MUD glorious MUD: Interactive literature & gaming

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DD-Ancient-Red-by-Larry-Elmore-992Today I’m going to look at MUD.  If you are already familiar with Multi User Dungeon’s, then you can probably skip most of this article.

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!

Get involved!

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.

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APP FOCUS: Blowtorch 1.1.3 for Android & a consideration of MUD

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Fantasy and adventure await you in a MUD, you will though have to rely on your age old skills of reading and imagination!

I am encouraged by the the release of ebook readers and their massive popularity.  As readers of this blog and listeners to the audio-cast will know, I am not a big fan of TV & Film, infact if it wasn’t for the PS3 and the once a year tradition of Doctor Who, I’d happily throw the insidious device away.  Maybe the book will start to gain more ground on the film?  You are probably wondering where I am headed with this article, but all will be revealed.

In the days when computers relied on imagination instead of overbearing fx- a concept sadly lost on many of the current generation and in the days when films were not pumped out at a rate of warp 10 to a apathetic consumer who slurp down the latest Hollywood “great” with a figurative “Please sir can I have some more?”, there was this strange pastime called reading books.  Whats that? I hear many people exclaim! Where’s the SFX? where’s the over-payed shallow actors and actresses?  Where’s the glitz and glamour? Where’s the Hollywood fat cat raking in money from a film with a plot so thin that a pondscater could not hope to walk across it without falling in?

Enough! I’ll bring this article back on track.  In the early days of home computing (and still now) the idea of a MUD was almost as an extension of the book, albeit interactive.  Think text adventure game but more open ended and the facility to play alongside other people online.  For those not old enough or those who have never played, MUD stands for Multi User Dungeon.

Essentially Blowtorch is an app that brings these MUD’s to Android in a simple to use client and doing it surprisingly well.  I’ve covered AndroMUD before on a smart-phone form factor, so with my recent purchase of a budget tablet (Arnova 10 G2 – running Gingerbread on a 10.1inch screen) I decided to see how the experience translates to the larger form factor by way of a new client to me (Blowtorch v1.1.3)

Perhaps the best thing about MUD gaming is that it covers a diverse range of genres.  For those interested in taking a look at the sheer scale available, I recommend a visit to the MUDconnector which highlights many such games actively played right now.  Think MUD games have a small user-base? At time of writing this, a very good MUD called Aardwolf has over players 400 online!

Simple clean interface allows for a great MUD experience on Tablet or mobile.

Blowtorch is happy played with either the tablet in portrait or Landscape orientation, although the latter provides the better experience since lines end when they should rather than being prematurely cut off and wrapped around on the next line.

As you would expect, a press on the input box will bring up the touch keyboard.  Blowtorch offers support for programmable and readily available on screen buttons and anyone who has played a MUD before will appreciate the need for shortcuts et al.

Setting up the server on which you play is very simple and theres every conceivable function available for experience MUD players too.

Blowtorch is free and hardly pushes any tablets hardware in terms of demand on the system.  Whilst this article is primarily about the Android platform, you will find MUD clients of various shapes and sizes on literally any platform/OS you can think of.

Whatever your platform, I hope you will give consideration to taking a look at the world of MUD.  Fed up with the dumbing down of Warcraft or Elderscrolls? – there are some stat heavy MUD’s out there which will please even the most demanding of stat crazy rpg’rs!  From sci-fi to swords and dragons, Batman to Bart Simpson – there’s a MUD game to suit everyone’s interest!  And you can find a diverse range of them under the spotlight at MudConnector.

A few years back I covered another MUD client (AndroMUD) which I found was ideally suited to a small screen (in this case an HTC Hero/Desire) you can read that article here:

Tim (Goblin)

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Skype: tim.openbytes

Linux Gaming – The RPG question.

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North“, “East“,”East“,”Kill Skeleton” – The online RPG has come along way since the days of MUD and whilst MUD’s are still popular (and are certainly a pastime I enjoy on occasion for protracted period), things have moved on somewhat.  For the better? Thats for you to decide.

Probably the MMORG that has brought the concept into the main (and our vocabulary) would be World of Warcraft, its add on’s, its community and more importantly, the people that turn up to events dressed as their online character.

Readers of this blog will remember my bout with WOW early in 2009 where through the wonders of WINE I enjoyed the online game which is allegedly more addictive than heroin.  I can report that its not and I easily resisted the urge to dress as a Murloch and jump out of the water at passer’s by or turn up as Daroou the Paladin at my local pub.

But this article is not about spending money on a subscription and here are four of my favorite Linux RPG’s which I think perfectly highlight that theres some great games to play on the Linux platform.

I also need to stress that all these games have native Linux versions.  There is no using WINE or compiling src here!

No, not a scene from Glastenbury Festival, its Eternal Lands! Arguably the most complete online RPG available natively for Linux!
No, not a scene from Glastenbury Festival, its Eternal Lands and its native for Linux! Arguably the most complete RPG!

Eternal Lands

This was one of the first titles I mentioned during the early days of Openbytes, a MMORG that offers complete freedom in your characters development.  The system works similar to many traditional RPG’s, experience is earned to level and points can be used to improve your characters base skills be that to take them in the direction of fighter, magician, a combination of the two or something totally different.  Eternal Lands is one of the most complete RPG’s Ive played and the same was true over a year ago when I first tried it.  The game is popular and there is always a large presence of other users online to trade/fight/argue with.

Graphically the game is sharp and appealing to look at, additions to the GFX a while ago included skydomes and you don’t need a PC with the specs of Skynet to get a decent game out of it.  The download is a binary that should have no problems with your distro, the online help is very good and the tutorials lead you by the hand whilst you find your feet within Eternal Lands.

The game is free, although special armor and weapons (and a horse) are accessable only as paid for content.  When you look at the work that has gone into this product, the active community and the scope for developing a unique experience I have always considered Eternal Lands to be the most de-facto Linux RPG on the scene at the moment.

You can visit Eternal Lands here:

Another decent RPG which visually puts me in mind of Morrowind. Spec wise you are not going to need a T1000 to play it. Great stuff!


I remember commenting a while ago that this sounded more like a BASH command rather than an RPG, that being said its another example of a polished title which gives the impression of being an off-shelf title.  Regnum is an on-going development that allows the user to choose one of three realms to defend with a selection of Warrior, Archer or Mage which can be further diversified when you reach level 10.  Graphically it puts me in mind of Morrowind – The Elder Scrolls somewhat.

Specs wise its requirements are quite low, I managed to get an AMD 1.8ghz machine running Regnum at a very decent frame rate with no trouble whatsoever.

Regnum is free however “extra’s” are available by way of paid content such as mounts and special items.

You can visit the homepage (and download the client) from here:

Graphically Savage 2 is second to none although "traditional" RPG'rs may wish to look elsewhere. (Screenshot from

Savage 2

Somewhere in between a hack/slash and an RPG, Savage 2 is graphically impressive, especially when considering that its a free title.  Its takes on a RTS flavor as well as allowing the user to control character in the third person view.

Graphically its probably the most advanced free rpg themed title, however that will discount any user of old hardware who is running Linux on older hardware.  Theres nine classes on offer here and for the team leader (or commander) it is up to them to play the game in more of an RTS mode, whilst everyone else fills in the “boots on the ground” roles (which is arguably more fun)

Savage 2 is not the easiest of games to get into as its quite complex with its plethora of options, but users looking for a happy medium of Fable/Golden Axe/C&C could do worse than check out this title.

The fact that Savage 2 offers a native Linux version gives it more kudos and if you want to showcase Linux gaming then go no further than Savage 2!

You can visit the Savage 2 site here:

The tech-demo that is rather more than just that. Planeshift, a great FOSS RPG!


The site appears to have been touting Planeshift as a “tech demo” for quite some time.   That doesn’t mean there is not fun to be had and at times Ive found a rather keen (and friendly community) around.   It has 12 playable races and what is interesting about Planeshift is that it allows quite a complex background/history system that you can create for your character, of course you don’t need to get involved in this if you don’t want to and how these choices affect the game is something who has been playing Planeshift for longer than me will have to answer.

On the specs front, they are rather low and you can play the game with 1gb ram with rather attractive GFX options (even on my AMD 1.8 ghz test machine)

The main advantage of Planeshift is that it is open source, there are no costs or purchases and the future for the product looks promising – if only they could get of their “tech-demo” stage.

Planeshift would probably rank as number 2 in my choice of MMORG (after Eternal Lands)

You can visit the Planeshift homepage here:

Whilst this is a browser based game its yet another great game available on the Linux platform!
A browser based RPG that plays very happily on your Linux platform!

Honourable Mentions

Whilst not a Linux specific title, Runescape is a popular online RPG that is played through your brower.  Runescape succeeds at many things, firstly it has a large and active community, secondly it has a character development system that will have you finding your feet within minutes.  Where Runescape excels is allowing an RPG newcomer to get into the world of online without the numerous rules complexities of other MMORG’s.  Don’t for one minute though think that you are in for an easy or simple game, but its obvious that the developers have spent much time making the game as accessable for everyone as possible.  Paid for content provides extra features but the game can be enjoyed for free without the need to part with any cash.

Finally I have to mention MUD.  The platform that started it all?  Whatever the truth, it still has a following and a rather large, dedicated one at that.  There are literally hundreds of MUD games out their and whilst its usually played in a terminal with text descriptions being your “GFX” its still fantastic fun if you are of the days of the tradition AD&D gaming.  I mentioned earlier that I am partial to the odd game and that still holds true today, memories of playing a MUD whilst allegedly doing college work bring back happy memories.  One of the things many MUD’s cater for which some of these GFX laden offering don’t is real complexity and customization of your character, for those who engaged in the AD&D will remember how important (and treasured) your stats were.  For those interested in having a look at just how many MUD’s are out their (and reviews of the best ones) you could do worse than visit:

If you are interested in MUD, then I heartily recommend Aardwolf, Ive a character there myself.  It has hundreds of users online and a friendly community…great stuff!

The MUD Aardwolf has its own dedicated client (if you wish to use it), although its only available as a Windows binary so WINE is in order! Having said that, there are a plethora of decent MUD clients out there which aim to make your adventures easier!

Final thoughts

Next time you hear someone say that Linux is “no good for games” remind them of this small snapshot of what is available.  There are many other great RPG’s available natively for Linux and whilst this article only covers RPG titles you will find that sims, fps’s et al have a range of titles equally as impressive.  When you add the emulation scene in too, you can start to see how silly the “no good for games” is.  True the latest GTA is not yet written with Linux in mind, but with the maturing of Wine, modern games are making it onto the Linux platform.

Who knows where this will lead in the future?  Although “smug” Windows gamers might want to remain silent since the console market is looking far more desirable by the day for software houses hit with piracy and worries about their software being compatible with the multitude of PC hardware configurations out there.  Add into that there are users who do not want to keep on top of the latest hardware just to play games and I think the more desirable market will increasingly be the console.

What ever happens in the future though, I don’t think it can be argued that Linux has a wealth of great RPG’s.  The above are just a small selection and whilst being mindful of space I had to consider which ones I had the most exposure to.   If you have any recommendations, please list them here, I’d be very interested.

Goblin –