What is a MUD?

Realm of Utopian Dreams

My character - Keeneye

A portrait of Keeneye

Zmud - the MUD program extraordinare

What is a MUD?

        Basically the term MUD is used as the short description for Multi-User Dungeon.  Most muds today are combat based muds where players play in real time (as opposed to turn based games where you can take the time to think of what your next step is) in order to try to improve their character's abilities and skills and become either one of the heroes of that realm or if they are a really good player, an Immortal in a particular MUD realm. The advantage to being a Immortal, as the name suggests, is that your character can never die and you have the option to create your own areas in the mud itself.

        Much like the old text style Zork games from Infocom, you will see a series of text files where a room is described in rich detail with listings of any and all visible items that might be located in the room with you as well as any obvious exits are listed from within the room itself (but some hidden ones might not be listed so read the text carefully of the room that you are currently in if you have not been there before), and what creatures,  if any, are waiting with their mouths salivating to start chewing on your leg or your arm or whatever they can get their greedy little hands on ("Yummy! Yummy! Fresh Meat", said the monster..hehe ).  The only difference between mudding and turn based games like dungeons and dragons is that this is all  done in real time meaning that if you do absolutely  nothing at all, the monsters will keep on pounding on you until you die or until you flee from having taken too much damage. Your character will also get hungry and thirsty as time goes by and you gain experience and better weapons and armor as you defeat the monsters of the realm.

        If you have ever played Dungeons and Dragons with your friends or have played any role-playing computer games like Ultima or Dungeon Master, then you will feel right at home. Of course not all muds are based on Dungeons and Dragons. There are MUDS based upon the worlds of Star Trek, Doctor Who, Blade Runner and so on. The only restriction to a MUD is the imagination of its creators  but most MUDS as of this writing are of the D&D type.

Realm of Utopian Dreams

         This is actually the  second MUD that I tried when I first got ZMUD( a MUD client program) but this is the only one that I liked right from the start. The other one that I tried first was ok but there was not much going on when I was playing it and no one seemed to want to talk to each other or were willing to help out a newbie to mudding like I was at the time. Out of fairness to that mud, I will not mention it's name since maybe it was because I was new to mudding that I didn't enjoy it very much.

        Anyway, Realm of Utopian Dreams -Formerly Land of the Lost Unicorn ( LUN for short)  is a completely different kettle of fish all together. First off, the people that are on it were ever so patient with my constant barrage of questions and more than once, they would help my character get out of situations in the MUD that he would not have been able to get out of otherwise on his own. More than once, my character was saved because of the kindness of others and if you are just getting started into mudding like I was, I highly recommend that you try playing here first.

        In addition to all the assistance that I have received when I started, I have also enjoyed  watching my character, Keeneye, become more powerful in his quest to improve both himself and the fictional world around him. Often I would join up with other characters in a group to go out and conquer monsters that each of us alone would not have been able to do otherwise. It is fun to watch as we  turn the tables on some of the monsters that we would not be able to face alone. It can get a bit frustrating at times when you invest countless hours in developing a character and then watch it come to a screeching holt when you face a monster that is above and beyond your ability to fight at that time and then hoping that someone more powerful with come along and help you out and get back the items that you might have lost otherwise without their help but such is the way of any mud in existence and you really do enjoy losing yourself for a few hours at a time, forgetting your real life and all of your day to day worries that are part of your real life and just having fun doing something that is both challenging and rewarding at the same time.

        Most of the players on LUN are willing to help you get out of a sticky situation and that is probably one of the best things that I can say about Realm of Utopian Dreams. More than once, someone would brave untold dangers just to help out a fellow player like myself survive in what can be a sometimes cruel fictional world and I know that I get a wonderful feeling when I return the favor and help out a player that is less developed than my character.

My character

        Back when I was playing advanced D&D with my friends, we used to take about 2 to 3 hours to create a character from scratch to use when we would get tired of the same old characters that we had been using before. More often than not, we would create elaborate histories for our characters since we felt it was more fun to have a character that had a past rather than just having a character that was nothing more than a bunch of numbers on a piece of paper. The character that I have for Realm of Utopian Dreams is based on one of those characters that I created a long time ago who I originally called Darkeye. I have also mixed part of his characteristics with the Avatar from the Ultima computer role playing series from Origin Systems. I believed I tried for the name of Darkeye when I first logged onto LUN but it was already taken so I choose Keeneye instead. The Keen part of the name comes from Commander Keen, one of my favorite set of computer games from Apogee Software. Commander Keen is a child prodigy who builds a spaceship out of spare parts from around his house and uses both his intelligence and moxy to defend the universe.

        But enough about Commander Keen. Back to my discussion of my character, Keeneye. Here is the tale of the one person  that I called Keeneye:

Portrait of Keeneye
This is a portrait that I found on the Net that I feel represents my character. Please note that while I am aware that there is no patch over his eye to represent the injury that he incurred as a young child, I did consider possibly editing the picture myself and drawing in a eye patch. I did not do so since I am currently not a very good artist and I felt that I would only ruin the picture if I tried to make any changes to it so I just left the picture alone. I obtained this picture as Castle Veldrane and to the best of my knowledge, this picture is in the public domain. Castle Veldrane has a excellent collection of fantasy art and I highly suggest that you visit it.
ZMUD - the MUD playing program extra-ordinare
        When I first started out trying to find out about MUDS, I purchased a book about MUDS called "The Secrets of the MUD Wizards" by Andrew Busey and published by Sams.Net . All I basically knew about MUDS at the time was that in order to play them, you needed to have some type of a connection to the Net as well as some type of client program - more often then not,  a telnet program. The book mentioned the authors favorite MUD, the Realms Mud, but did not mention specifically how to log onto it except at the end of the book which I have only seen just recently became aware of. So I decided to see if I could find out about the Realms MUD by using a web search engine first. I found a MUD called the Shadow Realms and it mentioned that the best way to play the Shadow Realms was to download a shareware program called ZMUD.

        I downloaded ZMUD and I was immediately impressed by the program. This program takes most of the drudgery out of playing a MUD by having the program  issue commands for you automatically when certain text appears. So I no longer have to issue commands myself for my character to eat when he is hungry or drink water when he is thirsty. The program takes care of the busy work for me and allows me to concentrate on the adventuring part. It will automatically re-active a spell whenever it wears off assuming I have enough magical energy to cast that spell. You can also set aliases for long commands so that you can have the command issued with only a few keys. For example, I can just type gac and the program converts that into the command "get all corpse" so that my character can search a foe after I have beaten it in battle and take any belongings that might be useful. This ability to issue long commands with just a few keys is very important during times of battle. It evens has a auto-mapper so that you can create maps that you can use while you are playing without having to actually sit down with a pen and paper and draw them out.

        It also has what is called speed walking where you just record a starting point and a ending point and the program remembers which direction you took to get there. You just save it and give it a name that makes sense to you. Often I call it the name of the place where I wind up. Then whenever I wish to go there without having to issue 8 or 9 or more directions, I use  click on the name of where I want to go and it just takes me there, issuing the exact directions as though I was actually typing it myself but at a much faster speed then I could do myself. With all the wonderful features that this program has, it was only $20 to register it (currently the fee is $25) and you can even register on-line since they use a secure server. Plus the program has pre-programmed settings with several hundred muds for you to try with just a click on the mouse. You can even have the program update the mud list from within the program itself by issuing a command. The program goes to the mudconnector web site and obtains the latest list for you.

You can even ask the program to automate the log in process for you as well to each individual mud that you play on so that it enters the name that you use to log onto that particular mud and enters the password for you thus relieving you the drudgery of both entering and remembering what your login name and password is for that mud.

        If you are as into mudding as I am, I highly recommend this program.


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