What we’re gonna do right here is go back. Waaaaaay back, back into time.
MUDs are one of the original massive multiplayer online role playing games the internet put out. I was introduced to them at just about the same time I was introduced to computers and haven’t been able to fully stop playing ever since, not for the lack of trying. You know when a hobby crosses that line and just eats all of your spare time and some of your not-spare-time? Yeah, I was there at one point. MUDs provide that unique internet experience that all those addicted to MMORPGs like World of Warcraft play for: positive player interaction and entertainment value.
I guess I’ve always been one to want to read the book before watching the movie, and since I started playing over 13 years ago I’ve always been hooked on one MUD or other. Finding a good MUD is like looking for a good book, usually you get referred by a friend with like interests or you ask a librarian (most likely mudconnector in this case). Every once in a while though, there’s that one movie that comes out and changes everything, for the MUD world that was WoW. I never played, probably out of resentment that it took such a large player base of my dying MUD. I also never played because I knew I’d probably be heavily addicted to it early and I just didn’t want to pay the money. Still though, WoW has massed into something the MUD world could never have hoped to achieve. It has basically taken the concept central to the majority of MUDs out there, hack and slash medieval based, and added graphics. Who would have thought that making such a “simple” concept change to the old formula would have grabbed so many people’s imaginations from across the world. Probably everybody.
The one thing MUDs do offer though, that the mainstream video games and WoW can’t offer is the ability to create. Now I understand that with majority of video games there is some degree of player customization. They don’t, however, allow you to fabricate your own area, items, and NPCs that all behave, or don’t behave the way you want. MUDs, being text, lend themselves to this avenue of creativity readily. You don’t have to learn any kind of graphic design or even have to be an artist. You do however, have to be a decent writer in order to draw those pictures in the mind of your reader.
There are also specialized clients that are still available for purchase that give you that customized experience every gamer wants. In the text world, this consists of the ability to write functions based on certain input the environment puts out. With Zmud, what many would consider to be the most popular MUD client, there really is nothing you can’t customize, log, map, or change.
Sad to say, the text-based world of gaming has passed its prime by many many years because of the advances in the video gaming industry and all the visual appeal it brought with it. Yes, there still are the hard core fans of the original MMORPG text style games that are keeping them up and active, but long gone are the days of multitudes of MUDs all over the place with massive player bases. So farewell MUDs, I’ll come visit you again when I get hit with a strong bout of nostalgia and hopefully you’ll still be there.