Tir na nOg is not for everyone. It wasn't meant to be. It was meant for long term mudders who are tired of stock variations and want something new, but still want something familiar enough to feel at home. Ten years ago, we started as a ROM and had the goal of making a mud that we, the imps, wanted to play. Through the years, we have moved far beyond the stock ROM experience, often with the intent of adding more realism, but we have tried to keep the fun of ROM that we always liked.
Today, our DeepMUD code base, with 30 levels and strict class separations, bears more resemblance to Merc than ROM. We've included ideas from everywhere and woven them together in our own unique way to create a unified, cohesive experience. Creation is done in game, and the races are so unique each will make you feel you're playing a different game. Levels are not automatic, they are earned, then awarded by Guildmasters and celebrated with parties. Players looking to create an identity can own and decorate their own homes, restring their EQ, and even change their name.
We've found that long term players stay after they've "won" because they find other goals than just reaching Hero. For many, it's seeing how fast they can make Hero on successive tries. For others, it's seeing if they can make Hero playing a less than ideal Race/Class combo. Others turn to social aspects, such as newbie-helping or administering a Clan. Tir na nOg supports these forms of alternate play in many ways, from providing performance information in the score such as 'mobs per level', to allowing Heroes to become Kings and set the rules for their own town.
We were told by one player that our first level is the equivalent of 'avatar level' on other games. Yes, it's a challenge. You might die in school. We don't have any throwaway levels, with only 30 total we can't afford it. However, each level you do make will give you a sense of satisfaction you're not likely to find elsewhere.