Published magazine articles on MUDs and MUD-related matters. All these have
been scanned from the original copies in my possession.
An Adventure in
Small Computer Game Simulation
Creative Computing, pages 90 to 97,
A very technical paper, which suffers from bad
layout and worse editing. It describes how the (at the
time) famous Scott Adams Adventures were
Looking at this now, the techniques are
incredibly primitive - integers instead of
symbols, hacks to handle action chaining and
get/drop automation - but given that
they were written for (and ran on!) machines
with 16K of 8-bit wide RAM, it makes much
more sense. That said, the system employed
by the contemprary Zork was
much more sophisticated.
How to Fit a Large Program in a Small Machine
Blank, M. S. & Galley, S. W.
Creative Computing, pages 80 to 87,
A technically-inclined paper describing
what's involved in implementing an adventure
game on a micro. Very badly out of date in
places, particularly in its obsession with
text-compression, but nevertheless eerily
relevant elsewhere. It deals with the authors'
efforts to run Zork on a small
computer. Zork is translated
into Z-code, which runs on a virtual
machine. This machine is simulated by an
interpreter, one of which can, in theory, be
written for any target architecture. How to
make this interpreter work on a micro
when it's rather hoping for a thumping
great big mainframe is the article's main
concern, but it does covers a broad range
of things which people considering writing a
MUD from scratch ought to make themselves
aware of, even if they don't implement things
that way themselves.
Zork and the
future of Computerized Fantasy Simulations
Lebling, P. D.
Byte, pages 172 to 182,
Really just a shorter version of the
IEEE paper by Lebling et
al. This one goes into some detail regarding
Zork in play, but doesn't
mention data structures, control, or related
issues: it's more of a functional description
than an implementational one. It covers a lot
of the basic concepts you're likely to want in
any half-decent adventure game (and therefore
in any MUD), and it does so in a clear and
readable fashion. It's interesting to note
that Zork still hasn't quite made up its
mind in places as to whether it's avatar-based
(you tell the game what it is to do) or
persona-based (you tell the game what you
want to do).
There are two items of special interest for
MUD historians in this article: 1) it contains
the first printed reference anywhere to
MUD1 (as "Multiple User
Dungeon"); 2) it mentions an earlier
multiplayer version of Zork that
no-one seems to know much about.
Games Computing, page 89,
An enthusiastic article on MUD
by a (then) young journalist who had a
monthly column in Games Computing
and who was friends with many of our players.
He played the game quite a bit before
writing about it, so he did actually know what
he was talking about (he eventually made it to
wiz). Although this article did not, in itself,
attract huge numbers of players, it did
bring the game to the notice of several other
article-writers: 1984 was the Summer of
MUD as far as the UK computing
press was concerned.
There is a short reference to this article
in Simon Rockman's
June, 1984 column.
Both come with photographs of the author,
but I haven't scanned them in (to save his
Computer & Video Games, pages 144 and 145,
A description of what MUD is and how to play it,
written by someone who has done so only once. As a result there
are a number of factual errors and miconceptions, some of
which are picked up by later article-writers who plagiarised
this one (sigh).
The reference to "illegal" accesses of computers was
quite prophetic, as the author, Robert Schifreen,
was one of two people famously arrested (but freed by the courts) for
allegedly breaking into Prince Philip's personal
Real, live MUD!
Personal Computer World, pages 134 to 135,
This is the classic article on
MUD which really made it
well-known. It's actually quite a good
introduction for people with no idea of what
MUDs are, and it certainly piques the
tastebuds! Being an early example of
MUD articles, it is also fairly
accurate, too (later ones tend to
propagate errors that crept into their
predecessors, and add in a few of
their own, which says rather a lot about
journalistic techniques in the mid-1980s...).
Historical note: "Susan Thomas" was
actually a pseudonym adopted by a true MUD
addict who lived in Wales (the one with the £3,000 phone
bill that so many other articles refer to).
It turned out she was actually male, and
(s)he only stopped playing when arrested for
defrauding the Ministry of Transport of
£60,000. The shock of finding out
that Sue the arch-witch was actually Steve the
arch-switch was unpleasant for all of us.
Mud in your eye
Popular Computing Weekly, page 12,
Christina Erskine is now a
well-known computer journalist, but when she
wrote this she was just starting out. It was
based on an informal interview with me which we did at
Essex University one afternoon (she took the
photograph of me
herself). Apart from getting Brian
Mallett's name wrong (she has "Brian
Roberts"), the article is good. Roy
Trubshaw (of course) also gets a mention,
but so too, I'm happy to say, do Nigel
MUD, MUD GLORIOUS MUD
Big K, page 46,
It's amazing to read these old articles and
be reminded that people once actually had to
have basic concepts of online games explained
to them. But yes, they did, and this piece
from the fairly short-lived Big
K (having a tech-is-hot kind of name
is OK so long as you have tech-is-hot kind
of articles, and it didn't) isn't so bad at
doing it. The article was accompanied by
some gratuitous photographs of modems and
someone at a computer, plus a fuzzy screen shot
of MUD's help output; I haven't
scanned these as they're really just padding.
More padding is the unnecessary tirade against
academics about a third of the way through...
Fun in a Dungeon
Home Computer Advanced Course, pages 384 and 385,
Issue 20, 1984.
The Home Computer Advanced Course was
one of those monthly collect-the-set magazines which
come out from time to time on practically every subject
imaginable (gardening, opera, cake-making etc.). The
computer ones are typically hopeless because they date
so quickly that they can't be recycled in other countries
(mind you, I did receive a query from India several years
after this article appeared, so maybe they do
re-use them! I've no idea what the chap who wrote made of
all the references to BT and PSS, though...).
The article itself is staid but factual. Unfortunately,
some of its facts are staggeringly incorrect (up to 43
players? Uh?). It makes you wonder how correct the details
are in other magazines of this type. Care to try
the Home-made Fireworks Advanced Course, anyone?
What Micro?, pages 86 and 87,
Although What Micro? was
primarily a hardware review magazine, it
nevertheless carried other features, this
article being one of them. It's very
pro-MUD; the author was clearly
impressed, having actually taken the trouble
to play the game (there are some short
transcripts). A few minor errors appear, but
they're fairly obvious ones (32 players
instead of 36, that sort of thing). It's
amazing we ever got any players at the
prices he quotes, but we did..!
FUN WITH MUD
Computing Today, page 24,
This is a good version of the standard
"Hey, there's this game called MUD!"
article which regularly used to crop up to
introduce the concept to people who were
familiar with the notion of "adventure
games" and perhaps, if they were keen,
might have heard of "modems" too.
Smith, was one
half of the famous Paula persona.
Game with cult status
Telelink, pages 26 to 28,
Telelink was a magazine before its time. It had the
articles, it just didn't have the readers... This particular
article on MUD2 is quite enthusiastic, but seems to
have been written by someone who has never actually played the game; in
particular, the references to "the wizard" betray a certain
confusion. There's also a completely spurious panel
interviewing the managing director of "Viewfax 258"
(couldn't they get 256?), which was a service on Prestel that,
as far as I know, never approached MUSE about MUD2
and never got any MUD of their own running, either. I
do have a copy of the review
of MUD2 referred to, however.
The graphics accompanying this article were fairly colourful,
but too large (A3 size) to scan in full. However, I've
done a portion for you, and their
amazing rotated map.
Your 64, page 88,
An early piece related to MUD1 on
Compunet. Phil Manchester actually took the trouble to
check his facts before he wrote anything, so it's
generally sound even if the anecdotes it recounts are a
Popular Computing Weekly, page 11,
An interview with Simon Dally,
about MUD2 and its prospects.
Martin Croft was also on the
Micro Adventurer team, and had an
interest in games like MUD, so
he made a good job of it. Little did any of
us know that in less than five years, Simon
would be dead by his own hand.
There's a photograph
of Simon, holding his briefcase to look
professional (but failing - he always looked a
slob no matter how valiantly he tried otherwise!).
Wallowing in the MUD
Home Computing Weekly, pages 21 and 22,
A pre-launch article for MUD2,
arranged by BT. It's not exactly marvellous;
BT NIS had a new head, David Laycock, who
didn't really know a great deal about the game
but tried his best to be enthusiastic.
There were two photographs with this article. One
occupied most of the first page and was of David
Laycock; I haven't scanned this because it was
really only there to cover for the fact that Home
Computing Weekly was desperately short of
editorial. The other photograph is of
me, taken in one of those
Photo-Me booths so I have mad, staring
MUD on your Screens
MSX User, pages 18 and 19,
MSX was a standard for home computers invented
by a consortium of big Japanese companies. The UK
was used as the testing ground, prior to a
planned assault on the rest of the world. This
proved a wise move, because if they'd gone
all out from the start they'd have lost even
This (cover!) article was placed as part of
BT's pre-launch MUD2 publicity by
their media person, Mike
Anderiesz (who appeared as the
figure in the cover
picture on the first edition of the
Beginners' Companion). It is riddled with
inaccuracies, some of quite puzzling origin
(I was Roy's tutor? Uh?), and I doubt a single
new player resulted from it. Par for the
Computer Gamer, pages 50 to 52,
A review of five "multi-modem games" (for some
reason, the term never caught on...) which the Great
British Public could either play already or could look
forward to playing. Of these, Avalon (not
to be confused with
and Dark Sceptre sank without trace. Of the
MUD2 was just starting up, Shades
had been announced but wasn't yet playable on Micronet, and
Starweb was trundling along reasonably well.
M.U.D in your eye
Computer & Video Games, pages 34 and 35,
This is an interesting article in that it was
reviewed at a time when MUD2 was
still being developed. Chunks of MUD1 had
not yet been added, and the game was flakier than it
is now. The author quite clearly came from a SUD
background, and had some problems understanding how
the game was intended to work (eg. the limitations of
the SAVE command). Nevertheless, despite a number of misunderstandings
and some examples of shoddy writing, on the whole
the impression he makes is favourable (although
I do feel he was probably quite relieved to reach the end...).
MUD HITS THE FAN
MSX Computing, pages 14 to 16,
A fairly accurate piece, written by someone who
had played MUD2 (although clearly not in
phenomenal depth). It contains a nice
sketch map of The
Land, based on the one
given out in the starter pack. At the
end is a list of "other games"
which, intriguingly, references three MUDs that are
not mentioned in any other periodical of the time:
Island Adventure, Image and
Lawton, M. and Farnon, K.
Commodore Computing International, page 54,
There were two problems with the CCI
"MUG" articles, one syntactic and the
other semantic. At the syntax level, they really
needed the attention of an editor - they were full of poor
spellings, basic typographical errors and strange
grammatical constructions (I've corrected many
of the obvious mistakes in this scan, but
not everything). At the semantic level, they
made statements which were just play wrong!
The allegation that MUSE
instructed people to attack the personae of bad
reviewers is outrageous, and the supposed reason
that Micronet took on Shades is also
false, false, false. The authors may have known
this at the time, as did they deliberately set out
to be controversial, but there's no suggestion that they're
merely gossiping at all; I'm sure some people would have
believed what they read without question. Oh well.
The article is redeemed by its reprinting of the famous
addict cartoon, which was a spoof of the
mid-1980s anti-heroin ads which used to run on UK
television. I don't know who drew it, but it's a
The MUG Page:
Lawton, M. and Farnon, K.
Commodore Computing International, pages 78 and 79,
The second CCI article withdraws some of the
allegations from the first, and makes some more (in particular,
it suggests that one of the allegations shouldn't be
withdrawn... sigh). It discusses MUD2,
Compunet MUD1, Gods and
Shades. Interestingly, the bits on Gods
and MUD1 both relate to powers being given to mortals
over the highest-ranking players in the games (ie. gods and
arch-wizzes respectively). I don't like this approach, and
voiced my reservations when Compunet suggested an election for
arch-wizzes in their MUD1: it encourages the
arch-wizzes to give away points to ensure their re-election by
a devoted following next time. In Gods there's the
option of threatening mortals rather than bribing them, but
it's still one thing or the other: no-one gets support for merely
being good at their job...
IN IT TOGETHER
Acorn User, pages 148 to 151,
That rare thing, a comparative review of MUDs
(in this case, MUD2 and
Shades). The author played both,
and got most of his material by the simple
expedient of asking the other players what they
thought. The end result is quite fair; I'd
quibble over whether MUD2's
mobiles were less sophisticated than
Shades', which run about on
rails like ducks at a fairground, but then I
would, wouldn't I? Having played for a few
hours in each game, the author feels
qualified to present rolling resets as a
superior form to the sudden resets employed
by both MUD2 and Shades
(sigh), but other than that he seems to have
a good idea of what qualities make a MUD
admirable or not.
I wrote a letter
to Acorn User concerning this
article, which they subsequently published.
HOTLINE TO FANTASY
PC Plus, pages 77 and 78,
This is a pair of reviews (of MUD2
and Shades), put together as a
single article. There are some embarrassing
factual errors, but they don't really
detract from the overall tone, which is upbeat
and supportive. This isn't entirely unexpected,
Cooke is a long-time advocate of MUDs.
Both games come out of his review
well, with MUD2 being
characterised as best for the serious player
and Shades as best for everyone else.
The reviews were illustrated with a strangely
Advanced Computer Entertainment, pages 97 to 99,
ACE had a regular section on interactive
fiction called "Pilgrim", and this is the
review they ran on MUDs. It covers eight of them, which
is the most any magazine has managed to date that I've
seen. The reviews are necessarily short, but they do
contain some useful snippets of information, and they
seem to be of above-average accuracy (one of the two
spellings of "Trubshaw" is actually correct).
The author had taken the trouble to play those games with
which she wasn't already familiar, and had made witch level
on those with which she was..!
A MUGS GAME!
GM, page 67,
GM was one of those stop/start
magazines which lasted a year, folded, then
reappeared under a slightly different name a
few months later. Its brief was rôle-playing
games of all flavours, hoping eventually to
Of course it never did, because it couldn't get the
advertising revenue it needed without TSR's
support. This article was the first of a
planned series on MUDs, and includes a few
quotes from me suitably modified for house
style (I never, ever, called them
"MUGs"!). It mentions a few of the other MUDs
around at the time, but is mainly just an introductory
Comms Plus!, pages 11 and 12,
An article on some of the problems that
women have when they play on a MUD. This
is something that anyone could find out
for themselves by playing a MUD using a
feminine persona name, of course, but the
interesting point to note is that Paola
considers having to play as a male persona
(to avoid being hassled) as a lack of
freedom. Maybe she has something, there?
Comms Plus!, pages 12 and 23,
A mildly humourous piece written from the
point of view of a Shades
addict. Sympathise as I do with someone in
such a plight, this really should have been
punted to another issue, being the third
"MUD" article on the trot, and
somewhat undermining the
one preceding it
about women in MUDs.
Comms Plus!, page 7,
December, 1989/January, 1990.
A review of Realm,
recently arrived on "COMPUNET".
The review is actually not by the author
himself - he asked someone interested in MUDs
what they thought..!
Comms Plus!, pages 12 and 13,
December, 1989/January, 1990.
A report on Adventure '89, the
last big MUD convention in the UK. There
is a discussion from the female player's
point of view of the various merits of the
This article sees the first appearance in
print of my vaguely famous "If you see
a persona with a female name, it's being played
by a male" quote.
Were there really only three UK sites where
members of the public could access Usenet in
1989? Ye gods!
Here's How the
Big Kids Play
CompuServe Magazine, pages 14 to 19,
This was a surprise! CompuServe Magazine
almost never mentioned British Legends,
yet here was a major article on British
Legends, Island of Kesmai and
SNIPER!. I think it must have been to
try to get people to try out the latter, which never really
took off (I know that chess proves you have have a
2-player game with a big online following, but
SNIPER! isn't chess...). The
author did her research very well, actually playing all
three games. I think perhaps many of the newbies who
subsequently tried to follow in her footsteps may have
been disappointed at the level of help the piece leads them to
believe they could expect, though...
CompuServe Offer Die-Hard Adventure Fans Wide
New On-line Worlds
PC Magazine, pages 509 and 510,
A comparative review of British Legends
and Gemstone III. It's OK, but I'm
unimpressed by some of the author's statements,
in particular that both games lack pioneering
effort. I also disagree strongly with the point of
view that restricting people's choice of what
character to play enhances role-playing, but so many
people seem to believe that enforced character
design is at the very core of a role-playing
environment that I fear mine is a lost cause...
Comms Plus!, pages 28 and 29,
A review of the various Internet MUDs
available, undertaken on a 3-month
sojourn in the USA.
The Sysop File
Comms Plus!, pages 23 to 25,
An excerpt from an interview with
Nigel Hardy, author of
Sector 7. This is the bit
where he talks about the game.
it's a mugs game
<author unknown> and Miah, R.
Complete Computer Entertainment Guide, pages 57 to 59,
A contact list of all the main MUDs available at the time.
They're all dial-up one way or another, although by this
time the golden period of UK MUD development was already
effectively ended, AberMUD (named "AberMUG" here in
its commercial incarnation) having shown the Internet just
what was possible. The article has the usual rushed-but-OKish
introduction to what MUDs are, and mentions the lawsuit brought
about by a CompuNet MUD1 player who lost a
persona through wiz misbehaviour...
What Came First
Comms Plus!, pages 27 and 28,
December, 1990/January, 1991.
An attempt to discover which was the first MUD.
Actually, it only deals with two: Public
Caves (not exactly a MUD, but it was written after
the first version of MUD anyway) and
MUD itself. There are a number of minor
inaccuracies, at least one of which (the first version of
MUD was completed in 1978, not 1979) was
due to me: the earliest hard copy of MUD
code I have is dated 1979 on the header sheet, but I printed
it some time after the game was finished (purely for
reasons of posterity, believe it or not!). The code was
actually finished shortly before the
Christmas break, late 1978.
PROBLEM SOLVING: PART 2
OASIS Newsletter, pages 3 and 4,
Part 1 was a letter/article
by me in which I asked members of the Organisation
Against Sexism In Software to give me their veiws on
the proper way to deal with the situation in MUD
where someone types rape <player> as a
command. This reply from
Kathuria was printed in response. She
sent me a copy first, so I was able to make my
own comments on her
arguments. However, subsequent debate went by
the board when OASIS promptly folded, unannounced.
You Haven't Lived...
The Gamesman, page 24,
Although the author is unknown, I'm fairly
Harazim played a big
part in what was written. Given that the
whole article is a catalogue of mistakes and
untruths, though, he clearly should have
ben allowed to play a bigger one! The
followed 2 months later doesn't have the
factual errors of this one, but repeats the
error of sickening over-enthusiasm...
Modems and Mazes
The Gamesman, pages 16 and 17,
This review is so embarrassingly good, and
it contains so few errors, that originally I
supposed I may have written it myself (while
not remembering having done so).
However, some detective work by a reader of this
site, Jonathan Chang, has
revealed that actually much of it is ripped out of my
Interactive Multi-User Computer Games
report, which explains the situation nicely.
The article is illustrated with standard MUSE Ltd.
materials (none of which have I scanned,
but they include the
MUD logo and
the cover from the
Beginners' Companion); I suspect I sent
it all to a journalist
as "background information" that
they decided to quote at length...
Multi User Dungeon
The Message, pages 13 and 14, and 10 and 11,
Spring and Summer, 1992.
Scheduled for publication in Comms
Plus! before its demise, this article
was held over and used in the relaunched
The Message across two issues;
it is combined into a single piece here
for convenience. It's an extensive review
of MUD2, remarkable for the
fact that the author,
actually played the game in depth for the
purpose of writing about it (something few
other journalists can be accused of doing!).
She rather puts to shame some of the other
published regarding MUD2...
MUD II: The Multi User Dungeon
Red Herring, pages 43 and 44,
Red Herring was a thoroughly excellent
subscription-based magazine for players of adventures and
other computer rôle-playing games. It came with some
very well-executed and witty line drawings, but eventually
succumbed to the same ailment that killed off every other
such magazine: insufficient games reaching a wide
enough audience to attract a critical mass of subscribers. The
particular article reproduced here was by a
very well respected player of several commercial
MUDs. As you'll see, he does put together an alarmingly good
Red Herring, pages 48 and 49,
Here, Kirm reviews
II. The description of the game
is quite fair, although he doesn't seem to
have quite the enthusiasm that some of the
other players exhibit.
THE AVALON MUA
Red Herring, pages 34 and 37,
This review of
is by Kirm's
sister. She rather likes it, it seems.
MUD II UPDATE
Red Herring, page 50,
This is little more than an explanation of a new
charging option for MUD2. Although
intended to attract new players by giving them a
cheaper long-distance connection option than straight
direct-dial, the article never actually says this;
consequently, the game looks even more expensive and
price-complex than ever (sigh).
Shah, R. and Romine, J.
Axcess, pages 100 to 103,
A nice introduction to MUDs in a magazine
with hip, happening, cyberculture
credentials. The linear separators they
use seems to run through as many weak puns on
the word "mud" as they were possibly
able to cram in...
Internet and Comms Today, pages 43 and 44,
This article concerns the graphical interface
for a MUD called Terradome, with
some screen captures of it in action. Apparently,
Terradome's players find them the
images that match the basic text descriptions
of rooms - gawd knows what this means in
terms of consistency...
Warning: I seem to be missing the last page
of this article, so it ends mid-sentence.
Multiplayer Design Issues
The Cursor, pages 16 and 17,
A good, straightforward introduction to the
issues of the day for developers of online
games. It doesn't mention MUDs specifically, but
the points it raises apply all the same.
the future of GAMES
PC Review, pages 35 to 44,
A massive piece, where a number of UK-based
industry gurus (or their representatives)
are interviewed to elicit their thoughts on
the future of computer games (while getting
in a plug for whatever they're working on at
present). I get a couple of paragraphs,
although more as an eccentric than as a
Person Whose Views Matter. The argument I
put forward is an edited (by the article's
author) version of a thought
experiment I once did. A whole load of
photographs of the people involved accompany
the article, but none are reproduced here
because the photographer didn't turn up to
do me and I feel justified in sulking about it.
the online game
Edge, pages 77 to 80,
This is a major article looking at the
online industry and its prospects, based
on papers presented at Online
Entertainment '97. The author is rather
cynical about the future of such games,
which isn't all that difficult: the companies
with the money don't know what to do, and
the companies that know what to do don't have
These are series of articles: