For this, the third installment of Monday’s game I present to you Aardwolf.

Aardwolf MUD

Aardwolf is a Multi-User Dungeon (MUD) started in 1997 by Lasher, who still owns and runs the game as the primary “Immortal” (ie Administrator).  Originally built on the DikU MUD, Aardwolf has since restructured their entire code base to what is inherently a new system but, of course, still retains ties to DikU.

For those not familiar with MUDs: A MUD is a text based RPG that is played online.  They were the very first breed of MMO and are generally free.  You connect to the MUD with software referred to as a Client.  From there you have a character or characters and just do MMO kinds of things.  Grind levels, spec equipment, go on quests, join groups for raids or leveling, participate in mini games, etc.

Texty goodness!

In my perusing of MUDs (Starting around when I was 15) I’ve played a few dozen different Muds that run the gambit from pretty good, to neigh unplayable.  Aardwolf easily tops my list.  It has a polished mechanical system that they keep improving with awesome new stuff (more zones, more features, more stuff to do).  They have a sleek map system that provides an ASCII depiction of where you are in the game.  There is very, very little move time (I’ll touch a bit on that later), and the leveling system is rather novel.  Clans are a more formal part of the game, requiring you actually apply for membership.  And the remort/retier system means there is a HUGE level progression available to you (14,070 levels… and you can keep gaining more after that if you really want).
The Aardwolf team has also developed it’s own snazzy build of, MushClient; which provides a ton of features if you like to divide things up into windows and have maps and such all in their own area.

The leveling system is particularly nice with Aardwolf.  Each level is a set amount of experience points (XP); thus for a new player it takes 1000 XP to go from level 1 to level 2, and it also takes 1000 XP to go from level 180 to level 181.  The difference is that the number of XP you get from a monster (otherwise known as a mobile NPC, or mob for short) scales as you go up levels.  That level 1 monster that gave you 100XP when you were level 1 will probably give you 5XP when you’re level 10, and 0XP much above that.  So, as you level up you seek bigger and better areas to get your 1000 XP.  But since, generally, mobs matched to you level give roughly 100 XP, it never takes you very long to go up a level.  You always feel like you’re making progress, which is much different from other games that can take you a month of more to go up a level when you’re near the top.

Another nice thing about the game is that not only are speedwalks to the various areas built into the game, but it takes less than 30 seconds to go to the majority of the areas of Aardwolf.  That’s a damn sight better than games like EVE:Online or WoW where it can take an hour or more to go from one side of the world to another.  Granted there are ways around those huge travel times, but they’re not really a catch all solution.  Aardwolf is awesome in that respect because I can log onto the game and go just about anywhere with a few keystrokes and a 10 second speedwalk.  None of this flying to a zone the night before just so I can raid in the morning, no 2 hours of autopilot to cross territories.  Nope, 10-30 seconds and boom, I’m there.

I can understand why pay-to-play games often have these time sinks.  An hour of the player doing nothing that actually adds to the character is an hour longer the person is gonna play.  Requiring that a player spend 40% of their playtime traveling means you don’t have to have nearly as much content, and you can expect them to play longer in the end.  But in MUDs it makes less sense.  Nobody is paying a subscription, so why on Earth do most MUDs build in huge travel times between areas.  It mystifies me.

So, if you’re into text based games and want to give this one a try.  Head over to their website and get their build of Mushclient and start building yourself a character.  If you need any pointers, send a tell to Dugrant.  If I’m around, I’ll probably help you out… or mock you.  Whatever.

-Confusion is a state of mind, or is it?