The last couple of reviews were written by Aardwolf Staff or people who later on became Staff, and those reviews appear to be promo pieces like so many mud reviews these days. I have never been a Staff member of Aardwolf, nor am I attempting to become one nor receive any perk in the writing of this review.
Aardwolf is stereotyped as a hack-n-slash mud because it began as a ROM (Diku derivative) mud and has at least 14,070 levels (not counting pseudo levels where a player can increase their power). In March 2008, Aardwolf was reborn and no longer is a ROM mud. Lasher wrote a custom codebase from scratch that still provides enough of a Diku look and feel to keep existing players comfortable with the mud interface.
In addition to gaining levels, players gain power by collecting quest points and a different type of point system known on Aardwolf as trivia points. These points can be used to purchase weapons, equipment and other player enhancements.
Some in the mudding community would consider Aardwolf to be a pay-for-perks mud because players can donate money in exchange for a small token item (a donation pin) that will boost their stats slightly and they can choose to receive either quest points or trivia points as compensation. The amount of quest points or trivia points received depends upon the size of the donation. To this player's knowledge, there are no limits on how much an individual player can donate, though double donation rewards are limited to specific times each year.
Quest points and trivia points can be earned through regular gameplay without a player needing to ever donate and players and staff do not hassle players who choose to not donate.
Having played other muds prior to Aardwolf, I consider the leveling difficulty to be easier than most 'Dikuesque' muds. Still, with thousands of levels to obtain, most players don't reach max level very quickly.
One reason for this is that the mud has alot of activities to divert most players from straight hack'n'slash leveling. For example, the mud has optional hard-coded quests built into areas known on Aardwolf as 'Area Quests' and more recently a newer hard-coded quest system referred to as 'Goals'.
These quests are generally optional, but there is some peer pressure for players to try to complete them and much player angst is generated over this. Many of the quests, even ones the Staff has designated as easy, are not easy to complete for most players without receiving help from other players. Assistance on quests/goals is not given to players equally, therefore much of a player's success can hinge upon which clans they chose to join and/or which set of friends they made, if any.
Despite having a couple of hundred players logged in at a time, a significant proportion of players are builders and immortals or former builders and immortals. Competitive play on this mud is by no means a level playing field and it would be impossible to make it so. Aardwolf attracts new players who have never played a mud before and who do not understand this reality.
Providing further player frustration are features such as random mazes and quests in which needed items only appear randomly and unless a player knows the right people, they can be stuck for hours when hitting these roadblocks. Many in the long term Aardwolf community consider these features to be desirable, but this player has met many potentially cool new players who try Aardwolf, love the mud at first, and then quit when they aren't receiving the support they need to succeed.
There is a sizeable group of players who delight in griefing other players and attempt to control who is given the knowledge and support necessary to succeed.
Aardwolf tries to appeal to a broad array of playing styles with the exception of hardcore player killing (PK is restricted) and roleplay is not encouraged, most players will likely ignore or laugh at a roleplayer.
Lasher has difficulty keeping up with all the plans to improve the mud and some feature changes that have been promised to players years ago have yet to be coded.
Lasher does not have an easy task, he has a diverse group of players who clamor for different changes to the game and there is usually a significant faction who is dissatisfied that their desires have yet to be met.
I continue to play Aardwolf. If one has decent inter-personal skills one can make friends who will help a player succeed. Also, a very healthy dose of patience goes a long way too if one plans on sticking with Aardwolf!
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