2011-08-23

Text MUDs and PennMUSH

If you're a geek under 25, odds are very good that your first internet gaming experience was graphical: playing Diablo with your neighbors, blasting tanks apart with your high school friends, maybe even playing Ultima Online, Everquest or World of Warcraft.

But before all these, in the early days of the internet when you could count each byte as it screeched itself over a 1200 baud modem, there were text adventure games and MUDs. And just like there are many today who will insist a book is always better than a movie, there are those who will say the same that text muds are better than their graphical counterparts.

To a deaf geek in the '90s, growing up with few real friends, text muds were a wonderful gift. More intricate than a chat room, more fun than point and click, they were weaving intricate stories in your head - and more importantly, relationships in your heart as you spent time with other players.

In 1990, at the age of 10, was when I first got internet access, through my parents. I briefly spent time on BBSes, but then discovered text muds. And today, in 2011, I am still on muds. My interest in gaming has severely waned: I haven't _played_ seriously on muds since the '90s, but I still call one my 'internet home': M*U*S*H.

As stated before, I'll be talking a lot about my projects on this blog. A considerable number of them evolve around text muds - or in particular, two different things: the PennMUSH Engine, and M*U*S*H, the flagship "social game" for PennMUSH.

PennMUSH: http://www.pennmush.org
M*U*S*H: http://mush.pennmush.org

PennMUSH is a mud engine - Perhaps it can be considered a text mud equivalent to the Unity game engine - it is not a game in itself, but you can use it to create your own virtual world. It is one of a number of mud engines that allow extensive online creation and _programming_, using a language called either "MUSHcode" or "Softcode" (as opposed to "Hardcode": Writing and patching the engine itself).

MUSHcode is a brilliantly simple language, yet deceptively powerful. Even today, 12 years after I first discovered it, I spend time coding in it almost daily. Why is that? It can't read files from my local drive, it can't use the internet, it can't do GUI stuff, but there is one thing that it has above many other languages:

It's _FUN_. It has a great many restrictions, but that does nothing more than to sharpen the mind. I frequently implement new algorithms I learn in MUSHcode first, because if I can do it there, I can do it in any language. And, immediately, it's usable by everyone else on the mush.

So don't be surprised when you see a bunch of my posts detailing projects done in MUSHcode.

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