Wednesday, 24 March 2010

The MUD development community

If someone is implementing a MUD server from the ground up, the first problem they face is that there is very little documentation telling them what might be involved. Telnet itself is documented through RFCs, with a good number existing mostly covering the different negotiation options. But there is a lot more than that to MUDs. It is strange there is so little MUD-specific documentation, yet MUDs have been around for decades. Coming back to MUD development after over eight years, it surprises me that some topics are not only undocumented, but to a large degree they have not even been explored.

The sharing of information that does tend to happen, happens within forums. Someone will post about a topic and then either people will chime in and discuss that topic and whatever others lead on from it, or they might link to previous discussions on the topic. There is knowledge out there about different topics, but it tends to be shared piecemeal. This is not that much of a surpise, the development of a MUD is a long term effort that may span many years, and it is reasonable to restrict your efforts to that which you actually need to work on.

But what is surprising, is how little value is placed in these discussions. The range of topics that might be discussed are limited, which unsurprisingly leads to them coming up time and time again. Forums where discussion takes place come and go, with all discussion that took place within them more often than not being lost forever. Remember MUD Planet? At one stage considered one of the most popular forums, the discussion that took place there is now lost. MUD-Dev was an extremely popular mailing list and for years after its web site went down, the posts made to it were unavailable except offline in the hands of individuals. MudMagic used to have forums until its administrator decided to take them down, and now the discussions that took place there are effectively inaccessible. At least two wikis have come and gone.

Frankly, beyond the possible immediate benefit of its participants, MUD development discussion is somewhat like pissing into the wind.

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