I know there's a lot of controversy surrounding this mud (no, I'm not going to post any links to taint the review; curious readers can go look stuff up themselves and draw their own conclusions), but I thought new players would find it helpful to read a more /neutral/ review. In other words, I'm attempting to give something that's neither hater-spam from disgruntled players/people who don't like the mud (so no hate posts please!), or unequivocal praise from someone who's played years of Med and nothing else (obviously such players will love any MUD they've sunk so much time into, no matter how good it actually is, and I tend to find such reviews unhelpful since those players tend not to play other MUDs regularly). I've spent significant amounts of time in three MUDs and tried dozens of others off and on, so that's about where I'm coming from.
First, dispelling the hype: 1. The website says 1000s of players play, but realistically, you're looking at about 50 players off-peak and a little over 100 on peak times. Maybe they're referring to all the players who've ever played, since it's their policy never to delete inactive players... In that case, 1000+ could be true, given the age of Medievia. Med's social scene is pretty quiet though, given the small player base, compared to other MUDs which have bigger player bases and are chattier.
2. Med is definitely big, but most of the millions of rooms they advertise are admittedly a few default 'wilderness' rooms copied and pasted over and over again. As far as unique areas go, they're about average in number compared to other MUDs that have been around a similar number of years. However, the areas that they DO have are nicely rendered with ASCII maps, and many of the areas have exploring objectives so that a solo player can have a list of things to do when looking at an area for the first time. (I wasn't a big fan of the time limit though, since that kinda defeats the purpose of taking your time exploring an area.) The mobs, objects, and room descriptions are not all that detailed or unusual, if you're into that sort of thing (mobs don't really interact with you, objects are stock).
3. The thing that initially drew me to Med was their advertisement of a unique 'DM' mechanism that adjusts your gameplay based on how you're doing in the game. Basically what the DM does is send a whole bunch of mobs your way while you're traveling, so that it's not totally predictable going from point A to point B. Don't get me wrong, hack n'slash can be fun, but I was hoping for something more than just encountering more agros (e.g., I would have preferred encountering more intelligently scripted, interactive mobs than just getting more mobs to kill). I don't think that's a fault of Medievia though; I think I was simply misled by the 'DungeonMaster' name because I associated that with DM-ing in D&D (e.g., a real-life DM would create more conflict/interest for his/her players by creating a storyline or launching a quest, rather than just sending more waves of stuff to kill). There wasn't any RP-ing on the MUD that I saw, so events like that kind of feel like more mobs to kill rather than part of a story.
Second, the good bits: 1. Newbie startup is really easy, with no races, four classes. I tend to agree with Med's philosophy on this, that tons of classes and races don't really add anything to mudding. Although the newbie channel was kinda dead while I was starting out, there are experienced players (called 'avatars') that answer questions quickly and courteously. A big plus, considering how intimidating MUDs can be to those of us who haven't grown up with them!
2. Dragon transportation makes traveling between areas easy (comparable to flight masters in WoW, except you can call a dragon anywhere); plus you don't have to memorize elaborate directions and speedwalks just to get somewhere.
3. There's a lot of cool features coded in to support a potentially rich clan life. As a concept, clan towns seem like a really cool idea. There's several of them, and several active clans, but during the time I was there and looking for a clan, it seems like some of the old clans are no longer active (or at least I couldn't really find active players online). I would have loved to have seen the clan features in action that the site talks about, but I didn't see a lot of clan activity. I think the infrastructure and potential is there, but the active player base is not. Maybe the way to go would be to consolidate and have fewer clans with more active players, but obviously that's the players' judgment call, rather than anything the MUD admins can change. I also wish there were more player-run politics (more than just voting for two representatives who give feedback to the gods), like some other MUDs with player-run social structures but I don't think that detracts from the good potential features that are already there.
4. One of the touches of realism I like is the weather and catastrophe system. Scouting out the weather affects your gameplay significantly; not paying attention to storms can literally kill you (e.g., if you're in a firestorm and you're a spellcaster in the middle of a fight). Catastrophes can affect large areas, and it also has the effect of setting profitable prices on stores in the area so you can trade to earn gold (the game's way of seeding money to the player economy).
Last, I admit I'm not experienced enough of a player to figure out whether bloodlines are a cool idea or not. Basically, you can have two kids per fully-developed character, and kids of the next generation get some bonuses, up to five generations. Think of this as having alts that you can legitimately give away (or you can grind up the alts yourself), and the more generations (up to 5), the more benefits your original character can gain. (Compare with Granado Espada or MapleStory's family systems for rough analogies.) I'm not aware of whether bloodline affect gameplay in another way, and from discussions, it seems like there's mixed feelings on whether its effects are too easily canceled out by more easily gotten boosts through donation equipment, but that part of the debate always seemed silly to me, since if you're a player who's stuck around long enough to have a five-generation bloodline, you probably are hooked enough to the game to spend a couple hundred dollars in donation eq anyway (which is not necessary until after reaching level 124, where all that's left is competition with other players, when you need to face others with donation eq to win battles and titles). I kind of got bored of the game before reaching that point, so I never got the point where spending $ was necessary to be competitive.
In short, there's a lot of creative new ideas added to a classic MUD concept, but there probably needs a more active player base and/or a more social climate to put those good ideas to actual use. In a way, I wish Med wouldn't oversell itself so much (e.g., not advertise that it has 1000s of players, or take credit for 'game features never before seen' when the average Internet player who has experience with other MUDs or MMORPGs out there will probably have seen similar features)... because it doesn't /need/ to resort to overselling itself or stretching out claims to stand on its own on features it DOES have. (I also think the do you DARE enter?[!?!?!?!!!!] ad campaign is super-cheesy :P) Overselling is just never a good idea, because once people find out some of the claims were exaggerated or untrue, they undervalue the actual things the game /does/ have to offer.
Conclusion: Kind of underwhelming because of the unnecessary hype. Several cool features, but realistically probably needs a more active player base to work.
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