GAES is a truly impressive MUD. Though the playerbase is small, it's obvious the staff have dedicated a great deal of time and effort in creating and maintaining a _very_ unique game. The number and variety of features available is beyond the scope of a simple player review to cover - it's a true gem!
An intricate, albeit complex, combat system make hunting a pure joy - as the options for customizing your character's fighting style and preferences are limitless, letting you roleplay and hunt as a truly individual character.
The skill system is a learn by doing one, with training as an option for many skills as well and is done exceedingly well, with a great attention to the details of 'realism' when practicing and using skills.
The game itself sports detail unlike most others I've seen - creatures in the forest, for example, that hide or flee from predators (including players) making hunting and tracking truly useful skills. Trees can be climbed, herbs can be searched for, potions can be made, skins can be cured and tanned, traps can be set...and this is just the TIP of the iceburg!
There is a small, but strong roleplaying community as well, and the players are given plenty of tools to express their opinions and thoughts to help form future developments and improvements in the game as well. (I was particularly impressed with their reporting system for bugs, typos, praises and ideas).
In addition to the skill system, each player can chose to join up to four guilds of varying type - racial guilds, occupational guilds, crafting guilds and layman guilds. So essentially one could be a fighting, singing, trapping scribe...again, making diverse character development open to almost limitless possibilities.
It has it's weak points, of course, like any game - this game is definitely not for those that can't be bothered to read helpfiles and 'put in some time' to familiarize themselves with the vast array of commands, options and activities available. And though the game's web based OOC forums are fairly well used, the website is lacking in a lot of basic information that a new player might find useful.
This is NOT your typical hack-n-slash MUD by any means, nor is it excessively self-aggrandized with pompous, unnecessary roleplaying - the two seem to balance together very well. But because of the smallish playerbase, joining guilds (run largely by other players) can be quite frustrating - as you must wait until someone high up in particular guild is around and willing to join you up. Though it should be noted that joining a guild of any sort is NOT required to advance your skills, stats or levels in the game.
The staff are currently working on a more 'newbie friendly' introduction to the MUD - though for now, an inexperienced MUDder might find some frustrations in getting started. But overall this game is well worth the time and effort - there are 'easter eggs' to be found all over the game as well, amazingly 'intelligent' npcs to converse with, a religious system (that I'm not overly fond of as it has its share of fanaticism associated with it), politics and a wide variety of quests as well.
If you're looking for a unique, depthful and interesting gameplay experience where pure 'bash the beastly fido' is not the only thing to do...if you enjoy some solid roleplay balanced nicely with skills and very complex and interesting combat, and lots of 'suspension of disbelief' detail and interest, then Gaes is DEFINITELY the MUD for you!
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