by Lucifer, 1998
People have argued over the years about the meaning of the term, "MUD." We all play MUDs, and some of us have written them. But we still disagree on what the acronym is actually supposed to stand for. The general consensus is to define it as, "Multi-User Dungeon." No way! Try:
"Makes Undergraduates Dysfunctional"
Darker Realms has developed a personality of its own, too. A lot of that personality is a slice of my own, as well as the other creators'. Raistlin, the true impetus behind the creation of our MUD, probably put the most personality into the game.
Originally we didn't have many plans for an overall theme. My castle, or area of the MUD, is a world depicting the classic battles between good and evil. Raistlin, on the other hand, depicted a MUD version of a well-known literary world. Similar to the way I avoided actually describing what a suck-o-matic is, I'll also avoid discussing the background of Raistlin's castle.
Afterall, our mud, like all others, is a mixture of many imaginations. Everybody who has ever taken part in writing (and playing) Darker Realms has contributed to its personality. And while the people and characters who worked on the mud have come and gone, Raistlin included, their imaginations and personas have lingered throughout the years to create a MUD tapestry that's both inimitable and indescribable in mere words.
Back in early 1990, Raistlin and I, often together in a real-life computer lab, began playing a mud called Wintermute. The gods (or administrators) of Wintermute were Fred and Mirex, whom we had great respect for. However, as Fred and his friend found less and less time to administrate, Wintermute became a chaotic land which was eventually closed. All good things must end, right?
In June of that same year, we opened our own MUD. Frustrated with the direction Wintermute had taken, we hoped to offer something the world had been lacking: A classic and paradigmatic MUD featuring complex puzzles, rich text, and an artistic backbone. Bringing Satoria (a player from Wintermute), Fred and Mirex onto our team, we began something which we hoped would last a couple of years. We never thought it would last as long as it has.
And while many of the faces are now gone, including all of the other "original" administration, I'm still happy to be a part of this MUD which has itself become a part of my life.
When Wintermute first began, there were two kinds of participants. Players were the primary participants, who actually played on the mud, exploring areas, solving puzzles, and expanding the knowledge and abilities of their characters. Wizards, people who contributed to the MUD by writing new items and areas, also took on a strong role in the MUD. When a player on Wintermute attained 1,000,000 experience points (accrued mostly by killing monsters), he or she instantly became a Wizard, changing his or her role.
Certainly a great idea, allowing the people who actually played the MUD to eventually contribute to the world itself. However, reaching the status of Wizard was just too easy in our eyes. We wanted only the best players, those who really enjoyed and loved Darker Realms, to become Wizards.
So, we developed a series of quests. Each quest was a complex puzzle, with clues hidden throughout the various areas on the MUD. In order to attain Wizardship on Darker Realms, one had to solve these quests, thus proving their devotion (or addiction) to our MUD. Then, and only then, could they begin writing new lands for other players to enjoy.
By implementing this quest system, which at the time was somewhat revolutionary, we hoped to maintain a classic MUD, offering only the best of the best to the best; the best MUD for the best players.
While other MUDs have copied us, I believe we still have the most complex, difficult, and novelesque mud around. In one way or another, every Wizard contribution has found a way to fit into our Master Plan. From the basic MUDding ideas of monster- bashing, to newer ideas of complicated guilds and arenas, we still believe we offer the world the best of the best.
Many of our players have been with us for seven or more years. Perhaps these players were, and are, the "best" I refer to. Some no longer actually play the MUD, per se, but use Darker Realms as a place to socially interact with friends. In fact, a few friends who met in the twisted lands of Darker Realms are now happily married in real life. If nothing else, I'd say that our most significant change is just that -- Darker Realms has gone from being just another game in the world to being a part of many people's worlds.
One of my pastimes has always been card games. As my card-playing friends graduated and moved away, the MUD became a meeting ground for us. We've even written MUD versions of our favorite games, and we meet periodically on Darker Realms not to bash monsters, but to partake in social games of pinochle, spades, or scrabble. It's a crazy world.
New players and Wizards are just as much a part of Darker Realms as those who have been with us for the duration. It's difficult to predict what direction we will take in the future, as this depends entirely on what we are offered by new friends and faces who join us along the way. I only hope, more than I could describe here, that the MUD survives as it has so far, and that our new Wizards and players strive to keep it as decorous as we have in the past.
My biggest fear, at least as far as Darker Realms goes, is that the MUD will whither up and die. With about 1/3 as many players as we had a year after we first opened, the future of our little world is certainly questionable. I am adamant in my own belief, however, that Darker Realms will survive.
In our efforts to attract new players, we have added new guilds, quests, communications abilities and other features designed to bring us "up to date" with the other, newer MUDs. We have even gone so far as to make the MUD easier for beginners by offering areas designed especially for new players, and by reducing the requirements to attain higher levels.
But while new players are the key to Darker Realms' future, it is the old players that I will forever hold dear in my heart. By the mere nature of MUD, where social inhibitions are left behind and true feelings are easy to express, I have made so many close friends that I know my life would be completely different had Darker Realms never existed.
My fondest memories are not those of playing or administrating the MUD, but of smiling, chatting, and being with my many friends both virtually and in real life.
After this many years, I don't think I could ever completely seperate myself from Darker Realms. I am pretty sure I don't want to. From my days as an introverted undergraduate dabbling in the fine art of computer games, to my current life as a computer professional, I'd have to say that if Darker Realms was taken out of my life I'd be left a solitary and dysfunctional individual.
I really meant to bring that up in a humorous, ironic sort of way. However, it just didn't work. Maybe it's funny because it's true. I don't know. I don't care. Perhaps I should just log into the MUD and see what's going on today. Afterall, tomorrow it might be gone. I heard somewhere that all good things must end. I hope not.
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