Wallowing in the MUD Hat

MUD 2, the interactive adventure game which will be available over the phone is to be launched in September. Curry spoke to Dovid Loycock of BTís information service about the new project

Adventure fanatics will soon have a new experience available to them, when British Telecom New Information Services and Muse Ltd launch MUD 2 at th ePCW show in September of this year. Muse was set up by Simon Dally of Century books, and MUD authors Richard Bartle and Roy Trubshaw.

MUD stands for Multi-User Dungeon and the original version of the game has been running on the Essex University main frame computer for the past four years. Early this year it became available to Compunet users and now adventurers all over the country will be able to try their hand at MUD 2, a much larger version of the original. MUD 2 will have about 1000 locations as opposed to the 400 of its parent game.

The name of the game speaks for itself. The concept is very simple - although there have inevitably been a few problems in putting the idea into practice. It is hopes that, when MUD 2 is first launched it will be able to cope with up to 50 players simultaneously and this figure will be improved upon as soon as Possible. The 50 players will enter the land and attempt to get through all the obstacles to eventually become a Grand Wizard. It is an interactive adventure so that players may meet each other and either help or hinder their colleagues in their progress through the land.

David Laycock of British Telecom's New information Services is confident that the new idea will prove extremely popular with computer users. He said: "There is a vast computing market out there and people are becoming blazé about the existing type of games. Players are now looking for something very different and original and MUD is certainly that."

To play MUD you will need to buy the MUD starter pack which will cost around £20. The pack will contain an account number and password, a booklet explaining the game to give you feel of the world of MUD and a colour map showing part of the land. The first few hours on MUD are included in the pack and after that you will have to buy credits which will give you one hour's play for £2, although there will be discounts for players who buy their credits in bulk.


[Photograph]

Richard Bartle - one of the authors of MUD Image size: approx. 25K.


MUD 2 will initially be based on a London Vax system and players will be able to access the game with a modem. Baud rate will be 300/300 and 1200/75 and the game will run in off peak telephone hours between 6pm and 8am.

"At this stage everything is still being finalised", explained Mr Layock, "but the eventual goal will not be a pot of gold. The players will aim to become a grand wizard and to do this they must amass points to become more and more powerful." A wizard will be able to cast spells to influence other players and he can be nice or nasty depending on his whim. "We will have to limit the powers of the wizards to some extent otherwise things could get out of hand," he commented. "For instance someone could pick up a dragon and put it at the entrance of the game so that everyone trying to come in would die instantaneously. That's the sort of thing we need to prevent but apart from this we really won't be putting any restrictions on players at all."

According to Mr Laycock it will be advisable for players to form alliances with each other. "If they co-operate with each then they will of course get on better in the game. MUD 2 is truly interactive because there is at least one obstacle which cannot be overcome by one player alone, although we're not revealing what this is." he said.

Another added complication for players is the presence of computer generated beings or mobiles. Mr Laycock was very enthusiastic about these. "We will be giving the mobiles artificial intelligence and it will be very difficult for players to ascertain whether the beings they meet are mobiles or real people."

Asked about the New Information Service's future plans, Mr Laycock said: "MUD 2 will, of course, be added to and developed, it is by no means a static game. We are also looking at ideas for similar projects in the future. We may move away from the traditional dungeon style of adventure and perhaps do a space exploration game. There are many possibilities."


Richard A. Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk)
12th March 1999: hcwjun85.htm