Got Issues FAQ & How To Write An Issue

A place to spoil daily issues for those who haven't had them yet, snigger at typos, and discuss ideas for new ones.
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Candlewhisper Archive
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Founded: Aug 28, 2015

Got Issues FAQ & How To Write An Issue

Postby Candlewhisper Archive » Wed Apr 08, 2009 12:04 am

The Got Issues forum FAQ & How To Write An Issue

What goes in the Got Issues forum?

Got Issues is a forum for discussion about the daily issues your nation gets. Most threads within the forum are about how to answer existing issues, or drafting new issues.

It is NOT for any of the following:
  • Technical problems -- "Why is this not working?" or "How do I...?" or, "The forums are messing up and here's the error message I got!" Technical problems go in the Technical Forum.
  • Gripes about Gameplay -- "Why did my region just get invaded!" The Gameplay forum is your friend.
  • Personal Problems -- "I hate my next door neighbour...." Get a blog.
  • Gripes about Other Players -- "That Playah is a pain in the butt!" If he's breaking the rules on the forum, you need to report it in the Moderation forum, if it's within the game, report it via a Getting Help Request.
  • Gripes about Moderation/Administration -- We know you may not agree with us. Come tell us in the Moderation Forum.


Credits: This thread is an updated and re-written version of Sirocco's Issues FAQ, Hack's post on Issues Repetition, Kryo's guide to unlockables, and Kat's guide to what goes in the Got Issues forum.
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Postby Candlewhisper Archive » Wed Apr 08, 2009 12:04 am

Answering Issues

Why can't we have issues more often than every six hours?

Until March 2016, you were limited to two issues per day! There are a whole host of reasons why the issue frequency won't be updated further. These include the number of descriptors that fit on your nation, ensuring the fairness of stats and World Census rankings, and avoiding issues repeating too frequently.

I've already had this issue, so why am I getting it again?

There are only so many issues in the game, and not all nations qualify for every issue. For example, a democratic nation is not going to get an issue about granting citizens the right to vote. Eventually you are going to get ones you've ruled on previously again. If you want there to be more issues, why not submit one?

What happens to my nation if I dismiss an issue?

Absolutely nothing. A once-popular myth was that dismissing issues lowers your population's growth rate. That is not true.

Is there a list of all the issues somewhere?

Jutsa maintains this list. Please note that it may not always be up to date with new issues added into the game.

Is there a list with all the statistical effects of the issues?

No. These are kept secret deliberately.

Is there a way to review all the issues I've answered to see what my answers were?

No, you can only view the effects of the last few issues you answered in your nation's description. If we were to record all your answers, the server would explode.

How do the Capital City, Leader, and Religion issues work?

There are three customizable fields in your Settings that are greyed out when you first create a nation. There is an issue corresponding to each field, which unlocks the ability to edit it.

When your nation reaches the required population, you will receive the relevant issue immediately, unless you already have five unanswered dilemmas, or have issues disabled, or are in vacation mode. Be aware that all options unlock the field, even if their narrative suggest otherwise. If you find yourself with an unlocked field that you don't want, then simply leave it blank: the game will treat this in the same way as if you had not unlocked it at all. If you dismiss the issue, the field will not be unlocked, and you will have to wait for the issue to come up again.

Many nations above the required population have not unlocked the fields. This is because previously, the issues did not arrive automatically upon reaching the required population - or the nation had passed that figure long before. Also, in the past, not all options unlocked the fields. In this case, be patient. You will receive the issues eventually.

The issues are as follows:

Woah! My issue choice kicked me from the World Assembly!

Yeah, that may happen. One or more issues contain an option that, if picked, will result in your nation being kicked from the World Assembly! But don't worry, it's not permanent, and you can always reapply to the World Assembly - straight away if you want. Also, there is now a pop-up confirmation message that will check if you really want to do this.

Warning: Please choose your option in this issue carefully as the Moderation Team will not intervene if you inadvertently get kicked from the World Assembly.

Speaking of which, I just got a pop-up asking if I want to dissolve my government...

Issues #110 and #192 each contain an option that, if picked, will result in your nation dissolving its government. These options contain some of the most drastic stat effects in the game - expect most nations to see government departments annihilated, with a load of knock on effects afterwards.

Once you've picked this option, it's assumed that after a suitable period of anarchy a new government forms and that you are making decisions in the form of that new government. Its up to you whether you want to reflect that your individual nation's fiction. The reason that we assume this is because if there was permanently no government, there'd be nobody to answer Issues any more. We'd basically have to lock you out of Issues forever.
Last edited by Candlewhisper Archive on Fri Oct 18, 2019 1:34 am, edited 10 times in total.
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Postby Candlewhisper Archive » Wed Apr 08, 2009 12:04 am

Creating and Editing Issues

How are issues added to the game?

Issues are written by players, and edited into usable form by Issues Editors. If you wish to submit an issue, go to the Issues link in your sidebar, and you'll see a link asking if you want to contribute an issue to NationStates. Only nations with a population of 500 EDIT: now 250 million or more may submit an issue - this is to ensure that the submitter has an idea of what a good issue looks like.

I'm thinking of writing an issue. Can you help me?

Read this brilliant guide to writing an issue. If you're going to submit one, read that first. You should also ensure that you check this list of existing issues, so that your idea doesn't duplicate one.

You are strongly advised to draft your issue in a new thread in this forum. That way, you can get help from experienced players, Issues Editors, and Moderators. We all wish to see more quality issues in the game, and it makes a lot easier if the submitted issue is of a high standard - it will require a lot less editing that way.

The success rate of issues NOT drafted in this forum is very low. At an estimate, about 49 out of 50 issues that are submitted without drafting first end up being rejected and deleted. Issues that are drafted here have a much higher success rate, though be sure to give the drafting process enough time. A draft that never garners any feedback is no better than an undrafted submission.

If you do post a draft in this forum, put [DRAFT] in the title, so it's easily identifiable to those wishing to help. Post new versions of your draft in the same thread and add a Spoiler to earlier ones.

I've submitted my issue. What happens now?

You have to be patient. Your issue will be reviewed straight away, but those that we feel have merit may be held in our "Pool" of potential issues until an Editor edits and publishes it.

If your issue is accepted, it will be edited by Issues Editors into a usable form who will also add the relevant stats. When added to the game, you will receive a telegram notifying you of this fact, and will receive the issue - regardless of whether you'd usually be eligible for it. Please note that some issues have to be extensively re-written to be of the high quality we want.

If your issue is rejected, it will be deleted, and you will not be notified.
If your issue is accepted to the pool, you won't be notified either. Usually the first response you'll hear is an editor contacting you to say they're starting work on your issue. More rarely, the first notification will be the telegram saying the issue has been added to the game.

This lack of direct feedback can be discouraging, we know, but it is a practical necessity given that hundreds of issue submissions arrive each week, and it's simply not practical to deal with the inevitable complaints when an issue is rejected, or the chasing of publication if an issue is accepted. Your best bet is to use Got Issues and have extended drafting processes. If an experienced author or an Issue Editor tells you during the drafting process that you've got a good issue that's ready to be submitted, then its almost certain that you'll be added to the Pool, and eventually published.

What do I do if someone copies my issue when I post it in this forum?

Inform a moderator, in the Moderation forum. If a player has stolen your actual issue draft, they will be punished severely. If it's just your idea that's been stolen, however, there's not much we can do.

There's fair play and reasonableness being considered within the community though, and the Got Issues forum is a great way of showing when you started working on an idea. However, ultimately we want the best version of an idea, not necessarily just the first version.

Can I submit suggestions for edits to already existing issues?

Yes. However, there is a threshold of experience and understanding of how the game works to be able to comprehend why issues are like they are at the moment. A lot of new players will, for example, ask for additional options to existing issues for the sake of comprehensiveness, without realising the narrative frameworks and framing gameplay considerations that have left the options being as few as they are.

There's also an expectation that rewrites need to happen for more reason than marginal improvement. It does happen, however. For example, Mobile Maladies was rewritten after the concerns raised in started to look increasingly anachronistic (phones heating up, radiation) and was modernised to address more contemporary concerns (death of face-to-face social interaction, losing awareness of environment, etc.)

If you think a rewrite is needed on an existing issue, then discuss it in The Writer's Block first viewtopic.php?f=13&t=159868 and see what the community makes of the idea.

I think this issue had the wrong effects.

Go to this thread here: viewtopic.php?f=13&t=424650

Read the first post thoroughly, and then if you believe you have an unexpected issue effect that is unresolved, report it on that thread.

I think this issue has a spelling or grammar error.

Go to this thread here: viewtopic.php?f=13&t=158858

Read the first post, then post the error to the thread and we'll fix it soon after.
Last edited by Ransium on Tue Mar 05, 2019 11:09 am, edited 12 times in total.
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Postby Candlewhisper Archive » Wed Apr 08, 2009 12:04 am

The Issues Editing Team

Who edits issues?

Issues are edited by Issues Editors and Issues Moderators.

Active team members (in alphabetical order):
Candlewhisper Archive
Frieden-und Freudenland
Luna Amore
Noahs Second Country
The Free Joy State
The Marsupial Illuminati
USS Monitor
Verdant Haven

Candlewhisper Archive is the Creative Director of the team responsible for the direction taken on issues, and Sedgistan is the Team Leader responsible for running the team. The Free Joy State and Pogaria are Senior Issue Editors.

Luna Amore, Ransium and Sedgistan are also Moderators, with all the duties and powers that entails.

Hierarchy is not a big thing in the team though, so any Issue Editor or Issues Moderator can be considered to be speaking with equal voice and on behalf of the whole team.

How are Issues Editors chosen?

We are always on the look out for new Issues Editors, nominated and chosen by the Issues Editing team by internal process. Those who are active within the Got Issues forum, giving helpful advice to others - particularly with the drafting of issues, and those who write especially good issues (whether submitted via the game or in response to a specific request), will be considered. There's no need to "apply" for the post of Editor - if you're active here, we'll always be considering you as a prospect.

Additionally, we sometimes run Issue Contests with the top prize(s) for these contests sometimes including an invite to the team.
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How To Write An Issue & Got Issues FAQ

Postby Candlewhisper Archive » Thu Apr 30, 2009 4:26 am

How To Write An Issue: Introduction
(original by Sirocco, updated by Candlewhisper Archive)

Welcome! Since the issue submission system was added in 2003, an ever increasing number have been written by players and staff and added to the game. This guide is to improve your chances at getting your issue accepted alongside them.

Take a look at already-accepted issues and you'll soon pick up the style and feel of what we are looking for. In addition, this forum is a good place for showing your ideas and discussing them. It's also great for much-needed feedback so don't be shy!

Part 1: Getting An Idea

Often the hardest part of writing an issue is thinking up a good premise for an issue. A good premise is the core of a successfully accepted issue - get this right, and the options and effect lines will flow on easily, get it wrong and you're building a house on weak foundations: the whole thing will crumble.

Seeking inspiration

News articles are a great place to start, past or present. Go online, look at the news headlines, but also be ready to diversify your reading material. Consider not just your favourite media providers but also the news sources of other countries, the news sources of those of different politics to you, even trash sources and tabloids. Inspiration can come from many directions. Also look at other media - films, TV shows, clickbait sites, computer games...

The essence of a good issue is conflict. There should be a decision to be made, where there are people arguing FOR and AGAINST a position, or where there's multiple choices with pros and cons. You also should be aware that this is a comedy site, and that issues are satirical. The best satire is painfully on target, joyously irreverent, and deeply thought-provoking.

Still drawing a blank...

Consider popping into The Writer's Block viewtopic.php?f=13&t=159868 to deal with your writer's block. It's a great place to chat and bounce ideas around. Also worth noting the second post of the thread, which has a regularly updated list of issues we're looking for, as well as spare ideas that it would be nice to see used.

What makes a good issue?

One of the key factors of NationStates is that no matter what you decide, there will be a lot of people unhappy with your decision. There should NEVER be a case where one option is 'right' and another 'wrong', because that's not what NationStates is about. Playing the 'right' way would imply that NationStates is a game with a way to win and this is not the case. NS is not a game you should be able to 'win' in any sense.

An issue should be:
    Entertaining - This is a game that people play to enjoy. Make sure you have engaging writing, with the right balance of brevity and detail.
    Funny - This isn't necessarily the heart of an issue, and some very serious subjects don't mesh too well with jokes, but every issue should have some degree of wit.
    Challenging - Issues should not be easy decisions to make. That doesn't mean that you can't have issues where people are likely to be certain where they stand (e.g. the issues on abortion and euthanasia) but no issue should have every player going for the same option choice.
    Fair - Issues should at least try to cover the spectrum of approaches, to give players a chance to find an option that at least approximates their chosen position.
    Proactive - Every option should do something actively. Doing nothing is the "dismiss" button.
    Notable - An issue should be something you'd expect a leader of a nation to deal with. That's not to say that we don't have trivial issues, but those ones are trivial issues that it makes some narrative sense for the Leader to be dealing with. Primarily, think jurisdiction and delegation: Leader isn't going to deal with a double parked car, he has traffic wardens for that. Leader isn't going to decide whether to close a failing school, he has school inspectors for that. On the other hand, he might make a policy decision about the legality of double parking as a whole, or decide whether schools get inspected at all. Notability is everything.
    Brief - Five issues per 24 hours isn't much to read, but people have lives to get on with. Generally try and keep issues to the length where they'll sit on a single desktop screen without scrolling down. This is just a rule of thumb though - make issues as long as they need to be, and no longer.

An issue does not need to be:
    Comprehensive - You don't need to include every possible solution to a scenario. Just pick the ones that tell the best story.
    Realistic - That's not to say you can depict ANYTHING. Rather, the goal here is verisimilitude: creating stories that fit with the existing internal reality of the game.

Evaluating your idea

To make sure your issue is usable, you should consider:

Is it already covered by an existing issue? With so many issues in game, this requirement is can be difficult. Variations on a theme are going to happen, so if it is similar to an existing issue, take it in a new direction.

Is it relevant? Is it a problem which would be taken to the leader of a nation? Not every issue needs to be nation-shaking, but it needs to be a problem that could believably end up on LEADER's desk.

Is it too 'out there'? The issue base is set in the present-day. There are some issues that push or even break the usual boundaries, most notably the Vat issues, but by in large we want to keep it plausible to today's world. As a general rule of thumb, most five-minutes-in-the-future technologies are fine, but any tech that would completely transform the world's setting (such as Sleeving, or AI singularity, or unaging immortality) should be avoided.

Is it acceptable to a young reader? The game is open to all ages so we need to keep it as clean as possible. It's possible to tag issues as "Adult" to keep them out of gamers playing as part of school-classes, but there are still young players gaming at home, so keep it tasteful. Essentially, anything that would be unacceptable in the forums is probably unacceptable in issues too.

Is it acceptable to readers? Obviously any issue can offend people, and there will always be people who will be offended by the smallest slight. But there's offensive and there's offensive. No issues like 'Kill all jews!' or whatever. An issue can debate about religion and atheism, or homosexuality but it should be on no-one's side.

When in doubt, ask! This forum is filled with helpful authors and Issues Editors who are more than willing to help improve ideas and increase your chances.

Once you've got your idea, it's time to write it.
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Postby Candlewhisper Archive » Thu Apr 30, 2009 4:31 am

Part 2: How To Write An Issue

The meat and potatoes of issues is in good writing itself. This guide is a good starting point on how to write an issue, but authors with more experience might want to go their own way in creative ways: look on what is here as a framework to build on, not a cage that restricts.


The name or title of your issue is the first thing a player will see. In game, they'll appear as a news headline at the top of the issue. A good approach, therefore, is to imagine that you're pitching a suitable headline for a tabloid newspaper, though to have more of an eye for wry cleverness.

Twisting around a popular idiom is sometimes a good move (e.g. "Any Witch Way Spells Disaster"), or referencing popular media or literature (e.g. "The Unbearable Lightness of Government"). Or you could go for a straight pun (e.g. "Electile Dysfunction") or for double meanings (e.g. "Sound Judgement"). Whichever approach you take, try to be clever and entertaining.


The description is a brief and neutral summary of the problem at hand. Take a look at the descriptions of already-submitted issues to get the feel of the style.

Getting the premise presented well is the core of good issue writing, and its where you should devote most of your energy. It's where good writers can be separated from bad, and 99% of the time it's on the quality of the opening description that we decide whether or not an issue is good enough to be published. Four things to remember: Clarity, Story, Fun, Brevity.

Clarity means getting the information across clearly. By the end of the Description, someone should know exactly what the situation is, and what decision needs to be made.

Story means you've got to draw the reader in and capture their imagination. You need them to believe in the story you are weaving, and to have their mental eye be seeing the scene you are painting. They should read your issue and be thinking in terms of the images you have summoned, not in terms of game stats or abstract ideals. There's no hard and fast rule as to how you tell a good story, but a good test is this: If your Description was the plot synopsis of a TV episode, would you want to watch that episode?

Fun means being entertaining and humorous. Whimsy is welcome in NS! Having said that, there absolutely is room for issues that aren't "fun" in a cheerful way, so long as the story is engaging and the dilemma is thought provoking.

Brevity means keeping it short. Unlike this guide, you mustn't be long winded. 2 or 3 sentences is standard, 4 or 5 is getting on the long side, beyond that think hard. What you don't want to do is fail to achieve clarity, story or fun because you've cut too much. But what you do want to do is achieve those things in the minimum number of words.

Additionally, the following terms will frequently get bandied around Got Issues when discussing descriptions, so it's good to know what they mean.

Player Autonomy - Essentially this means not telling players about their own characters. The following spoilered block explains more:

In writing an Issue for nationstates, the word "you" refers to the nations Leader (as named in the custom field) and also the player of the game.

A common error in issue writing is to disrespect player autonomy.

These ideas largely come from roleplaying games, and comprise a set of rules that go something like this:

1) You the games-master, are not allowed to tell me what my character feels.

When you write or edit an issue, don't say what my character thinks or feels. Tell me what is happening external to me, but don't tell me how I react to those things. A thing can be described as "frightening" but my character should not be described as frightened.

2) You the games-master, are not allowed to tell me what my character does or decides.

When you write or edit an issue, don't say what my character's actions or decisions are. The whole point of issues is for me to tell YOU that. You can describe that a meeting has been called, or that advisors have been summoned, but don't tell me that my character has called a meeting, or that my character has summoned my advisors.

3) You the games-master, are not allowed to tell me what my character's history, nature or past is.

When you write or edit an issue, don't tell me about my character.

You have to tell me about your nation, that's fair enough. That's part of the Issues game, and if I don't like what you tell me about my nation, I'll press "dismiss" and pretend the presented fiction doesn't exist. However, never tell me that my character used to be a soldier, or that my character is a Christian, or that my character is thin, or fat, or ugly, or beautiful, or male, or female. There's also a line to cross about what you can tell me about my nation - you can probably make assumptions about geography, or about minor historical figures, or commercial companies operating here. You can also make assumptions about government departments and so on existing, so long as your consistent. However, it's not a good idea to start telling me about major historical events, like telling me that I came out of revolution 10 years ago, or what the name of my predecessor was, or who the name of the last king from 111 years ago was, or that I used to be a Communist nation, or whatever. Basically, just show some respect for my fiction.

Anything outside of my character, that's fair game so long as it doesn't rely on my character's decisions. You are allowed to introduce a character that is leader's brother, because nobody can choose to have a brother or not. You don't get to introduce a character that is my wife, or my child, because these are reflective of my choices. However, also, be reasonable. You can assume I have a father and mother, but please don't assume their marital status or the way they raised me, as that too directly impacts on my character. Don't tell me my brother or sister's name, if you can avoid it. Don't tell me what my dad's career was. In other words, exercise some restraint, and over-ride my personal fiction as little as you can.

Ta-daaa! Player autonomy.

Verisimilitude - This refers to the sense that the presented fiction is consistent with the previously established fictional world. It's not the same as realism, and is more important than realism to good storytelling. If Batman transforms into a pink banana, then there's no verisimilitude or realism. If Batman accidentally kills a mugger by punching him too hard, that has realism but no verisimilitude. If Batman fights a psychotic crocodile-man then that has no realism, but it has verisimilitude. Spot which of these three work for a Batman comic! For Nationstates, it's harder to make that call, but have a look at existing issues, and that will help give a feel as to what fits the fiction.

Narrative - Narrative is not a story, it is how a story is told. The standard narrative approach for NS is that the issue's description sets up the situation and makes clear the decision at hand. Then, each option offers one approach. When an option is selected, the presented effect line then delivers a "punchline" to the option, humorously interpreting the decision made. Common narrative "sins" that should be avoided include:
  • Describing your options in the opening description.
  • Wasting description space saying that people want your decision, or people have come for your decision, or that people are here to talk at you. The fact that this is a Nationstates Issue establishes that as ALWAYS being the case, you don't need the redundant text of saying this in your description. If you have these in your drafts, expect editors and experienced authors to talk to you about redundancies.
  • Overly repeating a joke, or spoiling a punchline by making the joke in the option. A punchline should always be a nice surprise to read. Jokes should never outstay their welcome.
  • Forgetting verisimilitude for the sake of humour. While we can stretch reality a little, you should always try and maintain reader immersion in the fiction.
  • Reminding players that they are playing a game. Likewise, there's no better way to break immersion than to call out the names of games stats while in-character, or to pitch an opening description or an option in a way that blatantly signposts game mechanics.


The validity tells the game who can receive this issue. Nations who haven't gone to space wouldn't receive an issue on a space shuttle crash for example.

You can also make options valid for different nations. For example, if a nation has established autarky, then it shouldn't be able to access an option that involves importing goods to solve a problem.

A common advanced technique is the "doppelganger option" where two versions of an option will be presented as either/or. For example, one version of an option might be presented for nations that are capitalist, and another version for nations that are non-capitalist.


An issue is made up of two or more options. The number of options there can be is pretty much as many as you please, the largest number that's been used so far is eleven (twelve in an Easter Egg). But your average issue will usually have two to five options. The basic premise is that you've got your issue and now you've got to write down the differing points of view.

The structure of a two-option issue is easy. For example, you could have someone who's FOR divorce and someone who's AGAINST divorce. Easy-peasey.

The structure of a three-option issue is (usually) made up of FOR, AGAINST, and CRAZY THIRD WAY. The 'third way' is where you can really let your imagination run wild, but keep it at least vaguely sensible. For example it could be something like 'Hey, one way of lowering divorce rates is just to stop people marrying in the first place!'

Anything more than three options is usually devoted to issues which have a vaster number of possibilities than your usual FOR and AGAINST. It could be something like two options FOR but in differing ways and two options against but in differing ways. Take a look at existing issues and try to see how the structure fits in.

Some issues may have a lot of options because it's an issue about choosing things from a list of possibilities, such as deciding which department the majority of your funding will go to, or picking someone to be an advisor, etc.

Bear in mind the above is just a general guideline to a common narrative shape for issues, and is not intended to restrict your approaches. If there's a better way to tell the story, then do that instead!

The structure of an option

Your basic option goes like this:

[option]"[a small sentence that summarises briefly the speaker's @@RANDOMNAME@@'s point of view, or a short exclamation to take attention and center stage]," says @@RANDOMNAME@@, [description of actions or of the speaker that provide some humorous context]. "[@@RANDOMNAME@@'s arguments for his point of view and/or against the others]. [Closing conclusion]."

Not all options work like this of course, some are changed for humorous or literary effect, but it's a good template for any budding issue-writer. An option shouldn't be too long. The overwhelming majority of options are less than 100 words, usually around 30-70. This isn't an ironclad rule so don't feel pressured to count your words. You should be able to judge correctly by scrutinising other issues.

Let's take a look at a sample option from an already-existing issue:

"Hold on!" pleads former pro-boxer @@RANDOMNAME@@, still twitching a little from a past head injury. "People love boxing matches, and you can't stop the noble art of pugigis... paloogilis... uh... fighting. It should just be professionals though, so that accidents won't happen again."

As you can see, the first sentence is vocalised and just indicates that the speaker is interjecting. This is followed by a randomly generated name (you should always use @@RANDOMNAME@@ unless a specific name can be used for greater humorous effect - don't use real people) and a relevant description of @@RANDOMNAME@@. He then presents a position and arguments for it and ends neatly at a point where you'd expect him to have closed his argument. It's all done in the space of a few lines, efficiently transmitting what the option entails, and fitting some humour in along the way.

Critically, all options should achieve the following:

They should involve a proactive decision by government.

If the option does nothing, it's the same as the dismiss button. Note that if you want to be laissez-faire in an option, you can be laissez-faire proactively, for example "affirming a commitment" to non-interference or being asked to "promise to stay out of things". The difference there is that the government would be proactively avoiding intervention!

They should entertain.

Nobody will want to read a boring issue. Playing around with what speakers look like or do can add entertainment, as does presenting each character's ideas in a different voice and style of speech. Good writing is hard to pin down, but try to make options that are aesthetically pleasing and fun to read.

They should get to the point.

Don't go far into an option without presenting the key idea of what the option represents. Don't use 20 words when 3 would do. Options don't have to be super-short, but they should be efficient: get the humour and information across in as few words as possible.


This is where the option pays off!

Effect lines are reported back to a player immediately after the option is chosen. Because of this, they should work as a standalone sentence. For example:
    Private businesses are paving paradises to put up parking lots.
Effect lines are used on the national happenings reports, for example:
    Following new legislation in Candlewhisper Archive, private businesses are paving paradises to put up parking lots.
Several recent effect lines are used on nation front pages to construct the first sentences of the final paragraph of their description. Because of this they should be self-contained and short enough to act as one-third of a sentence. For example:
The nation forgives those who are big enough to admit they made a mistake, chrome-clad space marines are such stuff that dreams are made on, private businesses are paving paradises to put up parking lots, and it is illegal to make racist remarks in public.

The last requirement means that effect lines should always start with a non-capitalised letter, should be short and concise as possible, and should generally avoid both commas and using words like "and" or "or". However, more expert authors with a good understanding of how effect lines are used may be able to use commas and conjunctions skilfully without causing any problems to final paragraphs.

Also notable here is that effect lines have changed over time. In the old days, we used to be content just to have an effect line reiterate the decision just made. If you banned elections in issue 1, you'd just get "elections are outlawed". However, we soon realised that effect lines are the best place in an issue to add a final bit of fun and humour.

In modern issues, it's absolutely expected that effect lines should be clever, witty and should often twist around the decision in some humorous or satirical way. Some "standard" effect line categories include:

Stating the decision in a misleading way.
For example, if you decide you want the nation's elderly to help out with childcare you get:
People invite random old men into their homes to play with their kids
Technically true, but the reportage is deliberately misleading for humour value.

A reference to something in pop-culture or culture.
For example, if you put the power to rename towns in the hands of democratic majority, you get:
A proud mining community is considering a rebellion after the Capital officially renamed them 'District XII'
It's not just a statement of the decision, it's something to make Hunger Games fans smile.

The decision extended ad absurdiam.
For example, if you allow farmers to use whatever drugs they need to keep their poultry healthy (presented in the context of antibiotics for growth) you get:
Farm turkeys are given high doses of antidepressants to take their minds off the holiday season
Not the intended goal, but within the "interpretation" of the option selected.

A poetic or pretty way of describing the decision just taken.
For example, if you endorse high speed trains and a faster commute you get:
In life full of care there is no time to stop and stare
That doesn't refer to the decision directly at all, but comments upon it in a pleasing way.

Critically, issue effect lines should never go opposite to "the direction of movement" of the option. For example, if you have an option about investing in education, you shouldn't have an effect line saying that "despite education students remain ignorant as ever". This is because nation descriptions are meant to reflect the nation's decisions, and a line like that suggests low priority on education.

Effect lines are hard to write, but are probably the second most important skill to master for budding issue writers, just after being able to write really solid opening descriptions. A good opening description will get your issue submission published. Good effect lines will get you flagged as a potential future editor.
Last edited by Candlewhisper Archive on Fri Jul 06, 2018 12:58 am, edited 27 times in total.
Reason: wording tweaks
editors like linguistic ambiguity more than most people

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Candlewhisper Archive
Senior Issues Editor
Posts: 22982
Founded: Aug 28, 2015

Re: How To Write An Issue

Postby Candlewhisper Archive » Thu Apr 30, 2009 4:46 am

Part 3: The Issue Submission Page

The issue submission page has had a makeover to make it a bit more straightforward and user friendly. Before submitting an issue draft through the issue submission page, it is strongly recommended that you post a draft of your issue in this forum for critique from fellow authors and editors. It will greatly improve your chances of acceptance.

After you are satisfied with your issue draft, you'll be ready to submit. Here's a breakdown of what you'll find on the Issues Submission Page:

Three Checkboxes: This is where you acknowledge you've read this guide, you've read the Got Issues forum FAQ, and you agree to the Terms and Conditions of the submission process.

A Newspaper Headline: This is where you type your issue's title.

Description: This field is the text which summarizes the premise of the issue.

Validity: This is where you write what sort of nations can receive the issue. First you will be asked if it is valid for all nations. If yes, then you are done with this portion. If no, you will have a small text box to describe your validity. For instance, an issue about tire disposal would be useless for a nation with no cars. This is purely optional.

After selecting a validity, you'll need to start adding issue options. To add a new option, click the +Add New Choice button.

Option: This is where you write the text of the option. Each option text is the argument for a solution to the problem explained in the description. It is almost always dialogue for a character.

Effect: This is what is displayed after the option is selected. For example: Following new legislation in Luna Amore, parents must choose their children's names from a government-mandated master list. Due to how they are displayed on the nation page, they should be short with no commas.

Once you have your issue draft fully typed in, hit Submit Issue and you are done.

If your issue is accepted into the game, you will receive a telegram notifying you. In addition, your nation will receive the finished issue and a nifty author badge:

The Macros

What's a macro? A macro is a tiny piece of code which changes, depending on who's viewing it. For example, take this macro: @@NAME@@. Whenever I, Candlewhisper Archive, look at an issue and look at that part of an issue which says @@NAME@@, I see Candlewhisper Archive. Example:

My name is @@NAME@@ -> My name is Candlewhisper Archive

Pretty neat, huh? Here's the current list of all usable macros:

@@NAME@@: Gives you the name of your nation.

@@REGION@@: Gives you the name of the region in which you reside.

@@RANDOMNAME@@: Generates a random name (for a person).
@@RANDOMNAMEMALE@@: Generates a random male name; only use when a specific gender is needed.
@@RANDOMNAMEFEMALE@@: Generates a random female name; only use when a specific gender is needed.

@@RANDOMFIRSTNAME@@: Generates a random first name only. As above, add MALE or FEMALE to the end to specify a gender.
@@RANDOMLASTNAME@@: Generates a random last name (surname) only.

@@HE@@/@@HIM@@/@@HIS@@: Macros that automagically match the gender of the preceding @@RANDOMNAME@@. The @@RANDOMNAME@@ needs to come first for them to match. They will match the last @@RANDOMNAME@@ no matter where it was in the issue. They recognize no boundaries, just like a ghost. Spooky! These macros can also be used without a @@RANDOMNAME@@ to produce he/she or him/her or his/her(s) at random.

"@@RANDOMNAME@@ is the head of the Issue Examples Enclave. @@HE@@ grabs @@HIS@@ head in frustration." --->
"Lisa Obama is the head of the Issue Examples Enclave. She grabs her head in frustration."

@@MAN@@: A macro that either produces 'man' or 'woman' based on the last @@RANDOMNAME@@. Like @@HE@@/@@HIM@@/@@HIS@@, this needs to come after the @@RANDOMNAME@@ but can also be used absent any @@RANDOMNAME@@. These macros eliminate the need to hardcode a gender unless absolutely necessary for the narrative.

@@BOY@@: This one is similar to @@MAN@@, but produces 'boy' or 'girl'.

[option 1] "@@RANDOMNAME@@ is the head of the Issue Examples Enclave. @@HE@@ grabs @@HIS@@ head in frustration."
[option 2] Your unnamed and totally evil henchman screams, "Arrest that @@MAN@@!"

[option 1] "Lisa Obama is the head of the Issue Examples Enclave. She grabs her head in frustration."
[option 2] Your unnamed and totally evil henchman screams, "Arrest that woman!"

But what if you want to use one of these before the name it references? Or maybe in a completely different part of the issue? It's not too difficult: just add numbers! Count the number of random names until you get to the one that you want to reference, then add that number to the macro.

A @@MAN1@@ suddenly breaks down your door and sashays into your office. "I am @@RANDOMNAME@@, the greatest dancer in all of @@NAME@@!" --->
A man suddenly breaks down your door and sashays into your office. "I am George Garabaldi, the greatest dancer in all of Exampleland!"

As you walk down the street, a @@BOY4@@ stares at you with disdain.
(Three options follow, each with a unique random name.)
Finally, you see the @@BOY4@@ who was staring at you earlier. "I'm @@RANDOMNAME@@," @@HE@@ says. "Please, @@LEADER@@, I want some more freedom of assembly." --->

As you walk down the street, a girl stares at you with disdain.

(Three options follow, each with a unique random name.)
Finally, you see the girl who was staring at you earlier. "I'm Olivia Twist," she says. "Please, King Stupendous XIII, I want some more freedom of assembly."

"Did you see the purple cow?" shouts @@RANDOMNAME@@. "What? I thought they only lived in @@NAME@@," claims @@RANDOMNAME@@, as @@HE@@ pushes @@HIM1@@ out of the way to get a better look. --->

"Did you see the purple cow?" shouts Erin Mucha. "What? I thought they only lived in Pogaria," claims Jack Lalique, as he pushes her out of the way to get a better look.

As you can see, numbers are only needed when your macro is before a random name, or appears after a different random name.

You can also use numbers to repeat a name. As before, just count the number of unique random names until you get to the one that you want to reference. Use that number with any of the duplicates, but not the original name.

@@RANDOMNAME@@ knocks on your office door, furious about the new law that prevents people from referring to themselves in the third person. "@@RANDOMFIRSTNAME1@@ doesn't put up with this sort of nonsense! I'll work to overturn your stupid law, or my name isn't @@RANDOMNAME1@@!" --->

Elmo Little knocks on your office door, furious about the new law that prevents people from referring to themselves in the third person. "Elmo doesn't put up with this sort of nonsense! I'll work to overturn your stupid law, or my name isn't Elmo Little!"

Keep in mind that when you are counting random names, any duplicates (which have numbers) should be ignored.

@@MAJORINDUSTRY@@: Gives the name of your nation's biggest industry.

@@POPULATION@@: Gives you your population in millions.

@@TYPE@@: Gives you the pretitle of your nation. eg. The @@TYPE@@ of Luna Amore -> The Reticulated Splines of Luna Amore

@@ANIMAL@@: Gives you your national animal.

@@CURRENCY@@: Gives you your national currency.

@@SLOGAN@@: Gives you your national motto.

@@DEMONYM@@: Gives the country's demonym. You can query the adjective, noun, and plural noun depending on the need. A real-world example of these would be "British", "Briton", and "Britons", in that order.

@@CAPITAL@@: Gives you your national capital.
NOTE: Nations with no capital will see it differently: they'll see it as 'I live in @@NAME@@ City'. Keep this in mind when using this macro.

@@LEADER@@: Gives you your leader's name.
NOTE: Nations with no leader will see it differently: they'll see it as 'Good evening, Leader, how are you keeping?' Keep this in mind when using this macro.

@@FAITH@@: Gives you your national religion.
NOTE: Nations with no national religion will see it differently: they'll see it as 'I am a firm believer in a major religion.' Keep this in mind when using this macro.

For the last two macros, let's use the United Federation for the examples.

@@NAMEINITIALS@@: Gives you the initials of your nation's name.

"I want to work for the @@NAMEINITIALS@@IA - the United Federation Intelligence Agency." --->
"I want to work for the UFIA - the United Federation Intelligence Agency."

@@DEMONYMINITIALS@@: Gives you the initials of your demonym.

"Or maybe I could work for @@DEMONYMINITIALS@@ASA - the Federal Aeronautics and Space Administration." --->
"Or maybe I could work for FASA - the Federal Aeronautics and Space Administration."
Last edited by Pogaria on Thu Oct 07, 2021 3:11 pm, edited 37 times in total.
Reason: Updated the list of macros
editors like linguistic ambiguity more than most people

User avatar
Candlewhisper Archive
Senior Issues Editor
Posts: 22982
Founded: Aug 28, 2015

Postby Candlewhisper Archive » Wed Jan 11, 2012 9:06 am

Last edited by Pogaria on Tue May 18, 2021 6:45 pm, edited 16 times in total.
Reason: Added another resource
editors like linguistic ambiguity more than most people


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