I've said on the mud for quite a while now that I would write a review, and yet it just never happened. So here it is in all of its dubious glory.
My character name on the mud is Ragnar, and I've been playing Godwars2 for about 6 years. Well, since mid-2006 anyway. So, I feel I have a fairly good view of the mud and how it has progressed over a period of time. As a result, I thought I would write a review focusing not on the mud mechanics, but rather on the social mechanics. That is, I have found that all reviews for godwars2 seem to focus on the combat, the coordinate based movement and so on, as they rightly should. These are extremely important and innovative mechanics that have kept me and countless other players around for years. But, when I look at a mud, mechanics are the surface, but what truly determines whether or not I stay is the social mechanics, or, how players interact with one another and how the staff interact with the players. That's what I'll try to address in this review, and I'll try to do it reasonably objectively.
Player/player dynamics One of the most interesting aspects of gw2 is the fact that there are no explicit rules. Help rules specifically tells you that common sense and a certain amount of critical thinking will tell you what ought and ought not be done. But there are no hard policies, hardcoded rules, bans or anything of the sort. This has had a few affects, both positive and negative. Negatively, this leads to the obvious: people feel that they are entitled to do whatever they want. Which really, they are. This means they can be quite abusive, but merely be disagreeable in relation to other players, not explicitly to the rules. However, this has, in large, been dealt with. The positive aspect of having no rules is the way in which these types of people are dealt with. Simply put, we as the player base have, over time, come to an agreement on a set of implicit rules. It's a flexible, malleable, and inconstant and subject to change system, but it's been here for close to 7 years, and the players as a whole generally seek to enforce them. Such obvious rules as, 'don't spamkill newbies,' and 'don't ignore game breaking bugs.' But also less obvious rules, like: 'try to help newbies if you have the experience,' and, in respect to said newbies, 'be patient and intelligent about how you learn to play the mud.' I personally find that this system that we have developed, though perhaps flawed in some ways, is superior to any set of admin chosen rules, because it not only was decided on by the community as a whole, but also can change easily and doesn't require admin intervention. This manifests itself in a variety of ways as well. For example, on many muds, there are designated newbie helpers, who will help a newbie even if they are impatient, belligerent and coarse. On gw2, almost every single player will go out of their way to help a newbie, but we have no actual obligation to do so. This means that when we get that stray newbie who is impatient and unwilling to listen to advice, we are under no restrictions, and generally don't even bother. This, combined with the steep learning curve, affectively means we are a game free of angry teenagers and people who lack the patience to learn and the intelligence to read helpfiles. Perhaps this makes the mud and the player’s elitist? I can't really answer that objectively, but I will say that godwars2 conversations are often harsh, uncensored and coarse, but they are also the most intelligent, thoughtful and logically sound conversations I have found on a mud to date. So, this has its positives and negatives as I have said. But if you enjoy a mud where intelligence and hard work actually pays off, then we might be right for you. If you are impatient, easily offended and unlikely to take advice, then perhaps it's not. Note though that if you decide to try us, I would advise at least glancing at our website: http://www.godwars2.org It has valuable information that may help you from the start.
Admin/player dynamics. The second element to social dynamics on a mud that I look for are admin to player. That is, how do the admin respond to player suggestions, how do they interact with the players, and how fair and objective are they. On this, I can definitively say there are no negatives. KaVir, the only coder and primary staff member, is one of the best, if not the best, admin I have ever had the pleasure of mudding under. I say this not because I have been on his mud for so long, but rather because I find his method of player interaction extremely affective. Basically, KaVir has a close relationship with the mud players, as opposed to the distant one characteristic of most muds. When he is logged on, he talks with the players about anything and everything, and I have never seen him ignore or refuse to answer a question. Similarly, I would say three quarters of the changes made to the mud are player suggested, and he draws them from the entirety of the base rather than from a few players like in some muds. If a newbie has a good suggestion, it will be added, or at least considered. If the suggestion isn't workable, KaVir is in the habit of explaining why, and even giving the player a chance to rethink and resuggest the change. What this leads to on a social level is that KaVir is not often viewed as an enforcer. He's not viewed as a player certainly, but the way in which players interact with him allows for a feeling of player involvement, and means that those player enforced rules discussed above are not contrary to the implementer's philosophy, because we know what his focus for the game is, and where he's trying to take it. We develop our player dynamics accordingly, and, as a majority, work to further those goals. Finally, KaVir is very fair. In those rare cases in which player rules are insufficient and admin action must be taken, he considers all sides, from what I have seen. Discussion is accepted and responded to, and he is far from a dictator. I would go so far as to say he does not enjoy or even remotely want to enforce admin rules, and as a result acts more like a facilitator for enforcing rules than anything. It works, ultimately. Godwars2, to quote a forum thread I have long since forgotten, is similar to a study on sociology. How a group of people will develop their own society and culture when no rules are at first present. We have done so, I would say, and I would also say that it works very well. I have enjoyed godwars2 immensely, and fully intend to continue as a very active player into the foreseeable future. I hope you give us a try. We always have room for more.
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