What can we do to help the mud?

Submit and discuss your ideas for the MUD.
Areandon
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What can we do to help the mud?

Postby Areandon » Sat Mar 13, 2004 1:51 pm

In reaction on to a Corth post and the reaction by Shar ( see post) I thought it might be a good idea to turn the topic around. Instead of posting what the imms should do, ask what can we do?

There is a lot of talent on the mud we could make use of to support and advance the mud. There are great artists, web designers, writers and entrepeneurs around who are probably willing to donate some of their time to help with things the staff simply don't have time for.

I have been CEO of a games company in a previous life and know a thing or two about marketing games. From that perspective I might have something to add to his game. Others may have other talents on game design, web design or artwork. This is not an application to become an imm (I don't have the time nor the urge to become one) but a call out to the imms to let us know what we can do to help.

From my perspective the biggest problem facing Toril today is the swindling number of players. The other problem is the lack of a stable site but I hear there is a solution on the way. I will focus on the first problem here.

Instead of focussing on what the mud lacks it is better to focus on what is good about. We have a loyal playerbase, a content-rich mud and an active administration and best of all it is free to play. This is not a bad place to start from.

Contrary to popular belief the market share of text based games is not decreasing. More and more people have internet access and look for entertainment online. The majority of these players can't afford or don't want to pay for pay-to-play games.
The reasons why muds are less popular in this growing market are easy.

1) People don't know they exist
2) Muds are too difficult to play
3) It is not so easy to find a good mud between thousands of bad ones
4) You need to buy a mud client which you need to configure for the particular mud.
5) People have limited time to play and muds are often time-consuming

Making Toril look attractice
Let's first start with reason 1 and 2 since they are related. Obviously the answer is advertising. Advertising is more then just putting your link up at some of the mud sites. Most people will not log on to the mud when first checking Toril out. They will look at the website first. If the website does not look appealing they will not even bother looking at the mud.
I would suggest starting there first. Give people a hand in trying to understand the mud. Post a walktrough for configuring zmud, how to create a character and how to get throught the first couple of levels. Post a graphical map of Toril which shows where most cities and important zones are. And make the website look fancy with graphics of player races and so on. Create an online newsletter where players post their roll-playing events. Everquest is a nice example for this.

Another part of advertising is the newbie zone, in-game tutorial or whatever you want to call it. If new players log on and come through the character generation process they will start playing. This first few days of playing are crucial. If new players run into problems here you will have lost them. The tutorial will have to teach players how to handle all those difficult commands without boring them to death or having to read tons of help files. Once they have been playing a while a good number of them will have invested too much time to stop now.

The question here of course should be: "What can WE do to get all this?"

Lowering the barrier
For a lot of players muds are too difficult. You have to find a client somewhere, and once you find one you have to "program" it to make it work. Our own Toril client would help a great deal. It should contain help-files, buttons for commands, and some sort of map to show roughly where you are.
I realize this is a time-consuming thing to build and is not something that can be made anytime soon. I do believe however in the long run it will benefit the mud greatly.

Any bored coders out there that are in search of a hobby project?

Time versus benifits
It's a given that muds and MMO's in general ask a too large investment in time from people. I've spoken to the designer of SWG (see Raph Koster's website for some great topics on game design) about this topic a while back. This problem has been an important topic in the design of his game. They have tried solving this by making xp-ing easier and implementing a quest-system to cater to players with less time. This is a nice solution. The implementation on SWG is not too great due to time constraints, but it is a very promising idea. As in any MMO the end-game (zoning in this case) is the most fun part of the game. Why bother players with having to xp endlessly before getting to the fun part of the game?

I suggest 3 things:

1) Lower xp-tables considerably especially at lower levels so players can level up faster. Level 1-5 should not take more than an hour, level 5-20 not more than a week and level 20-40 not more then a month, taking a casual player (1 hour max playing time a day) into mind.
2) Make soloing easier. Make sure people can find mobs to solo without needing -100ac and large downtimes. This would basically mean downgrading damage, ac and hitpoints on xp mobs. A lot of the classes need others to be able to xp especially on higher levels. Having to group for zones or larger quests is fine but don't have that one-hour-a-day player waste half of his time on finding a group.
3) Focus on adding quests instead of zones and add more (multi-stage)quests that can a) be soloed and b) be finished in an hour. Have guild-masters give out quests for spells, skills and class-related eq for instance. It will add some spice to the game and gives something meaningful to do for players who don't have much time. This will give players the chance to get some semi-decent eq without having to spent hours and hours in zones. Of course zones and high-end quests should yield the really cool eq.
This would be a good way to shape the tutorial as well. Guide people through the mud by performing some small quests to get their newbie equipment.
For example: A enchanter starts at a mage-school in the tower in waterdeep and the first step of his "training" is to bring a scroll to Khelben. As a reward he gets a spellbook or a spell. At the same time he will learn some directions, the ask, give, wield commands etc.

I'm sure some of the veterans would love to help write some small quests that fit in their classes themes and add some flavor to it.

I'll keep it at this for a bit. I'm very interested in what the imms think about it and what other players think they could contribute to our mud.

Naled.
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Postby Stamm » Sat Mar 13, 2004 4:44 pm

I agree with some points, and disagree with others.

You're spot on with the Toril website.

Unfortunatly things aren't stable just now, but when they are I think we need a rock solid site that can give players a feel for the game, and impress them.

It needs somebody to do it though.

Duris have their own client - I've never used it. But perhaps someone could approach them for the source to make a Toril client from it.

Failing that, 2nd best would be for Toril to host a customised version of the free zMUD. Have it set up so that once it's installed it is set to connect to Toril so that people can just download it, install it and go. I don't see Zugg minding too much, it'd perhaps get peopel to upgrade from that to the retail version, which isn't too expensive anyway.

As for Time versus Benefits... well, I disagree there. MMORPGS have a finate lifespan, that's why they need to have things easier. What Toril needs more is something for lower levels to do other than xping. Toril is forever, whichever MMORPG comes out next month will not be as popularin a couple of years time. If Toril is made so that you can achieve all you could possibly want to within one month of first playing and playing for 12 hours a week, then that'd make it too simple for current playerbase. There are muds that cater to that out there though, but I prefer Toril because it's got long term appeal.

Your ideas about small quests to start people off are sound though, and a good idea. Perhaps if it's done right someone can be taken from level 1 to level 10 from areas around their hometown doing quests for xp and killing whatever needs to be killed in the meantime.
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Postby Alomlim » Sat Mar 13, 2004 5:41 pm

Best thing to do for enhancing newbie experience is:

Introduce BIG, OBVIOUS newbie quests in town that can be done at lvls 1-5. These quests would result in gear with stats appropriate for getting you go lvl 30, which means, really sweet gear. Like, combined +100hp, ac -50, 20/20 hit dam for melee. We all know that gear is what's needed to have any fun levelling, so let's level the playing field.

And immediate, rewarding quests are a good hook.
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Postby Jhorr » Sat Mar 13, 2004 7:59 pm

That was one of the most constructive posts I've read in a long time. Your ideas are good and I agree that hooking players starts with the website.
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Postby Areandon » Sun Mar 14, 2004 9:16 am

Stamm wrote: If Toril is made so that you can achieve all you could possibly want to within one month of first playing and playing for 12 hours a week, then that'd make it too simple for current playerbase.


Actually I don't want to change the end-game. The end-game is more or less fine. So nothing much would change for the current pbase. What I proposed is making xp easier and/or give people something to do in the first 40 levels other then run to DS, kill giants...kill more giants, log off and repeat.
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Postby Areandon » Sun Mar 14, 2004 9:31 am

One of the points of this post was to ask what we could do to help the mud. The imms can't be expected to do everything. Things like making art for the website or making newbie quests could easily be handled by players.
Some of the veteran warriors could get together and write some small quests which teach the class to new players.
We could start with the website now so we have something in place when the site troubles are resolved. Players can make art, tutorials, webpages etc.
Instead of making all this the imms would just have to approve stuff. It would save them a lot of time they don't have. I'm really interested in the opinion of the imms here too :) Mobilize the playerbase!
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Just some comments on these outlooks.

Postby Silsaterur » Sun Mar 14, 2004 3:13 pm

I used to Admin on a mud called Realms of Dispair(RoD).

The three most important things to the administation staff were not actually the mud itself. They were:

Drawing new players.
Keeping new players.
Keeping old players.

I am not sure if these policies still stand, but we were able to maintain a pbase of around 3000 players (not counting multiplay bots) with 600-900 players online at any given time.

The steady flow of new players was brought as much from our players rl and online friends, as from our mud beeing listed on many of the online listings.

When they got to the site, it was more of a community site, with obvious links for new players to follow. These outlined:

All of the classes, their abilities, thier role on the mud and so forth.
All of the races " " " "
An outline of skills/spells and what classes they belong to.
A listing of organizations (loved and hated [this is a racewar game])
A brief guide for new players, tips on the newbie zone and leveling thereafter.

Then there was the RoDClient.

This java applet instantly connected to the mud, it had a prompt and common buttons. Connect, who, inv, score, flee, look, a compas that could be clicked on for navigation, wake, sleep and so on and so forth. This simplified the mud enough that users who were solely accustomed to GUI's could interact with the mud and only needed to type to fight, talk and other specifics.

We found that even at higher levels, just over half our players were using the RoD client (or it's decendants) and only the most elite were using payed for clients such as ZMud. How did we know? Easy, when a player logs on there is a flag that is first cleared, then if they are using the RoD client it is set. We were able to keep track of who was using what, being open source to the players, some had gone and made improvements upon our client and GrimClient, and a few others came into being that had support for aliases, simple triggers and MORE BUTTONS!

So there is some testimonial to support the private mud client crew.
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Postby Shar » Sun Mar 14, 2004 8:43 pm

Areandon,

That was a nearly perfect post. This thread has amazing ideas. I will see what can be done about some of these suggestions. Cyric, Shevarash and I have already talked about several of these same issues, but several others that you suggested didn't even dawn on any of us.

Well said and well handled. More to come on what can be done from a player pov.
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Postby Treladian » Mon Mar 15, 2004 2:04 am

Soloing and the MUD is always a touchy topic. Since the mud is so heavily group oriented, things can't be so solo friendly that a player has no idea how to function in a group or else they're going to be gimped in terms of play style as they get higher up. You mentioned SWG. I can't count the number of times I wish I could have just shot some idiot that a PA mate was too nice to turn away from the group that has no idea how to properly behave and not get people killed because soloing is so ridiculously easy in the game. While there definately should be a more level playing field here in terms of soloing for exp, any such change should be balanced with increasing the benefits for grouping for exp and making sure that players KNOW that they'd be better off in a group.
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Postby Areandon » Mon Mar 15, 2004 10:24 am

Treladian, I agree with you that the implementation of the SWG system isn't all that. It has become too solo-oriented. I think soloing should be viable, not the default playing style. At the moment soloing is virtually impossible for most classes. Making it easier especially at lower levels will help newbies a lot. And it won't hurt veterans any, since the game from level 40 and up will not change.
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low level zones

Postby irta » Mon Mar 15, 2004 11:12 pm

As mentioned earlier, one of the biggest problem with the game is that you don't zone til your at least 41. Zoning is the probably the biggest part of the game and people new to the game just don't see it for a long time which causes some of them to quit before they ever do see it. There are low end zones, but there is just no reason for anyone to do them. This is partially due to the fact one of the big ways currently to make newbies happy sothey stay on the mud is to give them pretty decent gear. The big way to get them to do zones is massive xp (way better then they'd get doing traditional xp in exchange for exploring dangerous zones and frequently dying and having to cr).

Also, speaking of Realms of Despair, one of their big draws is that it's relatively easy to get into a lot of their guilds (they can be big and even tiered with a significant political structure). It might be worthwhile to rearrange guilds to support this structure, with apprentices and mentors, etc... although guilds should certainly be able to remain the same if they like. This will probably take some work but long term will be a big plus.
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Re: low level zones

Postby Silsaterur » Tue Mar 16, 2004 3:32 am

irta wrote:Also, speaking of Realms of Despair, one of their big draws is that it's relatively easy to get into a lot of their guilds (they can be big and even tiered with a significant political structure). It might be worthwhile to rearrange guilds to support this structure, with apprentices and mentors, etc... although guilds should certainly be able to remain the same if they like. This will probably take some work but long term will be a big plus.


Before I was on the admin staff of RoD (during the days when sojourn2 had gone) I was an active member of the guild of paladins. I eventually came to be the guild master as Aerthorn left in an effort to unite the human nation again. The structure of the guild was something wholely unseen on torilmud simply because with an enrolement of over 130 players, the paladins guild was almost as large as the Pbase here.

Firstly, and most importantly to me, was how the guild dealt with newbies. In place was a ranking structure:

Initiates: Players not yet enrolled in the guild, these players level 20-30 had seen either myself or Darshanin (my guild first) about membership. First we would give them a simple quest, get me a certain item, or bring proof of a certain evil mobs demise at their hand. Upon completing this they were quested to speak with the other members of the guild and return to me when they could pass a test by me on the paladin's code. (Yep, we had a code.) Finally they would seek out sponsorship of a templar to apprentice under.

Accolytes: These players typically level 25-35 are new members of the guild who answer to a master and the master answers to the guildmaster, guild first, or guild second. When they were ready, their master would sponsor them to be tested. This often entaild all three guild heads questioning the new member on the mud, the guild, conduct and other things.

Knights: These are full fledged members of the guild often level 35+, they would run quests for the guild when the need arose (such as when the vampires tried to sieze doomhaven). These quests could be from our guild, a nation, or more likely the interguild quest council.

Templar: Level 45+ these guys made so much possible, they lead guild quests, tought the new members about the mud and how to be a participant in it's goings on. Crucial people.

Leadership: A group of about 15 people (including myself) justicars were responsible for keeping order within the guild and served as emmisaries to other guilds. Treasurers and other staff, then the Guild master, guild first and guild second.

All of this resulted in a additional subculture that people that people could identify with and be a part of... if you ask me one of the most important things about being on a mud, is that feeling that you want to be there because you feel welcome, even appreciated there.

Another time I'll talk about the nations and the interguild quest council...
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Postby Sarvis » Mon Mar 22, 2004 8:07 pm

Website:

Ok, for some reason this mud disappeared on me a few months ago. Especially the website. I did connect to the mud once, and nothing was said about the website being moved or anything, but I couldn't connect to it. I'm guessing it is recently back up, and they just needed a new url or something. However, when I occasionally would try to find the mud I couldn't. Links from advertising websites such as mudconnector would not bring up the web page. Actually, mudconnector doesn't even have a web page url on it for us. I know this is something the imms need to take care of, but it bears mentioning. The link from Topmudsites doesn't work either, as it still references the old url. If things like that are not updated, then nothing we do to the web page will matter.


Staff dudes, perhaps consider getting a player to be in charge of the website. They'd be sort of staff, but have more time to make updates on the site and such while you guys are trying to implement cool crap for the mud.


Client:

I, personally, don't like custom clients much. However, I can see how some people would prefer it. Another option might be to just have a good predefined trigger/alias set that people can plug into an already installed zmud and start using for our mud. There are a lot of aliases and such that we _all_ use. My own are rather nonexistant atm, unfortunately... (built new computer, didn't copy zmud over, now rewriting everything... heh.)

This way other mudders just looking for a new mud can jump right in here as well.


Time and Benefits:

You seem to have drifted away from what players can do... heh.

1) low level exp tables are already quite low. A dude last night was saying he could get to level 10 in like 6 hours, and I can probably come close to that... with some classes. By some classes I mean warrior classes, or shaman.... possibly cleric. Casters completely and totally suck at low level. First circle spells simply need to do more damage at level 1. It's one thing to cast a single spell, then mem for half a minute... it's another thing when you have to do that 6 times to kill a single mob.

2) I don't think we need to increase soloing opportunities. There are some out there, even at mid-high levels without great eq. Group exp is always more fun though, and I still think that the grouping should be encouraged. I would agree that a slower transition could be made however. It seems like I remember just hitting a certain level and suddenly not being ale to do anything alone anymore. I'm thinking around 16-17... not sure though. Been a LONG time... heh.

3) Agree. Though I assume you mean that each _stage_ of the quest can be finished in a short time, right?
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Postby Areandon » Tue Mar 23, 2004 9:51 am

Sarvis:

Though I assume you mean that each _stage_ of the quest can be finished in a short time, right?

Yup, that's what I mean. Low level quests could consist of one stage, and should be doable in a short time as a whole, but for high level quests that would be bad.
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Postby kragt » Tue Mar 23, 2004 9:22 pm

You could also take a few ideas from AC. They had level restricted zones that were part of mini-quests or contained decent low-level items. Sometimes the items from these zones were part of a larger quest that players worked on throughout the life of their character. The quests could also reward xp with the reward being greater than if they had spent that time doing xp.

Mobs would have to be placed in cities that would identify low level players and ask for their help, the mob would then provide them with a map to the zone and perhaps some starting gear to help them out. In order to prevent non-newbies from abusing these quests to quickly powerlevel characters a timer could be placed on the quest so that a person could only complete it once per mud week or so.

Another idea that players could do themselves is to create a sort of big brothers/big sisters setup where experienced players would sponser a newbie. They would make themselves available to teach the newbie the game, answer questions and show them around.
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Postby Stamm » Tue Mar 23, 2004 10:46 pm

kragt wrote:You could also take a few ideas from AC. They had level restricted zones that were part of mini-quests or contained decent low-level items. Sometimes the items from these zones were part of a larger quest that players worked on throughout the life of their character. The quests could also reward xp with the reward being greater than if they had spent that time doing xp.

Mobs would have to be placed in cities that would identify low level players and ask for their help, the mob would then provide them with a map to the zone and perhaps some starting gear to help them out. In order to prevent non-newbies from abusing these quests to quickly powerlevel characters a timer could be placed on the quest so that a person could only complete it once per mud week or so.


I had considered this problem and came up with what I thought was a good idea.

Add a quest item to the newbie starting kits.

That, when handed to their guildmaster would kick off the series of quests, and as long as players didn't throw the object away, or lose it, they'd be fine.

The only problem with that is what if a level 10 char dies and doesn't cr?

I suppose that'll maybe teach them early that if they die, they have to CR.
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Postby Areandon » Sat Jul 31, 2004 1:10 pm

We're 3 months down the line since I posted this. In the meanwhile we've gotten a nice website,a new newbie starting zone in Scardale, and a stable site so people can find us. I've actually seen some real newbies around. Kudos to the staff!

We still have one problem, almost every newbie i've met or heard of has quit after a week or two. Some probably don't like the mud, and that's their loss. But the most common problem i hear is still the steep learning curve. Scardale is great, but a level 1 mage with only newbie gear still gets his ass kicked by level 1 mobs.

If we want to grow the playbase we have to do something about that learning curve. In my original post i layed down some ideas to solve this. In any case we have to change the difficulty for new players. The first few levels should be about learning the game, and should be easy. The difficulty should rise slowly during the first 20 or so levels untill it is at the level it's supposed to be. By then players are hooked anyway.

I still like the quest idea, any news on that Shar?
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Postby Lenefir » Sat Jul 31, 2004 5:27 pm

Just for information...

The newbie starting kit for a mage gives the whole whopping AC 3 (that's total addition for wearing it all), 4 moves, and a 1d4 dagger covered in butter. (I identified it all just to be sure.) So the only usefullness is basically just for covering yourself (when you are alive)... Not sure what the starting kit for the other classes gives though, but I would guess it's probably not that different... Of course the waterflask, food and bag is nice, but food and water won't help you much trying to get passed that starting point and into the this-mud-seems-nice-I-must-try-it-out-more...

When you are level 1, how long time (including remming for caster classes) is acceptable spending on killing a level one animal that might give you 2-3% exp? Or what about a higher level mob? A non-animal, classed mob?
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Postby Areandon » Sun Aug 01, 2004 9:54 am

Interesting info Lenefir. Warrior and rogue classes have some natural hit/dam and usually a better natural ac then caster classes. If you add to that the dependance on the single magic missile or so, and it's easy to see why casters have such a hard time.

I think a level 1 character should be able to kill a level 1 classed mob in a single run in about 2 minutes. The first level is for getting to know the mud, and should be easy. But this doesn't solve much, with the crappy eq, and the lack of damage the wannabe mage will have trouble the moment mobs get on par with the Toril difficulty. And I think there is consensus on not wanting to change the difficulty of this mud. So I guess newbie eq needs an overhaul.
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Postby fotex » Mon Aug 02, 2004 10:48 pm

I'm sure this has been suggested before:

How about making that one lvl1 magic missile not miss its target? :P
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Re: low level zones

Postby Nurpy Fuzzyfeet » Wed Aug 04, 2004 9:23 pm

Silsaterur wrote:
irta wrote:Also, speaking of Realms of Despair, one of their big draws is that it's relatively easy to get into a lot of their guilds (they can be big and even tiered with a significant political structure). It might be worthwhile to rearrange guilds to support this structure, with apprentices and mentors, etc... although guilds should certainly be able to remain the same if they like. This will probably take some work but long term will be a big plus.


Before I was on the admin staff of RoD (during the days when sojourn2 had gone) I was an active member of the guild of paladins. I eventually came to be the guild master as Aerthorn left in an effort to unite the human nation again. The structure of the guild was something wholely unseen on torilmud simply because with an enrolement of over 130 players, the paladins guild was almost as large as the Pbase here.

Firstly, and most importantly to me, was how the guild dealt with newbies. In place was a ranking structure:

Initiates: Players not yet enrolled in the guild, these players level 20-30 had seen either myself or Darshanin (my guild first) about membership. First we would give them a simple quest, get me a certain item, or bring proof of a certain evil mobs demise at their hand. Upon completing this they were quested to speak with the other members of the guild and return to me when they could pass a test by me on the paladin's code. (Yep, we had a code.) Finally they would seek out sponsorship of a templar to apprentice under.

Accolytes: These players typically level 25-35 are new members of the guild who answer to a master and the master answers to the guildmaster, guild first, or guild second. When they were ready, their master would sponsor them to be tested. This often entaild all three guild heads questioning the new member on the mud, the guild, conduct and other things.

Knights: These are full fledged members of the guild often level 35+, they would run quests for the guild when the need arose (such as when the vampires tried to sieze doomhaven). These quests could be from our guild, a nation, or more likely the interguild quest council.

Templar: Level 45+ these guys made so much possible, they lead guild quests, tought the new members about the mud and how to be a participant in it's goings on. Crucial people.

Leadership: A group of about 15 people (including myself) justicars were responsible for keeping order within the guild and served as emmisaries to other guilds. Treasurers and other staff, then the Guild master, guild first and guild second.

All of this resulted in a additional subculture that people that people could identify with and be a part of... if you ask me one of the most important things about being on a mud, is that feeling that you want to be there because you feel welcome, even appreciated there.

Another time I'll talk about the nations and the interguild quest council...


You advertising for ROD? =p I went there, and I checked it out...you know what I learned? 90% of the people there are avatars, and when 90% of the playerbase has already achieved top rank I think the difficulty is a bit ....off? Achieving level 50 is one thing, becoming immortal is another.
Aristan group-says 'nurpy=tripod'

Shevarash GCC: 'Tiamat stands here, fighting Nurpy.'
fotex
Sojourner
Posts: 288
Joined: Mon May 12, 2003 12:23 am

Postby fotex » Sat Aug 07, 2004 12:19 am

wow, a tiered structure. MLM anyone ? :P

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