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Gaming Roots: MUD and the Birth of MMOs

timothy posted about a year ago | from the you-are-reading-a-page-of-twisty-passages-all-alike dept.

Games 99

angry tapir writes "I recently had a chance to interview Richard Bartle — the creator of MUD, considered the grandfather of modern massively multiplayer online games. MUD had a text-based interface, but despite that, its design was hugely influential on modern MMOs."

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Yeah... about that influence (4, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | about a year ago | (#43946921)

The thing about MUDs were, it was very up front about your options: Go North, Go West, or Get Eaten By Grue. Modern MMOs try to sell themselves as "fully immersive", but just try running out of the battlefield area once... flashing red lights and your character either explodes, or magically teleports. Very realistic... I know that when I make a wrong turn in my car, if I don't make a u-turn in the next 60 seconds, my car explodes and the police are sent out to pick up little bits of me splattered all over the roadway and other drivers.

I guess my point is... MUDs didn't hide the fact that there were limitations, and in fact turned it into clever logic puzzles and such to solve. They were about having fun and thinking your way out, rather than focusing on beautiful walls of text and then having your only option being pressing ENTER repeatedly, which is what today's MMOs feel like.

The older games were more creative, and they made do with a lot less. Today it's all about achieving technical perfection but without any real substance.

Re:Yeah... about that influence (2)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43946951)

Were? There's still plenty of MUDs out there. Hell, I actually just logged into one I use to play the other day. Still got bored with the constant flow of:

kill creature
c 'cyclone
c 'cyclone
c 'cyclone
sac corpse
get all.coin

Re:Yeah... about that influence (5, Informative)

Em Adespoton (792954) | about a year ago | (#43947151)

Modern MUDS allow you to automate the repetitive stuff -- although some of the automation has to be pretty complex, as you may not want to sac corpse if you're in a group and you're not the mule.

For something more interesting, try MUME [mume.org] -- it's been around a LONG time and has left its roots (Diku?) way back to evolve into its own entity. One of the things I always loved about MUME was its immersiveness; there's localised weather, seasons, etc. (you might not see something hidden behind a tree in summer, but you'll see it with a single search in winter, weapon skill for various weapons is reduced in the rain, water freezes over when the temperature drops, you can more easily follow tracks of PCs and NPCs when there's snow/mud on the ground, if it's just finished raining, your luck in catching fish in a lake with a fishing rod, hook, and bait of your choice improves (you can then clean the fish with your available knife and cook it over a fire you've made, and eat it) etc.

Since MUME is a MUD that's been under continual development/enhancement for _23_ years, it's way more advanced than most other software packages, let alone modern MMoRPGs. Amazingly, the codebase has improved instead of falling to pieces like other attempts I've seen, and the areas just keep getting bigger and richer.

Of course, I've rarely played it in the past 18 years due to the game's rent structure (it encourages daily participation, which I just can't do), but it doesn't take long playing it to have a way more immersive experience than you get with visual games, assuming you have some imagination.

Oh yes, and you can play to "level" (there are no levels in MUME, you get better at the stuff you do, worse at the stuff you ignore), or you can play to role play (killing things isn't the only way to improve in the game, although you do need to earn enough money some way to pay rent, or risk being rolled while you're offline).

And it's free.

Re:Yeah... about that influence (2)

Em Adespoton (792954) | about a year ago | (#43947169)

Oh yes... and for those who want something more than a telnet interface, there's http://code.google.com/p/mclient-mume/ [google.com] -- it rolls mud client and mapper into one program for easy mudding :)

Re:Yeah... about that influence (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43952417)

Downvote the parent. MUME is still around, but has had no active implementor in the last decade. MUME characters DO have levels. One race is free of rent, with some limitations. Weather can destroy fresh tracks in a silly manner (at zone boundaries), plus thousand other glitches. Most active players are hardcore PKers. They don't ever read room descriptions, catch fish in a lake, or roleplay for the matter. All they need is some fresh suckers to start playing mume so they can have a blast a**raping them in PK. You can judge the maturity of existing playerbase from the comment section of (unofficial, but de facto principal) MUME website: http://www.elvenrunes.de/cgi-bin/logs/guest.m?start=0&omode=&caller=1&typ= [elvenrunes.de]

That is all.

Re:Yeah... about that influence (1)

tolkienfan (892463) | about a year ago | (#43960169)

Moderation is not voting - which is why the labels aren't "agree" and "disagree".

Re:Yeah... about that influence (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43948051)

That's what TinTin++ was for.

Re:Yeah... about that influence (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43946957)

I'll take CircleMUD over RuinedLandscape or World of Wallet Snatchers any day.

Re:Yeah... about that influence (3, Interesting)

flayzernax (1060680) | about a year ago | (#43946987)

MMO's are the visual progression of MUDs into theme parks. Where the something to do was a strategic mind puzzle in combat with your team mates. They've been watered down into theme parks now. A few tried a bit of tactical puzzle as well. But that remains more of an FPS baby.

The other part of MMO's was the metagame. Which detracts from the immersion and amusement park. Meaning the trend to simplify, tone down, and obscure stats and effects.

In muds you could kill your character with things like nuclear blasts wiping out several rooms at once. Muds were about community and player interaction and usually had very limited leveling curves. 30 max. With few abilities that either mattered or were required for reaching max level. Gear was 'rented' out on your character etc..

I think MUDs are a bit to hardcore and more about different game points than I like. Not sure if I would go back to them as a starting point for a new MMO. But I would take a look at current MMO's vs old MMO's.

EQ was sandboxy. There were no real limitations on where you could go. You could make a level 4 rogue and sneak down to the bottom of a level 50 dungeon if you wanted to explore. You could run accross the world with a warrior at level 1 from 1 city to the next. The game became more about incentives and less about exploration though as the newness wore off and the player populace congregated around the easy to reach spots. If there was a way to increase reward equally with risk and time. The exploration aspect would have lasted a lot longer. People out in the middle of East Karana hunting gnolls at level 12. I did that because Black Burrow was boring and I had leveled a character there already. I think I went with a group to almost every spot in that game at every level pre-50. Just to try something different. I'm also insane and wasted too much time doing that.

Re:Yeah... about that influence (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43947041)

I remember fondly discovering behind a mage guild in Akanon a secret room. With the symbol for Innoruuk on the floor. Back than I was a zitty snot nosed teenager poking my nose into anything that would cause me trouble. And EQ kept me out of the real world and doing dumb shit online with a bunch of people who barely tolerated my constant rerolling and noobery. One of my level 50 friends (I had never gotten past level 15 after a year of playing) was so excited when I found this and told me he thought I had just found the portal to the plane of hate which was being implemented in a month or so.

After I grew up and lost my childish ways and became focused on "gain" and "power" the game changed and I got to see the rest of it. But those fond memories are what I think of when I think MMO.

There were a few MUDs I played. A Dikumud with Jedi and Fantasy characters. But they were about leveling to 30, unlocking a secret class. Than hanging out and chatting. They were not very challenging and could all be played with short scripts. The gear got better as you leveled up, but it wasn't really important if you lost it all somehow. Making friends with IMMs or the gods was though.

Re:Yeah... about that influence (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43947107)

After I grew up and lost my childish ways and became focused on "gain" and "power" the game changed and I got to see the rest of it. But those fond memories are what I think of when I think MMO.

Sad, isn't it?

My fondest memories (aside from leading insurrections against Imms on various MUDs) are of my EQ days. Not the hardcore stat grindy l33t gear bullshit that somehow passes as "gaming" today. No - the time I convinced a bunch of Tier'dal to invade Felwithe, resulting in a great deal of death on both sides. The time I ran from Freeport to Qeynos - running through Kithicor at night, creeping about High Hold (where everything was aggro to me), seeing the glorious pixellated, terrible graphics sunrise upon the ramp leading into the Karanas.

Train. To. Docks.

You never forget your first MUD. You never forget your first MMO. And in either case, everything else afterward will always pale in comparison.

Re:Yeah... about that influence (1)

sammyF70 (1154563) | about a year ago | (#43950557)

what he said. Especially the bit about "running through Kiticor by night" as a low level character ... or shouting "Travel the world. Come and see the Wonders of Greater Faydark" in Lesser Faydark and subsequently leading a bunch of lvl 10 to their death (mine included). Fun times. Corpse Recovery and serious Death Penalties really increased the fun back then.

Re:Yeah... about that influence (1)

Cinder6 (894572) | about a year ago | (#43947015)

The thing about MUDs were, it was very up front about your options: Go North, Go West, or Get Eaten By Grue. Modern MMOs try to sell themselves as "fully immersive", but just try running out of the battlefield area once... flashing red lights and your character either explodes, or magically teleports. Very realistic... I know that when I make a wrong turn in my car, if I don't make a u-turn in the next 60 seconds, my car explodes and the police are sent out to pick up little bits of me splattered all over the roadway and other drivers.

What games actually do this? The two I've played (WoW and SWTOR) didn't.

Re:Yeah... about that influence (1)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | about a year ago | (#43947073)

I was wondering the same thing. Never played an MMO that did that.

Re:Yeah... about that influence (1)

PReDiToR (687141) | about a year ago | (#43947775)

When you fly too far in STO [perfectworld.com] [Star Trek Online] you get a dialogue box up insisting that there's FA to see here and you might want to warp out of the system. "Dismiss" makes it come back in a few seconds and you're still pushing at the edge of the map, not going anywhere.

So much for the theory that space is curved, huh?

Still, one can't expect too much from a game that hasn't even attempted 3D flying.

Re:Yeah... about that influence (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43948639)

PVP arenas don't do exactly that, but are artificially limited and accessed by teleportation only, they are not part of the game world. MMOs where originally (partially at least) about making a virtual world simulation but nowadays are just modern games, ridden by the same absurd tropes (non-interactive decorations that should be interactive, invisible walls everywhere, nonsensical interior layouts, quest markers, and the list goes on).

Re:Yeah... about that influence (1)

srmalloy (263556) | about a year ago | (#43950353)

What games actually do this? The two I've played (WoW and SWTOR) didn't.

It's pretty easy to hit the "exhaustion zones" on Tatooine in SWTOR when you reach the edge of where Bioware wanted to let you go (head out of Anchorhead or Mos Ila along the route the speederbike taxi would take you, and you run into one fairly quickly, for example; this is done to prevent the other faction from getting into each side's starting area), but for the most part they just throw up some impassible obstacle, like an unclimbable slope/cliff (also used to force you to take a looping, extended route to get to a location literally only yards from you) or a chasm. The other geographic obstacle used to close off player movement is water; apparently, swimming is a lost art in the Old Republic, and you will drown if you go into deep-enough water -- although other games do this as well; in Aion, for example, your character will begin to drown if they get into water over their head.

City of Heroes had the 'War Walls' defining the limits of the zones in Paragon City that merely obstructed movement; when Praetoria was added in the Going Rogue expansion, the city was protected by Sonic Fence installations; approaching the zone limits defined by the Sonic Fence towers would cause your character to take damage until they left the area of the fence.

Re:Yeah... about that influence (1)

Cito (1725214) | about a year ago | (#43947077)

That is why the Mush was invented PernMush was awesome.

more freedom, and allowed players to add their own scripted content items.

I created a "drone" in mush script that would go to the areas ahead of me to scout for danger before I would enter the area.

Re:Yeah... about that influence (1)

MindStalker (22827) | about a year ago | (#43947247)

Oh how I loved me some MUSH (big on TinyTimMush), I wish it was feasbile to make a 3D MUSH, but honestly that's just SecondLife, and flying phallics aren't my thing.

Re:Yeah... about that influence (1)

Cito (1725214) | about a year ago | (#43948841)

yea Second Life is about the closest to a 3d mush there is, open sandbox user scriptable, objects can be created in world by 'players'

I write scripts for second life, it's actually a pretty decent side income and meet a lot of cool people, course I mainly use it for writing scripts and challenging myself and I do enjoy the live concerts, I could care less for everything else.

There was a sweet Transformers Mush and a Star Wars Mush I played occasionally I think it was called transformers2025 or something like that. It's been so long.

I also remember the days when Powwow chat was popular and it was so awesome you could see the other person type in real time :)

course prior to that using gopher pre-web.

I sometimes miss the old internet, no ads, and truly the "wild wild west"

Re:Yeah... about that influence (1)

MindStalker (22827) | about a year ago | (#43957189)

And no flying phallus 8===)

Oh, yea, nevermind.

Re:Yeah... about that influence (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43947113)

Wireheads. Ringworld.

Mashing their fingers on the "press to receive bacon" button with mad, feverish glee. Numb the pain of a cruel cosmos in which we die.

It's in fantasy that we can truly live.

Bring forth my dice bag.

Re:Yeah... about that influence (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43947129)

It sounds more like you're talking about the original Zork and Infocom games rather than MUDs. I mean, they both use similar methods of rooms and travel (in general), but the command set you describe (along with grues) definitely points to interactive fiction rather than a large game. Your statements about clever logic puzzles and thinking your way out also support this theory.

Quite frankly, it sounds like you need to go back and try a few Infocom games, then go and try a few MUDs nowadays (perhaps a MUSH, a MOO, and a MUD) to understand what you're talking about.

Re:Yeah... about that influence (4, Interesting)

Dishevel (1105119) | about a year ago | (#43947461)

Wrong!
MUDS have fewer limitations.
About 20 years ago I was playing a ROM II based MUD. A guy I played a lot with got stuck in a rut and found himself unable to level.
He got pissed and stood in Market Square and proceeded to summon every level 1 bunny on the MUD to him and killing them.
One by One. So there he was for hours pilling up dead bunny corpses in Market Square (A place many in the MUD passed through constatantly).
An Imm decided he no longer wanted this going on. He created a new mob on the fly that could be summoned and then gave it massive attacks and health. Then he removed all the other bunnies on the game and left only the non aggro "Mother of all Bunnies". The guy ends up summing it and attacks and dies almost instantly.
So here we are with the "Mother of all bunnies" kicking it in Market Square.
About 30 regulars on the MUD logged in and grouped up with this guy. Market Square is only a couple of spaces from where you come back when you are killed.
We attacked. Tanks dropped many times. I died 3 or four times and even lost a full level. At the end we all dropped out of the group and let the guy fight while we kept him healed the last few seconds. Bunny died. He leveled a few times and we all have a story that we can remember for multiple decades.

You wont get that from ANY MMORPG out today.

Re:Yeah... about that influence (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43947559)

Yet, such stories are far and apart. For every such story, you've got 100s of insecure and ignorant little admins nerfing the current items, skills. guilds, creating unkillable "mother of all bunnies" with insta-kill grade attacks or simply just banning players. Most admins fail to realize why they are admins, and that games should be made _fun_. Instead, they abuse all their powers and ruin the game for everybody else. That's "fun" for them I guess, but nobody else.

Re:Yeah... about that influence (1)

Vintermann (400722) | about a year ago | (#43947619)

On the muds I played, Immortals (and even players, with certain spells) could put words into the mouth of mobs, and give them pretty arbitrary commands to do most things a player could do. It did not happen often, but I did see cases where someone "took over" a well-known mob and role-played them for a while. I loved that, but as I said, it didn't happen often.

There's nothing in principle to prevent this from happening in MMOs too. I'm not very familiar with them, but don't some have GMs? Invisible GMs who could tag along with a (role-playing) party could add immensely to the game, even if it only happened once in a new moon, and even if they could only control speech, movement and social commands.

Re:Yeah... about that influence (1)

Culture20 (968837) | about a year ago | (#43948149)

Yeah, I would possess town guards to make them say things like "move along" or yell "pay your taxes on time". It's pretty hard to keep track of players without teleporting to them constantly because they'll often use scripted commands to move from location to location.

Re:Yeah... about that influence (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43948271)

I saw that happen! A player going by Trashcan was roleplaying the Keystone guard and the merchant trader, on RetroMUD! That was awesome! People kept tripping out - "did that guard just tell me my fly is undone?"

I guess the character was a Bard with some Entertainer (http://retromud.org/main.html#guildsxml?=secondary:entertainer) levels for the "throw voice" spell. What a cool game, heh, that guild has skills to improve *flirting* and *courtship* even. Wacky. Ideal for nerds... "I just trained another 10% in flirting! I can totally talk to sexy people more easily now!"

Re:Yeah... about that influence (2)

Grashnak (1003791) | about a year ago | (#43951435)

You have to remember that the average MUD usually had a few dozen, or maybe a few hundred, people playing at any one time, and the "world" was very small. If something was happening in Market Square, everyone would pretty much know about it.

However, there are literally millions of people playing the big MMOs, spread across huge game areas. A GM could be taking over a well known MOB 24/7 in Ironforge and most people would never know it.

Besides, the reason the admin taking over a character was amusing was because the non-existent mob AI sucked so much, it was just refreshing to actually interact with a non-player character.

Re:Yeah... about that influence (2)

Omestes (471991) | about a year ago | (#43948445)

Ah.. memories. Back in the late '90's some friends and I maintained a fork of decent sized MUD. We were constantly rewriting aspects of it, and as such tested things on unsuspecting players all the time. We definitely killed one character daily with some flavor of Vorpal Bunny. He was a good sport, so we also gave him "one use" God-like items in return.

Once, one of my bunnies got loose (didn't set nowander, or whatever it was), and pretty much decimated the newbie zones. My fellow IMMs were pissed.

Some of the code-bases for old MUDs were glorious. The one we had was Diku, but so heavily modified to be almost completely unrecognizable. It was a beast.

The big thing that we lost with MMOs is the ability for Imms to be directly involved with players. Imms could help players, hurt them, taunt them, and were generally involved in their lives. We were even working on a trials system to promote a player into the pantheon, giving them some subset of god powers, including the ability to spawn items, edit rooms, and have limited abilities over players. Hell, all it took to be a God was being good enough friends with the maintainers, and supplying them with a decent flow of beer. I kind of miss that.

I remember getting privileges in medium sized MUSH by just telling someone an idea for a zone I had. They had no problem with some random stranger creating content for them.

And now I feel old. Thanks.

Re:Yeah... about that influence (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43949823)

MadMud bro?

Re:Yeah... about that influence (1)

Omestes (471991) | about a year ago | (#43950831)

Nah, it was Genocide. But I'm pretty sure it wasn't the Genocide, the one that is inexplicably still alive. Come to think of it, it might not have even been Diku. Time was a bit slippery back then, helped along by cheap booze, and copious amounts of illicit substances.

I just poked around to see if any sign of it was still around, and it seems to have been completely buried in obscurity. Not terribly surprised, most of my "pre-internet" youth is pretty much forgotten these days. I say BBS in polite company and people just shrug, the last one familiar to me died long ago (they managed to keep it going into the early 2000's, albeit only on telnet). Its odd, being nostalgic for something no one remembers.

Re:Yeah... about that influence (1)

znanue (2782675) | about a year ago | (#43950505)

Maybe not in the sense of the game's creators interceding to create such events, but random events with an epic feeling driven by human creativity have happened in MMO's.

  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corrupted_Blood_incident
  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RfzR8ozkvds
  • http://massively.joystiq.com/2010/09/11/eve-online-player-steals-45-000-worth-of-isk-in-massive-investm/
  • Moles infiltrating player corporations and disbanding them or weakening them from the inside
  • People getting together to have a virtual funeral for someone who died that played the game (Wow again).
  • Epic space battles where people lose months of work.

Not sure what you think is special about your story, but I think some of the ones above share the qualities that I found special about your story. I think anytime you have humans clustered together in a large system, special things will happen. If they *have* to involve one off events that require the intervention of the gamemasters then I think thats just too narrow a view.

Re:Yeah... about that influence (1)

Grashnak (1003791) | about a year ago | (#43951413)

So here we are with the "Mother of all bunnies" kicking it in Market Square.
About 30 regulars on the MUD logged in and grouped up with this guy. Market Square is only a couple of spaces from where you come back when you are killed.
We attacked. Tanks dropped many times. I died 3 or four times and even lost a full level. At the end we all dropped out of the group and let the guy fight while we kept him healed the last few seconds. Bunny died. He leveled a few times and we all have a story that we can remember for multiple decades.

You wont get that from ANY MMORPG out today.

Except that almost never happened. And anyone who ever saw Stitches trained into Goldshire in early WoW thinks that story sounds kind of lame by comparison.

I was an admin on a MUD for about a year and sure, I could whip something like that up on the fly. You know why? Because there was fuck all AI and nothing meaningful behind a mob other than a couple of stats.

But as far as gamepay went, MUDs were 100% grinding for experience, but where they shined was social and PVP. I've never seen an MMO clan that was as close as my old MUD guild. And the PVP was only really more memorable because in general you knew every single regular on the MUD, so it was more meaningful to defeat them because you knew you'd see them again over and over. PVPing some random dude you'll never see again in WoW is much less satisfying.

But you're deluding yourself if you think the limited gameplay options in MUDs come anything close to what is possible in a modern MMO.

Re:Yeah... about that influence (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43957149)

No delusion.
MUDs had much more going for them. The main strength of a MUD over a modern MMO is the Imm.
Good Imms make for Great MUDs. Period. Social interactions, speedy resolution of problems, restrung weapons as prizes, custom eq for guilds. Endless.
Shit. I used to run a really stupid trivia game on an MMO when bored. Community was better. The only thing lacking was graphics.

Re:Yeah... about that influence (1)

Aerokii (1001189) | about a year ago | (#43965335)

After reading you talk about this for a while, I feel compelled to mention that there are Minecraft servers that actually implement such things quite well. With the right mods you can easily get custom mob strength and AI, customized weapons, RPG classes, worlds built by players and... interesting social interaction, especially with our admins, who are always finding new ways to keep us busy. Obviously it's not quite the same, but hearing you talk about it just reminded me of the server I play on. Food for thought.

Re:Yeah... about that influence (1)

Macgrrl (762836) | about a year ago | (#43980265)

And anyone who ever saw Stitches trained into Goldshire in early WoW thinks that story sounds kind of lame by comparison.

Or Lord Kazzik to Stormwind before they moved him to Outland.

Re:Yeah... about that influence (1)

DiEx-15 (959602) | about a year ago | (#43953313)

You wont get that from ANY MMORPG out today.

I beg to differ.

I can name to you almost in detail the time me and my guild killed an Elder Dragon in the MMO Ultima Online. That Mother of all Bunnies seems like a pushover in comparison.

...and UO has been around since 1997.

Re:Yeah... about that influence (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | about a year ago | (#43948381)

I noticed that many MMOs repeated mistakes that MUDs made, like they were intentionally ignoring them. Any player who's ever ran in a MUD could tell you that players will not police themselves and that adding PvP options just makes it worse. And yet Ultima Online tried just that, repeating the same experiments and getting the same results.

However MMOs have become mainstream, so the style of MUDs won't work anymore. Even the style of early MMOs won't work. Only a tiny fraction of players want some of the features that many rage about, and companies don't have the finances to support a huge game for just a small market share. MUDs at least had an extremely tiny budget, especially the later free ones.

The MUDs I played and ran had much more resemblance to classic text adventure games than the modern style of "grind all day and tell your friends that grinding is a necessary part of online games".

Re:Yeah... about that influence (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43949305)

Ive been looking at how to improve future MMORPG games. The major limitation is how much content the game company thinks is sufficient. Huge numbers of players these days simply stop paying until the next content drop, and then after burning through ithe new stuff in a few weeks (and sometimes days) deactivate their accounts again.

One potential avenue in the future could be to tap into PLAYERS skill/immagination/effort to build additional content as part of the game mechanism. Players have a thousand times as much time/imagination/skill than all the game companies put together and many would be willing and interested to do it for FREE . So enabling THAT would be a revolution and get us out of this 15 year rut the risk adverse companies have settled into.

Yes, the content will have to be carefully vetted for functionality, validity and appropriateness, but that too could largely be a player activity as well. Online communities are a reality now and have great potential for all the collaboration such a system will require.

The tools to do something like this (and well beyond our fossilized MMORPG asset levels) will cost more than producing an entire large game, even with largescale use of open-source and player expanded tools. A great deal of reuse of those tools and the assets created would increase their cost effectiveness - same/modified tools/assets could be used on unlimited MMORPG games and even could increase productivity of company-only Solo games - allowing developers more use of imagination than elbow-grease to produce better games.

The price of building MMORPG games could come down significantly and thus more genres and themes could be applied (support smaller individual MMORPG populations ). All kinds of additional game subjects could be reached and thus more player to become interested. Think of the way Publishing was revolutionized by computers, as a paradigm -- that is the magnitude improvement Im talking about.

---

Otherwise we will be stuck with the current lame/limited game architecture and mechanics which not only have frozen for 15+ years but actually have been dumbed down from what they initially were when games like Ultima Online were new.

Re:Yeah... about that influence (1)

damnbunni (1215350) | about a year ago | (#43950943)

There have been MMOs with player-created content. City of Heroes. Star Trek Online. Neverwinter.

They're semi-self-contained. In Neverwinter, you accept a quest for the Foundry dungeon, then go talk to someone in the game-world to get sent into the adventure. Since you travel between zones in NW by clicking a world-map, the quest doesn't really stick out like a sore thumb by making you do that to teleport to the quest zone.

The Foundry is rather limited, but it's supposedly being improved.

Re:Yeah... about that influence (1)

Grashnak (1003791) | about a year ago | (#43951447)

Modern MMOs try to sell themselves as "fully immersive", but just try running out of the battlefield area once... flashing red lights and your character either explodes, or magically teleports. Very realistic... I know that when I make a wrong turn in my car, if I don't make a u-turn in the next 60 seconds, my car explodes and the police are sent out to pick up little bits of me splattered all over the roadway and other drivers.

You don't play many modern MMOs, do you?

Re:Yeah... about that influence (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43952995)

but just try running out of the battlefield area once... flashing red lights and your character either explodes, or magically teleports.

What the hell kind of MMO are you playing? Sounds more like Battlefield 3 than an MMO.

Its his fault (1, Informative)

maroberts (15852) | about a year ago | (#43946961)

I had the misfortune of doing my degree at Essex from 1982 to 1985. I sacrificed all my mainframe time to play this instead of doing my coursework.
Wonder why my degree isn't a 1st? :-)

woah man (3, Funny)

Osgeld (1900440) | about a year ago | (#43946973)

That summary was both informative and well crafted... Almost a bit too long but I think you stopped yourself before it became "wordy"

Re:woah man (1)

julesh (229690) | about a year ago | (#43947187)

That summary was both informative and well crafted... Almost a bit too long but I think you stopped yourself before it became "wordy"

It's OK, though, because it wasn't entirely accurate. Bartle was the co-creator of MUD. The project was started by Roy Trubshaw; Bartle took it over when Trubshaw no longer had enough time to finish it.

Re:woah man (1)

blade8086 (183911) | about a year ago | (#43947243)

Yea - except for this bit of BS false dichotomy:

" ... MUD had a text-based interface, but *despite that* ...
"

OMG It's like games are more than their user interface!

OMG It's like we shouldn't equate technological sophistication with Teh Shinies!

anyone rememeber CoffeeHouse? (1)

v1 (525388) | about a year ago | (#43947021)

I remember wasting months of my time there until one day I realized "this is a giant waste of my time!", wished them good luck, and left.

I don't do MMORPGs for exactly this reason. Part of it is it's a waste of time, the other part of it is I don't have the necessary self-discipline to "limit myself" in a game venue that essentially punishes you for not playing.

Re:anyone rememeber CoffeeHouse? (1)

pegdhcp (1158827) | about a year ago | (#43947161)

That is why I love Action Point limited systems. After wasting so much time that could be devoted to study, work or family in NannyMud I was away from multiplayer games for a long while. Then I found Pardus (not the Linux distro but the game at www.pardus.at [pardus.at] ) Pardus limits your daily activity with a set amount of APs which regenerates very slowly, thus you cannot kill your whole day in front of it.

Re:anyone rememeber CoffeeHouse? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43947549)

That is why I love Action Point limited systems.

AP systems work best for people who can play often but not for long periods at a stretch. If you only get one or two chances to play a week, they don't work nearly so well as you just can't really get much done. They are especially well suited for mobile devices where the average gaming period is less than 10 minutes.

Re:anyone rememeber CoffeeHouse? (1)

v1 (525388) | about a year ago | (#43949757)

the few of these sorts of systems I've dabbled (cautiously) with usually gave you a fixed AP every day, on a use-it-or-lose-it basis. And that again gets you back to the "punishes you for not playing". Not meaning play as much as you can all the time, but requiring you to make sure to play daily. I stopped one of these cold-turkey when I realized it was more of an obligation to play than an enjoyable experience. ("oh ya, that's right, I forgot to play this morning, I better get in there and play this evening before bed, or I will lose those bonuses for my continuous streaks of playing, and it'll take a week of never missing a day to get my streak bonuses going again")

Grandfather but still got it (partially) wrong ... (1)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | about a year ago | (#43947061)

His famous paper "Hearts, Clubs, Diamonds, Spades: Players who suit muds"
      http://www.mud.co.uk/richard/hcds.htm [mud.co.uk]
incorrectly assumes that the taxonomy MUST include kilers. "Old-Skool" MUDs like Eve allow PKing as a fundamental game design. Modern games do not. Modern game design is heavily driven by anti-griefing because most players don't find griefing to be fun _for_ them (those _doing_ the PKing definitely find a sense of adrenaline.) See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Griefer [wikipedia.org]

I think you find most players these days are more interested in cooperation then competition hence dynamic spawn rates, heavily instanced world (so miners can't ninja loot your ore), etc.

Does Richard understand modern game design?

Re:Grandfather but still got it (partially) wrong (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43947099)

I think its just extremely hard to market to the Killers. There are thousands out there who like PKing and "greifing". Which is an art form and there should be design attention payed to it.

A game were you can loose nothing to a human opponent is kind of boring.

But the typical MMO does not cater to this mind set because they don't go hand in hand. You need less item dependency and more rock paper scissors strategy tempered by a bit of luck and the ability to pull tricks out of a hat to make for a good pvp experience. And you need to give people something to fight over. So that the dominance game can be won. But you need to make that thing not so strong that its impossible to unseat the kings.

The typical MMO caters to themed time investment in "rides". Which is counter intuitive to competitive warfare in themed areas. There needs to be plenty of parallelism and things that do not require player interaction shouldn't be time sinks. (like collecting ingredients for a piece of armor) unless the challenge is in keeping the area safe long enough for those items to be collected to outfit your side.

Re:Grandfather but still got it (partially) wrong (1)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | about a year ago | (#43947261)

A game were you can loose nothing to a human opponent is kind of boring.

The problem is that almost all of these games are based on D&D style levels in one form or another. A level 10 character is going to kill a level 2 character every single day of the week and twice on Sunday, so you can't really run PK games like that, the obsessives would rule the roost. If games were less focused on turning individual PCs into demigods and more focused on something else (like actual adventures), you could have PK to a certain extent.

Re:Grandfather but still got it (partially) wrong (1)

julesh (229690) | about a year ago | (#43947311)

A game were you can loose nothing to a human opponent is kind of boring.

The problem is that almost all of these games are based on D&D style levels in one form or another. A level 10 character is going to kill a level 2 character every single day of the week and twice on Sunday, so you can't really run PK games like that, the obsessives would rule the roost. If games were less focused on turning individual PCs into demigods and more focused on something else (like actual adventures), you could have PK to a certain extent.

And there are games like that. My understanding (although I've never played it myself) is that Meridian 59 [meridian59.com] would be a good example.

Re:Grandfather but still got it (partially) wrong (1)

mrvan (973822) | about a year ago | (#43947369)

You should try Vendetta Online [vendetta-online.com] . It's an indie space MMORPG where PvP and PK is central to gameplay. Death is cheap in most cases but if you're carrying around special equipment or cargo it can be quite a setback.

And yes, it runs linux :-) [and windows, mac, android, and ipad]

(actually, its development pre-dated EVE but it is a very small shop so things move a lot slower. The player base is small but very involved, and you can find the lead dev responding on the forums, making it a nice environment)

Re:Grandfather but still got it (partially) wrong (1)

Vintermann (400722) | about a year ago | (#43947655)

Don't mix up competition/ PKing and griefing. Griefers are just anti-social, and only get pleasure from provoking negative reactions.

There's no such thing as a server where only griefers play and have fun attacking each other. If they do that, they aren't griefers.

Re:Grandfather but still got it (partially) wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43947831)

Agreed, but greifing can be a competitive sport with the lack of any clear goals in a game. Which can inturn turn into a different form of competative play. It's a staged progression. Unfortunately the only people who are initially attracted to pvp and stick it through are people who either enjoy greifing or aren't bothered by it. That probably will not change. Their like the noob class that exists in regular PvE. They have not figured out how to put their skills to use yet in a social way.

Re:Grandfather but still got it (partially) wrong (2)

julesh (229690) | about a year ago | (#43947227)

His famous paper "Hearts, Clubs, Diamonds, Spades: Players who suit muds"
            http://www.mud.co.uk/richard/hcds.htm [mud.co.uk] [mud.co.uk]
incorrectly assumes that the taxonomy MUST include kilers.

Those players are still there. Just because (some) modern games have been designed with the intent of excluding them doesn't make them stop existing, and knowing that they exist is important for future game designers.

I think you find most players these days are more interested in cooperation then competition

I'm a long way from convinced. If this were true, why do people complain every time an MMO's cash shop offers an item that gives the players who buy it an "advantage" (scare quotes because it's not entirely clear that items that make a game easier are actually advantageous to the players who purchase them, as doing so actually reduces the amount of fun they get from the game)?

Does Richard understand modern game design?

Yes [youhaventlived.com] . And if you want to start understanding it yourself, read that article. Then read it again. This is at least part of the key to why WoW is still the most popular subscription-based game in the world, all these years later.

Re:Grandfather but still got it (partially) wrong (1)

znanue (2782675) | about a year ago | (#43950409)

Ahh, Bartle is so pretentious, always inflating his worth. Starting his article with how hardly anyone will be able to understand him and peppering it with statements of how profound things are. He seems to be injecting his own narrative onto the zone while not acknowledging a core true, that many people approach the zone in different ways. There also seems to be something obnoxious about the way he ascribes the intent of the designers to the zone.

I will acknowledge that he highlights elements of the design, but they are not profound or revelatory. I feel like he is both simultaneously florid and ambiguous. There is a sensation that he knows something and that he's "trying" to communicate it to the reader. But, these ideas have been communicated much more clearly by others with much better formalization.

I also remember how he seemed to hold court on various forums, comporting himself as an elder statesman. I don't mean to diminish his accomplishments, but I find him grating and overly admired. The DIKU people arguably took a larger leap than MUD1 over zork and they make no pretensions to the same majesty. Bartle seems to be better at self promotion than either game design or communication in general.

Re:Grandfather but still got it (partially) wrong (1)

bombman (87339) | about a year ago | (#43952469)

For me, it was mostly about having fun coding something cool, and the challenge of getting things to work :)
Also, I played AberMud before we started on DikuMud.

--Hans-Henrik

Re:Grandfather but still got it (partially) wrong (1)

Slick_W1lly (778565) | about a year ago | (#43953605)

tldr;

He was a prick back then, and he's still a prick.

(yes, I knew him 'back then').

Re:Grandfather but still got it (partially) wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43947291)

      All your saying is modern game design has left out a group. One of the reasons I never started playing WoW was simply because you couldn't loot corpses after pk... I mean whats the point.

Re: Grandfather but still got it (partially) wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43947807)

I think it is a necessary element but should be blended with the rest of the game well.

For instance there is a huge difference between Defiance's sanctioned world PvP events and the game's balanced leveling system and games with either world PvE or PvP always on depending on the server and then elitist gear/ability metagaming past that.

Re:Grandfather but still got it (partially) wrong (1)

znanue (2782675) | about a year ago | (#43950465)

There have been games I've played where griefers worked as a team to grief, were recognized by the general population as villains, and managed to drive a living narrative where they played the role of villains and the general population worked to survive them and build despite them. The closest MMO that comes to this sensation for me is EVE where certain corporations act in a griefing manner and cadres of cooperative people play the "good guys" and try to build systems. EVE certainly seems to encourage this with the nature of null sec and the ability to pirate other ships. I would say that this was sometimes intentional in muds that the various people running these games knew that the griefers were the central villain in the game's narrative and that whatever NPC villains were put in, were effectively just set pieces and not narrative focal points.

MUD, PLATO and the dawn of MMORPGs (4, Informative)

theodp (442580) | about a year ago | (#43947205)

MUD, PLATO and the dawn of MMORPGs [guardian.co.uk] : "Richard Bartle has been answering a reader's suggestion that MUD was not, in fact, the first online RPG and that the original multi-user games actually ran on the University of Illinois' PLATO system - generally regarded as the birthplace of the 'online community' concept."

Re:MUD, PLATO and the dawn of MMORPGs (3, Interesting)

DingerX (847589) | about a year ago | (#43947487)

Obviously, the dude has never played Moria [wikipedia.org] either. Maybe the thing was obvious, but it was also present. It's like saying multiplayer flight sims didn't have their origin in PLATO's Airfight. Yes, the concept was obvious, but every implementation was inspired by the predecessors. And before 1978, the only implementations out there were server-and-terminal. MP was easy(ish).

Some MUD's still better (1)

Guru80 (1579277) | about a year ago | (#43947233)

When compared to the crapfest of MMO's that have been thrown in our faces over the last 15+ years now some of the MUD's, with only their text based representations, are more detailed and well thought out than their multi-million dollar flashy 3d grandchildren. In the world of MMO's (not all, but most), a picture definitely isn't worth a thousand words. More detail can be presented to the player in a well written sentence than 5k polygon. Imagination is great like that.

Re:Some MUD's still better (3, Informative)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | about a year ago | (#43947319)

Also where tabletop RPGs shine over everything else, including MUDs.

Re:Some MUD's still better (1)

Hentes (2461350) | about a year ago | (#43947455)

Let's not dismiss the technological development that easily. MUDs were an interesting concept, but far from perfect. Text-based interfaces didn't mix well with realtime gameplay. Today's MMOs became very polished and balanced as we learned more about how design works, MUDs were only driven by their uniqueness that they were the first to offer a persistent world.

Re:Some MUD's still better (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43948203)

Not quite. Lots of MUDs (and a few MOOs) had/have excellent realtime gameplay. Eg. on three of my favorites, RetroMUD, BatMUD, and 3Kingdoms, you can start skills and spells as quickly as you want, but it takes some time to finish them. These are not turn-based games. With a carefully crafted set of commands cut and pasted from a text editor, for example, you could run through hundreds or thousands of rooms.

Re:Some MUD's still better (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43951963)

I agree. I ran one with a couple friends that had chain spells - spells that could only be cast with the aid of other spellcasters. It took some coordination and effort with other players to cast, but was not too difficult to do with realtime play.

Re:Some MUD's still better (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | about a year ago | (#43948407)

Yup. Consider that a new update in a modern game might involve a tiny amount of text, with massive amounts of effort put into creating new landscape areas, new graphical textures, lots of backend work to keep the servers from completely collapsing, etc. But in a MUD you had it very easy, just write up some code in a straight forward language (often object oriented even before that concept took root), write a lot of interesting textual descriptions, think up puzzles, etc.

typical mudding experience (2)

kimvette (919543) | about a year ago | (#43947271)

HI I NEW HERE
HOW DO I KILL PPL ON THIS MUD?!!!!!!!!!!!

Filter error: Don't use so many caps. It's like yelling. Aww, c'mon slashdot!

Afraid? You will be. You will be. (4, Interesting)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about a year ago | (#43947371)

I heartily agree with the comment about orcs down the hall not hearing or seeing the attack on their colleagues and either coming to help or running away. it is, of course, a game design thing to make each encounter doable, rather than having to worry about more unpedictable situations where the group size suddenly doubles (the famed "ADD!!!") or quadruples because those who ran away came back with helpers.

Games have done limited variations on this:

- D&D Online, the monsters can hear you, and specifically will hear you smash a barrel on the other side of a closed door and wake up, being ready for your attack. Sound and sight matter, though still not quite as much as desired here.

- EverQuest and other games frequently have a monster run away through other packs, hoping you will stupidly follow and aggro a second group. Most people quickly learn not to do this. Sadly, the other pack doesn't join in in this case. I guess when tearing by, the monster under attack forgot to mention his colleagues were currently under assault.

- World of Warcraft had perhaps the most egregious example, where a group of two wandering (cycling on a large path) centaur "scouts" would attack you. You could kill one then run away. Eventually the other "scout" would give up and go back. Did he do what scouts are supposed to, hightail it back to camp and warn the others? No, he just resumes his path, making a mockery of the concept of being a "scout". Uhh, thanks for scouting for us, Beaky.

It's all this "idiocracy" of design that bothers me. I want to see dynamic, world-upsetting events and invasions. I don't mean one-shot stupidities, I mean real wars. I want to see cities invaded where the vendors and trainers get attacked and slaughtered, and the players don't know where to go anymore, so they'd better fight.

Death to the sentiment, "I don't wanna participate in that, and am irritated that I can't go do something else."

Well, nowadays we have enough games to accommodate you. Let's have a new one that shakes things up. Hell, for that matter, start out with a new principle: Ban all static zones and dungeons from design, and force designers to create a dynamic, ever-changing world. No more theme park zone designs, including safe cities.

Re:Afraid? You will be. You will be. (1)

maroberts (15852) | about a year ago | (#43947743)

The thing is that building takes much more time to do than destruction, so if you had marauding armies destroying major cities, the entire MUD would be a wasteland in no time whatsoever.

Re:Afraid? You will be. You will be. (2)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year ago | (#43948235)

The thing is that building takes much more time to do than destruction, so if you had marauding armies destroying major cities, the entire MUD would be a wasteland in no time whatsoever.

The game should include natural limiting forces. There's not enough food to raise enough armies to destroy all the towns all the time, etc.

Re:Afraid? You will be. You will be. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43947905)

"EverQuest and other games frequently have a monster run away through other packs, hoping you will stupidly follow and aggro a second group. Most people quickly learn not to do this. Sadly, the other pack doesn't join in in this case. I guess when tearing by, the monster under attack forgot to mention his colleagues were currently under assault."

It's been a long time since I've played EQ, but I'm almost certain that EQ mobs, at least back in the day, could transfer their "aggression". I think that it was faction-based... that is, if you were fighting an orc, and it ran away, it wouldn't cause any wandering centaurs to attack you. But if it ran away into another group of orcs, they *would* come after you, immediately. You didn't have to follow the orc you'd been fighting in order to be in trouble -- whole aspects of the game ("trains", the importance of snaring/rooting spells, etc.) depended on this behavior. Granted, it's possible, even likely that in the years since, Sony, Blizzard, and other game-makers have curbed this behavior to prevent malicious behavior (using these mechanisms to dump a huge mob of mobs (pun intended :p) on others, etc). But EQ *did* do this.

EQ also did at least one other thing that's specifically mentioned in the story as MMOs *not* doing. EQ mobs, if they spawned with an item that was better than their default attack, *would* use it, and often you *could* see it visually. Now, it's true that not all equipment items were visible on mobs. But weapons often were, at least on the obviously humanoid mobs (dragons didn't hold weapons they may have spawned, but orcs, frogloks, etc. did). They (as well as player pets, like elementals and skeletons) were also smart enough to use whatever was better (their natural attack, or the weapon). Hence the early tactic of giving necromancer skeleton pets two fine steel daggers to improve their damage output. Again -- this behavior may have been removed to avoid unfriendly behavior (giving low-level mobs high level weapons and laughing as they mowed through new players, etc.). but EQ did include stuff like this.

I'm far past my MMO days -- but I still think back on EQ fondly. It was far from perfect, but the shared experience and the community was top-notch. Everything I've heard/read says that this has largely been lost in more "modern" MMOs.

Re:Afraid? You will be. You will be. (1)

Shados (741919) | about a year ago | (#43948131)

It's all this "idiocracy" of design that bothers me. I want to see dynamic, world-upsetting events and invasions. I don't mean one-shot stupidities, I mean real wars. I want to see cities invaded where the vendors and trainers get attacked and slaughtered, and the players don't know where to go anymore, so they'd better fight.

Guildwars 2 had that. Entire towns get wrecked and you have to get a group going to take them back if you ever want to see NPCs in that area again.

That was pretty cool, until the WoW (and similar) game fans came, complained about everything that was different, and convinced the devs to put a bunch of things back for their comfort zone...but not everything. So now no one's happy.

Re:Afraid? You will be. You will be. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43948229)

RetroMUD has these! There are events where evil or holy warriors flood through portals and try to conquer the worlds, invading hordes akin to Day of the Triffids, balance swings where the NPC pantheon of RetroMUD takes a hand in the daily goings-on, and so on and so on and so on...

When I discovered RetroMUD I realized that it's the game that every MMO since 1997 has been trying to make with graphics. 100 levels, about 20 main classes and hundreds of smaller guilds, hundreds of skills and spells, exquisitely-balanced combat... a lot of fun. Shame it's text-only, I get tired of reading after a couple of hours at a time.

Re:Afraid? You will be. You will be. (1)

znanue (2782675) | about a year ago | (#43950431)

I've just seen so many games where the pursuit of realism managed to destroy any sense of fun. I love that in WoW a "scout" doesn't call the whole village on you. The point is a pretense for creating a moving system of parts where you apply logic to separate them out into manageable bits to accomplish a goal. Now, maybe a game can do this better, but WoW is not "wrong" or "egregious" for doing it, its intended design and it plays well to a certain gamer. It is extremely hard to create dynamic mellifluous worlds that still build stable, engaging systems. Even harder to do it such that it works within budget (of developer time and of the computing hardware it will run on). Finally, I don't think most gamers want this. Sandbox games do not give the same sense of narrative or accomplishment, shifting the reward to a player's own creativity without making the world too dynamic; there are still rules!

Re:Afraid? You will be. You will be. (1)

BadDreamer (196188) | about a year ago | (#43950741)

You just asked for Eve Online.

Re:Afraid? You will be. You will be. (1)

Grashnak (1003791) | about a year ago | (#43951479)

While I agree with the sentiment, part of the problem is that it now takes hundreds of people to create the current semi-static MMO environment and keep it running while occasionally adding new content. To create the kind of constant-flux world environment you are talking about would be at least an order of magnitude harder, what with the need to be constantly adjusting everything for the new realities on the ground. It would be astronomically expensive to build and maintain, and I can't begin to imagine the nightmare that would be QA testing.

I can't imagine what you'd have to charge monthly to maintain such a world, while competing with free-to-plays.

My favorite of all time is still going: MUME (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43947613)

http://mume.org

Reminicing about MUDs (1)

Culture20 (968837) | about a year ago | (#43948121)

I still fondly remember a dikumud I played back in the late 90's (Ancalagon). I discovered an item duplication bug due to the server's slow writes of the player save data and the death traps (a special room that caused instant-death, delete all items, and return to menu). If you saved your character just before entering a death trap, and dropped all your items, then walk into the death trap, the server would dutifully delete your items in RAM (nothing), but then the save-write process would finally take place and your character would have all its pre-drop items upon reentering the game. Walk back to your pile of items, repeat. I had a bag of holding with sooo many diamonds. I just role-played from that point on. Didn't see the point in beating up monsters for treasure if I had an infinite supply.

Roy Trubshaw (1)

dgriff (1263092) | about a year ago | (#43948349)

Not much about Roy Trubshaw the original inventor of MUD but then again I used to work with Roy and had no idea he'd done such a thing in his student days. Lovely guy but not exactly a self publicist!

ADVENT was a great game, am pondering porting David Platt's A-Code to our rules engine...

I am sure some of you remember LORD (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43949049)

LORD was a BBS game from the early 90s. It was a lot like a MUD (arguably the same concept, using text to select options instead of typing the options.. its been so long that perhaps my memory fails and you could type options). It was really fun. It was my first experience "meeting" people in the digital domain. I was twelve.

There was a very popular MUD called Gemstone III which took off in the days of AOL and the early internet. To this day, I still use the typing system that I acquired "naturally" by having to type 'kil' (the shortest acceptable version of "kill") 'nym' (nymph) 'hob' (hobgoblin), 'say', and, of course, the cardinal direction N E S W. I still type this way, using five or six of my fingers to type. I can type 100 words per minute if I am simply writing my thoughts and not transcribing. Obviously some words are easier to type. I had a girlfriend on Gemstone III. I had a wife on Gemstone III. I had cybersex on Gemstone III. I won poetry competitions on Gemstone III.

I also played a MordorMUD (Isengard and ChaosMUD) and a DikuMUD whose name I have forgotten.

Now.. does the "immersion" in modern graphic MUDs or "MMORPGs" offer these kind of experiences? I say "no, they do not." The reading and writing skills I acquired from that game have proved rewarding.

However... I noticed that I started prefacing my statements with "say" instead of just saying what I wanted to say, i.e., I would say, "Say, Hey guys, how's it going?" and sometime I would say the word "smile" instead of actually smiling. I thought hard about this and decided that I could probably learn a foreign language or develop some other skill instead of playing the game, so I quit when I was 17.

Going on a murderous character killing "rampage" (which was not impossible in the game, but was against the rules, and punishable) was a satisfying way to ensure that I would not play anymore.

MUDs are far from gone! (1)

nsxdavid (254126) | about a year ago | (#43949177)

FULL DISCLOSURE: These are products I created and operated by my company. But very relevant.

The term MUD tends to harken back to an earlier time before 'puters had graphical horsepower of any note. But the reality is, online text-based games come in all varieties, and the one's we operate are in a league all their own. More significantly, they are still serious ongoing commercial efforts. If you want to see what a MUD can be when it's been in continuous development, expansion for decades, then check out:

http://gemstone.net/ [gemstone.net]

http://dragonrealms.net/ [dragonrealms.net]

GemStone IV, which began its life as a sequel to GemStone ][ (then called GemStone III just to confuse everyone) first came to existence on the online service GEnie. Eventually it moved to CompuServe, AOL, Prodigy and others. When online services went the way of the doodoo bird, we moved them to the internet machine. DragonRealms is somewhat younger than GemStone, but same sort of history. I began work on it shortly before forming my company Simutronics, something like 27 years ago.

Despite having worked on lots of other types of games, such as mobile titles, and working on other PC/Mac/Linux games of a much more graphical variety now... these text based games remain the corner stone of Simutronics.

Re:MUDs are far from gone! (1)

manwargi (1361031) | about a year ago | (#43949339)

I had some good memories playing GS3 a long time ago, and these were indeed a sophisticated breed of text based adventure. Surprised these games are still kicking after all these years, after so many modern MMOs have come and gone.

Re:MUDs are far from gone! (1)

Lothsahn (221388) | about a year ago | (#43950083)

Here's a link to GS3, actually. They made some major fixes to its flaws and renamed it Gemstone IV.

https://www.play.net/gs4/ [play.net]

Note: I still play it, as Lothsahn. Still fun!

Dragonrealms was the BEST (1)

Phairdon (1158023) | about a year ago | (#43952171)

I don't know if you are who you say you are, but if so, I want to tell you that Dragonrealms still stands as my all-time favorite game!

I started playing DR in 6th grade when my parents had AOL by the minute. I convinced them to get unlimited so I could play. I played for years. I still remember everything about DR... From char creation, rat killing at the shipyard, learning how to skin, moving to goblin killing... Etc.

I still reference DR to my friends at work when we talk about online RPGs. No other game, especially graphical ones, have had anything close to the mechanics I love in DR like the stealth, stealing, and lock picking. I would lock pick all day long.

The only moral moment I've ever had in a game occurred in DR. I stole coin from someone and was caught, she chased me yelling to 'give me back my money!'. She chased me out of town and my friend killed her. I felt so bad I gave her the money and watched her grave and items. I still feel bad about it. Warcraft never gave me those feelings.

I could go on and on but I will stop. I just wanted to tell you how much I loved DR. I hope you were able to make some money off of it.

tired (1)

JasonNolan (628882) | about a year ago | (#43949333)

bartel's not what made MUDs and MOOs important or useful... and only hipster without any sense of historical context waste time bothering with him as anything of anything. MUDs and MOOs are important tools... not the joker who coded them.

Wizards (1)

bspikes (2883263) | about a year ago | (#43949727)

I'm surprised Bartle neglected to mention the most incredible thing about MUDs, which to this day has yet to be surpassed by even the most advanced MMOs. Once you reached the maximum level in MUD, you became a "Wizard". This gave the user access to the filesystem, and code-slinging capabilities. Since MUD runs an interpreted language [wikipedia.org] , edits to the codebase could be seen immediately, in real-time, to the users. Wizards could essentially change the world as it was being played, creating endless opportunity for creativity and spawning some of the coolest MUD "worlds" imagineable. Of course, this presented a whole set of issues with ethics, balance, and cheating, but those got resolved by the best MUDs over time. Imagine if the next generation of MMO, or Diablo 4 or whatever, allowed for the players to graduate to "Wizard" status and create new worlds for people to play. Maybe then, these games could still be played over 20 years later like MUDs.

Re:Wizards (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43950469)

Which code base was that? I'm not saying there were none, but I'm not aware of any ROMs that gave entry-level immortals filesystem access. I know of some Diku-based code bases with online area editing, but it defaulted to no access without the implementer giving the say-so.

Re:Wizards (1)

Grashnak (1003791) | about a year ago | (#43951489)

I was an immortal for a long time on a MUD and this never happened. We were very careful who became an immortal (i.e. not everyone who reached max level) and none of us except the creators had any kind of filesystem access. I had access to the build system and immortal game mechanics, but you'd have to be an idiot to give everyone who reached max level access to your code base.

Wow, what a walk down memory lane (1)

Beeftopia (1846720) | about a year ago | (#43950475)

I played BatMUD and 3 Kingdoms back in the early-mid 90s. A lot of fun. Heck of a time sink though. On the other hand, "Time you enjoyed wasting was not wasted." -- John Lennon / various attributions

Great to see they're still around. Amazing.

MUD1 was not the start, this is a bad article (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43951269)

Please see : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moria_%28PLATO%29

I realize I am now officially old (45), but we were playing a graphical, multi-user, chat-enabled, dungeon-crawling game before MUD1 was written. This article seems very weak in conveying the actual history. The mid 70s saw a lot of micro and global development of DnD type games, from paper and pencil versions, to versions in BASIC, to text-only Adventure-style MUD1 things, to more "advanced" things written in disturbingly crappy languages like PLATO's TUTOR. There were user forums, there were hacker attacks against servers and login systems, there were chat spaces, dungeon games, space games, tank warfare games. All with glorious 800x800 1 bit per pixel graphics.

Moria was early, but not the first. The Wikipedia article does not have a photo of the machine we played on, the IST. The IST was perhaps twice the total volume of the "IST 2" in the photo. Huge machines, separate modems with two rubber holes to jam the old AT&T phone receiver into. We played crappy dungeon games with people from Europe, Japan, and across the US and chatted constantly. I think the command was something like "SHOUT" to chat with people who were not in the same map XY, but it's been over 30 years, so forgive me if my memory of the commands is vague.

That article deserves to be deleted and the author mocked, not slashdotted.

Shift-stop, shift-stop, shift-stop.

Text-only was awesome! (1)

xenobyte (446878) | about a year ago | (#43952881)

I still remember drawing maps and whatever it took to complete Will Crowther's Colossal Cave Adventure back in the 1980's. It was Don Woods extended 140 location/350 points version.

Still love it and actually still play it; I've got it on my Android phone and it's the extended 660 points version from 1994 which is still available for download as a source tarball. I also have it on my personal server in case I get into withdrawal... There's still places I haven't been in this extended version.

> adventure4
[A-code kernel version 10.05; MLA, 01 Apr 94]

Welcome to Adventure4+ [660 point MLA version 10.06 - 26 Jul 95]

Would you like instructions? no

You are standing at the end of a road before a small brick building.
Around you is a forest. A small stream flows out of the building and
down a gully and a wide path leads northwest.

? enter

You are inside a building, a well house for a large spring.

There are some keys on the ground here.
There is a shiny brass lamp nearby.

? get all

You get the keys.
You get the lamp.

That should stir up a few memories...

"You are in a maze of twisty little passages, all alike"

Bartle was NOT the first. /. should know better. (2)

platohistory (1745498) | about a year ago | (#43953233)

Bartle has made a career out of claiming he created the first MUD. He didn't. His claim is similar to the guy claiming he invented email. Both created programs that happened to have those names, MUD and in the other case, EMAIL. Somehow this makes them the inventors of it simply because of the filenames they chose. The fact is, MUDs were alive and well and thriving already on the PLATO system years before Bartle got involved. I am disappointed that Slashdot doesn't call Bartle on this.
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