So what is a MUD? It’s basically a text adventure game where locations are described with text rather than pictures. It can be played in a browser or with a dedicated client which you can get for almost any platform.
Text only? That sounds dull!
For the younger readers here, they may not have an appreciation that at one time text adventure games were all the rage on home computers. We didn’t have Morrowind, GTA or Call of Duty.
I’m not going to look back at those times with some faux romantisism – I hated text only adventure games. I thought they were boring, one dimensional things which were not so much games but mind exercises – something I didn’t want to use my computer for at the time. When text adventures were at the hieght of their popularity I was about 9 years old (guess) so I think I can be excused for not remembering those times with excitement. I did however play Dungeons & Dragon’s – a MUD game is far closer to that experience than any 1 player text adventure.
MUD is a little more than merely a text adventure game, its a social experience with many people online playing the same game. Imagine Dungeons & Dragons – you have all the stats there for your character, you can do whatever you wish, want to side with a faction of users then betray them? you can in a MUD game.
Whilst I am not romantic with memories of 1 player text adventures, I am for D&D. The artwork, the dice. The DM (dungeon master for those who don’t know what we are talking about) these are my fond memories of older, happier gaming times.
There are many MUD games out there and MUD Connector does a fine job of highlighting the best and most popular of them.
It’s almost an interactive book!
Many MUD’s are text rich. Descriptions of locations seem to come straight out of a novel and you can interact with them. The advantage a MUD has over the traditional 1 player text adventure from yesteryear is that because there are other players interacting in the same environment it makes for a truly unique experience.
Many (but not all) MUD’s are heavily stat based which is something many RPG fans will love especially when more modern RPG’s are seeming to move away from stats and give a mainstream audience a more arcade experience.
As we move into an era of ebooks and web-based magazines, the idea of interactive story is even more appealing, as I say above, whatever your platform, there’s sure to be a client to play a MUD game – and lets make no mistake, as well as being a game and social experience, MUD is interactive literature. Recently I covered the works of Ms Rockefeller who was using QR codes within her books to enrich and broaden the experience of the read. This is another avenue to take for an interactive read.
Depending on the MUD, you’ve all the classes, races that you would remember from the days of Dungeon’s and Dragons. There are other MUD’s based on established litrature (DiscWorld springs to mind) and not all are set in times of swords/sorcery, but there’s sci-fi worlds too!
What do I need?
Linux, Mac and Windows all have a plethora of clients. Many MUD’s offer access to the game on their homepage too and run very well within the browser. Some MUD’s have a custom client dedicated for their game. Whatever MUD you chose, you will easily be able to access it.
Android has a very good client called Blowtorch, so if you can stand using a touch screen keyboard (I can’t) you can even play on your phone whilst on the train!
For those on a Chromebook there’s ChroMUD.
The other important feature of MUD’s is that the vast (and I mean vast) are free. They are run, maintained and cared for by enthusiasts.
I currently play Aardwolf, which has on average around 300 players at any one time in its world.
If you are reading this article then your PC will play a MUD game without difficulty. You do not need an expensive graphics card or a CPU that would make Skynet look like a calculator, so if online RPG’s interest you, dive in!
Many MUD’s also want volunteers to write locations/storylines for them. Fancy creating an environment that people interact with? MUD is your place and you won’t need to be an elite programmer to help out.
And finally…It’s social! Make friends!
As a MUD is a multi-player game you can chat to other players in real time. Most MUD’s operate two methods of chat. One where you are in character for the game and one where its “normal” out of character chat. Having these two distinct chat methods means that those people who are enjoying the game and taking on a role (it is an RPG after-all) will not have to read about the World Cup or Suarez unless they wish to.
Most MUD’s comprise of users who have been together for years, they are very welcoming of new additions and in return for adding to the richness of the game with your character, you’ll make friends and have a lot of fun.
All images are taken from Dungeons & Dragons, which is the original paper based role-playing and is still very popular today.