Adventurers Club Ltd. Member's Dossier, March, 1987 Hat

Richard Bartle's Page

Oh, hello. For the sake of those readers who are wondering why someone they never heard of has been invited to fill a whole section of this volume, perhaps this is a good time to introduce myself. Now unless you've been encased in an opaque glass box for the past 7 years, with only your trusty micro', a drawer-full of pirated software, and sundry cans of coke, packets of crisps and cups of cold coffee for company, you can't fail to have encountered the word "MUD" at some stage in your quest for better adventure games. I'm the chap who wrote most of it (except the hard parts!). Oh, THAT Richard Bartle...

Before you turn the page and read the next riveting feature in this publication, let me first say that I do NOT intend, in this or future articles, simply to plug MUD at every opportunity. I'll try to use my experience in designing MUD to give you practical advice on how to play such games, mainly by focusing on how they're designed and what this means to you as a player. I won't be rehashing the pieces from late-lamented "Micro Adventurer" that I used to produce, which should be good news to those who remember them and even better news to those who like their information to be up-to-date.

Let me start, then, by telling you what I mean by a "Multi-User Adventure" (MUA). It's simply an adventure game which more than one person can play at once. It is NOT a "Multi-User Game", as some people would have us believe - this term embraces too many other things for my liking, such as soccer, Monopoly, whist, and any other game you can think of which has more than one player... As we all know what the term "adventure" means, calling MUAs the ones which allow more than one player seems to be the most sensible approach.

Normally, such games are played remotely, over telephone lines. There's a big computer sitting somewhere in the country running the MUA, you can contact it from your home, and play against/with anyone else who's doing the same thing. There are other architectures, such as networking machines together locally, but the hassle of organising this kind of thing is pretty large. In Britain, MUD has set a trend which all other games have followed. In the USA, where games have been developed without having seen MUD,the results are less impressive but could still be classified as MUAs.

In later articles in this section, I'll try and explain some of the features which make MUAs so compeliingly different from conventional adventures. I'll also be giving tips on game design, and reviewing some of the U.S. MUAs which even the dedicated British players are unlikely to have seen.

Copyright © Richard A. Bartle (
21st January 1999: aclmar87.htm