You haven’t lived until you’ve died in MUD

Playing MUD1 has been both a trip down memory lane and a nice, gentle mental exercise. But its also been a strange experience; MUD1 is so tiny and so disjointed that it seems much less removed from the sample adventure (“Precious Days“). But then according to his book at the time, Artificial Intelligence & Computer Games, part of the purpose behind MUD1 was to create a system that both people and AI/expert systems would interact in. MUD1 has that clinical compsci feel to it, eclectic puzzles and mind ticklers like “aucg minus O = ?”.

So this weekend I decided to give MUD2 a try. The same guy that runs MUD1, Viktor Toth, also runs MUD2.com, but MUD2 isn’t free. (Cheap, but not free). I downloaded a client, clio, and was setting it up when I noticed it had links to both MUD2.com and MUDII.co.uk

Being a limey, I felt inclined to check out this co.uk version… As well as stiring thoughts of home, I noticed it was run by some guy calling himself Foddy. Wait a second, that name rings a bell. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but … One of my old KFS.org users used to go by that name or “fodrules” variously. Nah. It’s coincidence. After all, “fod” in MUD means “finger of death”.

All the same, I decided to give MudII the first visit. And promptly ran into some players who chatted about the MUD and asked me which Wizzes I knew. Crikey. I don’t remember who the wizards were when I played nearly 23 years ago. But, “foddy sounds familiar”, I noted to which one of them replied “He also goes by fodrules”.

A moments background. In 1993 I had left the software house I joined in 1991 and was working for a former client, writing the accounting and stock control software for a company on the fishdocks of Grimsby. I had caught a whiff of this Internet thing, and after speaking to someone at PC World got a lead to call a little company called Demon Systems in London. I called them up to ask if they would put my MUD system on their FTP server for download. I was asked to hold, and then some guy called Cliff interrogated me, and then offered me a job.

During my 8 years at Demon, we tried to get a company MUD going a couple of times, but we also took a look at the possibility of licensing Essex MUD from MUSE. That was a dream goal for me, but sadly the moons never aligned the right way.

Add to this the fact that MUD1 was what started me on this programming path. I learned C so I could write my own MUD. When Richard Bartle gave me a listing of MUD1 in MUDDL, I was thrilled that my language was so close to it that it wouldn’t be a major hassle to port it, and immediately began (largely with the help of my neighbor/fellow gamer) entering in rooms and travel data. We even got objects in before we re-discovered one of the major drawbacks of paper listings.

So when Foddy the loopy arch-wizard appeared before me in MUD, and confirmed he was the Foddy I knew all those years ago, I let out a whoop and then a very loud curse. On the one hand, jubilation to see an old friend, on the other wailing green envy that I’d be reuinioning in his own damn, licensed, instance of MUD2 :)

The story is that they resurrected MUD2 after Wireplay dropped it. The prices are fairly cheap, and MUD2 is a lot less “Zorkish” than MUD1. The parser is fairly sophisticated, and the puzzles are far less disjointed (although if you visit the cottage in the old land, you’ll probably find a lot of throw back stuff out there).

The most notable difference is that the mobiles (NPCs that move around etc) are far more agile and active in MUD2, to the point that you get an automatic free-points hand out just for surviving 15 minutes.

MUD1 and MUD2 share a feature: Permadeath. If you are killed in combat, your character is gone. You can reroll it, but it will be a new roll. Death by accidents like falling, exploding marsh gas, etc, cost you nothing in MUD1 and a few points in MUD2.

I’ll be playing as either Lungar or Lunitac if you happen by. Of course, that will no doubt change after I start getting PKed :)

3 Comments

i’ll tell u wots wierd, my bloody name all over the internet!

I told you it would be one day :)

Glad to hear your stories. I recently came back to a mud i played a couple of years back and I am yet again enthralled with everything about the game. I am still however far from your “played the game 23” years ago

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