I have been an Immortal and I have been temp banned. I have praised the MUD (read my earlier review) and I have sworn that I would quit. I have had wonderful time and I have wanted to pull my hair out -- enough to where I thought it best for my mental health that I step down as a Coder rather than crash heads with one of the Administrators about how code should be written, amongst other things. TG is not a horrible place, and I don't want to make it out to me, but I can't help but think that, to an extent, it is a Guilded MUD: a very good outer layer that holds disappointments when held to a stricter light.
I will speak of the problems, since that's what you'll want to know if you're reading this Review wondering if you should play. I find that I can't keep the 10,000 character limit TMC has, so it's only the problems I'll mention.
1) Lack of World and RP Depth. TG has a veritable armada of races. The helpfiles are, most often, very good at giving an image of them, though some are little more than a few cobbled-together paragraphs. There are a plethora of areas across many different continents. Once you get farther in, though, a player who wants quality to their RP world starts to see through much of the quantity to what TG is: a good concept poorly executed through bad area design and a lack of race enforcement. The feel of the continents, which each certainly has its own theme, is broken by having areas that make absolutely no sense placed haphazardly within them: a thriving, peaceful, green village in the middle of a swamp with no mention of the swamp within the village itself. A random taco shop in the middle of nowhere. If immersion into a magical world is TG's goal, then it fails to do that. Areas rarely, if ever, reference each other despite what their proximity might be, and overall the MUD feels more like something cobbled together than an actual believable world.
The problem with races comes from the fact that there are, quite simply, too many with not enough variation. The number of races, rather than helping contribute to the overall feel of the MUD world, waters it down. There's the demonic dog-people, the natural dog-people, the humans-infected-with-a-disease-to-turn-into-dog-people. There's a bland catch-all 'Demon' race, a bland catch-all 'half-demon' race. Beyond that there's no enforced racial alignments, so Demons might be the most wonderfully snuggly people ever, and when a player tries to RP racism -- ie, good people don't like Demons because they are something, you know, bad -- then they are scorned ICly and OOCly by other players and will find their RP greatly suffers for it. The players of TG seem to want a bland world with no established conflict outside of the frivolous inter-character stuff that they come up with, and the Staff of TG certainly does little to help promote anything but the high-school level drama (and the attempts at it by some imms are cancelled out by the 'World Peace!' mentality of other immortals). One will find that TG's IC world tends to be something along the lines of 'Can't we all just be friends OMG we can wheee group hug!' Beyond that, so many players play either: 1) Incredibly cliche characters that are drawn as close-as-possible out of an Anime or established Fantasy World, or 2) A thousand Alternate Chars who all have the same personality ('Rawr I demand Sex!' and 'I'm the soft-spoken shy guy from a bad background who yet seems to have an inner strength that one just has to look for' seem to be common ones). While there are incredible Role-Players out there who do a great job establishing impressive niches, much of the MUD is nothing more than a silly Soap Opera about who's cheating who, who's being true, and who don't really care anymore.
2) Lack of Staff Responsibility, at times. I wrote in my past review that I think TG has a great immortal staff. I still think that, but I have to add the caveat of 'Sometimes.' When they are active, the staff is solid. The coder and Head RP, in particular, I think do the best jobs at what they do that I've seen on a MUD I've played extensively. But all of the Immortals suffer from long periods of inactivity, sometimes justified and sometimes not. I remember at one point when an Admin had gone away for a very stupid reason (I'll not go into the details, I'm not so mad at TG to do that, but suffice it to say it was below High School Drama) and promised to people to return, but did not for several months, causing all the areas, housing, and RP Requests to become bogged down to the point of a player-led questioning of the Imm's methods. The Imm Staff, simply put, need to be more active so they can deal with day-to-day problems and with enforcing rules that the MUD has written down, which often seem to be ignored. It seems, to me, that those who attempt to follow the rules and ask Immortals for permission to do various things are the ones who are restricted, because simply not telling the immortals is the way to bypass any rules. Want to know if a name is okay? Don't ask for the name 'Wynter' (which is one that I know was denied) and make 'Rameses' (the rules state no famous IRL names should be used) and you'll be fine. Want to have a special IC power? Don't ask the RPC for it, 'just assume you have it until the imms tell you no,' as was one player's advice to me. The worst bit is that it seemed to work. To make matters even more telling for TG, the co-owner of the MUD recently resigned being an Imm because she 'couldn't handle the day-to-day problems' and wanted to be a player again. They are still co-owner, though, so I can't help but wonder how much them as a 'player' (which she stresses she still is) continues to affect and decide staff decisions. It seems weird to me that a player would be a co-owner, especially when they don't pay for the server or create the MUD itself.
Within the Immortal Staff, even, there always seemed to be a measure of mistrust and lack of communication. As an example, Char Notes were the advocated way of keeping up with special powers that players had been granted by the RP Staff (in recent weeks these powers have been completely stripped away by the Head RP Imm, which is something I am majorly happy with) but -- and I know because, as I said, I was an Immortal -- the Char Notes were rarely kept up, either because of the bother and mess of adding them, or because an RP Imm 'Didn't want other Immortals seeing the information and being able to abuse it.' Both were things I heard, and the second was incredibly startling and troubling, even as a young coder. When the rule to special abilities was 'If an Imm looks in your Char Notes and you don't have it, then you don't have it' and yet one of the RP Imms said they didn't trust fellow Imms to be responsible, there's an issue there.
3) Lack of MUD Direction - Two years ago any observer, both within and outside of the MUD, would have labeled The Gathering and 'SRP Mud.' Because of a head-butting with the Dawn of Time license and themselves TG was forced to take steps to make their MUD a non-Adult Mud to the tune of limiting people having SRP to a special island and within private rooms -- inns, for example. At that point the staff of TG explained that they wanted to take the direction of the MUD to a more serious RP mud, I'm not so sure that this has happened, though, except in randomly decided bits and bursts. TG often seems to be like a car with a spotty engine: it might suddenly jump forwards all at once after you try really hard to get something going, but most of the time you're just sitting there playing with yourself for entertainment.
To me there seems to be a lack of direction in what to do. The admin constantly say they want to create a more serious RP environment and yet they don't seem willing to enforce the stringent RP-related rules that most major RP areas have. Player harassment, especially for Sex, is not uncommon at all and offenders are generally just given a slap on the wrist in lieu of harsher behavior-correcting problems. A recent 'global' storyline that took place was bungled because of poor execution and, it seemed to me, a confusion between the Imms running the line of what to do about it. Mix this in with a general sense of laziness amongst many players who have been given power to move forwards RP as well and the storyline was almost completely dropped. I'm not entirely sure if the problem isn't with the Staff or the Players, but it certainly is a problem. Over the past year or so 'Player-run Empires/Organizations' was pressed forwards by the Imm Staff and, in my opinion, it was done so way too quickly and far too liberally. It seems like everybody now just has 'troops' that they randomly command and often employ to try to boss people around with, yet it seems to me that this is improperly handled with a lack of any definition into how powerful these groups are compared to each other and troops are just a magical, imaginative number one can draw from without any support. A small town might have an army of 20,000 elite-trained troops, despite the complications one would imagine having so many troops in the mountainous area. Troops seem to just magically poof between areas, making any important conflict a bit of a bore since some Imms allow you to just throw a mystical figure at the problem and demand for it to be fixed, rather than encouraging players themselves to work together at an individual level.
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