A noble, high elf surveys the valley of lush wildlife thriving below the cliffs at his feet as his feline companion stands nearby. Meanwhile, on a completely different world, a Martian Robot attacks a group of colonists in a desperate attempt to exact revenge for years of unfair treatment. These two wildly different pictures are ideas for stories that could be used in one of the many online community games known generically as MUDs or Multi-User Dungeons. While there are many other types of online games available on the World Wide Web, the often over-looked MUDs have many features and advantages to offer both potential players and the people who create them.
MUDs are text games played through the Telnet Protocol. Telnet connections can be made through a program named telnet.exe that is included with Microsoft’s Windows operating systems. Software clients offer connections to MUDs with additional features for gamers to make the experience more enjoyable. There are also java applets that allow the connections to these games to be made through browsers. MUDs do not contain graphical interfaces or images of any kind. Sending text over a Telnet connection is a bandwidth-light way to send information over the Internet. Since MUDs are not system-intensive to play and do not take up much of the user’s bandwidth, it is possible to play MUD games from just about any modern PC, even wireless net-books.
Creating a MUD from scratch takes a lot of time, a solid grasp of the programming language used, and a lot of creativity. Fortunately there are many MUD programs that have been available for download. This allows students, people who like to create fantasy worlds but don’t have very in-depth programming skills, and programmers who would like to add to the code of an existing MUD program the chance to create their own game without starting from Scratch. The creation of the hundreds of unique worlds available for play on the internet today would not be possible without the generous donations of code and sharing of ideas from the MUD community. No matter what level of skill a potential MUD creator has, there will be a project that they can work with or contribute to. This means that a potential MUD player has many worlds to choose from.
Often the work of passionate fictional writers, role-players who love to create fictional worlds and aspiring programmers, MUDs offer a creative outlet for those that build them. Since MUDs are conveyed through written text, instead of graphics, new areas can be built quickly and with a higher level of detail than most graphical games.
The level of interaction available between players who chat through the MUD’s text interface while playing these games rivals those of the most expensive to play and graphically intensive MMORPG’s – Massively Multi-Player Online Role-Play Games – on the market today. Most MUDs are free for players to explore and play in. Hosting a MUD on a gaming server is not usually expensive. There are even some hosts that offer free hosting for programming students while their MUDs are being created!
MUDs are accessible from most of the PCs in use in the world today through the text-only connections provided by the Telnet Protocol. There are many different MUD games to choose from. They have unique and interesting themes and stories that rival more expensive and system-intensive graphical games. The fictional worlds of MUDs can be built by or contributed to by anyone who has time and wants a creative outlet. These worlds hold communities of players who interact and enjoy the games they play together. Multi-User Dungeons are easy and fun to play or create.