I've played aetolia almost since it was created, and I've played all of the other IRE games as well. It was always aetolia that drew me back though. I'm sure some of this is just nostalgia tinting my views a bit, but originally this was the dark game. Darker tones, darker themes, the midnight age. This was the gothic game. It had a distinctly different tone than the rest of IRE and I think it's what kept drawing me back.
Now this didn't give an advantage to the evil or bad guys in the game over the good guys. It was more of an even when you win, you still lose thing. Every step forward risked two steps back most of the time. We didn't get happy endings. They were dark, but full of emotion and passion and I think it's what drived so much RP here and how we became known as the RP capital of the IRE games. That gothic environment promoted and reinforced it so much. Swept you up and made you want to be part of it, it was almost impossible to get by without doing deep RP.
For a while now that gothic tone seemed to have been toned down instead of the game's tone, the midnight age theme, to a minor role that occasionally happens, and it's become more a typical high fantasy story with happy endings and big fights and magic, and not the emotional darkness that used to be there. The various subtle grey areas that fluctuated in organizations becoming more flat and standard. I miss that aspect of the game, when it was the game all around you. The shift of focus has also led to more people I think identifying themselves as the good guys, and less real villains for people to fight besides what the admin provide us.
I was wondering other people's thoughts on the matter, especially long term players who remember what it was like way back then. Do you think the game has shifted away from the midnight age, the gothic themes? If so, did you enjoy things more with those darker tones, or do you like it more now? Would like to pick some brains, gather some thoughts, and see if maybe I'm the only one that feels like this or not.