Over the last few months we've received a lot of feedback from numerous players in Cyrene regarding the direction of the game, particularly as it pertains to Cyrene's role in the world narrative, events large and small, competitive games, and of course God interaction, general day to day roleplay standards/expectations, and a perceived poor relationship with the game staff (myself, Nicola, Makarios).
While we've so far addressed these individually when they've come up, on this most recent occasion we've decided to make this post in order to provide a more elaborate and in depth response to various concerns that have been brought up, while also clarifying our position on certain issues and dispelling a number of rumours and misconceptions that have been allowed to breed among the Cyrenian playerbase.
We also want to reply in this manner because previous requests for explanation or information have suffered from a game of Telephone when being relayed to others. The message is often coloured by personal perspective and assumptions are made about the administration's message that simply do not feature in the initial response. We are also locking this thread as we do not wish for the message to be lost in response, or for the person who contacted us to be maligned for their feelings or questions.
Q1: People in the CAC clan should've been told to be quiet by other players when they were being rude and abusive toward volunteers/admin, but a sudden leap to credibility docking seemed severe, when instead a warning could have been given to those many players that were told "this is an OOC clan for all of your coding needs."
A1: Credibility docking is considered a very minor nudge in its initial use. This compounds and becomes more severe if credibility loss is levelled repeatedly, but it is often the first step when basic information given in help files about conduct is ignored.
Q2: Kog got his credibility docked presumably for being on HISTORY CAC, even though he wasn't online during the ranting about administration. Is it true that the Hashani OOC clan, COL, was also an org-owned clan, with mentions of discord links in its help scrolls, but no Hashani had their credibility docked, or is that part of the rumor mill?
A2: Credibility docking and policing of OOC in IC venues occurs when the OOC communication is noticed or reported. It had been made clear to Cyrene's leadership in the past that org owned clans must remain IC (we assumed that the org leader would resolve this with the clan's use/actions), and we consider the note in HELP CLANS to be the warning given to all players.
Unfortunately we cannot watch every communication sent in game and police it for suitability, nor do we want to. Org ownership was removed from ELT some weeks ago, it was removed from COL at the same time as CAC, and is about to be removed from Targossas' OOC clan. While some people have been griping about admin using the COL clan, I have done so briefly but was unaware of its status as an org owned clan (we cannot tell this without checking a player's clan list). It was also not a common occurrence.
Q3: A lot of Cyrenian players are concerned about unfair advantages between cities. Of course, the cities don't need to be exactly fair by any means, but there are cities with objectively more opportunities for fun and involvement provided by volunteers/admin. The biggest example is Hashan, who constantly have roleplaying opportunities with possessed denizens and their divine patron, and in many/most situations these are positive interactions. Hashan get to contribute to customizing their denizens, their denizens' wares, they get a new facility, and there's rumors of Hashan getting new skills in skillsets. The most interaction I've ever had with a Divine, or with a Divine-played denizen, was when I interacted with Twilight or Telaan. Hashan gets interactions from admin joking around with them on their OOC channels.
On the flipside of this, Phaestus seemed very obviously more invested in the coding aspect of Achaea. I have no doubt that he produced a great deal of benefit for the game as a whole, but as a Cyrenian, in character, we saw very little from him other than he appears, talks about how the Senate is dumb, and then leaves. He made the wellspring and repainted the city after the occupation, which is all great, but only for a pretty small portion of players. Phaestian players tell me how much happier he seems to be now that he isn't Cyrene's patron, which represents the problem pretty well.
A3: Ultimately, the Patron/Organisation interaction has to be a relationship. Patrons volunteer to help these organisations and Cyrene has been very hard on patrons in recent years, from the outside treating them as OOC/labourers rather than honouring the in character relationship between a god, their ideals, and the organisation.
It is very easy to point fingers at Hashan and claim that you want to be treated the same as them, but Hashan's players have worked very hard this past few years to rebuild their relationship with Twilight (not by becoming His city, instead by mutual respect, understanding, and communication) and to build an identity for themselves. After being an actual joke for 10+ years, Hashan actually has a defined purpose and mission and has been consistently playing this role in day to day interactions and using it as their guide for how they interact with opportunities on the world's stage. This is, 100%, what makes a faction a successful faction.
Conversely, we have consistently witnessed the opposite from a large portion of the Cyrenian playerbase. There is a pervasive tendency to view things through an out of character lens and entirely dismiss any and all roleplay or in character context surrounding any given scenario. This has led to the extremely unfortunate mindset that everything involving Cyrene is part of some out of character conspiracy by the admin, or by the gods.
On the broader scope of factionalisation and factional classes, being a "faction" has weight and meaning. It is a responsibility. It means you're willing to repeatedly get your ass kicked on the daily for your ideals, and "you" means the organisation not two or three individuals. It means you'd rather take the loss in a game or event because of your ideals rather than try for an easier win by allying up with someone who last week was your enemy or was treating your faction poorly.
Being a faction means committing, and in this actions speak far louder than words. Factions also get fun toys to reward their work, and these enhance the faction identity, but these additions, updates, class skills, labs, cathedrals, tank updates, and so on cannot create an identity. The roleplay justifies the tools, not the other way around.
These additions aren't given because 3 leaders want this identity for their faction. These come when the faction has put in the legwork and consistent roleplay to be recognised as their factional identity. These additions reward everyone in the faction for their effort, and are always unsuccessful when used to force a cultural shift on an organisation.
Q4: The obvious and time honored "Cyrene has no factional class or skillset" gripe. This one I understand, since the city hasn't really been into combat for long at all, but it is now, and its main struggle is a lack of competent fighters, and a factional class would obviously improve Cyrene's appeal to combatants. I know it takes a long time to make something like this, but if Hashan is getting new skills to three skillsets (consider this complain null and void if this is just a rumor) then it seems like a lot more love is being given to a different subsection of players.
A4: Rumours of more skills for Hashan are entirely untrue as of our current plans. But this is a prime example of leaping to the worst conclusion, assuming the worst with no actual information, and adding this to a list of rumour-mongered grudges against the administration. The willingness to always believe the worst is not healthy for the faction and is often transmitted to every new Cyrenian player who ends up in one of the Cyrene focussed OOC clans. See above for our comments on faction building as a whole.
Q5: Your message said that the volunteers/admin aren't our punching bags, and that is absolutely true. I think that Cyrene is often everyone's punching bag, though, and so there's a perception of "you need to suffer it, but can't vent," even though there's the very valid argument that what Cyrene takes is all in-character. But they are constantly mocked in shouts by every Divine, every city, and eventually it goes from "playing the team that's down right now" to being very exhausting and not very fun. Combine this with the fact that a lot of us pay money for this experience, and it breeds a lot of discontent.
A5: Venting is entirely fine, but not OOC in an IC venue, not by spamming the THINK command, not using OOC says around people who have not opted into being OOC with you, and not to the point of issuing gods or admin and using profanity and all caps to call them names. In an OOC clan would be entirely fine and is allowed within the scope of our language rules.
Playing the team that is at the bottom of the ladder is definitely not fun, and we appreciate that, but every event is not black and white Cyrene vs the world. Cyrene's reactions tend to place it in those positions, ignoring the fact that most events are created as opportunities rather than win/lose situations.
Another common complaint we hear is the idea that Cyrene has no agency and no ability to affect the outcome of their situation and are deliberately set up to fail. I want to make it abundantly clear: this is categorically false.
In the six weeks since Phaestus departed and Pandora took up residence, we have discussed a number of possible options for Cyrene to pursue. We have also kept a close eye on any ideas percolating among the Cyrenian playerbase so that we can react to them as appropriate. Unfortunately, despite a number of ideas being floated and discussed in meetings and various public conversations, no action whatsoever has been taken on the part of Cyrene in pursuing any of these. In addition to that, any approaches made by others have been rejected out of hand.
Negotiations were conducted successfully by Laedha, and this course of action was then promptly discarded despite being proven to work. Further, Lorielan was floated as a possible patron by many Cyrenians, and contact was made with her order head, but this too was abandoned. These are the two examples that were actually pursued but not seen through to any lasting resolution; all other ideas seem to have been similarly discarded in favour of no action.
We do not think Cyrene is a failed faction. We think they have multiple opportunities for success, growth, and to move forward as an organisation, none of which are explicitly related to PK or combat in any way. We are rooting for Cyrene to not only choose an identity for itself, but to actually stand by this identity and adhere to it in the day to day as well as on the world scale. This means sticking with it especially when it's difficult.
Ictinus, Nicola, Makarios