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Aardwolf Through the Eyes of a Newbie
Written by Wakim

As a gamer I am attracted to complexity. The longer it takes to learn the game, the greater my interest. For the past few years I have been invested in a browser based MMORPG called Runescape. I played Runescape for about three years. Recently I abandoned this game because I had exhausted all the content. There is a point when any game gets old.

I have tried MUDS in the past. However the experience has always been unrewarding. I found some MUDS with poor design. I mean I found areas that were so haphazardly arranged that anyone became lost instantly. I might leave a room with "east" and attempt a return with "west" and find myself in some new room. It was baffling and poor. I've left MUDS with harsh death penalties, hostile players and bullying immortals. The bullying immortals are especially difficult when the MUD rules are vague to the point that anyone could be accused of a violation. This is my experience with MUDS and I didn't expect much from Aardwolf.

Aardwolf wasn't the train wreck I have come to expect. I was shocked when shortly after logging in a helper greeted me by name. Who talks to newbies like that in a MUD? The last time I logged into a MUD, some guy offered to cyber with me in explicit terms. It was creepy. That's the kind of welcome I expected. I was amazed to discover Aardwolf has volunteers who talk to newbies all the time. I was directed to various help files. I was surprised by the size and quality of the help documentation. I learned quickly that the helpers are trained to produce independent gamers. Often they avoid giving direct answers to questions and instead offer people to the means of educating themselves. This is actually not appreciated by most newbies. I saw again and again the same argument arise. A new player would ask for help and then get angry when the response was help <topic>. The helpers are to be commended for their patience. They seem to get abused by their newbie pupils regularly.

The first part of the game that I discovered was the goal system. The academy goal was my first encounter. I swear I have never seen a game tutorial executed this well in any MUD I have encountered. There was a huge volume of information covered. The player's interest is retained by rewards after each lesson. Gold coins are given here, a few pieces of equipment there and eventually you complete the academy. The most excellent part of the academy goal was the fund raising leaflet. Apparently this item, when purchased, gives some special and valued benefit. However for a newbie who first receives the leaflet, it is of no use. So of course, you sell it after completing your lesson on the auction system. Mine sold for a million gold coins, which is actually high. I've seen others going for between 250k and 500k. The leaflet is a stroke of genius. It gives a financial boost to every newbie and the contributors (who are purchasing the leaflet) get something as well. It's a win-win as they say.

Post academy, I discovered a variety of options. The most obvious occupation is to slaughter mobs and collect experience. Shortly I learned that many players spend time collecting quest points and deliberately retain low levels with the use of the noexp mode. The term "super-newbie" describes low level characters who have collected a disproportionate amount of quest points for their level. Quest points seem to be extremely important. They are the means to acquire the best armor and weapons in the game. They are also used to acquire wishes which give substantial and permanent advantages to a player. The quest points are also required for every remort. The remort idea is something I haven't encountered before. After hitting the max level you have the option to be "reborn" as a new level 1. The process gives you the chance to change your race and class. The advantage is that you retain the skills of your previous incarnation. So as you continue to remort you will collect many and diverse abilities. This is a cool concept that adds tremendous "replay" value to the MUD. There seem to be an astounding variety of things to do in Aardwolf. The game tracks each time you enter a new room. Your percentage of the MUD explored is listed on a high score table. So many players deliberately explore every nook and cranny for this piece of fame. I also noticed, laser tag, scrabble, global quests and campaigns. It seems possible and likely that there are parts of the game that I haven't yet discovered. The search for something undiscovered remains for me the most compelling part of Aardwolf.


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