My first online gaming experience (as I’m sure many other will remember) was playing MUDs or Multi-user Dungeons.  For those of you who don’t know, MUDs are text based online games.  Being text based does allow them to focus on other areas as they don’t have to worry about the graphics.  This allows them to have really in-depth and well thought out systems that other MMOs can’t match.  The MUD I started with and continue to play has been Avalon, the legend lives. You can tell the Avalon certainly has been influenced by Tolkien, but pulls in influences from a whole host of different areas.  Recently Acheron’s Call celebrated their 10th anniversary which is impressive, but shortly there-after I got the message about Avalon’s 20th and I was amazed.  More impressive for me was that there are many of the folks around that I remember from when I first started, similar numbers of players online, and lots of new folks.

I first started playing Avalon with a friend of mine in college and was completely hooked as it allowed for my imagination to fill in the pictures and the depth of the world was amazing.  We just stumbled upon it looking for other games and it didn’t take long to get hooked.  There’s crafting, city politics, guilds, divinities, open PvP, wide-scale warfare, farming/labors, and an amazingly detailed combat system.  Just touching on crafting for a moment, there are herbs, poisons, weapons, armor, potions, runes, food, and probably a few others that I’m missing.  Each of these categories has around 30ish options and different ways they can be paired together that not only apply when you start but also are used at the higher levels.  There are options for those who don’t want to fight and there are so many things to do that I more find myself struggling to pick what to do when I log on.  I ended up getting a lifetime subscription at some point and that has allowed me to come and go when either I needed to or wanted to, and as such I’ve been off/on playing Avalon for 15 years now.

I’ve actually started back up again this week as with the 20th anniversary they announced quite a few new features and systems which I wanted to try out.  Despite my current gaming (Dragon’s Age and LOTRO) there’s still a part of me that misses a detailed PvP system.  I enjoy PvP with LOTRO but it is too quick and there’s really no risk there and as such not the same reward.  Basically PvP with LOTRO is usually over quite quickly and for Freeps there’s really only bragging rights as a reward.  With MUDs however (I’ve played a couple, but this mainly based on Avalon) the fighting has a much faster pacing and there’s a good amount of risk/reward.  I really have to be on my toes and there are so many attacks, defenses, buffs, de-buffs and all sorts of ways to counter them.  Fights usually last on the order of minutes not seconds like in MMOs and are full of counter-punch moments.  Momentum plays a key part in fighting but it certainly it is possible to counter it.  Also, numbers aren’t on the same magnitude as most MMOs so the battles are usually on smaller scales so small groups/teams not huge zergs.

There certainly is a part of fighting that’s just for bragging rights, but it also gets involved in politics and warfare, and there is a world-wide contests for crowning divinities that are mainly combat oriented.  Team based fighting becomes key in many areas and the ways the different classes interact adds a whole other level to the combat system.  I play a Ranger which is more of a stealthy class so for me its really helpful to have some heavy hitters around such that I can disable foes and they can smack them around.

I’m still in the process of remembering all the things I forgot and getting my equipment all squared away but expect to be up and running for real here shortly.  It will be a very nice play balance for me as Avalon scratches a different itch that currently just isn’t there in LOTRO and vice versa.