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MUD FAQ - frequently asked questions about MUDs

Q. What is a MUD anyway?

A. MUD stands for Multiple User Dungeon. A MUD is an interactive, text-based computer game - very popular. There are about 1400 different muds on the Net, with an average of 50 - 200 players each. A lot of people get hooked on them - they are highly addictive! :-)

What makes MUDding interesting is the interactive thing. You actually cooperate and compete with other people on line, when you play, people from all over the world, in real time. It's not like a normal computer game that you play on your own. There is also a lot of chatting and socializing going on in the MUDs, some of them are more like Chat channels really... :-) Others are heavy on role-play, you choose a role for yourself and act it out in different ways as you play.

There is normally no graphic at all in MUDs, they are completely text based. You could describe a MUD as a gigantic chessboard, with 2500 - 15000 squares. Each square is a room and each room has a description to it. All the "monsters" and objects in the rooms have a description too. MUDs are like most computer games, you run around killing monsters and gaining experience, and the monsters act and fight in different ways.

Builders construct the areas people play in - that's what building in MUDs means. Personally I find building areas more challenging than just killing monsters - I got bored of that pretty quickly. Actually I'm a sort of "God" - they call them "Immortals" in the MUD world, and it's the goal of most players to become one...

MUDs are not commercial, at least only a few are. There are a few MUDs, that you have to pay to play in, but basically all it costs is the phone-bill. That can be quite heavy though, if you are addicted.

Most MUDs still use the old code from the original MUDs, or derivates of it. The coders add more stuff to it and change the code in different ways as they go along of course, but basically it's the same. And a lot of MUDs still use the same old stock areas from the first MUDs too. There are however a few all-original MUDs, though, which have only unique areas, and use modified code-bases as well.

- Submitted by Molly O'Hara of 4 Dimensions

Send mail to: mj28441@janus.swipnet.se

Telnet to: 4d.logixsoft.com:6000

Q. Where can I find other area files for my MUD in addition to the basic ones that came with it?

A. Have a look at the Area Builders Forum - there are a substantial number of areas for SMAUG there.

Also, have a look at: Curious Areas Workshop - there are quite a few areas for DikuMUDs.

For other SMAUG areas, see SMAUG Area Exchange

For Circle MUD areas, see Circle MUD Area Library

For ROM MUD areas, see ROMLama

Q. What is the difference between a coder and a builder?

A. A coder maintains the source code of the MUD server. This is generally written in the C language. Here is an example of what C code looks like:

    for (pos = GetHeadPosition (); pos; )
      repair = GetNext (pos);
      if (iMilestone++ % 32 == 0)
        UpdateProgressBar (iMilestone);

      // check keeper in area
	    mob = get_mob_index (repair->keeper);
      if (!mob)
          Warning(repair, "Mobile %i is not in area.", repair->keeper );

      }   // end of processing each repair

You would change the server code to add new functionality.

A builder adds new rooms to the "virtual world" that comprises the MUD. This does not require any knowledge of C programming. Generally speaking, if you were starting a new MUD you would need to build rather than code.

Here is an example of what a builder might type for a room description, using the SMAUG code-base:

Vertic Avenue~
You continue down Vertic Avenue.  To the east you can see the stone structure
of the warrior's, the cathedral rises in the west, and to the north you can
seen an intersection.
0 1048576 1
Vertic Avenue and Justice Road cross just north of here.
0 -1 21004
A rather bland portion of Vertic Avenue lies to the south.
0 -1 21002

The job of a builder can be simplified by using either online or offline building tools.

Q. What is the difference between a mortal and an immortal/wizard?

A. The word "mortal" is normally applied to an "ordinary" player - someone who just logs on and takes on a virtual persona. An immortal (usually abbreviated to "Imm", and also called a "wizard" on a MUSH) has extra powers, and is normally in an administrative or building position. "Extra powers" means the player may be able to do things other players can't, such as force annoying players out of the game, transfer players from one room to another, modify the virtual world (build), and generally keep the game running smoothly. You might regard an administrator player (admin) as similar to an umpire or referee.

Q. What is a newbie?

The term "newbie" is generally applied to someone who is new at the thing they are attempting. Eg. someone who is not familiar with MUDs at all, someone who is not familiar with a particular MUD, or a player who has not reached a certain level in a game.

Q. How can I get a position as a builder on a MUD?

A. Here are some simple instructions for all of you out there who want to find a MUD to build on. Trust me, it's like asking someone out on a date for the first time: you tell yourself you can't do it, then you do it and it isn't so hard :)

Now, the first thing you need is to find a MUD that you like. There are really only two main ways to do this. First, you can find a MUD you like on a listing, like the MUD Connector. You could also find an Admin you like on a mailing list, or discussion system. Most admins have at least enough ego to sign their mails with their positions on the MUDs they run.

Very simply, visit their MUDs and see if you like them.

Next, make sure you can get along with the Imms there, and that you like the theme, and that it has everything, or nearly everything you want. I tried to build on a MUD where the admins were never around, and when they were around they yelled at me constantly ... it lasted less than three days. I also tried to build on a MUD with offline building only once, that didn't last either. So ... find a cool MUD with nice Imms and a system you like. Simple enough.

Now comes the hard part: Ask an Imm what the requirements for building are. Usually they can tell you, or refer you to a help file. If not, they will tell you the name of the person who can help you. If they get angry at you, or freeze you, swear at you, or otherwise abuse you, you have picked the wrong MUD.

Once you have on your screen the requirements for building, read them, save them in a text file, and print them out if necessary. Fulfill them, submit your application, and voila! You may become a builder. It's really not all that difficult ... all you usually need to do is ask. But trust me: it is easier for you to find a MUD than it is for a MUD admin to find you. It is also a lot faster.

The part that seems to be difficult for many people is what comes after you have been promoted to the lowest level of builder. Here is where the actual hard work comes in. You must build and build and build, until some kind Imm notices your good work and promotes you. Do not expect to have many powers at the beginning, or to be allowed to play around too much. That's not usually the way it works. Only by working hard and building well can you earn privileges. I really mean "earn" too. That's the only way to gain power, unless you join a MUD in the very beginning stage, where they have a power vaccuum to fill. Usually imms that are hired in that situation do not last long. You have been warned.

- Submitted by Scion - World Administrator on AntaresMUD.

Send mail to: Scion@usa.net

Telnet to: kasmud.com:7000

Q. I want to play a MUD. Do I need a "client" or a "server" program?

A. If you are new to playing MUDs you almost certainly want a client program, although you can just use simple Telnet to get started. Telnet comes with Unix and Windows, and is a simple communication program that lets you connect to a MUD.

Client programs make playing a MUD easier, for example by splitting what you type into a different area from the data that is arriving from the MUD, and wrapping output at the edge of the screen without splitting words into two. Play a MUD for half an hour and you will soon see how useful that is. Clients generally offer other features like the ability to abbreviate commonly typed commands, enter "triggers" which are commands that are automatically sent in response to a certain event, and store previous output for later review.

If you want to run your own MUD, then you will need a server program, in addition to a client. The server is the program that mediates gameplay between all of the players, tells them what room they are in, runs combat sessions and so on. There are quite a few different servers around, which implement MUDs in different ways.

Q. Where can I find client programs for playing MUDs?

A. Here are some sites that have client programs:

Q. Where can I find server programs for setting up my own MUD?

A. Here are some sites that have server programs:

Q. I don't have a permanent Internet connection. How can I run a MUD server?

There are a number of companies that provide time and space on their own equipment for people to run MUDs. An example of this is http://www.mudservices.com. They have (at the time of writing this) 39 machines, connected to the Web by a 100 megabit fibre optic link. They have various ranges of service and prices, from $25 per month to $165 per month, plus setup fees. These figures are accurate as at January 1999, but may change in the future.

Such providers generally use Unix, so you would need to use a Unix-based MUD on them. For your fee, you will generally get:

The quantity of each varies by fee. Ie. the more you pay, the more disk, memory, allowable players, etc. you can have.

For a list of such sites, try looking at: http://lost.strange.com/mush/hosts.shtml

Q. Do I need a compiler in order to run a MUD?

A. Compilers are programs that convert C source code into machine code (they are also available for other languages, but in general MUDs are written in C). If you are using Unix, you will need a compiler because most Unix MUD servers are distributed as source code. However, most Unix systems automatically come with a C compiler.

If you are using Windows you will not have a C compiler provided as standard, however most Windows clients and servers are distributed as executable files, so you will not need a compiler anyway. If you want to change the server behaviour then you will need a compiler. Compilers can be purchased from manufacturers such as Borland and Microsoft, and you can obtain low-cost compilers and other utilities from the Free Software Foundation, at their web page: http://www.fsf.org/.

Q. How can I find an interesting MUD to play?

A. Everyone has different tastes in MUDs. Some MUDs feature combat, others are social. Some combat MUDs allow player-killing (where players try to kill each other, in addition to the computer-generated monsters), others don't. Some social MUDs encourage/enforce role-play, others allow you to chat about anything you want.

The following page has a number of MUD lists. A MUD list is a place where you can find a suitable MUD.


Q. In SMAUG, where in the code, or config/setup files can you specify the starting room vnum? I want to change where beginning players start in the mud, and I don't want it to be out in front of the Academy.

A. They are defined in mud.h, as follows ...

#define ROOM_VNUM_SCHOOL	  10300
#define ROOM_AUTH_START		    100

There is code in comm.c as follows:

	    if (!sysdata.WAIT_FOR_AUTH)
	      char_to_room( ch, get_room_index( ROOM_VNUM_SCHOOL ) );
            char_to_room( ch, get_room_index( ROOM_AUTH_START ) );
            ch->pcdata->auth_state = 0;
            SET_BIT(ch->pcdata->flags, PCFLAG_UNAUTHED);

This puts a new player in the school (if no authorisation) or at the training area (if they are going through that).

You would need to recompile the server to change those. :)

Q. Can I make a non-violent MUD?

A. Yes you can. The simplest way is to choose a "code base" that is for a social MUD (eg. a MUSH or a MUCK) rather than a combat-oriented MUD. Most social MUDs do not have any inbuilt violence anyway.

Another approach, if you prefer code bases like SMAUG (because of their built-in wandering computer-mediated characters) is to remove the ability to do violence in them. For example, you could mark all rooms as "safe" so that you cannot start a fight in them. You could also edit COMMANDS.DAT and SKILLS.DAT to remove any commands (such as "kill") or skills (such as "backstab") that might be used for violent purposes.

Q. What is a "code base" and which one is best?

A. The computer programs that make MUDs work (servers) come in different flavours. There are a few main hierarchies from which quite a few different servers have developed.

A totally new design occurs when someone writes a MUD server from scratch, without deriving it from an existing one.

A derived server occurs when someone takes an existing server and attempts to improve upon it. Derived servers tend to behave in a similar way to their "parent" server.

The main types of server (that the author knows of) are:

DikuMUDs and LPMUDs tend to be combat-oriented, and TinyMUD derivatives tend to be social-oriented. It is possible to add combat to a MUSH, or remove combat from a DikuMUD, so these statements should be taken as a guide only.

TinyMUD derivatives hold all of their MUD details in a central "database", which is saved from time to time (eg. every hour). This means that (authorised) players can build and expand on the virtual world.

DikuMUD derivatives break up the virtual world into "areas" which are held in separate disk files. These areas are only changed when necessary by "builders". Ordinary players explore but do not change the world.

The best server for you depends on what you are attempting to do. If you want players to chat and build, choose a social MUD. If you want players to run around killing things, choose a combat MUD.

Try different servers (ie, play existing MUDs on the Internet) until you find one which you like to use.

Q. Which is better to run a MUD on - Unix, Windows or Macintosh?

A. Most MUDs started life on Unix. However quite a few have been "ported" to Windows, and a couple to Macintosh. Probably the short answer is to find one that runs on an operating system that you are familiar with. If you don't already know Unix, you will spend quite a while just becoming familiar with it, before you can successfully run a MUD. On the other hand, if you already know Unix, there is no real point in using a Windows server.

There is a school of thought that Unix is better to handle large-scale MUDs (ie. those with hundreds of players). Probably for a new MUD (with maybe 20 players on at once) a Windows server will be adequate. If you would rather use a particular platform (eg. Unix/Windows) you are best finding a server that also has a version on the other platform, so that if you ever need to change platforms you don't need to throw away all of your hard work on setting up your area files or database.

Q. Can I convert from one sort (codebase) of MUD to another?

A. From a player's point of view, most MUDs are fairly similar. From an implementors point of view most MUDs use different ways of storing their rooms, monsters, players and so on. For example, in MUSH all are stored in a single large database, in Diku-MUDs they are stored in separate files. Converting from one to another is not a trivial task.

You can however convert in a limited way from a SMAUG area file (ie. a file with room descriptions, exits and so on) to MUSH code, by using SMAUG Editor - an area editor which has a "MUSH Export" facility.

More details about the MUSH export functionality can be found at exporting an area as MUSH code.

Q. I am having trouble setting up the SMAUG server I downloaded from your site.

A. See FAQs about setting up a SMAUG server which specifically covers issues with the SMAUG server.

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Written by Nick Gammon - 5K

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Page updated on Wednesday, 15 December 2004