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Table of Contents
This is the history as I understand it. I was on original TinyMUD as Dragonet, and later Kirra...so I am a first person source. However, we each have experienced the mud world in different ways, so bear with my particular filter, and help me out if I'm factually off. (Use the mailto address here or in each section at the bottom to set me straight)
For years, on mainframes and networks around the world, MUDs in some form or another have been running. In my understanding, these places were generally D&D style adventure games (like the original Zork) for multiple players. They were not accessible to the general Internet public.
Back in 1989 or thereabouts, four people at Carneggy Melon University got together and put up a game called TinyMUD. On TinyMUD, the goal was not to slay the dragon, but to hang out, talk and build your own world. Anyone who could Telnet could reach TinyMUD. The code was young...if you made an object, it remained in the database and couldn't be removed. There was no programming language involved, like today's MUCK, MUSH, MOO and other systems. Even the popular 'page' command (which lets you talk to p eople anywhere in the game regardless of what room you were in) was not yet fully functional.
Within a few months, TinyMUD was the place to be. Cultures and groups evolved on the game, and fast friendships were made. But, the Database (the file that contains all the objects' descriptions, numbers names, and information) was growing at an alarmin g rate, and there was still no way to delete things from the database. TinyMUD would not last forever.
Groups of people borrowed the code for TinyMUD and began putting up new systems. Islandia, TinyHELL, TinyTIM (Still running!) and other systems were born, and slowly were gaining the vast popularity of TinyMUD.
All the while, cults on TinyMUD were springing up, preaching the coming of the end of the TinyMUD world. It was believed that the MUD would crash on some power of 2...256,000, I believe, and cultists scrambled to be the one to create the final object. 2 56,000 (or whatever the number was) came and went. The cults died down. Life went on on TinyMUD -- the Rec Room remained the hangout of choice. The anarchistic and unlimited building of rooms went on unabated. The first MUD Anne McCaffrey fan Weyr spra ng up...the first of the Vampires began stalking the cyber-night...and other traditions that still persist in Mushing/mudding today were born, including the popular 'TinyWeddings'.
I heard that it was a wedding gift from a TinyWedding that finally killed TinyMUD.
TinyMUD did eventually die due to a very large database. I can't recall the date exactly, but I do remember the panicky 'this-can't-be-happening' feeling that swept through me when I tried again and again to connect that afternoon. A similar panic was u ndoubted occurring all over the country and the world at this point. The now-common 'Mud Refugee' was born with the death of TinyMUD. Many players who had become very good friends with each other had failed to exchange email addresses before the crash. I had made several lifelong friends in the McCaffrey fan-Weyr (Andiyar),and worried that I'd never see them again. I went home and cried. I bet a bunch of people did.
(Many mudders were still novices on the Internet, and this crash was probably a very good educational experience. I quickly discovered Usenet -- Rec.Games.Mud.Tiny -- and set about to find my friends and rebuild on the then fairly new TinyTim.)
As TinyMUD code fell into more and more creative hands, it began to change. Like a proto-species, it grew into distinct sub-species as it grew older and was used for different purposes. These groups can be broken into two main categories: Hack n' Slash Gaming Systems, and Goalless/Freeform Systems.
Figuring out which system is which is a matter of knowing 'The Code'. (I sound like an AT&T ad.)
Combat (Hack n' Slash) Code:
Diku, Uber, LpMUD
MUSH (Penn and Tiny), MUCK, MUSE, MOO, MUX (new), MAGE and others.
Return to the Mush Resources Page
I am not an avid user of these codes..this information may be incorrect.
Hack n' Slash games generally operate like this:
You log on as a low level character, and start trying some of the low level adventures. As you go, you learn the solution to more and more of the adventures, and collect objects of power (like swords and armor). Each time you log out, generally, the obje cts you've collected can be stolen, or may revert to their original location. Finally, when you've learned the mud really well, you block out a weekend and try to solve them all in one session to gain the rank of Wizard. Once a wizard, you can build you r own adventure into the game. This is commonly referred to as the 'Long Play Mud' in my understanding. The right to build is earned through gameplay, which is a pretty fair way to dole out the fun of building. Folks have to really invest time and effo rt before they can add to the system. I'm not a big Hack n' Slasher, so there are undoubtedly other systems out there that don't use the 'earn the wizbit' system, but instead take advantage of the excellent combat codes in these games to do roleplaying o r other stuff.
Goalless/Freeform Systems generally break down into two categories: Theme Games, and No-Theme Games
Theme games are games where the person running the game (The 'God') has started it with a particular purpose in mind. He or she sometimes chooses a council of Wizards to help oversee the creation of the game. This is good and bad. (See Wizards)The most well-known of the theme systems is probably PernMUSH, which is a full recreation of Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern. PernMUSH is an accu rate representation of the Northern Continent of Pern (the planet in the books), and has a partner system, Southern Continent MUSH that has done the south. There are between 6 and 8 fully Pern-dedicated systems running that I know about: ShardsMUSH, DragonDreams, DragonsDawn, Belior Rising, Jurassic Weyr, HarpersTale...and there are undoubtedly more.
Another popular theme for games is Star Trek. The various Vampire systems (Elisian Fields, The Masquerade) also dominate the theme scene. Cartoon games (ToonMUSH, ToonMUSH II, etc) are popular, and one of the biggest and oldest systems, FurryMUCK, focus es fairly exclusively on anthropomorphic characters (half human, half animal).
Not to be forgotten are the fully original Theme games -- like VegaMuse, where players work together to write
a new world and roleplay within it. This is easier to do, as running things like a PernMUSH often requires WRITTEN
permission of the rightsholder. In so me cases, as in the case of DragonPrince based on Melanie Rawn's series,
the rightsholder may come in and close you down, threatening a lawsuit. As long as you change trademarked and copyrighted
terms within the world, however, I've been told it's f ine to open a "mimic system" around a particular
TSR has been very protective of it's copyrighted and trademarked terms on the Internet, but using the mimic system many AD&D systems roll along unfettered.
Non-Theme Games allow people to build whatever they want. Sometimes, depending on the resources of the system,
there may be 'Quotas', which limit the number of objects and rooms you can make, or it might be tough to get 'money'
to build with, but there's no limit on what you can make in the game if you have the resources. Good non-theme
places (and bad) abound.
I have a particular attachment to non-theme games. I cut my Internet teeth on TinyMUD, a place with only one wizard and no limits. The freedom I experienced on TinyMUD has permanently altered my outlook on life (for the better). I hope one of these gam es can affect you in the same way. Although, mudding has also opened my eyes to some appalling human behavior. Be careful out there.
Sometimes known as janitors, staff, or gods. These characters are the equivalent of SysAdmins for networks.
As seen with TinyMUD, if you don't 'clean' your database of old characters and objects, it will eventually grow too large to handle. Wizards are the folks in charge of cleaning up old characters and fixing the game when it crashes or breaks. Often, they 're either very good with people and help new players learn the ropes, or they guide the building of the areas on the mud, or they're very good with the code that makes the game run. (There are two kinds of code: 'Softcode', the code inside the game like MUSHcode, or 'Hardcode' the server code the runs the Mud itself like Unix C).
For muds with particular themes, trying to achieve a particular goal, wizards can be essential. Let's say you're building a Star Trek-only Mud, and someone comes on and builds Little House on the Prairie right off the first room on your game. You're goi ng to want to either lock-off and hide the unwanted building, or remove it altogether. Wizard powers allow you to do this.
Let's say you're having a very important roleplaying scene on your game when, for example, a character named 'Twinkie' walks in and starts swearing her head off right in the middle of it. As a wizard, you can remove that character from the room, or the m ud, and protect the rest of the players from the disruption so they can complete their scene in peace.
And finally, let's say Twinkie gets mad, and logs back in and starts making Tribbles by the thousand. You check the mud's statistics, and see that the game is slowing down because of all the processor time being hogged by the tribbles. Twinkie is trying to crash your system!! Suddenly, two more people from Twinkie's site log in and start making tribbles too...she's got help now! You can destroy all three characters - Twinkie and her friends, all their tribbles, and then lock anyone from their site fro m logging onto your game. You've effectively saved your game from their invasion. The roleplaying scene goes on happily, and the purpose of your game is preserved.
Exclusive roleplaying systems sometimes make enemies. On TinyTIM, the folks in Telgar Weyr (an Anne McCaffrey fan-Weyr) are called Pern-Freakies, and often treated with contempt. They're seen as elitist and anti-social when they go off to roleplay in th e Weyr, even when they offer an open invite to the rest of the players to come join in. A 'spurned' player on a roleplaying system (one who wasn't given a Wizard position, or allowed to run their own TinyPlot, or given the role they wanted) may decide th at they're the mortal enemy of the system. Disgruntled players are often the attackers of systems.
To maintain and protect systems, Wizards are needed.
There's a down side to Wizards. Wizards essentially own everything on a mud. Because of this, they can do just about anything. They have godlike powers over every character and object on the game.
And, worst of all, the Wizard position often conveys an image of knowledge and superiority to the person playing the wizard. They often automatically become 'Top Dog' in arguments, social situations, and roleplaying situations even when it isn't appropriate. You could be playing Captain Picard, and the wizard might be playing Wesley Crusher, but you better believe folks will go with Wes's opinion over yours.
Good question. I've wondered about this for years. Basically, people who aren't wizards and want power, which is many, play 'nice-nice' to Wizards in an attempt to get a 'wizbit' or Wizard position. On the LP systems, you earn your bit through gameplay . This is good. On the Freeform systems, they're assigned by the God character to whoever he or she likes. As you can imagine, it's a popularity contest.
I can't claim any innocence or moral superiority here...I've done the 'Suck up for a Wizbit' shtick myself. I mudded for four years before I got my first bit. I decided, after disdaining them for so long that maybe what I wanted was a taste of raw power . I played 'nice-nice', but more importantly, I let my brother who has significant connections in the mud world talk me up as a good prospect to a particular God of a new system. I used my networking, did some passable code to impress the God of the system, and before I knew it, I had the bit.
That lasted for 2 weeks. Yes, people automatically deferred to my opinion (which is fun at the start), and everyone nice-nice'd to me, but it was dull, and a lot of work to keep the bit. When I flaked out, the God rightfully transferred my bit to my bro ther, who had earned it in the first place. Good Gods do this -- a lazy wizard gets the pink-slip.
Some Gods, no matter how bad you turn out, will let you keep the bit, and the social standing and power that goes with it. This leaves you free to torment anyone you don't like on the system without the weight of responsibility of fixing up code problems and helping players. This is bad. Idle hands are the devil's plaything. Busy hands make you go blind.
Wizard abuses range widely. I've heard of wizards turning themselves dark and recording conversations in private rooms and then posting them to Usenet. I've had wizards (3 of them at once!) spy on me and my friends, and discovered them accidentally. I've had wizards turn me Dark and teleport me against my will into a room where two players were having a private conversation. (I was a player and he was, I guess, trying to impress me. I quickly demanded to be sent home.) I've had wizards take ownership o f my stuff. I've had wizards force me to say and do things in rooms with my friends that were terribly embarrassing. Worst of all, I've seen wizards change the outcome of roleplaying situations by forcing characters around so that the story goes their way. I've even heard about one wizard threatening to destroy a person's entire building if she didn't get him a TinyDate (online) with a friend of hers.
The Market System
Back when there were only a few muds running, these abuses were commonplace because the general mudding population had nowhere else to go. Now that there are in excess of 280 public systems running, places with bad wizards soon find that they have no pla yers. Places with good wizards (or no wizards) find themselves packed. A popular theme will draw in players even when the wizards are terrible, so there are some opportunities for the power-mad jerks to get off, but this is fairly rare.
If you don't like how a particular game is treating you, leave. This is the best, and usually the only statement you can make against a bad system. Start your own system if you can, and read the wizards' guides available on the Internet. Take them with a grain of salt. Guides are sometimes written by wizards who are guilty of some of the worst offenses. Use good judgment, and if you start your own game, remember the golden rule. Treat others as you would have them treat you.
Generally, the best way to avoid trouble as a player, at least for me, is to avoid the wizards entirely if you can. On non-theme systems this is fairly easy. On the theme places, wizards are often in charge of approving characters and buildings, so you j ust have to learn to live with them. Remember, under the pointy hat, there is a real person with it's own desires for how the game should be. They have the power, so, no matter how unfair this seems, it's their game. You have to play their way or leave . Players en masse can't band together and remove the Wizard bit from them...only the God can. Talk to the God of the system if you want to try and affect a change.
Wizards are a necessary evil. Someone has to maintain the system and protect it from the outside world.
This document is Public Domain. Feel free to copy and redistribute freely.
and text (c) 1996-2008 Dee Dreslough unless otherwise noted.