BABBA Magazine, Issue 7 - September 1993, pages 11-14


An introduction to MUD

(By Kristen Ruggio, Goddess of the Shadows Of Reality MUD)

A MUD is the Internet equivalent of a single-purpose BBS. Using the Telnet utility, you "log in" to a BBS-like entity. MUDs are available to anyone who has a fully functional Internet account. MUD is a general purpose abbreviation for these BBS like programs. MUD usually stands for either a:

MUDS are most often implemented as text based adventure/chat games, although a few have file collections. People take MUDs seriously. Multiple User Dungeons are by far the most popular, so that kind of MUD will be explained here. Many concepts are very similar for other types of MUDs.

A MUD is a computer program which users can log into and explore. Each user takes control of a computerized persona/avatar/incarnation/character. You can walk around, chat with other characters, explore dangerous monster-infested areas, solve puzzles and even create your very own rooms, descriptions and items. You can also get lost or confused if you jump right in, so read on, before starting.

Mud Types
There are about 15 different types of MUD programs out there on the Internet. I suggest that you experiment around to see what you find is the most interesting. If there's one thing MUDdom has, it's variety:

How do I get onto a Mud?
The most common method of connecting to a MUD is via the telnet protocol. Telnet should be available on all UNIX machines on the Internet. If not, contact your sysadmin.

A good place to start is with a popular LPMUD called Moral Decay. It can be addressed via the command (telnet zeus.csee.usf.edu 2002) and has been running for several years. If you get a message saying that the MUD is currently full please try back later. Moral Decay has a limit of 40 users on at any given time not counting wizards or extremely high level players.

Also, watch the USENET newsgroup rec.games.MUD.announce. Every Friday a complete listing of MUDs is posted. If you can't wait till Friday, you can mail MUDlist@glia.6iostr.washington.edu and ask for one. They are also available by FTPing from caisr2.caisr.cwru.edu (129.22.24.22) in /pub/MUD.

What do I do Now?
I will use the Moral Decay mud as my example:
telnet zeus.csee.usf.edu 2002
Opening connection to zeus.csee.usf.edu 2002
escape sequence set to ^]
(Title Screen)
Enter your username:
(At this point you must create a username. This should be a fantasy name but can be anything you want. Most MUDs trap profanity in user names and if you receive a message about that name being banished or in use, pick another.)
Enter a password:
(Select a password as you would on any other system. Use a unique password.)

Many MUDs, including Moral Decay, will then ask you to choose a sex and a race from a list of fantasy races. Race decision will influence your character's statistics. I suggest sticking with your real sex. Many relationships are formed over MUDs and I am aware of several weddings that are about to take place from people who have met over the MUDs. If a MUD asks for your email address please supply it. It is a security procedure and that information will not be given out to users.

Why read Instructions?
At this point, you should do what is least intuitive: type (help), read the instructions and understand them. Play around with the commands until you understand them and are ready to begin questing. Some people are easily annoyed when other people clearly have no idea what they are doing, even if they were recently in that position themselves. Many players will even kill you for annoying them! Most MUD players are helpful, and asking them "Could you answer a quick question?" will often work just fine.

Don'ts
You shouldn't do anything that you wouldn't do in real life, even if the world is a fantasy world. The important thing to remember is that a MUD is a fantasy world of possibly hundreds of people. It is not just your world in particular. There's a human being on the other side of each and every wire! Always remember that you may meet these other people some day, and you can come to regret something you did in your "fantasy world".

Wait a minute!
It is still undecided whether "Muding" is just a game or an extension of real life with game-like qualities. Either way, treat your MUD world with care. Is it a game, or an extension of real life with game like qualities? It's up to you. Some jaded cynics like to laugh at idealists who think it's partially for real, but I personally think they're not playing it right. Certainly the hack-n-slash stuff is only a game, but the social aspects may well be less so.

Specific Don'ts
Demand things. Steal things. Whine. Follow others around. Page or bother them over and over - after they've asked you to stop. Shout something obscene. I have seen one user say "Why can't I wield the F***ing sword" bring 20 people bent on killing him!

Basic commands
Most MUDS have a core of similar commands which players use to move around and interact with each other. For instance: (say), (look), (go), (west), (get), (wield), (drop),...etc.

Mud terminology
MU* - Muds in general. It refers to all MUDs.
RL - Real life.
lag - A bog on the network often causing you to freeze up.
newbie - A person who is new and has little idea what he/she is doing or where they are.
Wizard - A coder for the game. Often having won the game.
Archwizard - A senior coder. If there is a problem with a wizard, take it to them. They however are often very busy. They may also be referred to as admins.
God, Goddess, Root - All refer to the senior level operator of a mu*. They are the Sysops. They have put in many hours providing you an area to play. Be nice to them.
Feelings - The commands convey feelings. (smile) causes your character to smile. Most MUDs have these commands that provide invaluable assistance in social conversation.
Mudsex - Mudsex is putting the above feelings to use in an erotic situation. Mudsex can be very powerful emotionally and can ruin friendships. Do not go around asking every member of the opposite sex as it is a good way to get your character killed, or if you are profane, deleted.
Mudder - The people who play the MUD.

More about 'Wizards' and 'Gods'
Gods are the people who own the Muds. In most Muds, wizards are barely distinguishable from Gods - they're just barely one step down from the God of the Mud. An LPMUD Wizard is a player who has 'won' the game, and is now able to create new sections of the game. LPMUD wizards are very powerful, but they don't have the right to do whatever they want to you; they must still follow their own set of rules or face the wrath of the Gods. Gods can do whatever they want - to whomever they want - whenever they want.

I suggest asking a wizard before mailing a God as many Gods are tremendously busy keeping wizards in line. Moral Decay is an excellent MUD to start on because the God 'Exedore Xand' keeps his wizards on a tight leash so there are seldom problems with wizards and when there are, a quick letter to him will get it dealt with.

Wizards receive nothing for what they do so treat them kindly. They provide the world you play in and spend many hours working with the MUD and other wizards to keep it going. But remember, they are people too, and like to make friends just as much as the next person.

Finding out more
There are several Usenet newsgroups associated with MUDs:

rec.games.MUD.admin - Postings pertaining to the administrative side of MUDs.
rec.games.MUD.announce - moderated group, where announcements of MUDs opening, closing, moving, partying, etc. are posted.
rec.games.MUD.diku - Postings pertaining to DikuMUDs.
rec.games.MUD.lp - Postings pertaining to LPMUDs.
rec.games.MUD.misc - Misc. postings.
rec.games.MUD.tiny - Postings pertaining to the Tiny* family of MUDs.

If you feel you must post something to Usenet, please do it in the group where it best belongs - no posts about TinyMUSH in the Diku group, no questions about an LPMUD in the Tiny group, etc.

Mud Making
"I've got an idea, I'll start my own MUD!" More power to you, make sure that you:


Usenet on your BBS?

(By Randy Just)
(Part 1 of 2: An Overview)

Recently, there has been a lot of attention in the media about the Internet and Usenet. This focus has not been limited to computer rags, but to mainstream America as well. Several articles have appeared in publications such as the San Francisco Chronicle about this massive network called the Internet. This attention is justified as the number of users that are getting access is increasing at a dramatic rate. Some sources indicate this number as high as one million new users per month.

These articles have a tendency to describe all of the wonderful things the Internet and Usenet are, but never really describe the makeup of these networks. These same articles usually end with a list of phone numbers to call for Internet access and stop there. Many BBS operators read this information and wonder how they can connect to this infinite network. But the writers of the aforementioned articles never seem to discuss this step. The focus of this article is a primer for a BBS operator to do what is necessary to get connected.

Usenet versus Internet
Often Usenet and the Internet are mentioned in the same breath, and therefore, to the average person, they are thought of as the same. It is important to understand the distinction between the two. Even though there is a close relationship between the Internet and Usenet, they aren't the same. Usenet news may, and often does, travel over the Internet, though it doesn't have to. Although a user may have access to the Internet, they may not have access to Usenet and vise-versa.

Usenet may be referred to as news, newsgroups or groups as well. The concept is, for all practical purposes, identical to CompuServe forums or FidoNet echoes. The number of newsgroups available are in the thousands, covering a wide range of topics. Usenet is a network designed for news exchanging.

Internet is a network designed for transferring of files and logging into remote systems around the world at high speeds through Ethernet, leased phone lines, etc.

BBS Connections
It is much easier for a BBS operator to connect to Usenet as opposed to the Internet. A BBS operator is unlikely to obtain a full Internet connection as the costs are out of the reach of a typical BBS system. Costs can be thousands a month in fees alone, and therefore outside the scope of this article.

Catch-22
In order for a BBS operator to obtain access to Usenet, it is necessary to obtain a newsfeed or what is often called a "feed". Very simplistically, a feed consists of compressed packets of data that make up the newsgroups. Available sources of feeds are often "posted" as messages on Usenet. Unless one has access to Usenet it can be difficult to obtain a source for a feed and therefore, the catch-22 situation.

Finding a Feed
One way to get a feed is to find a BBS that offers Usenet feeds. An excellent resource is BABBA, which enables you to search for all BBSs offering potential Usenet feeds. An ideal system to receive a feed from would be free, a local phone call and an understanding Sysop. While these systems are rare, they do exist. If you do find such a system, see if a voice phone number is available where you can discuss with the Sysop what you desire to do. If this isn't possible, then call the system and post a message stating your intentions. These BBS systems are often managed by professional people that have a very limited amount of time for hand holding. You should do your homework before contacting a system for a feed.

As an alternative, it is possible to receive a feed from a commercial system such as HoloNet or CRL. These systems will provide a feed for a fee. The rate schedules vary amongst these providers. Some are a flat-fee with an unlimited amount of connect time while others charge for connect time and/or the amount of data transferred. The operators of these systems will often supply technical assistance, but you should limit your questions to more critical ones lest their patience be tried.

As a side note, it is also possible to obtain a feed via satellite. Some providers are offering the sale of satellite dishes with the appropriate hardware and software for approximately $2000. Part of this includes a limited number of months of free service and then a monthly charge at some point in the future. (Does anyone want to see an article on this?)

The Feed
As indicated earlier, there are a variety of newsgroups available on Usenet. The newsgroups have names such as comp.os.cpm (Discussion about the CP/M operating system) and rec.food.cooking (Food, cooking, cookbooks and recipes).

Your potential feed should be available to supply you with a list of available newsgroups. This list will contain newsgroup names that are in a similar format to the above. Your source for your feed may or may not have all the available Usenet newsgroups. This is often referred to as a "full newsfeed" as opposed to a "limited newsfeed". Commercial providers usually have a full newsfeed. Systems that provide a free newsfeed will, more often than not, have a limited newsfeed.

From the list of newsgroups, you can select which would be desirable on your system. Most likely, those chosen will be reflective of the theme of your BBS. It is necessary to supply this list of your desired newsgroups to the system operator. You may need to put these in a pre-specified format in an email message, or sometimes verbally. The system operator will supply you with a UUCP login (discussed later) and a password.

The size of a full newsfeed is daunting. At the present level of newsgroups available on Usenet, a full newsfeed at 9600 baud would take the better part of a day to download and process.

Usenet and UNIX
The vast majority of Usenet data exchange happens via computers using the UNIX operating system. You do not need UNIX to participate in Usenet, but you do need some way of "talking" to the computers supplying your feed. The vehicle most often used to do this is UUCP (Unix-to Unix copy).

UUCP is designed around serial cables and modems using standard dial-up telephone service as opposed to other more costly networking technologies. UUCP is not just one program, but a collection of programs performing various tasks to facilitate the networking of computers.

After a list of the needed newsgroups is supplied to your feed, you should be able to start receiving them onto your system. The process works as follows: Packets of compressed data will be generated by your feed source. These compressed packets will contain messages for the newsgroups that you requested. Your system will download these packets via UUCP. Once the packets are downloaded to your system, it is necessary for them to be uncompressed. When the packet transfer completes, this happens automatically, assuming you have the appropriate software on your system. The uncompressed packets will be in a text format, but will have a mixture of messages from the various newsgroups.

It is necessary to parse the messages into the appropriate newsgroups. The software will do this automatically after the download is completed. After this step, messages in the various newsgroups can be viewed using a "newsreader".

A newsreader allows for the viewing of messages, as well as replying to messages, in the various newsgroups. Different newsreaders offer different features to assist in viewing messages. If a user on your system replies to a message, this reply is put into a packet and compressed.

When your system contacts your feed at the next transfer, this packet will be uploaded and then distributed to the various systems connected to Usenet.

Wrap-up (Stay tuned!)
Well, I'm out of space, so I'll continue this article next month where I'll discuss the specifics of what software can be used on a DOS system to connect to Usenet as well as some tips for UNIXheads. I will also be discussing email on the Internet and how that can be implemented on your system.

Resources:
Two excellent books, published by O'Reilly & Associates, are Using UUCP and Usenet by Grace Todino and Dale Dougherty, and Managing UUCP and Usenet Tim O'Reilly and Grace Todino. These publications are oriented towards UNIX, but offer an abundant amount of information about Usenet as well.

Randy Just is the principal owner of Just Computers!, developers of custom BBS and business applications software.




Usenet on a Waffle BBS

(By Steve Kong, Sysop of Genesis/Mookie's Place BBS)

Some terms used when talking about the Usenet and the Internet:

TCP/IP are protocols developed to allow computers to share resources. TCP is an abbreviation for Transmission Control Protocol and IP is an abbreviation for Internet Protocol. These protocols are used together as the most common method of Internet data transmission. TCP/IP is sometimes referred to as the "Internet protocol suite" as it provides standards for file transfers, remote logins, and email.

Internet is the formation of many groups of computer networks. The name Internet is derived from "Inter-networked." Internet generally uses TCP/IP to communicate in real-time. Internet is the physical network, not the information available on it.

UUCP is Unix to Unix CoPy. UUCP is a non-realtime network system where email is stored and then forwarded later. If you send a piece of mail to someone at another site, it will go through many systems before arriving there. This is done to save money.

Usenet is a group of Newsgroups (forums) usually available on the Internet. Called "groups" for short, these are similar to a SIG (Special Interest Group) or a conference on a BBS network. Usenet is a network of data and messages. The groups originate from local Internet sites and function similarly to BBS network hubs.

UUCICO is Unix to Unix Copy In Copy Out. This protocol is used to get or send mail/news between Usenet sites.

Feed - A (usually local) Internet communications link between two systems for the sending/receiving of messages/mail/files.

What's on the Net?
Using UUCP, people can access both Usenet groups and the Internet network. Usenet has forums on every subject and originates all over the world. Usenet group topics range from Waffle BBS software support to Dave Barry fan clubs. Anything that you can think of is on Usenet.

Who's on the Net?
Internet is a network originally set up by the military, but is now used (and supported) by universities and large companies. On Internet you can send mail to anyone in the world who has access to it. Internet has links to MCImail, CompuServe, AppleLink, etc. Internet also has features such as FTP (File Transfer Protocol) and TelNet. (Telnet is a feature for logging in to remote Internet sites.)

Waffling into the Net
We started our BBS with the intention of getting a link to the Internet. Since the Spectrox Systems BBS was running the Waffle BBS package with Usenet so well, we opted to use the Waffle BBS package too. The Waffle BBS package includes the UUCICO network interface. After we installed Waffle, we started looking for an Internet link. We hit a stumbling block when we found out that the Spectrox Systems BBS feed "openings" were all full.

Getting a Feed
We briefly looked into commercial sites for a feed. Fees start at around $39 for a basic feed. You get a choice of the Usenet forums and an Internet address for your site. They also offer help in registering your site on the UUCP map.

Using BABBA, we found other Waffle BBS sites in our area code and left feedback to the Sysops that we needed help. The next day we had two email messages from different Sysops asking if we wanted to join the SBAY.* feed of Usenet. The SBAY.* is a local feed only between BBSs in the Santa Clara/Santa Cruz areas. Of course we said "sure!"

The Sysop of The Land of the Garg BBS, Bob Van Cleef, helped us get set up. He started 'feeding' us Usenet. We opted for a feed from only a few Usenet sites next to us because we had no need for a large feed. A small feed (for us) takes between 16 to 21 megs of disk space. A larger feed can run between 45 to 60 megs a day. A full feed is a lot more than that!

After we got our trial feed working, we checked back with the Spectrox Systems BBS. As luck would have it, they had an opening. We inquired about getting a small feed. Aaron Anderer, the Sysop, said "yes." We have been getting a feed for Usenet ever since. That's how I got Internet on my Waffle BBS. I did not investigate other kinds of BBS software.




BBS Software of the Month: WAFFLE

(By Steve Kong)

If a Sysop is going in the direction of Usenet/Internet, they should consider Waffle BBS software because it's easy to set up and use. It's a great piece of software, especially if you want to receive Internet/Usenet. Waffle has built in support for Usenet. Waffle is a "UNIX style" BBS. UNIX style BBSs can take a little while to get used to.

I set up my net connection within a day. Unlike other BBS software packages, Waffle does not require a mail tosser and/ or a front door program. Mail tossers and front door programs are used to interface network mail with local BBS systems. Setting up these external programs is a pain.

Setting up Usenet with Waffle is a breeze. Not only does Waffle BBS software make it easier to join Usenet, it saves you money. When you pay the small registration fee for the Waffle BBS package you get all of its built-in network utilities. (Some other BBS packages require you to pay well over $100 for a mail tosser and/or a front door program - in addition to the cost of the BBS package).

Many BBS networks require the caller to "Hit Escape twice to start the BBS." This is sometimes a stumbling block for the BBS caller. A Waffle BBS connected to Usenet avoids that inconvenience.

Page 14 had an ad for the PhoeniX Software Solutions.




End of page 14. Go back or go to page 15 or to Mark's home page.