What's a MUD?Edit
MUDs, also known as multi-user dimensions or dungeons, are text-based online gaming environments that have been around since the 1980s.
They are effectively descendants of the old single-player text adventure games, such as Zork and Adventure, except that they allow many players from around the world to interact in the game world.
Many MUDs are primarily focused on completing quests, solving puzzles, killing monsters or fighting other players. A smaller niche are devoted to roleplaying and interactive storytelling, along the lines of a text-based LARP (Live-Action Roleplaying) game.
The modern MMORPGs - the monster graphical online RPGs like World of Warcraft and Everquest - owe a huge debt to MUDs. If you think about it, they're really nothing more than MUDs that require a subscription fee and a large amount of bandwidth and processing power for graphics.
MUDs come in many flavors, largely dependent on the programming system used to design them. More traditional monster-killing MUDs are created using codebases such as Diku, Circle, and SMAUG. Those focused more on RP are often coded using TinyMUX or PennMUSH.
How Do I Access Them?Edit
Virtually anyone with an Internet connection can reach a MUD, using the Telnet feature of their computer. Raw Telnet isn't recommended, however. Instead, it's best to use software such as SimpleMU - http://simplemu.onlineroleplay.com - MUSHClient - http://www.mushclient.com - Savitar or Rapscallion. Some MUDs actually offer their own client software and still others are playable via web browsers.
Once you've connected to a game, you'll need to use a text-based interface to talk to other players. Often, you can type HELP or +HELP to get a run-down on useful commands, depending on the codebase that runs the game.
It's usually helpful also to peruse a game's website, if it has one, before hurling yourself into the thick of things.
What's So Great About Them?Edit
First, MUDs provide online entertainment without requiring a top-end computer to handle graphics.
Second, they allow players to immerse themselves in environments based on everything from familiar themes like Star Wars, Star Trek and Harry Potter to absolutely original worlds developed by game creators.
Most games don't require a great deal of effort to join. Many are free.
Where Do I Find More About Them?Edit
Besides the MUWiki, there are quite a few sites dedicated to helping would-be players track down text-based online games.
- Electric Soup: http://www.electricsoup.net
- Online Gaming Resource: http://www.ogrmux.com
- The MUD Connector: http://www.mudconnect.com
- Top MUD Sites: http://www.topmudsites.com
Handy Terms and DefinitionsEdit
- Admin: Used to both indicate the staff on a MUD, as well as a high-level administrator on a MUD (usually one step lower than a Wiz/Wizard).
- AFK: Away From Keyboard.
- Alt: Alternate character. On games that allow alts, these are characters acquired by a player after establishing their primary.
- App: Application. Generally used to request a character in an RP-enforced game.
- Chargen: Character Generation. System used to set up your new character.
- Grid: The game world, where the action takes place.
- IC: In Character.
- Idle: Indicates both the time lapsed between commands inputted by a player or staff member as well as the act of being idle on a game, often caused by being busy in another window or away from the computer. Some people know they won't be paying attention to the MUD for a period of time and will set an 'idle message'.
- Idle Message: A message set on-game by a staff member or player who will not be available for some time; other players who send private pages to said player or staff member will receive this message in return.
- Judge: A staff member on a MU* who is called in by players to referee a combat scene.
- MU*: Generic term for text-based online games.
- Newbie: A new MU* player.
- NPC: Non-Player Character. Usually run by staff or staff helpers as plot devices.
- OOC: Out of Character.
- PC: Player Character. Any character run by a regular player.
- Primary: The player's main, most often played character. Usually the first character they acquire in a game that allows alts.
- Retcon: Return to Continuity. Essentially, this is a step taken by a game admin to reverse something that happened in an RP scene.
- RL: "Real-Life" as opposed to being online.
- Royalty: A mid-level administrator on a MUD.
- RP: Roleplaying.
- Sheet: Your character's collection of skills and abilities.
- Twink: Generally, this is a player that exploits bugs in a game or misbehaves without a suitable in-character explanation for their actions. Note: Some newbies may be mistaken for twinks because they stumble on something by accident. Avoid accusing newbies of twinking unless you've got adequate proof.
- Wiz: Short-form for Wizard. High-level administrator on a MUD.
(More to come!)