Brass Lantern
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IF and a MUD

by Stephen Granade

There is a place on the Internet where fans of adventure games gather. They meet other fans; they occasionally run into the people behind the bylines on games. People mingle, discuss this and that, occasionally talking of interactive fiction, more often talking of whatever strikes their fancy.

Welcome to ifMUD.

ifMUD is the brainchild of Liza Daly. Over the years it has moved servers; its codebase has been hacked until it only vaguely resembles the PerlMUD source from which it sprang. It has simmered since its introduction in June of 1997, a blend of personalities and ideas.

It may be labeled ifMUD, IF authors and fans may inhabit it, but it is more than a discussion of IF. It is a community in every sense of the word. A court has sprung up, presided over by the likes of liza and inky, peopled by mamster the court jester and neild the writer, occasionally haunted by a zarf. Most any topic of conversation is welcome; if you get bored, feel free to build an addition to the MUD or some clever object.

ifMUD is not a traditional MUD. There are few quests go on, no battles punctuated by such sentences as "You hit the squid a glancing blow." Think of it as IRC with items, a free-wheeling conversation with props.

I bothered Liza until she agreed to give me a quote about the MUD. Instead of a quote, I got a short monograph, which I hereby reproduce in its entirety:

The MUD has definitely exceeded my expectations. I had sensed the potential for a community after lurking on r.*.i-f [the Usenet groups and Ed.] for years. I also wondered what kind of people were so fond of a technology that's essentially been obsolete since the late 1980's.

So I created the MUD after a few attempts to get people on IRC. I expected an initial strong turn-out that would eventually decay as the novelty wore off. To some extent, the novelty of the MUD environment did wear off--in the first few months, people built extensive landscapes, and many features were added to the MUD code to increase its usefulness as a programming environment. These days, few new areas or complex new objects are created.

What people didn't tire of was each other. There are over 180 accounts on the system--I'd estimate that anywhere from 30-50 of those people log on regularly. The dialogue is international and therefore non-stop: there's a day shift and a night shift and lots of little shifts in-between. More new people are added every week. There's a web page of photos for those curious to breach the fourth wall. There's a culture and an etiquette. There is no good documentation.

I'm very pleased that I had the resources to start and maintain the MUD (unreliable as may be). I'm extremely grateful to those who've contributed their time and effort to make the MUD an enjoyable place to hang out. As we say on the MUD, "Wave!"

The MUD is also an impressive conglomeration of adventure game experience and know-how. Need a hint about a game? Ask these people. Want opinions about your game-in-progress? The denizens of ifMUD aren't stingy with thoughts and criticisms.

Come visit the MUD. You can reach it by telnetting to port 4000 or by using the web client. You'll arrive in Dorm A; if you travel north, then west, you will reach the Adventurer's Lounge, where people spend a majority of their time. For more information, see the FAQ. I'd also recommend you read the charter, to get a feel for the community.

I'll see you on ifMUD.

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