Q&A with Pallaith, World Assembly Delegate of The North Pacific
PhDre: Where did you get your start in NS and how did you get to where you are today?
Pallaith: I actually spawned in TNP, but one of the people who introduced me to the game advised me against staying there, so I tried to pick a region that sounded interesting from the recruitment TGs I received. I wanted a place that would offer me something to do and a chance for personal advancement. For some reason I chose a region called the Royal Alliance. It’s fair to say that I ended up regretting that choice, though I did meet some cool people there. I was there for 8 months but by the end of that time I basically burned out of NS. I picked another region to park my nation while I answered issues and voted in WA resolutions, and I settled on Versutian Federation because I was familiar with their delegate from his WA posts and I remembered how well they did in the first two Z Days. When the community moved to a new region, The Versutian Federation (TVF), I followed, but I didn’t really do anything but answer issues and vote in the WA.
When TVF was basically circling the drain, and I finally had some motivation to play NS, I had been in the region for about a year and a half. Just for fun I set myself up to become delegate because the nation with the delegacy was inactive and it only took something like 7 endorsements to be delegate, so I essentially accidentally became delegate for 12 hours. I distinguished myself in that period by establishing an embassy with The Embassy. A former delegate in the region unendorsed me when he noticed I had it. I ended up reaching out to him and volunteering to help revive the region. No one was doing anything and elections weren’t being held on time. After he felt I was serious about helping and we had somewhat of a plan, he agreed to let me take the delegacy, and I was interim delegate until the official delegate election. I was unopposed but official. I ended up being TVF’s delegate for 10 months until I decided it was time to retire. That was also around the time that Discord was really taking off, and we had just gotten one.
On the Discord I met the last person who had access to TVF’s founder account, Anhur, but he went by Lord Lore in TNP. He and another player from TNP were talking about the upcoming election there, and how it was a great opportunity to get ahead because the newer players had a shot. He and the other player, Praetor, were running for Vice Delegate. I made a puppet, Pallaith, and moved it to TNP. I also became a citizen and started checking the place out right when the election was going on. My guy didn’t win, but I did try out for a minister role because the new delegate asked for applications. I applied for Minister of Communications but he didn’t pick me. I thought that was more my thing, but I tried for Minister of World Assembly Affairs and I guess no one else wanted to do it so he let me have it. I had been a citizen for two weeks. But that’s basically where it all started for me in TNP and well, it’s TNP, so that also put me on the map in the game. At least, that’s what I thought, but I guess when I was delegate of TVF, the WA regulars took notice of the posts I would make as Ghostopolis, and when I first showed up in the WA Discord server, I had a lot of fans and people who still remembered that.
MoWA (I use one A, other people who have the office insist on both for some reason) was a great experience. I didn’t think I did anything particularly remarkable, but I guess the ministry had an inconsistent history and simply posting IFVs every time and setting up voting threads for every vote on time was a big deal. It really helped boost the votes we wanted to boost and also generated a lot of interest - we had people showing up to discuss and debate how to vote on every WA resolution, we had people arguing both sides of the resolutions. After a term of that I was encouraged to run for Speaker since the outgoing Speaker was sick of being the only guy to do it. I figured I would lose, since I had to run against his deputy, but long story short I won.
I was encouraged by a certain penguin to run for Delegate in the next election, but I had thought it was a bit early for me. I did decide in the end that you never know what will happen in the future, so I took the plunge sooner rather than later. I faced a much more connected and experienced opponent though, a former delegate, and he won the hearts of the newer players. I was destined to lose that race, until he overreached and relied on some dirty tricks to win, and it backfired spectacularly. I won that election, served two terms, and eventually more, the rest is history.
PhDre: What different roles did you take on in The Versutian Federation and what did you enjoy about them?
Pallaith: My first role, obviously, was delegate. After that I took a small break but served a quick term as Minister of Immigration. I returned to the delegacy for one more term, and then I was just an active citizen. I was a big part of the effort to reform the region’s legal system in an attempt to freshen it up and put some life into the region, and then served as the first Chief Justice of the new system.
I took it upon myself to post in the WA sub forum every time I cast a vote as delegate making the case for our position in as colorful a way as possible, and that was a lot of fun. I enjoyed writing court opinions as Chief Justice, and establishing the region’s legal precedent. It was just a great way to engage in creative writing and emulating legal writing, which I’ve always had an interest in. It wasn’t an official job, but I did like spearheading the legal reform effort. I wrote a constitution and a legal code, though the region decided to go with a different constitution and only adopted my legal code proposal. I got to have that constitutional convention experience, which always has potential to be a wild time.
PhDre: How is the TNP of today different to when you joined?
Pallaith: I didn’t appreciate just how much of a time of transition it really was. Discord was still relatively new as a primary communication medium for most regions, the “old guard” in TNP was beginning to phase out, RP was still very much coming into its own as a separate organized community in the greater TNP umbrella. A lot of the old style of NSGP had not fallen out of favor yet, and so TNP was still rather isolationist and I think probably seen more unfavorably by many players who were prominent in gameplay. We didn’t have effective or interesting media programs, our WA machine was covered in cobwebs and WALL was more theoretical than actually doing anything. And having over 1,000 endorsements on the delegate was still a new thing, not the norm. It would have been unthinkable for us to do anything with the NPO, and it would have been inconceivable for us to have moved anywhere near the defender sphere.
PhDre: Of the many offices you’ve held in TNP, which has been your favourite and why?
Pallaith: Delegate by far. They’ve all had their strengths and offered very different things, but delegate comes with that awesome stack/stomp in the WA! Honestly, nothing beats being able to have a hand in all areas of regional life. I relish the chance to be a leader and to show people a vision of what we can be and what we can do in our time together in this game. Executing that vision, and seeing it come to life, is one of the sweetest experiences you can have in NS. I think a lot of us get involved and do things in this game because we want to make a difference and have some ideas of how to make the experience more fun or more efficient, or to correct problems that we perceive. Delegate in TNP lets you do that in a very real way; it’s affirming to be chosen and have people recognize those ideas and those goals as things that should happen. And being able to work with some of the coolest people in this game, and help them navigate it and become leaders themselves in their various ministries, are some of my favorite moments in the game. A close second is perhaps surprisingly being Chief Justice of the Court. When I finally got to write some decisions, I just really enjoyed the whole experience.
PhDre: This is your fourth term as Delegate of TNP. What has kept you coming back to serving at the high levels of the executive in TNP?
Pallaith: This game changes so much in a short amount of time. What you did before may or may not stand the test of time, but the game state that existed the last time you were in office certainly isn’t the one that exists when you come back. It’s not really doing the same thing over and over, it’s applying your style to the environment that currently exists. I’m always going to be drawn to that challenge, and since I like to be involved and just can’t seem to stop doing stuff, I find that it gets to a point where I’m so involved or so opinionated that I want to start steering again. When my interest and involvement in the game peaks and I feel that my experience and expertise is particularly valuable for the moment, that is when I feel I can come back and seek this particular job. I want to be in whatever position allows me to be the most useful, and to fill a need. So I end up serving basically nonstop in regional government, though not usually the same office the entire time.
PhDre: How did the challenges of being a UCR delegate in The Versutian Federation compare to those you later faced as delegate of TNP?
Pallaith: It’s not surprising for my fellow GCR delegates to hear me say this, but running a UCR is so much harder. You’re constantly concerned with bringing numbers up and keeping them engaged. Any clout or reputation your region has is entirely dependent on what your region is doing, you can’t rely on the status the game confers on you for being a GCR. TNP is an institution, and it’s been one regardless of who has led it, and what the community makeup has been over the years, simply because it’s a permanent feature of the game. Permanence is not guaranteed for UCRs, and you can’t hide behind the game. Recruitment is the biggest challenge and the biggest difference between those two experiences, and that goes for getting endorsements too. It’s just a lot more work.
None of that is surprising I’m sure. What I found to be the most surprising thing was the way the game’s randomness related to our community’s general health. Building a player base and building up endorsements is challenging, and takes time. But you can’t account for the variance. As careful and deliberate as you are, you can’t predict floods of new people, or sudden disappearances. Randomness is inherent in the game, and UCRs are way more susceptible to it. And then we’d have virtual plateaus where things just leveled out - it was like an equilibrium, where our community was humming along at a reliable and predictable rate and so were the numbers, give or take slight variation. And when things would get shaky with the group, when we lost some key people or had personal setbacks, somehow the numbers would reflect that too, with all their random ups and downs, they would drop to match our new lesser state. Maybe the quieter players sensed something, or our distraction meant the recruitment or retention efforts were less effective. But there was definitely some kind of unknowable correlation between the usually random numbers and the health of the region. It’s not something that I’ve seen quite as strongly in TNP, but I found it kind of fascinating.
PhDre: In October last year you received a Security Council Commendation. One of the recurring themes of the resolution is your contributions to the World Assembly scene, such as reintroducing voting recommendations in TNP or hosting the first World Assembly Symposium. How did you acquire and develop an interest in the World Assembly? What keeps you excited to participate in the World Assembly?
Pallaith: I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but vanilla NS doesn’t haven’t a lot of things you can do. WA voting was the most dynamic thing you could do in the game. It generates attention and posts in the forum, is directly tied to the delegate system in regions, and it lets you interact in a real way unlike the answering of issues, since people are arguing and debating the merits of the resolutions. Especially in the SC, it has a big impact on foreign policy and gameplay more broadly, and was a neat gateway to the history of the game and the relationships between players and regions. And all of that stuff has kept me interested in it all these years later. It’s a more visible way to leave a mark on the game than most others, and something about the way the votes are cast really appeals to me, from the pie charts to the notation for all the extra votes the delegates have. And all the people posting in character were a lot of fun, and I enjoyed doing it too. They kept me interested and that’s what kept me in NS even as I mostly shut down and did next to nothing as a player.
PhDre: In your career, you’ve been heavily involved with WALL. What are your views on how WALL is currently functioning, and what could WALL be doing better?
Pallaith: WALL is always a work in progress, because any relationship is. It ebbs and flows but I can confidently say it has been steady and works better than ever. It can take some time to shift gears sometimes, for us to find a new way to engage with each other, to improve on methods that perhaps haven’t worked as well as they used to. And our talent comes and goes, but there’s a lot of people who are more or less always present, and plenty who come back. You will be working with these people across delegacies, across eras of the game. And we come to understand each other better, which only makes our communication and teamwork better over time.
The trick, the thing that we always have to work on, is consistency. With so many regions involved, people change the key roles often and their skill or zeal for WA work will differ. You can have all the guides or customs in the world, that doesn’t matter if the person pushing the buttons and pulling the levers works at a different speed. We may recognize many people in WALL, but the combination of the people at any given time always comes with a learning curve in terms of how best to respond and collaborate, people’s timing, people’s style and generically disposition to certain types of resolutions. On top of all that, we don’t all have elections at the same time, so this is basically constantly happening.
PhDre: You recently made your first foray into SC authorship, passing Repeal: Condemn Reventus Koth. Could you describe the process of formulating that idea and developing it into a successful SC resolution?
Pallaith: We wanted to sanction the Brotherhood of Malice. The WA is an area we know well and we needed a diplomatic outlet to take action against them for what they did to Stargate, and for their excessive attempts to provoke us. We combined our own authors with a key author from the defender side who knew the raiding side very well, and was knowledgeable about the information in the resolution. The condemnation had some flaws, so we had a strong case to repeal it. I believe it was successful because while everyone knew why we were motivated to go after that particular resolution, we were able to make a case on the merits for why it was imperfect and ought to be repealed. It’s important when passing these resolutions to respect the institution and to keep things in character.
Considering how much talk there was about crossing the IC/OOC line during all that, it’s strange that anyone would have insisted we not present a standard repeal argument and lay out the best case for it. Some, including BoM, insisted that the argument on the merits was a facade, or that we should have just said we were punishing BoM. I do not believe that such a resolution would pass, and I do not believe that it should pass. You have to be able to make a case on the merits. Something can be two things at once, and in the SC that is absolutely how it should be. We were able to do that with this resolution.
PhDre: Do you have any particular NS hopes or ambitions for the future?
Pallaith: Of course. I would like to write more WA resolutions, break some records in TNP, and get a few more pieces of legislation passed. There’s a treaty I’m advancing right now, and I have some related ambitions in that department. I’d like to see season 3 of cards because I’d love for my card to finally be a legendary. I’m intrigued by Frontiers and Strongholds, but more than that, I want to see bigger changes to the game happen more frequently. My biggest hope is that we won’t be stuck with stagnation or status quo because of a lack of personnel or time to work on all of these things. The game has to keep evolving and we can roll with the changes the designers throw at us. It’s a lot harder for us to change the game ourselves, but I sense more people are giving that a try and it seems like it’s working. Things are more exciting and could continue that way for a while, so I hope that continues.