Most home computer systems of the time were not connected to any networks, and the average home user had little idea, or interest, in the budding on-line computing phenomenon. But it was during this time that the, albeit niche, world of the MUD began to grow, and it did eventually start to spill out into the wider games-playing market of the day: which was still admittedly very niche compared to today’s mainstream industry.
Magazines like ‘C&VG’ were beginning to gain a decent readership, and they did run articles on the MUD phenomenon. Even Sinclair User got in on the act with this article published in issue 44, on November 1985. I remember reading these articles with interest and awe, but like many other readers a modem would not be a viable option for some years to come…
A typical MUD in the heyday of the phenomenon would be invariably be a text-only multiplayer adventure game based on a standard phantasy type world, where the players would interact with the system through a text-parser. The parser was a command-line interface which took simple ‘spoken language like’ commands and translated then into game actions, or not as the case may be. But it also allowed the system’s users to chat with each other in real-time, and this aspect of the MUD became the real community maker. It was this community aspect that transformed the MUD from a simple computer game into something more. Many people grew some of the very first on-line friendships through MUD boards. In a lot of cases they invented their own, culture, etiquettes, and even language – MUDSpeke, although they were still very welcoming to newcomers. I know because by this point I was there… although due to telephone bills my on-line time was rather budget limited.
There have been a good many browser based Web MUD’s over the years, one of the more notable of which was the officially endorsed ‘Disk World’ MUD. Based on the bestselling Diskworld series of novels by Terry Pratchet, this text-only multiplayer adventure put you into the strange and fantastical Diskworld, where you could meet and interact with its inhabitants. The web-based MUD was fairly successful, possibly based on its lucrative licence, but the old-style telnet based systems were still very much alive, and have survived up to the time of writing this very blog.
The following list gives some good varient examples of MUDs:
- Fusker MUD - (A MUD - Multi-User-Dungeon, standard type, Site)
- AnimeMuck - ( A MUCK - Multi-User-Chat-Kingdom Site)
- DvorakMUSH - (A MUSH - Multi-User-Shared-Habitat [or Hack] Site)
- Mongoose - (A MOO Site: a later Object-Oriantaed MUD derrivative)
Web based MUDS –
- DiskWorld MUD - (A web based Mud type site based on the Diskworld series of books)
- The World Called Hollow - (Another web based Mud type game that was quite popular)
- Ardwolf - (A heavily formatted MUD that's best played with a dedicated client program)