From the great deal of time I have spent on Ages of Despair, I can truly say that it was a memorable experience. The staff and players work hard to do the right thing, from restoring equipment lost in an unexpected crash to lending an ear for a personal matter.
The dedicated coders do top-notch work to ensure the originality of the areas and the playability of the game. During my tenure as a player, new activities and NPCs have been constantly added to create a stimulating and challenging atmosphere for the more experienced players, while other areas are being revamped and made more simplistic for the new players.
As players, we are in a very liberated environment where you are free to do your own thing. There is no mandatory role-playing or player-killing, and the rules are enforced to keep the game enjoyable and fair for all players.
The players are kept well informed about situations on the MUD, and there is a mutual respect between the players and coders. Although sometimes there are "bad seeds", Ages of Despair's members are a quality group of caring people.
This has been my first mudding experience, and I have found Ages of Despair to be a friendly environment that fosters newbie growth and advancement. This is an experience that I would gladdly relive, and would not trade for anything.