**Disclaimer** The following blog is a parody. For avoidance of doubt, Otto von Quarzis is NOT a prophet and his former Rules Firm is NOT a law firm, does not provide legal advice, and, you know... isn't real. Carry on.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

MUDs - What is Old... is New, Again

A sub-title of this post could very well be... why I always go back.  MUDs have always, and will always, hold a special place in my heart.  I still remember the first MUD I played.  Technically, the first MUD I ever played was on Compuserve, right as I was graduating high school.  This was way before I knew anything about the "internet" and it was awesome! I could play a CRPG with hundreds of other people.  Unfortunately, Compuserve cost by the hour - so my play time was limited.

A year later, I went to college and discovered true internet (and free) based MUDs.  The first MUD I played was EOTL.  After many, many, many (I can't stress that word enough) characters, I finally, in a fit of desperation for trying to figure out new names saw a Forbes magazine and was like "Forbes, Ferbs, Ferbio, I got it! Eureka! I shall name this character Forbeo."  I figured he had a good hour to two life span based on my previous attempts.  As fate, and the cruel naming gods would have it, this was the boy-wizard that lived.

I eventually branched out and created my own MUD.  The story behind that shall be left for another day.  Dragon Realm MUD, not to be confused with a MUD by a similar name on AOL (or possibly Prodigy... getting senile in my old age) called Dragon Realms (notice the plural-ness).  I ran Dragon Realm MUD for about 10 years, give or take.  I was most prolific on the MUD in College and before I got married (go figure).  Eventually, as I was moving and changing careers, I had to give it up.  It went on to a few different hands, returned to me, and then finally, ended up in the hands of long time player, and all around great guy.  He runs it (on and off) to this day. 

In the mean time, I've played a lot of different MMORPGs (Guild Wars 2, Neverwinter, Elder Scrolls Online) and a ton of different co-op and single player RPGs.  They're fun.  I probably wracked up at least an hour or two on Guild Wars 2 (getting all the way to the level cap) for a good month.  However, no matter how fun and enjoyable they are - I rarely play more than a couple months.  I'll revisit occasionally, but never with much fervor.  MUD... I seem to always come back to and enjoy.

I thought I was done with MUD.  I hadn't played in a good year or two.  But, recently a long time player was inquiring about the old MUD.  It got me interested again, and here I am on a Saturday morning logged in with a new character playing away.  Is some of it my history with it?  Sure, there is a lot of nostalgia - I had some great times and met some awesome people MUDing.  I sunk a ton of hours (I think over 114 days in fact) into coding for the MUD.  But, I realized the other reasons are much deeper.

First, you can simply do way more with a text-based MUD.  You aren't limited to graphic capabilities or computing power.  The amount of complex traps, areas, monsters, treasures, and just general cool things you can do are limited pretty much by your imagination.  That brings me to the second reason - text is imagination - and RPGs are built on imagination.  One of the reasons that GW2 and ESO don't appeal to me is that the way characters look, the monster races, even the dungeons don't look the way I imagine them in my head.  It is someone else's vision - not mine.  Just like a movie can never capture the grandeur of a truly magnificent book - an MMORPG can never capture the grandeur of a text based adventure.

I see it in tabletop role-playing games too.  There has been a resurgence in playing without fancy maps or miniatures.  Sure, some people will always like those aspects.  However, what you can capture in a carefully described encounter is nothing short of magic - something even the most elaborate 3d printed terrain tiles won't be able to convey.  Don't get me wrong - I love miniatures and battlemaps.  It makes it easy to identify what your character is doing.  It is great for resolving combat.  However, it needs to be mixed with the carefully worded descriptions of the action to truly be magical.  For me, MUDs do that in the CRPG world like nothing a graphical game ever could.

So, that is why I'm back to MUDing.  If you have never played, I encourage you to try a MUD.  Sink some time into it.  Read the elaborate descriptions.  Like a good book - it takes more effort than plopping yourself down on a couch and (I almost said popping in a dvd - so 1990s) flipping on netflix.  But, it is totally worth it for an immersive, stimulating experience.

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