I just want to say that I love the concept for this mud. I found it, I believe, somewhere back in the mid 2000's. I think the combat system is awesome, especially wrestling, and it seems like there's a lot to do eventually. I love some of the concepts I've heard about, like cybernetic implants. I have never really stuck it out, however. Here's why.
There is a feeling of severe eliteism here. I read somewhere that the admin want the game to be experienced, not given away. I'm not really sure why that is, but I think it's a big part of the reason that the game has no players. I've seen this happen time and again, and either eventually the developers give up and let loose the secrets of the game like Discworld, or they die, like this game and New Moon. I've yet to see an elitist game that can keep more than a couple of players, and I've played literally hundreds of muds. I really wish the secrets of this game would become public knowledge, in a wiki or something, though that would probably entail having some players around to write them all down.
At the end of the day, I, and I somehow doubt I'm the only player like this given what's popular these days, like to play with mechanics and see good descriptions rather than explore looking for obscurities. I can usually tell if I'm going to stick with a mud based on how much power I gain in the first few days. On this game, that appears to be next to none. I've created several alts, only one of which has gotten to rank 3 at all yet, and I'm still only earning a tiny bit of experience. I've seen threads with people talking about earning 100k to 1mil xp, and all I can think of is, that would take months. I think the most I've ever earned from a single mob is probably 150 with my brawler. I've tried to find some things to boost my characters, such as the machine god's temple, though if it's anything like the artificer's tower it won't matter because I won't be strong enough to complete it. The grind factor on here is horrible. It seems like either I can gain enough xp to raise a skill but not the necessary skill-ups without a ton of grinding, or I can gain neither the xp or the skills. I just think this game needs some rebalancing. It seems as though things are very inflexible here. Most every time I've logged on within the past few years, I see usually between 1 and 5 players on, and I never actually see them, just on the who list. I think some things need to change, or this mud will drop into obscurity and disappear as so many other muds before it. Given the clear amount of effort I can see has been put into this game, that would be a real shame. I think unveiling some of the more obscure features and areas of the mud would go a long way toward this. I've seen so many locked doors missing keys, so many mobs way beyond my strength that I can't get passed, and who knows how many hidden exits I've either glossed over, or have missed completely because they aren't even hinted at, like the exit east of the fencer's school. And speaking of that place, I was reading that there's a quest in there so hard that some people will try dozens of times to complete it and fail. Can someone please tell me how this is fair? Especially if the reward is some kind of superpower. I understand rewarding vigilent players and those who just have things fall into place for them or who are incredibly intelligent, but eventually that's all you'll end up with for players, and honestly, that doesn't seem to be very many gamers.
On top of that, there's oddness like all of these random development points. Why in the world does maturity have to be random, and the only suggestion I can find for changing it still wants to keep it obscure? For one thing, that's not how real life works, and for two, this is a game. Maybe with a light emphasis on roleplay, but it's still not realistic to have your character basically just mature into whatever random rolls he gets. Maturity should, at the very least, be easily influenced with training equipment or activities like cutting wood, running, etc. The time development I have no problem with. Same goes for random abilities. Why are those random? It makes no sense. Wouldn't a trainer be able to train you in any technique they had available, rather than you just rolling up a set of abilities from any possible rank? I honestly don't even get the logic behind that one, accept to deny people making super characters. And even then, what exactly is the problem with that? Those that want to group, don't have to do it. Those that want to play more casually, or play a hardcore character, can. Or, the mobs could be increased in strength in some areas to compensate for maxing out characters on a regular basis. I don't actually know what secrets in the game this might mess with, like functions of the Guru, etc.
Look at what's popular on mudconnect or topmudsites. A lot of them are heavily roleplay, which doesn't really interest me, but games like aardwolf have a ton of mechanical value without being elitist or obscure. There's a continuous gaining of power, but there's enough content and cooperative play to keep people interested and engaged for years. Discworld is pretty much the same way, spoiling their secrets for those that want to go that route but strictly enforcing not talking about it on public channels in the game for those that don't want it spoiled. The iron realms are all about conveniences with automatic curing systems, exploration aids, etc. I'm not saying Blood Dusk needs all those features, I'm not even saying that every gamer needs their hand held. I actually like the newbie system in this game, though it could use a little more depth and it'd be nice if, as someone else on the forum suggested, it would branch out into other classes instead of just telling newbies to pick brawler by default. But it'd be nice to see something beyond basically, being dumped into south ravenfall, given a set of brawler skills and told, "Have at 'er." And from what I'm hearing, good luck to any casual gamer who wants to uncover the secrets of Blood Dusk that will make you even a reasonably powerful character.
Sorry for the rant, I don't even know if anyone will read this. I just think this mud could easily be one of the higher ranking muds on the popular mud ranking sites if the atmosphere changed some and let people just play, instead of enforcing rules that cater to the hardcore, hypervigilent power player.
To end this rant, I just want to ask, what the heck is wrong with wrestler? Does it become overpoweringly strong at higher ranks or something? Right now, I absolutely love the combat style, but I find it very annoying that most of the time, especially early on, you're basically just sitting on the defensive getting pounded, trying to land a grab that seems to land about 20% of the time, and even when you finally manage it you're either too tired to do anything so you just pass your turn, or you've been insulted and given fear that passes your turn anyway. Add to that the wandering trainer that can go anywhere in the mud, and I can't help but wonder if wrestler has some kind of instant win mass xp technique or something at fourth rank. If it doesn't, it's not really worth learning other than for mechanical coolness when you actually manage to hit anything.
Anyway, whether any of this happens or not, I'll probably play for a while longer just to mess around with things and then quit. Especially since even brawler, the newbie-friendly art of the game, has some problems. Namely, that after third rank, we're told, this teacher can't teach you anymore, but there's absolutely no hint on where the fourth rank teacher might be. I'm just not a fan of obscurity for the sake of obscurity, and given that I only see about 5 people posting on here at any given time lately, I think it's pretty safe to say not many other people are either.