I have been playing AVATAR off-and-on since January 1999. I generally play for a few months (during downtime) and leave for a year or two if real-life commitments require it, though I was gone altogether from late 2001 to late 2007.
My main alts are Assassino and Mirage. I've created a fairly high volume of characters over the span of my time on the MUD, but don't use any of the ones still intact. The purge policy should be reinstated to clear away such characters, and the delete function restored with a no-appeals disclaimer. Annoyance at requests for file restorations or just plain laziness on the part of the MUD's staff is absolutely no excuse to disable an essential management tool of one's pfile(s) nor allow the clogging up of the system with unused accounts. Every dumpster needs its trash recycled on a regular basis.
These days, my interest is primarily in running at the Lord level (when I have one), though I feel this tier is broken and needs a major overhaul - capping gains at 999, rerolling overpowered characters in the same manner (and for the same reasons) as the Version 22 update (see helpfile), redesigning some of the more linear gear runs, and the like - submitting typo/bug reports (though these seem to be largely ignored), and writing areas/quests for future submission.
Overall, while my experience on AVATAR has generally been positive, I feel the gaming experience has lapsed into a predictable and demotivating pattern of endless remorts and elitist private groups, at the expense of everyone else. It discourages new players from joining the game, as they find themselves unable to acquire Lord gear (due to the dearth of gear runs and the paucity of people willing and interested in leading) and alienated by the exclusionary nature of bset grouping. The recent toughening of Lord mobs only served to further enhance the chasm that separates 'normal' Lords from those with years of artificially-inflated statistics and higher-powered gear and knowledge of the Lord planes. In short, I feel the entire system needs a fundamental restructuring, not just to implement quick fixes or small modifications, but an all-encompassing rebuilding of the tier-based system as it stands today. A broken game is, necessarily, a dying game. Concordantly, at the Immortal level, a more decisive and strong leadership figure is needed to coordinate the decision-making process and force through these needed changes (over the protests of other Imms and players alike, if need be). In the absence of this, token adjustments and endless debating of issues backlogged from earlier periods as well as current ones among a small group of the staff is the inevitable result, with attendant negative affects on the game's quality and player morale. I also feel all Immortal commands pertinent to the game, barring those required for code implementation, should be made available to all members of the Imm team, and the outmoded ranking system scrapped. Rather, parsing of members based on their area of expertise alone would, in my opinion, be more efficient at generating creative output and motivate those already involved, and others aspiring to be, to give their 150% when time personal allows it. It is certainly absurd that something as banal as making a quest girth wearable requires the intervention of a higher-ranked member of the personnel. It's high time to rethink how the game is managed, played, and advertised, and then execute the appropriate changes. My final thoughts on the design/building component of the MUD is that areas that are historical landmarks - such as Midgaard, for instance, or Ofcol - should be off-limits to revision or rebuilding. There is sufficient room outside the periphery of the map to create new areas, and connect them to existing ones via permanent portals, nexuses, and the like (another reason bots are a hindrance to learning the terrain and its connector areas). While revisiting most areas is usually a positive development - more creativity in descriptions, mobprogs, quests, and other features will result - there are some places that should not be touched, period. The Retro team's work, while admirable for its output, has generally, in my opinion, not improved the quality of lowmort areas nor made them more popular or frequented by players of that tier. Partly, this is due to the structural problems inherent in having bots that provide portals and spells to visit the same 3-4 areas. But it is also because those areas are far-flung, do not offer any significant improvement over their predecessor, and were not always created by people who also play the game frequently (and therefore know what kind of areas players would like to run). If anything, they have ornamental value and are to be admired for the detail and quality of the writing. But certainly in the case of New Thalos and Ofcol's replacement areas, they offer little to the average lowmort (doubly so due to the lawful nature of these places). The highly inopportune removal of Descent to Hell - one of Strahd's masterpieces - whose only parallel was Underdark (another excellent stock area with a vast level range and equally impressive diversity of rooms/items) is another example.
Nota bene: Naturally, I feel bots are a detriment to the game and should be done away with. That policy change is now in its sixth year and Occam's Razor suggests they have simply turned the Mortal and Hero tiers into formalities to be sped through as quickly and painlessly as possible. It axiomatically rules out the need to group or acquire item-based boons in order to slog through the harder levels of lowmort and sub-101 hero. An alternative solution would be to create an automaton-type npc to furnish full spells for a fee. This would, I feel, lessen the pain of returning to the old system (good as that was), and encourage people to put an effort into collecting the funds needed for the purpose. This is one area of AVATAR that absolutely needs revising as soon as possible. The argument that it would cause players to leave is entirely without merit. Those players don't generally care about the MUD or its viability in the long-term, opting instead to benefit their own characters and ignore all other aspects of the game. We can certainly do without such players. 10 active players is better than 40 redundant ones.
If you see me on, I'm always willing to answer tells or respond to notes on board 2.