I'm sitting in front of my computer, a black screen with multi-colored text seeming to whiz by at an imperceptible rate. First wondering if I'm programming, my friends look on in awe as I explain that I'm actually raiding, and -- oops, I just died. Most players of MUDs such as Achaea: Dreams of Divine Lands have a similar experience. Despite being avid gamers, most of my friends have never heard of a MUD (Multi-User Dungeon) and don't understand why anyone would play a game without graphics. After all, they like to tell me, it isn't 1980.
No, it isn't 1980, but graphics have little to do with how fun a game is. I also play games such as Dungeons and Dragons and Magic: the Gathering, neither of which are graphical video games, yet each has hundreds of thousands of players worldwide. I view MUDs as the happy medium between these three types of games: MMORPG, storytelling table-top, and strategy.
1. MUDs and MMORPGs
Playing a game by oneself is rather boring, and it seems most people agree, as social interaction in video games has increased significantly in the past few decades. The explosive growth of MMORPGs such as World of Warcraft is another testament to this. There are few things more exciting in a game than playing at the same time as a dozen of your friends to take down a foe.
2. MUDs and Tabletop Games
The basis of both of these is storytelling and roleplay. In each, you're thrust into a fantasy world where you are controlling a character who can cast spells, fight dragons, and speak another language. As such, they require a high level of interaction and immersion. Some days, I log into Achaea and do nothing but roleplaying; some days, I only fight. Much like a tabletop RPG, each session of a MUD is different, and that is what makes both popular!
3. MUDS and Strategy
There are some strategic elements of MMORPGs, but MUDs like Achaea generally have dozens and dozens and dozens of different abilities, each of which require the user to know what situations to use any give ability in. Achaea also has lots of afflictions, which require smart prioritization that depends on who you're fighting and what their skills are. Whew! Most MMORPGs I've played have a dedicated healer who takes the role on, but MUDs make you pretty self-sufficient. With great power comes great responsibility, however!
MMO players who are fans of tabletop games like Magic: the Gathering should definitely try out MUDs. They combine elements of all of these games into something greater than the sum of its parts.