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* Nanvaent FAQ: MUDs in General

Please mail all questions to faq@nanvaent.org.

  • What is a MUD?
    The mud definition from the Jargon book:

    MUD /muhd/ n. [acronym, Multi-User Dungeon; alt. Multi-User Dimension] 1. A class of virtual reality experiments accessible via the Internet. These are real-time chat forums with structure; they have multiple `locations' like an adventure game, and may include combat, traps, puzzles, magic, a simple economic system, and the capability for characters to build more structure onto the database that represents the existing world. 2. vi. To play a MUD. The acronym MUD is often lowercased and/or verbed; thus, one may speak of `going mudding', etc.

    Historically, MUDs (and their more recent progeny with names of MU- form) derive from a hack by Richard Bartle and Roy Trubshaw on the University of Essex's DEC-10 in the early 1980s; descendants of that game still exist today and are sometimes generically called BartleMUDs. There is a widespread myth (repeated, unfortunately, by earlier versions of this lexicon) that the name MUD was trademarked to the commercial MUD run by Bartle on British Telecom (the motto: "You haven't *lived* 'til you've *died* on MUD!"); however, this is false -- Richard Bartle explicitly placed `MUD' in PD in 1985. BT was upset at this, as they had already printed trademark claims on some maps and posters, which were released and created the myth.

    Students on the European academic networks quickly improved on the MUD concept, spawning several new MUDs (VAXMUD, AberMUD, LPMUD). Many of these had associated bulletin-board systems for social interaction. Because these had an image as `research' they often survived administrative hostility to BBSs in general. This, together with the fact that USENET feeds have been spotty and difficult to get in the U.K., made the MUDs major foci of hackish social interaction there.

    AberMUD and other variants crossed the Atlantic around 1988 and quickly gained popularity in the U.S.; they became nuclei for large hacker communities with only loose ties to traditional hackerdom (some observers see parallels with the growth of USENET in the early 1980s). The second wave of MUDs (TinyMUD and variants) tended to emphasize social interaction, puzzles, and cooperative world-building as opposed to combat and competition. In 1991, over 50% of MUD sites are of a third major variety, LPMUD, which synthesizes the combat/puzzle aspects of AberMUD and older systems with the extensibility of TinyMud. The trend toward greater programmability and flexibility will doubtless continue.

    The state of the art in MUD design is still moving very rapidly, with new simulation designs appearing (seemingly) every month. There is now (early 1991) a move afoot to deprecate the term MUD itself, as newer designs exhibit an exploding variety of names corresponding to the different simulation styles being explored.

  • How do I connect to a MUD?
    Muds are text based, so no extra software is needed to connect if you have an ordinary telnet client. There are some graphical muds out there, but they're either of the Pay Through The Nose[TM] variety or the graphics are absolutely appalling. Empirical data show that although quite a few people can write a decent description of something, only one in ten thousand can do a good job of reproducing it graphically. Most muds are text based for that simple reason. The others either look abysmal or are being run by a major games company with lots of money.

    Telnet is also the program/protocol you normally use to "log in" to a remote machine. When you telnet to a remote machine, you actually telnet to a "port" on that machine. Since this port is the same in 99.95% of all normal cases, you normally don't have to explicitly say which port to connect to. But a mud lives on such a machine, and to be able to co-exist with the normal login system of that machine the mud has to pick a non-standard port for its connections. A port is simply a number between 0 and 65536 (give or take a few), and most muds pick a number between 2000 and 8000 for various reasons.

    However, Nanvaent owns the machine it's running on and to avoid all the hassle with port numbers, we're running the mud on the normal telnet port number (port 23). So all you have to do to connect is type:

    telnet nanvaent.org

    In WWW speak, the URL would be:

    telnet://nanvaent.org

    People addicted to port numbers may use port 3000, but that number is primarily just kept for backwards compatability. It does connect you to Nanvaent however. We still keep it around since that's the number we used when we didn't have our own dedicated machine, and various documentation and/or webpages still reference us using that port.

    When you become more advanced in your mudding, you may want to look at a few dedicated mud clients. These typically allow you to set up automatic responses to events happening in the game, and also set up aliases so that you can do more than one action in one go. See http://aragorn.uio.no/lpmud_ftpsites.html for a decent starting point for clients.

  • Where can I get more information on MUDS?
    There are various web pages dedicated to MUDs, and there are also half a dozen news groups. But since newsgroups are going to hell in a handbasket these days due to unsolicited ads you'll find that 95% of the entries in those groups are rubbish. The best thing to do is really to pick your favourite WWW search engine and do a lookup on "mud".
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