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TMC Player Reviews: Sindome


Review Submitted By: Moncrieff
Author Status: Player
Started on Sindome: March 2016
Submission Date: Jul 3, 2016
TMC Listing: Sindome

The following review is the opinion of the review's author [Moncrieff] and in no way represents the opinions of this website or its staff.

I played Sindome for over two months, sometimes for several hours
a day, and in that time, I became fairly familiar with the game.
This will be an extensive review, so please skip to the end for a
summary. This review will be divided into two sections, with the
first discussing the mechanics of the game and the second
discussing the intangible aspects of the game.

First, the mechanics. Sindome is ostensibly a roleplay-centric
game, but the mechanics seem to act against that rather than
reinforce it; in fact, the mechanics that get the most attention
are combat-related ones.

Combat is simple, automatic, and mostly intuitive; unfortunately,
it is also quite buggy. Combat is extremely lethal, requires
little micromanagement, and is usually resolved fairly quickly,
offering little to no opportunities for roleplay during it.
Certain combat systems are so buggy that they cause PCs to
disappear or come back to life. In one 2014 case documented on the
forums, a staff member, less than a week after generating a new
character, used his PC to kill three established PCs by exploiting
a new, buggy combat system. Expect no apologies or restitution if
a bug disrupts your play. Overall, the combat system does nothing
to promote roleplay and would in fact be more at home in a hack-
and-slash MUD.

The emote system is fairly cumbersome and unintuitive. There are
several bugs in it as well: punctuation gets removed, dialogue
gets replaced, and certain words are forbidden in emotes because
they can break the system. Related to the emote system is the
noise system; all rooms have a noise level, and nearly all public
rooms are considered to be 'noisy,' which means no other
characters will see or hear a PC speaking or emoting unless the
character specifically targets those PCs. While in theory this
system makes sense, in practice, it often just gets ignored by
most players, who opt to have their characters address everyone in
the room. A few players I have spoken with agree that it is
unnecessary and detrimental to roleplay. GM-animated NPCs will
hear PCs no matter how quiet they are, so the only purposes of the
mechanic appear to be to provide a veneer of realism for realism's
sake, frustrate players, and discourage roleplay.

Another remarkably bad mechanic is inventory management. Dealing
with multiple items with the same name is time-consuming and
frustrating, as the game engine forces you to specify the 'first'
item instead of simply interacting with the first item. Among
other things, this can make weapon sheaths immensely frustrating.
There is also no easy way to deal with large numbers of items,
requiring you to drop them or pick them up one at a time.

There are no good group mechanics by which characters can travel
together. Due to travel times, the 'follow' command is a poor
substitute compared to most MUDs, and the 'escort' command is
buggy. In addition, due to the room noise mechanics, PCs who
travel together have to re-address one another in each new room
they enter. The lack of a good grouping mechanic is most likely
intentional to prevent PCs from working together.

Sindome has a webclient which takes primary concern in development
and, as a result of that, Sindome lacks support for real clients.
Single-key input, such as directional pads, is banned. Standard
client features, such as macros and triggers, are also banned.
Sindome has an experience system that requires players to log in
and play in order to gain experience. While this system sounds
good in theory, allowing players to get a limited amount of
experience each day simply from roleplaying without having to
grind, in practice players end up spending sometimes as much as
five hours of roleplay *every day* in order to get their full
allotment of experience. The system also makes it near-impossible
to catch up with older PCs. Players also must justify the way they
allot their PC's experience; they are not free to spend it as they
like.

Now on to a review of Sindome's intangible aspects.

Despite having no skillgrind, playing Sindome can still feel quite
tedious. Your PC could be forced to beg over a course of real-life
weeks, even months, to find a job, since the job system requires a
GM to pay attention to you. As one player I spoke with put it:
'You know how some games have skill grinds and start to feel like
work? Sindome has no skill grinds, but it still manages to feel
like work. It's a grind that you don't meaningfully control. All
of the grinding and none of the results.'

Players can donate money to Sindome in order to receive tangible
in-character benefits: their character receives a rent-free custom
apartment. Personally, I think the exchange of real-life money for
in-character benefits in a roleplay-enforced MUD is distasteful
and unethical, and it hints at something ugly about the MUD: not
every player had to roleplay to get their PC where they are.

Thematically, Sindome successfully portrays a dystopian cyberpunk
world: room and environment descriptions are well-written and
evocative. True to theme, there's no opportunity for ordinary
players to create their own story or to have their PCs accomplish
anything noteworthy or change the world in appreciable ways. The
staff use puppets and their own PCs to enforce this structure and
to quickly restore the status quo should anything get out of hand,
often leading to boring, contrived, and frustrating staff-run
events that accomplish nothing more than disrupting interesting
roleplay between players.

One previous reviewer of Sindome has described its staff in the
following manner: 'rude, abusive, drunk with power and not afraid
to show off just how much they have over you.' Regrettably, that
is an accurate characterization. I have spoken to quite a few
players about Sindome, and while they differed on a number of
points, all of them agreed that the absolute worst thing about
Sindome is the staff. From my own experience and from watching the
way the staff treat other players, I can report that they are
unprofessional, immature, touchy, and caustic, all of which
fosters an unhealthy environment to play in. While it's
understandable that in a grim, gritty, dystopian cyberpunk MUD
that *characters* will get treated like dirt, it's unconscionable
that the staff treat *players* that way as well.

Worse still, while not seeing it first-hand, I have heard from
other players that the staff show favoritism to certain players,
as well as their own characters, to the point where most would
consider it cheating. For example, the staff allegedly generate
items for favored PCs or for their own PCs, and they also play the
most powerful, most influential, and richest PCs in the game while
allegedly using metagame knowledge to their PCs' advantages (in
addition to outright threats against other players). I can't speak
to whether or not these allegations are true, and I don't claim
that they are, but based on the logs and conduct that I have seen
regarding the staff, I personally have zero difficulty believing
that the allegations of cheating *are* true. From experience, I
can say that there is a toxic environment in Sindome due to the
staff and their favored players, and it's that toxic environment
which ultimately made the MUD unplayable for me to the point of
quitting.

That's not to say that my Sindome experience was entirely
negative: apart from the handful of toxic ones, I quite enjoyed
roleplaying with most players I met; they were dedicated,
friendly, helpful, and very good roleplayers. I'm still amazed at
the resilience of these players in sticking with Sindome despite
the open abuse and hostility from the staff. I'm glad that I got
the opportunity to meet those players and interact with their
characters, and I'll miss them dearly. They deserve something
better than Sindome, and I wish them the best of luck.

Summary: Sindome is thematically on point, but the mechanics
mostly work against the experience. The staff are unprofessional
and abusive to players and perpetuate a toxic environment. Despite
the near-miraculous existence of a friendly community of good
roleplayers in it, I still can't in good conscience recommend
Sindome to anyone. Our lives are far too short to spend time
around abusive people, especially in what is supposed to be a
game.

Submit Comments About this Review


Comment Submitted By: Marla
Author Status: Player
Started on Sindome: 2016
Submission Date: Jul 26, 2016

(The following review comment is the opinion of the comment's author [Marla] and in no way represents the opinions of this website or its staff).

Moncrieff is on point about the bugginess, and while I hadn't thought about
it previously, the fact that the combat is quick and automatic and leaves no
room for roleplay during the combat is actually pretty strange. The inventory
and counting system is agreeably bizarre for reasons I don't understand. As a
person who hasn't seen the code, I don't know why 'drop shirt' doesn't know
to drop the only shirt you're holding rather than making you specify the first
one when you're holding one and there's three in the room or 'catch soyanuts'
doesn't cause you to catch the only packet out of the twelve that has been
thrown, but it DOES seem like an unnecessary inconvenience to the player.

Bugs do happen, and there are a lot of them. Most cases I've personally
seen have been peaceful and positive resolutions, but it seems that your
mileage may vary. Character and NPC death in particular are really buggy
and I've personally seen a few cases of limbo states where you have
Schrodinger's characters, except not really because they're both dead and
not while you're observing them. (Meaning you look at them and their
description says they're dead, but their short description says they're
standing in front of you, and as a medic it tells you they're not dead if you
try to revive them.)

I've played for five months and unlike the previous reviewer, I have
mostly positive feelings and continue to play. I enjoy the environment
and the theme. He or she is completely on point, though, that it's the
other players that make the game great and the staff that make it
stressful. Staff do police your roleplay and step in with messages to you if
they do not feel like you are reacting appropriately to a situation- sometimes
with an IC shoulder angel or devil with a thought forced on you, sometimes
with an xhelp message telling you to do something different.

I would disagree with the heavily negative tone above but would be
completely willing to throw in that it's a very mixed bag and you have to
decide what you're personally willing to put up with for the sake of your fun.

Comment Submitted By: Linekin
Author Status: Player and staff member
Started on Sindome: 2011
Submission Date: Jul 26, 2016

(The following review comment is the opinion of the comment's author [Linekin] and in no way represents the opinions of this website or its staff).

Players who haven't played a PC long enough to attain the in-game
connections and resources which staff alts might have attained love to
shriek 'metagame abuse!', without actually knowing anything at all
about how the other player's character earned what they earned.

There are many firewalls against Sindome staff using their position
to enrich or unfairly advance their own player-characters.


https://www.sindome.org/bgbb/open-discussion/anything-really/restrictions-on-gms-admin-826/