The Never-ending Project – MUD Design

MUDs are a niche gaming community that I fell in love with back in the late late 90’s. These text-only games have been the corner-stone of online gaming communities for many years. My interest began with a little-know MUD called Age of the Throne. It’s set in 17th Century Paris. If you love Dumas’ books, a MUD designed around this theme is a fantastic idea. After playing the game for a few years, some major flaws could no longer be ignored. I quit the game that had been my 2nd life and walked away. I have been coming up with ideas for MUDs ever since.

I ran a small mud called Athens for well over a year. It was always in development and there were only a few of us working on it. We used a code-base called Dawn of Time. It’s a bloated and sloppy mess that many different programmers have edited and added to but we were able to form it into our vision of a Greek Fantasy MUD. We even won a little award with it – MUD Magic’s Game of the Month.

I had written additional code for the game including: fishing, mining, cooking, god-powers (for the staff – to start in-game events and things). There was a lot to be re-written as well – such as the score command, the pvp code (we instituted city-armies), character creation, prayers for the gods, Greek-like sacrifices, and player titles. Ripping out code and features we didn’t want or need: magical spells and abilities, player-character races (all player-characters were Greek Humans) and the noble system took a lot of time and was tedious. There was also a lot of work to do with the in-game scripts that ran many of the Quests and Timed Events. We had to learn the scripting language to do things like: send an invasion force from one city to another, start up events like the Greased Pig Contest and run a mechanism below the bank that allowed smart thieves passage right into the vault (if they could defeat the guards in side, the treasure was theirs!).

In the end, the months of work were worth it. It was a lot of fun to see players fighting a Chimera, avoiding the Medusa and working their way through a Labarinthe. The role-play events were fun to run as well – the abduction of Persephone, the creation of Hephaestus’s Vulcano Forge, and many more. It was truly a labor of love. After a while the few staff members got tired of the many hours of work it took to develop and grow this little world and we let it go.

I still think of ideas for muds. I’ve filled notebooks with them – scattered and soda-logged notebooks. The big problem is deciding what kind of mud to make and sticking to your vision. My next several post, I will be going through some of my favorite MUD ideas and narrowing down which one I should focus on. I’ll be making some general comparisions (some of these concepts I have worked out very in-depth information, some I have not).