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I've been on and off of Achaea for maybe a month or so now, mainly because I've been looking through several other MUDs to finally come to a decision.
The main issue I'm having for deciding which one(s) to choose and stick with is population, and investment... Though Achaea is the only one I've actually put some hours into.
The games I've been looking at are: Achaea, Dragonrealms/Gemstone, BatMUD, and a couple of others like Discworld etc.
What I need to know, with honesty from the Achaea community, is what is worth putting the time into...
I do already know that the Achaea forums are a dark and hostile place at times as I lurk through years of posts, but I also know they can be incredibly helpful.
The issue I have with Achaea is that is seems ridiculously easy to get to levels 80+, though I'm not sure what the levels actually represent in this game. Another issue is that the end-game doesn't seem to have any sort of people who put hours into simply merchanting and such-like, but it all seems to be straight PvP-based or nothing, (dominated only by those with full artifacts)... That bringing me to the huge problem at hand: Credits...
If someone can correct me about the entire end-game being PvP, I'd love that... Because so far, I don't see any wanderers who simply go around selling and gathering rare items, (such as in Gemstone/DR). The other large issue with straight PvP and nothing else is that I could only guess that becomes a, "Who can write the best scripts", and worse, "who has thousands of dollars to spare on artifacts to be even nearly viable".
I want to know how necessary artifacts are (I WOULD be willing to put money into this game of course, but that's if it ends up being worth it...). How many hours of bashing (or whatever the gold-making methods are) would it require to gain around 800 credits, for example? If it required 100 hours of time, I'd obviously just pay money.
One advantage I noticed to Dragonrealms was the class, "Trader", which I found to be really awesome. Being dedicated to simply going around merchanting and hunting rare stuff is really cool, but I haven't seen any of that here so far.
Another DR advantage is that it has about a 50% higher "online-now" population at almost all times.
The DISADVANTAGES to Dragonrealms vs Achaea is that its community is SHRINKING, the developers do NOT care about the game, and they are still charging up to $50.00 a month for it. The subscription-per-month doesn't bother me, it's the fact that the money doesn't go towards any development. Is Achaea a growing community still, or is it just a bunch of 15 year veterans like the Simultronic games? Also, it seems like the game is being updated and added to regularly, is that true?
POPULATION: I started off in Mhaldor on Achaea, and really enjoyed the people there. The issue I had was the LACK of people there, being maybe three or four total. I went to Cyrene and the people are less RP-based, (How much RP is required doesn't bother me, as long as there's some), and there seems to be maybe around ten people in Cyrene at a time... Though I think I could be wrong about all of these numbers. How populated is this game realistically? I didn't even want to be a part of a city or house really, but I also don't want to be the generic, "I'm a rogue who has no friends and contributes nothing to the game", so I joined a city anyway.
Anyway, if anyone took the time to read this, I greatly appreciate it. Basically the questions are: Is the game entirely PvP? Can I play the role of a wandering trader like I do in others? How REQUIRED are artifacts/how many hours do I require to purchase them with gold-bought credits, (I'd certainly spend money as well)?, how is the population (in terms of will I always have people to speak to and explore around with)?
Thank you guys. I'll see you inside.
EDIT: If you guys can recommend even other games, IronRealms or not, I'd appreciate that as well if you think there's something else along the lines of what I'm looking for. It's just the population is important to me.