So what is there to say about Arx? Well to start they get a lot right and they miss the mark on a fair number of things. For the good the systems they've implemented, the coding is solid and it is regularly being updated to include fun new features that always seem to include at least one cool new feature. The player base is phenomenal and despite having the same occasional bad egg that is endemic to mu*s period, the rest of the playerbase is overwhelmingly warm and supportive eager to draw you in and help you get settled. The rosters that they wrote up (yes this is a roster game love it or hate it) are generally stellar and feel like they were natural tie ins for when the game first started up. The setting despite the flaws (which I most assuredly will touch on later) has great promise and a lot could come from it. Not to mention the investigation and action system are pretty cool (even with your actions more often then not resulting in a booby prize rather then what you'd been aiming for initially. The ooc intent and tldr fields seem to be ignored if you don't write up things just right.)
The Meh: Okay lets start out with those roster characters, they did feel absolutely amazing there in the beginning of the game, but now they feel a little out of date, but the story runners seem unwilling to let the world evolve naturally so even if run into the ground completely they keep a level of undue prominence when it comes to the nobility. The next meh is once more on the roster system, no one is ever vetted for anything. We've seen multiple High Lords (one of the highest org leader positions) given to players completely new to the game which generally is throwing them in way over their heads. Skills are done on a white wolf esque system with 5 dots in a skill being the capping point for 99% of the players. However with the easy availability of exp, everyone is sitting at 5's in all their core stats for their concept from peasant to high lord. Thus everything is scaled to every character being at a level described as 'best in a generation' meaning if you plan to not be exceptional you are going to be fucked over because all dice checks in the story, prp's and general contests are scaled to these monsters rather then the average person. Not necessarily a bad thing, just a thing.
The Bad:Okay so the bad, every game has its bad and Arx is no exception. First and the most prominent thing, goddamn this story. It's not beyond saving but a couple years into it and they've hit a DBZ spiral of ever increasingly powerful bad guys. Not threats from within the compact, nope, they are all existential civilization/world ending threats. Which when you've seen two world ending magical big bads, can you really find it in yourself to approximate terror at the third and fourth? It's had a level of exhaustion not dissimilar to Warhammer 40k, where yes every thing you face is unknowably bad and ready to end everything. The next is a bit of a minor thing, but still it rubs me the wrong way. The world is most assuredly on rails and there is no getting off this train, ever. The part that bugs me here isn't that its a thing, but the fact that the admins aggressively denounce that (even having banned a player who suggested it). There is definitely a favorite game going on, and it doesn't take long to see who the favorites are as they are rewarded with all the shiniest toys and roles (which again is denied, but the actions are speaking louder then words). Which all in all if what you're doing and what they're doing are on two separate paths, it doesn't matter but if they cross over into your lane, be prepared to be thrown into the back seat. Lore is changed at a whim and when it is pointed out anyone who disagrees with that is told that they are wrong, and that it has always been like that and they were just engaging in bad rp, despite ample evidence of the imms having gone with the old lore in the first place.
Overall its a pretty fun place, you stick to your small corner you ignore the world about you and toss aside any notions of autonomy or being able to make a difference that wasn't pre-scripted and you'll have a blast. Run counter to one of the roster characters or favorites and you're in for a bad time. I'd give the game an overall 6/10, the story about 3/10, setting an 8/10, the pbase a 7/10 and the imms themselves a 4/10. Give a shot, you could have a blast here. I know for all the negatives I've listed I don't plan on quitting any time soon.Post a comment
Comment posted on Wed Sep 5 09:26:12 2018 by Apostate:
I really appreciate anyone giving an honest opinion of the game, good or bad, since I think it's always helpful. Even if I think something isn't accurate, knowing someone felt that way still allows me to see things that could be done better, or are not as clear as I'd like to make them. I'm definitely not perfect, and there's always things I can improve on, so I owe anyone thanks that takes the time to write up about any negative or positive experiences.
We definitely have problems with scale. When I made Arx, I intended it to be a game for a couple dozen people that might enjoy playing in a very story driven, tightly focused narrative, more of an online tabletop writ large in a persistent world rather than a MMO writ small. Instead of a couple dozen players, there's been 916 unique players that have tried the game at some point since it opened. Now the game is designed around each of those people being able to have a story around the development of their character and work it into a cohesive, ongoing plot for the game which has a few dozen strands. That is pretty challenging, and presents some problems that I think don't come up too much in other MUs.
Like the main problem is from the original design of 1/30th of the game size, I intended to be very hands on with each player and be able to make sure they were having fun and were finding satisfying roleplay. And I can't really do that. We have a small staff because I insist on it being only people whose primary passion is for GMing, and they would never get personally invested in any kind of player conflict that could bias their GMing, and they are willing to forgo any kind of personal participation in the story as a player if necessary to keep it focused on players. The problem here is that results in a very tiny pool (since the overwhelming majority of people that want to become staff want to still keep their own PCs where they can shine in stories), and with so few people to entertain a huge player base, we're forced in a very reactive role, when really we'd want to be proactive in making stories for people.
Like when the reviewer mentions favoritism, the truth is I just don't know or talk to almost any of the players at all. Like he talks about 'actions' and 'investigations', both of which are essentially coded heads up to the GMs of, 'Hey I want to try to do this thing offscreen with my character' or 'I want to try to find out more about this topic'. The latter can match with already existing lore that I've written, but still an overwhelming majority of the 'I want to find out more about X' results in us writing something new about X, and all actions are still written by the same people driving the story. The advantage of this is we can keep things relatively coherent and focused on tying everything together, which is partly why the game is so popular, because people can really feel a part of the big overwhelming whole. The downside is with so few staffers, we have to gate these heavily by time (say a couple 'I want GMing' things a month), and if people are waiting that long on something, if they don't get just what they want, they are going to be understandably very frustrated. That's where I think the favoritism stuff comes from, since if player A who I don't know tries one thing once in 3 months and it doesn't go how they hope, and player B is unbelievably active and organizes 10 different people to try 10 different things, and 6 result in successes, then player A is going to be upset, even if I have really no idea who player A and B are at all and have no personal investment whatsoever in what they are trying to do. Being forced into a reactive role tilts things in favor of the most active players of the player base, as they try the most things, and then see the most visible results from trying things. But it's hard for me to notice that perception, since there's been about 2700 actions written and 1430 investigations, and each of those could have dozens of players involved.
And that kind of plays into why I think some players get a perception of railroading, which I find disappointing. Part of me is incredulous about it, because I flat out don't know how the big stories will resolve and I'm the one writing them. Like for season 1, I thought of maybe 30 different ways the major story arc for the first year and a half of the game could go based on player actions and decisions, and I wasn't even close. I thought the king would die (he didn't, so I opened him up and let a PC play him after vetting the dozen or so applications for him for a month). I thought there would be a major war between the PCs and an antagonist group (it didn't happen, they became allies). I thought a Big Bad type antagonist would be a minor thing lurking on the edges for a couple years (it didn't, the PCs attacked it and its minions directly, provoking a large scale invasion). Similarly, I am just not personally invested in the direction things go, but when players try to shape the narrative, I try to think hard about what makes the most sense in the context of the game, how likely things are to succeed, the abilities of the characters involved, and so on. The tricky thing here is in order to have an effective narrative, I want to have some things be obscured, since running a game about finding forgotten lore just isn't as entertaining to people if all of that forgotten lore is visible and transparent to everyone from the get go. It'd be like watching a murder mystery and already knowing the entire plot and ending. Sure, some people would enjoy it, but not as many. But obscuring things opens the door to people having absolutely no idea who is investing how much effort into what, and of course people are going to feel upset if things don't go there way. Like that figure of around 2700 'I want GMing' actions. Each of those could have any number of players helping out on the action. So for some big crisis we might have literally 200 players going, 'We want to try to make X happen' and one dude going, 'I am going to make a halfhearted attempt at Y happening', and then X happens, and the one dude all about Y goes, 'whelp, guess staff always wanted X, it was railroaded'. No man, I don't care which happened, but there's no possible way to justify Y happening when the odds are 200 to 1 and it makes more sense. For the overall plot of the game, I just outline a potential situation in the broadest possible terms, and then drop it on the heads of 500 active players, each wanting to do their own thing in response to it. I mean maybe some people think that's railroading, but it's probably more like one guy wandering into traffic and expecting every car to swerve and miss them. The one dude we banned was because he drunkenly declared he'd do his level best to ruin the fun of everyone he came into contact with, and hated everyone and everything so it seemed pretty dumb to be like, 'yeah sure keep playing and try to make everyone miserable.'
Anyways. I think it's very challenging to help with those perceptions without undermining some of the big appeals that makes the player base so invested and generally happy and pleasant, that a majority of people constantly interacting with GMs in those small ways (actions, investigations, on screen GMing) enjoy those, and get things to RP about with other people and drive story. But while we do that, and it's not visible to avoid spoiling the story, effort is obscured and to a lot of players it can look like things come easily or out of left field. I'm not really sure how to fix that aside from adding more staff, but I don't want to do that unless I can be sure the staff won't ever be abusive in any way.
Comment posted on Thu Sep 20 20:53:38 2018 by Jarel's Player:
Apostate is actually telling you the truth. Yep, I'm banned. Doesn't matter what for. And its Perm! So nothing to lose or gain. Anyhow...
Arx is a great game. Even if I got smacked with the ban hammer, it would be dumb for me to give a wrong review because of that. And because I have zero investment in it, there is no reason for me to lie about it. It's a very good game and well crafted. Every person is pretty much treated with a level of importance even if they were criminals and such. The staff really do try to make the best for everyone and their actions and such. And every position is player based. Like the High Lords and the King. Players can also run Player Run Plots, which I found absolutely interesting. I am also pretty sure this has earned its RPI status with incredibly deep roleplaying, permanent death and a plethora of In Game options to do things. Arx is probably the best RPI I have played in some time. While there is only one Crown and Five Major Houses, Players get a LOT of leeway in making new Organizations (Orgs) and a lot have been made by other players. From new Vassal Houses to entirely new groups that do this or that. I believe the +crime system will open even bigger avenues for players. As will the systems that they will be putting in such as shields, dual wielding, poisons and magic.
The game has, at least in peak time, over 150+ players who are NOT idling. Its also the first game I have played that isn't the standard Fantasy trope. The fact people can get the skills they want allows for a very deep customization as they can build a combat skilled character or perhaps a scholar or a politician. Arx politics are HUGE. What about Lore? Yes, in spades. From books to theories to clues. Oh and the secrets and such? Without revealing anything, let's just say Arx has a lot of secrets. Also there is in fact players in Team Evil, Team Good and Team Neutral. Which obviously you'd have to find IC about all that. And there is a lot to find out. As well as do. And considering the amount of Events I tried out, I can say you won't be dissapointed. Events for everything under the sun. If this game is this solid NOW, pretty sure it will be even more solid later on. And Apostate and Co. have made such a unique game despite being set in the fantasy trope, you'd be hardpressed to dislike it. I encourage anyone who loves roleplaying games to try it out.
It's a great game and I don't think I'll ever bad mouth it.