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This article is copyright Joshua Simpson and is released under a Creative Commons license.

The Mud Administrator

by Joshua "dataw0lf" Simpson

As an experienced mud administrator and programmer, I have my own opinion about the "Raging Debate" concerning what an administrator should be. Granted, Troy Fisher's article in the March 2000 issue is true to some extent, unfortunately, I believe most of the new wave of mud administrators has drowned out the true meaning behind a mud, and how it all started.

A different kind of wave.

Back in the beginning, you had to be a programmer to design a mud. There just wasn't any way around it. DIKU and Circle were both skeletons for programmers to work on, and it wasn't really possible for the average Joe to go out and start a mud. In earlier versions of both, extensive debugging was involved (trust me, it was a pain, I had to do it), and adding races and classes was not as easy as adding a couple lines to an existing structure.

Although many heralded MERC, and later, ROM, as miraculous new versions where an inexperienced mud administrator could start a mud for about 20 bucks a month and a visit to the local, to me, it was an unfortunate eventuality that led to hundreds of stock muds sprouting up everywhere.

While in some cases this can be a great learning experience for some, I also believe that it has led to a huge decline in the average mud's quality. Too many experienced players believe they can make a mud, but, once they have their first crash, they are at a loss for words. They flood various discussion groups with questions and position openings for coders. Also, this has led to a new, devious type of con-man: the invisible coder. They trick newbie administrators into giving out their shell password, and then cause havoc to the system.

Sometimes, I wish for the old days, where you had to learn C and Unix programming to run a mud. In my eyes, it is almost disrespectful to run something as unique and complex as a mud without any knowledge of how it works.

I have voiced my opinions before, and the inevitable question arises, "Then why do you help newbie administrators learn how to code if you despise them so much?". Those who ask these questions don't understand my main purpose: it is to teach beginners to understand and marvel at a mud's code, instead of just adding in snippets and hoping for the best.

Perhaps, with my help, and the help of others, we will help to educate the new administrators to what they should and need to know. And that might be as good as going back in time.