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Welcome to a DIKU Mud

by Jonathan PR Monteleone

You fall down a pile of rubbish...DAMN! How many times have you ended up in these sewers? Two? Four? More? You reach for a torch to shed some light on your situation. You begin to regain your bearings, feel a sharp pain at your left leg and than pass out. As the dim glow of the monitor reflects off your face, you can feel the adrenaline inspired sweat drip from your brow. If your virtual persona dies, hundreds of hours of work in constructing your character will be lost. More than just an imaginary character is at stake. Your character's fate influences the virtual lives of others who represent Real Life friends you have made while adventuring in this strange virtual fantasy setting. Welcome to a DIKU-style mud.

None shall pass!  Fighting in a diku mud.

You feel something wet and cold on your face. As you begin to regain consciousness a familiar voice asks, "Are you ok? That was a nasty sewer rat that attacked you." You open your eyes to see Crystal Penfield smiling at you. You think to yourself, "it is good to have friends in this dangerous place." You sit in front of the monitor smiling as people in the computer lab come and go. Tonight you have once again enjoyed the company of a good friend you regretfully have never met in real life.

Hallmarks of DIKU muds include: adventure, advancement, and combat. DIKU mud first appeared in mid-March 1990. A group of programmers in the Computer Science Department at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark wanted to create an automated system for fantasy role playing. The driving force behind the development derived from the inadequacies of AmberMUD. AmberMUD source code could not handle many players, was inefficient on computer resources, and tended towards smaller world environments. The popularity of the DIKU source code has spawned many variants. Many DIKUs are quickly approaching uniqueness compared with their predecessor. Names including: Circle, Merc, Copper, Sequent, Silly, and Epic head the list of freely available modified DIKU source code. Many programmers have modified original DIKU source beyond recognition compared to the original DIKU code. Although the look and feel may be similar to the original DIKU format, the game engine itself is usually quite different. Names including: Sojourn, Medieva, Mozart, Mystic, Forbidden Lands, and Perilous Realms head the list of these custom muds.

In the coming issues, this column will delve into many aspects of the DIKU subculture. Topics on player's rights, censorship, newbie strategies for survival, area creation, and specific game engines are just a few of the areas this column will write about. Interviews with famous people in DIKUdom will also litter this column.

Welcome to the wild side of cyberspace culture, where magic is real and identity is fluid. Mud subculture is rampant...catch the cyberfever!

Interested authors should email me (see below) to discuss article topics and submissions centered around DIKU servers and the people who live there.

Jonathan is currently editor for the DIKU server column of Imaginary Realities and has been head administrator of Forbidden Lands ( 2000) since its inception in 1991. He currently resides in New Zealand as a Pharmacometrician with the University of Auckland, School of Medicine (