About Text Muds - Where are we headed?


#1

So, my first post on the new Forum, and apparently the first post generally too.

I guess I could use it to promote my own mud - (which actually is in need of some promotion) - but that seems such a waste of “The First Post”.

So instead I’ll say some words about Text Muds in general, the interest that we all share, and love.

But first, a thanks to Icculus for providing us with this site, with listings and reviews and other tools and all the rest we need, for owners to market and develop their game, for players to find a new game of their liking, for new developers to get help and advise. And for the Discussion Forum, where all ideas and methods can be shared and discussed and we can all wallow a bit in nostalgia - for we are an aging population.

The Forum is up again, for the third time. And let’s hope this time it is “Third Time Lucky”.

Because the Text Mud community needs this platform. Let’s face it; We are a bit of a dying breed, but we are also a tough breed that dies hard.

There is something almost magic about Text Muds. Sure, we may all be way out of fashion, the interest of the new generation may be captivated by flashier and faster games, and even though many of our old time players stay on for an amazingly long time, sooner or later that other place known as “Real Life” will take over, and they will fade out. And very few potentially new players are trickling in from the other parts of the net… Still, with all the fast and flashy alternatives offered on the internet, people still stick to Text Muds; hours are spent on playing and developing them.

And people keep working on them for free. Endless hours of unpaid work are put down into expanding the worlds and developing the mechanics, allowing other people to play the game for free. Since traditionally most Text Muds are free. Sure, there are a few commercials, but the vast majority are free, thousands and thousands of them over the years, all the way back to the Diku team and the Diku licence - (which of course was the basis for many games, and also for endless quarrels over license breaking).

For we are a quarreling and competitive breed. We are still wasting breath on internal squabbling, when we should rather try to work together to market and spread the word about our genre, which has survived on the internet for over 25 years, and still refuses to die.

So what is it that makes text Muds so fascinating? Perhaps it is that the written word stimulates the fantasy of the player in a different and more lasting way than pictures do, in the same way that a book usually stays in the memory longer than a film? Because while a picture offers something definitive, the written word sparks the reader’s fantasy to work on and create pictures of their own?

Or is it that the player actually can write their own story? This is of course obvious in the Role Play enforced games, where forging and developing the story is the main goal. But even in a pure hack’n’slash Mud, the player controls his/her progress, by making all those different choices at different times. And in the majority of muds, which are a sort of hybrids between the two extremes, you also control your path through the players you interact with, by hunting together, sharing the same Clan, or just sitting around at the central point chatting about this and that. (On a side note, this is the kind of mud that I prefer myself, but the diversity is fascinating).

The themes are seemingly endless too. There are Text Muds based on books, films, myths, history - or in my own case, all of these. (I have not yet come across a Mud based on a TV series, but I bet there is one around some place). This means that whatever interests a player has, they can pick up a game that matches them, and live out their own fantasies in that environment.

Perhaps it is even these choices that makes Text Muds so captivating? I am not a big player of graphic games, but I assume that in most of them there is a set path for developing. In a Mud you can chose your own path and the choices are many and different in character.

Or is it the relations that you forge while playing a Mud? People from over the world meet in the same place, start to talk, maybe first “in character” or about the game, but sooner or later, depending on whether their personalities “click” - or not, it goes beyond that and you develop lasting friendships - or enmities.

Or is it the complexity of the game? The mix between the written descriptions and the code or script driven mechanism and events? One of my old time players once referred to 4D as a “work of art”. It may sound presumptuous, but there is some truth behind it. A Text Mud is like a large and complex virtual theater, where the scene, wings and back drop are created by some people, the drama plots played on the scene by others, and the mechanisms that control and drive the performance by a third group. Almost all Muds are the result of a long and complex cooperation between a group of people. The quality of the end product may vary, but the massive work, put down by a number of selfless enthusiasts, is a thing that all Text Muds have in common.

Finally; even though Text Muds offer so many different scenarios, they also have similarities that makes it easy to jump from one of them to another. The commands may be slightly different, but there is usually a command list that makes them easy to pick up. That’s is probably why many Text Mudders play actively on two or more games at the same time.

So where am I going with all this?
Really mostly a reminder, about focusing on all the things we have in common rather than our adversities.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could work together on marketing and spreading the knowledge of the genre we all love, rather than squabbling about petty things and fighting over the always fewer players that remain?

Wouldn’t it be nice, if we could make the Third Time Lucky?


#2

My thoughts exactly Molly. I posted a similar response on reddit before the post got locked… If the minority who only connected to TMC to cause issues are not given access, then things are sure to start to look up. TMC is an iconic site which imo should have some kind of forum software.

On the other part of the post. Muds have been said to be dying for the past 20 years I’ve been around… But they are still here… And there’s still somewhat of a community even if it is currently very spaced out!


#3

Well said as usual Molly. Glad to see 4D is still alive.

I was never very active on TMC. fFr those that don’t know me I have been running The Builder Academy MUD since about 2000 and releasing the tbaMUD codebase (a continuation of CircleMUD) at least annually with the help of many contributors via GitHub.

I have noticed the typical cycles of new builders rise and fall since then but the decline has been steadily down. Now I see about as many nostalgic visitors as new builders. But I have no fear that it will ever die. Video didn’t kill the radio star and the movies did not replace the book.

The only other thing I would add is the change in demographics, especially the large number of foreign language MUDs that are popping up, especially Portuguese. As more people get online a small percentage will be interested in MUDding, and the die-hards will be too stubborn to ever quit.

Rumble
The Builder Academy
tbamud.com


#4

Much like others here, I hadn’t really looked at TMC in years. I felt I was just begging people to come play when really, all our players have usually come from word of mouth or nostalgia. Much like many other MUDs there’s a core player base that will never die and for me it’s a hobby that will never die. I still like to add the occasional new feature and track down old bugs. Some players still build, some have been “building” for years but have yet to release. I have no problem with the slow to produce mentality, it’s all just for fun anyways and some day they may just finish… others have :slight_smile:


#5

I only just started using the TMC forums about a week before they closed down… was it something I said?!
I am looking forward to being apart of the community!


#6

I can honestly say that mudding has by far been the most rewarding gaming I have ever experienced.
not just the infinite possibilities regarding roleplay but the player vrs player aspect, I have never been able to recreate the rush of a fight with real consequences or the joy of a compelling role play in modern games. games today are far to busy trying to suck each and every last dollar from your pocket while appealing to the masses but a MUD is something far more personal, a combination of player and coders efforts. There is something very beautiful about it.


#7

I think that a fresh start for TMC’s forum is very promising. I look forward to seeing how it makes an impact on the overall MUD community. It is hard to find a kind and friendly place to discuss MUDs when people are primarily interested in pushing their own MUD. I say this as a person that more or less left behind the old iteration of the forum because I felt that a lot of the time, people were shouting down one another for no good reason. It got to the point where I ended up deciding that deleting my account was easier than responding to hostile PMs and blocking new alts. Given all of that, I think this new Discourse is a sign that things are looking up again.

I used to be very dedicated to a MUD. Now, I have very little time to play MUDs and as such, don’t have a MUD home anymore. But I still follow the MUD community because there is a certain magic to it that intrigues me. I think what touches me the most about the MUD community is the ability to weave a unique story with other people. Text-based roleplaying games allow players to do this to such a great degree compared to graphical games, because you can write practically anything that your imagination can describe. Writing is far more accessible than 2D pixel art or 3D modeling in that regard. I think and hope there will be a resurgence of MUDs dedicated to allowing players to tell their own characters’ stories, as well as contribute to a broader, overall story of a game and a setting.

As someone formerly burnt out and jaded a bit by how darker aspects of the MUD community treated me, I have hope that positivity will win over negativity.


#8

I think that muds are, at their hearts, communities. That’s what makes the TMC forum so special - it’s a community of communities. Happy to see it back.

The funny thing about muds (and I don’t think I’m alone here) - I’m a frequent visitor of the forums, even though I haven’t mudded seriously in probably 10 years. Ever since the mud I used to help run (Legends of Karinth) finally shut down, I haven’t bothered to find a new “home”. I even tried running single-player versions of muds on my own machine, but it just wasn’t the same.

Despite that, I keep coming back to these forums to lurk and check out the discussions (and, occasionally, write a post). I suspect that this sort of behaviour is common for muds but rare for other types of games - people actively participating in the gaming community who are not actually playing the game(s). And I think it’s great.


#9

An important note to add about text games in general is that they are usually far more accessible to people with fully or partially impaired vision than a graphical game might be, since all a user needs is a text-to-speech parser to be able to enjoy the world (assuming there’s not a lot of ASCII graphics, anyway). Your average MUD doesn’t require top-of-the-line hardware or a screaming fast connection to use, either, since many of the games we play are running on systems that first came to be in the era of dialup.

I think the fact that text-based gaming has such a relatively low barrier of entry means that we who make them provide an important service to people who might not be able to game with their friends otherwise!


#10

From a developer’s point of view, MUDs are far easier to make than graphical games. Unity and Unreal, among others, both make the code part much easier, but getting graphics and art you can use is pretty tough, unless you want to spend some serious money. MUDs don’t have that issue. And again, since you’re not limited by art and animations, you can really develop pretty much whatever you can dream up.

I think that numbers will continue to dwindle, but I think we have quite some time still until the player base dries up completely. When machine learning can create graphics for us, from video or photos or other art pieces, then I think MUDs might be dealt the final blow. But I think we have plenty of time to develop and enjoy MUDs.


#11

I know this will probably spawn a side conversation (as it should), but I think if people knew more about how to make things more accessible, we’d see it done more and perhaps even better.

One thing I would like to see is people actually helping each other out more. I think the community had become so…jaded isn’t the right word, but it will work, that it stopped contributing to itself anymore and thus had stagnated. I think if people started making more contributions and releasing “snippets”, we’d see more growth.

I think we should start looking at the community as we would app builders and coders (and Gicker mentioned Unity, so I’ll go with that). Unity has a lot of free stuff available for people to help them get started. We pretty much have TBAmud and to some extent coffeemud, but that is really all we have to help people get started. I’m not advocating for lower barriers to entry per se, but providing better community help would help us start growing again.


#12

I agree that making text based games is easier than making graphical ones, but I’m of the opinion that MU*'s in general are on their way out. People don’t like command lines, and guess what MU*'s are. That’s just my experience. They are fine with a text-based game if they can click on things and stuff. I can easily get people to play-by-post on a forum, even if they’ve never done it, but getting my friends to use something as simple as a MUSH has been a no-go forever.

People just do not like command lines.


#13

I tried MMO’s such as World of Warcraft, and couldnt get into them. MUD has always been something thats kept my interest, being around for 22 years in some form or another i still keep connecting, and trying to make the game something people want to see.

MUD’s are slowing down, but ive heard the whole “mud’s are dying out” thing for the past 20+ years, but they are still around, yes, some have alot less players than they did, but they are still around, and as long as people continue to develop for them they will stay around.


#14

I’m not sure how this will show/format with regards to a reply… Yay for new software :stuck_out_tongue:
But this is in response to arholly’s post about snippets, and community being jaded and whatnot…

I basically agree… A big part of the “jaded” aspect I do think comes from the growing

and increasingly acceptable attitude that code theft is okay. Perhaps the community has

a whole has some blame to be placed for generally allowing such attitudes to foster.

Maybe the nature of this new discussion forum with the eventual community self-policing

will help the community silence people who try to promote the attitude that ignoring

abandoned licenses are okay.

I also think there are a couple of other issues with why community involvement and

contribution has dropped off…

One of them is this “me me me” hoarding attitude that seems to be growing as the pool of

players shrink. I think there is a growing self serving attitude, where its becoming

increasingly acceptable to basically cannibalize the community for the sake of getting a

few more players or a little bit more exposure. This doesn’t lend itself toward

collaboration. One thing I will say is that at least on the MUD discord channel, there

does seem to be a growing sense of community and collaboration (I myself spent the

better part of an entire afternoon walking someone through getting their ROM based game

to compile), so that gives me hope.

I think the other thing is just a natural consequence of the aging and shrinking

community. There was almost a “gold rush” of people setting up stock MUDs, making

superficial changes, and having their own sandbox in which they were a God. The technical barriers of entry were super low, and there were a plethora of stock-compatible snippets available. I think this was probably the height of community contribution, because if you released an interest enough snippet, you could take for granted it would get wide use, so there was more incentive (because of higher use) to release code. More demand, more supply, basically. Now, however, the number of games and players are shrinking; you can’t just slap a new name on a stock game and change the colors and expect people to play it like you could in the late 90s and early 00s. That allure of no effort and maximum reward is gone, and so there are fewer and fewer games and game Admins with no technical capability running games, and thus fewer people looking for the easy way out with ready to plugin code. I would daresay the majority of technically savvy MUD admins would rather code their own systems then rely on someone else’s (for a variety of reasons). So basically, I think there’s a much lower demand for these sort of contributions, and thus a much lower supply being pumped out as a result.


#15

A lot of the above discussion is why The Builder Academy came to be. I was never a fan of MUD drama and wanted a no stress environment to create and grow the community. We use the builder application to weed out those who are too lazy to be decent builders, but after that there are never any deadlines or requirements. Just build or teach. Teaching is easy once you figure out how to use the help files.

Rumble
The Builder Academy
tbamud.com 9091


#16

I think MUDs will come back into popularity. I’m personally working on a project that aims to modernize MUDs. It is basically a MUD that has a graphical interface for those who need it but also provides the old school command line interface. The trick is to find a middle ground between conventional MUDding experience and a graphical point-and-click RPG.


#17

Sounds interesting, Would love to be apart of that


#18

for the record, I’m talking about ssh sndd.io or telnet sndd.io
the GUI is available at http://sndd.io


#19

I think this has a lot of potential. I personally like command lines in spite of most people loathing them, so being able to choose which you prefer is ideal.


#20

Yep, also MUDs are relatively fast while regular graphical RPGs mostly bore the player with long walking sessions. In this game I want to make movement as fast paced as in MUDs while making it visually smooth-looking in the GUI.