Unpublished Articles Hat

These are serious texts which are unpublished, or circulated only among a small number of people.
Mortar Board A Muse, the earliest formal writing I have related to MUDs (it dates from January, 1981). At the time, I was a third-year undergraduate at Essex University, and was seeking a grant to stay on and do a PhD. I was asked by my potential supervisor, Jim Doran, to put together a paper describing what I wanted to do, where the problems would be, and why it was original enough to merit research. I had about a week to prepare it (I think, in retrospect, this deadline may have been testing my ability to work under pressure). The resulting document ran to 27 hand-written A4 pages describing the next version of MUD, which I called MUSE (I managed a wry smile when Simon Dally suggested that name some 4 years later for the company that he, Roy and I were to set up). Although the resulting paper (my first, ever!) was very rushed, Jim saw enough potential in it/me to recommend I be given the Department's single PhD grant that year, provided I got a first-class honours degree in the summer. Luckily, I did.
As a PhD student I spent about 6 months programming the MUSE system, but did not complete it; I realised that to get a PhD, I'd have to go into a single subject in great depth, rather than join together disparate aspects of many areas of research. I also became aware that the representation I was implementing was not really "there", and I would have to rewrite it from scratch to make it do everything I wanted. This, I was reluctant to do, because I suspected that the same thing would happen again: the programming would show up inadequacies that I'd want to remove by yet another rewrite. Besides, I was still able to stretch MUD some more, and I had a good idea for a "proper" PhD subject.
Re-reading the document (as I had to do, given that I couldn't scan it for this web site and had to type it all in by hand...) I was struck by the way it has some rather good ideas in it, sitting right alongside ones which needed a great deal more thought! The tabular representation for the database was eventually ditched in favour of a true programming language when I wrote MUD2, but the central idea behind the parser is the one MUD2 uses to this day. I also found it refreshing to be reminded of some of the things I'd almost forgotten about, such as Roy's SUD ideas and the details of Stephen Murrell's PIGG.
All in all, this is perhaps a significant document for historians and an interesting one for MUD authors. It's an embarrassing one for me, though, as I wrote it straight off without any editing and it rather shows at times..!
Mortar Board Improvements in the Next Version of MUD, an internal MUSE Ltd. report prepared in early 1985. Simon Dally asked me to put together a scree detailing how a rewritten MUD would be better than the one we had already, in order that he could get us some funds to develop it. I was to stress how a new game would save money over continuing with the old approach. This I did, although in the event many of the hardware-related arguments were rendered redundant by the eventual choice of sharing BT VMS/VAXes for the target platform. This is a shame - I rather liked the idea of a network of smart modems connected to a central game machine.
Mortar Board MUD - Some of the Ideas I've Been Playing About With..., an internal MUSE Ltd. report prepared in 1985. Simon Dally asked me to write him something explaining in layman's terms some of the issues I faced in designing (what was to become) MUD2, and I wrote this (rather informal) document in response. It could still be of use to people who are thinking of putting together their own MUD, I suppose, but the way MUD2's parser and binder turned out is somewhat more refined than that presented here; the MUDDLE language is also far more elegant than the hints here suggest.
Mortar Board The Future of Virtual Reality, a thought experiment in defence of MUDs. The argument is somewhat similar to that employed by Asimov in The Ancient and the Ultimate, chapter 14 in The Tragedy of the Moon. I described the argument to a journalist at ECTS 1997 and ended up being quoted in a cover story piece on industry gurus..!

Copyright © Richard A. Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk)
30th October :\webdes~1\ m.htm