Magazine-Published Articles Hat

Published magazine articles on MUDs and MUD-related matters. All these have been scanned from the original copies in my possession.
Mortar Board An Adventure in Small Computer Game Simulation
Adams, S.
Creative Computing, pages 90 to 97,
August, 1979.
A very technical paper, which suffers from bad layout and worse editing. It describes how the (at the time) famous Scott Adams Adventures were programmed. 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.
Mortar Board How to Fit a Large Program in a Small Machine
Blank, M. S. & Galley, S. W.
Creative Computing, pages 80 to 87,
July, 1980.
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 Very badly out of date in places, particularly in its obsession with text-compression, but nevertheless eerily relevant elsewhere.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.
Mortar Board Zork and the future of Computerized Fantasy Simulations
Lebling, P. D.
Byte, pages 172 to 182,
December, 1980.
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.
Mortar Board Rockman Files
Rockman, S.
Games Computing, page 89,
April, 1984.
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 blushes).
Mortar Board M.U.D
Schifreen, R.
Computer & Video Games, pages 144 and 145,
July, 1984.
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 email box..!
Mortar Board Real, live MUD!
Thomas, S.
Personal Computer World, pages 134 to 135,
August, 1984.
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.
Mortar Board Mud in your eye
Erskine, C.
Popular Computing Weekly, page 12,
August, 1984.
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 Roberts and Stephen Murrell.
Machin, D., Big K, page 46,
October, 1984.
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...
Mortar Board Fun in a Dungeon
<author unknown>
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?
Mortar Board Hackers' heaven
Janda, D.
What Micro?, pages 86 and 87,
December, 1984.
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..!
Mortar Board FUN WITH MUD
Smith, B.
Computing Today, page 24,
January, 1985.
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. The author, Barry Smith, was one half of the famous Paula persona.
Mortar Board Game with cult status
<author unknown>
Telelink, pages 26 to 28,
January/February, 1985.
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.
Mortar Board Talkin' 64
Manchester, P.
Your 64, page 88,
February, 1985.
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 little well-worn...
Mortar Board Muddy waters
Croft, M.
Popular Computing Weekly, page 11,
May, 1985.
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!).
Mortar Board Wallowing in the MUD
Curry, M.
Home Computing Weekly, pages 21 and 22,
June, 1985.
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 eyes...
Mortar Board MUD on your Screens
Segre, N.
MSX User, pages 18 and 19,
October, 1985.
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 more money...
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 course, really.
Mortar Board Multi-Modem Games
Croft, M.
Computer Gamer, pages 50 to 52,
August, 1986.
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 Avalon) and Dark Sceptre sank without trace. Of the others, MUD2 was just starting up, Shades had been announced but wasn't yet playable on Micronet, and Starweb was trundling along reasonably well.
Mortar Board M.U.D in your eye
Douglas, J.
Computer & Video Games, pages 34 and 35,
August, 1986.
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...).
Mansfield, S.
MSX Computing, pages 14 to 16,
October/November, 1986.
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 Manchester MUG.
Mortar Board MUD:
Lawton, M. and Farnon, K.
Commodore Computing International, page 54,
November, 1986.
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 Prestel MUD 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 gem...
Mortar Board The MUG Page:
Lawton, M. and Farnon, K.
Commodore Computing International, pages 78 and 79,
December, 1986.
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...
Voke, P.
Acorn User, pages 148 to 151,
April, 1987.
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.
Cooke, S.
PC Plus, pages 77 and 78,
September, 1987.
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, as Steve 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 unfunny cartoon.
Mortar Board GET MUGGED!
Round, E.
Advanced Computer Entertainment, pages 97 to 99,
July, 1988.
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..!
Mortar Board A MUGS GAME!
GM, page 67,
January, 1989.
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 rival Dragon. 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 piece.
Mortar Board Behind the WORDS...
Kathuria, P.
Comms Plus!, pages 11 and 12,
October/November, 1989.
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?
Mortar Board Confessions of a Shadesholic
Craven, P.
Comms Plus!, pages 12 and 23,
October/November, 1989.
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.
Mortar Board COMPUNET Update
Hardcastle, P.
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..!
Mortar Board Adventure '89
Kathuria, P.
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 games.
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!
Mortar Board Here's How the Big Kids Play
Conroy, C.
CompuServe Magazine, pages 14 to 19,
January, 1990.
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...
Mortar Board Genie and CompuServe Offer Die-Hard Adventure Fans Wide New On-line Worlds
Mostellor, T.
PC Magazine, pages 509 and 510,
June, 1990.
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...
Mortar Board Paola Kathuria
Kathuria, P.
Comms Plus!, pages 28 and 29,
June/July, 1990.
A review of the various Internet MUDs available, undertaken on a 3-month sojourn in the USA.
Mortar Board The Sysop File
<author unknown>
Comms Plus!, pages 23 to 25,
October/November, 1990.
An excerpt from an interview with Nigel Hardy, author of Sector 7. This is the bit where he talks about the game.
Mortar Board it's a mugs game
<author unknown> and Miah, R.
Complete Computer Entertainment Guide, pages 57 to 59,
Winter, 1990.
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...
Mortar Board What Came First
Kathuria, K.
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.
Kathuria, P.
OASIS Newsletter, pages 3 and 4,
February, 1991.
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 Paola 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.
Mortar Board You Haven't Lived...
<author unknown>
The Gamesman, page 24,
October, 1991.
Although the author is unknown, I'm fairly confident that Roger 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 article which followed 2 months later doesn't have the factual errors of this one, but repeats the error of sickening over-enthusiasm...
Mortar Board Modems and Mazes
<author unknown>
The Gamesman, pages 16 and 17,
December, 1991.
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...
Mortar Board Multi User Dungeon
Kathuria, P.
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, Paola Kathuria, 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 <SARCASM>reviews</SARCASM> published regarding MUD2...
Mortar Board MUD II: The Multi User Dungeon
Red Herring, pages 43 and 44,
April, 1992.
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 piece.
Red Herring, pages 48 and 49,
June, 1992.
Here, Kirm reviews Federation 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.
Red Herring, pages 34 and 37,
October, 1992.
This review of Avalon is by Kirm's sister. She rather likes it, it seems.
Mortar Board MUD II UPDATE
Red Herring, page 50,
December, 1992.
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).
Mortar Board MUDs
Shah, R. and Romine, J.
Axcess, pages 100 to 103,
March/April, 1995.
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...
Mortar Board Glorious MUD
Mitchell, A.
Internet and Comms Today, pages 43 and 44,
July, 1995.
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.
Mortar Board Multiplayer Design Issues
Walton, P.
The Cursor, pages 16 and 17,
Summer, 1997.
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.
Mortar Board the future of GAMES
Bennallack, O.
PC Review, pages 35 to 44,
November, 1997.
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.
Mortar Board the online game
<author unknown>
Edge, pages 77 to 80,
April, 1998.
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 any money.

These are series of articles:
Mortar Board The Confidential articles, beginning June/July, 1989.
Mortar Board The Comms Plus! articles, beginning October/November, 1989.
Mortar Board The The Message articles, beginning Autumn, 1991.

Copyright © Richard A. Bartle (
13th July :\webdes~1\ m.htm