Monday, January 5, 2015


Today I was reading about the history of muds in particular Diku MUD in an article posted on Massively titled How Diku MUD shaped modern MMO's by Justin Olivetti. This is of relevance to players of Realms of Despair as this mud runs on the SMAUG which is built onto the Merc codebase which in turn is built onto the DikuMUD code.

I learnt a few things from the article, agreed with some parts and disagreed with others. Firstly I learnt where the name Diku MUD came from - it is an acronym for Datalogisk Institut Københavns Universitet where the code was written. Being released in 1991 and adapted even through to today is quite an achievement in the world of computer programming. The article believes that the success of it lies in the following three factors:
  1. It is free to use and modify
  2. It is stable and bug free
  3. Easy to use and modify
I'd agree with each of the above as being big factors in the success of it. In fact for a computer programmer number 2 and 3 are the holy grail. Number 1 however is a big call and brings back memories of the days when computing was about fun, knowledge and making something for others to enjoy rather than a way to make money.

The part where Diku MUD led to Merc in 1992 and SMAUG in 1994 shows how quickly the codebase could be modified and built upon. The code is obviously not perfect otherwise why would so many people choose to add to it with their own derivation?

The article then describes basic features of MUDs built on DikuMUD but makes one rather bold statement of:
Due to its widespread proliferation and undue pressure it put upon the industry, DikuMUD is seen by many vocal players as one of the worst things that have happened to MMOs even as players still flock by droves to these games.
It is very interesting to me is that most of the people commenting on this article are strongly opposed to this statement. The feedback is best summarised as in these two comments:
MU*s are still super important to a few thousand people. to all of you who consider yourself roleplayers on MMOs...try a MUSH some time. that's where the prose addicts seek refuge. 
I also think it's an incredible stretch to call today's MMOs, "Diku-MMOs". While a lot of things were built off Diku, that was quite some time ago. At some point, you have to accept that things are their own thing, and not still call it something it hasn't been for almost two decades.
This all gets me back to where I started with on this post and why I decided to title it "Immortality". No I haven't been sponsored for immortality and no I could think of any punny titles involving "DIKU" but the idea that this is something that lives on. Everytime you connect to the Realms of Despair the names of contributors to the DikuMUD/Merc/SMAUG projects: Hatchet, Furey, Kahn, Hans Staerfeldt, Katja Nyboe, Tom Madsen, Michael Seifert and Sebastian Hammer, Derek Snider, Altrag/Blodkai/Haus/Narn/Scryn/Swordbearer/Tricops/Gorog/Rennard/Grishnakh/Fireblade/ Nivek/Edmond/Conran/Meekon/Lina/Belkira. Sometimes I think about those names, who those people are, what are they doing now, are they still alive? I know that some of those names have passed on in real life. The first note posted on the Archives at Darkhaven Town Hall is in memory of Grishnakh and has over 340 signatures on it as a sign of respect.

To me that is true immortality - having something you created with your own two hands living on beyond you. People enjoying something you made and acknowledging you contribution. My final thought for today comes from the Merc helpfile:
Share and enjoy.

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