I have experience on 5 different MUDs. I originally came to AA in 1998 through a friend's recommendation and have stayed ever since - I went on a hiatus for a while, but came back when I ran into a blog-post-like essay that I knew only my friends on AA would appreciate. The place remains as the social context where I feel I can really be myself, both in the sense of being able to take more roles than just the one that has grown on me from a given social group, and because the international multi-guild environment means that the cultural norms are flexible. I think it's important that role-playing is encouraged but not enforced; it's alright to just hang out too, there is no need to continuously be performing your role.
As a note that I think is still underappreciated, Ancient Anguish has vastly improved my social skills by providing a safe place to practice things like assertiveness, competitiveness and even nonserious hostility (your guild is against my guild, you shall go down, Scyther!), none of which are particularly easy to try out as a girl for social and traditional reasons but that have definitely come in handy later. I've honed my leadership skills in there too. :) Not to forget some of the inevitable drama of teenage, nicely sandboxed away from my home doorstep, the first loves and the first frights of being misinterpreted and actually pissing someone off (and the world turns out not to end after all!).
I had before that watched a popular Finnish mud and found it way too visually noisy (colourful) for my tastes. One other mud I abandoned for being entirely too illogical (you're in a glacial room with penguins, go one south and find yourself in a desert? AA is strictly thematic, so I'm spoiled for quality), another for both being the only person on and too many 'realistic' restrictions like what I can't do if my hands are full. A third one I left pretty soon from partially because it also had awkward realism (when it's night, you cannot go on the streets as a newbie because you do not have a light source, so you cannot get anywhere) and because the areas were just chained together and you had to rely on following directions in corridors. And it was more silly than cool like AA's in-depth fantasy world with greater-than-life quests and tensions between factions in the world that the player could choose different sides on.
I used to love ADOM (a nethack-like game) because it had a 'wilderness', so I fell totally in love with AA's grid-based map that had areas you enter from the map. (As an extra bonus, playing AA would not get me a) starved or b) corrupted to death for playing it for too long, like ADOM did.) There's also magical maps that show where you are on the grid, but I didn't even find out about them for years, I got around by my own map.
I've drawn separate maps of pretty much all the areas (some are incomplete, because of guards that are too tough for my risk-averse tastes or secret passageways I haven't discovered...yet ;)) Another hobby I've acquired is collecting 'exploration points' - once you have explored enough areas, an NPC gives you a hint like 'Have you ever tried bobsledding as a means to flee a pack of rampant frost giants?' and then you spend a while trying to figure out where on earth you can go bobsledding (this example is fictious to avoid spoilers) and discover a new aspect of some area you've explored before but missed out the details on.
Another exploration encourager is The Geographic Society, where you get points for yourself and your guild by discovering rooms (building cairns in them) that no one else has during a reboot cycle. An aspect of (social) guild battles is added on top when the claim on a room depends on which guild's members have marked the cairns the most times, and the guild with the most cairns gets benefits from the society.
AA is not equipment-saving, so I cannot at the moment fulfil my desire to be a packrat collector of all things I find (while also gear does not wear out, which is nice), but you can buy a player-owned house and collect furniture into it, 'collect' random abilities (weaving skill, different weapon skills, honing your class abilities etc) in addition to the money and raw exp. In my role as developer, I am currently working on a way to build item collections that support this tendency - the idea really got moving when I learned at our game meet-up last summer that there are many other collectors like me! :) (Also that the people playing the game right now are really cool.)
(PS. This review has also been posted on Mudgamers, which randomly inspired me to gush about my favourite mud today. When I noticed how long the text ended up as, I figured I should maybe put it here too since I keep forgetting to review the game here where the reviews functionality isn't so visible... X-))Post a comment