In the beginning; there were frogs, led by a womble. The terrain was dangerous! Cabbages lurked in every shadow… From the shadows grew the light, it slowly grew and sprouted into a profusion of code. Over time the light, the code and all the frogs melded together to form what is now known as Discworld MUD.
The MUD started in late 1991 on a server in Australia, it moved around the world many times before ending up in its current resting place in Seattle. A team of dedicated coders has been working on it with varying degrees of success over the years.
Discworld MUD is based on the exciting and wonderful humourous fantasy books by Terry Pratchett.
I could go into a long blow-by-blow description of the history of the mud, how it started with a small team of coders which rapidly diminished to one. How it slowly gained popularity and attracted coders who were dedicated and interested in the future of the MUD. I could even name them all! I think that would bore you all to tears, so instead I will just tell you the current administrators of the mud. They are: Brandobas, Ceres, Hobbes, Olorin, Pinkfish, Sojan and Turrican. Of special note is a retired administrator Deutha.
1. Please describe the backgrounds of the Discworld administration.
Ceres Spoketh: I was a software engineer for British Telecom when I first came to Discworld in early 1994. I just got sucked in and have stayed ever since. 🙂
These days I’m the CTO for an Internet startup.
Pinkfish wombled: I eventually finished my degree in Computer Science after many years of being distracted by Discworld. I have been working as a profesional software engineer in Australia for 5 years and now in Seattle for just over 6 months. I worked for Motorola and Stanilite (another mobile phone company) in Australia and working for BSquare (a Windows CE development company) in Seattle.
I started the mud and never quite managed to escape.
Olorin uttered: I started mudding way back when, while still studying software engineering and now I am a co-owner and CEO of a small consulting company.
Sojan fluffed: I found the Disc in 1992 through a series of activities that would have probably gotten me thrown out of university because they didn’t like us playing games. Since then I’ve moved into the wider world and I’m a network/telecoms consultant for a Life Assurance company. Like the others I got so hooked on DW that I just can’t seem to leave.
2. What is unique about Discworld, with respect to other LPmuds, and other muds in general?
Ceres Spoketh: From a coding/technology perspective I think it is that Discworld is an extremely rich mud.
From the very early days it seems that features and functionality were considered more important than performance. Thus some years ago Discworld’s lag was legendary.
However, this policy has paid off since the machines are now quite fast enough to handle Discworld and we have an environment that is much richer than many places that kept things trimmed down for speed.
Pinkfish wombled: I think Discworld has a very well defined theme and this theme carries over into all elements of the mud. It is very amusing to play and wander around in, I think this leads to a nicer and more relaxing playing environment.
Discworld also has the best cabbages and frogs of any mud, even the wombles are happier on Discworld.
Olorin uttered: A lot of the uniqueness comes from starting with a world that was already very well defined. One where the focus was on people, especially what makes them tick, and the social constructs that help them function and define themselves as people.
This has led to a mud where a lot of the effort is put in making new things players can be part of, ie. the basic guild, a philosophical society, a social club, marriages, a family etc. as opposed to the more normal way of expanding a mud, adding more things for the players to take apart ie. constantly adding new areas for the players to walk through, doing what they have always done, which then tends to be killing everything that moves and making serious attempts on that which doesn’t.
The criteria for new features tend to be both very strict (it has to fit the theme, it has to be internally consistent, it should have an interesting new way of looking at familiar things), and extremely loose (mail is delivered by frogs, one of the best wizard spells, “Kamikaze Oryctolagus Flammula”, makes firey bunnies jump at the target)
For another example of uniqueness, in typical Discworld mud style, when there are marriages, there are also divorce lawyers for those who no longer want to be married. I also believe DW was one of the first muds to allow same-sex marriages, though the guy who managed to get married to himself was considered a bit too strange.
Sojan fluffed: This one’s soo difficult to answer since I’ve been involved in a number of muds in my time and their uniqueness, or lack of it, is always hard to pin down. The fact that we were an “early adopter” or even a pioneer of some features is great from the mudlib perspective but generally what makes Discworld, Discworld… is (I think) the people.
3. What do you feel Discworld offers its players that draws them into the mud? What makes it feel like a community?
Ceres Spoketh: This is a tough one to cover.
It is, in part, the fact that the mud is based on the books of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld. This leads to a mud that doesn’t take itself very seriously, a place where there is fun round every corner.
However, that is balanced by people creating a real mud that people can really play and where playability is important.
That combination leads to a dynamic tension that I think is the core of Discworld.
Pinkfish wombled: Discworld offers its players unlimited fun, you can even buy yourself some in a shop. I think the atmosphere of the mud and the level of complication draws people in and makes them stay. It is quite detailed and lots of different things to do and try, which helps keep them around.
Olorin uttered: What I see as a main attractant is that the MUD strives to support many different styles of mudding, from the simple hack’n’slash playerkilling fun many LPmuds are loved and hated for, past heroic questing and problem solving, over serious social climbing/political conflict/let’s decide on how we split this city amongst us stuff, to the MUSHier things of simply walking around, talking with your friends and getting married.
There are also the guilds which from the start were conceived as a way for the player of defining, not only the abilities of the character, but also their attitudes towards playing and their goals for that character. As a consequence of this, everyone gets a fairly well defined place in society quite soon, with a built-in support group of more experienced players.
Sojan fluffed: The fact it’s Discworld is probably the biggest draw frankly (ie: based on the world by Terry Pratchett). Once they arrive those who can deal with the fact that everyone has a screw or seventeen loose stay, the others leave. It leads to a community of like-minded people. Sure we have our irritants but on the whole there is a very interesting bunch of people on the disc. Thats definitely what keeps people here long after they should have hung up their modem and conserved their phone bill.
4. As administrators, what have you gotten out of your experience with running Discworld?
Ceres Spoketh: A headache? 🙂
I love to code, and creating cool, fun things for people to play with is great. I’ve met many friends from across the world (including my fiancee) and (I hope) helped to provide a place for thousands of people to have hundreds of thousands of hours of fun.
Pinkfish wombled: I have met many different and interesting people, plus it is quite satisfying to see something you wrote yourself become popular and well used.
Olorin uttered: Friends in weird places, a phonebill you wouldn’t believe (no free offpeak local calls in Denmark), a lot of insight in the strange and mysterious tribe called people, and some skill in untangling interpersonal problems in a place where those tend to get blown totally out of proportion.
Sojan fluffed: Like everybody involved in mudding I have the usual collection of friends all over the place [and a credit card suffering from too many airline tickets] but the best thing I’ve got out of being involved with Discworld’s administration is the dealing with people aspect. It’s helped me enormously in my career outside of the disc.
Karek: I was not new to mudding when I discovered Discworld some five years ago. My overwhelming impression at the time was appreciation of the sense of humour that was the basis of the Disc. At the time I was impressed as much by the camaraderie of the players as I was by the coding of the mud itself. In those five years a lot has changed- most of it for the better.
Discworld remains a challenging mud, constantly changing and expanding. Thankfully it has retained most of the qualities that made it such a standout all those years ago. If you want to play on this mud, pack you sense of humour (the more warped the better!), and beware of low flying puns.
I think the overwhelming benefit of Discworld is its ability to mix the best of all worlds. Roleplaying, OOC socialising and the old hack and slash, in addition to a wide range of quests offer something to keep both newbies and experienced players interested. I’d recommend Discworld to anyone who enjoys playing a MUD that is anything but run of the mill. Feel free to drop by the Assassins’ Guild and say hello!
Scarlett: I’ve been mudding at Discworld since early 1994. It’s 1999 now, and I’ve got 176 days of playing time invested in just one character, Scarlett, Thieves’ Guildmaster. Over the years I’ve watched Discworld grow and mature. It’s home and family, one that is always there when I need it.
Although I’ve mudded elsewhere, no MUD has been able to hold my interest like the Disc. Sitting in front of my keyboard and having a bellylaugh over Nobby and Colon’s discussion of canned salmon, or jumping out of my skin when Carrot walks into the room and addresses me by name, or the sheer terror of having Cohen chase me all over town just because I asked for an involuntary donation are some of the activities that keep Disc-life interesting.
And a bonus for me, a sometime role-player and other times hack-n-slasher, is the Taskmaster(TM) System. A system whereby you learn skills by practicing them. I’ve never found another MUD quite like it.
The MUD itself encompasses a lot of varied terrain, NPCs, and my favorite, quests. Lots of quests. If for no other reason, the quests at Discworld would be why I have stayed. Though for sure, this isn’t the only reason. And it’s still growing! Every month something new gets added. New streets, new towns, new NPCs, new quests. It’s become a challenge just to try and keep up with everything thats happening there.
But in the end it is my home and family, as real as the one I live with, though certainly not as crazy. 🙂
For anyone who’s ever read a Pratchett book, Discworld mud is going to be heaven. From the Shades to the University, Ankh-Morpork (and more) is there in stunning detail. The code allows a lot, like letting you to choose your class within the game (as every good role-playing mud should). There is also a horse-drawn cart service to help you get around. Even if you’ve never read of Discworld before you will find something here most role-playing muds lack.. a story! The players are kind and helpful, and the server is quite stable. Be prepared however, as the Discworld is a thoughtful mix of satire and very British humour.