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Old 04-20-2012, 10:27 PM   #1
MarshP
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Review - Aardwolf (Spring 2012)

MUD Review – Aardwolf (Newb/Low Levels)
Overall score: 68% - average (this is not bad, individual taste could make this a ‘home’ or ‘favourite’ MUD);

Scoring
Every aspect I examine begins with a score of 3/5 then gets marked up or down from there. I give the total scored as a percentage of the overall total possible, the average score being 60%.

Feature scoring out of 5 is as you’d expect: 0 – feature is expected/needed, but is non-existent or unusable; 1 – feature is poor or hardly existent; 2 – feature is acceptable/useable, but below average/expected quality; 3 - of average or expected quality; 4 – the extra mile; 5 – superb, best of breed.

Overall scoring is therefore: ~0% - unplayable; ~20% - poor; ~40% - acceptable but below average; ~60% - average (this is not bad, individual taste could make this a ‘home’ or ‘favourite’ MUD); ~80% - better than the herd, be willing to try it, expect to enjoy it; ~100% - one of the very best, a must-try.

Aardwolf Mud Information
Stats and Community Sites
AardwolfMUD is a Fantasy-themed MUD (Multi-User Dungeon) founded in 1996.
http://www.topmudsites.com/forums/mudinfo-Sirene.html
mudconnect.com: The Mud Connector - Mud and RPG game index, mudlist and reviews

MUD’s own links
Aardwolf MUD - Home Page
telnet://aardmud.org :4000

Review Basis
Character 1: 36 hours in April 2012, male elf cleric (oracle), to level 20
Character 2: <5 hours in April 2012, male human ranger, to level 5

Website /Wiki [20/30]
Introductory material [3/5]
Concise, clear and tempting. As attractive as it needs to be in the modern world where potential players research by web.

Maps [3/5]
Overview area maps are provided on the site, and are reasonably attractive. For room-level maps users are sent to external links, via the wiki. These links and the maps they offer are of variable quality.

New player help/FAQs [3/5]
The wiki covers most basic newb questions and where to find in-game help. But it’s not ideally set out. This basic 3 score would be a 5 if they’d just publish the unusually good in-game ‘help’ files on the wiki or website.

Recent game events/news [4/5]
An interesting and updated developer blog, with rss feeds. Updated news items. At one point it seems the in-game announcements board was echoed here – a great idea – now sadly out of date.

Live/recent game stats [4/5]
Available and updated, plentiful but not comprehensive.

Website WHO [3/5]
Present, live.
Costs [3/5]
Everything is free, with no paid services or offerings that I saw. This is usual and MUDs will lose marks where it’s not the case. To get marked up a MUD would have to give out money, or something. (I read elsewhere there’s a slight perk for donations, but I cannot see reference to this in-game and in any event the game throws xp and levels at you.)

Clients and connections [4/5]
There’s a huge range of clients – android, flash and java via the website, plus a highly customised version of MUSHclient. The main client is not the very best out there, but it’s far above average.

Numbers online [4/5]
There were always 300 to 500 players online during the review period, no matter the hour. But many around the starting areas were newbs unsure how to socialise, with more experienced players passing through on their way to more far-flung locations, so the MUD feels more sparsely populated than it is.

Char creation and customisation [3/5]
There’s a good range of races, classes and sub-classes allowing great differentiation, as is usual now. The help files were solid but there’s not enough guidance to new players during the process.

Help in the first hours [14/15]
There’s a help channel with volunteer helpers. In the time I played it was only unstaffed once. Answers are prompt and helpful without spoon feeding. [5/5]

The ‘tutorial island’ equivalent is an ‘academy’ with lessons and tests. It’s lengthy but it introduces all basic concepts well. Graduation is not mandatory but is encouraged by later game mechanics and confers worthwhile rewards. [5/5]

The help files are fully customised, clear, concise and truly useful. [4/5]

I didn’t see any rule enforcement or newbie protection in order to judge it. [n/a]
Guilds and official groups [3/5]
Guilds are well represented in the form of open shops and services. They are well controlled in that they can be created only rarely (the last guild creation was years ago) and are embedded properly into the game infrastructure. But even at level 20 I was far from being able to join any but the specific newb guild, which would in any event eject me at a higher level.

Mobs [3/5]
At low levels there’s a good variety and they’re well described. Interactions are of average quality.

Advancement and Stuff to Do[4/5]
There's an absence of RP but there's stuff to do besides kill random mobs. There's 'campaigns' where you go hunt for a list of mobs all over the world, and area-based quests large portions of which are non-combat. Then there's traditional mob-killing quests. Also 'global quests' but these aren't for low level players. [3/5]

Early advancement feels easy and non-grinding because there's bonus xp for all sorts of things, from a fellow player reaching level 200, to using compression on your connection. It's like a constant series of small bonus-xp events of the sort you'd get rarely in an MMO. [4/5]

In-game community[2/5]
The immortals and senior players are helpful and approachable. But junior players aren't much encouraged to interact, especially having no access to guilds. And even in my short time online I had to block a player for repeated dumb and offensive comments in the newb channel.

Text [4/5]
All the spelling, grammar and punctuation I’ve seen are error free. The quality of writing room descriptions and help files is above average. The writing is immersive if a little randomly and over-coloured in the default colour scheme.

PvP [n/a]
I have not tested PVP.

Immersion [2/5]
If anything, the fact the writing is so good and immersive makes it all the more jarring when one of the many random, disjointed, theme park elements turns up. Aardwolf calls itself a ‘fantasy MUD’ but some modern and whacky concepts appear.

Communications [3/5]
Channels are easy to use and not too prolific. There’s a comprehensive but largely redundant system of ‘socials’ – powerful social emotes. Tells can be stored, negating the need for an in-game mail system.

Other resources - websites, fansites, [3/5]
There are player-owned sites offering a variety of tools and maps, but nothing more than usual.

Crafting [n/a]
I have not tested crafting enough to form an opinion.

Combat [3/5]
Usual MUD combat.

Banking [2/5]
Cash can be banked. But items can only be stored on the character reliably. Even those in player-owned housing can be lost in a reboot or crash.

Mythos and in-game history [n/a]

Accessibility [4/5]
Both the wiki and in-game help have extensive information for visually impaired players. This is good stuff, written by VI users. However, to score a 5 here I’d like to see advice on voice-commands and on client configuration for those unable to easily interact with a keyboard and mouse.

Last edited by MarshP : 04-21-2012 at 09:55 AM. Reason: EDIT - missed 2 sections in pasting. Score not altered.
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Old 04-20-2012, 11:34 PM   #2
Ide
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Re: Review - Aardwolf (Spring 2012)

Nice review Marsh. I think you should mirror these on a blog, I feel like you'll get more Google exposure that way (though I could be wrong).
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Old 04-21-2012, 07:22 AM   #3
MarshP
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Re: Review - Aardwolf (Spring 2012)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ide View Post
Nice review Marsh. I think you should mirror these on a blog, I feel like you'll get more Google exposure that way (though I could be wrong).
Thanks. I've also published here
MUD Review – Aardwolf (Spring 2012) I Was Just Thinking…

and on my LJ.
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