MUD1, MUD2

My colleague, Gophur, is one of those who frequently questions the relevance that early-day folks like Richard Bartle have on today’s games. I hope a few of you spent, at the very least, a short time in MUD1.

If you have, it probably made you ask that same question. Chatting with Bloo, he’s made some salient observations of MUD1’s lackings as a game. There is nothing that really gives you a sense of areas or points you in directions you might go. His frustration at trying to conjur up the word sequence peculiar to a single scenario, like trying to do a crossword where none of the words overlap and you don’t know how many letters long any particular word box is…

MUD1 was, partly, motivated by a desire to get humans into an AI sandbox, using the ‘game’ aspect as a lure, and it shows, painfully. But its successor, MUD2, is far more clearly a game.

And its this quantum leap that, I believe, that gives MUD its relevance today. It is “multiplayer 101”.

So if you haven’t already, go play some free MUD1 and then go drop by one of the MUD2s. MudII.co.uk has a “happy hour” free-to-all 6pm-7pm UK time and is based in the UK (so may be a little laggier for US players than Euro players). It gets first mention because it’s run by my old friend, Foddy. MUD2.com is run by Viktor, who also runs the free MUD1.

They both allow you to wander around and do their newbie tours for free, but you can’t do much else without paying either an hourly fee (30p or 50c depending on exchange rate) or a monthly fee (five quid or $7.50 depending).

But I think either is well worth this unique insight into very early evolution of this genre. And I just find Richard’s style of MUD more aesthetically pleasing than LPmuds. I always felt that with most LPmuds the mechanics were always just barely concealled…

C’mon… Mush! Chop to it. I look forward to hearing your observations and thoughts. Although, you may want to spend a few minutes finding a client you are comfortable with. Two I recommend are Clio and Mud2pj.

14 Comments

2nd Life = Graphical MUD, it’s a similar concept with little direction and/or motivation unless you get off your can and do something yourself.

I used to play a mud at university, one guy at the university used to run a countdown style game with conundrums and math quizes.

Quite amusing, had a huge world. Wish I could remember the name of it.

>Chatting with Bloo, he’s made some salient observations of MUD1’s lackings as a game. There is nothing that really gives you a sense of areas or points you in directions you might go.

There is, it’s just at a different granularity than today’s RPGers are used to. Your overall goal – make it to wizard/witch level – is given, but how you do it, well, that’s up to you. In the current crop of game-style virtual worlds, you have the same overall goal but you also get a series of waypoints in the form of quests. Go kill the princess; how you kill the princess is up to you, but the game wants her dead. In the former, you have complete freedom to find your own way; in the latter, your progress is fore formally structured by the game designers. This doesn’t mean that MUD1 is “lacking as a game” – after all, in quest-driven worlds you still have to decide for yourself how to kill the princess – it just means that it’s not a game for people who like their gameplay ordered.

>His frustration at trying to conjur up the word sequence peculiar to a single scenario, like trying to do a crossword where none of the words overlap and you don’t know how many letters long any particular word box is…

MUD1’s parser accepts:
VERB
VERB OBJECT
VERB OBJECT1 WITH OBJECT2
and that’s about it.

MUD2’s parser is far more sophisticated, but 60% of the commands people issue are movement, 10% are chat or emotes, and most of the rest are along the lines of K Z F LS (ie. KILL ZOMBIE WITH LONGSWORD, which also works). Only a minuscule number are PUT THE UNLIT BRAND IN THE LIGHTEST CONTAINER or the like.

But yes, though, if you don’t know what to type then these games can be extremely frustrating. Then again, it’s not all that different to trying to solve quests on WoW without being able to look up the solution on a spoiler site.

Richard

Hmm. To my mind, MUD1 is much closer to being a puzzle, more of an adventure in the hackers’ sense, less of something you “play” in the casual sense, i.e. a game.

MUD2 seems to have been restructured with more of an awareness that many players were there less for the intellectual challenge than for the treasure. The increased activity of mobiles gives it a little more of a schoolyard (fun) feel than MUD1’s more cerebral, forward plannable activities. The increased randomness of start locations, the gradual spawning of objects…

I actually find logging in to MUD1 exciting in a way that modern games aren’t. But conversely I find it the more painful when, while standing scratching my head over the one remaining Mausoleum puzzle, an invisible player walks in and blasts me with the wand.

MUD2 has a more extensive vocabulary of synonyms which makes it a significantly easier task to find the right way to phrase some of the puzzle answers. For instance in MUD1 “ring bell” doesn’t work, but after finding your syns.htm file, I found a command that does. Although that may just be an artifact of Viktor’s port?

Early on in a player’s MUD1 career they will probably come across several puzzles with solutions that, in my experience, are wholly unique (obtaining the potty, for instance). And there are also a couple of verbs which seem to have very limited scope or possibly unique usages.

Again, some of this may be down to shortcomings in Viktor’s port (I don’t know if he ported MUDDL or ported MUDDL+MUD?), but in the last week a couple of Wizzes have watched me trying to solve one particular problem, and later hinted that I’d actually tried the right thing the wrong way a couple of times.

This isn’t intended as a critical review tho, I think MUD1 is quite enjoyable on several levels; but I think that you can draw a line from MUD1, through MUD2 and on to EverQuest with strong – and highly relevant to today’s industry – lessons in trying to accommodate “players”. And I draw the conclusion that this should make both games, as a pair, relevant to anyone looking to design games today even if they can’t see beyond text-as-UI enough to see the relevance of either game individually.

>MUD2 seems to have been restructured with more of an awareness that many players were there less for the intellectual challenge than for the treasure.

It was restructured because many of the things I wanted to do, I simply couldn’t in MUD1 without major coding effort.

>The increased randomness of start locations, the gradual spawning of objects…

This is in response to the attempts by players to find (what we’d now call) exploits. Originally, people played the game in the same way as they’d play a normal game, ie. within the unwritten rules. When external players came in though, we found that some of them ignored the unwritten rules and did things that previously had been obviously possible but never done because it would spoil the game (eg. camping the start location and killing players the moment they appeared, before they could kit up).

>But conversely I find it the more painful when, while standing scratching my head over the one remaining Mausoleum puzzle, an invisible player walks in and blasts me with the wand.

The mausoleum is the only place in MUD1 (or MUD2) that has actual puzzles in it. I put it in specifically because people wanted puzzles and I didn’t, so I showed them what a pain the world would be if it were all puzzles by giving them the mausoleum. See http://www.mud.co.uk/richard/majan85.htm for a 21-year-old discussion of logic puzzles in MUD1.

>For instance in MUD1 “ring bell” doesn’t work, but after finding your syns.htm file, I found a command that does. Although that may just be an artifact of Viktor’s port?

I’m guessing that RING is defined to be a noun in MUD1, so won’t work as a verb. MUD2 allows words to have different parts of speech associated with them.

MUD1 had nothing much to base itself on, so a lot of what went on in it was basically experimental. Some of the things we hadn’t thought we’d need to do, it turned out we did need to do; we had to create workarounds and do rewrites to gove us the extra complexity we wanted. Eventually, it reached the stage where the whole thing was hitting its limits, so I rewrote it as MUD2. MUD2 has stood the test of time, in that there’s very little I ever wanted to add but couldn’t, although it’s a mess in terms of its C code on account of how it was originally written in Pascal then transliterated…

>This isn’t intended as a critical review tho

MUD1 isn’t perfect; if it were, I wouldn’t have bothered to write MUD2!

>I think that you can draw a line from MUD1, through MUD2 and on to EverQuest with strong – and highly relevant to today’s industry – lessons in trying to accommodate “players”.

The route to EQ from MUD1 goes through AberMUD, which is more influenced by MUD1 than by MUD2 as far as I’m aware.

>And I draw the conclusion that this should make both games, as a pair, relevant to anyone looking to design games today even if they can’t see beyond text-as-UI enough to see the relevance of either game individually.

If only they had enough players for them to seem as vibrant as they did in their heyday.

Richard

Never played MUD1 or MUD2, guess the closest was back when I was playing Battletech MUSE/MUSH/MUX’s back in the mid to late 90’s. Crappy ascii ‘graphics’, but nightly battles of dozens on a side pounding macros as fast as possible to show the tactical map, which looked like:
> tactical, had to hit .t every few seconds to get the most updated “snapshot”:

1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 3
9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0
/##\][/ \][/ \][/ \][/ \][/ \][/ \][/ \][/ \][/ \][/ \][/
4 \##/ \__/ \__/ \__/ \__/ \__/ \__/ \__/ \__/ \__/ \__/ \ 4
/##\__/ \__/ \__/ \__/ \__/ \__/ \__/ \__/ \__/ \__/ \__/
5 \##/^^\__/be\__/ \__/ \__/ \__/ \__/ \__/ \__/ \__/ \__/ \ 5
/##\^2/ \__/ \__/^^\__/ \__/ \__/ \__/ \__/ \__/ \__/ \__/
6 \##/ \__/ \__/AU\^^/ \__/ \__/ \__/ \__/ \__/ \__/ \__/ \ 6
/##\__/ \__/^^\^1/^^\__/ \__/ \__/ \__/ \__/ \__/ \__/ \__/
7 \##/ \__/ \^^/^^\^1/^^\__/ \__/ \__/ \__/ \__/ \__/ \__/ \ 7
/##\__/ \__/^^\^2/^^\^^/ \__/**\__/ \__/ \__/ \__/ \__/ \__/
8 \##/ \__/ \^1/^^\^3/^^\__/ \__/ \__/ \__/ \__/ \__/ \__/ \ 8
/##\__/ \__/^^\^2/^^\^1/ \__/ \__/ \__/ \__/ \__/ \__/ \__/
9 \##/ \__/ \^1/^^\^3/^^\__/ \__/ \__/ \__/ \__/ \__/ \__/ \ 9
/##\__/ \__/^^\^2/bc\^1/ \__/ \__/ \__/ \__/ \__/ \__/ \__/
10 \##/^^\__/ \^1/^^\^3/^^\__/ \__/ \__/ \__/ \__/ \__/ \__/ \ 10
/##\^2/ \__/^^\^2/ba\^1/ \__/ \__/ \__/ \__/ \__/ \__/ \__/
11 \##/ \__/ \^^/^^\^1/ \__/AL\__/ \__/ \__/ \__/ \__/ \__/ \ 11
/##\__/ \__/ \^1/ \__/ \__/ \__/ \__/ \__/ \__/ \__/ \__/
12 \##/ \__/ \__/^^\__/ \__/ \__/ \__/ \__/ \__/ \__/ \__/ \ 12
/][\__/][\__/][\^^/][\__/][\__/][\__/][\__/][\__/][\__/][\__/][\__/

——————————————————————————–

Your unit is in sector 19,8 – Level 0 Grassland.
Enemy unit AU is in sector 14,7 – Level 1 Mountain.
Friendly unit bc is in sector 15,10 – Level 3 Mountain.
There are no ‘Mechs in sector 9,10 – Level 0 Road.

^ = Mountain
” = Heavy Forest
` = Light Forest
~ = Water
% = Rough
# = Road
@ = Building
= = Wall
& = Fire
: = Smoke
+ = Bridge or Snow
(empty) _ = Plains

> scan ba

[ba] Al Marauder Tonnage: 75
Range: 0.0 hex Bearing: 270 degrees
Speed: 0.0 KPH Heading: 60 degrees
X, Y, Z: 4, 1, 0 Heat: 0 deg C.
Type: MECH Movement: BIPED
In Left Arm Weapons Arc
SHUTDOWN

Key FRONT REAR INTERNAL
** (OO) (**) (OO)
XX /OO|OO|OO\ /OO|OO|OO\ /OO|OO|OO\
xx (OO/ || \OO) ( | | ) (OO/ || \OO)
oo / /\ \ / \ / /\ \
OO (OO/ \OO) / \ (OO/ \OO)

================WEAPON SYSTEMS================
—– Weapon —— [##] Location —- Status
ERPPC [ 0] Left Arm Ready
MediumPulseLaser [ 1] Left Arm Ready
ERPPC [ 2] Right Arm Ready
MediumPulseLaser [ 3] Right Arm Ready
GaussRifle [ 4] Right Torso Ready

contacts lists, target, fire, maneuver still remain some of the best and heart pounding online fighting I’ve ever had. Some guys just played techs, fixing damaged mechs in between fights. There was organized training and integration of newbies into each faction. Faction leaders had to manage economies, mine resources, get parts and mechs produced, hold territory, drill their troops and lead in the field via telnet and modem. When I went to WWIIOL, it was this experience more than anything I was hoping to repeat.

A few of these are still around, such as telnet://btech.dhs.org:3030. Played for the first time in, 9 years? Still feel the keyboard get slick as I scramble to type .t .c .t .s96 .h180 .l AA .f1 .rr .f2….in a few seconds and watch the screen scroll madly with ascii trying to get the info and process it in split seconds nonstop for 20 minutes of a firefight (tactical – contacts – tactical – speed 96kph – heading 180 – lock target AA – fire weapon group 1 – rotate torso right – fire weapon group 2…) and type out chat, loading on dropships and landing on different parts of the map, trying to haul your buddy’s mech back to base at 5kph wondering if you’re gonna get jumped by a lance of recon or strike mechs. Man, I miss those days.

Arg, well, the ascii did not come out correctly. The map should look like a hexagonal grid. The /00|00|00\ stuff actually lays out into a humanoid shape, where you see how much armor you have left in each location on your mech. Still, a great game. There were always the balance issues and such, but in the end the player experience depended on the guys in your faction. People created personas and really roleplayed them. I was trained by a guy calling himself Valari Yamamoto. This guy was tough. He harangued you nonstop in training fights, told you what you did wrong (and how you could have done it better), and kept putting you in harder and harder challenges till you were released for assignment to the pilot pool and earned a mech to call your own. Guys in your lance (platoon) and company and faction, you knew, some you didn’t get along with, some you bonded with, but you all had to work together to keep your faction going strong and win. You could capture an ejected enemy pilot and keep him in your base, and talk to him. No forums to fight or complain on :). After a certain time they were traded or usually executed (and then would be allowed to log in again after a few hours back in their own base, but now without their mech and having to request an assignment from their now disapproving CO haha).

In the end, all my best gaming experiences have been because of the other players, whether the interface was green on black ascii or wonderfully rendered French countryside. I think the old MUD/MUSH’s etc. are so fondly remembered by many because of the limitations on technology forced the creators to be inventive (like the guys who came up with Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-man on computers weaker than my PDA, yet oh soooo addicting), and because people made their own content to make the world richer, for and because of inspiration of other players.

I used to play a Dune MUSH, which was pure RP. You could ‘fight’ someone. But the computer determined who won (depended a lot on stats, i.e., how much your House had spent training you and other factors) and as soon as you challenged, you were both told who won and then you roleplayed it out. My character was a Harkonnen ambassador, who offended someone on Kaitain and, they, playing a drunk soldier, waxed me pretty easily. Dead character. I made another one, just in time to watch the guy playing Piter send three players RP’ing soldiers to whack him in a bordello. The lady of the night in the bordello was a paid contact/player of ours.

A lot of the MMORPG’s out there, so called, could learn a lot from all these games. WWIIOL’s been great because of my squad, and the other players I’ve met. It’s been a great vehicle for me to have these types of experiences again (with the bonus of pretty european countryside with panzers rolling across it!) If I could get back the money I spent on DAoC, WoW, Anarchy Online, etc., I would.

Very cool, Mousecat – I also used to play BT3056… handle of “Vlad”, also “Vlad_K-Fuchida” once I started developing a realistic (message routing, etc) Hyerpule Generator network for ComStar.

I *remember* a Vlak_K-Fuchida (I think, could be memory playing tricks on me). This would’ve been Fall 1994-1995. I played a guy named Tom_Sands. I learned to play on BT3056 but nothing ever seemed to happen. I was trained online by Valari Yamomoto (CO of D.E.S.T.) and Randori Genji in Draconis Combine. When Leviathan, Carnifex and those guys opened their BTech site we migrated over there, fall of 1995 or thereabouts, then to Varxsis. I forgot the name of our clan but it was again Japanese themed. If you didn’t play it, Varxsis rocked, you had your ‘clan,’, a crawler, you could mine for resources and build mining and defense towers. Your crawler had mech production facilities and the game, while not strict Btech, was more or less a ripoff. You could develop mech designs and produce parts and mechs. The hardest part was defending territory. The crawlers were hard to kill and most clans were far too small to really do the job till later in the game.

I just had a flashback to the time our base got hit on Leviathan’s site and we scrambled. Our assaults were ordered to exit the hangar first and sponge so the rest could get out. I was the 4th guy in assaultlance of my company so my Battlemaster went out the door first as ordered. About ten seconds later, that massive scroll of text as your mech is blown up. Haha, I how I miss it.

Ah, the old Battletech MUSE/MUSH sites….I kinda miss those (and, yes, this is the same Gio from the old sites).

Want to start your private office arms race?

I just got my own USB rocket launcher :-) Awsome thing.

Plug into your computer and you got a remote controlled office missile launcher with 360 degrees horizontal and 45 degree vertival rotation with a range of more than 6 meters – which gives you a coverage of 113 square meters round your workplace.
You can get the gadget here: http://tinyurl.com/2qul3c

Check out the video they have on the page.

Cheers

Jacob Roder

I don’t think I have seen this described in such a way before. You actually have cleared this up for me. Thanks!

Trackbacks and Pingbacks

MUD1: The abandoned edifice | Renga in BlueFebruary 12, 2015 at 8:35 pm

[…] might want to actually try some of the mausoleum (rather than just find it), because of this Bartle comment: “The mausoleum is the only place in MUD1 (or MUD2) that has actual puzzles in it. I put it […]

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