Text Role Playing Games: Why Beta Is Better
By Zhade Barnet
Nothing attracts a crowd like a crowd. So if you’re anything like me, when you’re looking for a new MUD to play you tend to do one or more of the following:
- Choose the game with loads of players,
- Choose the game that’s been running the longest, or
- Choose the game with the longest list of features.
For the rest of this article, I’m going to try and convince you that sometimes text role playing games in the Beta testing stage are better than the tried-and-true ones (and never more so than in the case of Midkemia Online, in my opinion!). Hard to believe that this new kid on the block is better than the most established, frequented and feature-laden games out there? Read on, my friend.
Big Brother is Listening to You
It was a week ago, maybe two, that I got annoyed with a certain mechanic in the game and posted about it on the forum. And I kid you not, within 24 hours it had been changed in the game. For anybody that’s played another MUD game, that’s almos - unheard of, but that’s just the first thing about playing text role playing games in Beta that is so great. The developers are still listening; eager to hear what tweaks are needed in the text game, and if you suggest a useful or interesting change, you might just get to alter the text game... forever. If this seeing an idea that you’ve come up with being implemented to improve the gaming experience of thousands of people sounds exciting to you, then playing a text game in Beta could be a seriously rewarding experience.
The Early Bird Pwns the N00bs
It goes without saying, but... the earlier you get in on the action, the better your opportunity to be somebody important. If you wait until the game’s been recognised, then you’re likely to be coming up against an army of level-gazillion characters that stand between you and the top. What you need, buddy, is to come in nice and early (like in Midkemia's Open Beta), get into some early role play, and get a headstart on all the organisations. Not to mention the fact that you’ll be able to make some headway with levelling before each hunting ground becomes overrun with people who have just clicked in from TopMudSites!
Okay, so I’ve talked about what’s so good about Beta text games in general, but let me talk about Midkemia Online specifically. My favourite feature in this great new game is the Esteem system, which is a peer-reviewed reward system for good roleplay. The system isn’t perfect yet, but it’s a brilliant way of encouraging the collaboration that takes place between players (often of opposing factions) in Midkemia Online. One-sided battles that, on any other game, would have people all over the world screaming at their monitors, are usually punctuated with in-character trash-talking, but with out-of-character good-natured sportsmanship.
The atmosphere of camaraderie in this game has absolutely got to be experienced to be believed. I haven’t played another text role playing game anywhere where there’s been a greater emphasis on meaningful role play.
What’s this got to do with Beta? Well, I invite you to try and implement such a system in an established game that’s been running for years. In a role playing text game in Beta, it is easier than it would be anywhere else to implement a delicate system like this because it's still constantly getting feedback and being tweaked. And frankly, systems that rely on a system like this need to be set up very early in the role playing game’s developmental life, and need an extensive Beta period in order to make sure the system actually contributes to the game.
So Many Novices... So Little Time...
Text games in Beta in general, and Midkemia Online in particular have a steady stream of newbies. Because people already know that Iron Realms Entertainment is an established and well-liked company in the world of text role playing games, old veterans and new players alike will want to come and see what the new game is like. Whether you’re in a leadership position in your Order, Guild or City, the world is literally bursting with malleable freshlings for you to mould in any way you see fit. Again, this is your opportunity to come and shape the future of a new and evolving world; how many of its future legends will have been your protégées?
I’ve only given four reasons why text game Betas - specifically Midkemia Online - are the best text gaming experience out there at the moment, but believe me when I say that I could list more. The fact that there’s such a quick turnaround on the implementation of player feedback, the opportunity to have a great headstart on all the wonders of play, the evolving Esteem system and the fact that there’s more new blood coming in every day sets this game well above the rest. If you want to know more, then come join the brilliant game and community that is Midkemia Online - even if it is 'just in Beta'.
Zhade Barnet is a text game enthusiast and currently plays games from http://www.IronRealms.com.