Why Run a Mud?
by By Peter Wood
I've played over a hundred muds in the past six months, even since a friend of mine introduced me to Threshold. Since that first day I've played muds, I've set up a mud for my college and very recently started to write a new mud server. I've sometimes been asked why people run muds and what they get out of them.
An easy way to "vary" your mileage.
I'll deal the "Why run a mud?" first. It's a rather broad question that many people want to know the answer to, so I got in contact with a few mud administrators that I knew. After picking their heads apart for their real reasons, I found that they fall into a few categories:
I just want to make it clear that this may not be the whole story, nor am I saying that these are correct. Remember, your mileage may vary.
I've found quite a few administrators ran muds for the challenge; they have so many problems to overcome in starting and maintaining a mud. Some people see it as a string of challenges to defeat. What do I base my mud on? What code base should I use? Where do I host it? How do I set it up? How do I choose staff? etc. You can see that they are all things that some people like to overcome and beat.
Some administrators run muds so that they can learn about different things, some (like me) run them so that it helps them learn a programming language, another administrator I talked to said that he ran the mud so that he could study reactions and how people dealt with different situations.
Myself and one other administrator I found ran his mud as a job, a method of employment. I have set up a mud for my college network by request of the systems administrator. It's a closed mud to members of the college only. We were both paid to set up and maintain a mud, but just because we were paid doesn't mean that we didn't care about the mud. On the contrary, we both put more effort into it.
The last one on my list is power. I've only seen this happen occasionally (maybe I have been lucky, I don't know). One administrator that I've seen did so because he could make people feel threatened by his presence and his position. This administrator was an old friend of mine, and I knew he somehow "got off" on his power. He was a control freak and everything had to go through him, in fact I don't think there was ever a time he wasn't using SNOOP.
I'm glad to say I think that most of the people who run muds are based on one or two, three can sometimes be a good thing but only if the person enjoys their job.
So what does an administrator get from running a mud? Well other administrators would agree with me when I say a lot of heartache. I'd like to quote something I once read: "[E]very time someone says something good to me about DALnet it puts a smile on my face for an hour, but every time someone insults me or the network it puts me in a bad mood for the rest of the day"- Sven Neilson (Founder of the DALnet IRC Network). Sad as it is I think this is true for many administrators, we run the muds for enjoyment at the end of it. Every time a college user thanks me for what I've done, I have to say I smile.
Running a mud also increases people skills (unless you're a coder on a team and don't venture into your creation much), administrators are forced to interact with other people and most of us with our users. Administrators like me who are using it for learning may very well increase their knowledge about a programming language; I hate to admit this, but I only learned about "sprintf" a month ago.
With "administrator power", I think we all have to admit from time to time we get happy from having the power we have, but most of us take it well and don't go mad. I don't think there is anything wrong with that really.
Sadly after saying this all, sometimes our muds get us down and put us in a bad mood. Say we've just implemented a new spell or feature and it doesn't work, we play with it and it still doesn't work. Then it becomes a chore to get it to work and probably puts us down. God knows that on my server I'm writing, I've sat for days looking at code trying to fix something.
At the end of the day, running a mud can be fun, depressing, tiresome, joyful and entertaining. A mud has a lot of good experiences and just needs to be looked at in the correct manner. I think it is safe to wrap it up and say "We are all there to have fun."
May 2000 Imaginary Realities, the magazine of your mind.
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