Multi-User Dungeons may have had their fifteen-minutes of fame, but the inheritance of modern gaming sensibilities may help them carve out a new, niche market.
They’ve come a long way in terms of technical achievements, but also have slowly dug deeper caves to hide ever further from the mainstream. They really aren’t that popular, but now MUD communities are practically aiding their invisible status.
There are new ways to highly customize a MUDs client interface to not only change style, size and colors of fonts, but to also create multiple windows to partition different chat-channels. There are now plugins that provide graphical maps and health bars, along with windows to display inventories and character statistics. You can also add music and sound-effects via Triggers.
The new methods of customization may still be too much for anyone who doesn’t know a healthy amount of programming, but mod-packages can be pre-assembed for easy installation into a MUD client. If more modding was done on just today’s most popular MUDs, and communities were more visible, MUDs may be able to find a home in today’s world of eye-melting graphical games.
when I was in college, MUDs were what every college geek was into. They blazed a path across American Universities and kept computer labs filled. It was every MUD players dream to get the coveted Lab Monitor job. MUDs also had a large percentage of players who enjoyed creating all the rooms and flavor-text that gave life to the worlds as much as they liked playing them. Many MUDs and the fans are still around, but they’re as inaccessible as that white tiger that’s always hiding in its cave on the most crowded days at a zoo.
I recently embarked on extensive searches, spending days looking for client plugins and scripts, only to end up with scraps of information. A player came forward, after I asked many questions in MUD game-channels, and offered me a plethora of links, with a wealth of knowledge that left me happy and dumbstruck. In all my searches I didn’t find any of the 7 links he shared with me, and those links lead to even more helpful info filled with player-created plugins and scripts.
Between all this information I’ve accumulated, I found how welcoming and accessible MUDs can be. Popular clients, like Muschclient, offer a wide range of tools and accept plugins programmed by modders to enhance the interactions.
I found a two year old YouTube video showing Aardwolf with a number of impressive plugins. The user shows a detailed inventory window where additional windows pop open when he moves his mouse over the individual items within the inventory. He has graphical world and area maps, health bars and a character statistics window. The two features that brought a smile to my face were the sound options and help window. Through programming responsive Triggers in the client, he has snippets of music and fighting sounds that play when he engages in combat. The help window displays a list of word-commands Aardwolf uses, but the words are hyperlinked in yellow and green. Clicking green linked words actually performs that action in the game and clicking on yellow opens a tool-tip window to explain what the command is for, with ancillary information.
We know graphics aren’t always necessary. There’s a plethora of small and large Flash-based games on the Internet that are played by many. Some of these MUDs have taken advantage of the Flash technology and built themed clients that run in a browser. Whether through Flash or a client, MUDs can look and feel inviting.
I’ve spoken to creators of some of these MUD plugins and they enjoy making them. I had one player repeatedly asking me to ask him for a plugin he could make. The tools, community and technology seems in place, but it needs organized, advertised and made available to the masses.
I’ve yet to fully explore today’s world of MUDs, but Iron Realms Entertainment is the only company or group that appears to be trying to make their small collection of MUDs easy to learn and access.
Many times the work does not equate to the reward. Maybe asking modders to create more plugins for more MUDs and pre-packaging them to be easily installed by the non-technical is asking too much. Even so, it seems if MUD administrators, creators and modders would crawl out of the caves they were half-pushed, half-willingly walked into and create search-friendly sites to aid more than other MUD modders, the games may find a much bigger foothold among todays smartphones, tablets and interactive books.