Not so long ago I've made a post regarding the same issue I am going to open for debate (link HERE) , but back then I've mistakenly made it to cover too many player behaviors, so instead of making the same error I am going to ask the Rail Nation to consider only one specific game action and include it in the game rules. And it just so happens that I also had an interesting exchange of thoughts with Yaenara on the same subject, and to my surprise her arguments not only supported my claims but she insisted that they actually don't..., and I was like: WHAT?
There's also not going to be a TLDR version so don't bother asking. If you're passionate about this game and you are part of the 99% of the players that want to have a good time playing a 3 months game, you won't bother asking for one either. But in a nutshell, there has to be a way to sanction the players who deliberately ruin a city's end game, with a strong emphasis on deliberate. Now, if Rail Nation lacks the tools needed to effectively establish if an action is deliberate or not they should simply be transparent about these limitations and not, unlike Yaenara, promote a "free will" that has nothing to do with the 3.5. section of the Game Rules who, among other things, states that: "potential harmful situations or actions that strongly indicate harm is being incurred against the gameplay and/or one or more players in the game" can lead the staff to take necessary actions.
But first, context. Rail Nation is mostly famous for it's classic version of the game where players undergo a 3 months period of delivering cargo, laying tracks, developing the train station, buying trains, leveling cities and preparing for the end game. Everything that happens in that 3 months period is dynamic and subject to change but mostly all the harmful actions that occur prior to the end game can be mitigated and don't really impact the final phase too much. But once the end game commences, any harmful action can seriously cripple the city or, even worse, make it lose. And we've all seen it happen. So while harmful actions during the 3 months period can be addresed you, I will focus only on those that occur during the end game.
Also, let's do a reality check. Let's pick some game genres and see if they have some sort of mechanism that prevent unsportsmanlike behaviors:
1. MOBA: In League of Legends if you intentionally feed the opposing team you can get reported and you will get sanctioned if the report holds true.
2. FPS: Fortnite has an entire chapter dedicated to competitive game integrity and all its sanctionable aspects.
3. MMORPG: World of Warcraft literally enforces the players to behave in a sportsmanlike manner in their interactions with the competition.
4. SPORTS: EA staff can disqualify any FIFA player that behave unsportsmanlike and/or disrupts in regards to a competition.
5. ARCADE: World of Tanks condemns any unsportsmanlike conduct that hampers or prevents other players' enjoyment in the game.
I can provide sources to all of the above but let's not kid ourselves here, it's real. Almost any popular game offers a way of protecting the game play experience against the harmful actions of minority players. Rail Nation has this included, in the form of section 3.5., but the support staff choses to not act upon it, they've even clearly stated that deliberately ruining the end game by spoiling industries cannot be put under the fair play section of the game rules, which is absolutely illogic and insane, because in their explanation: no one can be forced to play a certain style.
I'm sorry, Rail Nation, when did 99% of the players stopped being accounted as a majority? If you're asking about my 99% statement, let me tell you that in average only 5% of the players in a city will missbehave during the end game but about 1% actually do it in a deliberate way, most of them either don't know what to do or simply don't understand english. So you're effectively putting the interest of 1% above the 99%, just so you keep this game in a "free will" state of play. Which is BS and a double standard, and let me give you some examples:
1. During an end game I've played an year or so ago I got banned because I threatened a player with a report because he was ruining our end game. Despite that ALL the online players at that time had something to say (not nice words) about the player in case, I got banned instead and he didn't even get a warning.
2. Not some long ago a player named his team with a name that was almost similar to another team, while not ethical, it was concluded (by Yaenara) that the player's action of naming his association similar to another one was a deliberate act of causing harm.
3. Not some long ago I've publicly accused a player of exploiting the game and gaining unfair advantage over the rest of players and while his actions proved harmful to those that struggled to reach the top, I got warned and he didn't get any.
So why this double standard? I understand that Rail Nation can decide when harmful actions are being inflicted or not, and I agree, I have caused harm in regards to the two players stated above and it was common sense for me to get sanctioned, but what about their harmful actions? Why do theirs go unnoticed while others don't? Is it because they were maybe handled by Yaenara? I really don't think so. This is a general policy in Rail Nation and just to be clear, I have never exchanged one word with Yaenara, besides the support portal, and I've never been bother by her, I only referenced her actions to demonstrate Rail Nation's double standard when it comes to player behavior.
But to conclude the reality check, in my brief conversation with Yaenara she made an analogy of the situation with the Olympics or any other competition for that matter where not everybody wins (referencing the end game), and while that holds true she completely ignored the fact that in a competition the competitors do not sabotage each other. You don't see athletes blocking other athletes in the 100m dash, if they do this they get disqualified. You don't see volleyball players entering the opposite team's field and try to interfere with them, they get penalized. Why wouldn't players that deliberately sabotage an end game get sanctioned? They are clearly acting unprofessional. Why leave them to play as they see fit? I fail to see the reason and I fail to see why Rail Nation would promote this clearly flawed idea.
Game is all about winning as a city, that's why the game ends when a city is victorious. This is clearly the main battle and the players feel most engaged when the end game is played. Why on earth would you consider the scope of the game to be around proving yourself as an individual or winning as a team? If so, then your game design contradicts this scope. Therefore why don't you make it so the game ends when a player or an association hits 1 million prestige and end the game right there, no? If it's about the individual rankings or association, then by all means, make it so.
If you would run a survey you would quickly find out that players would rather play a clean end game where every city gives its best and the winner is declared the city with the better strategy and that proved to have higher dedication or participation. You say you want to be in touch with the community, well you're failling in reading what the community wants, or feels. Have you read the forums of the cities that get sabotaged during the end game? Have you saw the level of despair, bitterness and dissapointment of the players that tried to play by the book? I'm guessing yes but you're not motivated to say something to "the boss" and really promote the idea of having an unsportsmanlike rule.
I'll even help you out on your case. Just two days ago I've played an end game on a decently populated Origin server that had 7 cities fighting for the end game. I've signed in and checked their forum at a glance and collected three screenshots from each of the losing cities just to get an idea of the game play environment such deliberate acts generate. Due to the limitation in attachments, I will be adding the rest in the second post. You have there 3 complaints for each of the 6 cities that lost the EG. I've played in the 7th, which won, so that nobody gets the idea (like Yaenara did) that this is Mihai vs. Rail Nation and that nobody should get punished because they don't play "my way". Since I've won, I shouldn't even care, no? Yeah well I do.
And let me tell you something else, since you are clearly missing the larger scope. You let this continue in the game and the players will not only not going waste 3 months of their time just to be laughed at by a couple of players, but they may very well do the same to other cities, effectively spreading this behavior on and on. Because in all honesty this game is riddled with fake accounts, multiple accounts or level 1 accounts all created with the single purpose of causing harm. Why do you think they are in the game? Because some player can't get enough of Rail Nation and wants to play on multiple accounts? No. Get real. Players are doing this because someone did this to them at some point.
If you can't see it then I'm sorry, I'm just speaking to walls.