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MUD, if you haven't come across the term before, is short for Multi User Dungeon, a form of interactive text adventure which usually features treasure, monsters, and most importantly, other human players to interact with.
   The first MUD was written by Roy Trubshaw and Richard Bartle at Essex University in 1979. Although there are many hundreds of MUDs available on the Internet today, few live up to the standard set by the original, and carried on today in its descendant, MUD2 - The Quest for Immortality. You can find out much more about MUD2 at my Unofficial MUD2 Site.
   I first read about MUD in 1982, in an article in Practical Computing. Soon after, I obtained an account on the UK network Compuserve, which had licensed a copy of the original MUD for use on its service. This was rather short-lived, however, since it involved dialing Liverpool long distance from Dublin to connect.
   After the first exhorbitant phone bill arrived, I discovered the joys of Eirpac, the Irish data network. This allowed me to call Essex University, the original home of MUD, for the price of a local call, plus data charges -- much more affordable.
   Essex University kindly provided free access to MUD during the offpeak hours of 2am to 7am. Although these were rather unsociable hours, they didn't seem to discourage players -- it was a rare night that MUD wasn't filled to its capacity of 20 simultaneous players.
   Eventually, I reached the ultimate goal of Wizard -- the point at which you gain complete control over the game and its occupants. And just in the nick of time -- some months later, the DEC-10 on which MUD operated was decommissioned by the university, and Essex MUD was no more. It still lived on under the name British Legends on CompuServe, but the cost of playing there was rather more than my student wallet could manage. (CompuServe finally pulled the plug on British Legends in December 1999, long after most of their other non-graphical games had vanished.)

MUD2 - The Quest for Immortality!
While the original Essex MUD was slowly but surely heading for the grave, Richard Bartle had been busy setting up MUSE Inc, a company to develop a commercial version of MUD. This new version, MUD2, featured many improvements over the original, including more intelligent creatures, much wider ranging magic, and a much larger land in which to wander. It was launched in 1985 under the umbrella of British Telecom, and enjoyed several years of operation before BT finally pulled the plug. Although I did manage to play a little here, the long distance phone calls which were once more required made it impractical to make wiz a second time.
   And so I put my MUD time behind me -- until 1994, when I came across an incarnation of MUD2 on the Internet running on SoNet in the UK. Soon after, I realised that there were several MUD2 other installations available on the Internet also -- I was back in business. (There were of course plenty of other MUDs by then, but none of them held the same appeal for me.)
   In due course, I made wizard once again, now with greatly increased wizardly powers. Soon after, I became Asterix, arch-wizard for an Irish MUD2 site. And then, after much upheaval, almost all the MUD2 sites in the world were closed, for reasons too complicated to get into here. However, from their ashes rose a new site, mud2.com, and it is still going strong today.
   Why not pay a visit and say hello to some of the original MUD2 wizards, as well as the new players who have only recently discovered the joys of MUD. You'll find me playing as Zedd the Wizard. Look forward to seeing you there!

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You might also like to try these MUD links:

   The Official MUD2 Site
   The Unofficial MUD2 Site
   Richard Bartle's MUD Archives

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Last updated 26 November 2000. Comments to ecarroll@iol.ie.