What I love about Armageddon: Roleplaying tools. Once you learn the commands, acting out a character can become a game in itself. Using them, even mundane tasks like cleaning your gear or cooking meat can be a deeply reflective part of your story. The nice part about it is it’s not required. Indulge if you want, paint a really cool picture of how you stormed through a room with murder in your eyes and a bone blade in your hand, or just go west west. The mood and setting. Dark Sun was cool. Dune was alright. For me, Armageddon takes the best of both and twists it around a little. You get back what you put into it. During the pinnacle of my Armageddon days, I played characters that helped me figure out who I am, exploring elements of my personality like trying on different skins. A lot of roleplayers experience this in their game of choice, but none other offers the same depth of exploration. If you can invest the time and give it a serious try, the interactions you’ll have with the other characters will come together into a story you’ll want to tell your RL friends. Some of the best might inspire some new fiction.
What bugs me about Armageddon: The shrinking world. Once upon a time, the most often heard complaint was that it was too hard to get involved with other players. Part of the reason was that they were spread too thinly across a world that can be time-consuming to traverse. Closing one of the city-states had its ups and its downs. It became easier to interact with other players, but the conflicts lost a lot of dynamic. With player numbers on the rise, it’s time to see the Sun King come back with a vengeance. The awkward economy. Let’s face it, a game that doesn’t struggle with this is fooling itself. You have issues of playability vs realism, of incremental growth vs balanced play, the incentives that drive fun things like adventure and exploration. Armageddon strives to create a world that feels real, yet the value of goods doesn’t jive with the value of labor. Some players, new and old, have no problem at all generating thousands of coins, while others struggle to support themselves doing things that, from any logical point of view, should generate reliable income. It’s possible to play a role without rubbing against this, but sometimes, depending on what you try to do, you’ll come across one of the places where gameplay and simulation can’t see eye to eye. You get back what you put into it. It can be hard to appreciate Armageddon as a casual player. It’s doable, especially if you are willing to play a lonely game while you skill up and develop your psyche. But these days, with two kids and a well-more-than-full-time job, I have a hard time enjoying Armageddon like I used to. Accessibility could use some work.
The review: I had a rough start with this game the first time I tried it. It didn't make sense. It was too hard. I ended up dehydrated, lost in a confusing city, huddled in the dark with no movement left, robbed blind when I slept it off. I finally got help, and it wasn't helpful. I got misdirected to a place I could find water, but I couldn't figure out how to GET the water. In my frustration I turned to my hack-n-slash roots and got myself arrested. Jail sucked. So I quit. I was used to speeding around rainbow-text game worlds, killing rats until I was tough enough to kill kobolds or whatever, and this was just NOT THAT. Still, I wanted a game with more roleplay teeth than most MUDs provided, yet more code support than the social-and-pose-based gaming systems that proclaimed deep roleplay experiences. I futzed around with a few other games that teased intensive roleplay mixed with gamified code, but so many of them had cracks in the facade -- the worlds were flat or empty, or the roleplay was a bare-bones flimsy thing stretched over a world of rats and kobolds and badly scripted npc quests. Eventually I gave Armageddon another try, this time with a little more patience and attention paid to the documentation. It took me a while to adapt, but once I 'got it', this became my thing. My character joined a clan as a guard recruit. The veteran players in that clan helped me figure out how to survive, how to interact, and most importantly, how to fit in with the community's then-unspoken guidelines for roleplaying. The first time I emoted something about my character's worries, they suggested ooc that I try expressing it without overtly stating it. I rephrased using purely physical description -- a facial expression, a low sound and a shake of the hand -- and became hooked on pushing the emote line. How far could I stray from objective description without breaking the rules? I got knee-deep in this game and its community, and by some naysayer's standards I could have once been considered part of the 'in' crowd. I went to player meetings and participated in ooc chat channels and I've been on staff twice, though I couldn't maintain the necessary level of dedication. Some of my favorite friends are old players, including my wife of 10 years (we met at a player gathering through mutual friends). In the past seven or eight years, my breaks have gotten longer, but my returns are always deeply satisfying, intense journeys through a character's head. For me, there is no other MUD. One of the biggest gripes about Armageddon is the player-staff relationship. This part baffles me because the discord and in-game interactions with newbies that I've seen have been overwhelmingly friendly and helpful. The staff environment behind the curtain is 98% figuring out ways to help players make their goals achievable in awesome ways, 2% figuring out how to keep openly abusive players from ruining those hard-won accomplishments without abandoning either the awesome or the player. It baffles me because I've been on both sides, butting heads with the other. I've clashed hard with top-level admins over general game policy and I've gritted my teeth over obnoxious players airing out their (serious and legit diagnosed) mental illnesses through the game. So what? Armageddon has always attracted the most intense people. It’s also a horribly unfair and unforgiving game, which leads those intense people to explosive ooc conflict with their perceived oppressors, which in most cases is either the staff itself or uses them as a mediator. The current staff roster is one of the best and most easy-going I've ever seen. In my opinion as a pretty chill and friendly person, the people that are most vocal about this problem are the cause of the problem, on both sides of that curtain. Ignore them and you may end up making some good friends ooc while your character gets involved in some wicked and memorable ic stories.
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