Background: TrekMUSH : Among The Stars AKA TrekMUSH : Advanced TinySex was definitely THE Star-Trek mush 5 years ago, until political correctness and game balance strikes the administrators, and at the same time, it is hard to put the whole blame on their shoulders, let me explain:
After a series of violent wars (which are to be expected in a fixed environment with no room for exploration and discoveries, where the only expansion an empire can do is by conquering planets and ships from another empire), the administrators got tired of all the complaining and whining and came up with a series of ideas that would keep the game more balanced and stable. First thing being a big re-specs of all space objects and profound changes in the space engines to level things a bit more. Ending up in something that removed the last area where empires differed (ship specifications). In the new system, each empire got equivalent ships based on the crew requirement of it. Except for the name and a few minor differences between ships, each empire ended up with comparable vessels.
On paper, coupled with a serious warning against any un-plotted war between empires, it was a good idea. Things would be a bit more calm and administrators more incline to work on tinyplot and stuff like that. Some worked on ideas and run good plots that overall enhanced the story line, others created new empires out of nowhere with new technology and capabilities, it seem like a good idea for a while, but one part of the game was still unbalanced, economy... Some empires where crawling in commodities and latinum, other barely managed to produce enough fuel to keep their fleet active, and since the productions of good was so important to build ships and fuel them, a player playing an active part in the economy of the game was rare, only a handful where allowed by their admins to give a hand, and their roles where mostly confined in keeping the companies and markets well stock to avoid economical crash and market panic. It didn't take long for the administrators to decide something had to be done with the economical system.
Their new plan was a complete teardown and rebuild of the economy. While their first system wasn't perfect, it had a big advantage over anything else that was tried after (I think they are at the 3rd or 4th version of it), it was finished, worked well and was complete. To build a ship, you needed money to pay the workers and commodities to build it. You had to get those commodities from factories, warehouses and market, bring them to the place of construction of the ship, pay the fees and wait till the ship was build. Now the current system doesn't even take into account the time to build a ship. You post a request to build a ship, give your local admin the money, he decide if the ship take 1 hour, 1 day, 1 week or 1 year to build, and voila... Your ship is done. And it's so easy for players to do money, the mission system is a joke, before you had to compare market, calculate taxes, fuel and expenses to trade, now you compare two market with a single command and bingo, it's easy to do half a million in a way, even a million if you're lucky, and when you compare how easy it is to make money compared to the price of a ship, One can buy a freighter easy after a week of trading. But on the other side, ship slots are not unlimited, each empire has a ratio to maintain and not everyone can have his own personal ship. Most empires don't even allow players to own a ship.
To aggravate the problem the administrators are enforcing a 'no-whining' policy where they encourage players to play the good guys because being a bad guy mean someone may end up being fired at or worst, lose a ship or planet. And they hate when players start complaining because something bad happens... Exit pirates, mercenaries and meanies, welcome carebears, (they actually have a faction that are based on carebears meeting Borg, the Ursans), BDSM (Unity, an empire run by a mistress of bondage & sexual training) and Teletubbies (Qvarne). This is where the name aTS take its full meaning. If you can't explore, you can't fight, and you can't trade, what else is there to do between TP? Idle, chat and TS...
Tinyplots: TPs are the other big problem of this MUSH, they are all the same, here's the general plot of all TP run since 2001 on ATS:
1) Admin's NPC forces attack [SHIP|BASE|PLANET] 2) Admin's NPC forces capture [SHIP|BASE|PLANET] 3) Admin's NPC repel PC forces a couple times. 4) Admin's PC call a war meeting of all factions at nearest UFP facilities 5) Admins's PC come up with a plan 6) PC agrees with said plan, not they have anything to say about it anyway. 7) Admin's PC and PC attack Admin's NPC, if Admins bored of TP, NPC lose, if not NPC win, go back to step 4. 8) Bar RP & TS at nearest UFP facilities.
Considering TPs come about every 4 month, one could argue it's all they could come up with such a short delay to create a story.
PC Factions: U.F.P.: The creme of the creme of ATS, where all the good guys should be. Well the problem is this faction should be newbie friendly and active, it isn't. The worst thing that can happen to a newbie is to be left idle locked in a room. To avoid this they pack all the newbie on a training ship and send it somewhere. Problem is most empires are hostile toward the Federation, so the newbie end up locked inside the ship, forced to idle until they return to fedspace. Depending on what your first ship assignment is, your RP mileage may vary alot. In general, the players of the UFP are friendly; the admins are discreet and will leave you alone until you take some rank up in the UFP. It is not a bad org at all, but people there generally believe the rest of the mush is there to entertain the UFP. Wizard will tell you without the UFP, there is no Star-Trek, and I always reply, without other empires, there is no UFP.
Klingons: If they where allowed to fight outside their org a little bit more, being Klingon would probably be the best thing to do in that game. The problem is it is hard to be Klingon when nobody is allowed to be at war with anyone. Since Klingons can't brawl about their battles... They brawl about how pathetic their life is... Remind me of a bunch of Goth sometimes, but there's alot of fun to have with them. Only a Klingon knows how to put life in a bar! And if it ends in general fight, even better! A great admin team too, very friendly and helpful, a good place to start if you already know the Star-Trek universe. Sorghe is your best resource in the KE for info and help.
Ferengi: Neutrality, they are neutral, what do they do? They stay neutral, not good, not bad, they are neutral. Did I say it? Ferengi are neutral. A good org for a beginner who knows nothing about Star-Trek. You can play a human and learn as you go, they are probably more newbie-friendly than the UFP, and you won't end up doing nothing locked in a ship. Another great admin team. Exchequer is always willing to help and won't mind if you page him over an over with questions and request for help.
Cardassian: Can't say much about them, they are very quiet, they have an active admin team and a few good players and seem to be involved in alot of internal RP. Maybe a good place for a 2nd char on ATS, after you tried the Ferengi since ATS does not allow more than one char.
Romulans: Another very closed empire, they are doing alot of in-org TPs, they don't mix often with outsiders but when they do, expect very good RPers.
Pryans: An ATS invention, vaguely related to the Maque of DS9. Not for beginner, they are a small org and each player is expected to take care of himself from head to toes. Don't think what the org can do for you, think what you can do for the org. Sel is the man to bug. Even if he thinks I hate him, he's a very good guy with a strong head on his shoulder and should be able to do something good with that org.
NPC Factions: Breen: An invite only faction. Twink ships and too much ego. Dominion: NPC only, only show up for TPs. Gorn: See Dominion. Unity: Admins and close admins friends only. If they show up, shut up and do what they say, they are the truth, you are nothing.
Tholian: See Breen. Tyrixx: Alot like species 8472 in Voyager. NPC and a few PC when they do TPs.
Orions: See Dominion. Qvarne: See Teletubbies. Wizards: Just don't bug them, if you need help from a Wizard go speak with Kingu, he's friendly and helpful, the kind of wizard you want on every game.
Conclusion: DON'T GET INVOLVED IN THE GAME'S POLITICS. Chose your empire well and don't expect a very active game. Yes there's always something to do, trade a bit to get enough cash to buy a few drinks in bars, chat with people, sim and learn how to fly and fight in space. One day it will be useful, as long you don't expect a game where YOU can make a difference but you are willing to follow plots lined up by others and scripted tp, ATS may be what you're looking for. Forget ATS's reputation of great space system and economy, it was true before, you can find much better elsewhere now. Maybe if you play long enough, one day you will become one of the Oldies and have a chance to shape the game to your liking... And of course, if everything, there's always someone to TS with somewhere...
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