Remembering The MUDdiest Of Times With The MUD1 And MUD2 Online RPGs

Before there were massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) like EverQuest, the genre was called a Multi-User Dungeon (MUD), following in the trend of calling text adventures at that time ‘dungeon crawlers’. These multi-player games required you to bring along your own imagination, for these were purely text-based affairs. Despite the first of these (MUD1) having been released all the way back in 1978 for the DEC PDP-10, these games are still being played today, long after they stopped being in the (game) news cycle.

The brief history and today’s status of MUD1 is covered in a recent article by [Bryan Lunduke], following its creation in 1979 in the UK by [Richard Bartle] and [Roy Trubshaw], its struggles and eventual renaming to ‘British Legends

Technically all you need to play is a telnet client, though you can always use a graphical web browser to log into a text adventure. Much like playing a game like Zork — which heavily inspired MUDs — you got to use your wits and map drawing skills to figure out how to navigate around the world. You can also play the new and improved MUD: MUD2. Make sure to take a peek on [Richard]’s aesthetically yellow MUD-related website and the latest gossip in the Muddled Times before joining either the UK MUD2 server or the Canadian one.

Although definitely leaning on one’s imagination more than the advanced graphics of a graphical MUD like EverQuest require, there’s a lot of fun to be had in these MUDs, as well as the plethora of others.

Thanks to [Stephen Walters] for the tip.

13 thoughts on “Remembering The MUDdiest Of Times With The MUD1 And MUD2 Online RPGs

  1. I logged in as mudguest and could tell it is not my cup of tea (or extra strong mug of coffee), a good example of a more modern MUD (Multi-User Dungeon) would be Ancient Anguish (elf/orc/dwarf/half-elf/human -fantasy).

    >>> Before there were massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) like EverQuest
    From the Wikipedia article on Ancient Anguish “Ancient Anguish has been cited by original EverQuest designer Ryan Palacio as being heavily played by the EverQuest development team”

    AA has been on the internet for at least 30 years (was there before http existed. And in not static time bubble – new stuff is added all the time)

    $ telnet 2222

  2. I used to play in TubMud back in the days (early days that was). 1990ish. It was wonderful, fantastic, friendly, great. You learned some programming on the sideline developing your own walk-along pets or your own “rooms”.
    It degraded once “the internet” became a thing to the masses. That masses kicked in and ruined the tone, the quests, the community feeling.

  3. Oh man…

    FieryMud in 1995. I haaaaated my first year of college and transferred after that. Friends from home discovered MUDding during that year, and hanging out with them in a virtual space was much more attractive than going to bed or going to class. 🙄🤷

  4. The community in (some) MUDs was great. You could play a game, and then in many cases, go on to making parts of the game. Like a delightfully naive version of social media and open source.

  5. Believe it or not, my wife has ran a “talker” since 2004. I helped code it for her. MUDs, MOOs, MUSHES…there are a whole bunch. A nice piece of software that she relies on is SimpleMU (simfull.exe) which is an enhanced Telnet client you might wanna try. Very cool article and I’ll check out the MUD1 and 2 servers.
    If you get a chance, check out where they host a whole bunch of talkers, MUDS, etc. Just telnet away with the appropriate port and off you go to latibulate. ;)

  6. I remember playing Shadowrun MUDs/MUSH back in the day… Seattle and… Chicago or Detroit. My friends and I were in the process making one for WoD in a fictional northern California city, but it never got off the ground. The scripting is pretty straight-forward, if not a little onerous to go through each area a define all the parameters for it.

  7. I still have a copy somewhere of the book ‘Secrets of the MUD Wizards’ I got, used, as a pre-teen in the mid-90s. Never got into MUDs themselves, per se, as I wasn’t so interested in combat systems (though I did later play a bit of EverQuest). For me it was all the social MUCKs and MUSHes. I learned a bit of Multi-User Forth and MPI to write my own ‘door knocking’ program in elementary school, that could read and set properties on the exit objects if they were locked, broadcast messages through to the other room to simulate speaking through the door (opened a crack), etc.

    Heck, I still host a PennMUSH instance or two for some friends on an old RasPi in a drawer. It’s pretty much a ghost town now, but it’s easy to keep running at least.

    MU*s were one of my big gateways to different fandoms that loved to roleplay out new ideas and scenarios long after the original source material dried up because of show cancellations or whatnot. I was even co-admin of one of them (admittedly, *way too young* to have been, at the time).

  8. In my teens I played a Transformers MUSH (TF2K5 – if any of you are out there) I loved being active there. It was a great solution for DnD, picking up the technical bits for you, but leaving you to cooperatively build the world and the interactions between characters.

    I would say that it was one of the things that started turning the gears about programming for me. I scripted a few simple macros, and I could tell that there were some flow-control opportunities that might make it really exciting, but I didn’t end up diving into programming until a few years later.

  9. I’m pretty surprised that this is basically the only article about MUDS on hackaday. I think an article about making a home server and a simple mud system would be great. Especially seeing as how most people probably have a slew of old devices they could use nowadays.

  10. I spent waay too much of my teens (…and twenties. and thirties. and now forties) on muds, primarily ThunderDome. Made friends, went on group outings to stuff like rafting trips out where the IMPs lived and Vegas trips for shenanigans now that we’re older. If absolutely nothing else, I blame my ridiculous typing speed on muds.

    If anyone remembers the old TDome, there’s what started as sort of a “tribute” and is rapidly becoming a whole new and improved thing over at 4000. Dedicated group of players, imps are incredibly responsive and online (like, make a cool or reasonable request and there’s a pretty decent chance it’ll show up on the next reboot or within a couple of days), and everyone is insanely helpful to new players. Postapocalyptic and pop-cultural-ish, new areas being added constantly. It scratches the itch! :D

  11. Still hopong to find my master floppies with The Mystic Plains MUD I wrote in Turbo Pascal and ran from a Midnight PC node in a shell in the early eighties. Centre of Eternity BBS.

  12. I started MU*ing near the peak/crash of the late 90s. I was introduced to the concept through the Redwall MUCK, back when the Redwall website was still fan owned and operated. I had a few RP instances, but in retrospect, I was probably playing with a bunch of young adults who were kindly tolerating the presence of a child in their midsts. I dipped in and out of a handful of MUDs after that. I seem to remember Aardwolf being a favorite, but nothing caught my imagination like that old Redwall game.

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