3 years on the net and I was happy to find it on CFC. Hopefully you too will like the concept and become a NESer like the rest of us. 2. What is a NES? A NES is Never Ending Story. For history of the concept go to section 6. For game concept read on! 2.1 The Basic Concept A NES is essentially a simulation of the real life world. Although NESes normally tend to simulate certain historic periods on Earth any setup that the players find interesting is possible. A NES can be about anything as long as the game structure remains the same. The best analogy to NES that you will certainly recognize is a Dungeon Keeper game. Over there you have a keeper who presents players with challenges and coordinates their actions. NESes work on the same bases. In a very basic format NESes have the following structure. A NES is a game run by a mod, a dungeon keeper, who coordinates the game. A mod will accept players into the game and make sure that their actions are not ruining the game and fit into the game environment. Players are what makes the game run. In a typical game (lets take it as an example) players interact with each other as heads of state. They write stories about their nations, initiate in diplomacy, fight wars and rule their country. The mod keeps a certain score of their activities recorded under stats (statistic). Stats represent the players achievements. Stats normally include: country name, player name (for reference), domestic structure (type of government, happiness level, economy level, domestic projects, technologies and other similar things), and the strength of the armed forces. NESes run in periods from one update to the other. Before the update players write orders where they, well, give orders to their nation. The mod collects the orders by a certain date and writes an update. An update is a story written by a mod in a form of world news informing the players on what happened in the world. Basing on that story the mod will then update the players stats (and thus the state of the world). Mods reserve the right to delete or change anything they find unbalancing the game (like nuclear weapons research in the dark ages for example) or unrealistic in the game world (like a communist revolution in Britain in 1700s). Rules are not to be forgotten. Rules are regulations written by a mod to help players understand the game mechanics and what is possible for them to do. Rules also include the information about stats to help the players. Rules are to be respected by all and especially the mod. All information about a game is generally held at the first page of the game thread. NESes also generally posses a map which is a graphical representation of the games progress. NOTE: NESes were designed in an internet forum format and are likely to remain like that for a long time. 2.2 Types of NES: NESes themselves are classified into types according to their mechanics, most importantly game rules. Here is an overview of NES types: Traditional Stories are a main focus of this NES; sometimes it may even lack a mod. This type of NES is more about writing the Annals of History, as the main goal of this type of NES is write good stories about the world development and have fun. Traditional NESes could have basic player statistics and map (if a mod is present). Conflicts between players might arise if they forget the main goal. Story Based this type of NES is more widespread. While the players focus on stories a great deal, the stats determine a lot. Mods play a greater role in this type of NES and have to watch out for unrealistic behavior by players. This type of NES can be played both for fun and to win i.e. achieve your nations superiority. Stat Based NESes are more difficult to make and to run. In this type of NES the mod has normally worked out your every possible move, any structure you can build, army you can raise, projects you can make. While stories are still welcome they are less flexible and most of the game revolves around players interacting with each other with a goal to win the game. All (or most) of what the player owns is recorded in the stats and rules are normally quite long. All the above NESes can be set in any historical period (real or alternative history) and are broadly called Normal NESes. Normal NESes in reality vary between the level that both stats and stories play in a game. There are also certain Concept NESes: Fresh Start Fresh start NESes start on a blanc map normally in 4000 BC (Civ fans know why ) or 2000 BC when the world is more developed (start of ancient civilizations like Egypt). The goal of the game is to create your nation from scratch, developing new technologies, fighting wars, accumulating wealth and knowledge. Level of stats varies from game to game and is up to the mod. Fresh start NESes normally have maps with great details including cities, majour farmlands, trade routes and fortifications. Players normally take names of known nations with established character for easier gameplay. However fictional countries are welcomed. Fiction NESes include any type of science fiction or fantasy-themed NES. These NESes normally have a good balance between story-based and stat-based, perhaps being more of story-based than stat-based. Rules are totally up to the mod as normally fantasy NESes do not have analogies. They are the most difficult to run as they require dedicated players who know the fantasy universe. Thorough moderation and good maps are required for this type of NES to run smoothly. Board NES these include the few NESes that are mostly stat-based, but in addition have a board-like map. Board NESes often have very specific theme like gang wars, monsters city rebellion or siege of Stalingrad. If organized well these are fun to play if players are into board games. NOTE: Sometimes the terms for different NESes change. This is particularly true when a lot of new players start NESing. NESes were classified in this way to reflect the various types of NESes that exist now. With time more types and concepts are sure to appear. Some NESes are historical some are alt-historical. While historical NESes start at one point in real history, alternative NESes re-write the real history. A mod will normally say when things turned away from real history events and write a timeline (long or short) of how things developed since that moment. History NESes are more fun to play if you want your nation to behave better than it did in real life. Alternative History NESes are more interesting for what if scenarios. 2.3 Terms to Know (What makes up NESing) Forgive me if the Guide sounds too detailed, but I am operating on a very basic level, trying to explain the core of NESing. Do skip if you think this is too basic. Now that we are familiar with the basic NES types and concept we shall go into a more detailed overview of a Normal NES. So, what's what there? Moderators - Usually there is only one moderator in a NES. Moderator is the one who runs the game: carrying out players orders, writing updates, making up random events, ruling NPCs, answering questions, updating the front page and solving disputes between players. They can be considered "Dungeon Masters" in D&D terminology. A NES is essentially a moderators game and all the players are guests, thus what moderator says is final unless he changes his mind. Moderators (mods) should be reasonable people without favoritism to players or states. The most important skill for a moderator is to stay consistent continuing moderating a NES which can be quite time-consuming. Generally moderators also create their own rules for a game or modify the existing rules of another moderator. The main duty of a moderator is to make sure that the NES is carried out in a way that is, hopefully, both fun and realistic (the latter part is often ignored). Players - Its not hard to guess who those are - they are indeed the people who play the NES. When they are guests of a moderator in his game, they are also the ones who shape the NES with their actions. Players pick a country from the ones still free (i.e. NPCs) and rule it. Players write orders and stories, do diplomacy for their nation. If their actions are unrealistic for their country or time period a mod will warn the player or will not carry out his instructions. Players can enter or leave the game at any time. Mods generally accept all the new players if they have space available. Sometimes, there are player limits, but most often there is no such a thing. Players should remember that NES is a game and that they are the driving force in it. Stories - While stories are far from necessary, most moderators encourage them, especially as they help them to get more involved in the NES. Stories involve events that happened in your nation or with your citizens. Writing about other countries where you have no control will most probably be ignored by other players and the mods. As NESes began by people writing stories, story writing is encouraged and mods will often give bonuses or positive random events. Stories do not only include stories as such, but nicely written diplomatic messages, treaties, declarations of war, news reports (by players), articles from encyclopaedias, records of a meeting and any other form possible. Stories must be posted in the game thread(s), or occasionally included in orders (in that case only appreciated by the mod only). Orders Orders are sent to NES moderators, sometimes in thread, more often by PM (or email) A moderator will set a deadline when the orders are due as he needs to compare and analyse them before making an update. In orders player basically says what he wants to do with his nation. Orders are even more diverse than stories: "continue wonder, grow economy once, grow education twice, invade Monaco with 5,000 conscripts" (though this, of course, is a simplification). Some orders will have an effect on stats (like grow economy), some will be memorised by the mod (i.e. prepare for invasion from Monaco. If Monaco invades they will have less success than if the order was not given). Some moderators want to see maps in the orders (if theres war for example). Most moderators appreciate detailed and clearly labelled orders. If the orders are unclear it is very easy to misunderstand them and they either get ignored or carried out in a wrong way which may lead to conflicts. Mods like to see clearly organised orders and they are sometimes divided into sections: "Domestic", "Military", "Espionage" etc. Usually mods will not set any format for orders, but always try to make them clear. The time spent by the mod trying to understand your orders could be spent writing good stories. If you do not want other players to find out what you are doing mark parts of your orders as secret and it will not appear in the update or will appear in a form that will not have a link to your nation. Orders are largely the only way to affect the game. Updates Updates are generally long stories that moderators write based on players orders (most part) and what happened in the thread (stories, diplomacy and other info). Some of players orders may not go according to plans of the players (for example, the army sent by San Marino to invade Monaco could be intercepted by Vaticans forces). Updates represent a certain time period that passed between the previous and the current update. They generally include that long story the mod wrote and a map to show the games progress. Other regular additions are also possible like random events, awards of bonuses for stories, or notes from the mod (rule changing, comments on orders etc). Besides writing the update the mod should also update the stats and other game information on the first thread page. Most moderators now try to update once a week on a certain day. Front Page (First Page) is where all the info about the game is recorded. A mod opens the game by putting all the game stuff onto the first page of a (new) forum thread and then inviting players. Most of the time it includes: Introduction (welcome to a NES and stuff about the game), NES Rules (the game mechanics and stats explained), Purchase lists (for stat based NESes), Nation Stats (nation name, player name, economy, some type of info about the country like government or popularity, armed forces and so on), Map (at the start of the game) and Miscellaneous information (that could be list of wars, list of treaties, NES timeline, pre-NES timeline, bests of nations, weapons descriptions etc). The stats should be updated every update, all the other information is updated when the mod feels like its time. Threads Most NESes take place on one thread - it is there that the front page, the updates, the maps and the player activity can be found. Sometimes, though, there are also separate threads for important organizations / alliances (for example the UN, NATO). Alliance and organisation threads, unless run by a mod, may be opened and run by players> The mod does not have to keep track of them, so it is up to the players to inform the mod of all other game threads and whats going on in them. Maps - Maps are supposed to represent the world situation at the moment of the update. The starting map is normally put by a mod onto the first page and a new map comes with every update. Maps generally represent only the things that are important for gameplay. Diplomacy - or Diplo is the way players communicate with each other in a game when In Character (see Glossary). Diplomacy is done in form of posts, PM (Private Messages) or over chat programs and is used for creating alliances, signing trade pacts, declaring wars and the like. Sometimes it is official (in game threads), but a lot of the time it is done secretly through media that cannot be read by other players. Results of diplo are sometimes displayed in players orders. Regardless of the agreements players signed it is the orders that count, not what players might have signed. Like in real life treaties, agreements can be broken and thus signing successful agreements becomes an important and perhaps most challenging part of NESing. Unless mods pay attention to open diplo they do not refer to it in the updates unless informed by players. In fact a lot of the agreements are not known by the mod unless hes been told about them. You now know how all parts of the game function. Lets move on to playing! NOTE2: For the purpose of this Guide I will mostly use Normal (alt)historical NESes as an example.