I've been playing Achaea, a MUD from Iron Realms Entertainment, since early in 2003. Prior to that, I wasn't much of a gamer. I was more of a reader. All through my early school career, whenever I felt the need for adventure, I'd bury my nose in a book. By the time I reached the fourth grade, I was reading at the same level of comprehension as a sophomore in university, and I had devoured many of the classics that students five or six years my senior often found daunting. This fascination with the written word eventually led to my development as a writer -- a fickle occupation, but one that I have nonetheless pursued with passion.
My family finally bought a computer in 1999, the year I turned twelve. To this point, I had been a bit of a luddite -- I was still listening to a cassette Walkman, I rarely watched television, and the closest I had ever come to a computer was the sparing, closely-monitored use of the school's library machines for research and word processing. Ever the thrifty shoppers, my parents brought home a Compaq that was ancient by the standards of the day. For all of its wheezing and freezing, however, it served its purpose, and through unfettered access to the internet, my perspective of the world broadened.
I started with chat rooms, but, turned off by the average netizen's aversion to the rules of English grammar and conventions, I quickly moved on to internet forums, where the conversation, albeit slower, was a touch more legible. It was here that I encountered roleplaying for the first time, and I wiled away hours with online D&D and Vampire: The Masquerade. I continued with that until I was sixteen, never realising that MUDs existed. I had heard of MMORPGs, but EverQuest and the other games popular around that time had two things by which I could not abide: graphics, and subscriptions. I grew up poor, so spending money every month to play a game for which I had already purchased the software seemed ludicrous. I had dial-up internet on an absolute dinosaur of a computer, which made downloads or even running a graphics-intensive game all but impossible. On the rare occasion where I screwed around on a friend's account, I even had difficulty telling which character I was playing -- all of the avatars looked the same to me. I was discouraged. All of my friends were gamers, and they all seemed to be having so much fun.
I was bemoaning this fate one day, and a friend's boyfriend overheard me. It was lunchtime, and we were sitting in the hallway outside of the school library. He started telling me all about a game he played that was completely based in text. I was initially sceptical, worried that it would be filled with the same leetspeak and lolpk that seemed to permeate both the chat room and internet gaming community, but after a few mutual friends confirmed that the game had high standards, I agreed to try it. Having finished our lunches, we went into the library's computer lab, they sat me down, and I created Amunet. I've been playing ever since.
Over the course of the next few posts, I'll try to detail not only what attracted me to Achaea, but why, nearly a decade later, I'm still in love with the game. I'll also try to shed some light on the MUD culture, the process of developing a character, and how I and my character have grown and changed through the years.
If you're eloquent and imaginative, if graphical games don't seem to hold your attention, and if you're looking for an enriching RP environment, then give this game a try. You will not be disappointed!