Inspired by Kedlin84's blog about Midkemia Online, in which he describes his experiences starting a new character and playing in a text MUD, I've decided to chronicle some of my experiences in my own favourite text MMORPG, Achaea.
What is Achaea? Well, first of all, it's a text-based MMO, sometimes called a MUD. There are no graphics--everything is described in text form.
If you're used to playing graphical MMORPGs, this might seem like just an old-fashioned, poor man's version of an MMO. But I actually find text MMORPGs to be much more fun. Text games have some very real advantages over graphical ones.
First of all, in MUDs, it's possible to exercise much more creativity, and to customize things on your own. I get to describe my character exactly how I want her to look. I can build my own house and design it exactly how I want to, and I can even design the clothing and jewellery I want to wear. There's room for tons of creativity, because you're not dependent on the game's artists to set up the options you can choose from.
Partly for that reason, text games are generally a much better place to go than any graphical game if you are interested in roleplay. The all-text medium allows you to describe your character and your character's actions exactly how you want to, allowing for a lot more creativity and precision in roleplay. And a text MUD combines that flexibility with the benefits of an MMO: a full-blown, richly interactive world (complete with PvP fighting, quests, politics, global events, and exploration) as a backdrop for your roleplay.
Once you get used to it, a text-described environment is really a lot richer and more compelling than a graphical environment. Not only does each person design their own description for their character, but each "room" of the MUD and each object and each event is described in a level of multi-sensory detail that's not possible in graphics. Most people find, soon after they start playing, that they stop seeing the text, and start just seeing and feeling the world that's described there. It's just like when you're engrossed in a really good novel: you are conscious only of the images and the story and the feelings playing out in your imagination, not of the words on the page.
A second way that text MMOs are superior to graphical MMOs is that when all input and output is in the form of text, it's possible to have a much more complex, and hence much more interesting, PvP combat system. Most text muds, I have to confess, don't come anywhere close to living up to the potential that exists here. But the IRE text games are an exception. What is the best MMORPG? Achaea's combat system includes the most interesting PvP combat, whether at the one-on-one level or at the group level, of any roleplaying game I know of. A lot of what makes the combat so engaging is its complexity, a degree of complexity that would not be feasible except in a text game. Not everyone who plays Achaea is interested in PvP, but for those who are, it can be really engrossing.
The reason I'm starting this blog is that I have been playing the text MMO Achaea for several years now. I love playing my current character, for a lot of reasons, and I mean to continue playing her for a long time. But I've been itching for awhile to try something new, too. So I've started a new character, in a different city and faction of the game than I've ever played before. I will be chronicling my newbie character's adventures and misadventures in the posts that follow.
Return soon to find out how I fare, and if you'd like to have some text adventures (or misadventures) of your own, head over to Achaea and try it out!