MUD may be spread around... Hat

MUD may be spread around...

The multi-user game MUD - first made famous on Essex University's mainframe and latterly on Compunet - may be developed by British Telecom into a major networked service.

Negotiations are at an advanced stage between Telecom and the marketing company which holds the rights to the program.

Simon Dalley, formerly of Century Communications, together with Richard Bartle and Roy Trubshaw, the game's authors, have formed a company to market the program and its concepts worldwide.

British Telecom's New Information Services division - which also operates the software house Firebird - have been interested in acquiring the UK rights to MUD for some time.

Trevor Havelock of NIS told TeleLink: "We see a bright future for multi-user games. It appears to be a natural progression in software development. People have moved from arcade games to strategy games and MUD seems a logical extension of that process".

BT do not see a major market running into hundreds of thousands of users but are well equipped both in hardware, networking and marketing resources to develop MUD into more than just something for the real home hobbyists.

"Obviously we have to be very wary about the charging structure of playing such a game", said Trevor. "However during off peak times BT has a number of large core machines which are under utilised. Naturally, also, our revenue comes in overall terms from telephone call charges and charges for playing the game - it is only organisations like ours that can really contemplate doing this sort of thing".

If negotiations are satisfactorily completed the game will be re-written and launched later this year.

MUD will currently only run on VAX machines and needs to be more transportable across a range of mainframes.

Authors Richard Bartle and Roy Trubshaw have a number of enhancements in mind for a new version too.

MUD first came to fame early last year when Essex University allowed "outside" access to the program via the PSS network at off-peak times. Since then it has also been placed on Compunet, but users have to pay a premium price to access it.

Richard A. Bartle (
5th August 1999: tlmay85.htm