What MMORPGs could learn from MUDs

Tuesday, May 31, 2011 | 8

You enter a poorly written article. The walls are slimy to the touch. You can feel a cool breeze coming through the cracks below. Before you stands the embodiment of arrogance and poor hygiene...

There are no exits.

20/25 HP / 5/5 MP > Kill author
I apologize for anyone who has absolutely no idea where I was going with that. We can't all waste our early (and late) teen years playing online text based games to fill the void that thin-mints couldn't.

A MUD (Multi-User Dungeon) is one of the earliest forms of online gaming, but instead of purple weapons and shitty user-interfaces, they employ your imagination and don't insult you with any interface at all! Like most text-based games, MUDs survived by replacing graphics with innovation and creativity. I would pose that nearly any MUD that you could find today would have far more in the way of character development, equipment, and depth of lore than any current popular MMORPG.

I've been doing a lot of lists lately... Here is another list in no particularly meaningful order!

MUDs don't have publishers steering the ship

The best way to stifle any and all creativity in game development is to let a suit compare your project to what they consider similar products. When Rift was in development, I'm sure that at some point early on there were people in charge that thought they would make something new and exciting for disenfranchised ex-MMORPG players... Sadly, once a person outside got a hold of it, they ended up making World of Warcraft Part 3 (Part 2 was Warhammer Online).

MUDs protect their precious secrets

This may just be a symptom of the lack of player base in a typical MUD, but they tend to have secret puzzles and zones that have existed for years that nobody ever solved or found. The type of mystique of being able to solve a complex puzzle for the first time on a server is completely impossible to achieve in MMORPGs. Any MMORPG with any puzzles would have solutions posted on the internet before the game exits alpha testing.

If you don't think it is worth it to have things in a game that you may never be able to figure out, then you are stupid and this article isn't for you. A good puzzle is a very rewarding experience to the mentally capable, and it upsets me that developers do everything for the bottom ten percent. This leads me to my next issue.

MUDs don't care if you suck

One of the biggest problems with the hand holding in MMORPGs today is that it completely ignores the opposite end of the spectrum. World of Warcraft spent lot of time and money on making sure that anyone could play their game. What they failed to realize is that by oversimplifying everything so completely, they made the game so mind-numbingly simple that the difference between a great player and a terrible player really isn't that big.

There is no reason why someone who has mastered a system shouldn't obliterate someone who is drooling all over the keyboard. That is why god invented Bruce Lee and the Harlem Globetrotters (not at the same time, obviously).

MUDs have a real community

The sense of community that you can experience in a MUD is due to the fact that if you don't know the person you're grouping with they could very easily betray you and steal your fancy shoes with the light-up soles. MMORPGs today dedicate to much time into figuring out how to restrict griefers so you aren't forced to get to know people on a level other than their class and level before you dive into a pit with them.

Call me crazy, but I think that knowing the guy who is responsible for making sure you don't die should be pretty damn important. Sadly, because of the aforementioned point, it doesn't matter who is with you in a MMORPG because any trained parrot is capable of pressing number keys in sequential order and being the best raid healer on Bleeding Hollow...

and I'm bored...

I really could go on and on about this, but I'll leave that up to the comments section. Also, yes, the lack of images used in this article was supposed to be humorous...


  1. you sound really dumb muds were shit i could never and will never even entertain the idea of playing something so shit again

  2. You've obviously missed the point. You may want to go back and read to determine why your comment is ignorant and invalid.

  3. I used to play on a DikuMUD. I got three characters to the highest level, but one of those was just a means to an end, because I had to kill a certain mob who had something I wanted and which no one would trade to me. After all that grinding I never really wanted to grind up new characters in any of the MMORPGs that appeared. Especially not in EQ, since it seemed to feature the same boring mob camping I had grown to dislike in DikuMUD, just with added graphics. The closest I ever got to MUDs after I quit MUDs was persistent worlds in NWN, which was fun for a while. But I don't like the D20 system. Classes and levels. Bleh.

  4. I'm glad I didn't put "grinding" or "D20 Systems" on my list.

  5. MUDs offered so much that current games just do not bring to the table. I played my old lpmud based tolkien game up until 2008 really. And luckily I am still able to hop on it a few times a year and catch up on things. Some sandboxes though have gotten really close to offering me a similar experience that kept me playing my MUD for 10+ years. But boy do I miss solving puzzles that few could master and there is something to be said for having a small and close knit community.

  6. well to the first comment i want to state that imagination and a brain is required to play MUDs, its mostly up to the user to get their satisfaction out of the game its not thrown at u with crazy sound effects and cartoon graphics. But i have to say that if you are truly into MUDs then you will never find a game as good as them, mainly because a large portion comes from your own mind there for gives you personal satisfaction, its like DnD in that aspect.

  7. I sort of disagree. While minor details can be imagined, MUDs are more about reading everything thats there in order to gain insights about specific regions. That could be accomplished with graphical games just as easily.

    I'm mostly just trying to emphasize the aspects of MUDs that MMORPGs could learn from.


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