So You Want to Start a mud
by Robert M. Zigweid
In today's world of various online environment, there seem to be more and
more upstart muds.
This trend is aided by the fact that muds have become easier to set up.
Many older mudders view this as a bad thing to the community as a whole, citing that
there is a limited player base. Others think that it shows progress
within the community.
The development of new muds, whether it means progress
or regress, continues without any restraint other than individual
dedication and the availability of host sites from which to operate mud
Many players and developers in the mud community think that
they will be able to create a successful gaming environment. Their
reasoning may be that they don't like how the game that they play or write for
is run. In instances like this, the fledgling administrator usually
uses the same theme as the game that they came from, and often the same
code base. Others, like myself, haven't seen a game do what they
envision that one can do, or they want to accomplish something
that hasn't been done before.
Stylish type of driver, no library needed with this one.
For whatever the reason, there is a series of steps which invariably
need to be followed. To an extent, the order of these steps is
flexible, but to write a successful gaming environment, I think each
step needs to be followed.
Keep in mind, this does not guarantee a
successful mud, but at least it might put you on the right track.
First and foremost, a fledgling administrator needs to assess the reason
for the undertaking of the huge project of creating a mud. The new
needs to realize that the amount of time needed to set up a new
game is immense. This is not something that can be done well in a week
or a month. For mine, I predict it will be 18 months before I'm even
consider opening for alpha testing. This may be a long
estimate, and it depends upon my level of dedication to the project.
Second, the new administrator should have some idea of what theme their
environment will follow. This step is closely linked with the first
one, and sometimes, it is impossible to tell the difference between
them. However, I believe that this issue is important enough to warrant
its own step.
Themes can range from those based strictly on a book or series of books,
to no strict theme at all.
One word of caution, however. If you
are using a book-based theme, be sure to get the author's
consent before pursuing your new project too far. There is little that
is more disheartening than to lose your project after you've started
your theme. I would suggest getting the authors permission on paper.
It is a good idea to have the source for your
theme someplace where you can read, look, modify or enchance it.
Make sure once you have decided upon your theme you adhere to
it. Very little bugs me more about games, than
finding something completely out of theme, like a laser in a medieval
Third, determine which code-base you are going to use for your
environment. The code base should be one in which you have experience. If
you don't have any experience in the code-base that you are going to be
administrating, then it is essential that you have someone on your team
who has experience with it. If you have neight experience in the code
base yourself, nor someone on your team who does implementing
ideas is going to
be very difficult and the development of your project will slow to a
Fourth, acquire your code-base. Some mud packages are split into two
sections, the mud driver and the mud library. Usualy only the mud
driver itself needs to be compiled, but the library may require
certain elements from the driver to be present and these should
Compile it with the appropriate options and load
your game for the first time.
How to compile the driver depends on the code-base you
have chosen and is really beyond the scope of this article.
Instructions are invariably packaged with the distribution and should be
After this point the order of the steps become less important, so you can
do these steps in any order you wish.
Fifth, set up your hierarchy. Every mud environment has to have an
administrative hierarchy. Set the guidelines for your administrative
council. Usually this includes breaking them into code-base
development, approval of new areas/items, and enforcement of rules.
More areas may be created depending on what you are trying to accomplish
with your gaming environment. For examples role playing muds will want to have
story tellers. Hack and Slash muds might want a separate division for
quests or balance of the game.
Sixth, set up core guidelines for new objects that you want to see in your
game. This can include how things are described, repetition (or lack
thereof), if every noun in a description must also have a description, and
so on. Many muds wait too long to do this and end up going
have to go back and fix their old areas to meet new standards. If the
standards are well laid out to begin with, this should never be a
Seventh, design your core area. Where does everything center around? In most
muds this is a town of some sort. In others it might not be. But every
game needs a place where things start. Even if it is not your
intention to have everyone start in the same place, you as a designer
have to start someplace; so let this be your core area.
This is very important because every other area will in some way
relate to your core area.
But it gives you and your building
team a place to work off of, and that is the most important thing.
As you go along in your development, write rules which all of your
builders, administrators and players must adhere to. Once that is
done, by all means enforce them. A game with rules that are not
enforced may as well not have any rules at all.
Eighth, implement ideas any specific ideas that you wish to base your mud
on into your code-base. This can include simple
things such as classes, skills
or more complex things such as movement restrictions. In
many of the code-bases a lot of these things are already done for you,
but they may not be exactly how you want them, or done a completely
wrong way for your setting. This is to be your game, so make it how you
want it, not how someone else wanted it.
As previously stated, many of the above ideas can be implemented in
many different orders, or simultaneously. There may be more steps
which I have failed to acknowledge. This list can at least this provide
a place to start from in your quest to design a successful mud.
March 1999 Imaginary Realities, the magazine of your mind.
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