TMC Reviews: Sleepless Nights

(Review Date: April 13, 1999)
TMC Reviewer: Laszlo Vincze
Mud Theme

Sleepless Nights is a mud set in medieval times, with few anachronisms. The ones that do exist are mostly just minor little things (the innkeeper having a fag, for example), and show that the creators of this MUD were more concerned with making an interesting world full of puzzles for the players to solve than with a strict adherence to theme.

Mud Atmosphere

The MUD's playerbase is rather small (rarely does one see more than 15 players on), but the players of the MUD are generally quite friendly and helpful to newbies. Most of them cheerfully answered my questions, and some would even go out of their way to help, showing me around a bit. Be aware, though, that this is a PK MUD. While the inn you start in is a "safe" zone, once you leave it, you are at the mercy of others. To be fair, though, I have not yet seen any player taking advantage of a newbie to kill him/her, and killing newbies is somewhat frowned upon. Higher levels, however, are fair game.

Because of the fast pace of the MUD, everyone is usually desperately hunting equipment in the first few minutes, and treasure the rest of the time. Thus, people rarely have time for such niceties as role- playing. Indeed, the whole atmosphere is rather rushed and intense at times, which may be somewhat daunting if you're new.

Mud World

The whole focus of Sleepless Nights seems to be quest-solving, to the point where other aspects of game mechanics are all but ignored. There are no races besides human, no stats, and no skills. Combat is standard, and there are few spells. On the plus side, the quests that do exist are well-done and difficult. There are eight of them to complete, after which a player may attempt the mysterious "Final Quest" to try reaching wizard status. There are also many smaller tasks that, while not quests, are often rather challenging. Coupled with the fact that the room descriptions are original, colourful and varied, puzzle-solving can get quite interesting.

Several guilds exist, but entering their ranks is not too easy, requiring a puzzle to be solved (a different one for each guild). Guilds give different bonuses and advantages, though, and joining one is usually a good idea.

Advancement on Sleepless Nights is linked to "points" (similar to xps on other MUDs). When you reach a certain amount of points, you get a level. Points gan be gained by defeating difficult monsters, and sacrificing treasure.

An interesting feature is that levels seem to count for less here than on other MUDs. Besides the fact that higher levels have somewhat more HPs, the only advantage they get comes from certain special abilities their guild gives them. Equipment, however, counts for a lot. This makes for the interesting situation that a level 2 and a level 8 player can go hunting monsters together, with the newbie being a real asset to the more experienced player (assuming he gets, or is given, some decent weapon and armour).

Additional Comments

One of the interesting things making Sleepless Nights the fast-paced MUD it is is the fact that equipment and monsters aren't reset except for the shutdowns, which occur every 2 hours. When a shutdown happens, all players are instantly logged off, their equipment disappears, leaving only their money and points, and the MUD is reset to its original state. This means that the first few minutes after shutdown are spent with everyone rushing off to get equipment. This basically means that the most important asset on Sleepless Nights is not your level and not your equipment: it's your knowledge of the MUD. Unfortunately, this also means that, especially when there are many players on, newbies are left out in the cold, without a weapon to hand. It is no less frustrating when you find a cunningly hidden secret place, but it's empty, leaving you wondering if there ever was anything in it or not.

Death on the MUD is rather severe, as you lose 90% of your points every time you die. This is enough to usually cause your level to drop to 1/3 of it's previous value. This can be quite frustrating, since it is very easy to die, especially for a newbie.

Summary

If you live for quests and puzzles, and don't much care for snazzy game-mechanics, you might well enjoy Sleepless Nights. On the whole, though, I have found that there are MUDs out there offering the same quality of quests and puzzles, but with other interesting features that this MUD seems to be lacking.