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MUD Wrestling: The Travails of a Text-Based Existence.

An attempt to chronicle my experience as a player of text-based games from Iron Realms Entertainment, most specifically as Amunet on Achaea, Dreams of Divine Lands.

Author: Chaos_Amunet

Better Late Than Never

Posted by Chaos_Amunet Tuesday June 26 2012 at 2:59AM
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I promised you a post a few days ago, but, as often happens, life managed to get in the way, and I spent most of the weekend nursing a hangover that kept me from logging into Achaea with my typical enthusiasm. One of the most integral parts of playing a MUD is roleplaying, and it can be difficult to quell your natural tendencies and react as your character would if you happen to be in a foul mood. I'd written a particularly long post about that this morning, hoping to illustrate how my previous inability to separate my reactions from my character's initially hindered my character's development. Unfortunately, my computer decided to be uncooperative, and the post was deleted before I could publish it. I'll be certain to get around to re-writing it tomorrow.

A few exciting things have been happening lately in Achaea, most notably the discovery of a large portion of the continent of Meropis. This new section is so large that a friend of mine estimated that it increased the size of Achaea's explorable area by five percent. I'm not certain regarding the veracity of that statement, but given how dramatically my explorer ranking tanked after the area was introdced, I'm inclined to believe it! The lore surrounding the area is shedding a lot of light on the lost city of Seleucar, which has in-character history nerds (such as myself) salivating in anticipation. I haven't gotten a chance to check it out yet, but a group of my fellow Occultists plan to make an expedition out of it tomorrow night. I'm definitely looking forward to it.

This release, which has reportedly been in the works for ages, is typical of the high-calibre world events that players of Iron Realms MUDs have come to expect. The dedication of the producers and volunteer staff who work on these games never ceases to amaze me. If you're in the market for a new MUD, I'd definitely suggest giving Iron Realms a try. You won't regret it.

My first blog post detailed how a self-acknowledged luddite and traditional nerd first discovered the world of online gaming -- or, more specifically, MUDs by Iron Realms Entertainment. I was sixteen years old when a friend's boyfriend introduced me to Achaea. While I had never really experienced anything like it before, it did not take long for me to master the basics, and by the end of my first month, I found myself so enamoured with the game that I began to invest a couple of hours every day to to my newfound hobby. 

The character I created back in 2003 is still the character I play today. She is called Amunet. If you play Achaea, maybe you've heard of her ;).  Over the past nine years, my character has developed a measure of noteriety, infamous for her eloquence, her frigidity, and her resilience. Looking back, my transition  from being a clueless, impertinent newb to leading some of the most powerful organisations in IRE's flagship MUD is a little astounding -- Amunet was certainly not always the ruthless, emasculating madwoman at the helm of the Chaotic faction. I'm twenty-six, now, and I've grown up since I started playing Achaea ...or maybe because I started playing Achaea, for there are certainly a few skills I may not have developed had I never been afforded this experience. Anyone who has shared a faction with Amunet has probably taken note of the massive differences between the sort of player I was prior to about 2006, and the sort of player I became. The success of my character is evidence that no matter how badly you initially screw up, the doors to text-glory are never truly closed to you in an IRE MUD.

For many people, choosing their character's name is the most difficult part of beginning a MUD (in fact, my friend and Housemate, Lianca, recently wrote this excellent post on the subject of naming a character. Check it out!) I didn't suffer any name indecision -- I simply plucked a name from something I found interesting. That "something" happened to be Egyptian mythology, and the name was that of a relatively obscure primordial goddess. Looking back, I do wish I had come up with something a bit more original, but I was far too involved in the game to change my name by the time I realised that I could have selected a better one.

After going through the newbie introduction, I made my second major decision, and joined what was then known as the guild of the Occultists. Unlike my character's name, this was a decision I have never regretted. Not only did the canon history of the Occultists intrigue me, but I was lucky enough to begin playing shortly after the restoration of Occultism, which was a very exciting time for people in the Chaotic faction. I was instantly drawn in by the game-wide and player-run events that were occurring, and apparently, so were a number of others. Within a year of when I started playing Achaea, several players who became influential in the Occultists also created their characters: Imyrr, Orklanishkal, and, of course, Flair, the infamous Prophet of Babel, just to name a few.

While I enjoyed my first few weeks in the game, to say that I was a natural would be a gross overestimate. Achaea's syntaxes are fairly intuitive, but there is also an extensive library of help files accessible both within the game as well as on the website, newbie guides to help answer general or technical questions, and novice aides in every guild to help new players ease into the roleplay of the organisations they've chosen to join (guilds are now called Great Houses, by the way, for reasons I will explain in a future post). These resources, plus the assistance of the out-of-character friends who introduced me to the game, were the reasons behind my quick acclimation, and I am very grateful to have had them at my disposal. The level of effort expended by the developers and producers of games by Iron Realms to ensure new players are comfortable and successful is nothing short of impressive. 

Tomorrow, I'll begin to explain a little bit about Achaea's extensive lore, and how exploring it transformed my character from a snarky little text-whore into a committed member of the Occultists. For those of you hoping to hear a bit about Amu's chequered youth -- and my early stupidity -- this next post will give you a taste. If you want to make some text-based mistakes of your own, head over to the Iron Realms website and create a character!

How I Found Achaea, and What I Did to It When I Found It.

Posted by Chaos_Amunet Thursday June 21 2012 at 6:25AM
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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!