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Computing (FOLDOC) dictionary
Multi-User Dimension
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games (MUD) (Or Multi-User Domain, originally "Multi-User
Dungeon") A class of multi-player interactive game, accessible
via the Internet or a modem. A MUD is like a real-time
chat forum with structure; it has multiple "locations" like
an adventure game and may include combat, traps, puzzles,
magic and a simple economic system. A MUD where characters
can build more structure onto the database that represents the
existing world is sometimes known as a "MUSH". Most MUDs
allow you to log in as a guest to look around before you
create your own character.
Historically, MUDs (and their more recent progeny with names
of MU- form) derive from a hack by Richard Bartle and Roy
Trubshaw on the University of Essex's DEC-10 in 1979. It
was a game similar to the classic Colossal Cave adventure,
except that it allowed multiple people to play at the same
time and interact with each other. Descendants of that game
still exist today and are sometimes generically called
BartleMUDs. There is a widespread myth that the name MUD was
trademarked to the commercial MUD run by Bartle on BritishTelecom (the motto: "You haven't *lived* 'til you've *died*
on MUD!"); however, this is false - Richard Bartle
explicitly placed "MUD" in the PD in 1985. BT was upset at
this, as they had already printed trademark claims on some
maps and posters, which were released and created the myth.
Students on the European academic networks quickly improved on
the MUD concept, spawning several new MUDs (VAXMUD,
AberMUD, LPMUD). Many of these had associated
bulletin-board systems for social interaction. Because
these had an image as "research" they often survived
administrative hostility to BBSs in general. This, together
with the fact that Usenet feeds have been spotty and
difficult to get in the UK, made the MUDs major foci of
hackish social interaction there.
AberMUD and other variants crossed the Atlantic around 1988
and quickly gained popularity in the US; they became nuclei
for large hacker communities with only loose ties to
traditional hackerdom (some observers see parallels with the
growth of Usenet in the early 1980s). The second wave of
MUDs (TinyMUD and variants) tended to emphasise social
interaction, puzzles, and cooperative world-building as
opposed to combat and competition. In 1991, over 50% of MUD
sites are of a third major variety, LPMUD, which synthesises
the combat/puzzle aspects of AberMUD and older systems with
the extensibility of TinyMud. The trend toward greater
programmability and flexibility will doubtless continue.
The state of the art in MUD design is still moving very
rapidly, with new simulation designs appearing (seemingly)
every month. There is now a move afoot to deprecate the term
MUD itself, as newer designs exhibit an exploding variety of
names corresponding to the different simulation styles being