As a MUD, Xyllomer turns out as an excellent example of why not to play one.
You can still see the original brilliance behind the design of the game. The original designer/writer was clearly extremely good, putting their personality and their soul into a quirky and interesting creation that can still sometimes be glimpsed through the noise every now and then. Sadly, that creation has been buried and obscured under years of 'writing by committee' and hand-me-down admins which have really had no idea what they were doing, pulling the unique and quirky flavor steadily into generic and bland. What started out as roleplaying Cordon Bleu is nowadays a month-old freeze-dried TV dinner.
At the beginning, though it's nice. You walk around, you meet people, you make friends. And these friendships grow unusually strong: The lack of a transparent who-list, of any kind of world maps, of channels and the very restricted tells system seems annoying at first but actually sets up an ambiance where you take other people more seriously than on other Muds. And that's where it all really falls down.
There's two kind of players on Xyllomer; the Germans and the Not-Germans. The germans are hosts and the original players of the game, while the Not-germans are everybody else. You can already see where I'm going with this, can't you? Yes, there is a very strong, very profoundly rooted 'ruling class' on this Mud, and while at first this isn't a concern for the newbie player who's just exploring the world, once this newbie becomes an oldbie and tries to rise up and affect the other 'fun' areas of the game, all he will find is an unclimbable wall of hostility and derision sneering down at him.
What happens then, largely due to the aforementioned ambiance, where every player seems just a bit more important or larger than they really are, is constant never ending feuds and bickering, where one piece of the playerbase tirelessly and intensely pushes for change and for improvement, while the other piece, the piece that could MAKE those changes and improvements, laughingly dismisses their pleas calling them childish and misinformed. This circus is always to be seen in the game's forums and message boards, both in and out of character.
What's sad is that Xyllomer's law and guild leadership system is almost genius, letting important decisions about justice and leadership be up to the playerbase and cutting out the admin. Of course, the system has always been in the hands of these German 'ruling class' players, who all know each other outside of the game. Whenever an important vote comes around it's common to see dozens of characters who havent been online in years suddenly waking up again to cast their vote and go back to sleep. Guild leaders are for the most part players who are never online or active in any way except for when their buddies alert them that someone else is trying to become leader themselves. Then they come online with their friends just long enough to win the vote and disappear again. The judge system is exactly the same, as is the stagnant merchant system and the paralyzed alchemy guild. They live in a state of abandoned stasis.
Finally, the admin. I have been priviledged to listen in on some of the discussions between admin, and have come out of that experience both baffled and horrified. In summary, the default answer for 90% of player requests, questions, doubts or criticisms is 'No answer of any kind is necessary'. I'm not kidding with this; I've literally read post after post by the head admin calling on the rest of the staff to 'be mature' by not answering and not making any kind of reply to a player's concerns, regardless of whether it's positive or negative. Ignoring people with stony silence is held as the height of intelligence and sophisitcation, and wizards are actually encouraged and rewarded for letting problems lie without an answer until the questioner just gets tired and moves on.
You can see as an example the negative reviews this Mud has had on this site, below. This is but one single example of where I've seen the admin be directed to not make any kind of reply and be expressly ordered not to bother with posting any kind of communication or explanation for the issues being brought up; this kind of thing is 10x more pronounced in the actual game.
Well, I don't want to be completely negative here, so I'll admit that the game was great fun - for the amount of time that I remained a newbie. Once I 'graduated' from that, and became aware of the state of the game from a higher point of view, Xyllomer as a Mud quickly became what I describe above; an excellent example of why not to play one.Post a comment
Comment posted on Thu Aug 28 21:00:09 2008 by N:
The comments about a 'German ruling class' are fairly off-base. Is it the case that the oldest players and wizards, who invested more time in the MUD long-term have more influence? Without a doubt. I remember early on when I played, there were a few guilds that were cliquish and often would restrict people not in their circle from joining (and in some cases the 'circle' was German players) -- but those guilds have long since changed. In my 9 years of experience nobody is treated badly because of where they are from, only for how they behave if they behave badly.
For a while there were many young (under 21) American players who were less mature than the German ones. This contributed to the feeling that somehow they were disadvantaged because of where they were from, instead of the effect they had on the mud (there were indeed some clashes, but this has mostly dissipated now, afaik).
I once had someone ask my character, who's a leader of one of the most difficult guilds to join on the MUD, if you had to be German to join the guild. I just laughed it off, since I'm from the US and was one of the most prominent leaders of that guild. ;) Plus, have played in significant roles in other guilds in the past, never once having someone say 'You're an American? You can't get promoted then.' (This is a simplification but I'm illustrating the absurdity of it). There's truly no glass ceiling on Xyllomer based on such arbitrary things.
I can't comment on the admin since I've never been a wizard before. Perhaps they have their own problems, but I doubt you would find a MUD that has all its wizards in perfect harmony.
Anyway that's my two cents. -N