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General: From MUD to MMO

SBFordSBFord Associate Editor - News ManagerThe CitadelPosts: 23,385MMORPG.COM Staff Epic

If you know what a MUD is, you're one of an increasingly small number of people who do. Maybe you remember your first MUD and wonder why it hasn't made the jump to a full-fledged MMO. Read our latest No Elves Allowed column for more thoughts about MUDs, MMOs and more.

Still, I'm curious. How many of you out there are old enough to remember MUDs? For those of you too young to have gotten into this little bit of old-school fun, a MUD is more than what happens when a little bit of water meets a little bit of soil. A MUD is a Multi-User Dungeon, a multiplayer real-time virtual world that is primarily text-based. If you're lucky, you might get ASCII graphics but that didn't come around too often. MUDs are kind of like the grandparents of our MMOs today. You pretty much had the same things. Classes, races, dungeons you could wander through, bosses you could face, worlds you could explore. However, because MUDs weren't constrained by game engines.

Read more of Cassandra Khaw's No Elves Allowed: From MUD to MMO.




  • ValkaernValkaern OxfordPosts: 512Member Uncommon

    The absence of mechanical limitations, as you said, opened up possibilities greatly. That coupled with the fact that the worlds were incredibly vivid as the action and locations all existed in the imagination made for some incredibly memorable experiences for me. However, I don't miss the paragraph of text you were required anytime you wanted to 'put sword in black sheath - take coin purse from shelf - put coin purse in backpack - take sword from black sheath'.

    Yes I know, there were often macros and occasionally interfaces that made this much less of a hassle (Dragonrealms was pretty good with this), but it could be very time consuming. I guess that's the price of having so many optional ways to interact with the environments.

    I would still play a modern hybrid MUD if it was well done. Simple graphical representations for inventory, location and possibly combat would go a long way (perhaps something like an online ADOM). 

  • FreeBooteRFreeBooteR Surrey, BCPosts: 333Member

    I still jump into a MUD occassionally. Discworld MUD is probably one of the best MUDs i've ever played. It's fairly popular too, usually around 100 people playing on it at any one time.

    I flash up URXVT terminal emulater with Tmux (terminal multiplexer), then divide it into panes with Discmud (via ++tintin) running in one, NCMPCPP (MPD music player frontend) in another, and irssi in another. I love geeking out like that!


    Archlinux ftw

  • soulwyndsoulwynd Petropolis, Rio de JaneiroPosts: 47Member Uncommon

    Those days are only gone for you.


    MUDs are still alive and kicking. Some with 300+ people on daily. They have never been as popular as Crappy Graphical MUDs, I mean, MMOs, so it's not even fair to compair the number of people in a MUD with the number of people in a MMO.


    From my experience a popular MUD will have anywhere from 20 to 1000 people on at the same time and there are always people learning that MUDs do exist and trying them.

  • TruthXHurtsTruthXHurts El Do, KSPosts: 1,555Member Uncommon

    cool graphical MUD is


    "I am not in a server with Gankers...THEY ARE IN A SERVER WITH ME!!!"

  • ForumPvPForumPvP KingstownPosts: 871Member

    Originally posted by Valkaern

    I would still play a modern hybrid MUD if it was well done. Simple graphical representations for inventory, location and possibly combat would go a long way (perhaps something like an online ADOM).

    Let's internet

  • AerowynAerowyn BUZZARDS BAY, MAPosts: 7,928Member

    I do miss the days of zmud and playing so many differn't ones.. there was one I used to play you could be a race with 6 arms and have 6 attacks was nice.. anyway can't beleive no one mentioned gemstone or dragonrealms still two of the biggest around


    i played both of these for years in 90s


    bright ball of light...glows dimly .......... wow that does bring back memories almost every basic MUD had this

    I angered the clerk in a clothing shop today. She asked me what size I was and I said actual, because I am not to scale. I like vending machines 'cause snacks are better when they fall. If I buy a candy bar at a store, oftentimes, I will drop it... so that it achieves its maximum flavor potential. --Mitch Hedberg

  • RealedazedRealedazed Washington, DCPosts: 105Member Uncommon

    I would totally play MUDs exclusively because I like RP, exploration, puzzles, etc. And that's something that I get from text-based games more so than graphic games. But, so far, I haven't found one that has both players and great content.

    I used to play Lusternia, an IRE game. During my time there, I spent about $200 on customizing my character, only to just leave it.  I thought it was a cool game and liked the storyline best of all. However, its all about PVP and the RP is just an excuse for more PVP. I wouldn't have too much of a problem if it was actual combat, but you have to  make or buy programs or scripts to do anything, even PVE. Now they want a subscription which is like $25/per game. Which is crazy.

    Oh, I also played Dragonrealms like the above poster and I have never gone further than a trial account since I don't know if I could pay that much for a text game. Its $15  or so for a base account,  $40 or more if I want the higher tiers of servce (which I do, since I want the house and the other perks) and even more if I want to attend the special events and quests.   

  • AerowynAerowyn BUZZARDS BAY, MAPosts: 7,928Member

    yea im surprised how much they charge now for DR and GS... i can't imagine the server costs are much to host a game like that. On top of that you could run the game with almost no staff.. I could of sworn gemstone was only like 5 bucks a month back when I used to play.. not really sure though was so long ago.. but to charge the same amount monthly or even more in some cases than MMO's seems silly to me..

    I angered the clerk in a clothing shop today. She asked me what size I was and I said actual, because I am not to scale. I like vending machines 'cause snacks are better when they fall. If I buy a candy bar at a store, oftentimes, I will drop it... so that it achieves its maximum flavor potential. --Mitch Hedberg

  • IsasisIsasis San Diego, CAPosts: 416Member

    Funny enough, I went from MMO to MUD.


    I'm into Discworld Mud at the moment...probably my favorite one. But I've been enjoying MUDs way more than any of these "next-gen" supposed MMOs.

    My youtube channel: is like 4chan, but for gamers.

    WoW already does WoW good.

    PvPers that gank newbies, are carebears. They don't want a challenge (like a carebear), they just want easy mode (like a carebear) and a no challenge combat (like a carebear).

  • vardarvardar Windsor, ONPosts: 282Member

    I use to play Dragonheart back in the day, man, was that awsome and exciting, I miss those days, its too bad the newer generation of gamers didnt experience it, but then again, they want everything handed to them on a silver plater....

  • GrumpyMel2GrumpyMel2 Catskills, NYPosts: 1,832Member

    I started out playing  Gemstone on the Genie service. I loved that MUD despite some of it's flaws. My characters name was Welan...for any other GS'ers that might still be lurking around.

    I'd love to see a graphical engine that could capture the same spirit that MUD's like that had.

    The only thing that I really disliked about MUD's was that they lacked a good method for representing character positioning.... thus tactical combat options for group play were rather limited. Add that factor in and I'd honestly take an old school MUD over any of todays MMO's in a heartbeat.

    Heck, I still occasionaly think about going back to them, even without that.




  • KaniverKaniver OREGONPosts: 108Member Uncommon

    Heh.......also used to play GS on the Genie network. Didn't it also appear on AOL for a time?


    You know if there subscription pricing wasn't so rediculous I do believe there would be a much larger audiance playing and contributing to the atmosphere.


    As well As Simutronics has done liscensing there Hero engine you'd think they could well afford to do so?


    Gemstones III and Drangonrealms both are great experiences to ones imagination.

  • ErgloadErgload GV, OHPosts: 433Member Uncommon

    Thanks for the great article Cassandra. I love MUDs and still play them for hours a day. There are some fantastic MUDs listed right here on and I've tried them all, personally Achaea is my favourite for its big RP community but they're all worth trying.

  • SvarcanumSvarcanum SthlmPosts: 420Member Uncommon

    I played MUDs all the time. And when Meridian 59 and then later EQ released I remember thinking that gfx was just a passing hype...

  • MavacarMavacar GothenburgPosts: 328Member

    The village track <e w n s>.

    You are walking along a dusty and dirty track on the outskirts of the Lars

    Town. The ground is worn with wagon ruts and countless footprints. Back to

    the west is an open green lawn and the tall village church, while off to the

    north a track winds through the hills.

    It is noon; the sun hangs high in the sky.

    To the south there is a marketplace.

      There are four obvious exits: east, west, north and south.

    Alfar The Elder PriessT'ess of CT'hulhu (parasite).

    A gift voucher.

    ** HP: 203/206   SP: 206/206

    Alfar scratched your back lightly.

    You punch Alfar very hard.

    You point at yourself and turn the powers loose.

    You cast the spell of Haste.

    You feel yourself moving faster!

    You missed Alfar.

    ** Alfar is in superior shape.

    Alfar scratched your back lightly.

    You missed Alfar.

    Alfar points at herself, and utters a Word Of Power!

    You punch Alfar hard.

    Alfar missed you.

    Alfar chants "Varf-Shub-Niggurath! Gabots Memrot" and you burst into flames.

    You are badly hurt by Alfar's spell!

    ** HP: 173/206   SP: 206/206

    ** Alfar is in superior shape.

    (5-7 mins later)

    Alfar died.

    You killed Alfar.

    Corpse of Alfar.

    You take elven gloves, elven boots, a tiara, a sword, 96841 coins, two bottles,

    a feather cloak, a torch, a leather armour and wand of magic missiles from a

    corpse of Alfar.

    Good times ^^

  • AermordAermord CopenhagenPosts: 17Member

    Those days are not gone.

    I still play on a MUSH weekly, because it is the only place I can find real quality roleplaying. On MMORPGs all your advancement is done through levels, gear and kills. That is fun enough at times I guess, however to develop your character socially, try to have him advance in politics and decide the fate of others, try to have him work his way into the military and have him work his way up to assume command of other troops - that is something you can do on a MUSH.

    MUSHes often got developed combat systems that will determine the outcome of a conflict by die rolls or something similar. However a lot of conflicts are usually RPed out.

    The MUSH I play on is very much alive with hundred of users playing regularly and with active game masters and with a plot that twist and turn and where your character often find himself in great risk. It's permadeath of course, because what is a reward worth if you didnt get it by actually risking something?

    Yes, MUSHes are still alive and kicking and they will continue to do so because there are people out there like me, who want to play something with substance once in awhile.


  • kneebanekneebane turkuPosts: 15Member Common

    Oh boy :) yes, still remembering the times, playing so long at school that we got locked up and escaped out of the school using a coin to rip screws out of a window and tearing it open :). That was I guess around mmm 1993 or 4.

    BAT mud was I guess one I started with and I guess strongest emotions I got from WoT (Wheel of the Time) MUD...there I was just walking around as a peacefull male channeler and boom, some trollocs drag me to their cooking pots... okey, another try I walk by as a peacefull female channeler, perhaps I can get even as Aes Sedai one day, well that was until I get butchered by two whitecloaks since I coudln't type fast enough directions aligned with enter to escape them :).

    Ended up developing one as well, was fun, there were no limits, could combine or try anything, your imagination was the limit, code behind it was fairly simple, the story was there to really do the magic, it was imagination, set you could take, descriptions to mask healthpool.reduce(-1) :).

    It is same with reading a book versus television. Reading makes your mind create the world, if everything is offered ready made, well, it is a completely a different story. I love modern day MMOs but it is still different...

  • RobsolfRobsolf Grand Rapids, MIPosts: 4,332Member Uncommon

    I was a diehard when it came to MUD's.  I used to play DragonRealms all the time.  I tried UO and Everquest and despised them to the point to where I didn't even try DAoC.  It wasn't til' SWG that I found my true MMO home.

    Imagining DR with a full on graphic display... my glasses are probably a bit rosy, but I like the sound of that.

    Man, I wonder if I have an old floppy disk with some old logs from that game... getting all nostalgic, now...

  • StrayfeStrayfe Los Angeles, CAPosts: 199Member Uncommon

    Another Gemstone player here.  That was my first taste of online interaction, roleplaying and the realization that, after being a huge fan of single player RPGs on Nintendo and SNES, something like that could actually exist with other players.

    I still go back to GS now and again, but the game world now is so huge and it just simply doesn't have the population to sustain the size anymore.  Doesn't change the fact that some of my best online memories were from invasions or large GM run events, which is something I wish modern MMORPGs can pick up on.  There is no substitution for GM run, in character events, and I'd like to see a game built with an engine that allows more custom interaction.

    The other thing about this type of game is, players seem to have far fewer entitlement issues.  There were hundreds of unique items in Gemstone, each held by only one person, and they all did entirely different things, some of which made that player nearly godlike in comparison.  Nobody seemed to mind, and everyone was satisfied with the culture of the game.  I always thought it was pretty awesome that there were literally legendary items that you had to listen to older players talk about, because there was nobody else around back then to know what they did.

    Nowadays?  You'd have a forum full of posts about how it isn't fair that everyone can't get said item, or that everyone can't get an alteration to their equipment to be unique, or that everyone can't have X, Y or Z, or in the case of Gemstone, a complaint I know anyone from this 'era' of MMORPGs would have, "OH MY GOD IT TAKES TOO LONG TO LEVEL!  What is this?  Sit and socialize while I absorb experience?  Why can't I keep killing things?"

    Too much has changed for an experience like this to be a viable large-scale market.  A dedicated niche, however?  Absolutely, and I'm glad to see Gemstone, Dragonrealms and other similar games still attract their own players.

  • TolanaTolana South AfricaPosts: 22Member Uncommon

    Wow, what a step back into history.  The year was 1993 - fantastic fun and fabulous friends on RealmsMUD :)

  • casskhawcasskhaw Richmond HillsPosts: 19Member

    So. It has been decided. 

    Next  column? I'm going to be doing mini-reviews on three MUDs/MUSHes/MUXes/you name it.. But I would like to put this to a vote. The top three MU*s that get mentioned the most will get a look at. ^^

  • CyrussphereCyrussphere Denver, COPosts: 18Member

    I played Gemstone for years and years while on the side playing and running various SMAUG and later SWR muds. So much creativity and freedom came out of those, It will be a long time before any MMO will have the means to do so much in a single game.

    Unfortunatly ive been so spoiled on graphics that its hard to go back to text.


  • JimmacJimmac TXPosts: 1,667Member Uncommon

    Any good mud recommendations for today? I was going to try to get into Achaea but am severely turned off by any kind of pay to win model or macro based combat. I do not want to have to resort to third party programs to be worthwhile in PVP and I don't want to play a game that has a cash shop like that.

    My biggest other requirements are that the game have enough of a population to make it worth playing, that the game is still being supported by the developers (ie not abandoneware) and new content created, the game world is gigantic, a smaller sub fee is fine, character progression is very complex, and combat designed in a way to require skill and tactics by the player (simplistic combat is boring to me).

    Some minor sandbox elements such as good crafting, being able to build my own house and the items to go inside it and form communities with other players would also be a bonus. Last, good PVE would be nice too. Am I asking for too much here?

  • simu-solomonsimu-solomon Simutronics Dev St Peters, MOPosts: 9Member

    Great article, Cassandra.  Count me among those surprised that GS and DR didn't get a mention since both games still have very active, strong communities, but we'll cross our fingers and hope we make it into your final cut for reviews in your follow-up.  Even if they don't make the list, feel free to contact me and I'll get you set up with a press account and arrange to have a player Mentor available to show you around and get you acclimated to Elanthia.

    Great to see all the mentions from old DR and GS players in the comments!  We'd love to have any of you come back for a visit and see what all is new! 


  • xxKoalaluvxxKoalaluv little falls, NEPosts: 6Member

    nice article! Achaea is a really fun text game / MUD, you can tailor your own custom clothes and sell them on the market channel. lots of plants to harvest and make potions if you are one of the forestal classes (Druid, Sentinel, Sylvan).

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