Since Future Technology was born as a generalized technological level, community, and genre within the NationStates roleplaying community over a decade ago, it has suffered a reoccurring obstacle not often found within other technological levels (such as Modern Technology or Post-Modern Technology): that of the lack of emphasis on region-based player organization (or the emphasis on regions, in general) and, as a consequence, a lack of an easy-to-use directory to provide both newer and more experienced players a place to gather which does not force them to presuppose or conform to another community member's ideas of "correctness" or "canon" within Future Technology.
Due to Future Technology's disparate community and due to the wide range of opinions regarding standards, canon, and continuity beyond the generally-accepted principles of "C4" (Collaboration, Compromise, Creativity, and Consistency), many regions have been made, and most have turned into dumping-grounds for accounts and have not acted as cohesive units within the broader community of Future Technology to provide a safe, stable, and united sub-community for both new and old players to learn, advise, assist, and otherwise enjoy themselves.
Do not fear, however, The Local Cluster is not here to force upon users a community, canon, continuity, or general stellar neighborhood; its purpose is not to force conformity, nor to force upon players a canon or continuity beyond to that which they have consented to - consensual cooperation being one of the primary pillars of the Future Technology community at large. No, for The Local Cluster exists chiefly for five reasons:
To provide a stable and (relatively speaking) secure, gameside pool for accounts of Future Technology roleplayers and potential roleplayers whom feel uncomfortable within other, more sub-community specific regions or whom otherwise do not desire to settle themselves into a community which places upon them an undue burden of codified principles, rules, or regulations beyond that of C4 and the general nature of community consensus which serve as the two supportive structures which allow Future Technology (and its members) to thrive and enjoy themselves in an otherwise open, freeform, and "sandbox" world - while also minimizing the banes of roleplaying: god-modding, power-gaming, and meta-gaming.
To provide experienced players, Mentors, and other players whom regularly provide assistance and advice to less experienced players or potential players simply looking into getting into Future Technology a single, gameside reference point which provides, upon request, advice, assistance, and a greater community support network, allowing both more freedom to players and allowing newer players to more easily and readily enter into the technological level without the fear of being helpless or alone in the face of over ten years worth of community history, standardization, and information collections.
To provide a solid foundation upon which Future Technology roleplayers, creators, writers, and world-builders can feel free to build the canons and continuities of their individual civilizations within the broader world of Future Technology without requirement of application or invitation.
To provide a "whiteboard" outside of the forums for players both new and old to bounce-off ideas from other players, receive feedback on their canon and concepts, and receive constructive (and helpful) criticism from others - including helpful, experienced players that have spent over a decade within the community and the FT Mentors themselves.
To provide a place where members of the Future Technology community can collaborate with others, compromise and reach agreements with other players, be creative, and demonstrate the consistent excellence of both the community itself and the enjoyment which makes the Future Technology community as special and inclusive as it is.
That being said, there are some things that The Local Cluster simply isn't, and those, too, need be addressed. As such, The Local Cluster is...
Not a "closed roleplaying group"; it is a part of the broader Future Technology community at large, requires no application, and requires no invitation.
Not a set astronomical location, beyond that of "the Local Cluster" or "Local Group", which consists of the Galaxy (or the primary location of the vast majority of players within the Future Technology Community) and the immediate Magellanic cloud formations, nebulae, and dwarf galaxies which surround the Galaxy in close, relative proximity.
Not a rule-heavy or regulation-heavy region or concept; all roleplayers - both new and old - generally are expected to abide by the fundamental principles of Future Technology at large - or the basic precepts which the community itself holds paramount: collaboration, compromise, creativity, and consistency.
Not a "hard science-fiction" or "soft science-fiction" portion of the community; as it is a part of, within, or otherwise constituting a portion of the Future Technology community, it features just as wide a range of play styles, concepts, and aesthetics, ranging on the spectrum of "hard-to-soft science-fiction" from "hard" and "emulating reality" to "soft" and "science fantasy".
Not attempting to force members of the Future Technology community to adhere to any other set of standards beyond the fundamentals which limit god-modding, power-gaming, meta-gaming, and otherwise limit out-of-character conflict (eg. C4).
Not attempting to force members of the Future Technology community to maintain a presence within this region to be considered a part of the Future Technology community at large or otherwise force regional gameplay or region-based organizations into Future Technology as a mechanic. Simply put, regions still do not play a major role in Future Technology, spare as a means to organize accounts, players, and provide an outlet for aspects of the community which cannot be served through the forums or Internet Relay Chat.
Not a "training region" or "training program"; helpful links will be provided, and advice may generally be given, but the purpose of it is not to "train". If players seek specific advice, however, they should feel free to ask for such.
Not attempting to tell any players "they are doing it wrong" if they adhere to the basic fundamentals of the community: collaboration, compromise, creativity, and consistency.
In short, welcome to a grand experiment in the Future Technology community. Welcome to what, hopefully, will be seen as a fruitful enterprise and utilized by members of the community to both better their own enjoyment, the enjoyment of others, and the community-at-large. We here - all involved - welcome you and hope you find your stay in this region helpful, enjoyable, and rewarding; further, we welcome newer players whom are unfamiliar with Future Technology and have arrived here seeking assistance, to "get their feet wet", or have otherwise been directed here by another player, Mentor, or member of the NationStates staff. Please, feel free to check the helpful links in the World Factbook Entry, or send a telegram to any Mentor here (or any individual marked as being willing to help newer players).