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Tell HN: 17 years on the same game
396 points by duzchip on April 3, 2018 | hide | past | favorite | 136 comments
January 19 2001 - at 07:53:56 in the morning - i first logged in to Discworld MUD. This was about ten years after it first launched. Since this date I have spent roughly 20000 hours actively playing this game and I'm not even close to "winning" or "finishing" the game.

No matter when you login there's roughly at least 100 people logged in playing. It's social people from all around the world.

I just felt like writing a sentence about this game to spread the word a bit. Games evolve so quickly these days. New games are released daily making all other games obsolete. Discworld MUD however has a quality I still haven't found in any other game - be it World of Warcraft, Elder scroll online, TERA or whatever. Discworld MUD is a game with so many small variations that you can never finish - and even now, 27 years after it was first launched, you can still create a new char that is possibly unique compared to any other that ever played.

Have a nice day!

( Link: http://discworld.starturtle.net/ )

In the mid-90s, I took my bored then-girlfriend to the local University library computer lab and introduced her to MUDs. When they shut off the building lights late that night I had to pry her away from the computer terminal. (Neither of us were students, so getting caught there after closing might not have been good.)

A few years later, I would play up to 16 hours straight with a lady who lived 1000 miles away (and our band of MUD/IRC friends). We were in-game when she got the news that her best friend had died. But she didn't want to just sit in silence alone at home, so she stayed on the game and the group gathered round to comfort her and let her talk through her grief and her memories. MUDs can be intense! Some years later, we met in person and she became my wife. Years later we discovered Discworld and became fans. Sometimes we miss the MUDs. I'll have to tell her that there's a Discworld one, although it may suck us back in for countless hours.

I, too, met my now-wife on a MUD back in the mid 90s. It's a great story to tell, especially now in the age of Match.com and the like.

"How did you know she wasn't some 300lb neck-beard named Jerry?"

"I didn't. But Jerry would have had to be one hell of an actor."

We clocked in a lot of hours in that place before I packed my life up and drove 2500 miles to be together.

It's strange to look back on peoples' perceptions of people online 15+ years ago compared to now. Today, it's totally normal to meet other people online, but back then, most people (who weren't part of online communities) though everyone online was catfishing.

My old guild leader on The Purple Dragon MUD did the same :)

My own story is similar, though it wasn't a MUD. I think it's pretty beautiful to fall in love with someone via a text-based view of their personality. In the world of Match and OKCupid I love to just tell people "we met online", mainly because it annoys my fiancee.

I've dated a couple people I met in MUDs, but the person I ended up marrying I met through an IRL friend. I get where you're coming from, but I always felt that the text medium was a limitation that resulted in those relationships failing.

But how did you escape undetected?

We found a back stairway and slipped out quickly, before they locked the doors.

I’ve lurked here (HN) a long time waiting for a MUD related post! I remember making great friendships and developing my communication skills and personality through MUDs (pHANTASM and then Rifts) in the mid-nineties. Neither game ever developed a huge player base, but man was it fun! The imagination that was unlocked through text-based games, at least for me, was immensely fun. I got great book recommendations from the older players, and felt accepted being a gamer/MtG player/general nerd at a time when it was emphatically NOT considered cool. Times have sure changed.

I remember staying up until all hours of the morning, reconnecting repeatedly over my dial-up connection, just to goof-off on Rifts. Even though I never met him, the first friend I knew that died who I felt close to was from that game - we were in a clan together and spent countless hours gaming and chatting about being teens. I had forgotten about that until just now. Life moves quickly.

I also played pHANTAZM quite a lot, and Rifts for a while. I think of them often. It's strange how sometimes progress leaves a bit of a hole in the soul. I've lost track of my old friends from there, but they seem more real than any I've met in modern games. They're like characters in a book that I couldn't put down, so involved that I forgot where reality ended.

Is this the Rifts MU* that was based on the tabletop RPG Rifts? If so, I played it for a few months back in the day.

MUDs are why I am a programmer today. I had tried some programming in BASIC and I just didn't know what to write, or the things I did write seemed trivial and pointless.

I was trying to become a max level on Medievia at about the same time, and the grinding (killing 1000 bunnies) was getting very boring. When I found out my ZMUD client offered some basic scripting and trigger capabilities, I set out to create my first leveling bot. It was blood sweat and tears, lots of learning through trial and error, and the bot would still do dumb things and crash half the time, but the spark had been ignited.

I never looked back.

My first encounter with Forth was through the TinyMUCK codebase, the language was called MUF, and it blew my mind at the time that it was possible to code within the MUD game itself and use it right away.

Wow, memories! MUF taught me stack architecture. I remember printing out reams of its documentation (diagrams in ASCII art, IIRC) on paper and reading through it for fun, just trying to wrap my head around how this crazy thing was supposed to work.

Same here, was a mid-90s Health Science major spending way too much time playing an LPMud. Started to learn how to build my own areas, got hooked, and switched to Computer Science the following fall.

There's another, non-MUD text-based game inspired by Discworld (specifically, inspired by Small Gods) called Godville. Running since 2010 on the web and with apps available on major devices, it's essentially entirely player-built and full of Pratchettesque humour.

It's a ZPG — Zero Player Game. You aren't the player. You're a marginally potent God, with a single devoted follower, your hero. Your hero actually plays the game, you just follow along and encourage (or discourage) your hero. It's a mechanic that's surprisingly fun as a super casual, check in a couple times a day kind of interactive fiction.


Oh wow. Back in the 90s, I "played" a game called Progress Quest. Basically you downloaded the game, spun the dice a few times and then your character would go out on quests. Your game was saved in a small file, which you could move about machines, and you could have your stats uploaded to a web-based leader board. Now they have a web-based version, accounts and forums.

Godville seems like a much more advanced concept of this. Whereas PQ has an automatic hero that's supposed to be you, Godville has a character that worships you and may or may not follow your commands, if you choose to send them at all. I like it.


This is my favourite casual game. It's funny and takes very little time, but is still rewarding. It's basically the modern tamagotchi.

For what it's worth, a MUD is where I learned to code. In my case, it was an LP MUD (LP, short for LPC, short for Lars Pensjö C (if you're reading this, Lars, Thanks!)- the language in which it was written). MUDs were an excellent place to learn programming. Getting tangible results from just a few lines of code was a great motivator.

"I want to code an orc!" Sure, inherit the right class (monster), set a name, a description, and a few other attributes, and clone (instantiate) the guy. There's now an orc standing in front of you!

"I want my orc to wield an axe!" Sure, inherit the right class (weapon), set a name, a description, a few other attributes, and clone the axe. Give it to the orc, and have him wield it, by calling the wield() function with the online debug tool that was part of the game world.

All the while, being surrounded by dozens of helpful people who would answer my silly newbie questions and review my code. And there was plenty of example code to look at. Granted, most of it was perhaps examples of bad ways to solve problems - because it was written by other beginners, but examples to learn from none the less.

My participation in the MUD directly lead to my first programming job, and taught me tonnes about programming in general, and - heh - debugging other people's code in particular.

MUDs really changed my life, and I have several friends with a story similar to mine. You can't overstate how important they've been to many.

MUDs are also one of the places I learned (and continue to learn) to code!

I used to play Solace (a Dragonlance-based MUD) a lot from when I was 13 and for many years after. Looking back now, it helped me immensely with learning English as a foreign language and taught me to type very fast, so it was quite useful in a way. My parents didn’t think so, of course, since I often skipped classes in school, and then in college, to play. We didn’t have Internet at home, so I had to play with friends in an ancient Soviet computer class with CRT screen-only black-white terminals and ancient keyboards; this is how I had to leave the basics of Unix, too.

Fast forward a few years, I became a lead dev/immortal for this MUD (first signed up with another friend as volunteers to fix bugs in the code by sending patches to the lead imm who couldn’t program well, but we added an obfuscated loophole allowing us to stream the codebase through mud client itself, at which point the mud’s management had to enlist us fully and then they gave it up to us) and this is how I learned programming on a large scale (dozens/hundred lines of code, iirc), C/C++, socket programming, version control - more importantly, I learned what a big codebase should not look like. Good times...

I like this outsider HN post style. Rare treasure. But, I am concerned with you being in Discworld by Terry Pratchett for 17 years... it's a long time to spend in someone else's brain. Though when you really think about it, I guess we're all kind of in Discworld.


Hey, I still play MUDs too! It's an underappreciated kind of game, but I understand why it's not accessible to most. I play over at Dead of Night (deadofnight.org) - pop in, the multiclassing system is ridiculous and awesome.

I think MUDs vs. Visual Games is analogous to Books vs. Movies. Yes, movies will always be able to achieve a level of graphical impressiveness that a book can't.

What a movie can't do is give a viewer the ability to construct a world in their own imagination. MUDs are the same way - every MUD player creates visual imagery in their minds, including what a given room or item looks like.

One thing I really dont like about Witcher 3 is that you hear the voice of "yourself", and that voice sounds like a WWE wrestler.

I never thought about it before, but I now realise how important it is for immersion to let the player imagine their own voice in the game (as in GTA, Skyrim, and Red Dead Redemption).

Allowing players to use their imagination is so important.

In the Witcher 3 you are playing a specific character created by the developers. It's a bit like a JRPG in that sense. Most western RPGs have you play as your own character.

Wow. Blast from the past. I played Dead of Night 20 years ago.

Are psionists still useless at night?

Pure psis are, but no one plays pure psis - usually you combo it with shifter, warrior, or some other fighting class. Drain mana alone makes psi worth taking in a multi-class.

I played the Discworld MUD a few years ago, and I actually found it underwhelming in some aspects.

I came from having played a few IF (interactive fiction) games where the puzzling element is important. I was expecting to find the same kind of elements in Discworld and was disappointed.

For example there is a quest where you have to make the rat king go away from a house(or something like that); being a mage I found out there was a spell to kill vermin, so I leveled it up a lot and cast it on the rat king, it did kill it and it exploded into tiny bugs, but it didn't complete the quest.

The magic system seemed very cool and like it could have been used as a mechanic to solve quests and puzzles, instead that gave me the impression it was only meant for combat. (or making stuff for other players)

Another issue is how stupid the NPC's were (compared to IF games), I recall that a street urchin or other npc's couldn't even give you directions to streets. (directly asking like 'where is street').

Having said that I liked how huge the game felt, and the events that could happen with the interaction of the other players. For example dying in a river, being resurrected, and having them dive to get my stuff. Or following around a weird mage only to enter a portal he created and get eaten by crocodiles (oops)

It seems there's so much underdeveloped potential with these kind of games, if someone knows of a MUD that has more IF inspired mechanics with more emphasis on the puzzling I'd be happy to know.

In 1997 I saw "For a good time telnet://moongate.net:4000" scribbled on a bathroom wall and it changed my life.

I got laughed at once people realized I was using telnet in the windows console to talk to them.

My dad still laughs at me for using that old MS DOS window. "Are you a computer expert or what?"

I use Linux.

It's funny to see this. I have a similar story about a MMORPG I've been playing for the better part of 20 years. It's got more in common with MUDs than typical MMORPGs and is an enforced roleplaying environment.

I've personally been volunteering my time to help add new features on the client and server for the past few years. The game is entirely free to play -- no adware junk or anything like that -- but sadly the community is tiny.

If it's something you might be interested in head to: http://underlight.com or find us on Discord, https://discord.gg/vamWXCk

I was lucky enough to play the original MUD1 at Essex over the ARPANET! I was on the old INFO-MUD@MC ARPA mailing list, and somebody from Essex University (probably Richard Bartle) posted instructions and an invitation to log into the original MUD1 running on a PDP-10 at the University of Essex via the ARPA/UK gateway at ARPA host address # 42 (NCP host addresses only had 8 bits in those days).


In 1980, Roy Trubshaw created MUD version 3 in BCPL (the predecessor of C), to conserve memory and make the program easier to maintain. Richard Bartle, a fellow Essex student, contributed much work on the game database, introducing many of the locations and puzzles that survive to this day. Later that year Roy Trubshaw graduated from Essex University, handing over MUD to Richard Bartle, who continued developing the game. That same year, MUD1 became the first Internet multiplayer online role-playing game as Essex University connected its internal network to the ARPANET.

Here's a scan of the notes I took (back in the 80's, not sure which year exactly), scribbled on one of the coffee-stained pages of a Zork map.


    @O 42
    %CON ESX TORUS EPSS 52200300
    LOG 1776,1776
    Password BUZBY
    TY GUID.TXT -Intro
    RU DSKB:MUD[2011,2653]
    K/P or K/B Logs off
I shared that scan with Richard Bartle recently, and he commented: "Blimey! That's a find! The password was BUZBY because that was the name of the bird being used by BT (or was it still the Post Office?) in their advertising."

The source code to MUD1 has been recovered and released, and possibly there's still a version running (but it seems to be down, now).




I was on the Essex MUD via JANET (Joint Academic Network) as an undergrad at Cambridge in late 87. IIRC there was a "shout" feature that broadcast a message to all users. I used to troll by shouting "VMS is way better than Unix"! Quite a few Essex MUDers would rise to the bait :)

Bonus JANET trivia: IIRC the email addrs were back to front, so my email addr was something like uk.ac.cam.chu@jos.

Aha! Found you troll! I work for Jisc, who run Janet (note lower case now). We’ve sorted out the email addresses now ;).

When I was at UWE there was a major MUD which ran on a server under some guys desk, don’t know the name of it, but the guy spent a LOT of time on it.

We played that, too. At 300 baud and a significant transatlantic delay, the typical interaction was:

- log in, read the usual You're-at-end-of-road-again stuff

- walk a few rooms (delay, delay . . .)

- find out you were killed by someone else

... repeat. Lag that affects a text adventure is impressive lag indeed . . .

Hey! I love MUDs, been playing since probably 2007 when I was in middle school. I've usually stuck around IRE's games (Achaea, Aetolia etc.) but also have enjoyed others such as Armageddon.

They've always been a reliable escape for me and only recently have I actually pulled myself away from them, but I thoroughly enjoyed building up my own character and a life of their own through roleplaying. It's sad to not have experienced MUDs in their heyday but I'm happy that a decent amount of people still play enough for some of these games to still be considered 'active'. Long nights and days have been spent totally immersed in their settings, and their influence on me as a person is something I have to acknowledge.


I'd go so far even as to say that IRE's MUDs made me who I am today. A commitment to integrity of role-playing my characters helped shape my identity while I was growing up, particularly as a social exercise. And my first exposure to scripting in the form of simple aliases and triggers led to the pursuit of programming skills. Without MUDs, I'd be a different person entirely, I have no doubt.


Why didn't MUDs ever go rogue-like ... with simple 2D tile-graphics?

I think a few tried and failed, but wondering why that was. Seemed like everyone jumped to Everquest(crack) when it hit the scene, we seem to have skipped the 2D.

Some probably could, some of them probably wouldn't translate super well 1:1 and you'd lose part of the game in the transition.

I also think one of the great parts of developing a MUD as a developer is that you don't need to be good at graphics. Just code and writing.

Modern day MUDs contain a large portion of blind/sight-impaired people so moving towards a graphic based game might turn away most of your players. As it's pretty much the only kind of multiplayer game you can play as a blind person.

There's the "BYOND engine". It started out as a scripting language for creating MUDs, but then grew to have 2d tile graphics.

That is exactly something I'd play hours of! I love roguelikes, and have always wanted to get into MUDs -- I've tried many -- but they never hold my attention long enough.

Even tiled ASCII characters would be a huge boon; I think it's the fact that I can't easily imagine the entire game area through text. If I was able to at least "see" the squares around my character, I could better spatially orient myself. Almost every time I've quit a MUD has been because I got bored trying to pour through the docs/guides to figure out how I ended up somewhere.

I imagine an ASCII multiplayer game is more complex when it comes to netcode though. Perhaps the reason so many MUDs have survived is because they don't require nearly as much server infrastructure to support?

You should check out Dwarf Fortress.

I played a mod of rogue multiplayer and it was awful becuase the ticks were fixed in length. It felt like walking through treacle followed by very difficult combat with no time to browse ur inventory in the moment.

There have been a bunch of MMO roguelikes. Some of the major ones are Mangband and ToMENet (the latter is a fork of the former, made to closely resemble ToME3). There have been a few different attempts to solve the MMO turn-based problem. The most interesting IMO is interhack [1] (not to be confused with the interhack tool for nethack) which originally used "surreal time": depending on whether players were near it other it would switch between them taking turns within the same turn-based game, and running the game logic separately for each player so they didn't wait for each other. There's was a long writeup about it. It's a very complicated system. Never had an active playerbase. nhdaniels told me years later that he considered Surreal Time a failed experiment, and switched to something simpler, which still prevents players from having to wait for each other, but I don't know how it works.

[1] http://roguebasin.roguelikedevelopment.org/index.php?title=I...

Unfortunately the download for Interhack is gone, as is its original website.

EmpireMUD has a rogue-like top-down 2D ASCII tile interface as I recall. That's the world map on which you can construct features of your empire. It's not played that much, but I wouldn't call it a failure since it is still going and still has players and developers.

Discworld MUD has this when you venture outside the main cities and end up in the wilderness. It's a huge world, look at these player made maps: http://dw.daftjunk.com/

> Why didn't MUDs ever go rogue-like ... with simple 2D tile-graphics?

That's not to say that there is still room for something like this! There are heaps of great indie games on Steam that are lightweight and deep.

If you don't mind graphics, I'd recommend checking out Streets of Rogue and Death Road to Canada, though they are not RPGs per-se and more Roguelites.

If you want something a bit more hardcore I'd check out Caves of Qud, still haven't managed to figure that one out.

Also, see Rimworld, an accessible Dwarf Fortress like game.

I play rogue likes but never use tiles.

Some of the simpler muds worked quite well with the zMUD automapper[1] which would try to parse the room descriptions and build/navigate the map.

I remember trying to get it working for Discworld, but the richness of the world descriptions (which varied depending on weather, light level, and all sorts of other factors), along with spontaneous info messages, made it very hard to extract reliably.

My complete lack of knowledge about parsing & text processing probably didn't help matters, and I learned a lot building triggers and other (mostly tolerated) automation back in the day.

One particular feature/challenge I remember was the UU library, which in order to navigate around, switched from cardinal directions (go east; go west; ...) to relative (turn left; forward; forward; turn right), so you had to keep track of your rotation. Combined with deviously constructed routes, it didn't take much to get hopelessly lost, which as the entire point I think :)

A lot of that subtlety would be lost in a simple tiled map, as would all the (often extremely verbose and entertaining) world descriptions.

Add that to the fact that almost all were player/volunteer-built worlds, and graphical art is a much harder field to dabble in than text, probably explains why graphics-first waited until commercial developments like EQ.

[1] http://www.oocities.org/timessquare/dungeon/6091/automap1.gi...

Well, I tried to do that a little with one of my side projects, Chasm Lords. It was a multiplayer roguelike with some MUD inspiration. Problem is this is such a small niche (people who like MUDs and roguelikes!) that I struggled to find and retain players, so I let the SSL certificate expire and now the game doesn't load. :)

It was a fun experiment though, I learned a lot about websockets and networked game programming!

We played MUDs through BBSs. It was a different experience than the internet. Everything was text. You dialed up someone’s house and created an account to join a community which gave you access to a specific set of resources. The people playing the game with you were usually people in your area code.

Upgrading from ASCII to graphics would mean kicking out all your friends with older modems, those with poor phone lines, those without Win 3.1, etc.

Also, time was valuable. You only got so many minutes per day on a BBS before you would get disconnected. You wouldn’t want to waste your time waiting for images to load.

It's amazing how much can be done through plain old text over a simple telnet protocol.

Not all MUDs are limited to descriptive rooms. The BattleTech MUD switched modes when you got into a mecha. You could see what was around you for miles unless blocked by buildings, buildings had different altitudes and you could jet pack jump from building to building, while firing homing missiles at the enemy and flanking with your teammates.

Another really cool telnet-based game that I really enjoyed was mTrek. You controlled a space ship, flew around at warp speed, you could see multiple objects in space near you, and their relative speed and angle. Fighting in 3 dimensional space in plain text is just mind boggling. It's like you're flying in a submarine when there's no graphics. It was adrenaline packed.


You can see battletech mud screen here: http://i.imgur.com/Mk2zg.jpg (ignore the GUI part on the right, that's probably a custom client)

You can see mtrek tactical screen here: http://randsinrepose.com/archives/hacking-on-mtrek/

I've been playing MUME http://mume.org off and on since 1992.

Playing this game feels like playing inside of Tolkien's books. Amazing detail, and they are still expanding.

I've been playing a cyberpunk MUD called Sindome (Link: Https://www.sindome.org/ ) for 15 years so I completely relate. I love MUDs for the freedom, the built in accessibility and their inherent cross platform nature. Play from your browser. Play from telnet. Play from your phone.

I've played a multiplayer asteroids game called Subspace Continuum (now on Steam) since 2001 (17 years). I probably have about 20k hours in that too. It is community run and has about 100 people playing at any time. It's a free game, so try it if this sounds like your thing.

What a great game! It worked so smoothly over dial up. I put a lot of hours into this back in the day. The balance in the ship types and the teamwork required is brilliant. And then all of the mods for different game types and maps... just so much fun.

I loved subspace!! The ability to jump into anyone’s ship and become a gunner was such a great mechanic.

Trench Wars forever

I played the Discworld MUD about the same time you started, or maybe a little before.

One Summer holiday night, having played pretty constantly for every day of the previous week, I dreamed in highlighted terminal text of being beaten up by three old ladies with frying pans.

I stopped playing the day after, and haven't played a MUD or MMORPG since.

I recommend anyone interested in this to come and try midnightsun2.org with the amazing MUD client from mudlet.org.

Funny, I made my char on the 30th of March, 2001. I've put in 40700 hours since then :-)

a question on maintenance and all that. what kind of machines are required to maintain these? the client talks about flash and or websockets, so some sort of servers have to be maintained... I know servers are fairly cheap now.. that would be a cool story too..

If its been running for 30 years, how much memory/storage does the world take?

I had a Java programming examples book and it had a simple MUD implemented in a RMI, it was kinda neat and i always wanted to build a game out of it...

Shades (a commercial successful MUD that ran on British Telecom from the mid 80's) happy ran with 64 users on a Z80 with 256K RAM, 2Mb RAM disk and 10Mb HDD. It's actually still running (telnet://games.world.co.uk) though these days it's running on a Z80 emulator. Makes it a bit over 30 years old, and some of the old players still log in (just to see who's still around).

Disclaimer: I'm the author.

I’m now hosting one of the older ldmud-style MUDs (Nightfall) and the additional load and memory consumption on my server is absolutely negligible. There’s some continuous CPU usage now, but in the low % (on an ancient AMD Opteron). Unfortunately we do have only a few players nowadays, though.

LambdaMOO server can be run on a $5 EC2 instance without much problems. The database resides in memory though, so if you have a giant game (like HellMOO database from what I've heard) it can take like a gig of ram. However, with careful management you can run a game with 100 people online, in a massive world, with tons of code and rooms and such, with 250megs of ram.

"the client talks about flash and or websockets"

Can you just telnet in and avoid the web based interface completely ?

I would assume so ... then you could start your game in a screen session and just re-attach anytime you like.

Can you, indeed, telnet (or ssh) to discworld ?

You can directly telnet in, yeah, but it's not a great way to play. There are plenty of MUD clients (for Discworld in particular you want one compatible with MCCP compression) that are designed for playing in a terminal.


I played on Discworld MUD for many years, quite some time ago. It's probably been 15 years since I last logged in. Very tempting to stick my head back in there!

Make sure you login every couple of years or so. I just had a quick look and two of my three accounts have expired and been purged.

You can literally run a MUD server on a toaster. More specifically, a 486 or Pentium would not be a good fit, but literally anything else would work. :D

The only thing you need is good internet. If your internet connection doesn't tend to completely fail (a small bit of latency and the rare crash shouldn't be the end of the world) then you're honestly good to go.

If you want to run this on a server, you're looking at around $10/mo for something decent, and if you scout around hard you may be able to get something for less. Google Compute Engine quietly let you have 600MB of RAM and 1GB of bandwidth per month for free, for example. :P


Your profile mentions PHP and Node.JS. Of the two, Node.JS is probably the better choice to build something like this with - PHP's network/socket handling has a few sharp edges that make it occasionally fall over, and for a social project like a MUD, you'll get death-by-a-thousand-papercuts in the form of "...PHP?!" all the time, so there's that as well.

Obviously Java would work fine too; Node's advantages over Java in a context like this are lower grammatical verbosity and zero compile time.


The first thing I'd recommend is poking around to understand how to do both telnet and websocket based networking.

Websockets will handle modern browser clients and cover 99% of a fledgling MUD's connections. Telnet will handle the die-hards who, if they come back, might stay for a while :P

Start with telnet first: you need to decide how you want the text UI to work. You can leave telnet out until you have everything else doing interesting things, but I strongly advise having at least a basic understanding of how VT100 emulation works from the start (while you're still in the design stage), or whatever you build may be extremely difficult to get working inside telnet.

Some web MUD clients just wrap a VT100 session hosted on the server with some websocket trickery and do things that way. That's a good way to do things, because it means people who want to stick with telnet don't really lose anything.

Websockets is just a networking system and is mostly fun to work with; to get started just find a library you like and tinker with it.


As for gamedev, I recommend studying existing MUD systems, not with the intention of drowning yourself in how they all work (which will be disasterous), but to get an idea of how they structure their world info - what's where, how navigation works, etc etc.

Ultimately there are (AFAIK) few gotchas and MUD development is quite simple - rooms are connected to other rooms, and things happen - but it's a good idea to think through how you want to architect how rooms connect together so you can eg easily get at the bigger picture, and think about how you want interactions and cause/effect state to be maintained and associated with players.


Open source websocket based MOO/MUD client: https://github.com/JavaChilly/dome-client.js/

thanks for the responses, node is kinda my language of choice for the moment, i'll have to update my profile a bit...

i guess i always got hung up on the background thread updating NPC's and the like, but really i should just start small..

That's averaging over 3 hours per day, 365 days a year, for 17 years. Daaaamn.

Some 20+ years later we still play QuakeWorld :)


https://quake.world (discord)

Still one of the best FPS ever made! The first time I switched from good old regular "netquake" to the quakeworld client I was completely mindblown with the lack of latency and huge playability improvement. Also, seeing glquake at 640x480 for the first time was surreal. Thanks @JohnCarmack

This is the first time I've heard of 'MUDs'. I've played Nethack, Zork, etc but the idea of playing games like that with people is amazing. I actually was wondering the other day how I could make something like that, and of course, it exists already! Sweet!

2 Questions:

1) What's the best 'MUD' game to play?

2) Any resources on how to make one?

Thanks! Seems really interesting.

> 1) What's the best 'MUD' game to play?

"Best" isn't a valid descriptor for anything, but there are a few websites were MUDs are listed, reviewed, and voted on, like http://www.topmudsites.com/ and http://www.mudconnect.com/top20.html

1. Personal preference: Sindome: Cyberpunk Roleplaying - https://www.sindome.org

2. Resources:

Learn LambdaMOO Video Series (helps you get a LambdaMOO running, and teaches the basics of the MOO programming language: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLDRWME7vpHrrHmGJ8Va7G...

Updated LambdaMOO Programming Guide + LambdaMOO learning resources: https://github.com/SevenEcks/lambda-moo-programming

Cool. I used to play "3 Kingdoms" MUD back in the day (early 90's) - became a medium ranked necromancer on there, but remember the lag was quite horrendous at times (dial up). I hear that 3K is still around in some form or another these days?

I recently picked up 3k again after a 10-15 year hiatus. It's still going on, with a ton of changes from the last time I played. I came back to it after a nasty breakup, and it's the one thing consistently keeping my mind occupied from day to day. Totally glad I came back to it.

What MUD client do you use? I use /u/blueknight suggested Mudlet, but it doesn't have a profile for Discworld.

Hah. So many great memories of MUSHclient. For a long time it was the first thing I installed on any new machine. Eventually moved to tinyfugue on a remote shell (so I could be "always online").

This is what I ended up using after trying tintin++ (which is excellent too.) I use a Discworld specific build of the MUSHclient :)

TinyFugue (http://tinyfugue.sourceforge.net/) was for a long time the terminal client of choice.

I used to use zMUD (http://www.zuggsoft.com/page.php?file=zmud/zmudinfo.htm), but looks like it maybe never made it past Windows XP.

cMUD was the successor to zMUD.

KBtin is a nice command line client. http://kbtin.sourceforge.net

Nice! My favorite were always the LPMuds... I'm not sure what variants are related to those these days. I used to play FrontierMud a lot back in the day. Still remember the admins shouting about the upcoming lag trains. My favorite memory was when a buddy figured out how to make Jason from Friday the 13th. He'd put on a hockey mask, wield a chainsaw, somehow cut off my arms, and then start hitting me with my own arms while telling me to stop hitting myself.

I played Mirkwood for several years before I moved on to other thing, but I still think of it now and then. Apparently it is still going strong: http://www.mudconnect.com/mud-bin/adv_search.cgi?Mode=MUD&mu.... Long live the Vampires clan and OneEye!

Hah I had an Immortal character on that MUD named Spactula. That was a fun group of people.

Oh man, MUDs were magical. I annoyed my parent to no end by tying up the phone line. Most of my best friends today are people I met on the MUD in the 90s, and we still keep in touch every day. It was amazing to be logging in and basically be living another life in a vibrant world.

I frequented one called Realms of Despair, unfortunately it's only got a few tens of people logged on at any time now.

If this is the one I think it is, I played it periodically when my primary MUD was offline in the mid 90s.

It's kind of like how people who have read original books say that a movie version is rarely better, and people who only watch movies cannot believe that "just words" can be better.

But really, especially for (massively, by those standards) multi-player, words and text descriptions were wonderful.

Thanks for posting this - some great memories and great links here. I'll jump on the bandwagon since I don't see any MUSHes mentioned here yet.

MUSH was MUD-based, but built around roleplaying (planned and improvised) and community-driven building. PennMUSH also had a great underlying program language that was (in retrospect, quite amazingly) flexible and powerful. Many MUSHes had very advanced combat, economy, and other systems. I developed a love of programming thanks to the PennMUSH codebase.

My personal favorite was (still is) TF2k5 (Transformers: 2005) - oddly enough, a MUSH based on the 1986 Transformers movie. :) Last I checked it was still going.

I bookmarked an old feature Kieron Gillen did on RPS about MUSHes (and TF2k5)[0] a long time ago - still a very dead-on description in my opinion.

[0] https://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2009/07/08/gaming-made-me-3...

I played a MUD called "DUM" back around 1990. My GPA would have been a heck of a lot better without it... and Nethack.

+1 for nethack

:') Played Discworld MUD as a kid, was sad to see Terry Pratchett go, but loved this game, appreciate the shout out on HN, MUD games are a general world of wordy creativity and imagination, wish they were more in style again.

Although for modern kids, they are a lot harder to play because they dont try to shy away from difficulty.

You say you're not close to "winning" or "finishing" - is there a way to do so at all?

The only winning move is not to play.

Random lurking on IRC, overheard a conversation about this cool MUD based on Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. I was maybe 10, and man did it take a long time to figure out at first. 20 some odd years later and I still find myself drawn back here and there. Being able to pop in via SSH or a command line client made it great for staying inconspicuous in places where I probably shouldn't have been playing a game.

I still have many good friends from it, and it connected me with great people from countries completely across the globe.

If you're into Tolkien and want to give it a go, check out http://t2tmud.org. Or just SSH towers@t2tmud.org.

I spent _so_ many hours as a kid on RetroMUD. Nothing else will improve your typing and console scanning skills like being a healer during a massive boss fight.


Retromud is the only MUD I've ever played as well. Started in 2001 or 2002 and every once in a while will go through phases where I play again.

If you aren't that into Role Playing, and you prefer team based PvE combat, I think Retromud is the one to check out. 20 primary guilds (classes) and 80+ races, as well as branching paths from each of the primary guilds makes for huge number of possibilities for your character. Though to start out I'd suggest a Dragonian Fallen.

Hey, mud talk!

We're running a MUD gamejam starting in 2 weeks actually :)


I played http://lensmoor.org/ a lot in high school because a friend did and because the filters didn't catch it. It was a fun time.

I made it to level 30 of 99 (well, 198, as you could "remort" and start over as a more advanced species. I loved it, but had an epiphany that I would either have to accept that I'd never be a top-tier character, or I'd have to significantly increase my investment in the game, which I wasn't willing to do.

But I loved the immersion and creativity that came with the game, and the roleplaying was a blast.

I played Runescape for over 10 years.

For the first 7~ or so I was a bad player that progressed slowly.

Maxed my combat, and eventually became a force in the duel arena. Made bils, got bored, left the game.

Nothing hit my beliefs in the face like realizing infinite money in a game like that ruins the experience.

It actually ruined me for video games to be honest. I played LoL for a year or so before getting bored, and spent a small amount of time with CoD on the Xbox, but no other game has ever captured me like RS.

I still follow a few content creators, and get the itch to start a new account once a month or so, but I won't let myself get into a game like that ever again.

Bummer, the link on their page to download clients from a list is broken :(


There's a discussion on Reddit from Feb 2017 about current MUD clients, though it focuses on Windows [0], however the first recommended client is cross platform.

[0] https://www.reddit.com/r/MUD/comments/5uzx3z/list_of_current...

Used to play a MUD called 'After Hours' from 95-97. It was not 'adult-oriented', as the name would imply, although that may be why my teenaged self chose it in the first place. Good times back in those days when I could still stay up late and function during the day! Met cool folks, learned to code in a fashion, sometimes I'd get sent cool indie movies on VHS that I would never ever had heard about in my small town otherwise.

In my first year of university I had my unix account suspended because I was playing MUDs.

The stated policy of the computer science department was that MUDs were a waste of bandwidth.

This was in 1992.

Always sad to see games become less popular over time. I used to play a MUD called Shattered Kingdoms. Glad to hear Discworld is still around.

I lost a lot of time to MU*s back in the 90s.

My final project in AP Computer Science in high school was a single-player text adventure that mimicked some of the mechanics of MUDs. Sadly, we had to turn in the source code rather than demo it, and it refused to compile on the teacher's computer. He still gave me an A, though, based on the source alone.

I really, really wish I still had that source code...

The Return of the Shadow MUD has been around since the 90s. Not only is the player base still active, the game is still actively being developed! Just in the last year the maintainers have added new skills, specializations, quests, and soon Beornings.


Every now and then I am reminded that there are still new people coming to Tapestries (a furry muck, est. 1991) and it kind of amazes me.

Me, I decided to take the creative energy that was going into all-night scenes and put it into drawing comics instead. But the mu*s just keep going along. It’s not like they take much in the way of computational resources nowadays.

I started playing Discworld MUD in 1998 and kept going for almost as long as you. It was glorious

I share a similar fondness to my childhood MUD, WoTMUD (Wheel of Time): www.wotmud.org

I played daily from 1996-2006, and still occasionally log on to check in on the community, which is still quite active.

No other game ever came close to being as fun or immersive.

Haha I used to have text based dreams....

Oh man, I'm glad I'm not the only who has had text based dreams.

Quest for Faerun / Questwars was my crack. Incredible MUD: http://www.mudconnect.com/SMF/index.php?topic=75470.0

>Discworld MUD however has a quality I still haven't found in any other game - be it World of Warcraft, Elder scroll online, TERA or whatever.

As someone who wasn't even born at the release of this game, I couldn't agree more!

Not a MUD per se but back in the late 90's my friends and I had an awesome time playing http://explorer.sourceforge.net/

I didn't like Discworld, but I love MUDs. It's a dream to recreate a virtual world of the same complexity and flexibility. I think the only thing going against them is that they're a bit hard to read.

Neat. I played a SMAUG MUD called Realms in the late 90s.

(These days I play StarCraft 2..)

I spent many many hours logged into Realms. A few years ago I had a sudden attack of nostalgic and created a new character, but just wasn't able to get back into it.

Oooh who were you? I bet I know you.

Used to play NannyMUD in 1993 and I just logged in!

Via telnet, it's still online 25 years later!

My username since then (inc here) is named after the brand of terminal I used to log into that MUD a quarter century ago.

LambdaMOO and its children got me into college and a career. Another example of technology out of PARC that they failed to monetize. The so-called social web has been a pale imitation.

You and me both. Lotta love for LambdaMOO.

Reminds me of James Carse's idea of Finite and Infinite Games - where the objective of a finite game is to win and the objective of an infinite game is to continue to play.

I played eve online over 10 years. If i would have started at the beginning it would be 15 years now.

Dont play anymore, but still a cool game with very crazy and active people.

I can say the same about Dota 2 and Path of Exile :)

That's approximately 3.2 hours a day. (20000 / 17 / 52 / 7)

Yikes! I wish I had 3.2 hours a day to spend on hobbies.

Nobody on his death bed says "I wish I had spent more time working".

Work less and enjoy your life.

Yet the average American apparently watches 5 hours of TV a day according to popular media. 3.2 hours is doable in that sense :)

This calculation doesn't take into account weekends or holidays offering larger quantities of free time.

Also, if you actually wished you could spend 3+ hours on hobbies a day, you'd do something about it.

Aiur from Discworld says Hi, Duzchip! :)

I've been playing the same multiplayer PHP game, MountyHall (remember these?) since 2004

I used to play a MUD called Shattered Kingdoms!

Still playing Ultima Online, ~20 years later.

telnet jumper.mcc.ac.uk:3214

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