Buffymud is set after the TV show, Sunnydale explodes, then a while later is mysteriously returned due to magical means to the way it was. So what the game comes to is good, with the roles of slayers watchers etc against evil. To be brief, there’s two different sides of the game, what you see when you’re new under 'newbie protection' and then the truth of the game once that protection leaves.
The Map The game is pretty much a single large map. There's about 50 'areas' on this map - such as 'US Army Base,' 'Jordan Cemetery' and 'The Bronze.' Most areas vary in side, but a significant number of them are 'boxes' - 40 room areas of nswe exits with ‘aggro’ NPC's wandering around. Despite the game being open for over 3 years, only a few streets (3 out of maybe 12) and perhaps 20 percent of the ‘areas’ have descriptions, everything else just room names. I feel this is just shooting itself in the foot, as one of the better things is the 'motorbike' riding code which unfortunately becomes little more than a hassle when you’re repeatedly crashing into walls because the streets suddenly come to an end without any warning. Additionally, there are also bugs where you just enter a room and are left with absolutely no exits to leave and are trapped until you’re randomly attacked and get sent to hospital.
Despite this large(ish) map there is only really a single place people can ‘hang out’. The Bronze, the bar which is one of the two areas in the game (the other being your bought home) where you can heal. Overall I’d say that from my experience that trying to rp anywhere else except from those two places is essentially a death (or at least hospitalization) sentence.
Levelling and Skills There is actual reason to leave the bar however, as your character is given random tasks to perform - missions. Completing these missions. (get this item, give it to someone, go somewhere and kill something) as well as XP for killing NPCs. This XP then goes into a pool which you can go spend on your skills. Nice, in theory. From what I have seen, however, the missions don’t really 'scale' up as you increase in level, in difficulty or in rewards, meaning that relatively early on (level 30 where the newbie cutoff is around 14-18) you become stuck with a slog to gain one additional stat point as the XP amounts to gain new skills increases.
The other major thing about levelling is supposed to be something called 'nemesis events.' Again, it’s something nice in theory, every player is assigned an NPC nemesis who about 3-4 times a day does a plot that you’re supposed to stop. However, again, the implementation is very poor. The ‘reason’ of going to stop them is supposed to be ‘double exp’ NPCs to kill thereby making it easier to level. In my experience, the NPC’s give less XP than normal ones. Aside from that, you’re basically ‘punished’ for not completing these events which range from having most of your money stolen, to making every npc in the game attack you, to a super demon attacking you, not only beating you, but then following to attack you again and again until it eventually dies. For example, a few days ago this ‘rampaging demon’ kept killing me and bouncing me from hospital ward to ward to ward - It could be funny, but it was also really quite depressing after 2 hours. To avoid all this you need to complete the event, which is random when it occurs and only actually gives you less than 30mins to do them - which includes having to go to the library, find the location where they are, travel to the area without getting too badly beat up, then actually having to explore a 40 room (undesc-ed) area looking for an entrance to the lair. A lot of work, for very little gain.
A recurring theme is needless complexity - someone mentioned in a review from near 18 months ago and would appear to have had little change. I’ll refer you to that review for the martial arts system - it hasn’t changed. A 2nd example is in ‘techniques’ - think of it as special moves, where you need to travel to an area to gain a random technique, travel back home, sell that technique to buy a ‘tech point’ to use that point to buy a technique you want and then level that technique, which is about 6 or so steps and a huge help file when you could simply just gain tech points to spend.
Races and Classes There are a 4 races to choose from (human, vampire, half-demon, demon) and a number of classes - witch, slayer (girls only), soldier, watcher etc. The classes appear to be ‘statistically’ balanced however, the maths have little resemblance to the reality. In game, true to the show, basic humans are little more than targets to all the ‘cool’ demons and vampires, with the vast majority of full humans (I think there were 3 full humans in the game that I’ve seen, including me, who weren’t female slayers), however, ‘true to the show’ or not, it does not make a particularly fun game. Additionally, in my experience, anyone who actually IS human, gets ‘sired’ at the drop of a hat - including the slayers.
Balance and gameplay The game, being based on Buffy is quite obviously split into two sides - Good versus Evil. To great misfortune, there is another term for it, from what I’ve seen, 'newbies Vs everyone else.' The players in the game ARE helpful - when you first join it - which essentially lures you into the game. Then, about level 6 the NPC’s who roam the streets (not even ‘aggro’ areas), all decide to attack you at once, resulting in hours on end of getting sent to hospital, standing up, leaving, getting sent to hospital again, standing up, leaving, getting sent to hospital again. - It was almost enough to make me quit - if I could live long enough to get to my house to actually quit out. Then, once newbie protection is over (which stops you from being attacked by PCs), the players become... less helpful and instead of being attacked by NPC’s, you get to be a punching bag for them now, all of whom are Veteran players of the game with such highly thought out reasons like, 'I felt like being randomly violent' and 'I was bored' - what is worse, is that the game rules actively encourage such things, even stating in the 'evil characters' rules that if you don’t go around doing things like that, you aren’t evil enough. Again, accurate to the show, in theory. Practically... It means that the many new players plan on quitting - I saw one go the day I posted this, or simply just ‘go evil’ which again compounds the problem on a game who’s max people online at any time is 14. This has essentially resulted in there being perhaps... 2 experienced ‘good players’ who basically keep to themselves, and a horde of newbies who try their best, but are, again, nothing more than punching bags to the evil ‘more experienced’ players and if you read one of the main game helpfiles called ‘help merit’ you will see that that is exactly how the game owner intended it.
'The reason we wanted levelling to be a factor over just like emote count, is people enjoy RPing, they don't enjoy levelling, so levelling involves an actual sacrifice of time in order to gain power.'
So, even though it tricks you into thinking that it's a rp game, it's all about who's got the best stats and if you don't, you're all but useless.
Player attitudes and RP Well, I’ve touched on it above, but it really is a major thing thing that deserves it’s own section. The definition of proper RP for most of the player base is new ways to torture people ( the same for the ‘good’ players too). Favoritism was in an earlier review, however, I didn’t see any of it now - mainly because I don’t think I saw a single visible staff member in the entire two weeks I have been playing. That is, assuming - and this actually happened in game - 'Angry pixies invade they toss Molotov acorns at you, burning you horribly' was a player run ‘event’ and not a staff member. So, overall, I would not say that there is ‘favoritism’ as such - mainly because I’ve simply never seen a staffmember, but there is most certainly elitism.
The game has, as another review said, basically done a ‘ban’ on all OOC communication in the game, but of course, all the longer term players essentially know who each other is at a glance and then act and react accordingly thereby not wanting to annoy the people they’ve played with in the past. There is also things called ‘reroll’ and recreations which help make older players' lives easier it results in if someone gains ascendance, they’re going to stay there. And as it’s more 'fun' and less 'boring' and less stressful being evil than good it again, inevitably means that the ‘balance’ of good vs evil goes all to heck.
Summary Despite the games initial appearances of openness it is ultimately still a Very insular and closed game player-wise, the primary reason I’m considering continuing to play is the presence of a small number of other new players who I’ve met that haven’t yet given up the game in spite of the game veterans.
The game does have some interesting features - the mission code which rewards exploration, the bike code, but there is also a significant sense of, well, lazyness in the games construction that can often threaten to overshadow any enjoyment one might gain from it. There is very little actual written material for you in game. - There are actually no helpfiles explaining to you what the symbols on the prompt meant. The new player ‘academy’ is about I think 4 rooms in size. To have the vaguest idea how to play the game you need to look at first the game, then website, then the forums, then ask the players (who as I said, only help you until the game starts allowing them to beat you up) and even having to look at photobucket to find your way around the game.
Overall, I would only really recommend this as a game to someone to play it in order to appreciate how good other games are.
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