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Notes from Achaea

I have played Achaea, Dreams of Divine Lands for more than ten years--an uncommonly long tenure in one MMO, I think. In this blog I will reflect on my experiences, current Achaean events, and the nature of virtual community.

Author: MhaldorMage

How I got started in Achaea

Posted by MhaldorMage Saturday May 5 2012 at 9:38AM
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That's the screen I see whenever I start to play Achaea, one of the top MUDs offered by Iron Realms. 

It hasn't changed at all, in the ten years I've played, and now it's so familiar that I rarely look at it, but I remember feeling very different when I first started. 

This was in the days before Iron Realms (only Achaea, at the time, actually) offered its own custom-built clients, so I was stuck with the program called "Telnet" that was included with Windows 95. It's a miracle I even managed to log on, so clunky was the interface. There was no ASCII color--take a look at that screenshot and you'll see a sample of the rainbow of text colors that are so essential to the experience of contemporary MUDs. There was no way to backspace if you made a typo--and no way to tell, for sure, if you made a typo, because what you were typing didn't appear on the screen. There was no way to scroll up through the buffer text, and I couldn't figure out how to resize the (rather small) window.

You'd think all this would be an insurmountable obstacle to enjoying a game, and for me it might've been--I was fortunate to discover a piece of still-rudimentary abandoned software called Gmud (I now use Mudlet, which is free, and glorious). But other players had been using the Windows client for months and years, successfully navigating under not-great conditions. 

So far this might seem like a "we had to walk uphill in the snow both ways" kind of narrative. Why I dredge it up, and what I'm wondering, is what made me give Achaea that initial chance, what made me stick with the game even as others logged in, got confused or frustrated, and quickly left. A large part of it was the excitement of being able to play a computer game with other people. I had a dial-up connection, so games that were less parsimonious about the size of data transfers were right out. I was just about mobbed after I finished the intro tour, with people sending me messages offering help and subtly plugging their guilds and cities. Clearly these people were getting something out of the game.

The other part of it was a pre-existing love of reading. I've always been a bookworm, and the stream of text and verbal description that issued forth on my computer screen was inviting rather than forbidding. That was enough to get me going, and once I remembered that north and south were opposite directions, and therefore stopped walking back and forth repetitiously, I was all set.

And so, reader, if you are wondering, as I was those years ago, "What game should I play?" I hope you'll consider joining me in an Iron Realms MUD.

Greetings, and notes on Achaea's mage class

Posted by MhaldorMage Thursday May 3 2012 at 8:19AM
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Hello everyone,

I'm new to this community and look forward to participating in discussions of MMOs. I guess I'll start by saying a bit about myself. 

I've been playing Achaea, a MUD from Iron Realms, for almost eleven years now. For that entire time, I've played a single character, and, as you may've guessed from my username, a single class -- mage. I'm amazed that one game has managed to hold my interest for all this time. I mean, I loved Ocarina of Time, but I played through it twice and was pretty much done with it. That's the great thing about MMOs, though--the fact that you play with other real people really increases the replay value. The flexibility that comes from not having to worry about graphics and animation allows for Achaea's community to have a greater level of influence on the game world, as well.

But that's the whole topic of this blog. I'm not going to try to lay it all out in one post. To start I want to talk about Achaea's mage class.

The mage class is one of the earlier classes in Achaea, preceded only by Paladins, Priests, Monks, Sentinels (a ranger-type class), Druids, Infernals, and Serpents. That may not seem too terribly early, but in fact it makes the mage class the eighth out of (so far) eighteen classes in Achaea (counting the Dragon class, which is a reward for reaching level 100). The class was created in 2000, and I joined Achaea not long thereafter. 

As you might be able to glean from the list, the earlier classes tended to be a bit more conventional than later additions like Jester and Apostate. But in fact the mage's skills are linked to the mythos very nicely.

Two out of the mage's three unique skillsets -- elementalism and crystalism -- are linked to the realms of Achaea's gods. Lorielan rules the Crystal Realm, and Agatheis the Elemental. This means that intermittently throughout Achaea's history, mages have been involved in some pretty big doings. The religious RP of Achaea, in which players ally themselves with "gods" who are volunteers selected from the player base, allows for this. Research and investigation into skills needn't be pure play-acting; if a god gets involved and sees what you're doing as worthwhile, an elemental ritual can become an act of elemental power. On one occasion I saved a building from collapsing, and on another, prevented a hole from being repaired a hole in the fabric of space-time. 

My point is, the role of mages in Achaea is defined by a fictional history and backstory, not simply by their roles in combat. Runescape or WoW can't compare to the depth, and if you're wondering, "what game should I play?" the Iron Realms games, which are all in this style, might be for you. I look forward to getting to know you guys and continuing to post these Notes from Achaea! 

- MhaldorMage