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MUD games are the focus of this category. Originally known variously as Multi-User Dungeons, Multi-User Dimensions, or Multi-User Domains, MUDs are like MORPGs, only text-based.

MUDs include elements of role-playing games, player-versus-player combat, interactive fiction, and online chat. MUDs are text-based RPGs, generally set in a fantasy world populated by fictional races and monsters. As with other RPGs, players choose a character class, defined as a job or profession, that is used to determine the varying abilities of different game characters.

Player objectives in a MUD include exploring the fantasy world, completing quests, going on adventures, slaying monsters, and participating in a story through roleplaying, as well as advancing the player's character. Many MUDs were patterned after the tabletop Dungeons and Dragons games.

While fantasy settings are common on MUDs, others use settings from medieval Europe, or even science fiction settings, sometimes based on books, movies, or historical eras.

Some MUDs are designed more for educational purposes, rather than as games, while others are largely chatting environments.

Although MMORPGs have claimed a large number of players who might otherwise participate in MUDs, there are still a large number of active MUDs, some of which are hugely popular. Some MUDs are operated as hobbies and are free to players. Others accept donations or are funded in part through in-game purchases of virtual items, while others charge a monthly subscription fee.

MUDs are accessed through telnet clients or through specialized MUD clients.

The origins of MUDs go back to early text-based adventure games, many of which included elements of D&D. In the late 1970s, a multiuser text adventure game was developed by a student at the University of Essex for the DEC PDP-10. He named his game MUD, for Multi-User Dungeon. The game was later converted to BCPL, a predecessor of the C programming language. That game, later known as Essex MUD and MUD1, became widely accessible when a guest account was set up that allowed users on JANET to connect to it on weekends and from 2:00 am to 8:00 am on weekdays. It became the first multiuser online roleplaying game in 1980 when JANET connected to ARPANet. This game closed in 1987 under pressure from CompuServe, to whom its author licensed the game.

Another early MUD was MIST, a derivative of MUD1, that also ran on the University of Essex network, but it shut down when the PDP-10 that hosted it was replaced in 1991.

In 1985, MUDS began to be hosted on computer bulletin board systems (BBS), some of which included Gods and MirrorWorld. Gods became the first commercial MUD in 1988.

CompuNet, a UK-based interactive service provider catering primarily to the Commodore 64, then the Commodore Amiga and Atari ST, launched the Multi-User Galaxy Game, which was essentially a SciFi-themed MUD. It was alter renamed Federation II, although no Federation I existed at the time. Begun in 1989, it was later acquired by AOL, where it became known as Federation: Adult Space Fantasy.

The traditional MUD is played much like a text adventure game. The room that a player is standing in is described to him, including a list of objects, players, and non-player characters in the area, as well as any known exits. To advance play, the player would enter a text command, such as "take gem" or "attack dragon". Movement is accomplished by entering the direction that the player wishes to go, or an abbreviation of it, such as "north" or simply "n". Some MUD clients include functions that make tasks easier within the game, such as buttons that can be clicked on to move in a specific direction or to pick up an item. Within the available MUDs, there are variations in the overall focus of the game, the gameplay, and in-game mechanics, genres, and other features.

A graphical MUD is a MUD that uses computer graphics to represent portions of the virtual world to visitors rather than depending entirely on text. Graphical MUDs require players to download a special client as well as the game's artwork. At a point which has not been definitively established, a graphical MUD becomes a MORPG or an MMORPG and would be listed in that category instead. Unless the use of graphics is severely limited within the game, graphical MUDs should be listed in the MORPG/MMORPG category. However, if the game is defined as a MUD, we will accept it in this category.

Otherwise, appropriate sites for this category are those representing text-based MUDs, MUD portals, or other sites whose topic is focused on MUDs.



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