Game mechanics: Armageddon was famous - or infamous - for its insanely powerful, world-changing long-list magick guilds. They split them all up into quadrants, so there no longer exists a full-on sorcerer, or wind mage, etc. Plus they eliminated the option to play shadow, void, and energy mages. They also now allow more people to play the quadrant-based mages, so it's not nearly as "special" as I feel it used to be, since now it seems as though everyone and their brother is either a known or secret mage. There are still dozens upon dozens of totally playable and fun options for play though, that don't revolve around magicks.
Feature set: lots of depth. There is a robust crafting system, the original DIKU-based combat system has been tweaked to better fit the RPI genre so it's still recognizeable to old-school hack-n-slash MUD fans but more RP-friendly. Mounts and wagons, hundreds of different skills - though through class/subclass options, you have to choose which skillsets your character will eventually "branch" and which he'll forgo. The help files on the main website are accessed easily through the search engine, with plenty of cross-referencing. And they are replicated in the game itself using "help "
Game world: There is a main city, a couple of main trade centers, some less-travelled trade centers, dozens of different hunting areas for those who want to hunt. There are lots of hidden spots, secret areas, places that can only be accessed in certain ways. There are also lots of coded and non-coded ways to earn your character's keep: join a clan, forage for stones/salt/food, get hired as an aide by a noble or templar and jump face-first into politics, form your own hunting crew or join someone else's, or join the criminal element and burglarize your way to fame and fortune. Characters can eventually rise in influence/wealth to become "important" whether in coded rank in a clan, or opening their own shop (which takes a LONG time and LOTS of work but it's definitely possible and has been done recently). Or you can just play a character who isn't trying to become important, but instead is just trying to survive and not starve to death or piss anyone off badly enough for them to get murdered. So plenty of options for movement and improvement from your character's first moments in the game til their death.
Community: this is a sore spot, but it's improved a bunch, at present. It has phases where it feels like drudgery to read the game forums. Usually it's just a couple or a few players who are hell-bent on finding fault, and will twist reality to fit their idea of "everything that's wrong with the game." Sometimes there really ARE things wrong with the game, but there are ways to seek resolution that don't involve pissing in everyone else's Cheerios. There are some people here, as in every game, who just want to piss in everyone's Cheerios. They do, they eventually get bored of it or the staff eventually shows them the door, and they go elsewhere to whine. Some of them even get tired of whining and return to the game. It's a very emotionally-driven game, so you have to expect a lot of passion among the players. While it's great that people care so deeply for Arm, it can be a curse at times, when things don't go the way a player was hoping it would go.
Staff: vastly improved from even as recent as a year ago. There has always been the steady thrum of solid, sensible, helpful, courteous staff members, but it has occasionally been interrupted with significantly unpleasant individuals. They weren't bad staffers necessarily. They were just really bad at the staff-player interaction game, and probably should've stayed in the background and let other staffers take over the player relations end of staffing. There've been a few doozies in the history of Armageddon, but you have to expect that with a game that's been running since the early 1990's.
Roleplay: I've played GemStone III, two MOOs, Legends of Future Past, a couple of DIKU RP-encouraged/enforced games, Armageddon, and the first incarnation of Shadows of Isuldur. Of all, I've found Armageddon's roleplay to be vastly superior. The emote system is detailed such that it's easy to really "put" yourself into your character and bring the game world to life. But at the same time, it's absolutely fine to simply nod, if that's all you feel your character would do. You aren't expected to throw out emotes for every little movement. You're just expected to try and make your character believable within the scope of the game's genre: post-apocalyptic desert planet with scary-magicks (as opposed to disney fairy godmother magicks) fantasy. Politics abound, whether you want to be a hero or antagonist, and there's plenty of both to latch on to, or to mentor your character. You never really know who your character's enemies are, sometimes not even at that one moment when you hear the death-BEEP and see the login screen saying "Welcome to Armageddon!" Pro-tip - death by assassination is infinitely more fun than death by mob #47934!
This review is going to be quite short, but it'll go over the basics.
Game Mechanics [3.5]: The mechanics are pretty good in most cases, the only things that drag this score down are the crafting system, and the progression system. Crafting is fairly simple, nothing special about it or engaging, which is mostly okay. The main problem is the skill progression: it takes a lot of grinding to get your skills up, and when grinding is discouraged, it gets really confusing.
Feature Set : Armageddon has plenty of in-depth features, even ones most people would never use, but they don't force barely any of them on you, which is nice.
Game World : Zalanthas itself is a harsh, gritty environment, and the game world does an awesome job of displaying that. The only problem is that the world is too small. In my opinion, the staff should increase the size, and try to bring in more people to make the experience more interesting.
Community [4.5]: Armageddon's community is /generally/ very helpful, the players will all usually act like their characters would, but from what I've heard from other people, there seems to be a few bad eggs.
Staff [4.5]: The majority of the staff are friendly and helpful (especially Akariel,) sometimes they may avoid an issue or suggestion or some such, but that's only human nature.
Role Play : This is where Armageddon absolutely shines. Even when you're grinding your skills you're usually role-playing. Armageddon provides all the tools you may possibly want for role-playing, and then drops in the perfect community for it.
I've been playing Armageddon for a little over two years, on and off. In fact, it was one of the first MUDs that I'd ventured into. While two years might seem like a while, I've yet to explore all of what Armageddon has to offer, so this review will be lacking in some areas.
1. Game Mechanics
Much of the game is ultimately decided by code, for better or for worse. Considering that Armageddon calls itself a MUD, rather than a MUSH, this is no surprise. Combat is an apt example of this: type in a singular command, 'kill', and from there on, your PC's and opponent's faiths will rest on code.
Once combat starts, the players have little control as to how it -technically- goes. Combat is fast-paced; I've heard of cases of accidental PC deaths due to the nature of combat. It's one of the things I'm still iffy about, when considering Arm's gameplay experience. In some cases, you hardly have time to smash in an 'emote' before combat spam has scrolled the screen. When so much of the experience with mechanics is similar (to a lesser degree), it's hard to call the game a -completely- collaborative, story-telling experience.
But, despite the drawbacks, the focus on a roleplay experience decided on coded chance has me immersed in the RP -- more so than I recently have been in other mediums.
Instead of the flexibility I've seen in other roleplay mediums such as forums, chats, and MUSHes (which definitely have their perks!), in Armageddon, I get an immersive experience like no other. While I don't have the control I do in other games or mediums, I get to experience what my character does. Things may not turn out as I expect them to in the game, but that's what I've learned to enjoy with Armageddon: surprises, both good and bad. In Armageddon, I'm hurled into a harsh setting and I get to (well, to a degree) experience it.
There are a couple of things that could be improved upon within the game mechanics (i.e., the way skills progress in a PC; directions and the weird impossibility of looking or moving diagonally, which has made for some weird IC reasonings; and other such things). Besides these flaws, the mechanics are, otherwise, nicely done. The classes/guilds available are plentiful (especially when considering the guild revamp that's coming soon); there is an abundance of coded activities a PC can occupy his/her time with; and, overall, the game provides a number of features for an enjoyable roleplay experience.
2. Feature Set
Armageddon is old and it shows. While heavily customized, Armageddon's codebase is based on DikuMUD. A number of features can stand to be worked on: combat; the character limit on input, which may or may not be due to language the codebase is written on: C; and such other things I probably shouldn't go through at length, here.
Despite the few misgivings I have with Armageddon's code, there are a plethora of features that provide both subtle and immense detail to the gameplay. More are added regularly. Nearly everything possible in the game's setting is available through the code. The codebase is one of the more stable ones I've seen (though, admittedly, I've only tried a few other MUDs).
3. Game World
The world is huge and the setting incredibly fleshed out. I have yet to explore all of the world, but the variety between the areas I've seen is plenty and wide. So far, I've seen a fair and consistent level of quality in the room descriptions.
In the crevices of the world of Zalanthas, there are a few areas in the world of Zalanthas that could stand to be fattened (with detail), realistically speaking. If not for the dangers lurking around these particular areas, they would be nothing more than room descriptions that certainly -suggest- an area full of nooks and crannies, but really don't provide much beneath the surface.
I've found the community (particularly the Helpers!) to be incredibly helpful when it comes to new players.
Beyond that, the discussion boards of the MUD are full of many an obstinate opinion and passionate argument, both concerning the MUD and not. There are a number of players that come off as bitter and/or condescending, which can be off-putting to a newer player.
The above should in -no- way be applied to the entire (or even most of the) playerbase of the game. But dwell in the community long enough and it's noticeable.
My personal experience with staff, especially during recent times, has been great. They're incredibly helpful and I've witnessed staff both start and help facilitate plots. They frequently bring the world alive through animations, which is always a blast of joy to experience.
Barring my opinion of some individual staff members, Armageddon's staff are, in general, a creative, active bunch who introduce a lot of changes (some good and a few of which I still don't completely agree with) into the game.
I'm certainly in no position to judge, but I've found the quality of roleplay to be hit-or-miss. Just like many other roleplaying mediums, you'll find roleplayers of the highest caliber, those who don't seem to be playing a role at all, and those in the grey area between.
The enforcement of the setting that the community imposes does wonders, in Armageddon's case, and makes for a consistent and (generally) amazing roleplaying experience.
In the end, this is my experience with Armageddon, which I still enjoy. Give it a whirl. I've had amazing, on-the-edge-of-my-seat experiences in Armageddon, and I've also experienced the dreadful lulls in the quiet moments of the game. The setting is one different from many other MUDs'. The design of the gameplay, albeit flawed in some areas, makes for one of the most immersive roleplaying experiences I've ever had.
First up; Armageddon MUD's setting is gorgeous, as far as the writing is concerned. The visuals are striking and lends itself very well to the strange desert world that is Zalanthas. There are no gods, civilization is scarce and is largely ruled by the corrupt. Unlike many fantasy worlds, magic (or magick as it is referred to in Arm) is considered volatile: corrupting the land, taking down whatever green there ever happen to have been in the world, and sparing only a few. In the absence of magick, there are instead psionics which are considered foul unless used in the lowest form of the Way: a lore driven and incredibly useful mechanic. The descriptions in-game do a fantastic job of presenting the sort of brutal creatures and races that would survive in such a world.
Something utterly alluring about this game is that it has more than just a great backdrop, because of just how pivotal you as a player can be to the on-goings of the world. There is always something to do, so put the work in as it demands it or don’t, and that’s the beauty of it. Creating a character is one of the many joys you will happen upon, especially if you are the creative sort. The amount of sheer lore you are able to work with here allows you to make a unique background for your characters in really any form you want; be it a psychotic, bloodthirsty killer or a kind and gentle type, each with their own repercussions. The other players you will meet who bring their own ideas to the table will add to your experience, making every encounter different in the greatest of ways.
The first time I stumbled across this game, I marveled in how bravely different Armageddon was and how well it was introduced. However, I read many, many negative takes between the player-base and those who run things. And some of them carry weight, others are blatant disregard for certain situations, generally there is hardly any problems with the current establishment. There are a few spats between the players and those who run the game, but it is usually healthy banter. Blah, blah, blah, dreary, dreary, dreary… I have one last thing to say. You like bone clubs? You like sex in the desert? If you do, you should play Arm.
P.S. Meet me at the Span, bring 10K. You’ll understand what that means one day, and if you’re curious to find out, you’ve gotta play. Shade and profits!