TMC Reviews: Lensmoor
(Review Date: June 27, 1999)
TMC Reviewer: Lynne Hall |
Mud Theme |
Lensmoor is a mediaeval fantasy MUD, with the usual cohort of goblins,
demons and other beasties. The storyline isn't fabulous, it's a hack & slash
place, with a killing field mentality. The underlying ethos is to have a
good time, with the proviso of "letting other people alone." Apart from
basic netiquette, no one is "forced" to do anything. If you want to roleplay
you can, if you want to chatter about your real-life you can, if you want to
kill with a vengeance and do nothing else, well that's up to you.
Of most note to those of you out there who get irritated with immortals
do get involved, they are helpful and talk to players over the various
channels and will actually come and assist you, but you will know when they
are there. Lensmoor's immortals exhibit a high respect for player rights
that other places would do well to emulate.
Mud Atmosphere |
Lensmoor is supposed to be newbie friendly. However, it doesn't have systems
in place that will result in players helping other players, there are no
"newbie helpers" and most requests for help are dealt with on public
channels rather than with a player.
It isn't difficult to get going if you don't mind broadcasting your
ignorance, finding things out on a trial and error basis or experimenting
based on what you understand from the helpfiles. Death has limited impact at
least at lower levels and this encourages you to have a go at lots of
things. Players might help, but its for no apparent reason at all, except
they like helping.
The players I met were reasonably friendly, however, they are not the most
talkative of people. It is rare to come upon high tier players sitting round
and having a chat. The reason that you talk and interact with the other
players seems to be primarily related to going off and killing things with
them. If you want to roleplay, be prepared to wait, its encouraged not
essential, that means you don't have to if you don't want to, and from what
I saw most people don't, but the higher levels are changing...
The infinite variety of Lensmoor enables the player to be good at any range
of activities, from killing, to running shops and making baskets. However, I
wondered if this would result in a population where no one is particularly
good at any thing.
Player killing and various other unlawful activities are possible, but
again, you don't have to do this if you don't want to, although most of the
higher tiers do have the PK flag.
Mud World |
Lensmoor has an extensive geography, with an impressive variety of areas,
mobiles and features. The areas are nicely pitched at character levels and
if you are an experienced DIKU player it is possible to level very quickly.
I did find the descriptions a little spammy, and if there were a lot of
mobiles in an area the screen became very full.
A fairly complex, somewhat "realistic" approach is taken to day to day
living, and there is a profusion of everything. Lots of shops and training
locations mean that you spend a significant time looking for things and then
a lot of time scribbling down where they are and what they're for. Although
this encourages exploration and gives a greater sense of scope to Lensmoor,
it makes life quite arduous.
There are an incredible amount of skills and spells. In fact there are so
many that your chances of remembering even a small percentage of them are
slight. And you can learn every single one of them. There is a concept of
specialization, with the specialities replicating the standard MUD guilds
and additional classes, such as crafters. The choice to specialize is up to
the players themselves, and you can just be good at lots of things and not
specialize in anything should you so choose.
The pets and familiars add an amusing touch and there is potential for
"animal handling" which in addition to the normal skills of riding includes
the fact that these beasts will do your bidding even at a distance. In many
senses this is far better than the thieves or rangers scouting skills and
offers immense potential for character development.
Additional Comments |
I had an audience with the immortals and found them very friendly and
helpful. This was initiated by Aldur, in response to my questions on the
newbie channel. They care a lot about their Lensmoor, this I think is a
really positive point, they're dedicated to extending and modifying it,
often in response to player suggestions.
You can see the impact of having competent programmers on the immortal team,
extensive functionality and no bugs. Unfortunately, Lensmoor reminded me
somewhat of Mr. Gates' "Fatware" products. I don't mean the MUD was slow,
more that you ended up using only a tiny amount of the possible
functionalities and that in trying to find out what those possibilities were
you ended up reading copious amounts and succumbing to frustration.
A good help system is in place, but long, complex and difficult and perhaps
just a little boring to read. It certainly bored me. However, Lensmoor does
have a set of good, well-designed web pages, which provide all the necessary
information and a good alternative to reading pages of text in a MUD client.
The channels were bearable, apart from the awful congratulations channel.
Yes, I know I've levelled thank you very much, I just don't need half a
dozen people saying well done.
There were stacks of quests, I liked how these were put together. Quests are
obtainable from certain mobiles who provide you with details of the quest
and a time limit. The quests are simplistic, such as kill so many of such
and such mobile or finding objects. They were fun and encouraged a lot of
exploration and killing.
Lensmoor is a MUD that encourages roleplay, however, I saw very little of
this, and the immortals told me that most roleplay occurs in private. If you
like serious roleplay this is probably not the best place to be, at least
not at the minute anyway. The best roleplay I saw in Lensmoor was between
the immortals, I just love the way head imms look *amused*
Potential is the word that sums up Lensmoor for me. This the atmosphere you
find in Lensmoor, it feels like something could happen, quite what isn't
clear. Lensmoor offers enormous variety, coupled with a very healthy respect
for players and a group of highly committed immortals. If you like hack and
slash and exploration, you will like Lensmoor.
However, the ultimate question for Lensmoor, and one I am unable to answer,
is will it become a Roleplay oriented MUD or will it remain Hack & Slash.
Unlike most places, I would say that this decision will be player determined
not the result of the enforcement of wizardly fiat. So, if you are into
roleplaying, like shaping worlds and are tired of traditional DIKU MUDs, I
recommend this place to you, the potential is there... it just needs
Comments from the Lensmoor Administration |
I have a couple of comments about the review. I'm not really sure how to
voice them. I don't know how long the typical Mud review is suposed to take,
but I find it hard to believe that someone can state with certainty that
'most people don't roleplay' after only being on a mud for 13 hours. Those
players who are plotting things are more likely to do so where they won't
be overheard, not in public.
I feel that there were certain expectations of what roleplaying on a mud
is, perhaps from other muds, and that the reviewer was not open to other
interpretations of roleplaying. I was asked "how can you roleplay when
you don't have roles?" - refering to the fact that it is a classless,
I believe a good review addresses a mud for what it is. Criticizing a
classless mud for the fact that it is classless is like complaining that
the romantic-comedy you're reviewing doesn't have enough explosions and
The other comment comes from the same train of thought.
> Unfortunately, Lensmoor reminded me somewhat of Mr. Gates' "Fatware"
> products. I don't mean the MUD was slow, more that you ended up using only
> a tiny amount of the possible functionalities and that in trying to find
> out what those possibilities were you ended up reading copious amounts
> and succumbing to frustration.
As I told the reviewer, almost every option, setting, or choice was
initiated as a player idea. Maybe only 5 people will have use for a
certain option, but if they have a use for it, is there a reason not to
provide it? (As long as it doesn't affect the rest of the mud.) If you
don't need all the functionality, it is selfish to tell others that they
don't need it also. I don't use all the functionality the real world
provides me. I don't go skiing. Should I ask that skiing not exist because
I'm not going to use it?
Providing 3 different output formats doesn't hurt the game, and it gives
the players more control over how they can interact with it.
Choice has always been one of the guiding voices in the development of
the game. The fact that players can both customize their play environment,
and their characters, is a strength, not a flaw.
Unfortunately, the reviewer seemed to prefer a more directed environment,
where you are told what you may or may not learn, how to roleplay, and
what your environment settings should be set to.