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[Column] General: Recapturing that Old MUD Feeling

SBFordSBFord Associate Editor - News ManagerThe CitadelPosts: 23,001MMORPG.COM Staff Epic

Before there was Ultima Online and Everquest, or even Meridian 59, there were MUDs. Standing for “Multi User Dungeon,” MUDs were the original MMOs. Played on mainframes with text descriptions and a simple command line, with no sound, no graphics, not even a map, you typed out your movements and actions in the game and waited to see the server’s response. You connected via your dial-up modem at 300 baud, and there were perhaps 20-30 players online at any given time.

Read more of Mark Kern's Recapturing that Old MUD Feeling.




  • neotronneotron Bothell, WAPosts: 47Member Uncommon

    I played a lot of MUD's in the day (primarily LPMUD and Diku MUD's). None of the MUD's I played on had anything resembling a GM that actually interacted with the player base. There were admins (Wizards in LPMUD's for example, which I was on several) that actually built the world (LPC programming) but at least on the MUD's I played, they were strictly forbidden to interact with players in a game changing fashion.


    I do think it would be awesome to have GM driven events in MMO's but given the size of MMO's and number of servers, it would be hard to achieve in a meaningful way. Today this typically is end-of-beta events which almost always turn out to be a horrible gameplay experience in terms of "fun factor". Last example is Wildstar which had devs come in and summon various bosses. There was literally 10-30 second lag, frequent disconnects and even the best computers could barely hope to go above 10 FPS at minimum quality.


    As much as it would be cool to see, it doesn't seem likely that it's something that ever will exist on mainstream MMO's. It might be something indie MMO's can pull off, ones with a much smaller player base and a more intimate experience with the developers.



  • CrusadesCrusades Columbus, OHPosts: 480Member
    Amen to this article. I would love to see GM come into the world and actively shake things up. I remember playing Rolemaster Magestorm and randomly GM would pop in and say hi and just check up on things. It always felt like an honor to have them present. It was policing still though. What having GM do by orchestrating NPC's or even be at the controls of a World Boss would definitely add value. It would bring back some of that in game celebrity status that we used to know as well.
  • AmarantharAmaranthar OhioPosts: 2,872Member Uncommon
    I think there would have to be a lot of thought to the fact that some of these GMs would sell their job out just to be "cool" to the players they get to know. But I do think there's huge value to this idea if proper safeguards can be installed into the system. And the game itself would need to be designed with this in mind.

    Once upon a time....

  • Ragnar1337Ragnar1337 Atlantis, ALPosts: 70Member Common
    So how many GM's were ever in Firefall to do all that cool stuff? None. Players policing the community themselves? LOL Go take a look at how well that is working in Archeage where people are abusing the hell out of the report system and using it as a pvp tool. This guy has no clue what he's talking about. 
  • Dreamo84Dreamo84 Niagara Falls, NYPosts: 3,694Member Uncommon

    Unfortunately, it doesn't seem practical. With all the problems your support team was facing in WoW. Do you think it would have helped if the GM said "sorry, I can't get your items back fierce Warrior but I can summon special demons for you to fight!"

    It wasn't like your support team didn't already have problems they were facing. If automated systems could be effective I think they would have already been developed? no? That sort of thing tends to piss customers off unfortunately.

    "if your account has been hacked please press 1 now"


  • Po_ggPo_gg Twigwarren, WestfarthingPosts: 3,656Member Rare

    Nostalgia is great, there was a MUD article not while ago, I wrote there as well that it'd be great to bring back some aspects of MUDs - but highly unlikely it will ever happen, sadly. 20 years passed, that's a huge amount of time in IT and gaming.

    Not to mention, from all those aspects, GM events? As neotron wrote above, it was even against the rules in many MUDs (true, I too played on a few which had a more open policy on this matter), and on the other hand it's not a rare thing today, I used to cite Codies LotRO for an example of GM events, but even at Turbine there's a few, like the Hobbit to Isengard series at the moment, or the Ettenmoors event was.


    What I would love to see from the MUD / MUSH era is the totally open access to the game code. There's the Foundry in STO and Neverwinter, and it's great, but still that's only used for missions. Maybe the release of AC servers from Turbine will jumpstart the modding aspect in the genre. It won't be as free as MUDs were, simply due the tech changes. That era is gone already. C and LPC was so clean and easy, if you had the inspiration you could write a whole area with storylines and npc's and quests in a weekend. A good one, I mean.


    Actually, I don't think we could "recapture the old MUD feeling", ever. We can play MUDs today too, obviously, but that's not even close to the original times. Back then, it was a close and tight community, with frequent offline meet-ups, etc. We can't go back to that, because the world is changed. I mean, the internet was still pretty much rare, which already narrowed down the "accessible" playerbase to college (and later high school) people. Today the net is more common than clean air.

    Accounts were also rare, usually one net access per person (and those who had multiple, were the "chosen few"... I had one in all 3 colleges/unis which had direct access to the backbone in the early '90s. Yep, I was cool :) ), so manners and netiquette actually ment something - if you were once kicked from a game, then it was final, you couldn't just create a new one (not to mention the best games used invite-only character creation). Today obviously that's not the case anymore.

    Also it ment there was no altoholism, one user = one character, which was great for manners again, with the smaller playerbase where everyone knew everybody :) Like when on an afternoon we took one of the free practice rooms (20 pc's with net) for some gaming, and "Damn this xxxx, how can he be such a lamer... anyone knows him?" and 2 rows behind a dude said he's in his college and the following day if you hop over with some beer I'll introduce you to him and you can discuss it in person :) 

    Good times... the strange thing is I still remember most of the people from my favourite MUD, with faces - and character names. I knew their names too, maybe I could even remember a few of those if I'd try hard, but we called each other on character name irl too, for years :) That's also something not for today. There are famous characters in games, but even they have alts as well. These games are Massively multiplayer now, with thousands of people.

  • ElandrialElandrial atlanta, GAPosts: 163Member Uncommon
    hate to tell him but MUD are out on pc's as well way after mainframes days.i was playing a mud as well as everquest.yes you can forget getting online help now days or even in some cases mmorpg i put in a service request for pw reset,as i was not getting the email.9 months later i still had not heard back and had long since gave up.after a year i finally did hear back saying my request had expired and to resubmit it.what a joke.
  • WarWitchWarWitch charlotte, NCPosts: 124Member Uncommon

    I admined on Paradox mud  for years from the start and 3 others.

    Sadly what U can runinto is the gms leading guilds and overpowering them. 

    Gm run events do add spice to any live game.

    The trouble with any scripted game is it gets boaring fast.

    on Paradox we had one coder that coded everything randomly so even the zone map was never the same. Of course he went on to work at ms and make the big bucks.


  • FoobarxFoobarx Poway, CAPosts: 451Member

    Let's try to recapture that old neanderthal man feeling... because in essence, you're trying to do the same thing.  For the feeling to be the same, you literally have to teleport back in time, where nothing that you know now or experienced is even in your imagination yet.  Can't be done.  Sure, you can reminisce and have nostalgia and all, but it will never be the same again, ever.


    This is why trying to recapture the past fails when the past is still fresh in your mind.  You can do a remake of a movie, and do it incredibly badly and still make a mint, so long as those watching it have no clue about the original.  Once they have a frame of reference, everything changes.


    This is why MMOs are in a rut... they recycle stuff that we've all seen and done before... sure they slap a different coat of paint on it but at its very core, it's still the same.


    What I miss are the puzzle-like games that Sierra did... you know, where if you did even one thing incorrectly, you could never solve the puzzle... and it happily let you do it and let you continue on in the game without letting you know you screwed up the second quest in.  Imagine finding out when you were level 90 that your chance at the holy grail weapon was trounced the moment you chose not to collect 5 apples for the little boy by the road.  Can't undo that oversight after the fact.  


    That was the old MUD feeling... whatever your imagination dreamed up... because guess what, you had to use your imagination back then.  Today it's far too visual, far too voiced over, far too much spoon fed everything.  You claim you want to play a game as a distraction, but only if it doesn't occupy your time.  Really?  And just why are you playing games in the first place?  To occupy your time.  Who cares if it takes 12 years to make level 1... it's 12 years well spent compared to the .0006 nanoseconds you spend in game now.

  • filmoretfilmoret Palm Bay, FLPosts: 4,697Member Epic
    I found muds more immersive then the current genre.  I was the General of the Draconian Army.  I had first hand men and women and they all had identities.  It meant something to be the Commander of the army and it meant something to lead that army and be a member of that army.  There is so much that we had back then that was lost and there is also much that has been gained.  Yes I do miss the days when a GM would take control of this really evil monster and ravage the town killing city guards and spouting about their evil plans for the universe.  The members of the armies would gather to battle such a beast to great rewards and fun roleplaying.  We are talking about 17 years ago and the current genre has not even come close to replicating these instances.  I don't look for it to happen either.
    Are you onto something or just on something?
  • TheocritusTheocritus Gary, INPosts: 5,004Member Rare
    Ive tried several MUDs over the years, usualyl after getting burnt out on mainstream MMOs, and just never could find oen that I really liked...usually there was something about the game that was totally gamebreaking.
  • SamhaelSamhael Huntsville, ALPosts: 869Member Uncommon
    It seems like most MMOs launch with their customer service not in the role of "game police" when they are so much needed. Perhaps at some point a few months after launch when things quiet down a bit, they could be re-purposed or replaced by tools. But after ESO's recent launch, it was quite obvious that a greater hands-on involvement was needed by game police.
  • Snippet60Snippet60 Pueblo, COPosts: 20Member Uncommon
    Your time is up, Kern.  Attempt to re enter the hearts and minds of gamers somewhere else.  Even if this recent deluge of articles has something remotely interesting in it to discuss, the fact that you destroyed your reputation is all I can focus on.
  • Solar_ProphetSolar_Prophet Columbus, OHPosts: 1,587Member Rare

    And yet you had your very own MMO with which to utilize all these ideas, yet completely and utterly failed to do so. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but actions speak louder than any photo album.

    You had your chance, and you blew it big time. You're a has-been who's desperately trying to become relevant in the MMORPG industry again, perhaps with the hope that people will once again be swayed by your grand ideals and hollow promises to hand over their hard-earned money.

    Forget it. You're done, and nothing you say will change that.


    AN' DERE AIN'T NO SUCH FING AS ENUFF DAKKA, YA GROT! Enuff'z more than ya got an' less than too much an' there ain't no such fing as too much dakka. Say dere is, and me Squiggoff'z eatin' tonight!

    So let me get this straight: It's greedy to want to keep the money you've earned, but it's NOT greedy to want to take money that somebody else earned away from them? Only the left wing could come up with that kind of insane troll logic. It's got the stamp of their common core all over it. 

  • nathanknaacknathanknaack Level Designer - CCP Games Atlanta, GAPosts: 27Member

    What you describe in the last section of your article is pretty much exactly what we did when we ran the Sansha live events in EVE Online a couple years ago. We even recruited members of the customer service team to help out, just as you suggested. You know what? It was absolutely fantastic!


    I would just pop into a moderately-populated region of the map, go invisible, spawn a swarm of NPC bad guys, and do a supervillain monologue on the public chat channel. A few minutes later, anywhere from a dozen to (at one event) 1,700 players would fly in to be part of the battle.


    And the best part was that, since all of EVE takes place in one "world," the events really mattered. They became the news of the day. Players spread word to each other and attendance grew event by event.


    Seriously, it was a blast. Check out some of the YouTube clips: 

  • grummzgrummz Aliso Viejo, CAPosts: 56Member
    nathanknaack, that's really cool. EvE always did have the best events. Would love to see this spread to other games!
  • grummzgrummz Aliso Viejo, CAPosts: 56Member
    The news part is the best, the talk about it for days later. Great stories, great moments. We've lost a lot of that in modern MMOs. Next article is going to touch on another thing we've lost: downtime.
  • starmoonsunstarmoonsun Laguna Niguel, AKPosts: 6Member

    Mark, your articles always inspire me a lot. Thanks!

    Oh, to the haters: "Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as you please." --Mark Twain

  • LordZeikLordZeik mushu pork, NJPosts: 275Member Uncommon
    It's been such a long time since I've enjoyed muds. I tried to play a few a couple years back, but I just didn't get the same feel. Dragonrealms, gemstone 3 heck even the herc and xena mud were fun. Once in awhile the gms would even give you a learning/exp bonus if your rping wasn't half bad for the situation they were acting out. I'm still waiting for more mmos to try and adapt the mud mechanics into them.
  • iixviiiixiixviiiix GSPosts: 1,291Member Uncommon

    It more about original feeling of RPG than old MUD . Since GM run the world are start from age of PnP RPG .


    Though the idea pretty hard to do in large scale like millions players , it less sci-fi than super human AI and virtual reality helmet.


    Most problem are how to let millions players online in one server (without megaserver) at less that server can stand millions or two.

    And the game world (broad) must big enough for million players play in same time

    Tools are importance but not main part .

    The rest are human management and money problem .


    Just my though , but GMs maybe key to unlock next generation of MMORPGs.

    Game develop ready hit limit wall of what machine can do , now the rest is work of men .


  • NyghthowlerNyghthowler Posts: 209Member Uncommon

    EQ was my first MMO. Not long after I started playing I was headed to a raid with my guild and fell through the world. A GM came and ported me to the closest Druid spires and stuck around and chatted with me for a few, apologizing for what happened and making sure I had no other difficulties.

    It gave me a good feeling knowing there were people available in game to help the players if they ran into a bad situation they couldn't get out of by themselves.

    Today you're lucky if you get an email responce acknowledging your plight, and 90% of the time it seems like it never does get resolved. 

    1. You have the right to shut the hell up.
    2. You have the right to a opinion just as soon as I tell you what it is.
    3. You have the right to die quietly or kicking and screaming. It doesn't really make a difference because you're dead either way.

  • eindinblocheindinbloch Dallas, TXPosts: 60Member

    And thus is summoned the age old dispute between the creatives and the suits.  The creatives will always come up with great ideas that would increase overall immersion and playability of games, and the suits will almost always cut those ideas down since they don't "align with the shareholders".

    I love the idea and hope you can break out of the mold.

  • IzikIzik Granite Bay, CAPosts: 111Member

    Such a good article. I played MUDs all throughout junior high and early high school, right up until EQ released. I was a GM for my MUD of choice (called Ruinsmud/Medieval Times) and I was specifically in charge of events and lore. I hosted a ton of different events that engaged our user base, and I still remember how awesome it was to see the players enjoy them. 


    I also played another mud called Cosrin on AOL when I was in elementary school. Back then it used to be .99c/hour! to play. I remember racking up huge bills because I would spend hours playing that game. They had an incredible GM team that embodied the roles of the game's Gods and would interact with the mortals(players) and give them specific tasks and quests. I remember I worked for one of the evil Gods and he even rewarded me with items and mounts that were unique only to my character.

    I really miss those days. MMOs today have lost that special touch ... those special stories  that really makes a game special. 

  • barasawabarasawa Eugene, ORPosts: 489Member Uncommon

    In the early days of EQ there were GM events that didn't involve fighting tough creatures. I remember one where a kid was asking people for help. He needed someone to take him someplace and protect him along the way if they encountered anything. Nothing abnormal spawned, you could steer around the mobs and avoid fighting if you wanted. When you finally got him there, he thanked you and disappeared. Later you got a thank you reward from the GM. 

    They didn't run that one too often though, they didn't want people expecting it or anything.


    Lost my mind, now trying to lose yours...

  • Po_ggPo_gg Twigwarren, WestfarthingPosts: 3,656Member Rare
    Originally posted by barasawa
    In the early days of EQ there were GM events that didn't involve fighting tough creatures. I remember one where a kid was asking people for help. He needed someone to take him someplace and protect him along the way if they encountered anything. Nothing abnormal spawned, you could steer around the mobs and avoid fighting if you wanted. When you finally got him there, he thanked you and disappeared. Later you got a thank you reward from the GM.  They didn't run that one too often though, they didn't want people expecting it or anything.  

    Yep, that eludes me as well... not only that everyone's missing the GM events while those are still happening in games today, but it seems everyone (at least in this thread) is thinking "GM event = GM spawns huge monsta or lots of addz, let it loose and we have kill and smash and pow, yeah, combat baby and phat l00tz!"... I know nowadays the rpg part is close to non-existant and to a huge chunk of the playerbase the game is only combat and gear, but seriously... that's sad.


    barasawa +1. I too like those kinda GM events better. The Hobbit taking to Isengard in LotRO is exactly what you wrote in the post, the server should take the lowlevel Sapience-hobbit to Isengard, the quickest way possible. No extra spawns or anything, the GMs are mostly do police-ing (like if you plan to run along with him while constantly slapping his face with a cold fish because you got moderated in the forum by him in the past, you'll get ported back to Bree sooner or later :) ). There's Q&A during the run, you can ask the devs, the producer, etc. It's fun.

    Same (as in no combat at all) is the Fashion Maven, also in LotRO. Sometimes you get the word she'll visiting an area soon ("there are rumours the Maven will be visiting Bree this Friday") and all you have to do is strolling around that day, just in case you bump into her. If you do, and you have the best outfit of the day, you'll get the Fashionable title from the GM. Later were introduced the unfashionable and the eye-sore titles as well, for the purposely badly dressed folks :) Most times it invokes a pretty huge gathering of players, and lots of funny spontaneous happenings.

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