MUD Bibliography

Compiled and annotated by Richard Bartle

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BOOKS

Bartle, R. A., Artificial Intelligence and Computer Games, Century Communications, London, 1985. 205 pp.

An attempt to show that MUDs are viable objects of study for AI researchers. Sadly, editing performed by the typesetter (!) rather badly damaged its content, and its front cover meant that no AI researcher but me ever picked it up... Also, the publishers were closed down by their parent company shortly after the book was printed, and only a few hundred copies escaped the pulping machine. If you manage to find one of these, Chapters 2 ("Computer Games"), 5 ("Practical Knowledge Representation"), 7 ("Real-Life Parsers") and 8 ("More AI") are perhaps still mildly interesting. The more game-relevant references from the book's bibliography have been included herein, though, so you won't learn anything new from that...

Historical note: this book is where the term "MUD" was put into the public domain for generic use.

Dvorak, J. C. & Spear, P., Dvorak's Guide to PC Games, Bantam Computer Books, New York, 1991. 368 pp.

A collection of reviews of games which could be played on IBM PCs and compatibles circa 1990. Chapter 15 ("Wired for Adventure: On-Line Games") is of most interest to the MUD player, as it is explicitly devoted to games playable by modem, in which multi-player games are a dominant force. The first game reviewed is BRITISH LEGENDS, which is the name that CompuServe give to MUD1. Like most of the reviews in the book, it is anodyne and superficial, however it's mostly accurate and only mildly misleading. Of the other games reviewed, ISLAND OF KESMAI, DRAGON'S GATE, FEDERATION II, GEMSTONE III and NEVERWINTER NIGHTS are likely to be of interest to MUD players - FEDERATION II in particular, as it was inspired directly by MUD1. The book may be of interest if you're looking at long-standing commercial MUDs for some reason, or you wish to sample the variety of games available. Most of it is the kind of thing you read in everyday computer magazines, though.

Howard, D., An Introduction to MUD, Century Communications, London, 1985. 90 pp.

A truly awful book about MUD1, put together from articles written by Richard Bartle in the magazine "Micro Adventurer", with linking text by Duncan Howard and assorted additional lies by editor Simon Dally. Duncan took some "I may put this in sometime" notes that I'd written and used them as if they were "this is in now and working", with the end result that a good deal of the information presented was false. Strange typographical errors, botched game logs, use of undefined MUD-jargon terms and the occasional outburst of eccentric grammar combine to bring about what must surely be one of the most inept books ever published. There was a reason for this, of course: Century Communications were looking in danger of being closed down by Century publishing, their parent company, and Dally wanted to get the book out before it happened so he could buy up the remaindered stock and sell it to newbie MUD2 players. Poor souls, although actually I don't suppose it seemed THAT bad to the uninitiated...

Historical note: Dally and Bartle, along with Roy Trubshaw, later formed MUSE Ltd. to develop MUD2. Dally got manic depression in 1989 and shot himself dead.

McGath, G., Compute!'s Guide to Adventure Games, Compute! Books, Greensboro North Carolina, 1984. 203 pp.

A good general introduction to adventure games, marred only by the inclusion of reviews of games that were out of date within a year of publication. The second half of the book is best, as it actually gives concrete ideas on how to write adventure games yourself (most of the techniques being extensible to MUD-writing). The final chapter ("The Edge of the Future") gives a cogent analysis of what we can expect of adventure games yet to come, with most of what is written applying equally well to MUDs. Unfortunately, the visions of the futures described don't mention anything MUDlike in them whatsoever.

Newgas, J., Talking to the World, Century Communications, London, 1984. 112 pp.

A practical guide to the UK on-line scene in the early 1980s, by one of the (few) BBS sysops of the day. Still vaguely relevant in places, but only of interest to MUDders for the paragraph on MUD1 it has in chapter 18 ("Coming Attractions"); even that seems to be a plug for Century Communications, who at the time were considering running MUD1 themselves.

Historical note: this is the first book to mention a MUD.

Rheingold, H., Virtual Reality, Secker & Warburg, London, 1991. 415 pp.

The VR with which this book is concerned is mainly the "glove and goggle" kind, and it seems largely to be comprised of material gleaned from Rheingold's interviews with various people in disparate (but VR-related) areas. As MUDs are a form of VR, the book is likely to be of interest to MUDders anyway, but it does actually go so far as to mention MUDs explicitly - there's around a page of material on the subject. Rheingold doesn't voice an opinion on MUDs: he merely describes what they are, and the direction they're likely to go; they're merely a step along the way to the ultimate goal of true VR. Unfortunately, with the big money riding on graphics and hardware, he's probably right!

Note: "Virtual Reality" is the second book of an informal trilogy, and the final volume (on social issues) is likely to contain a good deal more on MUDs.

Raymond, E., The Hacker's Dictionary, MIT Press, Cambridge Massachusetts, 1991.

An all-round excellent book for real computer enthusiasts everywhere. The 1991 edition introduces a good many MUD-related terms, with over a page dedicated to the word MUD itself. The definition for "BartleMUD" is libellously inaccurate, but changes are promised for the next release of the lexicon. Although, I suppose, you might find this book of some use if you were coming to MUDs from the outside and wanted to get a feel of the mind-set of MUD players, in truth it's probably not going to be of much help. It's simply a great read!

Shotton, M. A., Computer Addiction? A Study of Computer Dependency, Taylor & Francis, London, 1989. 330 pp.

The book of Shotton's "well someone had to write it" PhD thesis. Although mainly concerned with human-computer interaction in general, it does have substantial coverage of MUDs as a particularly addictive computer-based pastime. Shotton's conclusion (that computers don't turn gregarious, extrovert people into recluses) is well supported by MUDs, indeed they are the perfect counter-example to popular opinion on the subject. The case studies at the end of the book include a couple of real MUD1 players with personality traits you may find familiar in MUD players of your own acquaintance... This book is a must for anyone who wishes to investigate seriously the social effects of MUDs.

See also the magazine article by Reynolds, C.

Sinclair, I. R., Collins Dictionary of Personal Computing, HarperCollins, Glasgow, 1991. 424 pp.

Defines the term "MUD", although in a universe where MUD1 was the only example and that shut down back in prehistory.

Historical note: the first time that "MUD" has made it to a "proper" dictionary you can buy in the shops.


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