Game Mechanics: Interesting combat system. Really confusing cure system with zero documentation on it, the idea being that you figure it out in-game by dying repeatedly. Crafting system is very lazy and many crafts you can achieve without any tools. You can branch a craft skill and just immediately start making stuff without any expected teaching done. You CANNOT learn a new skill or craft that isn't in your chosen Guild or Subguild no matter the roleplay done. You cannot change your stats no matter the roleplay done.
Feature Set: Interesting setting, very post-apocalyptic and kind of harsh depending on the role and location. Magic system looks pretty neat, haven't played with it yet because you need Karma to do so. They don't do account reviews for Karma, which is basically a Role Play Point which establishes you being seen as capable and trust-worthy. Karma is only given by Staff to their selected players. This Feature is what cost them 2 points for me. By reading their forums, following Discord, and then reading forums put up by players, you get a sense of extreme, deeply-rooted favoritism. I saw Staff in Discord themselves state that there are Admin who will just deny/close requests from Players they don't like and that So and So will never get Karma, or Karma is only for So and So. Seems really unbalanced.
Game World: SO SMALL. You have very limited options of where you can play as a New Player. You are forced to play in Allanak. It is hard to find a job unless you're wanting into the Arm of the Dragon (local soldier squad) or the Byn (local mercs). The Merchant Houses are difficult to track down and half the active players I saw on while playing were Nobles/Templars who didn't want to RP with the riffraff. So much shade is thrown on the official and unofficial forums about consolidating the game world to how little it is.
Community: Really, really unwelcoming unless you have a friend in the mix. They are toxic and hostile on the forums and worse in Discord. They can be extremely offensive, talking poorly of other races, political preferences, sexual preferences, and gender. They throw around completely inappropriate and derogatory comments about other players as well and Staff and their appointed Helpers join in. Really immature and makes me, personally, feel unsafe being there so I bounced.
Staff: Rude, flippant, and aids the inappropriate and offensive atmosphere in their forums and Discord. It is really, really bad when they brag about just closing Requests or denying them because they don't like a Player. The favoritism is rampant. You can see it in Discord when Staff flirt and praise this group of Players and are sassy and crude to another group.
Role Play: Lots of great and active players. I greatly enjoyed playing with those I met, even the ones who were super mean in-game but let me know in OOC what I was doing wrong and how to do it better so my scum could survive.
All in all. I really don't think the game is for me. I liked the setting and the RP I was met with. The in-game side of the game is great. The OOC side is really, really, really bad. I don't think its okay that Staff permits and encourages the offensive crap that goes on in Discord. I think it is really deplorable that they make fun of Players, sexual orientation, race, gender, or if a Player feels sexually harassed.
I played Armageddon for about a year. Before that I was a staff member in Shadows of Isildur.
Armageddon as an RPI takes a hit with the stock game mechanics often found in hack and slash games. The rigid choice of which guild your character is does not offer a wide range of customization that would be expected in an immersive game. Compared to similar games like Shadows of Isildur, Harshlands, Sindome, or Arx MUSH, Armageddon is severely lacking with its lack of a skill-based character generation system. This leaves the mechanics at a mediocre level at best.
The game seems to run on a DIKU codebase with features added on. The nice thing about DIKU is that it's familiar, on account of how popular it is in the MUD world. The programmers who work on the game seem very active but the game seems to have taken a hit with a couple of losses on staff.
One of the best features of the game is its emote system, which allows for the player to target other players and items with various symbols like ~, !, and more to print their short description out in the way they would see it. So if you do "emote nods to ~man" most people will see " nods to the tall, muscular man", but the tall, muscular man will see " nods to you". Very immersive.
The game world is very hyped up as being a harsh desert. However resources are practically infinite once you know how to get them. This leads to the harshness of the world being mostly imaginary (with few exceptions such as super-strong mobs outside the city). The city of Allanak is an interesting setting at first but once you realize there are no other options it becomes very confining. I would have liked to see Tuluk, which has more documentation for it than Allanak, but is unfortunately closed for play.
Unfortunately the community is not very good. Those who have posted reviews saying it is good are in the in-crowd of the community and probably see it from a different perspective. From the perspective of a player who has been around for almost a year compared to many who have been around five, ten years or more it is clear that the community is broken into tiers. Newbies are constantly ignored both in game and out unless they make an effort to please veteran players in some way. I was outright told that my character was refused a promotion because I did not consent to erotic roleplay with my character's boss. I have asked questions and been ignored or told to be quiet.
Following what was said above about the community, the staff tend to protect veterans and themselves and look at newbies as potential threats or alt accounts. While many do their duty seemingly quickly (Akariel, Nergal, Xalle, Cayuga, Shalooonsh) most others are slow to respond. The community tends to like staff that interfere the least, and by interfere they mean surprise animations, commenting on the forum and offering advice. This has led to a conservative staff base that is reluctant to change the game or go out of their way to do amazing things for players for fear of being criticized. I for one was pleased to see my staff animate for me. But it seems like the community drove out many hard-working staff members like Cayuga, Nergal, and Xalle because they either voiced their opinions too loudly or got burned out by doing things for players for no reward.
As this game is an RPI you would expect the roleplay quality to be top notch. However it tends to hang around the mediocre level at best. Most players are playing a character which is good, but many characters seem to have goals of the player rather than their own goals. Male characters in particular are often looking for erotic roleplay which makes it hard to play a female character who wants to use their time productively.
I have played for about a year and stopped in mid December with the holidays. I decided today that I would not be going back. This is bittersweet however as I can't say I didn't have fun at least some of the time I played. However most of the time it was unfortunately a slog. Many games are out there that offer intensive roleplay without the high barrier to entry imposed by the community or a lack of good game mechanics as imposed by the rigid skill system. I would suggest that you play Armageddon if you are interested in the setting but avoid the GDB (general discussion board), the alternate "shadowboard", or the Discord channel as these are places where the community is at its worst. If you must talk to people outside the game, keep it to the staff or to the helpers as they are mostly helpful.
I should warn you, my English is good, but not great. You have my early apologies.
Game mechanics and feature set:
The game has been built on the back, of a hack and slash system. While it's changes are significant, the moment you enter combat you will find that most RP comes to a halt until the coded combat has ended. This makes for a very fun, very casual PvE experience, wherein you can travel at your leisure, engage with very simply designed NPCs with minimal risk of dying. It's very well-suited to casual players, such as myself, who don't have the time to engage in the more intricate affairs of the game, but would like to log in and have the ability to self-entertain.
The combat code is completely unsuitable for PvP encounters, because most players stick to FIGHT or FLIGHT instincts. They will hammer commands, to kill you as quickly as possible, or flee immediately and are back in a town in but a few moments. The few efforts I've made to extend an opportunity to people, to have some conflict RP, have been punished by their immediate escape via code. It isn't very much fun and "winning" takes precedence over a mutually rewarding experience. I believe this is because of...
THE GRIND. There is a always a grind to become better, in games. It's rare for you to pick up a game of any kind, wherein you aren't expected to get better as you progress. However, in ArmageddonMUD, the grind the most punishing and intense I've ever encountered. As someone who once frequented the Asian MMORPG market, I believe, I have the requisite experience and tolerance for grinding, to make this kind of judgement.
Here, it is immensely punishing and time consuming, wherein you will spend entire days of your life in the pursuit of becoming mediocre. There are ways and means to increase your "failure" rate, to make the process more tolerable, but these are, of course, considered poor form and are punished by a staff more interested in doling out punishments, than addressing the cause of such widespread grinding habits. You can choose to preference your WISDOM statistic over other, physical statistics, but this is only a benefit to players who have significant daily hours to spend on the game, and on grinding specifically.
The game promotes itself as a game, where RP is the central focus, but coded it in such a manner, that you will be marooned in mediocrity and easy victim for those who engage in the often rule-bending grind. You should have a natural progression, as you live your PCs life, but that is not the case.
The crafting system here, is not so much a means to individualize a character through a profession, as a means to print obsidian coins, the games currency. There is nothing about it that will let you stand out as Jack the Butcher, or Jill the Tailor. It is completely common for a rough and grizzled mercenary, to pump out dozens upon dozens of earrings, with his bare hands no less, and sell them for more than he would ever make, as a mercenary. A merchant can make everything, and each and every one of them does, in fact, make everything, because they can and there is no purpose in pretending to be a specialist.
It's based on a one shot system, wherein you take between 1 and 5 materials and wait for a craft timer to tick down. Then, you succeed, or fail. The timers usually make no sense, and it is not even a thing, to see someone produce a half dozen extravagant silk dresses in the same period of time, it takes someone else to cook but a single steak. The values of these items are quite often, beyond comprehension, in that, you can sell a cheap knife for a few hundred coins, but a finely made ivory knife will sell for less than a mug of cheap ale.
The P2P economy is all, but non-existent. You will find people who buy your raw materials, who turn them into massive piles of items, and then go and sell them all off to an NPC, because no one wants to use these items. They only want to use, the expensive and cool looking items, that come from merchant clans, and so almost the entire database of items that can be crafted exist as flotsam, rather than as goods with value to the players of the game.
When it comes to coins, making money here is easy. There is no challenge in getting it, no one will care or be impressed if you have a lot of it and you will struggle to find meaningful things to spend it on. Money is a non-issue, much like food and water, making the games gritty appeal feel very painted on. We pretend it's harsh and desperate, but it's actually a cake walk where the struggle is REMAINING a poor commoner in a believable way, and becomes quite hard to take seriously when it comes up as a point in a narrative. I don't believe this is by design, but because of the games age, and that teams of staff over the years, have built upon each others work, with the standards of their day, leading to an inconsistent and totally incomprehensible state of affairs.
The emote system here is top notch, and I really believe it to be one of the best available, at the time of this posting. There are silent and hidden emote options that, when used creatively, can afford you a number of dynamic ways to engage with a scene. You can, for example, play footsy under the table, with that nobles wife, without him being able to see it, unless they're lucky, or are otherwise being vigilant against such things.
Unfortunately, many people don't employ the system to it's full ability and you will regularly see people using the "stock" socials, like NOD and SHRUG, rather than invest a few more seconds into writing out their own unique emote. That is a failing of it's players, and while I feel it is worth noting for the review, will not impact how I rated the game. It's a really, very good system and makes bringing your character to life, a real breeze.
The game world is quite small, and whilst appearing diverse on the surface, becomes quite same-same once you've explored it. You will find the same few NPCs, like raptors, rantarri, gurth and tembo, are sprinkled all over the game world with little variation. You can forage for materials, but you will find much the same things, no matter where your character is based in the world, making the world feel even smaller than it already is. There is little reason to explore, as there are almost no interesting landmarks to be seen and nothing tends to ever be added or changed, meaning once you've seen what a region has on offer, you have no reason, to ever really go back and see it again.
There are a lot of wide open spaces, where there is nothing to be found. No NPCs, no landmarks, no variation in room descriptions.
The room descriptions are often copy & paste jobs, and there are a lot of inconsistencies in them. The sky is red in some places, blue in others, and things like that.
The game world is ruled over, by eternal and omnipotent powers, and remains static. There is no means of leaving a lasting mark on the game world, and players are barred from rising to any position wherein they could direct the game towards change. Players are discouraged from pursuing change, and are quite often squashed by staff animating the game world, should they make the effort anyway.
It's not very interesting once your first time shine wears off, and doesn't do much to inspire people to rise above their dreary routines.
It is completely toxic and dominated, by the bitter, jaded veterans.
I would not recommend visiting either of the games forums. There are, in fact, two forum communities dedicated to ArmageddonMUD and while each insists they are better than the other, or have more ethical integrity than the other, they are both awful. The best way to enjoy ArmageddonMUD, is not to expose yourself to the toxicity in the community, and to avoid engaging with players outside the scope of the game whenever possible. I really do wish, I had.
I'm indecisive, as to how to rate the staff.
There are a number of them, who seem to work behind the scenes and remain quiet in the community. There are some who seem to feel as though they're entitled to antagonize the players, only to feign ignorance or blame player misunderstanding, when players get loud about it. It sounds to me, like the staff of almost any MUD, doesn't it? I won't call them bad staff, because I don't believe the game would run as it does, if even the majority of them were up to no good, or otherwise, in it for themselves, rather than the game. I've had enough time to see and experience their behavior, though, that I couldn't call them a good staff, either.
I've only had to deal with the staff a few times but, to me, the defining moment, was when I submitted a non-binary character. Where a simple, we don't accept those kinds of characters here would have sufficed, I was instead treated to a particular staff member going on for a few paragraphs, about things that were not just unrelated to the application, but also extremely uncomfortable to read through. I was treated to threats, accusations and overall, it could not have been more clear to me, that this person had some personal baggage, and I'd had the misfortune of triggering them.
I, of course, sent in a staff complaint, only to have it blown off.
Now, when I send requests in, it is ALWAYS that staffer who addresses it, so I simply don't communicate with the staff anymore.
These kinds of encounters are made even more troubling, because ArmageddonMUD is home, to the KARMA system.
The karma system is presented as a means, by which players are allowed or denied free access to "difficult to maintain" roles. In practice, it's the means by which the staff manage their favoritism in plain sight. Those who are favored by the staff, have a lot of karma and enjoy much higher coded power caps and other benefits, than those without karma, and the only way to even get karma, is to request it, an option that has been disabled for quite some time, now.
Those with karma enjoy a much better experience than those without, and it is completely subject to staff favor and bias. If you're like one of the other reviewers here, you have access to the game in ways other players, such as myself, do not, and of course, those people are all in favor of this system, and have very good things to say about the staff who administrate it. It is the classic haves, and have nots, and not only is does it function exactly as it sounds, but with the closure of karma applications, wherein you would write a small letter, explaining why you're good enough to have some karma, new players now simply have no access to karma and won't again until some indeterminate time in the future.
New players, are like second class citizens there, and must go through a lengthy process of asking for permission and explaining our intentions, and hope the staff rule in our favor, to access things like magic. This is the process I went through, wherein I had the above mentioned encounter, with outrageous and offensive staff behavior.
I decided, to give 2.5 stars for staff, because as horrid as my experience with them has been, there are those who also enjoy great staff favor and relations, and have lots of fun with the game.
Your mileage, may vary.
It varies, and widely at that.
I've found that there are many who emote well, and can carry on a character that is to be believed. There aren't a lot of plots in the traditional sense, but there are always at least a few players out to do something, so there's usually at least something to talk about when you encounter them. One of the biggest hurdles in ArmageddonMUD, is getting your foot in the door and quite often, that is where new players stall out and quit. It's quite a popular opinion, that you have to be good enough, to be allowed "in" on what's going on, because people don't care to waste their time and resources on other players, especially new players, who tend to have a higher mortality rate.
If you can get "in", and find a group of fun players to play with, it's a really great time, but that can be very hard to do.
You will encounter a lot of low effort players, who are more interested in sexing, or erotic role play, than the game world and it's goings on. That isn't to say, everyone who is there for the ERP is like that, but I noticed here, more than other RP MUDs, that RPing sex often and for extensive periods of time, is a very prevalent. It's easy to avoid, by avoiding taverns and clans, however, so don't feel as though, you're forced to deal with all the time, if you don't want to.
Another thing to note, is that the game allows for very young characters and they are also quite often, sexually active. The game considers them adult, because of the generally harsh themes, but if you're sensitive to these kinds of things, you should be aware of it, as it can be a bit irking if you stumble onto it unawares.
I would say that, overall, ArmageddonMUD is the very definition, of your mileage may vary. I have had some really, just amazing and fun experiences there, but they've been few and far between, and it's hard not to let them be clouded over by all the bad experiences there. It you decide to give it a try, do it without exposing yourself to the community, and keep a firm grip on your expectations. If you deal with staff, well, good luck, maybe you'll get lucky.
I tried my best to set a fair score for each category but I'm not going to restrict myself to writing within those categories because I'm not a big fan of review breakdowns. If you excuse my language I'm a big fan of the shit sandwich style of writing feedback. In other words if you must criticize something then stick your criticism (the shit) between two nice things (bread? mmm). Anyway, no more cussing. Let's begin.
BREAD SLICE ONE
Armageddon bills itself as a roleplaying intensive game. Its tagline is "Murder, Corruption, Betrayal". It is set in the harsh desert world of Zalanthas where you can't even get a drink of water for free. The documentation is extensive. So extensive, in fact, you likely won't be able to read it in one day, or three, or ten. This is not a bad thing. The more fleshed out the game world is the better it tends to be. Clearly Armageddon benefits from being over 25 years old as it has had all that time to form, and reform, and define itself. The idea of Armageddon is extremely good and extremely sound. It has a lot of potential, and undoubtedly hundreds if not thousands of people have found Armageddon fun at one point or another.
Creating a character is relatively easy. There are lots of resources available to a new player, including sample characters, a walkthrough, the helper system and the General Discussion Board. Picking a guild and subguild is easy. Writing a background is pretty easy provided you understand you are writing a Level 1 character here. Keep those origins humble.
Then you enter the game. There's a newbie tutorial that's helpful if Armageddon's your first MUD. There's a pre-game shopping area where you can gear your character up before they head out into the harsh world. Allanak, here I come!
THE ... POOP
This is where the disappointment starts to set in. You start in the local tavern's dormitory and wander into the bar. You're looked at. You try to introduce yourself. There's several people at the bar to introduce yourself to. And... nothing.
It's not like I'm talking to NPCs here. These are PCs. They're talking to each other. They're just too busy to talk to me. One of them is trying to get laid. The other is trying to play hard-to-get. The third is looking for an elf to beat up. The last one is wearing a hood indoors and is keeping to themselves. One or two of them look at you, sure. But they don't respond. They don't try to inquire further.
It's fine. I'll just give a prompt. "I'm looking to join the Byn, who can I sign up with?" The Byn is a mercenary group and the recommended clan for new players. I'm hoping that by the grace of God there is a Bynner in the tavern willing to recruit me right then and there. Wouldn't that be lucky? I can play a mercenary and learn about this deep game with some in-character friends.
Then I get my first response. "Sign? What do you mean by sign?" someone asks. Then it hits me. The stupid little thing I had forgotten. Most people in Zalanthas are illiterate. They can't read or write. In fact, for most people, it is a crime to read or write. So I try to correct myself via the out-of-character command to try to explain that my character wouldn't say "sign", that they would know people can't write, that he can't write, and he would use a different word like "join". "Sorry, I meant to say join!"
The response I got was out-of-character: "You said sign so roll with it."
Roll with it. Roll with it how? I made a genuine mistake as a newbie. I tried to tell them that I was a new player and made a mistake and would appreciate if it was just ignored this one time.
"Sorry but no. In-character actions have in character consequences," was the response I got. Generally, this is a philosophy I can agree with. However, these are my first few minutes into the game. Making such a simple mistake in my first few minutes of play, surely, was forgivable? Apparently not this time.
I hate to admit it but at this point I started to shake at my keyboard. All those hours reading the documentation and crafting a character, and my character could be arrested or even killed for saying "sign up" instead of "join" within the first few minutes of play. I moved my mouse over to the X on my MUD client and closed out. I'll try again tomorrow, I thought.
And, yes, I logged in the day after. People were, again, at the bar. I tried to introduce myself. "You were the guy that said sign up last week right?" By last week they meant the RL day before (1 week in-game is 1 day RL). Some completely different character remembered that I had made a mistake yesterday, although this was a week ago in-game, so this character had the words "sign up" in his thoughts for over a week.
I tried to work past it, then I closed my MUD client again. This time, I decided to spend time with my kids. I'll try again tomorrow, I thought.
I did not try again the next day.
Trying to ask for help was a nightmare. Between the spammy Discord, the unfriendly forum and the unresponsive live helper chat I could not get a word in edgewise. My introduction to the community was piss-poor and frankly I didn't expect it to get better than that.
BREAD SLICE TWO
It's nice that these features are there. It's nice that some players will be able to find them useful. It's nice that I got my character approved within minutes. It's nice that so many people are so passionate about Armageddon. Maybe I could give it another try sometime. Right now though I just don't feel up to it.
The nice thing about the game mechanics is their familiarity, for the most part. Beyond that, the game loses its uniqueness and luster. Armageddon is a heavily modified DIKU game and many of its features are familiar to a player that has played hack and slash MUDs derived from the DIKU code base. It's understandable that such an old game would be based on such an old code base, but it almost seems strange that a roleplaying-intensive game would use such a combat-heavy system. The age shows through in things like the crafting system and the guild and subguild system, which forces characters into a specific pre-defined role as opposed to something the players define themselves.
The patchwork quality of add-ons to the DIKU code base is most visible in the attempt at creating a complex emote system which allows for targeting other characters through the use of different symbols. This is far too complex of a system for the minimal payoff of seeing emotes that target your character in the first person, when a simple third-person perspective would do the trick. If it's good enough for 99% of MUD and MUSHes why does Armageddon have to be different? It doesn't increase immersion at all, and comes off more like the result of a programming class exercise than something done with any forethought. The craft system is arbitrary and players who create recipes seem to try to make the recipe as obscure as possible to prevent anyone but themselves from creating it.
Armageddon's selling point is its extensive documentation, perhaps the most extensive of any roleplaying MUD. But it falls short by making much of that documentation irrelevant through the removal of locations from the game. With Allanak as the only real center for roleplay, there are no true external threats and roleplay quickly becomes tiring across new characters ending up in the same city, over and over, hoping that something will be different. The fact that the playerbase and staff largely hate Tuluk suggest to me that this second city will never be opened or used again, even though it would provide a unique foil to Allanak.
A community is best judged by its active members, in which case it is, frankly, horrid. A quick peek into the game's Discord channel will show you an endless feed of spam about nothing in particular. Try to ask a question and you will often be told to "find out IC", even if there is no way to do so. Stay around Discord long enough and you will see that the community uses former players and staff as scapegoats to achieve their own popularity. Leave the game, on good terms or on bad, and you become persona non grata to anyone around Armageddon that matters. I don't need friends badly enough to facilitate this high school behavior by being a part of it, so instead I just watch as former staff and players are mocked by current staff and players, even though they are not around to defend themselves or explain their side of their story.
Head to the game's message board, the GDB, and you'll find players who think that revenge porn is the victim's fault, that racist ideologies are just fine, and that people who like Tuluk "must be homosexual". And that's just from the last month, although to the moderators' credit, posts have been edited and deleted since. Even so, if I wanted to hang out with these kinds of cretins, I'd buy a Tiki torch and shave my head.
To make a long story short, I was banned erroneously by staff for having a similar IP address to someone who had stolen and leaked Armageddon's code. I was told in one curt message that I was being banned for participating on a forum responsible for stealing and distributing Armageddon's code, and before I could ask "what forum?" I was booted out of the game with no explanation beyond that. I only learned of this forum after I was banned, looking at Mud Connector to find that another Armageddon player had their IP address tracked on a different website not affiliated with Armageddon. Lacking any particular desire to appeal a ban for something that I hadn't done, lacking much of a desire to get involved in this drama, and given my experience of the above and below, I felt that now was as good a time as any to leave Armageddon, with the only thing previously holding me back being my character's connection with a few others and my friend's insistence that I keep trying the game.
Some players are good, and fun to play with, but the vast majority of roleplayers here are uninteresting at best, and incompetent at worst. From accidental and permanent killings, to overuse and over-reliance on one word socials, to inconsistent characterization, to ignoring the documentation on in-universe bigotry and racism, to an overabundance of players that think they're on a sex MUSH, you will quickly come to wonder why this game is designated as roleplaying intensive when it rarely gets more intense than the taste of a baked potato.