[MUD-Dev] Where are we now?

Richard A. Bartle richard at mud.co.uk
Fri May 4 09:39:10 New Zealand Standard Time 2001

On 03 May 2001, Raph Koster wrote:

> He can chime in, but I think because it was intended in part as a
> multi user version of DUNGEN, which was a Zork clone available on
> the PDP machines he and Trubshaw were using.

That's correct, although the timeline entry is slightly incorrect.

DUNGEN was the name of a Fortran transliteration of Zork. The DEC-10
file naming convention was 6-letter name with 3-letter extension
[Aside: this was because the DEC-10 had a 36-bit word, and could
therefore pack 6 "sixbit" letters to a word ("sixbit" being a
variation on ASCII which used, er, 6 bits, with the space character
having code 0; to convert from sixbit to ASCII you had to add the
ASCII code for a space, ie. decimal 32). Because sixbit only had
capital letters, all DEC-10 filenames were written in upper case, at
least at Essex University.]

The reason Roy went for DUNGEoN as the D in MUD was because at the
time there were only three of what we would now call "adventure games"
around: ADVENT (adventure), DUNGEN (Zork) and some bizarre LISP-based
AI production system called HAUNT. Of these, Zork was the best, so we
figured the whole genre would probably end up being called Dungeons
(after the program). However, they were promptly dubbed Adventures. I
spent some time in the late 1980s trying to persuade people that
instead of using the generic term MUD for MUDs, it would be more
correct to call them MUAs. It didn't exactly catch on, though...

Well that's the official line, but it wasn't quite like that.  I
remember that there were 3 or 4 of us in Roy's university flat
(apartment, for US readers) and we were asking Roy what he was going
to call the game. I'm pretty sure he wanted to call it MUD from the
beginning, but I'm not sure that he had D for DUNGEoN in mind. He said
the MU were for "multi-user" but the suggestion for the D was by
someone else - it might even have been me. I believe it came as an
interruption, though, and Roy was going to say DUNGEoN anyway.

I have to confess I feel uneasy about this explanation. I have a
feeling that Roy may have had the D for DUNGEoN and that we were
trying to persuade him to make it be for something else. A few years
ago I spoke to one of the other people who was there and he assured me
that the D was because of "the version of Zork that was doing the
rounds at the time", a fact later confirmed by Roy.

Hmm, tell you what, I'll ask Roy himself if he can remember the exact
moment he called the program MUD. I'll let you know what he says.


PS: Do the authors of RFC 2822 have any idea how difficult it is to
persuade MS Outlook to change the "Reply-To" field for a message so it
gives some email address other than that of the sender?
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