I've played awake for several years now, and frankly, I've just about had all I can take from the mud. The world is actually very small, with many dead ends and areas/doors that no longer work. Almost half the mud's spaces are just highways that go on for 50+ rooms, with pretty much repeated descriptions and little else. Of all these times I played, not one new zone have been added- just zones getting closed down, a few equipment editings, etc.
The feeling I get from the game is that it can't make up its mind if it's a chatroom or a mud, or something else altogether. There is no 'tell' command for you to talk to other mortal players with other than using your phone, radio, or public channels. Other than using the phone, your conversations have a large chance of being overheard by others on the radio/channels, and even with the phone, it only allows you to talk to one person during each call. This means that while you're on the phone, no one else can reach you privately unless they come to you physically. Most of the time, the only thing you'd hear on the radio is people asking 'where is the party,' and the gameplay is usually the same crowd of people standing around in the same room fake drinking, talking about sex and trying to impress one another with how much they know about the shadowrun rules. This brings us to my next point...
When they say that the mud is 'RP-encouraged' and not 'enforced,' that's not the truth. If a new player, who's not into shadowrun as much as he's just in for a good mudding fun time, who has no idea where to buy gear and what is good, asks on the radio/newbie channels for help, the best he'd get is some obscure answers with thinly covered threat like 'we don't talk about weapons here,' or 'watch what you are saying,' and at the worst, a bunch of insults and bad remarks about how stupid the person is to ask about 'what's the best gun for my level?' After a long day at work, and all you feel like is a bit of casual mudding and mindless killing, you better be sure that no one catches you while you're at it. As soon as the other players find out you've been killing mobs, it's like you have spoken up against God himself on there. You'll be shouted at, threatened, and pretty soon the admins flag you as a 'powergamer' and no one will let you play with them. I have even heard people that say powergamers are not allowed to talk on even the out-of-character channel just because 'WE DON'T LIKE YOUR TYPE HERE.'
If you don't know shadowrun well, and don't own the books of game rules, then awake can be a horrible place for you. No one is willing to explain the way combat is roleplayed, most would just tell you to go buy the books yourself. Also, when you don't know the rules and dierols and other little things you'd not have to worry about on other muds, you're constantly at a disadvantage when roleplaying with other people on there. Most of the RP sessions I attended turned out to be what you'd expect in a family court- everyone's saying they're right, that their rules/abilities come from this and that book, completed with page and line numbers to show that they just knew that their 30d1 dierol is better than your 25d2. Moreover, things that are not general knowledge, such as the distance one can snipe an enemy with which particular type of rifle, how far can a Ruger Thunderbolt shoot, etc, are not explained with grace- in another word, even if you have the right equipment, but you happen to actually go to a real university instead of a shadowrun college, you're condemned.
The game has a good restring policy and system for you to tailor your equipments to the way you like them, but that again is tainted by the way the policies are enforced. If an admin happens to like you or be your friend, he/she can let slide all kind of things, but once you displease them, they start purging your equipment. I personally had this happen to me the time when I spoke up against the unfair treatment towards casual mudders on the out-of-character channel. All of a sudden this admin appeared and purged some of my equipment and threatened me that if I didn't keep quiet, he/she'd purge my character too. What was I to say? I couldn't even appeal to other admins since said admin was invisible to me and I couldn't tell who it was.
My conclusion is that if you're a shadowrun fanatic and just like to emote and roll dice, awake is ok, but if you are looking for somewhere you can settle down and play whatever way you see fit, it's not the place for you. There are too many favoritisms and inconsistencies on this mud, and if you don't 'please' to the right people or crowd, you might as well move right along. The roleplaying sessions go up to 5 hours at a time, much longer than many people can stand sitting in front of a keyboard, and if you're not on at the time the session's announced, no one will tell you.
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