I've played a handful of MUDs over the years, spanning back to
around 1992, generally all Dikumuds. Through the years, as the
codebases became more and more custom, the MUD would slowly lose that
'Diku feel' and become something else. This would not always
necessarily be a bad thing, just different.
There is a certain nostalgia to
playing a DikuMUD, especially if you played on one with a near
original codebase 'back in the day'. I was one of those people, and
had more or less grown accustomed to the newer, more modern MUD
designs being developd by ambitious programmers trying to keep the MUD
After having a falling out on a MUD I had played for about 14 years,
I decided to give RoninMUD a try, as I knew a couple people playing
there. One of the things that immediately struck me is that while
Ronin did have a decidedly custom codebase, it definitely kept that
'Diku feel' firmly in place. A strong sense of nostalgia washed over
me, and I suddenly felt back at home, on a MUD I had never played.
Now, before I get ahead of myself, it should be said that Ronin, like
many but a small handful of MUDs, has a much smaller playerbase today
than it did in its heyday. An average day will have 1-2 players on at
a time at minimum and up to 5-8 players at its peak. This may be but a
drop in the bucket compared to the larger MUDs out there, but one
major thing to take into account is the limit of 3 characters per
player. Those 8 players turns into 24 characters, and suddenly things
look a lot more populated. This is both Ronin's biggest advantage to
keep up with a waning pool of people who like and want to play MUDs,
and simultaneously one of its biggest detractors.
Many people are, to put it bluntly, unable or unwilling to play 3
characters at once. For someone who had played a single character for
16 years prior to starting on Ronin, it was daunting at first, but
quickly became one of the most appealing reasons to continue playing.
There is something about that level of micromanagement that keeps the
MUD from becoming stale, because rather than standing there, spamming
the same ability over and over, you are tasked with controlling three
separate players, handling all interaction between those characters in
order to create a cohesive unit. This alone is a challenge unto
itself, and adds a lot of spice to the game.
The players are, for the most part, very friendly and embrace everyone,
especially newcomers. For obvious reasons, the existing playerbase
wants to see some fresh blood, and are as accommodating as they can be
in order to keep new people around. The MUD scales rather well for
beginning to older players, and new players will find that while some
active players have been there for a good many years, that the design
of the combat system is done in such a way that including newly minted
players is possible, in mostly all but the highest end content
The combat system, while very reminiscent of the original Diku
system, has been modified to bring some more modern elements to
diversify combat, and take it away from the simple 'start fight,
wait, heal, collect loot' routine. Throw into the mix the possibility
of hundreds of different 'multis' (the common name used for a group
of 3 characters controlled by 1 player) and the combat varies greatly
from player to player. There is no one 'best' combination of
classes, but the choice alone offers a single defining way to
determine how you will experience the game.
The most notable low point of the MUD is probably the bottlenecked
development pipeline, where machine access has more or less fallen to
a single individual, who constantly struggles to balance life with the
duties of implementing the various wants of the players and staff.
Development of new content is generally always ongoing, but the rate
at which it is brought into the game can sometimes be quite
lackluster, and as such the MUD can at times seem stagnant. However,
with the droves of available content, players are still hard pressed
to not have something useful and entertaining to do, and it is that
variety of gameplay that keeps the MUD's gears turning.
The most appealing aspects of the MUD, in this player's opinion, are
the diverse ways of playing the game, combined with a lot of original,
interactive content, that even in it's most repetitive form, is still
a lot of fun. The community, for lack of a better word is simply
great, the immortal staff of the game very often strives to keep
things fresh, between the occasional quest to simple things like
tossing a bit of NPC roleplaying into the mix.
And lastly, on the topic of roleplaying, the mud is practically
devoid of it. The game is more of a meeting place for friends, to have
fun and pass the time, and is not meant to serve the needs of
roleplayers, for which there is no shortage of choice in options. To
many, this can be an obvious turn-off, but to those not wanting to get
wrapped up in a world of drama and backbiting, the lack of RP serves
to make for a more relaxing environment where one can simply cut loose
and be yourself, not constantly feeling the pressure to be something
you're not. For me, I couldn't really ask for much more.
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