Academics play with Dungeons and Dragons Hat

Academic play with Dungeons and Dragons

THE UNlVERSlTY of Essex is using a variation on the game Dungeons and Dragons for experiments in natural language interfaces and software engineering.

Out of prime time, the university's DEC System Ten is being used as the environment for a networked game called Multi-User Dungeon - or Mud for short

The game enables a number of "players" to log into it at the same time and participate in adventures in the world of Mud. The players can communicate with each other and help or hinder each other as they progress through the game.

The commercial potential of Mud has already been recognised and Century Communications, the publishing company, has signed up rights to the game.

Compunet, the network service for Commodore users, is working on a version of Mud for use on the ADP Network services network and others are said to be interested.

Richard Bartle, the Essex University lecturer who co-wrote the Mud software with former student Roy Trubshaw, is keen to explain its sophistication.

"It's not just limited to the Dungeons and Dragons scenario - it can be used for all manner of situations where people want to communicate in real time within a defined context", he said.

With the software industry desperately looking for new ideas to keep home computer users interested, the multi-user game is strongly tipped as being a hot item.

"They have some in the US already", explained Bartle. "But we reckon we are two years ahead of anyone else."

Phil Manchester


"Ok, ok, so you got killed. Get us an extra year's funding and I promise you can come back as a wizard."
Image size: approx. 16K.

Richard A. Bartle (
21st January 1999: dloct84.htm