December 29, 2012: MUD Again

After about seven years, I have a MUD up and running again as of this morning.  I am excited.  I started playing MUDs (multi-user dungeons) in 1994 when I helped to run one for the University of Iowa.  It remains, after all of these years, probably the best video game experience I have ever had.  I loved playing that MUD for the two or three years that I managed to do so.  That MUD, way back then, was CircleMUD which was not exactly new even then.

When I started getting into running my own UNIX systems around 1997 or 1998 while living in the house in Greece, New York with Josh one of the first things that I did was acquire CircleMUD myself and run it inside of the house.  It was pretty useless since you had to be inside of the house to play it but we had the three Intel 486-based Linux 1.3 systems on the metal folding table down in the basement where you could set up and log in.  Some people did that and I learned how to run my own MUD.  It was a great learning experience and I learned how to do a lot of things on UNIX because of that.  It just wasn’t very good as a gaming experience.  It is funny looking back now because that felt like it was so long after my early MUD experiences that I had while living in Michigan but, in reality, it was only a year or two later that I was running my own at home.

In 2004 and 2005 I built and ran a CircleMUD server myself.  It was good fun and we had a decent number of people using it including my cousin Jeremy who thought that it was awesome.  This was the first MUD that I ran that had any number of players.  We probably never hit twenty people at once and normally were lucky to have three, but it was a start and it was fun.  Being CircleMUD it was showing its age and lacked a lot of features that one would think would have been added by that point.  So it was fun but it would have been nice to have seen someone pick up the old CircleMUD code and improve on it.  But it was so ancient and based on older DikuMUD code that I am sure that no one wanted to touch it, especially as it was written in C and that had lost all favour as a MUD platform by that point.

So our CircleMUD system only ran for a year or two.  Basically we used it during the little more than a year that I consulted with Wegman’s in Rochester – having the MUD up and running allowed me to log in while I was out of town, on the road doing overnight systems administration work and stay connected with everyone back home needing nothing more than a telnet session that I could use from the server room while waiting for system upgrades and Robocopy scripts to complete.  It was perfect at the time but I didn’t have time to keep dealing with it after moving to New Jersey a few months after the Wegman’s contract had completed.

So now I have discovered CoffeeMUD which is Java-based and vastly more advanced than CircleMUD.  I got it installed and up and running on one of our servers is Mississauga where it can actually run indefinitely and has, effectively, unlimited resources.  Getting the game up and running is only a beginning, though, unlike CircleMUD which came with a huge amount of pre-built game world, CoffeeMUD is a blank slate and “requires” that I build the entire game world myself.  So this will be a lot more interesting because I am actually designing and building the game myself but it also means that I can’t just press “go” and have a game for people to play.  This is going to take some work.  So I am setting myself a goal of making, approximately, ten new rooms every day so that the game grows regularly but nothing crazy.  It will take a few weeks before it is ready for people to start playing but when they do it will be my game, designed by me, that they are playing and not just some game that I am running.  CoffeeMUD is a lot more advanced than CircleMUD, there is a lot of learning for me to do.

I did some general work today but not nearly as much as I should have done.  Being home alone for two days makes me really productive.  Being home alone for a few weeks makes me melancholy and makes it hard for me to do anything.

I got the first batch of dishes done, finally, at least.

Watson wanted to get out of the house this evening so around seven I drove down to Addison and picked him up and we drove to Irving to hit Fry’s.  I have been needing some power strips.  Pretty basic stuff, but I need them so, whatever, worth a trip I guess.  I need one just for Liesl’s room so that I can get her little television and Nintendo Wii hooked up, along with the AppleTV.  We never use the Wii so figured that having it set up in her room would allow her to play her Dora the Explorer game and hopefully get her hooked on some other games too.  We don’t have a lot for the Wii but she doesn’t go through that many games anyway.  What is funny is that the television that we have in there isn’t much bigger (or maybe isn’t bigger at all) that the iPad!

While we were at Fry’s I managed to find a nice graphics card that appears to be better for Dominica’s desktop than what I have been seeing online.  I was pretty excited to find something to get today.  So for $99 I got her a really nice Nvidia GT 640 with 2GB of RAM to upgrade her desktop.  This does three big things for her.  First it frees up a big chunk of her system memory that no longer has to be shared with the graphics card giving her, effectively, a pretty big memory upgrade – plus, of course, the graphics memory is way faster than the system memory anyway.  The second thing is that it moves her from the cheap, ancient on-board graphics cards to this amazing powerful, new one.  And the third is that it takes her from needing to use the onboard, low-end GPU to drive one analogue monitor and a USB adapter to VGA dongle to drive a second analogue monitor and instead gives her dual digital output plus one analogue output from a single card so that she will have a triple monitor setup and all from one card!  Very nice update indeed.

After Fry’s we went to Taco Bueno and grabbed a bite to eat.  Then I drove him back to Addison, it was only nine thirty and he was falling asleep in the car, and then went back home.

I wrapped up the last twenty minutes of Harold and Kumar’s Christmas which I had watched most of at some point prior to going down to Houston for Christmas and then I finished watching Goldeneye which Dominica and I had started weeks ago in our march through the James Bond movies.

I hooked up Dominica’s new graphics card and got all three monitors working while watching the movies.  Her desktop situation is so much better now.  Having three monitors is going to be awesome for her and having them all match will be wonderous as well.  Overall it was a tiny amount of money for an incredible amount of desktop improvement.  She should be very happy and quite surprised when she gets home on Tuesday afternoon.

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