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Role Playing Discussion  » Text-based roleplaying MMOs: Why not?

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66 posts found

Novice Member

Joined: 4/29/07
Posts: 8

OP  9/26/11 10:45:14 PM#1

Long-time lurker, you know the drill.

I realize that for a lot of people, MMO means a game has to have kickass graphics, but it really surprises me that even the rp'ers have that mindset, considering we tend to get the short end of the the stick when it comes to many MMO designers. In fact, it often feels like we're simply an afterthought in MMO development. First they satisfy the killers with good PvP, then the achievers with badges to show off and maybe a little crafting, then the explorers with interesting areas to raid, and if they have time before production time, they'll throw roleplayers a bone like a dance emote or a roleplaying server in which to herd us.

So yeah, I'm a little bitter, and I expect several of you are as well. What I'm confused about is why the rest of the MMO community haven't made the logic jump that I made to text-based roleplaying MMOs. Wait, don't spit your drink just yet, lemme explain. For me, the bedrock of roleplaying is in telling a good story, like each character is a main character in a book someone's writing. This lends itself extremely well to text, allowing you to describe your facial expression, vocal tone, body language, or even simply movement in great detail. You can choose to be as brief or as verbose as you want, depending on the scene. And, yeah, a well-described character is leaps and bounds more personalized than the limited number of choices that most graphical MMOs offer to roleplayers. Not only are the interactions and descriptions better, but so is the ability to go off of the beaten path. Text is only limited by your imagination, while graphical stuff needs to be actively ignored to allow your imagination to enter.

That said, what is your sticking point with text-based roleplaying that keeps you from using them? There's hundreds out there, often lurking under the names of MMO's grandparents, the MUD and MUSH. They're often at least free to play, and have the best rp I've found anywhere. Thanks.


Apprentice Member

Joined: 2/28/10
Posts: 1682

9/27/11 12:42:34 AM#2

I've dipped my feet in this water, but then realized I was the only one swimming. If there were others in the pool, they must have been hiding underwater, because they wouldn't reply when I would shout out.

Feel free to recommend a text based game for me.


Apprentice Member

Joined: 4/04/11
Posts: 756

9/27/11 12:45:23 AM#3

What about a Reading Rainbow MMO?  It could have voice overs by Levar and everything.

Am I too old to be making that reference around here?


Novice Member

Joined: 9/15/08
Posts: 46

9/27/11 2:34:06 AM#4


I love MUDs and MUSHes!


Because they are not burdened by graphics, they offer so much more possibilities. And they are not only for roleplayers – Just like MMORPGs, some muds focus on RP, some are hack&slash, some have very extensive crafting systems, there are PVP muds and PVE muds.


I actually think that if there ever was a time to ‘bring back’ text-based multiplayer RPGs, it is now. We are moving towards mobile gaming, we all own smartphones and tablets and we would love to game on them, but the current offering in mobile MMOs is just horrible. They all want to show off their pretty graphics, and what we get is a bunch of superficial, childlike, linear games. MUDs are perfect for mobile gaming!


Often, the problem is finding the right MUD for you. There are thousands of MUDs, and it can take a while before you find one that you love. 


Here's some websites that might help you:

-        * : for a large number of muds, this website shows the number of players currently online and the average number of players per reboot. It also gives a short description of most games.

-         * : has a very good advanced search and overview of new/updated/popular games


And here’s some recommendations for games:

-       *  If you like to focus on combat, hack&slash & questing, try Aardwolf or Materia Magica. Both are fun to play and have more than 100 players on at any given time.

-       *   The Iron Realms  games (Achaea, Lusternia, …)  are also very good (big world, very in-depth, loads of possibilities and things to do, also good roleplay) but they are a bit ‘pay to win’ – so if you hate cash shops, don’t try them

-       * If you love long quests that really make you think, crafting and a huge world to explore, try Discworld MUD. This game is also really funny.

-       *   If you like to roleplay, try Treshold RPG

-       *   And last but not least, I think Lithmeria is going to be a really good game, it’s still in closed beta but they will be going into open beta soon!


Novice Member

Joined: 5/20/05
Posts: 2054

9/27/11 2:48:11 AM#5

Anyone know one of those old text based solo rpg, like dungeons crawler. I used to play some very nice games like this a decade ago and i kind of miss them. So if anyone know some games like this that are still around, just post them, ty.

Graphic put a very strong limit on your imagination, and i didn't liked Muds very much because at the end most where just a scripting race, and you had to be a coder to do well in those games. At least graphical rpg aren't that much about boting and scripting.


Novice Member

Joined: 9/15/08
Posts: 46

9/27/11 3:56:56 AM#6

Don't know about any new text based single player dungeon crawlers (if anyone knows any, i'd love to get recommendations!!), but i would suggest the classic EAMON. On this website you'll find all the info and I think you can even play the game here:

If you search on 'dungeon crawl' in the interactive fiction database you also get a couple of games (really old ones too though :))


Novice Member

Joined: 4/29/07
Posts: 8

OP  9/27/11 2:27:49 PM#7
Neoddysey's suggestions were pretty good (especially Topmudsites), but yeah, I personally dip into the text-based side for free roleplaying, not hack-and-slash. I’m a bit of a sci-fi nut, so the main game I've been hanging out at lately is an original-theme epic space opera mashup called OtherSpace. If you like the kind of stories like those in Babylon 5, Firefly, Mass Effect, and even some of the old-school Star Wars, it can be a really fun place. If you prefer ultra-realism over the rule of cool, it might not be your cup of tea. 
Really friendly community, and the gameplay reminds me a lot of tabletop gaming, with customizable but not out-of-control skills and dice rolling while players run scenes for other players. I also appreciate the variety of scenes they run there. Some days, it’s ship battles with the bigbad velociraptors IN SPAAAACE, some days it’s mad science, some days it’s some guys in a bar, some days it’s a small human refugee community in an alien universe banding together for mutual survival, and some days it’s just pure silliness.
If you're the type to just jump in and sink or swim like I am, here's a hint. Go here, make a quick 250 word biography for a human from any point in human history (even modern day for super-easy) and rifted into the setting, and you and your character can learn the theme together in-game. That way you can actually decide if you like the game before you spend forever on a theme-appropriate bio. Pick Eiru or Materi Syna for your starting world, since they're the most popular. 
If sci-fi isn’t your thing, I’ve had a lot of fun with the LoTR-based Shadows of Isildur ( ), and the Dark Sun-like Armageddon ( ), though the latter doesn't allow OOC chatter anywhere in the game, which can get annoying. Very immersive, though.
As for one-player text-based stuff, I don't really know much about that, though I do know they re-released the Zork trilogy a few months back for cheap. You can relive getting eaten by a grue, if that's your thing.


Elite Member

Joined: 4/12/11
Posts: 4494

RIP City of Heroes!

9/27/11 2:32:24 PM#8
Originally posted by Requiamer

Anyone know one of those old text based solo rpg, like dungeons crawler. I used to play some very nice games like this a decade ago and i kind of miss them. So if anyone know some games like this that are still around, just post them, ty.

Graphic put a very strong limit on your imagination, and i didn't liked Muds very much because at the end most where just a scripting race, and you had to be a coder to do well in those games. At least graphical rpg aren't that much about boting and scripting.

try nethack.


Novice Member

Joined: 11/18/06
Posts: 713

9/27/11 2:34:38 PM#9

One of the reasons I don't play text-based games a lot (I do from time to time though when I'm feeling adventurous) is that I have trouble visualizing the way things are laid out. Sure, landmarks are usually no problem, like "the fountain in the centre of town" or something, but in most of the text-based games I've tried out there's an awful lot of rooms that are identical. "You're in an alley." Go west. "You're in an alley." etc.

Second, most of the ones I've played have been very grindy. Maybe I'm not doing it right, but I've spent a lot of time slaying rats and then carrying their bodies to some NPC for a few coins. That's not fun to me.

<childish, provocative and highly speculative banner about your favorite game goes here>


Novice Member

Joined: 4/05/05
Posts: 67

9/27/11 2:58:37 PM#10

To add my 2 cp I would say that for me,  I don't want to play text based video games, I want to play video games with Grafix.

They don't need to be state of the art,  they dont need to be so good I have to buy a new PC.

I can role play in a game with grafix just as good as i can in a mud, just takes a little patience & imagination.

why dont more people do that?  I can't answer that.  All I ever need to RP is other people that want to RP.

It's evolution baby, things progress & change, Muds are still a playable format,   just like you can still read a paper book.

But I say this, when the next  Wheel of Time book comes out & it weighs 6 pounds, screw it,  I will get it on my Kindle that weighs 3 ounces. 


Novice Member

Joined: 4/29/07
Posts: 8

OP  9/27/11 3:30:09 PM#11

Oh, I agree that things are evolving, ferndip, I'm just not sure they're evolving in a direction that favors us as roleplayers (yet). Like you said, you need more patience to roleplay in the current or near-current batches of graphics games. Things should be getting easier for us, as the companies seek to put in more and more features to support rp. Instead, backwater 'obsolete' games like muds and mushes are actually evolving more towards serving us as roleplayers. That's just sad.


Novice Member

Joined: 1/18/07
Posts: 479

LIfe is a grind already, take it out of MMO's!

3/08/12 9:25:52 AM#12
i agree with jimmac. All the muds i've tried have not had friendly communities to newcomers. They seem too involved in solo'ing, or involved in their own cliques. Also when you are looking for story, plot, etc, and you are getting nothing from the other players, i find that each room has nothing but descriptive text. This can be excellent, but unlike solo text based adventures, there is never anything to interact with. Perhaps if there was a mud, with a little less 'rooms', and say a hundred areas where quests and interesting storylines could be triggered, i would give them more of a chance. Btw, is there anyone running an actual rpg via this forum?
falkirkbairn Xfire Miniprofile

Novice Member

Joined: 1/02/12
Posts: 374

3/19/12 12:46:39 PM#13

if anyone gives Achaea a try I recommend joining Shallam and announcing that you're new over the CT (city talk) channel, I'll definitely help you get started and introduce you to people who like to roleplay.

Use the HTML5 client it has a built in map and other nice features

Achaea client

Currently playing: Achaea


Novice Member

Joined: 3/06/04
Posts: 1217

3/19/12 12:47:55 PM#14

Fantasy Ground II


Novice Member

Joined: 3/19/12
Posts: 6

3/19/12 7:24:40 PM#15

I am a fan (as the forum name might imply) of Midkemia Online, which is a really good MUD based on the series of books of the same name.


Novice Member

Joined: 1/22/09
Posts: 555

There are 2 kinds of people in the world: those who don't like dragons and those who enjoy living.

3/20/12 1:55:34 PM#16

My main issue with MUD's is they are too dependent on imagination, which seems like a good thing, but then you realize it can easily be ruined by players who are awful roleplayers.  That seems negligible, because you can always put them on ignore, but then you get spotty conversations and what not when in groups.  Overall, that makes much of the experience seem silly and less immersive.

Of course, this is not counting other issues like scrolling text, which for many people, is a problem, because there are those of us who want to continue seeing something, like that orc sitting on a knoll, not scroll some text to read about it because we missed it the first time around.  Combat in a lot of games is hampered by that too.  Realistically, I am trying to convey that in a very complex MMO, the text would be too much to read, compared to the human ability of simply observing a physical world.

But instead of harping on issues, I would rather discuss the future, and try to promote optimism that things will change.  There will come a time when games really do allow us to play out stories, I think we need to just be patient.

But for those of us who desire it, we might as well all settle for less with whatever.  I go with LARP's, which really are not bad in theory, but I am still trying to find one where game mechanics don't constantly  get in the way of story.

My blog is a continuing story of what MMO's should be like.


Novice Member

Joined: 5/27/11
Posts: 23

3/31/12 4:09:10 PM#17

Well, I think that especially with MMO concepts text-based would pose the problem of not being able to perceive everything that's going on fast or easy enough.

Seeing is the easiest way of getting what's going on - if you have to read through everything, nah...

Too bothersome for most, I guess.

I love reading but even for me that would be too much.

Though I love classic text adventures!

But not MMO style...

  User Deleted
3/31/12 4:15:34 PM#18

I used to play in a Dragonriders of Pern MUD quite a few years ago but what fun! :) There are MUD's still around and I don't have an answer as to why they have fallen out of favour.


Novice Member

Joined: 2/27/11
Posts: 1087

3/31/12 4:15:40 PM#19

I can see text playing a larger role of some sort, but really some things are just easier to describe with graphics.  Consider:  You enter a large room with wooden walls, a few pictures hanging up (one is a picture of a cow with a banana in its mouth, another is a picture of a wolf with gray fur, onther depicts an old barn), a stairway down, three openings in front of you, one to the far left, one to the middle-left, and one to the far right.  You then see a table surrounded by 6 chairs.  Each chair has a red velvet cushion on it.  The table has a large roasted pig in the middle with an apple in its mouth.  ETC ETC ETC

All of this information as well as several more paragraphs of details could be described INSTANTLY with a picture.  That is why a meaningful text-based games really don't stand a chance.  If you need to transmit information from the game to your brain, limiting yourself to text just isn't the way to go.

GW2 "built from the ground up with microtransactions in mind"
1) Cash->Gems->Gold->Influence->WvWvWBoosts = PAY2WIN
2) Mystic Chests = Crass in-game cash shop advertisements


Apprentice Member

Joined: 3/21/06
Posts: 116

4/17/12 4:43:22 PM#20

Aren't there plenty of MUDs that use simple graphics, along with the text to help you visualize what's around you and map the area? Just  in case that makes any difference to you guys.

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