Your Internet Consultant - The FAQs of Life Online

10.27. Pray tell, what is a Multi-User Dungeon (MUD)?

One of the more popular leisure activities on the Internet is "MUDing, use of a form of "shared-world role-playing." MUDs--Multi-User Dungeons--are the basis for games and role playing as well as educational services and even serious collaborative research.

MUDs are among the most popular online diversions today. MUDs are programs that allow you to interact in real-time with other people in a virtual environment. Just as the Internet Relay Chat (IRC) lets people at different Internet sites share ASCII conversations in real-time, the Internet also lets users at different locations play together in MUDs.

Historically, MUDs have been "ASCII-based shared virtual reality," with conversations and descriptions consisting of ASCII text and possibly ASCII graphic displays. You give commands through ASCII, cursor, or Control-key sequences. This isn't as complicated as it sounds; if you've ever played a computer game such as Adventure or Zork, you are already familiar with it. For example,

You are in the Living Room. You see a cherry pie and Fred.
Throw cherry pie at Fred
You throw the pie at Fred. SPLAT!
Fred says, "Hey! Stop that."
Your electronic world surroundings might include any combination of characters, creatures, rooms, and objects. Users in the world of a MUD can converse, move around, affect the environment, play games, program, hunt for treasure, and fight vile beasties.

MUDs usually have various "locations" through which players can move by typing the compass directions. Objects can be manipulated with commands such as GET, LOOK, EAT, and THROW. Conversation with other users (and sometimes intelligent programs) is done using the SAY command, for speaking "aloud," and EMOTE, to show actions. (For instance, "waffle looks at you cross-eyed.")

Like board and book-oriented, role-playing games (RPGs), most MUDs start with specific rules and contents. In D&D ("Dungeons & Dragons") type RPGs, a person who creates, runs, or helps keep control of the games is often called the "dungeon master." In MUDs, these people are often known as the "wizards."

MUDs incorporate ideas from "real life," affectionately known as "RL" to mudders. On some MUDs, elements pilfered from RL include economic systems, household appliances, magic, and weddings. I'd tell you that MUDs can have "everything but the kitchen sink," but I know of one that has one of those, too.

There are over 500 "MUD sites" on the Internet, meaning computers that are running a MUD server program. Depending on its popularity and the time of day, any MUD might have just a few or hundreds of users simultaneously.

Here's what it looks like:

misty blue room
A small, misty blue room. There is new misty blue carpet on the floor. The

west, north and east walls are freshly painted misty blue; the west half of

the south wall is misty blue brick. The ceiling is also misty blue, with
waffle-iron circle patterns. Small incandescent ceiling lights bathe the
in a diffuse light. There isn't any furniture.
You see vent, old cabinet, Heroes, and new-help-wizards here.
Gru (dozing) is here.
emote waves
Gru says, "WAFFLE!"
waffle waves
Gru pours maple syrup ALL OVER you!
emote is getting a transscript for his book. Wave to the readers,
waffle is getting a transscript for his book. Wave to the readers,
Gru says, "you misspelled transcript, you better fix it before you publish
or they'll know you're a d00f"
say OK! :-) Gotta go.
You say, "OK! :-) Gotta go."
@go pizza parlor
The Pizza Parlor
This is a fine eatery, owned by Mama Bungweisi, a kindly but strange Italian

woman. The restaurant is furnished as any restaurant should be: with tables

and chairs, lots of customers mulling loudly about, and sticky spots on the

shabby green carpet. A jukebox sits quietly in the corner. Near the front of

the restaurant is a pizza counter. Sadly, there are no pizzas on it. Above
counter is a sign: "To order a pizza, type 'order <size> pizza with

<toppings>'." A smaller sign reads: "We deliver! `@addfeature #15229'
`deliver <size> <toppings>'!"
You see a change machine, the pizza counter, jukebox, and drink dispenser
look juke
This worn-out jukebox has seen better days, but it is still in
condition. There is a slot to insert quarters, a list of songs, and a lot

of dust on this jukebox. A display on it reads:   CREDITS: 0
look changer
This is an enormous, circa-1970 machine that looks as if it once made
from one's dollar bill. However, the machine is now very dented and surely

does not work properly.
kick changer
You kick a change machine, denting it slightly.
A quarter drops from a change machine into your hands.
put quarter in juke
You put a quarter in the slot. It disappears with a >Clink!<
The display now reads:   CREDITS: 1
play 150 on juke
You enter the number 150 into the keypad.
The jukebox goes >Klunk!< and the display changes to   CREDITS: 0
The jukebox makes grinding sounds as it seems to come to life.
The jukebox begins whirring.
The jukebox begins playing Freewill by Rush.
A guy walks in, sings a bar of 'Alice's Restaurant' and walks out.
order small pizza with pickles
You place the order. That'll be just a few minutes.
Mama Bungweisi rearranges the furniture a bit.
The jukebox continues playing Freewill by Rush
A man tries to attach a fake cyberspace deck to an electrical socket.
There is a horrible screeching from the loudspeaker: Hey! Iw this thing 
on? Er, piwza for wafwle.
get pizza from counter
You remove a small pickles pizza from the pizza counter.
look pizza
This is a piping hot tray of small pickles pizza. The small pizza has
4 slices 
left. waffle ordered it.
eat pizza
waffle ingests a slice of a small pickles pizza.
drop pizza
You drop a small pickles pizza.
share pizza with everyone
waffle offers to share his pizza with everyone here! Dig in!

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