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Wednesday, February 02, 2005

I Want a New MUD 

Before we get to the rant, I'll thank you to check out the new pics of snow beings at Imagenary.

Now then.

For the last four months or so, I've gotten deeply into MUDs. I know, I know. I'm about a decade behind the times. In the era of the MMORPG, the MUD is an ancient anachronism, a relic from the time before we could actually represent our travels. As one pal put it, the only reason people MUD anymore is because they want to virtually get it on with elves. MUDs are outmnoded, irrelevant, deprecated. They are to online gaming what Zork is to Diablo. (Hey, you can download Zork I from that site! Sweet.)

But I'm into the MUD concept. Something about the text descriptions, the extensive focus on character, and the freedom of imaginative exploration really appeal to me. (Or to the nerd English teacher in me.) Maybe this relates to McCloud's analysis of the icon vis a vis the linguistic/graphic video game split. Whatever the reason, I really like typing away with a mug of tea, raising arms against a sea of kobolds. Plus they're free, and I'm poor.

But there's a snag: I can't find the MUD I want. I must have gone through fifty different MUDs by now, making it through the newbie introduction system in at least half of them. None of them meet all of my criteria, which are as follows:
  1. The code must be neat and the controls intuitive. Most MUDs do okay with this.

  2. I must be able to heal quickly. Some MUDs apparently don't have healing potions or other ways to heal after a battle, so the character must sleep -- sometimes this takes 2-3 minutes. Tedious! I wanna chug a Cure Light Wounds and be on with it.

  3. I want to get moving and have plenty of places to go. For a while, I ate, drank, and slept Achaea. It's got a very involved guild system, and the people play their roles seriously. But after a few weeks, I realized that all of the places which promised adventure were crammed with other players killing the beasties. To make matters worse, Achaea requires active involvement in one's guild, so adventuring takes a back seat to the machinations of your virtual workplace. Like I don't get enough of that at work!

  4. I need maps. I'm not interested in figuring out how the path leads from Creggmore to New Ravensville. If your MUD has been around for five years and there aren't any decent maps to help us figure it out, you've got problems.

  5. Interesting quests. This is the big floppo. Aardwolf is the MUD I've spent the most time in; it's got lots of decent areas (though many of them are cursed with stupid random you- can't- escape- except- by- randomly- pressing- direction- buttons- until- you- happen- to- find- the- exit mazes), and all the other requirements are rather well met. But Aard suffers from two problems. First is limited role playing. Whatever -- this isn't a big deal. I like the personas of the people in Achaea, but it's a minor matter. The bigger problem is the questing system -- it's very boring. You find a Questor, and s/he tells you: "Find and kill [name of monster] in [name of area]." So you do, and the Questor gives you some "quest points," which you can trade in for nifty items.

    Would it really be so difficult to develop some interesting plot-based quests, like saving people in distress or gathering parts for a machine? This is where so many MUDs fail to creatively engage; instead, they focus on building new areas -- which are also devoid of story or meaning.
Alas. It seems there are no MUDs which really excel in each of these categories. Nodeka has a nice questing system, but healing takes forever. Ashavar's Legacy has -- in addition to a nearly unreadable website -- some decent puzzles, but lacks the maps I need, and the quests are confusing.

I'm giving it one last try with Lusternia, from Iron Realms -- the same people who made Achaea. It seems to have fewer people and more areas, which should cut down on the sparse monster populations that irked me so in Achaea. Also I seem to have found a guild which will enable my "let me explore" virtual identity.

If this one doesn't work out, though, I'll have to just say "funk it" and play Aardwolf for hack 'n' slash, then go back to the GUI world of Avernum 3 for storyline.

Yeesh -- the only thing more ridiculous than someone who spends so much time MUDding is someone who spends equal amounts of time blogging about MUDding.


This is pretty cool. Can you find the hidden message?


Yes, we all know there are subliminal messages in Britney Spears and Led Zeppelin. (Not to mention the Beatles.) But what about Daft Punk? I mean, like the guy says -- it's right there in the track. It must have been on purpose!!!!!!!!! Well, at least that song has a glorious video.

Today I'm listening to: Myst!