Beware of Sindome! I came into Sindome a few days ago because I love the cyberpunk atmosphere. This was my second stab at the game; the first time it just didn't connect for me, but I also realized I wasn't being fair to it because it doesn't model well after other MUDs. Honestly, that is both its greatest -- and weakest -- strength. I had experience with entirely different games like BatMUD and Aardwolf.
Overall, my impression of the game early on was good, but I must caution new players about Sindome. Contrary to its claims, it is NOT a 'newbie-friendly' environment, and unless you are looking at your screen and following along every second of every moment while playing Sindome, even new players should be prepared to lose everything as I did. You must accept the militant terms of the game, and any complaints levied against it are opportunities for mockery and disinterest in the community.
What I've basically realized about Sindome after playing several hours of it is that: if you love RP and you love cyberpunk, Sindome is one of few options, and the rich RP (role play) environment delivers very strongly. In fact, this is what I love about Sindome. Walking around the city and talking IC (in-character) is both rewarding and deeply immersive. This cannot be overstated enough. I have absolutely no complaints in this department, and I suggest that if you try Sindome, please keep RP in mind as it is both expected and against the rules to excessively talk OOC (out-of-character) while playing. That isn't to say you can't ask questions OOC, but it's more or less expected that if you have an IC question, you will need to find an IC answer. What does that mean? It means if you have a problem playing as your character, you'll largely be out of luck finding an answer from another player unless you're both IN character and communicating in the game, in the same room. This is an obscure concept for most gamers, and it also means there are no easy solutions to your problems should they arise (and trust me, they will). You can't even really find it outside the game as it is against the rules to discuss IC concepts or events outside Sindome. If you do, you will probably be banned.
Where Sindome collapsed for me is how it negates to inform you that being AFK (away from keyboard) even momentarily can spell doom for your character. It's explained that in the first two weeks, there is some measure of 'protection' for new players. That is to say, no one can kill you. However, Sindome is like PVP on steroids. Not only can you be killed while walking down the street or performing some menial task in any room at any time, you can lose your character or get mugged and lose all of your money (as I did). While I was certainly within the boundaries of the two week protection, the game failed to explain anywhere during it's tutorial or '@newbie' guide that robbery is completely fine. Oops!
In my unfortunate situation, I was called urgently away from my computer for OOC problems. Real life works that way sometimes, and adults can't be expected to monitor each and every second of our in-game time when those instances arise. Unless you're already familiar with Sindome, and you happily accept and agree to it's masochistic rules, be prepared for a punishing ride. Let me be clear: the environment is designed to reflect real life as much as it possibly can, and this can be a wonderful and engaging virtue of Sindome. It strengthens the rich RP environment, encourages very real consequences, and it keeps you on your toes. However, there is virtually no 'safe' area beyond the tight confines of habitats like coffins, cubes and apartments which are all purchasable in-game. Coffins are initially a free asset (up to two weeks) but require some working knowledge of how to navigate the city. For new players, this is a tall request should something OOC require your immediate attention, and you're clear across town away from the safety of your coffin.
Back to my story: while I was away dealing with my real-life crises, my character stood in the middle of the street in broad daylight and was mugged by another player. I lost every chyen (cyberpunk currency) that I had earned on me. I had spent the previous day playing 8-10 hours, familiarizing myself with Whitmore City, earning money, talking to other IC players and learning what I could. Let me rewind a little to just how involving and punishing the game is, even from the moment you step in.
You are given no weapon and no clothes when you enter the city. The only thing you are given is a small sum of currency which will provide you an opportunity to purchase some clothes to cover your 'naked' character who is apparently running around in the snow in this city (despite the game's aim to be overtly realistic). I guess hypothermia is off the list. In this way, you are provided no way to defend yourself. Again, you can only rely on two assets for the first two weeks: no players can kill you, and the public coffins are free to 'sleep' in. Everything else is perfectly acceptable. Sleeping includes not only logging off from the game but also being AFK, I guess? It's not entirely clear to me, and neither is the guide. What the newbie tutorial (if you can call it that) fails to mention is that every moment in the game is a risk to not only die but to lose anything you're carrying.
After this frustrating encounter, I scrolled up urgently to find out what might have happened and realized had I not been AFK, I wouldn't have known what to do anyway. One of the earliest drawbacks to the game is an entire lack of a combat tutorial. There are a few brief commands mentioned in the newbie guide, but there is no opportunity to put the knowledge to use. Had I not been called away from my computer, I'm not entirely certain I would have been any better off since I had no prior experience with combat, being mugged or defending myself. More importantly, I had no weapon and no means to defend myself. Perhaps I could have ran away, but I have no idea the mechanics of being mugged since the game utterly fails to explain anything about that event in any way. That is no exaggeration. It's not mentioned anywhere in the guide. It was a harsh lesson in Sindome's mechanics, and as I quickly learned, the player community is largely indifferent to your ills.
To draw some contrast here, a game like EVE (which is notoriously punishing) is a children's romp compared to Sindome. No, it's not a MUD, but it's an MMORPG, and in it the risk / reward mechanisms can be similarly very high. It might seem like hyperbola, but Sindome has not only created an environment where you can lose everything, but the demands to get back into the game (should you die) are steep. After logging in for the first time, you are frequently alerted that you need to write a '@history' for your character. This should be a well thought out piece of literature explaining your newly created character's backstory and how it connects with the Sindome universe. I spent a couple of days revising a draft that the game's admins had initially rejected because my history didn't go far enough to explain each and every skill I had put points into when I created my character. It also required me to read a lengthy timeline on Sindome's website to find a hook where my character logically connects to the world. Having a character history is important because job opportunities are largely nonexistent in the game without them, and without money, you're not likely to make it far in the walls of Whitmore City.
Should your character die, be prepared to lose it entirely and start the process of character creation all over again (including an entirely new written history). Also, you won't be allowed to use the same character name, history or any part of their original identity. It's permanent death for that character if you don't have a clone. Attempting to return a similar character to the game could result in a suspension or ban from Sindome. Whew. This is a game, right?
After my mugging, I urgently went to the help channel to inquire about losing all of my money while doing nothing more than standing around in the game. Several players were quick to explain that this was all part and parcel of the game, and if I didn't like it, I can leave. From my perspective as a new player, it made me feel largely unwelcome and dismissed. I fully understand that it's different strokes for different folks out there, and if you like a high risk game, Sindome might just be your cup of tea. Be warned though: Sindome and its community are not gentle to new players. Learn as much as you can about the game before entering. Read everything three times (or more), minimize your OOC talk, and get comfortable with being stepped on like a bug. For me, it just wasn't a fun experience. I play games to relax and escape the very real stresses of life, not trade one evil for another.
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